Posts tagged ‘Europe’

September 16, 2017

Some news from Spain XLX

And after a great August summer vacation in my  beloved  Spain, here I am back for an update on the scene there. The weather has been nice still even going into the 30’s C there. In my neck of the wood is beginning to be like Fall, rain (heavy at times), clouds, gray and cool around 13C and even 8C in the mornings. Oh well, got to give a rest for a while;but can’t , travel is on the horizon to the Americas and south of France coming up.

As for Spain, here are the latest.

The tourists come to Spain for the beaches and the rest is almost empty. I did took advantage of this,with easy flowless traffic and great prices not to mention all the sites we were looking forward to see were open. ON a study done by Eurostat where the density of trip per km2 in 2015 the top spots were the Baleares islands, Canary Islands, Comunidad de Madrid, regions of Catalunya, Valencia while one of the least visited was the one I went last August, Castilla La Mancha with only 55,09 visitor per square kilometre. The region is ,also, the third least visited in the European Union! Lots of info here official EU site:  Eurostat tourism

The town or old town of Belchite (Zaragoza) devastated by the Spanish Civil War and where one of the fiercest battles were held with over 5K dead in only 14 days. There were people that stay here afterward until 1964. There , many films were done such as “EL Laberinto del Fauno” of Guillermo del Toro in 2005, a videogame started by Arnold Schwarzenegger and a photo shot session by Monica Naranjo. Only 19 km from Belchite you find Fuentedetodos (Zaragoza) here you find the birth home of famous painter Francisco de Goya born here in 1746. The house is kept in three levels and was identify in 1913 by painter Ignacio Zuloaga and a group of artists. The great admiration of Zuloaga for Goya . There you see the Sala Zuloaga design to host temporary exhibitions and on which walls you can see great painters such as Picasso, Miro, Chillida, amongst others. You can visit the Museo del Grabado, graphic arts in homage to Goya that currently has two of the originals by Goya, the La Tauromania and Los Disparates.. You can see as well the Ornitologic reserve of El Planeron or the reserva ornitológica de El Planeron, a wonderful place to know the natural scenery of the region   with 700 hectares of wild birds such as   Royal Eagle or the Mochuelo; by the Hoz Mayor de Fuendetodos. You see the fallen off a a ceiling of an old cave and in addition you can see foxes, wild pigs, bears and mountain goats. From Madrid by car you take the highway direction Barcelona and go out on the exit or salida 271 once reach Almunia de Doña Godina, you take the road A 220 until Belchite. More on the old Belchite here: Old Belchite

To see the Goya of Fuentedetodos in English here: Fuentedetodos Goya

This year there is celebration of the Centenary of the first boutique of fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga opened in San Sebastián. It was exactly at Calle Bergara, 2 and he called it Eiza,in memory of his mother, Martina Eizaguirre. In the neighborhood of the Ensanche that began to be built by the end of the 19C   after the wall that surrounded the town was destroyed; there is a plaque to remember this on the buildings now available for rent. There is a museum in his native Guetaria where the exposition “Rachel L. Mellon Collection” under the direction of  Hubert de Givenchy, brings together the legacy of this American socialite that was one of his favorite clients . You can see the exposition until January 28 2018. More here in English Balenciaga museum

And for a bit of winegrowing in me, the harvest the vendimia the best time of the year, in Spain and elsewhere. Here are some of my favorites.

One nice one is at Ribera del Duero with the big Gran Fiesta de la Vendimia Sept 23rd a whole day dedicated to the wine, music ,and many traditional activities like the prayer, stepping on grapes, and first tasting. The activities are held at the Plaza Mayor and other points even with Cuban Salsa music. Also the first concert of Tequila on their tour of their last record Maldita Nerea. More here in Spanish : Vendimia Ribera del Duero

In the patron Saint festivities of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios celebrated until Spet 17 in Tequeste (Tenerife) ( a bit late I know sorry) there are many activities of vineyards and winegrowers such as the traditional Vendimia de la Esperanza that is done by schoolchildren in a contest of farmers on the 17th. Agricultural trucks, tractors equipments etc are taken to the road with decorations like a carnaval and plenty of paella, wine , music for all. More here Vendimia de la Esperanza

By a place I past this last August, Cariñena (Zaragoza) the weekend of Sept 23rd they party celebrating the initial of the harvest or vendimia. Stepping on grape, and lighting of the fountain or Fuente de la Mora from which wine comes out not water! ; you end up the party with Bodega visits , wine tastings and tapas. There is ,also a tourist bus of wine leaving every Saturday and Sunday from the center of Zaragoza. More info in Spanish here: Fiesta de la Vendimia de Cariñera

You will enjoy the festivities at San Mateo from Sept 21th in Logroño in the Paseo del Espolon ,grape harvest or vendimia with stepping on grapes with two men holding arms and grapes deposited in a vase that they dance with. The must of the grape that is taken out is offered to the Virgen de Valvanera. All week you have carriages in a carnaval atmosphere ,tastings, food extravaganzas organise by the different associations, bullfight events, basque pelota game, concerts, stree music, firecracker shows over the river Ebro etc. Complete program downloadable in pdf file here: Fiestas de San Mateo Logroño

Back in Madrid, and enjoy some nice quaint markets . You can stop by the old railroad station of Delicias and where some of the scenes from the movie Doctor Zhivago (1965) was done, and today houses the Museo del Ferrocarril or Railroad museum.   Several expositions and of course trains. You find design furniture, arts, gourmet products, leather shoes, hats, toys, original items as well as vintage clothing, records, photo cameras etc. They held here on October 7/8, and November 11 to 22, from 11h to 22h a great flea market call the Mercado de Motores; free admission. Paseo de las Delicias 61 : more here : http://mercadodemotores.es

Another big flea market type in the Barrio de Las Letras and they celebrate the Frog’s Market on the first Saturday of the month. The market takes its name from the street or Calle Cantarranas – currently call Calle  Lope de Vega-, because in the 17C there were many frogs in the potholes of the vegetable gardens of the Convento de San Jerónimo that occupied the place. Again first Saturday of the month except August and from 10h to 21h. Done by the Asociación BDLL at Calle de las Huertas 39 free admission/ more here! http://www.barrioletras.com

The first Saturday of the month except August and from 10h to 14h30 in the Centro Comercial La Ermita., and the 3rd Saturday of the month except August from 10h to 21h in the Centro Comercial Plaza Aluche. Centro Comercial La Ermita, is at Paseo de la Ermita del Santo 66, and the Toy market in the Centro Comercial Plaza Aluche at the Avenida de los Poblados 58 all free admission. More info here: http://www.juguetedemadrid.es

