Posts tagged ‘Madrid’

January 7, 2021

Wines news of France VIIII !!

And bringing back my series on my other hobby other than travel which actually are complimentary. The wines are in me since 8 yrs old !! and that is a long time folks , believe me. To be brief as plenty in my blog and especially for newcomers, welcome all; I am certified wine expert by France (Sopexa) and Spain (ICEX) and have visited many vineyards all over the world. Of course, after all this experience I too can to believe the best were, are and will be for the forseeable future from France ! Hope you enjoy the post as I do.

Starting with a bang! It is a Champagne that is drunk late at night in Saint-Tropez or Miami, it is a wine for gourmets that knows how to accompany the best meals, from appetizers to dessert, it is a juice created by a Benedictine monk who never tastes better than in the cloister of the Abbey of Hautvillers, where he was born!  The production of Dom Pérignon, both great wine and supermarket, obeys principles that the successive cellar masters of the abbey have refined and applied. One of the first pillars of the house is blending, that is to say the choice of grapes from different plots that will go into the composition of the wine.  Dom Pérignon is releasing the 2010 vintage this year, a very open wine, with notes of pineapple, intense jasmine, a glorious champagne and broad shoulder, almost massive, which stands out from its predecessors. A wine with horses under the hood, sharper than the 2006, which turned out to be fat and nicely viscous. Much less toasted than the 2004, voluminous, airy. 2010 does not have the depth either, the gravitas of 2003. Each vintage finds its audience, and reveals a little of the personality of the one who loves it. YES it is out go for it!!! See my posts on Champagne.

The Roederer wine library, set up in 1999, is for those who have not had the patience to keep their wine in the cellar to enjoy it at the best time. This year, gourmets will discover the 1999 vintage. The vinothéque is between 300 and 500 bottles of rosé and between 700 and 900 bottles of white put on the market each year.  Today, of their 242 ha, 120 ha are certified organic. 122 ha are HVE (high environmental value) certified, of which 10 ha are biodynamic. the first edition of Brut Nature Rosé is breathtaking. The tension of this “bone” wine is even more noticeable on the rosé than on the white. This 100% organic vintage, made from a biodynamic vineyard, with no added sulfur or sugar, co-signed by designer Philippe Starck, has been a great success, especially in Italy.  The Roederer Group is preparing the production of a still red wine and a still white wine. The white will be made from a Chardonnay from Mesnil-sur-Oger. The red will come from a Pinot Noir from Mareuil-sur-Aÿ. These two wines, vintage 2018, will be released next February 2021.

It is now possible to produce vintage wines, that is to say that the use of reserve wines is no longer mandatory. This is a great opportunity for Champagne to express its uniqueness and to show once again that these are great wines and a great region. Here is a Champagne with pretty tension, straight in its boots but without stiffness. On the nose, this wine with fine bubbles is an orchard at the end of summer, it scents pear and mirabelle plum, while the palate, of the creamy type, gives way to red fruits. The glacier coast, exposed to the south, as its name does not indicate, and the parcel of Meurtet, exposed south-east. Two unique expressions of Aÿ pinot noir. Barely 6,000 bottles are sold each year. Served as an aperitif, it awakens the taste buds with immense sweetness. Gourmets will keep it at the table where it will happily accompany foie gras, scallops, langoustines, lobster and cheeses. Let us add that this Champagne lends itself to a long guard. Those less in a hurry can wait until 2040.

Already consultant in the wine and spirits sector in New York, Hongkong, and Zurich, and later in charge of exports for a great domaine in the Rhône, Jean-Baptiste Ancelot finished to accomplished his dream as a student. That is, the culmination of a census of each country wine producers in pretty bottles, a project that took him eleven years of worrk. From this adventure, he took out the work of the Wine Explorers. The opening of an e-shop is the next logical step. Already six countries are highlighted in its catalog. In Austria, in the region of Burgenland, they discover the cuvées of the domain Silvia Heinrich and the red grape variety Blaufränkish. Then passing through Bosnia-Herzegovina to taste the wines of the Brkic estate made from the zilavka (white) and blatina (red) grape varieties. Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic are part of the trip, like Malta, with the Meridiana estate. The proposal should quickly be enriched with Greek, Lebanese, Moroccan, Italian, Slovenian vintages ..They want to quadruple the supply on the French market from the first half of 2021. The book and concept here:  Wine ExplorersLe 1er tour du monde du vin, (the first world tour of wines) by Jean-Baptiste Ancelot, ed. Omniscience, 234 pgs, here at 35€.

King Louis XIV loved the delicate rosé wine produced in Les Riceys, a small village of 1,500 inhabitants located in the south of Champagne, in the Côte des Bars. The production of rosé is a heroic act, because the village also has the right to produce, from the same grapes, Coteaux-Champenois and especially Champagne. The appellation of origin Rosé-des-Riceys occurs in three communes, Riceys-Haut, Riceys-Haute-Rive and Riceys-Bas, on specific plots, from a short maceration of the skins of the pinot noir grapes with its juice. Maceration is stopped as soon as the famous “taste of Riceys” appears. The wine then passes from the vat into oak barrels where it matures for a year or more.  This rosé is rare. Of the 320 million bottles produced, still wines called Coteaux-Champenois represent less than a million and Rosé-des-Riceys a few tens of thousands. In other  words, nothing for a global market. But it is one of the best rosés in France and its very original taste, more Burgundy than Champagne, is sought after, especially since it can be kept without problem between three and ten years. This rosé is eaten locally on pig’s trotters in Sainte-Ménehould or on a soufflé pie with chaource cheese. Among the fifteen producers, it must be mention Alexandre Bonnet, always very consistent, Olivier Horiot, with a good density, Defrance, quite rustic, and Veuve Devaux, always very elegant. Four interpretations for a unique wine. Indeed to taste!!!

Today, some winegrowers proclaim it loud and clear: they are proud to belong to one of the 580 cellars or unions of French cellars (cooperatives). Out of 75,000 harvest declarations in 2019, 43,300 are cooperative members who own small structures of around seven hectares. The geographical development of my selection begins in Alsace where the Cave de Ribeauvillé, created in 1895, is considered to be the oldest of the cooperatives. The Champagne is the region which offers the most beautiful list of enterprising cellars, since the beginning of the century to moment when the Champagne economic network is united between the trade and the winegrowers following the revolts of 1911. In Burgundy, the producers of crémants are efficient, while in still wines, La Chablisienne has long proved its worth, followed by the cellars from the Mâconnais and the Côte Chalonnaise such as Lugny, Buxy and the Vignerons des Terres Secrètes. In the Jura, the village fruit farms have a voice, particularly that of Arbois. In the Rhône Valley, the Cave de Tain-Hermitage is playing in the big league, while some cellars in southern villages are on the rise, with cuvées based on often organic and / or “natural” fruit. The Midi offers a nice group of dynamic cellars. It is true that cooperation has its roots in Hérault, thanks to the alliance in 1901 of a small group of winegrowers from the village of Maraussan, Les Vignerons Libres, whose cellar inaugurated in 1905 during Jaurès’ speech founded the system. 31% of cooperation is concentrated in Languedoc and Roussillon. Finally, on the western front, two large groups dominate the southwest: the dynamic Cave de Plaimont and Vinovalie, the Bordeaux entity Tutiac, which has taken over the marketing of a large part of the region. The Loire, for its part, remains slightly behind …too small to join forces as cooperatives.

