Posts tagged ‘Madrid’

February 22, 2017

Some news from Spain XXXVI

That time again to tell you what is going on in lovely Spain. Around me the weather is damp humid light rain about 10C or 50F; down in the great Madrid there is now 63F , tomorrow more of the same about 65F expected to a low of 42F, cloudy sun in and out, no rain.

Something from Spain:

The Mudéjar style is evident in Teruel , a town we passed by many times and have visited couple times over the years, we will be by it again this coming summer. To see it you must come to the Catedral de Santa María de Mediavilla; the tower or Torre and Church or Iglesia de San Pedro or in the towers of the Churches of San Salvador, and San Martín.  The most famous monument of them all is the mausoleum done for the the lovers of Teruel.  There is a long legend that tells the story of the lovers of Teruel. It goes that Juan Martínez de Marcilla  and Isabel de Segura were in loved in 1217,however ,the family of the lady did not allow the relationship because the future husband (name as Diego in some texts) did not have enough money to provide a good life for the girl.  To gather fortune the young men left far from Teruel while the bride to be waited.  Destiny had that the father of the lady married her to a rich men in town. Juan returned to Teruel and found the lady with another men, and he ask her to kiss him before he died. Isabel for not failing fidelity to the new husband refused , as this Juan died on her footsteps. The other men and the lady took Juan to the house of the father so no one could tell she killed him, however ,the pain that Isabel had was so great that she decided to kiss Juan before they buried him.  Like this , the lady attended the Church of San Pedro where the body of Juan laid, and kiss him ,quickly she died next to him.  It was here in this Church that the bodies of both Juan and Isabel laid while discovered in 1555 until 2005. It is now about 12 years the bodies lied in the monument done in their love story.  The work that keeps the corps are in an impressive building mausoleum done in marble plaster showing the hands of the lovers without touching  a symbol of the impossible relationship that never took place. The representation of Juan is shown with the feet covered as per the legend they were already shrouded when he received the kiss from Isabel. More here:

Do not just end your visit here, continue into the plaza del Torico, name in honor of a small bull that crown the column in stone.  The legend of this bull is that it was the bull guided by a star led the troops that disobeyed king  Alfonso II  in the 12C until they were able to conquer the fortress of Teruel. More on the mudéjar style here:

If you like wines ,then Spain is for you. One of the best and my favorite is the Compañia Vinîcola del Norte de España or CVNE; located in Haro. Here it rises on a space created by the one Gustave Eiffel (yes of the Paris tower). The space is wide open without columns! where the barrels lied without obstacles. Once you visit at the end you can taste their wines. More here:

Talking about Spanish wines, here are some stats. Spain has the largest vineyards extension in the world with 1,012 million hectares (OIV 2016). With a population of 46,06 millions in 2016. In 2015 the wine consumption was 1000 million liters or 21,7 liters per person and 4,16% of World. (OIV 2016). It is the 8th world market for the consumption of wine in 2015 even if the younger generation tends to go for the beer and strong alcohols. The Reds are the predominant ones with 52% of wine consume in 2015 with fruity or woody tones the preferred of the Spaniards. The domestic production is 3,270 million liters in 2015 and the 3rd World producer, even if exportation numbers are weak. The exports represent 71,7 millions liters in 2015 with a value of 193,4 million Euros. It remains the first world exporter of wine in volume with 2,400 million liters in 2015 exported as well as the 3rd in value with revenues of 2,64 millions Euros. France remains the first provider of wine to Spain in value with 49,1% of the market and the 4th in volume with 3,29 million liters of French wine for a value of  13,58 million Euros or  8,4% (Comtrade, 2016).

The Romanov of Russia started governing about 404 years ago.  The absolute power of the dynasty (1613-1917)  coincided with the period of mayor expansion in Russia. Málaga  welcome 247 works of art from a hundred artists from the collection of the Russian museum of St Petersburg. The best works and will be showcase until January 2018 with full of images of tsars , farmers, bandits of the Volga as shown in the work of  Sarin na kicku! (‘battle cry’) of Sergey Ivanov. The work exhibit has jewels such as the portrait of tsar Nicolas II, the last tsar by Ilia Repin and other secret works such as those of  ‘head of the princess Tarakánova’,by Flavitski (1864), where the white light entered the eye of the princess. There are portraits of big sizes such as the ” Corpse’ by Ivan Miloslavsky of 2,25 cm high and 5,60 cm wide. The Russian museum also has the work of the funerary main cask in bronze of  Peter the Great from 1725. More here:

Also , in Malaga you will have at the same time the temporary exhibition of  ‘Kandinsky y Rusia’ ( until next July.  He believed in the internalization of the works that shows some like ‘Improvisation number 11’ (1910); ‘Black spot I’ (1912); ‘ portrait with white edge’ (1913); ‘Four with points’ (1919) and  ‘In White I’. More here:

Slippery, faker, seductor, bon vivant, bohemian, and scrounger these are some of the adjectives of the life of drama and comedy of  José Zorrilla(1817-1893), the last romantic that is celebrating 200 years of his birth in Valladolid, on February 21 1817. He was born in the old house of the Marquis de Revilla, located in the street calle Ceniza  and rented by his father that arrived in 1816 to Valladolid to filled the post of reporter of the Royal Counselee .  In this house converted into the museum in 2007 on a Romanticism and the poet, exposition hall, conference center, plays and permanent home of the book fairs or  Feria del Libro de Valladolid .  His work like “El puñal del godo” and “Traidor, inconfeso y mártir”), A buen juez, mejor testigo’, and  ‘Margarita la tornera’, the inmortal ‘Don Juan Tenorio’ (1844), from which could not get author’s royalties as he sold it to his editor, and  ‘Recuerdos del tiempo viejo’ (1880), a autobiography.  This romantic men had two marriages and two daughters that never made it out of early age; he wrote to the limit of poverty and live on a day to day basis even if he gave the most important work of the Spanish Theater (Don Juan Tenorio). He ,indeed was recognized in life and his funeral was a mass manifestation of his fame; all the contrary to what happened to  Cervantes, another tenant of Valladolid, that in his life was not given any honors and made no money. More here:

By the end of January in Budapest there is 10 degrees below zero, the snow covers the city and the river Danube is an ice bed. In the museum of fine arts or Beaux-arts in the city closed for renovation since February 2015, 90 of the best works of the artistic heritage of the country are been translated to Spain. The exhibition is name Masterwork from Budapest, and will be shown to the public from now to May 28 in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza of Madrid. Amongst the 90 art work you will see the schools Italian, Flemish, German, French, such as Rubens, Van Dyck, Gossaert, Giaquinto, Carracci, Tiepolo, Guardi, Canaletto, Ricci, Manet, Kokoschka, Cézanne, Monet, Gauguin, and Pissarro,  also, Hungarian artists. Some of the chosen ones to come to Madrid are a Velázquez -‘El almuerzo’-, a Zurbarán -‘La Inmaculada Concepción’, a Murillo -‘La Virgen con el Niño repartiendo pan a los sacerdotes’, an Alonso Cano ‘Noli me tangere’, a Mateo Cerezo -‘Ecce Homo’, and 3  Goyas: ‘Retrato de Manuela Camas y de las Heras’, ‘La aguadora’, and ‘El afilador’. The Hungarian jewels will be grouped into 7 sections  from the renaissance with a painting credited to  Leonardo, the baroque in Flanders and the Netherlands with the greats Rubens and van Dyck,  the baroque of Spain and Italy including Velázquez, the 18C with the 3 Goyas, and a monographic room with the changes in visage of women with work by  Manet or Kokoschka. The modern period to WWI close out this exhibition with works of Pissarro or Bortnyik. The collection of Spanish art of the fine arts museum of Budapest includes about 110 work of art being one of the best in the world. How it happened?  In 1818 the Hungarian duke Nicolás Esterházy, an avid collectionist, buys from the count Edmund Bourke in London 22 works of Spanish masters and upon his death 24 years later other 24 in addition to the widow of the Count. Upon the passing of duke Nicolás, his grandson  Miklós  transferred the collection that continues to grow from Vienna to Pest in 1865. Pressure by his debts he sold it to the Hungarian government in 1870 for a price less than its value present value would be around  165 millions Euros for a total of 637 works. A good business for Hungary that continue to expand its collection over the years of Spanish master paintings. More here:

Well Olive Oil is Spain, anything else is an imitation ! and they do bottled it with other countries lot as well in Europe ::) No one really knows how it became but the plant goes back to the Neolithic period (7000-3000 a.C.).  In Spain, there is nothing like the paysage of the olive tree, the Oliviers of Spain owe as much to the Romans as to the Arabs;if the arrival of Scipio and his legions to the Spanish lands gave the plant its biggest push for expansion, it was during the Arabs period the cultivation was really expanded and its explotation arrive for use in the kitchens. Some of the icons of the genre are: Dominus, Sierra Magina, Jaen; Marque de Valdueza, Mérida, Badajoz; Abbae de Queiles, Tudela, Navarra ; Cladium ,Cordoba ; Casas de Hualdo , Toledo; Aubocassa, Mallorca; Castillo Pereleda, Girona, Emporda; La Cuisine Organic Malaga ,Ronda; Marques de Grinon, Capilla del Fraile, Toledo ;Dominus acebuche,Jaen. The consortium of olive oil webpage is here:

And what about that ham huh!!! You just need to open the doors of Cinco Jotas, a building with 130 years of history; open for the first time to the public. You will see one of the icons of the Spanish cuisine, the race ham iberic or jamon de raza ibérica, raise in free forest land fed with acorns. Cinco Jotas is in Jabugo in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena y Picos de Aroche (Unesco biosphere preserve). The rounds begins at the old dry patio of this emblematic building done in 1879 even if not a bodega until 1910. Here in an enclosed patio where in the bygone era the hams were hang for 6 months until the bring down of the hams, a feast was done for all the town of Jabugo to celebrate the effort and dedication of the ham tenders. A great gourmet event takes place in the main founder’s bodega for all visitors to marvel. Here thousands of hams awaits five years to reach the perfect point of cure in perfect ambiance conditions and controlled humidity to the millimeter. The visit ends with an interactive game that will put you to test your attention during the visit and a tasting from the hands of the master curator. You can, add a visit to the forest to understand the entire cycle , raising of the pigs 100% Iberian ,natural growth, and the mountain time for fattened them. The building is call the  Centro de Promoción e Innovación del Cerdo Ibérico (CIPI), an architecture marvel of stone and brick and nickname the Tiro al Pichón (clay pigeon shooting) for its feability of its construction and to show the route of jabugo with conferences and activities. Guided visits from 15€ for 75 minutes or 60€ bodega and forest trip.  Also, a good restaurant in the building. Reservations by tel +34 603 599 061 or more info here:

You can do good to go to the town of Linares de la Sierra,and eat at the restaurant restaurante Arrieros, with a  menu on Iberian pig of acorns and its derivatives, the mushroom of the  Sierra de Aracena , and the vegetables from its garden.  More info and reservation here :

Enjoy Spain, everything under the Sun ::)







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February 12, 2017

Santa Maria la Real Catedral de la Almudena in Madrid

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 bits and pieces on it in other posts ,but this one is entirely on it.

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 lead 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.

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.

It has ever since 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.

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 (1860-1878) 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 Isidore until the Cathedral was completed.

The exterior of the 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 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.

The Virgin of La Almudena the patron saint of the city 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.

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.

The 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.

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. More on the museum /Chapel, and Crypt in Spanish here:

The official webpage of the Cathedral is here in Spanish :

The tourist office of Madrid has more in English here :

Enjoy the Almudena and Madrid. You all have a great week ahead ! Cheers

Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid





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February 6, 2017

Puerta del Sol of Madrid

In continuing my series of rejuvenating my older posts, I write again to you of my beloved Madrid. The Puerta del Sol, the center of it all and the place to be on any day in Madrid. The starting point par excellence of your visit to the city.

First, I have written before on my blog a bit on it back in February 2011 ! here it is ;

So on the 6th anniversary I thought to get an update and more. Yes I know after so many posts I get lost too…lol!

It all started with the building of the Casa de Correos (post office house) in the middle of the 18C and almost a century later between 1857 and 1862 the current form took place. In the 20C gardens, fountain, and more pedestrian space was added.

Some of its most emblematic spots today are the statue of the bear rising to the Madroño tree (strawberry tree) below the sign of Tio Pepe (taken out and recently reinstated) by the entry on the Calle de Alcalà, this statue was built in 1967. Then you come to the beforementioned Casa de Correos and its watch or Reloj (added in 1866) , here you hear the bells announcing the new year since 1962. And you have the kilometer zero where the distances in Spain are measure.

A historical anecdote is that here in 1931 the Second Republic was proclaimed.  Before that on May 2 1808 started here the rebellion against Napoleon’s occupation that led to the event known today as Spanish Independence.  In the 1980’s took many manifestations to the freedom of expression and finally in 1997 the Madrilène came here to manifest against the terrorism of our days.

To the north of the square, you have buildings in an arch circle with many boutiques and cafés. Opposing this you have building of neo-classic style in red brick built in 1760.  This building house the Interior Ministry since 1847. A statue for  king Charles III was put up on the square.

 You can see live a webcam on the Puerta del Sol here:

A bit of directions, going west on the square you arrive at the Calle Arenal, where you have the wonderful disco Joy Eslava and the Chocolateria San Ginés of great fame indeed and my teen predilection for its churros and chocolate continues as adult ! This street will take you too to the Royal Palace and on a southwest direction you reach the Calle Mayor (see the pasteleria Riojana sweets here) taking you to the Plaza Mayor. On the east you have the street Carrera de San Jeronimo, and here you have a great sweets and nougats of Casa Mira. And of course right on the square you have the famous La Mallorquina. Going back to the Carrera de San Jeronimo this street will take you to the Congreso de Diputados and the Museum of Prado, and getting on the Calle de Alcalà will take you to the Plaza de Cibeles , Puerta de Alcalà, and the Retiro park. On its side you have the picturesques streets of Calle Montera, Calle Carmen (Real Madrid store here) and Calle Preciados (an old building of Galerias Preciados  of my days living there,now El Corté Inglés), and this will take you to the Gran Via.

The metro stops here are Sol, Sevilla, Gran Via,and Opéra. Buses that I know of are lines 5, 51,and 53.

Other nice sweets places to eat nearby are La Duquesita, Calle Fernando VI, 2 and Horno de San Onofre, one at Calle Mayor 73.

Another wonderful statue that have been move around until finally put in the square is that of the Mariblanca. Name like this because of its whiteness of its stone, and it is a replica of the original brought from Italy in 1625.