Then, we come to celebrate something dear to me, the Casa de America , a place to share, learn , and understand the fabric of Spain and Spanish America since 1992 the year of the 500 years anniversary of the discovery of new lands by Europeans.  For the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Casa de América there are many activities, my favorite is on until Sept 23rd 2017. Plaza Cibeles, 2 Mondays to Fridays from 11h to 19h30 Saturdays from 11h to 15h and Sundays and Holidays closed. Free admission more here on the Casa de America 25th Anniversary Casa de America is 25 yrs old

New findings in Cantabria. The management of the Museo de Prehistoria de Cantabria, have announced the discoveries of four small caves with new rustique paintings of 20-30K years old so older than those at the famous Cueva de Altamira that are between 12-15K years old . They have found paintings at the caves of El Rejo, in the municipality of Val de San Vicente; also, in Los Murciélagos, Entrambasaguas; Las Graciosas I and II, Medio Cudeyo; and Solviejo(Voto). The paintings are in red color with isolated points or threads that in some case figures are form of animals. To find out more about this museum and others in Cantabria check this site in Spanish ; Museo de Pre Historia de Cantabria

Ok so you come to Granada to see the Alhambra. Fine. However, there are many nice things to see in the city. These are ; going to the lookout at El Carmen de los Martires and at Realejo , you can take a look at the Mirador de San Nicolás. The laundry, Squares and buildings around it all very well preserved from the 17C given you a medieval ambiance see it for free and very romantic. Go over to the Las Cuevas de Sacromonte and see the museum in front of the Alhambra and half of Sacromonte. You can walk around the caves, there are guided tours and a space dedicated to the history of Flamenco; in summer ,there is an open air cinema with a terrace foodies. See the wonderful La Madraza a palace founded by Yusuf I caliph in 1349 hidden behind the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel. It was the first University of Granada where laws, maths, and medicine were taugh in the Arab/moors period;also, served as a city/town hall during a long period and today houses again many dependancies of the University. Go see my favorite spot at the Corral del Carbon , the oldest monument left by the Arabs/Moors dating from the 14C, at the time it was a warehouse of goods for the sale of medicine and also house persons and animals. During the Christian era it was changed into a corral de comedias or comedies circle with a central patio that hides the story in the heart of the city. More on visiting this wonderful city from the official tourist office here: What else to see in Granada

In all, it’s an avalanche of choices, inmense historical value, and the best quality/price ratio in Europe. Come to see Spain, everything under the Sun. Cheers, and enjoy your weekend.

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September 10, 2017

The wines of La Mancha, Castilla La Mancha that is !

I like to make my small contribution to the wines of La Mancha, and a bit story on wines of Spain in general.

My first ever taste of wine was by my maternal grandmother at my tender age of 8, and of course , it was Spanish wine from Tenerife. Ever since, my love for the drink has increase exponentially to the point of taken professional courses from the ICEX commercial office of Spain, and SOPEXA Food and Wine from France government entities over the years. I have tried tasted it wines from many countries and even arrive of having my own small cellars averaging 50-100 bottles in the cave or basement cellar of my home as I write.

Wines are part of us, part of our culture ,and accompany with food of any kind they are always sublime, even on a hot day a glass of white or rosé is very good. Studies have repeatedly shown that the anti oxidant in red wines especially is good for your health, of course in moderation.

Spain has a strong old tradition on wines going back especially to the Romans. The wine business developed slowly with small families and the quality shows deficiency. However, as the country move up the ladder and investments came in, and more technically educated families began to get involved the quality has increase exponentially. Now the wines of Spain are all over the world even here in France my wine merchant has Spanish wines! And we buy them too!!!

My recollection of Castilla La Mancha was of very high alcohol content wines, cheaply made and quantity prime. As the years went by ,and my visits to the region increase, my tasting grew to the point that now there are several properties worthy of me buying and can recommend very good to all.

La Mancha is a Denominacion de Origen or DO area , an area designated to be of quality wines and you can see on the bottles the grayish black label on the back.  The areas are Toledo, Albacete, Cuenca, and Ciudad Real.  Going irrigated by the rivers Guadiana, Tajo, and Jucar ,and you have the biggest vineyards in the world with  about 400-600 000 hectares of grapes of which about 170 000 are under the DO La Mancha denomination. This makes it into the biggest vineyard area in Spain ,and it is known as the winery of  Europe or  “La Bodega de Europa”.  There are about 182 towns and more than 250 bodegas in it ,some with huge sizes. It is ,also, the biggest Spanish exporter of wine with 22% of their production exported.

You have them as in Spain in general the reds or Tintos  (we do not say red tinto comes from how we name the grape tinto del pais ! that here it is call tempranillo ::)) . You have them jovenes or youngs, 60 days of ageing minimum, and crianza with 6 months ageing minimum, and reserva with 12 months of ageing minimum and gran reserva with 18 months ageing as minimum.  Of course, also, rosé or rosados, white or blancos, sparkling or espumosos, naturalmente dulces or naturally sweets. The region uses many kinds of grapes such as the whites: Airén, Macabeo, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Moscatel, Pedro Ximénez, Parellada, Torrontés, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Viognier. The Reds or tintos such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Moravia, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlo, Petit Verdot, Graciano, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The last few years the harvest have been great and very good wines were produced, such as 2010 (Very Good) 2011 (Excellent), 2012 (Excellent); 2013 (Good) 2014 (Excellent) and 2015 (Very Good).

The official wine regulation DO webpage is here in English: http://lamanchawines.com/en/

Some of the pioneers of this region and the most famous is the Marqués de Griñon ,Carlos Falcó. Here is a brief story:  There is about 43 years ago that he planted the first grape in the area; it was a cabernet sauvignon that he hidden in his apples as at the time it was illegal to bring foreign grapes into Spain. Within the olives and flower trees of Toledo he set up the winery in the farm call  Pagos de Familia Marqués de Griñón, an extension of his family since 1292. The denomination of  Valdepusa, as his wines are label for the first simple wines bottled in Spain and today export to the world.  More here in English: http://www.pagosdefamilia.es/html_en/home.html

There is the cooperative or Cooperativa Virgen de las Viñas, the biggest in Europe and maybe the world, presided by Rafael Torres.  In the bodega of Tomesollo, (Ciudad Real) built in 1961 with 17 farmers and 300K kg of grape, following year 6M kg and now more than 200M kg of grape!  Managing an area with 3000 farmer associates and about 7000 families in  Castilla-La Mancha. More here in Spanish: http://cooperativarua.com/

An anecdote, the wine labels  Oristan Crianza , and  Marqués de Toledo Reserva  from the Bodegas Lozano, were prized with double gold and silver at the  Sakura Wine Awards 2017,the most important wine competition in Japan and Asia with a jury all of women; they tasted almost 5000 wines!! More here: http://bodegas-lozano.com/

However, these are some of the more famous. We drank the local La Mancha wines that were superb! all purchase in Cuenca at the La Licoreria store here: http://www.lalicoreria.es/index.asp

There is a wholesale store just entering Cuenca by the bottle or box, we purchased there, and there is a regular liquor store of them in city center Cuenca.