The AOP Listrac-Médoc is, with its cousin Moulis, the most “continental” of the town’s appellations of the Médoc. They doesn’t “look” at the estuary like the others. Thus, even if the climate is temperate oceanic, the temperature minima are lower here than in the other communal areas of the peninsula. The Listrac and Moulis area is one of the latest in the Bordeaux vineyards. Listrac is also distinguished by its terroir. The soils of the Médoc depend largely on the six ancient terraces of the Garonne. The wine-growing soils are generally more clayey than in the other Médoc town’s appellations. Hence a higher proportion of Merlot (63%). But there are significant variations between sites …! This was a find for us way back and enjoying ever since.

The French wine and spirits sector is sacrificed for a dispute over aeronautics,yes. The Federation of FEVS exporters denounced  last Thursday, December 31, 2020 after the announcement of extended customs duties by Washington (USA). Three weeks from the end of its mandate, the Trump administration announced on the night of Wednesday, December 30 to Thursday that it was preparing to impose additional customs duties on European products, in particular wines (excluding sparkling wines like champagne) and cognacs. Washington is authorized to do so by the World Trade Organization in the context of its dispute with the EU on aid to aeronautical giants. Since October 2019, the United States has imposed a 25% customs duty on still wines below 14 degrees, sold in containers of less than two liters!! According to information from the FEVS, this 25% tax will now extend to all still wines, including in bulk, as well as to wine-based spirits, such as cognac. The FEVS calls on the EU to take action to finally resolve this conflict between Airbus and Boeing and to compensate the French and European companies which are the collateral damage of this interminable conflict. Indeed trade wars are not good and do not resolve anything.

The Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) Wine Bar is located on the ground floor of the Hotel Gobineau, a magnificent 18C building reminiscent of the famous Flatiron in New York. The place which also  houses the headquarters of the CIVB is atypical with its neoclassical architecture and its stained glass windows dedicated to the wine world. Lovers of Bordeaux wines flock to it, the queue often overflows into the street! Here, they only serve bordeaux! The menu is regularly updated, and you can permanently taste around thirty wines carefully selected and served by the glass. The prices are between 2 and 8 €. The tasting can be accompanied by platters of cheese, cold cuts, or chocolates. Note on sunny days: the place has a pretty terrace, with a breathtaking view of the Grand Théâtre. Indeed we always stop by when in Bordeaux since 1991!!  Le Bar à Vin du CIVB, 3, cours du 30-juillet, 33000 Bordeaux. Tél. : 05 56 00 43 47. webpage : https://baravin.bordeaux.com/

And last, left for last as it is a sad news indeed, my Lavinia is gone.

It is with great sadness , really no words for it that I read in the LRVF magazine ,the Lavinia wine shops are closing this January 9 2021! This is certainly bad news, which shows the fragility of the wine professions in these times of the Covid19 virus , and which will make a big splash. The Lavinia store, the emblematic wine merchant on Boulevard de la Madeleine, will close its doors on Saturday January 9 in the evening.  One of the most beautiful wine windows in Paris draws the curtain, after twenty years of ambitious work to raise the reputation of the best French and foreign wines in the capital. It rose to nearly 40 million euros in sales in 2015, including 17 million for the Madeleine store alone, its flagship. Opening of a restaurant where you could drink any bottle of the store without corkage duty (yes wonderful after work), development of a very profitable spirits department, distribution of wines to restaurants via the Vins du Monde subsidiary, corporate gifts, gift boxes for individuals, online sales, home deliveries in the West of Paris, store openings in Madrid, (visit here too!!) Barcelona, franchises in Ukraine to Kiev and Odessa, subsidiaries in Hong Kong, establishment in La Défense, specialized distribution with the takeover of the Augé boulevard Haussmann cellar. …The brand innovated every year, with some success. And the high rent in the Madeleine district (more than 1.2 million euros per year! Yes Paris is expensive!) weighs too much when the demonstrations of yellow vests erupt in the beautiful districts then the Covid19 virus, which plummets the attendance of the store. The Covid19  virus , in fact, also cut the taps of foreign tourists visiting Paris and fond of iconic bottles, which represented nearly 5% of turnover. Barcelona have closed, Ukraine has not responded since the Orange Revolution and the situation is tense within the group. Last April, Lavinia sold its Vins du Monde subsidiary and its allocations to prestigious foreign domains such as Vega Sicilia, Harlan Estate or Pingus. After the closure of the Lavinia La Défense store, a business district that has been deserted since the rise of teleworking, here is the turn of Lavinia La Madeleine. Again, sad very sad if there was one I thought this one will survive but I guess was wrong, the virus did it but it has been a downward fall for a while. Oh well , need to find me another one now! Lavinia will be irreplaceable!

And there go folks , gladly reporting from the world of wine and my belle France. Hope you enjoy reading as Id writing it. En vino veritas!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!! And to add drink wine even if in moderation lol!!!

December 29, 2020

Real Madrid CF, the world’s best!!

I wrote this article back in January 2011 in my blog, and need to update. Once in a while I dwell away from my travels and this is one big hobby of mine, a fanatic!!! The game of football/soccer/calcio has taken me to meet many good people over the years and visited many countries with stories of the game. Lucky me also played and socio member of the greatest club in history, the Real Madrid CF. Let me tell you the story ok; hope you enjoy as I.

I will be talking about something personal, it is my club since my 13 year!, and had written before but never really had the initiative to write something about its history and accomplishments until now. As written all over my blog and proud of ,I lived in Madrid for four years between 1970 to 1974, and played for the Real Madrid in baseball, volleyball ,and football/soccer in the infantil (12-13 yrs) division. Once a Madridista, always a Madridista to the grave. There is no other team club alike in the history of the game of football/soccer. Simply the best and still been recognised as such. Best Club of the 20 century by FIFA, best club of the 20 century by IFFHS in Europe, and recently voted by the Dubai Globe Soccer Awards as so far 2000-2020 best club of the 21 century!

I was just a young kid that was introduced to the organisation by a baseball umpire to play for their junior baseball team at the parque de la Elipa, from my home at Calle de Alcalà, Quintana neighborhood or barrio in the district of Ciudad Lineal;  it was just a bus P13 (now name the 113) to it. While there, friends used to go to see the team different sports, and  played, Ciudad Deportiva (the old one by the paseo de la Castellana now has four skyrises call the four towers.

While going to these games, some kids who were already on the different sports organisations and had played football with me in parks like parque Calero and Retiro ,asked me to come to the Ciudad Deportiva installations for a tryout that was open. With the help of my baseball contacts that included member “socios” of the Real Madrid football team I got my first tryouts. Before long, I too, was wearing the white shirt of the football team, and move up from benjamin to alevin status. Those were wonderful memories even if just what is left is memories. Never forget that day in 1972 when I first enter the Real Madrid CF . Unfortunately, times were different then and me poorer so no camera no pictures just memories in my mind forever.

From then on it has been a love affaire wherever I may be living, trying for all means to obtain news of the team, and enjoying every second of my visits to the city from 1977 on to today. I am active in several forums that talks about the team, and go to the stadium often in season to see football and basketball games from Vistalegre to Caja Magica to Valdebebas to Santiago Bernabeu, and now the Wizink Center. The old readers of Spain will know the trail!