In all there are 10 streets coming out of this square, these are in no particular order; Preciados, Carmen, Montera, Alcalà, Carrera de San Jeronimo, Espoz y Mina, Carrera, Correos, Mayor,and Arenal.

And another anecdote of the legend of the Puerta del Sol, back around 1520 there was a lot of hunger and needs in the city and the commoners rose against the king Carlos I  as a consequence of the situation one of the most famous squares of Spain is born.  The square got its name because the authorities of the city to solve the problem of bandits generated for the chaos of the times as well as the hunger; they decided to built a fortress to protect them. they ordered to built a well and built a castle ,been the principal gate that gave access to the city , in this gate they paint the figure of the sun. It is thought that this painted sun was done because the castle or tower was oriented towards the orient, where the sun rise. Others said, the sun was there because the light of the sun came through one of the holes in the walls or ramparts that was where the square is today. This wall was demolished in the 16C. 

For me it is more than the above, as a youth came here to hang out with the friends a way to express my new freedom, and see the girls. An event after school or whatever time; at Eslava it was a theater than and many town dance days were held, the old Galerias Preciados was there now El Corté Inglés.  Hard to pass on this feeling to the new generation in Spain today, how was the struggle and the hopes of youth seeking freedom. Time change digits but the motivation is still there.

Hopefully, my sons will understand. Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday. I am glad still on earth to enjoy this beauty of a square, long live Tio Pepe. Cheers

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February 4, 2017

Plaza Mayor of Madrid

When coming to Madrid and lucky enough to do often after leaving the city many years ago, one of the places I go immediately is the Plaza Mayor. I have written before on it and this is just an update from my many other posts in my blog.

The Plaza Mayor, the center of it all rivaling the Puerta del Sol. Mayor is older and wonderfully decorated on its façades with a great equestrian statue of king Felipe III done in 1616 but place here since 1848; the square measures 129 meters by 94 meters.It dates from the 1580 until finished by 1619.  Some other things to look up here is the  Casa de la Panaderia with the shield of arms of Carlos II,and the very famous Arco de Cuchilleros or arch of cutleries street. The tourist office has more in English here;

Many public transports takes you here from many sites in Madrid. The more popular are by metro lines 1,2,and 3 at Sol and even better by bus as above you see more are the lines  17 ,18,23,31,35, and 65.

One of the favorite of mine for year is the store La Favorita for its hats, could not leave there without fitting one for my paternal grandfather an avid hat wearer and he love it when I came back with one lol! Another favorite that came years later with what is now my wife is Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas resto in calle Cuchilleros just past the Arco de Cuchicheros arch. This is a typical Castilian restaurant a bit overrun over the years with tourists but still hanging on to the past.

The Casa de la Panaderia is the house of bread because in the 15C  bread was left on the ground floor , in the basement it had the stables for the breadmakers and on the first floor was reserved for the enjoyment of the Royal family. It is now the tourist office of the Plaza Mayor of Madrid.

La Favorita hats store has more info in the tourist office here :

And Luis Candelas has its own webpage here :

Another favorite for hats, umbrellas , caps etc is Casa Yustas another legendary store in the square; webpage here:

The Lanas El Gato Negro store with laine fabric items of great quality, my family shops there still today. more here:

There is a great Christmas market there for several years now, and the adjoining streets of Toledo, Mayor, and Atocha are full of shops and restos to last a lifetime tastings.  And of course nearby is the Mercado de San Miguel; more here :

And to eat in the square, or Plaza Mayor, you have the famous Museo del Jamon there ,super ,more here:

and the Cerveceria Plaza Mayor or brasserie restaurant wonderful, more here:

Of course , plenty more around the adjacent streets to last you a lifetime of tapear and eat and drink ; this is Madrid at Plaza Mayor. Do come in you will be glad you did. Cheers



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February 1, 2017

Madrid and my Calle Alcalà!!!

It must be the rainy cloudy foggy cold day we are having but I feel nostalgically mindless and thought of times in the past where I was enjoying one of the best countries in the world to live=Spain and the best capital city=Madrid.

I had written back on April 13, 2012 here so posting for memory and fuller picture here :

My first entry and my first apartment or piso in Madrid was at Calle Alcalà 331, Buzon 67, right as you came up the metro station of Quintana in the line 5 of metro de Madrid.  This one :

And to go to Elipa took the bus P13 that after the EMT transport in Madrid was created it became the line 113.  This one :

And others but the above were the constant ones. Lots of walking especially going to the back park of Parque El Calero; this one:

This is a great blog like to give credit as essentially they talked about the old movie houses in Madrid now gone; mine was the cine Aragon (as Alcalà used to be called!) it was almost next to me lol The good of the blog story is that it shows how it looks in 2005 on the last year open and what the spot looks today wow!! Here is the blog :

I still emotionally remember how my dear late mother took me to Calzados Victor C/Alcalà 278 to buy me my first shoes in Spain! and the immense joy to have my 3 boys going there and buy them shoes as well , really a great feeling would love to repeat this summer.  No webpage just a site with a write up on it  in Spanish, 90 years in the spot and about 52 now doing shoes!!! A real merchant to support even more.

And well will need a book so many places there to remember and enjoy , even the wonderful Docamar in the sublime Plaza Quintana, the best patatas bravas in Madrid since 1963!  Webpage here:

Enough, what about Alcalà, the street that is.  Today the street is 10 200 meters long . It starts at the Puerta del Sol  and ends at the Avenida de América on the access road to the O’Donnell station. In the old days the street was named in different sections. The one between Sol and Cibeles was called Calle de los Olivares, between Cibeles and Puerta de Alcalà was named Posito (grain well of the mayor’s office had there) , and from Puerta de Alcalà to Ventas was called Carretera de Aragon and after Ventas was called Avenida de Aragon until 1992 where all became Calle de Alcalà. I left the city when the first beltway of Madrid was just about finish that is Avenida de la Paz or M-30 ! Today simply call Calle 30.

Some trivials anecdotes, you know that in  1754 there was a bull fighting arena near here!spot hard to tell now ,  and it was on until 1874 after another was built on the same  carretera de Aragón (another name for avenida de Aragon) that works until 1934. When the Ventas Monumental was done in its first season in 1935 on the one we know today as Ventas Monumental!  An interesting house is at No 34 Alcalà built in 1779 and call the Casa de los Heros in honor of its builder ; the house became in succession the Real Fabrica de Cristales de la Granja, resident of the Infant de Borbon and painter José Madrazo,  later in 1914 it was host of the Council President or Palacio de la Presidencia, and currently is the home of the Ministerio de Educacion y Ciencia or ministry of education and sciences.

Not to forget the Plaza de la independencia or independence square where the Puerta de Alcalà is located. The old Communication palace now call Palacio de Cibeles, and its Cibeles fountain (symbol of Real Madrid FC triumphs celebrations)  and the Circulo de Bellas Artes or fine arts circle with wonderful views of Madrid on its top floor café.

You continue to see wonderful architecture and beautiful buildings such as the Ministerio de Hacienda or ministry of the Treasury, built in 1796.  And what about the gorgeous Real Academia de Bellas Artes San Fernando! Now running an exhibition on Carlos III here:

And of course the Casino de  Madrid : Calle Alcalà ,15 just gorgeous official site here:

Across from the Casino you have the building call Banesto and here was installed the first American bank in Spain; it has deco of elephants big ears in the front façade.