We tasted/purchased  a bottle of Finca La Estacada, from the Uclés area year 2014 red tempranillo Crianza 5,57€!  this was great yummy full and crafted in an old farm belonging to the descendants of queen Maria Cristina of Spain and widow of king Fernando VII. Acquired by the current owners in the mid 20C the family Cantarero Rodríguez ,winery from 2001. The complex now has bodega, hotel ,and restaurant. The wine like said is heavy powerful red full with raspberries and vanilla, light fruity tannins in mouth full body , great yummy in the end. Excellent price: quality value to grab by the case! The webpage is here in English: http://www.fincalaestacada.com/bodega/13_vinos

The, we attack the Finca Antigua recommended by the rental house owners.  This winery is part of the great Spanish winegrowers Martinez Bujanda, very well known to me. The wines of Finca Antigua were first time tasted and we got several bottles due to the knowledge of the winemaker and the local recommendation. The winery is in the town of Los Hinojosos practically in the border of the provinces of Cuenca and Toledo in Castilla La Mancha of course. We first tried the Finca Antigua Cabernet Sauvignon Crianza 2014 and it was a bit light for our tastes; mineral hints from the cabernet but with nuances of dairy and undergrowth, indicating the freshness we obtain due to the altitude of the estate; grapes from Las Mejias lot. However, only 5,12€! worth it for the price.

We moved up to the Finca Antigua Unico Crianza 2011, with cabernet sauvignon ,syrah, tempranillo, and merlot grapes.  This one was much better for our tastes. Highly intense dairy hints of yoghurt, toasty character with woodland hints oak spicy nutmeg clove and tobacco and slight toasted sensation. smooth creamy on the mouth, full bodied and rounded, well integrated acidity/alcohol and very balanced, long creamy finish, very fresh . Just fantastic at only 6,38€ to grab by the case!

Finally, we have drank the Finca Antigua Reserva 2010 cabernet sauvignon, syrah, and merlot.  Very intense, delightful sensations of fallen leaves with fresh mint, thyme, eucalyptus to the front. Touches of vanilla and dairy ,oak well integrated with the fruit hints of tobacco, leaf, juniper, aniseed, very elegant complex suggestive. The taste full and powerful great body with backbone very rich and pleasant, great for rich cuisine. We love it, and only 10,24€ to grab by the case!!

More on Finca Antigua direct link in English here: http://www.fincaantigua.com/en/

Then, we drank the unique Alejandro Fernandez  (Grupo Pesquera) a winemaker very well known to me and have met him, this was again a first time drink on the El Vinculo 2011 Tempranillo red. The winery is near the windmills of Campo de Criptana (of Don Quijote fame) that was purchase a manchego typical house that was modernized into the winery or bodega in 1999.  The name of the wine is to make it close to the original bodega of the family in the Duero region ; El Vinculo= the tie end or link.

The wine El Vinculo 2011 red tempranillo was aged for 18 months in American oak barrel and 6 months in the bottle. In the mouth has sweet tannins mark with a mature fruit and an explosion of cherries, blackberries and blueberries. Wonderful and price at 10,16€ is a bargain to grab by the case! More on it in Spanish here: http://www.grupopesquera.com/index.php/es/bodegas/el-vinculo/k2-categories

Well as I finish this post, my sneaky sons already had the  Calzadilla Classic 2010 out for drinking and we did!  This is the property we tried to visit twice in last two years and always closed in August even if we did call ahead to see it. Well , we purchase the bottles at La Licoreria and try today the red wine.  Their site tells us in Spanish and I translated, the Bodega under the name of Bodega Familiar Uribes Madero is born in 1980 and the first bottle under Calzadilla does not come than in 1992. Today at  PAGO CALZADILLA  you have 26 hectares of which 20 are dedicated to the vineyard with a production of 100K kg of grape to produce the tintos or reds.   The Calzadilla Classic 2010 is done with Tempranillo 60%, Cabernet-Sauvignon 20%,  Syrah 10%, and Garnacha 10%. Harvest from land parcels name Fogón,   Aldehuela, Bildorado, Chocilla del Vinagre, and Viña Olivos.  The taste is of the lighter variety,not our favorite on this bottle but nice nevertheless.  The color is deep red with aromas of prune, raspberries, and white fruits like pear. You see the eucalyptus and tobacco, vanilla, and glycerine. Fruity sensation by the mouth from beginning to end Round  , balance with good acidity , long and expressive final. I just need to add was light texture with hints of wood, and high tannins still in it. Price at 12,71€ is ok but can do better cheaper.  More on the webpage here in Spanish:http://www.pagocalzadilla.com/web/es/nuestros-vinos/calzadilla-classic.html

Of course, all these wines were purchase and brought home !!! and we are not yet done drinking them all lol!! But we have still in bottle (if you care to stop by hurry up ::)) Wines from Cuenca, La Mancha area Dominio de Valdepusa Cabernet (Marqués de Griñon ), Pago Calzadilla Allegro 2007, and from other regions the Viña Real crianza, Ramon Bilbao Edicion etc. We do buy here Jumilla area the Petit Clos Taja that are about 6-7 euros and when they come to our store Nicolas in Vannes we scoop all the bottles!!! own by Frenchmen Mahler Besse of Bordeaux fame ::)

Again, all these wines are great to buy and drink, the price/quality ratio is huge, and bargains of gastronomic proportions; La Mancha is it, and Spain is stepping out. Drink with moderation but drink wines is good for you too. Enjoy your Sunday y’all, Cheers!!!

Cuenca

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September 7, 2017

Back to Huete, province of Cuenca, and the manchegos!