A bit of history I like

The team was born out of educators who sat around and found a club in 1897 in the Vallecas barrio or neighborhood. Quickly it became more organised by several of the members of the team in 1901 and eventually  Julian Palacios as first President officially  registered the club in 1902 as the Madrid Foot-Ball Club. By 1920 the king Alfonso XIII give it the royal rank of Real or Royal as he was a follower too ::) ,and honorary member =socio. From June 1920 it became the Real Madrid CF that we know today. The team participated in the first Spanish league organised in 1929 finishing in second place.  The first league came on this period in the 1931-32 season, the first title !

The greatest period came after the Spanish Civil War when on September 15 , 1943 when ex player and ex coach ,Santiago Bernabeu was named President of the club. After organising an international tournament in Colombia in 1952, they saw what was in 1953 their greatest signing that of Alfredo Di Stefano( Argentina) , considered by many the world’s greatest player , as well as the Spanish Francisco “paco” Gento from Santander and the league championship came back to the Real Madrid in the 1953-54 season.  They were the start of an amazing run of Five European Cups in a row (record) .  With player like Amancio and Velazquez the club again wins the European Cup in 1966 while continuing to pile up Ligas and Cups at home, these were the Ye-Ye years . The sad news came in June 2nd 1978 with the passing of Don Santiago Bernabeu, (to note his wife was from Camagüey Cuba!)  the greatest president ever, and today the stadium bears his name as well as the metro stop to it on line 10.

The team follow with the 80’s “la Quinta del Buitre” nickname given to Emilio Butragueño as well as Mexican Hugo Sanchez (Hugol), and many more Ligas however no European Cup. The team from the farm system delighted many and remains one of the most popular periods in the club history even without winning an European championship.  The team continue to wins Ligas in the 90’s with the incorporation of perennial and crowd favorite Raul Gonzalez Blanco, probably the best player ever from the farm system. Finally in 1998 , the team came back to win again its trophy , the European Cup now call Champions league. In 1999 the great coach and former player Vicente del Bosque arrive promoting to the first team the legendary goalkeeper Iker Casillas ,and with it winning again the Champions league in 2000.

With the election of 2000, a new president came into being the entrepreneur Florentino Perez, ;this was the so call Galactic era, where millionaires dotting shorts and representing the Real Madrid razzle dazzle the world without any title in Europe but huge pay checks from uncle Florentino (too enterprise and little football not my favorite) . Leagues or ligas were won but not sufficient due to the expenditures made. Another Champions league was won in 2002 with player like Figo, Zidane,Ronaldo, and Beckham. The chosen successor made it look like an election was Ramon Calderon who created many administrative problems for the club,and was made to resigned in 2009. Ironically, it was Florentino Perez who replaced him single handily without opposition due to no changes in the club by laws where the rich wins, and the second Galactic era began with signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, the signing from England of Spaniard Xabi Alonso and from France Karim Benzema all very expensive contracts and no titles.

The 2010-2013 seasons of Real Madrid were under new coach Jose Mourinho allows the club to play La Liga, the Copa del Rey and the Champions League after a white season. However, only winning the Copa del Rey or King’s Cup. The 2013-2015 were under coach Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez 2015-2016, Zinadine Zidane 2016-2018 (from France and 3 consecutive Champions league, a record!) ,then Julen Lopetegui, Santiago Solari and finally back to Zinadine Zidane from 2019 to present.

Nevertheless, the club is the most winning club in the history of the sport in Spain and abroad regardless of the so call media frenzy of popular teams with a lot less history due to ever increasing publicity and media manipulation.  The Santiago Bernabeu stadium was built in 1947, with a capacity of  80 354 spectators today. The new Real Madrid sport city or Ciudad Deportiva is today at Valdebebas just outside Madrid and the basketball arena is the WiZink Center (before Caja Magica and before Vistalegre). See my posts on them, the Santiago Bernabeu stadium is now undergoing a huge renovation which will include amongst other things a covered declinable roof!

The club has participated in all 88 season of Spanish first division football, and has won 34 Ligas, by far the most. The player who has obtained the most titles with the club are Francisco Gento 23, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo 22, and Manuel Sanchis with 21 titles, and the player with most games is Raul Gonzalez Blanco with 741 games and then Iker Casillas with 725 games. The best scorer has been Cristiano Ronaldo with 450 goals, and then Raul with 323 goals. The most games by an international player is still Karim Benzema so far 529 games all inclusive. I must add Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, and Karim Benzema are still playing on the club!

These are the Real Madrid CF club titles:

Spanish Liga Champions (34): 1931/32, 1932/33, 1953/54, 1954/55,1956/57, 1957/58, 1960/61, 1961/62, 1962/63, 1963/64, 1964/65, 1966/67, 1967/68, 1968/69, 1971/72, 1974/75, 1975/76, 1977/78, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1985/86, 1986/87, 1987/88, 1988/89, 1989/90, 1994/95, 1996/97, 2000/01, 2002/03, 2006/07, 2007/08.2012/13; 2017/18 and 2019/20.

Vice Champion of the Liga  (23): 1928/29, 1933/34, 1934/35, 1935/36, 1941/42, 1944/45, 1958/59, 1959/60, 1965/66, 1980/81, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1991/92, 1992/93, 1998/99, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2008/09, 2009/10. 2011/12   2013/14 2015/16; 2016/17.

Copa del Rey or Kings Cup or Spain (19): 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1917, 1934, 1936, 1946, 1947, 1962, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1989, 1993.2011. 2014.

Vice Champions of the Kings Cup or Spain (20): 1903, 1916, 1918, 1924, 1929,1930,1933,1940,1943,1958, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1967/68, 1978/79 , 1983, 1990, 1992, 2001, 2003. 2013.

Super Cup of Spain (11): 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2008. 2012.2017.2020.

vice Champion Super Cup of Spain (5): 1982, 1995, 2007, 2011; 2014.

League Cup (1): 1985.  vice Champion League Cup  (1): 1983.  Eva Duarte Cup (1):1947.

Regional Championships and Community trophies (23) 1904/05, 1905/06, 1906/07, 1907/08, 1909/10, 1912/13, 1915/16, 1916/17, 1917/18, 1919/20, 1921/22,1922/23,1923/24, 1926/26, 1927/28 ,1929/30,1930/31, 1932/33, 1933/34, 1934/35, 1935/36.

On the International scene just the same as good thank you!

Champions League  (13): 1955-56, 1956-57, 1957-58, 1958-59, 1959-60, 1965-66, 1997-98, 1999-00, 2001-02. 2013/14 ; 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18.

vice Champions Champions League (3) 1962 , 1964 ; 1981

 UEFA Cup (2): 1984/85, 1985/86.

Super Cup of UEFA (4): 2002, 2014;2016; 2017. Vice Champions Super Cup of UEFA (3) 1998 , 2000, 2018.

Intercontinental Cup (3): 1960,1998,2002.  Vice Champion Intercontinental Cup  (2): 1966,2000

World Club Champions FIFA (4) 2014 2016 2017 2018

Vice Champion European Cup of Cups  (2): 1971,1983

Ibero American Cup  (1): 1994. Latin Cup(2): 1955, 1957.  Club Small World Cup  (2): 1952, 1956.