And from 1623 the convent and Church or Iglesia de las Calatravas , even after destroyed the Queen Isabel II had it rebuilt in 1872. Very near the Puerta del Sol on Alcalà, of course. More on the Iglesia de San José  and the Apolo theater.  Continue on the Ministerio del Ejercito or army ministry with a nice garden on what it was the Palacio de Buenavista built in 1769 for the Duques de Alba, that never occupied.

And of course, why not see Calle Alcalà every day and night; well thanks to the webcam we can you can and I do here:

Beautiful Calle Alcalà and what about movies on it? well there are some too.

A 1986 rendition of Ana Belen, and Victor Manuel here:


And my favorite movie Las Leandras with the song Los Nardos With the late Rocio Durcal

This is Alcalà, the street that is. My street my spot on another part of the world. Calle Alcalà, 331


Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid




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January 27, 2017

Some news from Spain XXXV

Well thinking ahead and not to let my beloved Spain behind here are some news from the country of the movida and more. I will be back for summer vacation there:done.

But for now talking about the winter we still have, in my neck of the woods is 6C or about 44F, and my beloved Madrid is now raining and 42F. To go for snow there now:

You reach the Puerto de Navacerrada, in the sierra de Guadarrama, (my first ever try at skiing and it was not good at all , fell all over the place lol!) ; it is the closest station to Madrid at about 60 kms by the road A6, as well as cercanias train and buses. It has about 10 kms of skiing surface with a family ambiance with trails for different levels of experience. Next comes the Puerto de Cotos where you see Valdesqui with 19 kms of skiing surface and 27 trails with forest pines all around it. The farther at about 115 kms from Madrid by the road A1 and in the province of Segovia, you will have La Pinilla in the Sierra de Ayllôn . It has 20 kms of skiing surface with trails of some difficulty , you can do dogs carriage rides, snow bike, and snow running. The area is nice where you can visit Riaza and the medieval towns of Maderuelo, Sepûlveda, Pedraza, Ayllôn and Burgo de Osma. Also, get to walk in natural spaces like the Hayedo de la Pedrosa, and the banks of the river Riaza and Duratôn.

Some webpages for them are here:

And a site for overall snow and ski conditions in Spain :

Moving on to land and history and wines we arrive at Toro. You see the Puente Romano or Roman bridge with 22 arches perpendicular to the river Duero; even if the bridge is from the 12C it is call Roman because it is build on one before. Do not forget to visit the Colegiata Santa Maria La Mayor, roman roots too, as well as the ramparts and the Church of Santo Sepulcro. The historical anecdote here it was the center of power struggle between the Queen Isabel la Catôlica or I and her niece Juana la Beltraneja. After the death of king Enrique IV father of Juana and brother of Isabel, part of the nobility took sides as to who will rule. The main battle took place here in 1476, and from the Portuguese side ; as Juana was born from a union of king Enrique IV and Juana of Portugal, and step daughter of  king Eduardo I of Portugal ; the Castilian side finally won and so went on to other wonderful things we know as the Discovery and the union of all Christian Spain. More on the tourist site here:

We go on nearby to the Museo del Vino de Pagos del Rey, located at Morales de Toro, a wonderful bodega that has a didactive museum and prize as the best enotourim promotion for 2016 and finalist in the event European Prize Museum.  Admission is free and at the end you can taste the wines of Toro D.O. and local cheeses. More here:

Parque Estelar Starlight , in Iruña de Oca; you will see wonderful heavenly stories with planetarium, telescopes, and several galactic space gadgets to see the galaxy like never before. Here is more of it:

The famous historical painting of  ‘Guernica‘ of  Picasso, icon of the contemporary art and symbol of the horrors of war is 85 years old and 25 resting at the Museo Reina Sofia. There are political moves to get it over to the Prado, that would be sad me agree; the idea is to put it in the Kingdom room (Salon de Reinos) been renovated in the Prado museum to enlarge its pinacoteca but hopefully not, stay tune.

And who ever writes about cementaries all over the world ,not me , but there are some , I admit that are just a place to see. IN Spain, there is now an association to showcase their values to visitors and locals alike. It is call the Asociacion de Funerarias y Cementerios Municipales or AFCM and created by Cementerios Vivos, an initiative to showcase the part of culture and heritage of these fields. The webpage is here :

And some of the best outside Madrid are:  Cementerio Mancomunado Bahía de Cádiz.  A visit to modern Cadiz and following the path of the old with two centuries of history. The main things to see are the pantéon Moreno de Mora, Pyramide conmmeration crown with a bronze angel and the monument to the fallen in the war of 1898 for Cuba and Philippines ,guarding the fallen of this war that were send back to Spain. You have the one at  Montjuïc , Barcelona, looking over the sea with English garden, forest pathways with tendancies of look from the 19C and early 20C. It has more than 150 000 tombs with 6000 hypogeums and 70 pantheons, more info on here:

Continue on the dark side of life to Jardin in Alcalà de Henares, next to the river Henares with 35 hectares, a lake, and 33 species of animals, 27 of them birds. Each November 1st they celebrate next to the lake the diminishing of lights with direct music and offering such as pigeons release, balloons etc.  More here:

The San Froilàn in Lugo, Galicia, very old and rich heritage on the foot of the camino de Santiago or the way to St Jacques. You can have guided visits and walks inside. More here:

 At San Sebastian you have the Polloe, named after the village of Polloe-Enea, the cementary began here in 1878. Neo gothic chapels where the folks resting here are Ignacio Zuloaga the painter, drama writer Miguel Mihura and the politician Clara Campoamor. More info at

And we end up in historic Granada at the cementary San José. It is overshadow the Alhambra following orders of king Carlos III. The first one was call Barreras in 1805 and today it is call San José. It has 110 000 sq meters with beautiful patios. More here :

And to out to sea to scuba dive between 300 sculptures under water. You come to the recently open Museo Atlántico de Lanzarote, the first with underwater arts in Europe. It is located in  Playa Blanca, Yaiza,at 12 meters deep.  Exactly on the Bahía de Las Coloradas, with 2500 square meters of museum, easily reach by scuba divers , or snorkerls enthusiasts. Museo Atlántico. El Berrugo, 2, Puerto Marina Rubicón. Playa Blanca, Lanzarote. More info here:

Can’t leave this out as one of my favorite Spanish singing group is back. La Oreja de Van Gogh, San Sebastian after five years a new work, El Planeta Imaginario , will be shown in Madrid with all seats taken today Friday and Saturday January 28 at 21h30 in the La Riviera (Paseo Virgen del Puerto, s/n). More info here:

and for those not from Spain, here is their official site:

Old bottles of Sherry or Jerez, a wonderful wine and some are looking for old bottles and the great wonderful taste. Young amateurs in 2005 at Sanlùcar de Barrameda found the Bodegas Sànchez Ayala forgotten barrels of amontillados , very old. They chose one and bought it , and this was the beginning of Equipo Navazos and the Bota 1 de Amontillado. The success was evident and continue to commercialise in all of Spain. More on them here:

Then, the one and only Antonio Barbadillo from the old family bodega started on his own to gather manzanilla under the name of Sacristia B. Beginning in Sanlùcar with two barrels of 5000 half bottles or 37,5 CL of Bodegas Sanchez Ayala. After a great success the offering has expanded to Amontillados and Manzanillas as well as Olorosos of Marco de Jerez. The last barrel of manzanilla and amontillado came from Bodegas Yuste . It has a wonderful oloroso in Urium and it has found the lost barrel of pedro ximénez in Montilla (Córdoba), that will come out soon. webpage under construction here :