So on our last day of our summer vacation August 2017, we re visit Huete , a nice provincial town we have visited last year too. The post is here: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/08/27/clm-and-comu-de-madridtorrejon-de-ardozhuetesegobrigaand-belmonte/

The tourist office in the city hall webpage there has many in Spanish here: http://www.huete.org/web/?p=situacion&c=6|0

And of course, the Region Castilla La Mancha has more: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/huete-39731/descripcion/

The town came  to Christian hands when king Alfonso VII took the city from the Arab/Moors. The king left the management of the city to the Castro family ,and after some concerns with the young son Alfonso VIII, and the separation from the region of Castilla y Leon, brought a huge battle against the Manrique de la Lara family in 1164. The city was huge and the Arab/Moors caliph came back to attack it with over 100K men so says the legend, and they were repulsed  due to storms that make them change their mind and stop the advance. This was on the day of Santa Justa and Santa Refina therefore, the town’s patron Saints now with their date on July 19.. In 1290 king Sancho IV celebrated the pardon of the Jewish Castilians.  It was name a city in 1428 by king Juan II. The city felled to the Catholic kings  when their troops march in the city in 1476, and by 1477 Huete was name Noble and Loyal town of Spain.

There are a couple of museum worth seeing such as the Museo de la Fotografia, Fundacion Antonio Perez, with photos done by local photographers. And the Museo Arte Moderno, Florencio de la Fuerte with paintings by Dali, Picasso, Corot, Bores, Villatoro, Ortega, and Guayasamin.

We went around town to soak in the locals and eat and buy fruits and cucumber very good ones here. As to what to see well this time we passed by the Convento Justinianas de Jesus y Maria , work began in 1554 as well as the Church by the same name there. In the convent you see the museum of photography mentioned above.

You can see and if you dare climb to the old Castle ruins seen from the city center in town , and get into the inner city on Calle Mamerto Alique with nice architecture in buildings. The Church of San Nicolas de Medina, started by Jesuist and done between 1700-1703, once there see the Puerta de Medina gate the only medieval one preserved from the ramparts built at end of the 12C. King Charles III gave the Church the title of Royal , and has Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1770, and in 1795 the Fraternity of St John the Evangelist had a Chapel built too.   You can see the hill around the town by the Castle and notice the big Christ statue on top overlooking the city.

The beautiful Church and Monastery of Santa Maria de la Merced ,the Church was done in 1670 with the Sacristy built in 1754. The monastery was done in the 13C  and the beautiful baroque cloister between 1645-1648. The facades and wrought iron windows were done in the 18C.

You can see the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman , done in the Classical to the Baroque in 1621 and finished by 1642.  The façade is impressive and nice walk in the surrounding streets.

Then, you go over the El Posito or the little well; a historical building but also a store of local goodies. The Posito Real or Royal Stores that is.  Here we stored grains in the old days, cereals, etc. We lend it to the farmers ! The façade is from the 17C with a Royal shield and two of Huete. The left of it was built in 1698 , and the central section and other in 1871.

We went out outside city center into the Quesos Opta and Rio Mayor, these are the Manchego cheeses of world fame, from the Oveja or sheep!! They make them all, and sell them at the store in the factory. Also, the one in Cercedilla do tours !! We took advantage as last year we only came to purchase. Just magical.  Lacto-Ganadera Rio Mayor, Srl Ctra CM 310 km 101 , more here: http://www.quesoshuete.com/en/

We shop always for the etiqueta negra or black label, queso mescal tierno or young mix cheese with goat and milk as well as sheep blend, and the Romero or Rosemary. Just great still enjoying it ::)

I try in vain to visit the Pago Calzadilla wine on the road towards Cuenca CM2019, just out of Huete near the town of Caracenilla.  These wines I had in Cuenca and bring them home, but last year it was closed by the time we got there. This year I call ahead asking if open and yes, however, when we got there ,they were doing inventory and were closed again. Oh well, we will just have to drink their wines!!! More here: http://www.pagocalzadilla.com/web/es

And we headed back to our vacation home in Las Majadas, Cuenca. This was our last venture out,and we left the next day , see post on the departure a few days ago . Sad to go again ,as it was a wonderful family vacation and always many fond memories together. Cuenca , Castilla La Mancha, Spain has been our get away for the last two years! Do not if 3 is a charm but it sure feels good here, you ought to check it out indeed!

Therefore, my posts on Spain towns and regions will end and back to the realities of work in France, one day it will be, can’t wait ! Enjoy your week and close weekend wherever you are ,and with all that is going on in our world, think, be safe and enjoy life to the fullest. Cheers

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September 6, 2017

Cathedral Santa Maria, Primada de Toledo!

I had spent days here over the last few years of my life,and coming back is always wonderful; the city is wonderful, the Cathedral is heavens. Let me give it credit and do a single post on it. The Cathedral Saint Mary , prime of Spain and Toledo. Catedral Santa Maria de Toledo, Primada de España!

The construction began in 1226 with white stone  in Gothic style;finished in 1493.  The official webpage for it is here: http://www.catedralprimada.es/catedral/primada/eng/

The city of Toledo was conquered Christian by king Alfonso VI in 1085. One of the point of the capitulation of the city was that the cults will be respected to all as well as the buildings of muslim or mozarabe ,Christian origins which included the main mosque in the city. A bit later he was absent from the city and left his wife Constanza and the abbot of the monastery Bernard de Sedirac (or Cluny) recently name bishop of Toledo in charge.  These last two conspired in 1087 to send armed personnel to take over the mosque; later they installed a bell on it as a Christian symbol. The king was very upset as this almost cause an uprising, and ordered all involved to be executed.  The legend tells us that it was the Muslim residents of the city who implore with the king to save their lives with main negotiator the iman, and accepted the bell in the Mosque. As the Cathedral grew in same spot, there is a Chapel dedicated to him; officially creating a Christian Church in a mosque without changes to the structure. I think is a nice story of tolerance.

The Cathedral is 120 meters long by 59 meters wide and has five nave in addition to a cruiser aisle and dome as well as a cloister, 88 columns, and 72 vaults. The main façade has three gates such as Puerta del Perdon (Forgiveness), Puerta del Juicio FInal (final judgement), to the right, and Puerta del Infierno (hell) to the left. There is , also the Puerta del Reloj (Clock) oldest from early 14C; the Puerta de los Leones (Lions) is 15C . Other gates are Puerta Llana (flat) , Portada de Santa Catalina( St Catherine), and Puerta de la Presentacion (Presentation).  The Bell tower is 92 meters high and finalized in 1422 in Gothic style.

Many Chapels were replaced,altered, or eliminated over time.  Of the Minor Chapels there are only two remaining such as of Santa Ana ,and San Gil. From the Mayor Chapels the ones that have original elements are of San Juan Bautista ,and Santa Leocadis. Altered Chapels but ornamentation is the original are Reyes Viejos , and Santa Lucía.

You have the Capilla Mayor , inside of it you see the Capilla del Sepulcro (burial) , the beforementioned Capilla Mozarabe; Capilla de los Reyes Nuevos, Capilla de la Epifania, Capilla de la Concepcion, Capilla de San Martin, Capilla de San Eugenio, and  Capilla de San Juan Bautista.