The team has an immense farm system factory or Fàbrica, that allows to maintain teams in many divisions and with excellent championship records as well such as the Real Madrid-Castilla, and  teams in every division of Spain. It ,also has an excellent basketball section with 9 times champions of Europe. They played in the ACB league.

A bit of history on the Real Madrid basketball section. My second team ::)

The Real Madrid basketball section was born on March 8, 1931 following an advertisement in a Spanish daily, ABC, inviting all gentlemen interested in playing basketball to join the club. Raimundo Saporta is part of a commission, also comprising the Yugoslav Borislav Stanković, the French Robert Busnel, the Czech Miloslav Kriz and the Soviet Nikolai Semasko, who during the European Championships in 1957, invited the national federations to participate in their national champions in a competition which began in 1958 and for which the newspaper L’Équipe (France) provided the trophy. This is the Basketball version of the Champions league of football.

Some of the better known players at least to me were Clifford Luyk who wore the white jersey from 1961 to 1978 and took part in Real Madrid first six triumphs on the European scene. Another American, Wayne Brabender, the Spanish pivot Fernando Martín Espina , and Emiliano Rodríguez. There are newer players today like Sergio Llul, Felipe Reyes, Carroll, Randolph , and Tavares. As far as coaches, my favorites were Pedro Ferrándiz, who coached the club for four periods, from 1955 to 1957, then from 1959 to 1962, 1964 to 1965 and finally from 1966 to 1975, is the coach who has contributed the most to enriching the list. Under his leadership, Real won four Champion Clubs’ Cups in 1965, 1967, 1968 and 1974. eleven championship titles and eleven Spanish cups. Lolo Sainz (1975-1994) , Ettore Messina, and the current Pablo Laso.

These are the Real Madrid CF basketball club titles:

Spanish League Champion (35): 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019

Spanish Cup Champion (28): Copa del Generalísimo: 1951, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, Copa del Rey, King’s Cup: 1977, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1993, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2020.

Champions of the Spanish Supercup (7): 1985, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Champion of the European Champion Clubs’ Cup – Euroleague: 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1995, 2015, 2018.

Intercontinental Cup /World Cup Champion: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981; 2015

ULEB Cup champion: 2007.  Saporta ReCopa of Europe Champion: 1984, 1989, 1992, 1997.  Korać Cup  champion: 1988. Champion of the Latina Cup: 1952-1953.  Champion of Torneo Internacional ACB: 1984, 1988, 1989.

And the story does not stop here, the sky is the limit, we want them all!!! You want to see the best football/soccer, basketball in Europe come to Madrid, Spain and see my Real Madrid CF!!! Enjoy the this post, and the many others on my team in my blog!

Some webpages to help you recognise the wonderful history of the Real Madrid clubs are

The official Real Madrid club webpagehttps://www.realmadrid.com/en

If you want to be part of the family, then become a Madridista here : https://www.realmadrid.com/aficion/madridistas/internacionales

If you want to shop online or find the store in Madrid webpage: http://www.realmadridshop.com/stores/realmadrid/default.aspx

The usual layout for ticketing was to go on avenida Concha Espina puerta or door 55 or the calle Carmen 3 near Sol in city center, metro sol. It will be interesting to know how the store at the stadium will be once completely renovated as ongoing.

If you want to buy official ticket online ahead of games and pick up yours at the stadium, very easy then see the official webpage: https://www.realmadrid.com/en/tickets

If you want to discuss in Spanish the latest trends in Spanish football and especially the Real Madrid join me in this forum Foro Real Madrid at webpage: https://fororealmadrid.com/index.php

For the best sport journal in Spain and extensive coverage of football following since 1972,  see AS (you can have it in English too go to sports heading top right) webpage:http://www.as.com/

There you go folks, now I feel better,updated and clear text me think for you. Enjoy the post and more so the Real Madrid CF!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

December 29, 2020

Madrid: Church of the Holy Cross!!

And back to Madrid cannot be too far from it! I look at this church recently on my trips there, not before. And I thought needed to be shown more it is a little jewel in a frequented area that is left more as an off the beaten path sight. Let me tell you  a bit about the Iglesia de la Santa Cruz!

Oh yes this is known to us as the Iglesia de la Santa Cruz at Calle Atocha,6 in my beloved Madrid. There are many famous popular and tourist sites in Madrid, but why keep talking about them….I have been asked many times if there are new things to see in a particular city such as Madrid, well there are plenty you just need time…lots of time, Madrid has plenty.  I can write a blog on Madrid alone too, but the goal is share travel experiences from everywhere, anyway, Madrid will be always home in my beloved Spain

As mentioned the Iglesia de la Santa Cruz is at a nice popular zone near the Atocha train station and the Plaza de Atocha or at Calle de Atocha no 6 corner of Calle de Santo Tomàs. You can get here by Metro Tirso de Molina or Sol on  lines 1, 2, 3  or at metro Anton Martin, line 1.

The  Church of the Holy Cross is found in a lot where the convent of St Thomas of Aquinas of the Dominican Order was founded in 1583 by priest Diego de Chaves ,confessor of king Felipe II. The story goes that by 1626 , it felled under the patron of the count duke of Olivares and in 1635 the first stone was laid for a new Church, that went on fire in 1652  making the convent and the Church disappeared.  It is rebuilt in 1660 and the high altar falls off in 1726 killing the churchgoers , then in 1756 it goes through another fire. Finally in 1876 another fire destroyed the whole building and it was demolished. The current Church was began to be built in 1889 with a facade in the Churriguresco style and the cloister of the baroque school; the construction needed to stop for lack of funds and they took off again in 1899 , finally the Church was completed in 1902. Lots of faith and perseverance indeed.

The current Church of the Holy Cross or Santa Cruz has a neo Gothic style with brick and white stone of Colmenar, the principal facade has an arc crown by a triangular front with a Cross.  The center of the facade has a relief with the apotheosis of the Cross and on top of the portico a great cupola in which a big clock . It has one nerf with eight lateral chapels.

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The most interesting point of the tower is at more than 80 meters high at which top the bells are enclosed in a dome looking like a fortress and in some way continue the tradition of the previous Church towers of 144 feet built in 1660 and known as the Atalaya de la Corte (watchtower of the courts).  The tower was the highest point in the city until the Telefonica building in Gran Via was done in the 1920’s.

In the interior there is a portrait of the Virgen de la Cinta , patron Saint of the city of Huelva . Here is the seat of the fraternity branch of that of Huelva. Since building the Church in 1902, the Archicofradía del Santo Entierro de Madrid ( Catholic association of the holy burial ) , and one of the oldest in the city ,created in 1412. Also, home since the end of the 1950’s to the Cofradía de María Santísima de Araceli de Madrid, branch of the Real Archicofradía de María Santísima de Araceli de Lucena, in Cordoba.

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The Parish Church of Santa Cruz with a description in Spanish: https://www.parroquiadesantacruz.com/index.php/descripcion-del-templo/

There is a nice stop and not so far from the more popular places, just a tip of the off the beaten paths of my Madrid. Hope you enjoy the Church of the Holy Cross or the Iglesia de la Santa Cruz.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 28, 2020

Torrejon de Ardoz, Madrid!!

Ok so this is for the nostalgia of family times; and needs an update/revision of its text. I have other posts on sights in my blog. Not really a tourist attraction, just a regular local town with one nice big shopping mall outside. This, then, will be a black and white post. However, is part of my youth of living in Madrid. Let me tell you a bit about Torrejon de Ardoz in the Comunidad de Madrid region.