One nice old small great restaurant in Madrid would like to share with my followers/readers here. This is Casa Ricardo at C/ Fernando el Catolico ,31 ,tel +34 91 447 6119. This is a taurino or bullfights taberna or tavern of yesteryear. It has gone thru some tough times but always comes back to continue its 60 years history. After family members passed away the old employees continue the tradition, this is Madrid. You can taste here the Morcilla of Los Navalmorales, rabo de toro guisado (oxtails bulls my favorite) or croquettes of oxtails bulls, huevos fritos con puntillas (fried eggs with lace) paletilla de cordero (shoulder blade of baby lamb) need to order in advance, and the habitas con  jamon or ham and beans. All surrounded by bullfight panels, posters all over the narrow dining room. More here:

Something more : theater in Madrid at El Cartografo, until February 26 in Matadero, with great performers of tablas and bring them to current Warsaw. Here discovered an old leyend on the ghetto of Warsaw during the Communist oppression.  More here:

And further away in Bilbao Museo de Bellas Artes (beaux-arts museum) until February 6 you have the expo “La Cultura del Vino, Maestros del grabado de la Coleccion Vivanco”; all about in 75 works of art from masters of the time from the 15C to today. The culture of wine represented by artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Antoni Tàpies, Andy Warhol, Paula Rego, Eduardo Chillida, Manolo Valdés, Miquel Barceló , and Eduardo Arroyo. More here:

And I close out this version of Some news from Spain with one of my favorite town Cuenca, and will be nearby this summer again ::)

Cuenca  has the honor of few cities in Spain to be considered world heritage site by Unesco, only 15 other cities bear this distinction. You have the wonderful hanging house or Casas Colgadas, dating from the 15C and one of them now housing the Museo Español de Arte Abstracto, with a purchase of a ticket you can see the whole of the hanging house. In its walls you will see painting by Fernando Zobel that also the train station bears his name. The museum is all part of the Foundation March, more info here:

You see nearby the Casas Colgadas the Puente de San Pablo bridge. The kings of Spain were photographed here during their honeymoon trip. It rises above the Huécar river early in the 20C on a steel design and construction. The original was made of stone to communicate the convent of the same saint (San Pablo=St Paul) . Today there is a parador or hotel here and the cells of the old monks are now the hotel rooms; however, it is still good to enjoy the cloister with lateral confessions and you can come to Mass service in the convent’s Church.  More on tourist site here in pdf file English info:

info on the parador San Pablo here:

Enjoy Spain, everything under the sun. Have a great weekend. Cheers



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January 6, 2017

Some news from Spain XXXIIII

And the days are getting colder and foggier as today was 1C or about 33F with fog very dense in the country coming home. However, let’s bring some news on Spain, everything under the sun ::)

Some concerts coming up in Spain worth going too even if the price is high.

Aerosmith. Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer, Brad Whitford had been seven years without dropping by Spain and Madrid it has been 20 years , but Aero Vederci Baby tour with an air of farewell is well deserves a visit  . The Boston boys have extended their end (originally planned for July 5 Zurich) to finish it on July 8 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. June 29 in Madrid (Rivas auditorium) July 2 in Santa Coloma de Gramenet, Barcelona (Parque Can Zam Rock Fest Barcelona) and July 8 Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Estadio Heliodoro Rodriguez Lopez). From 79,30€.

Bruno Mars World Tour, April 3 in Madrid (WiZink Center) and 7 April in Barcelona (Palau Sant Jordi). Tickets sold out (except the VIP, to 275 euros).

David Bisbal Hijos del Mar tour, after the concert of Almeria (june 2) have been confirmed, at the moment, performances in Valencia, Murcia, Barcelona, Tarragona, Alicante, Malaga, Puerto de Santa Maria, Sevilla, Madrid, and Bilbao (the latter, October 7). From 29,50 €.

Deep Purple. Considered a legend of the hard rock, the British band says goodbye to the scenarios after nearly a half-century of existence (formed in 1968). Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice (the only remaining original picture),  Steve Morse and Don Airey will come to Spain in midsummer  on their album tour , inFinite. It will come out by the beginning of 2017 (the first single will be released on 20 January)   The Long Goodbye Tour, June 30 in Barakaldo, Bilbao (Bizkaia Arena BEC), 1 July in Barcelona (Rock Fest) and 3 July in Madrid (WiZink Center). From 50€.

Guns N’ Roses. Axel Rose, Slash and Duff, founding members of the legendary rock band, returned to the stage in mid-2016. Not In This Lifetime Tour  comes to Spain. Tickets for Madrid flew in just seven hours, but it still available at San Mamés, Bilbao ; the first big rock band to play at Athletic Bilbao stadium. May 30 Bilbao (San Mames Stadium) and June 4 Madrid (Vicente Calderon stadium), From 108€.

Sting. Three years after the release of The Last Ship, the former leader of The Police , published 57th & 9th streets , which owes its name to the crossing of the streets of Manhattan that crossed on the way to the study, a more rock album. the British will only offer a performance in Spain, in Barcelona, for which entries have flown.  March 21 in Barcelona (Sant Jordi Club). Tickets sold out (except the VIP, a 292€).

And something that just passed but good to keep in mind when in town to purchase toys, the stores I like are:

Circus Kids | Argensola, 2 | Metro Alonso Martínez | Tel.+34 91 052 12 74 with webpage at

Disney Store | Avda Monforte de Lemos, 36 (CC La Vaguada) / ave de Gran Bretaña/n (CC Parque Sur-Leganés) /, 2 Moreras  (CC centro oeste-Majadahonda) | Tel +34  91 481 15 23 / 91 634 41 04 , webpage

Juguetronica | Alberto Aguilera, 1 | Metro Bilbao | Tel +34 91 447 88 08 webpage at

Horta Bazaar | Conde de Peñalver, 25 | Metro Goya | tel 91 402 43 68 Weppage, house founded in 1931 ,this store of life follows the special charm that only 85 years of history can explained.

Ciudad Real province was appointed in 2012 world heritage site by Unesco, El Almadén , which has the largest (and oldest) mercury mines in the world, the activity of the mining Park of Almadén concluded in 2002, but now it is possible to visit its installations and descend by the San Teodoro Pozo until the first floor located to 50 meters deep to discover the way that worked on them in the past and know how is It was  quarried the mercury in the 16C and 17C althrough this mine has been exploded for more than 2000 years. The surface has trains to transported visitors and continues the visit to the furnaces of Audeles from the 17C by the Puerta San Carlos IV. And the Museum of Mercury which explained the geology and history of this chemical element.

La Real Prision was the prison in Almaden in the 16C and they were required to work the mines to do their sentence.  Being the building directly connected to the mine. The prisioners did not even have to go outside. The sentence to them was to work in teh mine of Almaden until the year 1799 when the sentences ended and now houses the famous school of Engineering and Industry of Almaden. The town have the unique hexagonal square in the world. This square was built in the 1752, and was one of the first squares built in Spain. It has the peculiarity of accommodating 24 houses on its façade, and its contruction can in order to afford the Real Hospital of miners of San Rafael (Which today is the historical archive of Minas de Almaden) with its bullfights. Currenly these homes have become the only hotel in the world located in a bullring. Morehere:

The good things about Cordoba:

Jardines de la Victoria or Victory Gardens , a Beautiful park designed in the 18C amongt roman mauseleums. By 2013, the market of la Victoria, Andalusia gastronomic market was opened.  It is the perfect place to start tasting delicacies s the exotic salmorejos created by Juanjo Ruiz in his Salmoreteca, the 100 Flamenkitos flamenquines or the Iberian ham from los Pedroches of Covap. Nearby, Albeniz 16, Aldo Cabrera made the best pizzas of Córdoba and all with names of celebrities like Mick Jagger or Banksy.