The Sala Capitular, you find more Chapels such as Capilla de San Ildefonso, Capilla de Santiago, and Capilla del Cristo de la Columna. On the north side you have the Capilla de San Pedro, Capilla de la Piedad, Capilla de la Pila Bautismal, Capilla de Nuestra Señora de Antigua, and Capilla de Doña Teresa de Haro.

Then, you have the Sacristia or sacristy. Capilla de la Virgen del Sagrario, Capilla del Ochavo, and the choir or Coro, the Trasparente by the Capilla Mayor representing the eucharist of the holy sacrament (1729-1732) . The treasury or Tesoro.The lower and high cloister from 1389, where you find the Capilla de San Blas chapel.

The stained glass in the Cathedral  is one where the medieval glass has been best preserved. They were done in the 14C to 17C with renovations in the 18C. The wrought iron is from the 16C in renaissance style. Many kings of Castile are buried in the Cathedral, amongst them are Juan I and son Enrique III of Castille.

Check the official webpage for dates and hours, admission now is 10€ with audioguide included. More in the Tourist office of Toledo here: http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/catedral-primada_243

And the Tourist office of the region Castilla La Mancha: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/catedral-primada-23364/descripcion/

This is a must to visit here, if only one thing to see in Toledo this must be it.  Again do not missed it.

I have come to Toledo sometimes just walk around it ,and others go inside, always a great satisfaction of seeing it. Catedral Primada de España, Catedral Santa Maria of Toledo. Enjoy it! Cheers

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September 5, 2017

Toledo, the magical blend of Spain!

On our meadering road warrior routes of Castilla La Mancha and Comunidad de Madrid, and Madrid , we have reach Toledo. I first came here while living in Madrid in the early 1970’s, the city has hardly change ,really!! Well it is old indeed.

What can I say about Toledo, simply superb ,the blending of cultures of Spain, a city kept in older times with the rhythem of today’s beat. All around you is history, the streets , pavements bricks and stones all history for the whole World. This is my Toledo , and glad to be back in it as was here last year with the family too.

We arrive by car of course, along the A40 into the N400 and right into the Alcazar fortress ,the parking behind it of San Miguel de Corralillos underground and nice. We step out into our world walking the wonderful Toledo.

Tourist office of Toledo in English is here; Toledo

The region tourism of Castilla La Mancha on Toledo is here: Castilla La Mancha turism

Toledo is known as the Imperial City for been the principal seat of  Carlos I and also, known as the City of the three Cultures for having being inhabited for centuries by Christians, Jewish, and Muslims. The city goes back in time, during the Romans (193 AD) it was known as Toletum, then Arabic Tulaytulah (711 AD), and Jewish  Toldoth.  Christian since 1085 AD. It is only 71 km from Madrid, and the city is laid along the river Tajo. It is composed of 16 neighborhoods but only two are really of tourist attraction, old town or zona interior and Antequeruela–Covachuela.

In the Spanish Civil War stayed in Republican control except the Alcazar where a strong garrison fought for the city, and cause the destruction of the Alcazar almost completely.

There is a beautiful train Station RENFE built in 1919 in mudéjar style outside the old walled town along the entrance on the N400.  The city has a huge arsenal of buildings ,places to see, too numerous to mention but all worth a detour. One of them is the Alcazar rebuilt in the 20C with traces going back to the 16C, and now housing since 2010 the Museo del Ejercito or Army Museum, another must to see in town.

The Escaleras Mécanicas de Recaredo are a quaint thing to do , we just went up and down on them. It helps move without climbing the steep cobblestone streets of Toledo old Town.

Some of the many things to see here are the Castillo de San Servando just over the river Tajo overlooking the city from outside passing the Puente de Alcantara bridge. The wonderful museum or museo de el Greco, Sinagoga del Transito (Jewish synagogue) , Hospital de Tavera, Iglesia de Santiago del Arrabal (mudéjar style), Iglesia de Santo Tomé (14C and housing the portrait El Encierro del  Conde de Orgaz by El Greco), Puerta Nueva de Bisagra gate, see the colorful Plaza de Zocodover.

In the city of Toledo page you can see the tourist districts or neighborhoods with a map of them here: City of Toledo districts

The Tourist offices in the Diputacion and Province of Toledo in Spanish : Diputacion de Toledo Turismo

There is a Tourist Bus, but do not think is needed unless your mobility hinders your walking the hilly steep cobblestone streets of inner old Town. Here is info on it in English: Nattivus Tourist bus Toledo

We saw a little train or Zocotren , here is more on it, again same as the bus: ZocoTren Toledo

We continue our journey into the Museo de los Concilios, Museo Tolmo, Iglesia Del Salvador, Iglesia San Roman, Iglesia San Pedro, Circulo de Artes , Iglesia Virgin de la Estrella or St Helen, Hospital Militar across the Tajo river, Palacio de Fuensalida, Parque de la Vega before arriving at Plaza de Toros, Posada de la Santa Hermandad, Puerta del Sol, Puerta Alarcones, The synagogue Santa Maria la Blanca, and the University Cardenal Lorezana at Toledo. Teatro de Rojas, and Ayuntamiento (city hall)  are nice architecture too.

In all we did some shopping at Simon Vivienne next to the Synagogue El Trànsito; Calle de los Reyes Catolicos. This is a nice story of an English lady who came to visit and stayed already 52 years there!!! Great prices, good souvenirs ,and a splendid chat indeed !!!

We had our lunch as last year coming back to Restaurant Hostal Palacios at Calle Navarro Ledesma. This was epic with menus at 7,50€ entrée, main dish, dessert, bread, Amstel beer; of course we had a second round and coffee expresso so came out to 11,55€ per person but still a bargain in the middle of Toledo! The service very friendly and the manager remember us or at least he claims lol!!! More here: http://www.hostalpalacios.net/Restaurante.21.0.html

There is so much to see as I said in Toledo, and many popular places easily found in internet, so rather than bombard the post with links I let you do some fingers clicking for them. These are just a few, last year came to some different ones and some repeat this year, with new ones. I am sure next time there will be others to see. For me two full days are needed to see this wonderful city, see it; because I can stay a lifetime. In fact, a spot for retirement is not out of the question ::)

The photos will show the sites above as usual in my blog, and have more than ever on a post!!!. Enjoy them, and maybe inspire you to come to visit the city of cultures. Dream on like Don Quijote and visit magical Castilla La Mancha! Cheers!!!

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September 4, 2017

Alcalà de Henares, Madrid with a touch of Cervantes!

Here I continue with my journey thru the Castillas’s of Spain, that is  Madrid, and Castilla La Mancha. We have come back to the city of Alcalà de Henares by unanimous decision!!!  This is the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra the author/writer of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza…!