On my continuing quest to update, revise, add subtract pictures from older posts in my blog, I bring you back to Torrejon de Ardoz. Childhood memories of this town which was lucky enough to bring my dear late wife Martine and the boys to visit and buy toys here. Therefore, here is my black and white homage to Torrejon de Ardoz, memories forever!

On a rainy day , I am thinking of expanding my writings on a not really touristic town of my beloved Madrid. Yes the province or Comunidad de Madrid. I spent many summers here, when a young teen. Much later, came back with the family just for the memories and the shopping center of Toys R Us! and the boys love it. 

Torrejón de Ardoz is in the corridor area of  Henares  (Alcalà) and also has presence in the metro area of Madrid. ​ It really took off in the 20C as a city growing along the expressway A-2 Madrid-Barcelona.  In addition it is connected to the rail line Madrid-Barcelona, and the beltway roads of M-50 and M-45 as well as the  M-206  towards Loeches and Ajalvir.  It is only 19 km from Puerta del Sol in Madrid and 9 km from Adolfo Suarez Barajas-Madrid airport. There is a toll road, the radial or R2 Madrid – Guadalajara, the M-108 connects with Ajalvir;and the M-206 connects San Fernando de Henares with Loeches ; and finally the  M-300 connects to  Alcalá de Henares. This is too many roads,, but it has grown when I lived in Madrid coming here there was only one road, and we came by bus the 224!!

There is bus connection I took when a child and also tested my family on it on our trip back then in 1993. Of course, the buses still do the run. You take the 224 in avenida de América, Madrid bus terminal to direction Hospital de Torrejon at Torrejon de Ardoz, you stop at Constitucion and there take the local bus no 4 to Parque Corredor a huge shopping center my kids love it.

The suburbian train lines or Cercanías C-2 and C-7 have a city center station and another in the residential area of Soto del Henares (near the Hospital de Torrejón ,and the industrial park Casablanca). The city center station is at the Plaza de España. The line C-2 Guadalajara – Madrid Atocha – Madrid Chamartín (- Cercedilla/Segovia-El Escorial/Ávila), and the line   C-7 Alcalá de Henares – Madrid Atocha- Madrid Chamartín (- Las Rozas – Príncipe Pío).

The Centro Comercial “Parque Corredor” has an hypermarket Alcampo (from the French chain Auchan), and more than 180 stores including the famous Toys R Us and a children playground.  By car as we did lately is on the road M-108 Carretera or highway of Ajalvir-Torrejon between Km 2 and km 5 well posted on the road. See my post on the shopping center.

A bit of history I like on Torrejon de Ardoz

In the 11C, after the castle of Aldovea, the town of  Torrejón de Ardoz is created. In 1118, the kingdom of Castile under king Alfonso VII, reconquered Alcalá (Henares) and these lands of which included the castle.  On an anecdote history will said that in 1906, Mateo Morral  tries to assassinate the king Alfonso XIII, and his wife and was able to escape to Madrid  ,however he is notice by several persons in a lot not far from  Torrejón de Ardoz, where he had stopped to eat. These persons called the security guard of the lot,  Fructuoso Vega, that after some verifications followed Mateo. Eventually, he gave up peacefully , but when he was conducted by the guard to the police station of Torrejón de Ardoz, he was killed by the guard and later this one took his life as well. Maybe a complot never to be known the roots of it. In 1955 the USA air base came here as part of the agreement with Gen Franco and the USA . I came to play baseball here in the 1970’s and a team from the base form part of the baseball league of Madrid with 8 teams including Real Madrid (my team) Atletico de Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Condepols, Piratas, and the Abraham Lincoln school from memory.  We played the games at the Elipa municipal fields (see post on the baseball story) which today it is still the Baseball federation base of Madrid and a baseball field still in use. In 1992 , the Americans leave and where the air base was now you see many installations, like a hospital, hotel, golf course, etc. all under the Defense ministry of Spain.

Things to see in Torrejon de Ardoz, me think ,nice to out off the beaten paths.

The Casa Grande is located in the Calle de Madrid in the old town of Torrejon de Ardoz. It was built in the 14C to beginning of the 15C. It was founded in the 16C by the Company of Jesus  to managed the Imperial College of Madrid. After the expulsion of the Jesuists in 1776 under the reign of Carlos III it had several owners. For a long time was the headquarters of the Civil Guard until 1974 on which Rafael Onieva purchased it and restored it to turned it into a lodging (4 stars) and artistic place that is today. It ,also ,house an important museum of byzantine icons with more than 1200 pieces.

The Saint John the Evangelist or Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista,located in the Plaza Mayor,was built from the 16C. At first ,it was a small Church with two Chapels and two nerfs ,and the dead were buried in the Church.  From about 1784, worked began to expanded as we know it today. A Basilical style with three nerfs and a dome. There is a famous portrait of the painter Claudio Coello entitled the martyrism of St John the Evangelist or El Martirio de San Juan Evangelista that dates from 1675.

Another big area for entertainment for the family but one we have not been is the Parque Europa that opened in 2010 as an improvement and enlargement of the previous park of the Ardoz.  It has many activities for the family and a huge complex in miniature of the famous buildings of Europe. For info webpage: https://www.parqueeuropa.es/

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here, and why not, something different from off the beaten path for Spain, and great for kids at the shopping center and Europa park.

The City of Torrejon de Ardoz on things to see: https://www.ayto-torrejon.es/ciudad/lugares-de-interes

The Comunidad de Madrid tourist office on Torrejon de Ardoz: https://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/madrid-%C3%A1rea-metropolitana/7018-torrejon-de-ardoz.html?eprivacy=1

There you go another of my gems of youthful days and still memories that will not go away. Hope you enjoy Torrejon de Ardoz on something different. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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December 28, 2020

What else can I tell you on Madrid!

Oh that is a repeated line but first time on the title hehehe! Yes Madrid is sublime what more can I say? You know it if reading my posts in my blog. By the way, thanks for reading me over the last 10 years some of you and welcome the newer readers. Let me tell you an update older post on my Madrid or what else can I tell you on Madrid! I will tell you and see the pictures in individual posts unless not.

Indeed, this if you have been reading my posts , Madrid 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 on 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.  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  while at it , do some shopping in El Corte Inglés dept store !!

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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. My favorite book store coming here since 1971!!! 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.

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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! 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 heritage.

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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!

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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 then wife in Madrid, Las Cuevas de Luis Candela past the Arco de Cuchilleros! And repeat visits over the years; memories forever here of my dear late wife Martine!!!

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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.

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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. It had closed by April 2019 and was demolished in summer of 2020. Sadly another historic building gone from Madrid!

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Cannot be in Madrid without stopping by the Santiago Bernabeu stadium of  my forever team: Real Madrid FC, simply the best ever, Hala Madrid!!!. 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 Esquina del Bernabeu is been demolished in the new renovation complex of a covered stadium Santiago Bernabeu. Something had to pay and the shopping complex is it.

Ah yes of course, we ate something other than drinking 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!!! This is a wonderful inexpensive chain very lively place!

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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!!! Hope you enjoy the post.

And remember,happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

December 27, 2020

Catedral Santa Maria, Primada de España!