By Puerta de Almodovar come to meet another world in another era of narrow streetswhere good restaurants are concentrated. As Casa Pepe de la Juderia, at Romero, 1, a classic to prove good popular Cordoba cuisine, including the rabo de toro, and with superb views from its rooftop. There are other equally great as El Churrasco,Romero 16, famous for its lamb dishes. Or Casa Mazal, Tomás Conde, 3,    epecializing in Shephardic cuisine. The district has since 2014 its own gastronomic market Los Patios de la Marquesa,calle Manríquez.

In front,the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos hiding excellent local restaurants as Puerta de Sevilla, in calle  postrera-, 51. A good place to test the almodrote of Eggplant with mint or andafina, a stew of lamb. Another good alternative, with almost 100 years of history, is Taberna la Viuda (San Basilio, 52), which offers innovative varieties of native dishes such as oxtail flamenquín. And for you who like the salmorejo, Juan Peña(Doctor Fleming, 1) offers 20 varieties.

Near the Mezquita cathedral Bodegas Mezquita wineries , are Corregidor Luis de la Cerda, 73, who has restaurant, but above all with a great pantry where Cordoba quality products purchased. Also adjoining Casa of Pedro Ximénez, where you can learn first hand the product. Moreover, Sojo grupo transformed the Horno deLuis at Cardenal Gonzalez , 3.  And those who prefer to combine gastronomy with flamenco, El Burlaero Calleja  de fuego 5, is perfect.

Paseo de la ribera wineries  Bodega Campos(Lineros, 32), a gastronomic institution since 1908.  Tapas , a good place with views is the tavern of the River (E. Romero de Torres, 7 or garum 21, in San Fernando, 120, the Bistronomic Tapas Bar of Jose Luis Santiago. The porridge of pistachio is unique. To finish the day few places are as pleasant as Fusion Sojo, fine seasonal cuisine. La  Copa  with views, on the terrace of the Sojo Ribera in the same ride.

Plaza Corredera, this 17C square hides the Penadonde Sanchez market before it was a hat factory. The most advisable is to the Taberna Salinas (Tundidores, 3), a century-old local where try spinach with chickpeas, pork and a pastel cordobés trotters for scrumptious.

Plaza de las Tendillas, considered the heart of the Centre of Cordoba, are the bars and taverns of tapas. From the classic El Correo Jesús Maria, 2, or the Casa del pisto, in Plaza San Miguel, 1, passing through Aguaceros in the  same square, or A Cuatro Manos, San Felipe 13 . To eat in more serious plans, the El Blazon, José Zorrilla, 1, or tavern La Montillana, in San Álvaro, 5. And in Barqueros, 2 there is the main store of Covap (Cooperativa Ganadera del Valle de los Pedroches) where you can acquire hams and other products from the area.

Where do you left me with France in Madrid. You heard of José I Bonaparte (Joseph) or Pepe Botella oldest brother of Napoleon I. Despite the fact some experts argue that he did not even taste a drop of alcohol. The nickname of ‘King of squares or Rey de Plazuelas.Since his arrival in the summer of 1808. He found a sealed city with an intricate urban layout that was stifling for the French.  Orders went out  to open spaces,  demolishing churches, convents and  complete housing blocks, resulted in squares hence his nickname ,well known as the  Oriente, opposite the Royal Palace. The squares of San Miguel, Santa Ana, Mostenses or San Martin is also the Gallic King heritage.

Palacio de Linares, originally named Palacio de Murga – by their owners, José de Murga y Osorio Raimunda; Worked started in 1877  following the style of Adolf  Ombrecht French. It is located in the plaza de Cibeles, one of the essential for every lover of architecture, because it is home to the Palacio de Buenavista . José I (Joseph) chose it as headquarters of the Museum josefino , seed of the Museum of the Prado – and the Banco de Españathat, despite the Venetian Renaissance style responds to the European model that was intended by the French monarch to Madrid. The Calle  Alcalá Street stop at corners as  spectacular as the building of the Instituto Cervantes. The old Banco Espanol del Rio de la Plata located right in front of two palaces that could perfectly be located in a city like Paris. They are the mansions of Urquijo and Fontagud 47 Alcalá and Barquillo 5, streets respectively; nowadays are seat of the National Commission of markets and competition, occupying practically the entire block until Plaza del Rey square.

The Gallic traces on the capital in one of the perfect places to learn more about France: Oh Délice!. This ’boutique  gourmet’, in plaza de Chueca, is famous for its peculiar-tasting cheeses and wines.  A temple of the craft products from the neighboring country, talks the types of how many grapes ,delicacies of French regions etc Not  rare that science, philosophy or history end up linking this kind of informal meetings. More here:

Enjoy Spain and Madrid especially, just wonderful to celebrate the 3 Wise Kings parade or Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos, those that came from different corners of the world to provide gifts of their regions to the new born Child in Bethlehem , Jesus. Thereafter, sort of, traditions hold we give our kids the toys/gifts on Epiphany day.

Enjoy Spain, we are planning to be back in summer 2017. Cheers!





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December 24, 2016

Christmas at Vannes II, la Cervoiserie

Ok so needed to tell you the latest events on our Christmas preparation, this is big for our family every year. We have traveled long over the years thru different countries starting with my parents and then wife and boys; this is my fourth country and all citizens of them. Learned many languages sometimes I think too many, mix them up lol!!! But here we are again just before another Christmas Eve in 2016 in Pluvigner , Morbihan, Brittany, France.

It all started back in 1970 and it has never stop, Cuba, Spain, USA and France. Many regions and cities after we end up in the smallest with only 7000+  inhabitants. The time of the year becomes colder lonely, and sad sometimes away from family and close dear friends, with only my father with me and my sons and my wife.

The shows on TV are loving and make you think of times yesteryears, and love ones gone ,like my mother in 2007.

We get ready for another feast later on, the meal is cooking, the table is set up, and the drinks are in line. The social media, Skype is on,and the TV just about a press of a button to pass from one language to the other and see all the festivities afar. Just another regular Christmas. I saw the family and friends already in some reunions leading up to Christmas and nostalgia sets in, so many years of memories and yet so far.

But, believe me, Christmas is special for a lot more than the religious significance, but of times to feel stronger and united, as my grandfather used to said, the blood is thicker than water; bonds stay on no matter how far and how lonely life is beautiful and so is Brittany and France now.

I remember places on a world globe of special meaning to me each and every single one of them; Punta Brava, Madrid, Perth Amboy, Daytona Beach, Ormond by the Sea, North Miami, Hialeah, Miramar, Verneuil sur Seine, Versailles, Brech, and Pluvigner. Not to mention those nearby ,where I have worked such as Miami, Paris, Lagos, Curitiba, Geneva, Dreux, La Défense, Suresnes, and Vannes. I thanked them all for the good times and the good cheers.

Now, this afternoon, I cruise from visiting Rochefort-en-Terre, nice town in the Morbihan on the way home, stop for the apéro, aperitif, the drink before the meal so typical of France.