It is a sprawling lovely town with an inner Calle Mayor that looks from another world, all around it and on Plaza Cervantes are building of great historical and educational value. Also, Calle Libreros and Calle Colegios. Many of the colleges of the University Complutense  of Alcala de Henares, founded in 1499.

But,first here are some tourist sites to help out more: the Madrid tourist office in English: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/trips-alcala-henares

The tourist office of Alcalà de Henares in English here: http://www.turismoalcala.es/

And the city hall page on tourism of the city of Alcalà de Henares in Spanish here: http://www.ayto-alcaladehenares.es/portalAlcala/contenedor1.jsp?seccion=s_fdes_d4_v1.jsp&codbusqueda=330&language=es&codResi=1&codMenuPN=2&codMenu=8&layout=contenedor1.jsp&codigoArea=28&layout=contenedor1.jsp

It is about 32 km from Madrid , however, we came from Cuenca by car along the A40 then A3 and then the A2 direction Zaragoza and then Barcelona but you will find the panel for Alcalà de Henares off exit 28. We went straight to our favorite parking and newest in town as we did last year when we were here at the underground parking San Lucas off Via Complutense street.

From we set out to see the city on foot. This time we saw briefly what we have seen and like last year and went around to see more, there is a lot to see in Alcalà de Henares if you are into architecture, history, and education.

Right off the parking you have the Capilla de las Santas Formas a bit Chapel rising over the above ground of the parking San Lucas. We walked to the Plaza Cervantes ,here you see the city hall, Centro Interprétacion de Cervantes (all on the history of the writer of Don Quijote), and the wonderful Torre Santa Maria tower.

We saw in no alphabetic order and with pictures to follow below, the Antiguo Colegio Convento de los  Trinitarios Descalzos, Antiguo Hospital de la Misericordia Antezana, Iglesia Santa Maria la Mayor at via complutence. The Colegio Convento de San Agustin, Colegio del Rey , Convento Monasterio Agustinas de Santa Maria Magdalena, Convento San Juan de la Penitencia.

We went on to Ermita de los Doctrinos, Ermita de Santa Lucia, Monasterio Museo de San Bernardo, the must Casa Museo de Cervantes (where he lived and was born) , and the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri.

We went to the Palacio Arzobispal or archbishop palace , where nearby is a statue of Queen Isabel I, the Catholic (who gave ok to Columbus to set sail for a new world to Europeans). Go all the way back to the Puerta de Madrid gate, and the walled city premises dating from the 13 to 17C!  The Colegio Convent Caracciolos(17C).  Go on to the Colegio Convento de Minimos de Nuestra Señora de la Victoria, Colegio Convento de San Basilio Magna, Colegio de Malaga , Colegio de Teologos Madre de Dios, and the Colegio de San Jeronimo o Trilingue .

As you can see this is not a all list and already plenty, many beautiful buildings here.  Too many to mention the links but easily found in internet.  We came back for our lunch stop in La Gitana Loca, the beer glass or caña price is 70 cents euro! with tapas from 1 and 2 euros you have a batchful here for almost nothing.It is next to the Cathedral too! Their webpage is here https://www.lagitanaloca.es/locales/alcala-de-henares/

And their Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/GitanaLocaTriana/

We, also, did some serious shoes shopping while walking Calle Libreros at no 28, at Los Kosakos, great bargain for men and women shoes.  No webpage Tel +34 91 881 6273.

The city is split into five districts but hardly noticeable to the visitor. These are Centro (the best part), Reyes Catholics, Chorillo-Gareno, Ensanche-Espartales, and El Val. The Romans called it Complutum and the Arabs/Moors Al-Qala (the Fort). It becomes Christian in 1118 by been taken by the bishop of Toledo, and in 1687 given the title of City by king Carlos II. In 1785 Maria Isidra de Guzman y de la Cerda enterst he University and is the first women to obtain a doctorate in arts and letters.  During the Spanish Civil War the town is with the Republicans. In 1991, the episcopal seat is again set in the city and Complutense diocesis. The Gothic Church Magistral is raised to Cathedral Magistral of Santo Justo y Santo Pastor (the boys).

And of course, the Cathedral of the young boys Saints. Justo and Pastor. It is dedicated to Maria Magdalene and it is Magistral since all its priests are doctors in Theology only one of two which is Magistral. It was built in 1514 in a isabeline gothic style. The story goes that in Roman Hispania there was a period of great persecution of Christians under the government of emperor Diocleciano (284-305AD) ; during this period happened the martyrdom of the Saints Justo and Pastor, boys of 7 and 9 years old executed in 304AD outside of Complutum for their refusal to refuse Christianism.

Outside the  Cathedral is simple and austere, while inside it is divided into three naves call Centro, Evangelio , and Epistola. In the Centro nave you will find the urn of silver and gold in a crypt where the remains of the boys Saints are kept and a stone where they were martyred. These relics were transferred to Huesca and then France during the Arab/Moors invasion.

Truly a city to come back again, lots to see and document here, we like it, Alcalà de Henares is it on our world map. Enjoy the photos and just the week;cheers!

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September 3, 2017

Province of Cuenca, Tragacete, Cañete, Tarancon, Cuenca !!!

So on my last few days of vacation we went looking for the exotic nature we had around us in the Serrania de Cuenca from our base at Las Majadas; this in the province of Cuenca, region of Castilla La Mancha!

We cruise,walk and climb by several sites to get in the flavor, the air, the beauty of this in country place. The best travel is often off the beaten path and this we know well.

Some of the routes you can take here:  http://turismo.cuenca.es/portal/lang__es/tabid__9371/default.aspx

And more to look up here: http://www.descubrecuenca.com/es/rutas

We set out from Las Majadas up into the mountains by the site of Los Callejones. on the CUV 9113 road and panels lead you there; passing by it, this is a place of nature walkers with plenty of mountain terrain and rock formations from another era ! high mountain and wild animals such as deers abound and were seen.