Wow this was and is a big task. I am updating revising this old post from 2017. However, the redoing is complete as really this place needs a lot more than one post, it is sublime. Hope I cover the main points on the Catedral Santa Maria, Primada de España or Saint Mary’s Cathedral , primate of Spain! The province of Toledo, in the autonomous comunity of Castilla La Mancha, Kingdom of Spain!

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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 , primate of Toledo and Toledo. Catedral Santa Maria de Toledo, Primada de España! The construction began in 1226 with white stone  in Gothic style;finished in 1493.

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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 of Toledo 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.

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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.

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You have the Capilla Mayor , inside of it you see the Capilla del Sepulcro (burial) , the beforementioned Capilla MozarabeCapilla 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

Hope you enjoy the brief introduction as like i said need a book or several posts to cover it. And of course, this is Toledo!!!

The official Catedral de Toledo webpage: https://www.catedralprimada.es/en/info/catedral/historia/

The Tourist office of Toledo on the Cathedral: https://turismo.toledo.es/museo-monumento-expo/catedral-primada/

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

And there you go folks, plenty to go around and see this jewel of our time and forever. Hope you enjoy the introduction. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 27, 2020

Toledo, the magical blend of Spain!

And I got to go over these ones, wonderful visits of an old city both in age and on our visits with recently before passing away last year family near. This is Toledo, the magical blend of Spain! Let me give it some refresher look and redone! Toledo is worth it. Hope you enjoy as I do.

On our meadering road warrior routes of Castilla La Mancha and al. , 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.

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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) it was known as Toletum, then Arabic Tulaytulah (711), and Jewish known as Toldoth.  Christian since 1085. 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 city of Toledo page you can see the tourist districts or neighborhoods with a map of them here: https://www.toledo.es/servicios-municipales/oficinas-de-atencion-al-ciudadano/casco-historico/

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 (see post) 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.

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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. We saw a little train or Zocotren or little train ride all over town.

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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 GrecoSinagoga 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.

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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.

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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 (see post) 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!!! webpage: http://www.hostalpalacios.net/Restaurante.21.0.html

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The Tourist office of Toledo in Spanish: https://turismo.toledo.es/

The Tourist offices in the Diputacion and Province of Toledo in Spanish: https://www.diputoledo.es/global/11/1325/4900/turismo_videos

The region tourism of Castilla La Mancha on Toledohttp://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/toledo/

There is so much to see as I said in Toledo, and many popular places are easily found . 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. 

The pictures are mostly shown in individual posts on the sites in my blog, here will leave those not elsewhere me think…Enjoy them, and maybe inspire you to come to visit the city of cultures. Dream on like Don Quijote and visit magical Toledo in Castilla La Mancha!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 24, 2020

Madrid: Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena!!!

And here I will update something wonderful in my dear Madrid. It is not the oldest, but huge in meaning and a must to visit while passing by Madrid. It is simply known as the Almudena Cathedral but its official name is Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena!!! I find great joy in updating this post for all of us, hope you too enjoy it as I. The original post was from our visit in February 2017.

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Ok so with time on a Sunday evening time to write about something that was in Madrid after I left from my living time there, and saw afterward while visiting the city.  I have written on it in another post ,but this one was the first. I am talking about the Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena, next to the Royal Palace in Madrid. As everything there it is monumental and richly decorated. As you walk along Calle Mayor from the Plaza Mayor and you reach the Royal Palace or Palacio Real you can just look to your left and can’t missed it. Impressive view indeed!

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This is church of 104 meters long and 76 meters wide with a mix of architecture styles from neo classic in the exterior to neo roman in the interior and neo gothic in the crypt. It was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in his fourth trip to Spain in June 15 1993. It is the first Spanish Catedral consecrated by a Pope!!

A bit of history I like

There have been a desired to built a cathedral here going back to the 16C during the reign of king Felipe II. He chose Madrid as his capital. However, the Diocese of Toledo held that right and refuse to change it for many years. It was not until April 4, 1883 that king Alfonso XII finally laid the first stone of a church of what would be later the Cathedral of Madrid. The idea was just to rebuilt a church to replace the Church of Santa Maria de la Almudena, the oldest in Madrid,  destroyed by fire in 1868. It was built on land ceded in 1879 by Royal heritage of the Queen Maria Mercedes , a devotee of the Virgin of the Almudena, that had died prematurely.

In 1885, Pope Leon XIII decide by a pontifical decree to built a diocese in Madrid so putting an end to the opposition of the archbishops of Toledo. The draft of the new diocese took place in the Church of Saint Isidro until the cathedral was completed.

A bit on the construction of the Almudena Cathedral.

The exterior of the Almudena Cathedral has as a main nave dome a height of 32 meters a lot more than the 12 meters between the axe of its columns. The dome is gothic in style seen from the interior but baroque from the exterior. It is covered in stone and tiles with an octagonal drum and its four large windows with a small lantern below it. The dome is decorated with 12 statues representing the 12 apostles.

The two towers on the façade , the one on the right is known by the name of Mariana or of Gallegos (Galicians) as the bells were offered by the Galician’s. Both have Marianne names on each tower such as Santa Maria la Real de la Almudena, Santa Maria de la Paloma, Santa Maria de Atocha, and Santa Maria de la Flor de Lis. On the left tower that gives to the Calle Bailén you find the ringing carillon or bell.

The interior of the Almudena Cathedral can be said it is of Latin Cross design consisting of a nave and two wide side halls with three naves. A curve ambulatory with five radical chapels. The altar table is green marble and located in the center of the transept. To the right of it is the Episcopal chair, gothic lines carved in walnut in 1885. Behind the main altar ,you see the chairs of the presbytery with a crucified sculpture of Christ in baroque style done in 1620.

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The Virgin of La Almudena the patron saint of Madrid  has its altar in the transept of the right aisle, opposite the entrance by calle de Bailén. It is a high altar, which can be accessed by two side staircases with bronze handrail. The original sculpture, representing the Virgin with the child in her arms is an image of Gothic style carved in wood. It is positioned in the central niche of the altarpiece, done by the end of the 15C.

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You will see about 18 portraits representing scenes from the life of Jesus and Mary with gentle pleasant colors, most of neo gothic style. The image of the Virgin is elevated on a pedestal of silver from the 17C, with candles and glares of the same material. The central chapel on the ambulatory is dedicated to San Isidro Labrador and his wife Santa Maria de la Cabeza ,whose image is of baroque polychrome carving from the 17-18C ; the funeral coffins are from the 13C. The Chapels on the aisle are dedicated to contemporary Saints such as Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, decorated with sculpture reliefs. Others are Santo Venancio Blanco, Santo Mari Micael of the Blessed Sacrament ; Marian de Jesus de la Providencia, San Maravilla de Jesus, San Angel de la Cruz, San Vicente de Paula, San Luis de Marilla, San Pedro Poveda, Santa Maria Soledad Torre, Santa Maria Josefa del Corazon de Jesus. All are organise and decorated with images in contemporary style furniture for the most part. At the food of the altar you have a chapel of petinance and the baptismal chapel in white marble from the 18C.

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The Almudena Cathedral organ is located in the high choir at the foot of the nave back and was done with four keyboards ,pedal keyboard with mechanical and electrical links featuring 16 line pipes with the largest at 11 pipes high. 21 on line pipes for a playing keyboard , and a pedal with 3 more.

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It has ever since built, closely link to the Spanish Royal Family. In November 8 2000, was buried under the altar of the Virgin Mary, the Queen Maria de las Mercedes de Orleans, first wife of king Alfonso XII, whose remains were at El Escorial until the completion of the Cathedral. On May 22 2004, it was the scene of the marriage of Prince of Asturias Felipe of Borbon with Letizia Ortiz . On August 20, 2011, the Pope Benedict XVI became the second Pope to visit the Cathedral where he presided over Mass within the events of the XXVI World Youth Day. It was, also, the site of State ceremonies such as the funeral of former Presidents Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo in 2008 and Adolfo Suarez in 2014 (the forerunner of the Democracy movement we see today in Spain).

The official webpage of the Almudena Cathedral in Spanish: https://catedraldelaalmudena.es/

It is a must to see in Madrid and a great souvenir of your visit. Do not forget to see the museum (next to Cathedral) , and the Chapel of the Bishop (plaza de la paja s/n) , and the Crypt at Calle Mayor 90 ( need ask to see it at 12h or midday) , open Mondays to Saturdays from 10h to 14h30 only. Normal adult admission is 6€. ticket office is in the main façade of the Cathedral facing the Palacio Real, metro Opera lines 2 and 5 or bus 3 and 148 stop at Calle  Mayor corner with Calle Bailén.

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The official webpage of the museum /Chapel, and Crypt in Spanish: https://museo.catedraldelaalmudena.es/#

The Madrid tourist office on the Almudena Cathedral in English: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/catedral-de-la-almudena

A private site in French! Monuments de Madrid, but very good on info , pictures and videos of the Almudena Cathedral: http://monumentsdemadrid.com/cathedrale-almudena-madrid

Hope you enjoy the post on the Almudena Cathedral of my dear Madrid . It is a dear must to visit, and the area around it is fantastic with the Royal Palace, Sabatini garden, Royal Opera, and to the left the Basilica San Francisco el Grande, (see posts) ,all wonderful things to see in my dear Madrid.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 18, 2020

Madrid, walking memories of Madrid!

And here I am again on my continuing saga of black and white post reviving older posts in my blog. And I bring you back to my dear Madrid.

Another chance in life to visit Madrid, for four days last week. Always great feeling as this was my entry into Europe, and lived there with my dear late mother Gladys for several years in Quintana. No photos then, too poor to own a camera. This time was a business trip but plenty of time to walk and see my neighborhood of Quintana; line 5 in the metro de Madrid.

I stayed as always recently at the Ayre Gran Colon Hotel at Calle del Pez Volador, 1: this is an excellent hotel, with cafe resto dj music disco style at nights, big rooms, nice friendly service, and central to all of Madrid on lines 6 circular and line 9 out on calle doctor Esquerdo or the buses 56,143,156 stops right there.

The Café Ayre is wonderful with dj music ,big sports TV, (saw my Real Madrid vs Manchester City, we won !!! 3×2)  , and a Champions records win.  The breakfast are full style with plenty to eat and great display of goodies,nice. I needed taxi service once to get to office and they were very efficient and on time. Nice hotel complex. Recommended.

I set out to walk Madrid, like any city ,the best way to really get to know it. I walk the areas that I ran and hide to go out in my early teens years; the walk up to the Torre España or Spain tower ,with 220 meters high (232 with TV antennas), and the tree line calle del alcalde sainz de baranda to get to calle Menendez Pelayo and the wonderful Retiro park or Parque del Buen Retiro, and see the place I went to birthday parties etc now a fine resto Florida Park, the wonderful fountains and alleyways of the park, the monument to General Martinez Campos with the inscriptions of his campaigns like a major one in Cuba in the 1876-1895. You come behind the monumental arch and statue to king Alfonso XIII and the pond or estanque del Retiro with its magical boats, that I once rode my girlfriends on it lol!!! Still the place to be if you are in love!

I went over Menendez Pelayo, and doctor Esquerdo streets, see the nice Church of the Santisimo Samontinos,  Calle del Alcalde Sáinz de Baranda, 3 off Menendez Pelayo.

Right across, had my wonderful merluza with almonds garlic,olive oil dish, and chips and nice cruzcampo beers,and Mahou 5 Estrellas try them all lol!! again. Finish with a nice coffee, all for 32€ yes the fish dish was huge! and the beers plenty just needed to walk back to hotel ::) This was at Cerveceria Cruz Blanca at calle Menendez Pelayo,47, with branches all over Spain. They became my regular stop in Madrid here and at the other location nearer the hotel in calle del Doctor Esquerdo.

Of course, I visited my old neighborhood of Quintana, right off metro line 5 at Alcala 331, always a pilgrimage when in town. The plaza Quintana with my old Docamar was the site of heavy mahou beers and patatas bravas, just across my old piso, apartment. The place was packed with people out mingling, talking, playing cards, just a bustle and hustle of a vibrant lively city as always the times or needs dont change in Madrid. From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!!!!!

I have the chance to be driven around by the office management folks very nice people, and at nights the time to walk my favorites areas, just a great week in Madrid. Enjoy Madrid, always I will have Madrid!!

And always the sentimental moment of flying back to my new home. To get this time to Madrid ,I flew from Nantes as usually  on Iberia and this time they were on time handled by Air Nostrum. The ride was by car as I was nicely pick up at Barajas T4 by management.  I then try line 5,6,9 on the metro, and the rest of times walking wonderful Madrid!

I will be back, as it seems never left it or Madrid has never left me!!! Hope you enjoy this brief post on my dear Madrid and do visit when possible, you will love it too.

And remember, happy travels,good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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December 18, 2020

Parque del Buen Retiro,Madrid of course!

Well do not know if the title looks familiar, so many on this dear park of mine. Every time there and lucky every year until the virus need to be there, so the title might be similar but the feelings are the same. The Parque del Buen Retiro is Madrid!

I like to update this post, actually it is from 2013 or maybe earlier I had erased the post as first thought too many on Retiro park. But  heck, this is Madrid; so hope you like it as I do, and thanks for reading! The sights are in other posts with pictures, here just the ones I think are not repeated.

Ok so again, it is the essence and lungs of Madrid, the best known park, a rich history and memories of youth. I lived not far from it, and used to walk its alleys and greens all over as a youth, then as an adult came to it on every trip to Madrid as if doing a pilgrimage to a sacred place. It is for me always will be Retiro, my park. And,yes even if came on a business trip, I went here like a pilgrim!

The park is 118 hectares or 291,4 acres. It takes its name from Felipe IV royal palace that once stood there. The only remains are the Cason del Buen Retiro (now part of the Prado museum) and the Museo del Ejercito (where the sword of El Cid was and now at the Army museum, Calle de Mendez Nuñez). The royal family used it from 1632, in the 18C it was partially opened to the public as long as they came properly dress ,until finally fully open to the general public in 1869.

You can’t missed the estanque or pond where boats can be rented, at paseo de Colombia. A favorite of mine even today, used to take my girlfriends there and oars the boat just to show off ! Then took my girlfriend then wife, did the same just to show off. Then took my boys and wrote them around with the stories just to be sure they do the same ,hopefully !  Beyond the park main view you see the half moon colonnade with the equestrian figure of king Alfonso XII; all of 30 meters high (99 ft)  by 86 meters long (284 ft)  and 58 meters wide (191 ft). It was called a national contest to built it upon the request of the regent queen Maria Cristina, the winner finally did it inspired on the monument of William I of Berlin, built this one in 1922 . It is at the west side of the pond or Estanque Grande. Around the king you have statues of representation of peace, progress and liberty . Around the hemicycle you have other statues representing The army and marine, the sciences, agriculture, Arts, industry, and two lions.