We realizes running short on gas/petrol so we headed for Tragacete, another small mountain town with a Repsol gas station !! yupeee! and the old Church of San Miguel, a bit more on Tragacete here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/tragacete-70831/

and continue down to Cañete a really old town on the CM 2106 road with lots of canyon, ramparts and old castle ruins way up town. The best here is the El Postigo canyon with old world laundries by the river , a water fall and escalation to the castle ruins but we did not went all the way, this is for the real outdoorsman aficionado ::)  more on it here: http://www.turismoruralmayorazgo.com/situacion/canete

There is , also, a nice church of Santiago and Ermita de la Zarza very old buildings in Cañete. More on Cañete here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/canete-64231/descripcion/

We came down on the N420 to take the A40 expressway to see a far away town of Tarancon on the intersection with the A3 that goes into Madrid. At Tarancon , you see the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion , (12C), but really nice was the Santuario de Riansares. Bombed in the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt in the 1950’s ; it had been in the family of the Duque of Riansares as well as built a castle next to it. The Duke and his family are buried inside. More on Tarancon here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/tarancon-85531/descripcion/

A bit more on the Virgen of Riansares here: http://www.rurismo.com/pueblo/cuenca/tarancon–3802/santuario-de-la-virgen-de-riansares–928/

We came back to Cuenca and saw the preparations and ending of the 7th stage of the Vuelta de España or tour of Spain bicycle race! The whole town was mobilize, really an spectacle to see.  More on it here: http://www.cyclingnews.com/vuelta-a-espana/stage-7/results/

On the way back to Las Majadas we were to see a herd of brave bulls leisurely eaten on the prairies, dare not go in lol!!! We saw a stray young deer on the A40 and needed to zigzag around it !!!

Another great day in back country Cuenca, and Castilla La Mancha. Really a great vacation time and so hard to thing we must come back to work yikes!!!

Here are some photos for the memories and history tracking of our passing by them. Enjoy it and have fun in your Sunday , mine is coming to an end and tomorrow is back to work yikes!!! Cheers!!!

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September 3, 2017

Faro de Moncloa, and Puerta de Moncloa, Madrid!

I had to take the pictures from this lighthouse of Moncloa apart. It was and is an emblematic symbol of Madrid for many years and enjoying it since 1992 when it originally opened. It was closed abandoned really for many years and reopen in 2015.  This is about the Faro de Moncloa.

Also, just before the Faro there is the Puerta de Moncloa or Arco de la Victoria an arch gate entering the city of Madrid from the northwest.

The nearby museum of America was given news in the previous post on Madrid. The official site for the tourist office of Madrid on the Faro is here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/faro-de-moncloa

For the Puerta de Moncloa or Arco de la Victoria the same info is here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/arco-victoria

There is a heavy presence of transportation here from metro lines 3 and 6, and buses  such as 44 46 82 84 132 133 160, 162, A, C1, G , U etc , as well as biciMadrid bike rentals as it is ,also, near the complutense university of Madrid. More on this here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/campus-de-la-universidad-complutense

The Faro de Moncloa is 110 meters high but the elevator/lift takes you to 92 meters for views of the city, such as emblematics buildings like the Palacio Real, Almudena Cathedral, the Gran Via telephone building, casa del Pardo, Casa de Campo, Parque del Oeste ,the four towers and afar the Sierra de Guadarrama. The observation deck has 400 square meters of space. The junction where it stands is heavily traffic but there are crossing to get there with patient overland passarelles; it is at the intersection of Avenida de los Reyes Católicos, Highway A-6 and Avenida de la Victoria. The admission is 3€ and better get there early or late night  (better) as the elevators are not that big.

It has been closed last year due to fire in the engine room and reopen in July 2017; just in time for us to get up! A good adventure to do with the family indeed is back in Madrid.

The Arco de la Victoria was built between 1950-56 and it is popularly call the Puerta de Moncloa for its counterparts in Alcalà ,Hierro, etc in Madrid. It is a triumphal arch in memory of the victory of the nationalists over the republicans in the Spanish Civil War around the university grounds that took place between  Nov 1937 to March 1939 with the peculiarity that it was built right in the middle of what It was the battlefield. Nearby it was the infamous Model prison  or Càrcel Modelo that was dynamited and built in its place the grand beautiful building of the Spanish Air Force (see photo previous post).

We did not go in but you can. The Arch is on a rectangular base of 130 meters with 42 meters high supported by two corps of columns in rectangular form as well.  The height can be increase by 7 meters as there are on top the horses of the carriage of Minerva . On the foot of each corps of column there is a lobby that you can go in up with a marble stair. On the top there is a room with expositions and lookout that never has been used; you can climb here with an elevator/lift that is on both corps of columns as well.

There are inscriptions there and the years in Latin style showing the start and end of the battle that took place here. A very moving place in Spanish history. There are some that are pushing to destroy it as it a vestige of the sad past. However, history cannot be erase but taught in better ways to avoid the mistakes of the past; my opinion.

For now at Moncloa you have several monuments to see that are historical and emblematic of Spain, the Faro and Puerta de Moncloa (perhaps it sounds better than the Arco de la Victoria). There is the Air Force or Ejército del Aire building and the Templete de los Caidos or temple of the fallen across the Arco of Victory..

Enjoy Madrid, it has a lot more than tapas and verbenas ::) A country within a city, Madrid. Cheers!

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September 3, 2017

What else can I tell you on Madrid!

Indeed, this if you have been reading my posts , is the city I lived (1970’s) and enjoyed the times the most as it was early teens years fun and youthful wandering around the city ,and experiencing the first rays of love. The city that , so lucky, have been able to come back many times ,sometimes 3 times per year and every year since…2003. The city that only upon entering the youthfulness come back to me like a ray of force, the force is with me ::)

I came upon  Madrid several occasions on my last vacation trip to Spain last month of August; it was hot as much as 41C or 106F! ,but so what, it did not feel anything ,really. We just had bottle water with us and we cruise walking all over, some spots new to my family and all memorable places to me. I like to share many of these with you on this post. What else can I tell you on Madrid………………!

We came by our car into the heart of the city this time and parked at the parking Descalzas Reales next to the grand Monastery of the Descalzas Reales; a must to see while your first time in Madrid. https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/monasterio-de-las-descalzas-reales

near see the wonderful architecture of the Casa de las Alhajas in Plaza San Martin, if you want a great family event in a historical place ,get on calle Maestro Victoria and do some shopping in El Corte Inglés dept store !! more on Alhajas here: http://www.lasalhajas.es/

Right around here at Calle Maestro Victoria see the quaint architecturally beautiful building of the Casa del Libro or bookstore of Madrid, the one to go with branches in the city and elsewhere in Spain. More here: https://www.casadellibro.com/nosotros/nuestras-tiendas-madrid/9

Do not forget or fear walking in Madrid is full of surprises, great architecture and the best movida lively street scene in Europe! See Calle Princesa, there is another El Corte Inglés dept store here; come back to Calle Arenal (Pasadizo de San Ginés) to eat your churros at Chocolateria San Ginés as my family has done for generations there.  Another memorable place keep coming back to see even if not enough time to go back in is the wild discotheque or teatro Joy Eslava on Calle Arenal. To think that this was a simple community theater where plays were done and dances held for teens and now has become of the leading dance places in Madrid and Spain very chic is unbelievable.  More here: http://joy-eslava.com/

See the wonderful building of the Air Force building (Ejercito del Aire) by Moncloa up Calle Princesa and marvel at it’s architecture and the little airplane in front! More here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/cuartel-general-ejercito-aire

Why not walk on the marvelous beautiful Gran Via a  marvel of construction since the 1930’s. And a stop at Plaza de España simply for its great monument to Miguel Cervantes Saavedra the author of Don Quijote is a must. Walk from there to Cuesta de Santo Domingo , Plaza de Santo Domingo, and the see as in Plaza de España the great metro/subway/tube entrances!