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To the south of the pond you have two attractive palaces; the neoclassical Palacio de Velazquez(red brick and tiles now an exposition center by paseo de Venezuela )  and the Palacio de Cristal (crystal palace as in London by paseo de la Republica de Cuba). You can come towards the Prado museum and the botanical gardens entry by plaza de Murillo. I have separate posts on these.

There are several entrances to the Retiro park but the main entrance for me and family is by the Puerta de Alcala, (see post) the gateway used by king Carlos III (emperor Carlos V) to entered Madrid that in the 19C marked the easternmost entry to the city. Occupying the plaza de la Independencia or Independance plaza. Coming into it the Calle Serrano and Calle Alfonso XII all alongside the Retiro park on Calle Alcala. By the corner here across the street from the park at Alcala 83 you will find the Church of San Manuel y San Benito, my church in Madrid (see post).

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You have large promenades of robust trees leading to fountains and statues, amongst its the La Chopera ( old equestrian center of king Fernando VII today sports installations center) ,fountains of Galapagos  with a pedestal like a palm with children figures mount on dolphins on the base; this one was first set up at the street Red de San Luis in the Gran Via in 1831. In 1879 it was transferred to the Retiro park at the Plaza de Nicaragua, near the big lake;  commemorating the birth of queen Isabel II at the plaza de Nicaragua) , Alcachofa (by puerta de Atocha at plaza de  la Republica de Honduras  and built in 1781), and Angel Caido or fallen angel (built in 1885 by plaza del angel caido,and only monument dedicated to the devil in the world). When you past by the paseo de la Argentina also known as paseo de las estatuas or alley of statues you will see many such as Enrique II of Castilla or Henry II of Castile etc. From the street Alfonso XII you entered by the Puerta de España or Gate of Spain which leads you to paseo de la Argentina and the Estanque or pond.

Go ahead walk this beautiful park and see wonderful things to see and enjoy to come back. There is a statue to the marqués de Salamanca (gave that district name! )or marquis of Salamanca you find the La Rosaleda (built in 1914 by Cecilio Rodriguez a great gardener) ,its an imitation of the one in the bois de boulogne of Paris for which the Spanish gardener took it queus. Other monuments nearby are the Academy of the Spanish Language (calle de Ruiz Alarcon), monument of queen Maria Cristina (facing cason del buen retiro at ave Felipe IV); Palace of Bruno Zaldo (calle Alfonso XII,26); Puerta de Mariana de Neuburgo (gate entrance on calle Alfonso XII to Retiro); in the parterre of the park you will see the oldest tree dating from 1633 original from Mexico call Ahuehuete.

Also, in the parterre the monument to Jacinto Benaverte, 1922 winner of the Nobel prize in Literature, there in the parterre there is the Fuente or fountain of Campanillas call for the tower of bells that was there now gone but still the name remains ; Plaza del maestro Villa there is the quiosco de Musica or music kiosk ornate dome; Paseo del Estanque is the casa de la vaca or cow house that used to be a milk store, extreme northwest of the park you have the casita del Pescador  or Fisherman house near the artificial mountain, is a small house of square shape and two levels with roof in zinc and water spouts ;of the original royal properties still standing there; next to avenue Menendez Pelayo you will find the Casita de Fieras or wild animals house , a small zoo for the entretain of king Fernando VII; jardines de Cecilio Rodriguez or gardens of Cecilio Rodriguez ,the gardener of the city build in 1972 with many ornaments and statues.

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In the southwest of the park you will find the Observatorio Central Meteorologico or meteo observatory by paseo del duque de Fernan Nuñez; Iglesia de San Jeronimo el Real a church by calle de Ruiz De Alarcon, 19 (this is where the princes of Asturias swear allegiance to the crown from Felipe II in 1528 to the last one to do it here Isabel II in 1833); Monumento to the Republic of Cuba (at plaza del Salvador, done in 1929 as a monument to the nation of Cuba and to honor similar monument in Havana,Cuba to Spain. There in Retiro park, you will see Catholic queen Isabel I and Cristobal Colon (Columbus) built in 1952); Monument to General Martinez Campos at Plaza de Guatemala( built in 1927 in bronze to honor the gen that ended the 1er Republic in Spain and also head of Spanish troops in Cuba during the 1860’s); it is behind the statue to king Felipe XII. El embarcadero or embarkment for boats built in 1902 where you rent today boats for the lake.

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And we must go on in grandiose Retiro park!or around it…. Continue to the Glorieta de los Titeres or guignol theater. next to O’Donnel street you will have the Montaña de los gatos or cats mountain and also known as rollercoster mountain ,it is artificially done by 1816 . Huerto del Francés or French potager used today to recreate plants and flowers at the south part of the park, next to paseo del Uruguay you have the oriental gardens or Jardines Orientales.

And one nice one always caught my eyes, let me tell you about the monument to Ruperto Chapi. At the proposal of the Society of Spanish Authors, the monument dedicated to the teacher Ruperto Chapí Llorente, at the Paseo de Fernan Nuñez, was raised. The monument was inaugurated in 1921. The idealized figure of the musician, represented full-length, seated and half-naked, as a classical god or hero, with a pleased attitude, half covered by a cloak and the lower extremities merging with the base. Behind him is the figure of Music, represented by a woman with a full body and standing, with a mantilla and a comb. She holds the Victory of Samothrace in her right hand, while her left is extended, presenting the protagonist of the composition.

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The Pantéon de Hombres Ilustres a sort of Pantheon of Spain as in Paris built in 1867 today lies here Garcilazo de la Vega, Calderon de la Barca, amongst other, located at Calle Julian Gayarre, 3 (some of the bigger names were determine not opt for transfer to the pantheon); and Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha or Our lady of Atocha ,this church given status of basilica by Pope Pius IX in 1863 is founded in an old monastery dating from 1524.located at avenida de Ciudad de Barcelona,3.  And you can continue walking in heaven on the beautiful plazas or squares that surround this Retiro park makes for an international treasure fort, from the Cibeles fountain at plaza de las Cibeles to plaza de la Independencia at Puerta de Alcala to plaza Canovas del Castillo and Plaza de la Lealtad (by Prado museum) to Glorieta del Emperador Carlos V, passing by the Atocha train station and up Menendez Pelayo to O’Donnell and back to calle de Alcalà you have the Madrid of the Bourbons, and rich history of Spain all within walking distance.

The Madrid tourist office on the Retiro parkhttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

Oh yes again how to get there other than walking; by Metro Retiro line 2, Príncipe de Vergara lines 2 and 9, Ibiza  line  9, Atocha line 1). Buses stopping or passing by it are lines 1, 2, 9, 14, 15, 19, 20, 26, 28, 32, 51, 52, 61, 63, 74, 146, 152, 202, and C. There is a bicimadrid depot at plaza de la Independencia, and Calle de Alcalà ,95.

To fully enjoy it with plenty of time, and for the whole family day or more adulthood nights; the Parque del Buen Retiro or simply Retiro is Madrid! Hope you have enjoy the tour and thanks for reading

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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