You should check out past the Faro de Moncloa (post coming up) the wonderful Museo de América, a museum on all Spain relates to Latin America and our cultures, a must for any but especially for those of Hispanic descend. More here: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/museo-de-america

See the wonderful architecture of a little square Plaza de Santa Cruz, great buildings and good ambiance around it, and continue to the eternal Plaza Mayor! Nothing can be said enough of this major square of Madrid! Here at plaza mayor see some of the businesses of generations of Madrileños and my family favorites, I came here as a teen and later many times even to buy hats for my grandfather!  Such eternals as Casa Yustas, La Favorita, El Gran Bazar, and the restaurant first took my girlfriend now wife in Madrid, Las Cuevas de Luis Candela past the Arco de Cuchilleros! More on the restaurant here: http://www.lascuevasdeluiscandelas.com/index_en.html

Move on to another very popular and the center of Spain, at Puerta del Sol; unique place and a must; here you have the Casa de Diego another generational store. And the Magroño honey eating bear the symbol of Madrid. Nearby is the Real Madrid store we like to go at Calle de el Carmen. more here: http://www.realmadrid.com/en/santiago-bernabeu-stadium/stores/el-carmen-store?pid=1390165211192

For the nights and arts , the Teatro Real (Royal Theater) , celebrating 200 years in 2017, and the Real Cinema (Royal Cinema) now inactive, at plaza Isabel II , both good to see and the theater is a must;and many memories for me especially in the Real Cinema, even if now only sporadic plays are shown and no movies. More info on theater here : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/teatro-real  and cinema here: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/22521

Cannot be in Madrid without stopping by the Santiago Bernabeu stadium of the team: Real Madrid FC, simply the best ever. and the la Esquina del Bernabeu with its shops and restaurants. And of course, a drink at least at the Real Café Bernabeu is a must. The separate site for the café is here: http://www.realcafebernabeu.es/restaurante/restaurante.html   Not to mention the store at the stadium. The stadium here: http://www.realmadrid.com/en/santiago-bernabeu-stadium

Ah yes of course, we ate something other than drinking water lol!!! We have some delicious refreshing Horchata at a kiosk in the Plaza Mayor. This is a drink originally from the Valencia area consisting of water, sugar,and chufas ( a plant  tigernuts) and generally mix in with cinnamon or lemon and of course plenty of ice. And for a more formal light lunch in the heat we went to 100 Montaditos resto on Calle Princesa,7  , small sandwiches with omelette chorizos hams etc potato chips and plenty of cold beers!!! http://spain.100montaditos.com/encuentranos/

In all, another wonderful memorable trip to my Madrid, never tired of seeing you, and remember that we lovers of the city know very well that From Madrid to Heaven, and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day!!! Enjoy the Capital city, and your Sunday wherever you are. Cheers!

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September 2, 2017

Monasterio de Uclés, Province of Cuenca!

In our tours as road warriors in Castilla La Mancha region we stopped at a wonderful in country apart hilly and countryside Monastery of Uclés. This is located in the northeast of the Province of Cuenca on the cutoff almost of the A3 to Madrid.

Founded in pre Roman times, was part of an important Arab/moors enclave with castle ,mosque, and spas. It went several times changing hands between Arabs/Moors and Christians until 1057AD; and finally in 1174 under King Alfonso VIII the city is given to the Order of Santiago (as in St James the way a military order to protect Christian lands) that made it their principal house.  In 1493 the Catholic Kings (Fernando y Isabel I) asked the Pope to declare them administrator of the Order and which Fernando the Catholic held from 1494 to 1516 at which time king Carlos I unified the military Christian orders as there were no further needs to fight the Arab/Moors afte the conquest of Granada in 1492. In 1528 the works begins on the Monastery and by 1548 the refectory is already built. In 1577 king Felipe II spent Holy Week here as well.

That is a bit of history on the city. Many battles were held the most important and with a nice plaque in the patios of the Monastery today was the one held in January 13 1809 known as the Battle of Uclés between the invading Napoleonic troops and those of the Spaniards in what is know as the war of independence ; the French after winning the battle committed many atrocities to the city and monastery and the homes were sacked and many burned in the Church.

On the site of the Monastery, there was a castle from the 11C of Arab/Moors design. The Monastery is built from 1529 under the reign of king Carlos I and finished in 1735 under the reign of king Felipe V. Due to the long period of construction, the monastery is dotted with three periods of Spanish architecture known as Plateresque, Herrerian, and Churrigueresque; the Church is done in the Herrerian style in 1602 is  similar to that of El Escorial.

During the Spanich Civil War it was used as a Republican hospital and later prison (until 1943)  where recently on a well were found the remains of more than 300 persons. In 1949, the seminary menor of the bishops of Cuenca under the name of  «Santiago Apóstol» was established. The bishopric of Cuenca now uses it for several functions such as encounters, camping, group meetings, educational activities amongst some. It is open to the public alone for 4.50€ adult and also you can do guided visits.

More info in official page in  Spanish here: https://www.monasterioucles.com/visita

and more in Spanish from the region’s Tourist office here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/monasterio-de-ucles-28064/

There are rooms dedicated to the local founding on Roman and pre Romans artifacts and remains of the old Arabic castle as well as the history of the Order of Santiago.

We did the trip by car and did it across sunflower fields of dirt/stone terrain to reach it by the south side where it can be seen in all it’s splendor. You can do so easier by the road from the A40 taking exit or salida 254 “Carrascosa del Campo (oeste)”. Follow the first two traffic circles direction Carrascosa del Campo. On the third traffic circle take the first exit towards Uclés, continue for about 12 km, crossing the town of Rozalén del Monte. Once you reach Uclés, take a right road bordering the town until you see the access road to the monastery.

It is a wonderful side in country Manchego of Castilla La Mancha and a historical place. There are findings of pre historic excavations here too and many Roman artifacts found. In all it is fun for a day of sightseeing and driving on country road, the real travel ::) life is beautiful or as we said in Spain La Vida es chula ::)

Enjoy the photos, and have a great weekend. Cheers !

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