What better place than at the La Cervoiserie, a beer joint with samples from the world over. We had Belgian, German, Czech, French beers last night too and just today on way home. We are stock and ready, you are welcome to stop by ::)

So, therefore, Merry Christmas to all my readers, may the best comes your way in 2017, and believe in the magic it is magical. Cheers

Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes Vannes


December 14, 2016

Some news from Spain XXXIII

Well not far off my favorite visiting country now, Spain. If you read my posts then you know I am Spanish too ::) amongst others lol! a globetrotter travelers citizen.  I voted in Spain’s election, The USA election, and now ready for the French elections!!! Citizen of the World indeed. The temp in Madrid today is at 48F or about 9C with rains tomorrow more of the same but less rain.

And now, let give some insights into Spain and My Madrid especially (lived there).

To Madrilejos  where tourists can learn about the famous museum of Saffron(Azafràn)  known as ‘red gold’ to weight  a kilo of Saffron are needed more than 120,000 flowers, then after drying  the stigmas we lose 4/5  parts of its weight. The best time to learn about the fields of Saffron is in November. More here:

Consuegra  by the Sierra de los Molinos is mandatory if you visit Consuegra. La Muela Castle (Castillo de la Muela also of Consuegra), one of the best preserved of all Castilla La Mancha castles where the history of several centuries will be known through a theatrical  visit and will be appointed a gentlemen with a wooden sword for the kids. If you are an adult and want to, don’t stay with the desire and become an authentic noble toledano. more here:

The river ‘Guadiana’ in Villarrubia de los Ojos  the fourth longest  Iberian river reborn from the subsoil and in Daimiel flooded a plain which has the waters that bring you the Ciguela. A brackish and fresh water at the same time that in 1575 king Felipe II ordered to keep very well conquering today all that comes close to walk along its runways. The Guardana has irrigated 750 ha of its 1750 ha that can be flooded . Tablas the town near Daimiel can be lodged but needs reservation for at least 3 days two nights . Also, remember that in the nearby you have the archaeological site of Azuer Montilla from the bronze age, and the oldest artificial well in the Iberian peninsula without forget the Regional Museum there with vestiges of the rock that Roman and before them Muslims devised mechanisms to exploit the aquatic wealth of the place. More info here:

The Médulas, are the gold mines that were exploded in the open since the Emperor Octavio Augusto  one of the few examples covered within that category.  The medulas mountains two millennia ago supplied the precious metal to Rome now filtered through its tunnels the history of one of the most unique corners of Spain: el Bierzo. Plinio the Old wrote about it in its history theme Naturalis. At the time the gold extracted were the equivalent of 1.6 tons of gold per year. The mountain sits in the northwest corner of the Aquilanos mountains next to the Valley of the River Sil, ,the Medulas are considered the greater gold mine of all the Roman Empire. The snow accumulated in the nearby Monte Teleno played a fundamental role  in the exploitation of the mines. Converted into water during the spring, arrived at Cape River and fed the seven channels bordering the mountain not only through the channels that were used to ‘steal’ the Duero and the Sil, water tunnels – which are preserved today for more than 100 kilometers – or the large artificial caves that you can visit, but also for the mantle of chestnut and oak trees that dot the roads that surround it.  More here in Spanish,

Between the modern and the medieval the collaboration of the Musée Picasso in Paris and the MNAC Picasso – Romanesque now leads the exhibition dialogue emerges in Barcelona and will remain at the MNAC until February 26. More info here in English:

The exhibition ‘ Meta painting. A trip to the idea of art ‘ (from November 15 to February 19) that opens the Prado Museum.  Through 137 masterpieces by artists such as Goya, Velázquez, Titian, Rubens, El Greco and Van Dyck,  The  Prado  reflect on the craft, limits, rules and the protagonists of art from art itself .  Based  on the Royal Collections and the Spanish painting (115 of the 137 exhibits are from the Prado, of which only 52 are in the rooms of the Museum since most are in warehouses and deposits elsewhere , which are joined by 22 on loans), this exhibition examines the limits of that mirror that society and the artist is art that goes beyond the golden rectangle that it identified. More info here!

And we continue at Prado, the one and only with The Prado Museum delves into José de Ribera in ‘ Ribera. Master of drawing ‘ (from  22 November to February 19) You can see from the nearly 160 known you will see 52 drawings, along with 10 paintings and eight prints. Of these, a dozen have been in Spain as adoptions from Berlin and New York like the “ Hercules’ resting”. more in English here:

The Mapfre Foundation opens the Miro space, a permanent collection with 65 works from private  collections that reveal the more rebellious side of the catalan painter. Kills them not only at the level of formal leaving their mark on the surface but also using waste material, splints or recycling these banal canvas sleeping on the stalls in fact, 10 works of this kind are only known and four can be seen in Madrid from December 14 in the space Miro which inaugurated the Fundación Mapfre in Madrid. More in English here:

The capital city of Madrid was Muslim for more than two hundred years ,and Moorish in many other ways. Discovered its history into Arabic Madrid . Muhammad I of Cordoba founded the city by then called Mayrit ,and on principal was just a military outpost. Out of the ashes of this bastion came out the Royal Palace built by Felipe V. My Madrid has many faces welcome to find some more.

With two centuries of Islamic rule the walls were impregnable until 1085 where king Alfonso V had a soldier climb them with combat ready its 11 meters. The Christian troops came in afterward to conquered the city. Today, even the locals are sometimes call the Gatos or cats for this ability to climb. The Andalucian walls had nearly a km long and it is the oldest artistic monument in Madrid as witin it you have the  Cultural Institute (CalleMayor, 86) with a piece of it and then at the restaurant Korgui  (Calle del Rollo, 8) , and in the parking lot of Rouco Varela (Bailén, 12); but the best preserved stretch with a battered façade is located in the Cuesta de la Vega, alongside the Emir Mohamed I square , opposite Almudena Cathedral. More info in English here:

Our Señora de Almudena Cathedral or should we say Al-Mudayna? in Arabic means the Citadel, as it is there, in a tower of the Muslim wall, where locals hid the blessed Virgin once learned the infidel enemy was about to take the Peninsula , even with temporary lapses the Virgin was miraculously discovered on November 9, 1085  and protected his devotees all attempt of reconquest by the Muslims. Such was the intention of the Almoravides camping field where today is the Jardin del Moro but they were thrown back by a miracle of the Virgin causing them to have epidemics of plague to force them to withdrawed. More in Spanish here:

Museum of San Isidro, the patron of Madrid was born in Mayrit shortly before the city passed into Christian hands; under these circumstances, it’s more likely that the farmer had professed the Muslim religion before converting to Catholicism. And obliterated his heretic become base of miracles – up to 400 are attributed to the Saint! According to this hypothesis ,the Saint was called Idriss actually, a journeyman and worked all his life on the service of the family Vargas. What is now the Museum of San Isidro was his house. There is the well of his umpteenth miracles, but ,also parts of the archeological find that we speak of today. The entrance is free and is located in the  district of the Latina. More here in English:

In Madrid there are still some Churches that dates back to this period such as San Pedro, Santa María la Antigua ,and San Nicolás,one of the oldest in the city. Webpages on them here:

Moro de la Morería, Christians could not pass by the gate of the Moors; the Arab Court of Justice,  the alamin, was located in the Plaza del Alamillo (its name comes from there, later stood the chiquitillo alamo); the biggest Souk unfolded in the Plaza de la Paja, in the Plaza de la Villa, the mineret; here is where the Lujanes bought a mansion which is the oldest building in Madrid today; Alamborada Tower reminds the Minaret of a Mosque with its bricks, blind arches and typical tiles of Mudejar art. More here in English:

A watchtower to warn his people of future Christian invasions. The watchtower that drivers today see when parking in the Plaza de Oriente on the Floor 1. More on the square or plaza here:

Visit a hammam, to the Al Andalus is one of the few centers that there are in the city located on a cistern of the times of  Abd ar-Rahman (Atocha, 14).  There is another one in the train station of Chamartin, but the more authentic is the “Oasis”  (Sor Maria of Ágreda, 39). More on webpages here:

The vestiges of the Andalusian Madrid, whose taste can be followed in a mouthwatering gastronomic route. Like in the  restaurant Shukran (Alcalá, 62), Sahara( Libreros, 18) or the Badaweia (Costa Rica, 28). However, to eat a good couscous must go to Lavapies: Albahia (Lavapies, 3), The Habibi (Ave María, 41) or the Alhambra (Tribulete, 4). But in many of them you cannot  drink alcohol, warning! Restaurants recommendation from El Mundo newspaper.

My bible for many things Spanish, and the equivalent of Michelin but much better price and information me think is the Guide Repsol 2017 in its newest edition and also online . Covering a  total of 1 813 restaurants,,503 of them recognized with a Sun rating. Gastronomic proposals and traveling are well complemented ,every day with more content online to inspire travelers and my readers…It comes with maps or how to travel with pets or destination to get lost forever; just superb. More in Spanish here but the site can be change for itineraries etc.

After the peaks of the sierra de Guadarrama runs a province dotted with medieval villages, walled enclosures towns , towers and battlements, ditches and drawbridges ; this is Segovia Here I leave you with some of my favorites over the years living and coming to the area.

Well Segovia itself of course, the city. In addition to the fortress Alcazar that houses the  Museum of weapons and the General Military Archives ;complete visit 7€ and only the tower 2€ More info here:

Also, five minutes walk from the Alcàzar  is located the Hotel Palace San Facundo , where the tranquility exudes by all their facilities. Highlights it’s spectacular central cloister (where is located a cafeteria) ,a stunning closed glazed dome. With all amenities such as WIFI and parking,and some rooms have a canopy bed. Also, the Hospederia de Santo Domingo ;the Jewish quarter, a few meters from the gate of the Villa of Pedroza, and three centuries of antiquity, recently restored with a nice garden , bounded by the walls of Pedraza, from which you enjoy beautiful views of the Guadarrama.

And 33 km from Segovia, in the town of Turégano, lies the castle of the same name, dating back to the 12C . Integrated in the fortress there is the Church of San Miguel , flanked by a well preserved towers of the ancient Roman castrum. In 1703, was sent to build the Españada – so there were put the belltower  still visible from several kilometers away. The main use of the compound was as a prison and in its dungeons many illustrious prisioners such as the son of the Duke of Osuna, Admiral of Aragon and the Prime Minister of Felipe III, Antonio Pérez (entry:2€); and more here in Spanish ;

About 30 minutes east of Turégano,by car  you reach the lovely walled town of Pedraza. Located on a promontory in the piedmont area of Segovia and guarded by its fortress (Castillo de Pedraza ,built 13C and rebuilt 200 years later) ,the oldest in Europe.The castle was the residence of the Fernàndez de Velasco,then the highest authority of the armies of Castilla (Castile).  The enclosure has an imposing Tower of honor or Homenaje ,a moat and is surrounded in the majority by a cliff. The tower is the Museum of  Ignacio Zuloaga (the painter) ,which includes the study room and their private rooms as well. The weapons and entremuros yards ar the most visited rooms in the castle (entrance: 6€ entrance and museum tower 15€. More info here in English for castle and museum:

At Cuéllar, in the highest part of the province of Segovia (very close to Valladolid) there is an spectacular castle, also known as the Palace of Albuquerque, a formidable example of the Castilian strongholds.  Well preserved and consists of a mixture of different architectural styles, ranging from the 13C to the 18C; although predominantly Gothic and Renaissance. At the end of the 19C the building was virtually abandoned and fell victim to looting. In 1938 a criminal prison  was installed in it for political prisoners, along with a sanatorium for other prisioners with tuberculosis.  Today it has a centre of teaching and the Alburquerque archives.  They include its sumptuous entrance the huge ground parade with columns and double gallery, which opens tot the different rooms decorated with artistic tiles coffered ceilings of stucco and carved beams visits are always guided. Price: 3€. More information on Tel +34  92114 22 03 and more in Spanish here:

And at Coca; the most important and imposing of Spain. Located in the town of the same name, it was built as a Palace fortress in the 15C of  Spanish Gothic-Mudejar style.  It is surrounded by a deep moat and a triple defensive system. The lower square enclosure flanked by four towers.  The larger is the torre del homenaje or honor ,which in its interior has a narrrow spiral staircase that gives access to the Chapel , to the weapons room, and other rooms. From the top, you can see the castle of Cuellar and Iscar (entry  2.70€). More in Spanish here:

As you can see , Spain is everything under the Sun. Enjoy it as I do. Cheers


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November 13, 2016

How about those blog statistics anyone !

Here I am on a Sunday evening , looking at an HBO series Expert Mahanttan with a cold day out and already dark like winter time or fall time rather. And thinking about those reports we get at the end of the year from WordPress; do you read them?

They come with all kinds of statistics about your blog and what you have done. I rather concentrate on my work to entertain myself and family first, and then any positive minded reader who comes along. It seems to me there is even some sort of competition on readership lol!

I have been in several travel forum over the years and left them all except one small not too busy one , rather keep posting my owns adventures and sharing it with the normal world.

I have decided to look at my numbers with the help of wandering a bit into WordPress. Here is what I have found.

I started on WordPress after advice from a friend in Madrid who told me it was easy to work for the non technical guy in me and it has been so. It was November 2010 so holy cow already 6 years !!!!!

After already not counting this one 891 posts in my blog, come to realize my best viewing day was December 10, 2012! with 972 views!

My best view pages or posts have been: My best restaurants in Versailles, Paris at night and Christmas 2010, London cosmopolitan, and San Cristobal de la Habana.

The most commented post has been Versailles and it’s historical Churches with 172!!!! wow and we do have a palace there lol!

I have 292 other blogs following mine an honor ,thank you all. Never in my wildest dreams would I thought to have these many reading my blog wow! There are about 10 steady commenters and one terrific one , and my wish is to have more comments, constructive comments that is.

The countries that have most folks viewing my blog are in order: France, USA, Germany, UK, Spain,Canada,Brazil, Belgium, Italy,and Australia! thanks

The year of great activity with most views was 2012 with 120 701, and the one with the most visitors was 2103 with 27 140. However, it seems that 2016 even if not over year will break all records (finally! thanks) So far I have 44 209 views, 16 646 visitors,569 likes and 105 comments. So it seems I will beat all time records in Likes and Comments for sure.

There are a total of 16 pages on front page, 12 categories of posts and 12 tags with 14 links in the blogroll bottom of page. There are over 10000 photos already here wow!!!

I am sure WordPress will have better numbers to tell beginning of 2017 for 2016. In the meantime, thanks for reading mine and sharing yours, and happy healthy travels to all. Enjoy your week, I will have a short one, back on vacation and then business travel to exotic country in Asia, and finally my Christmas break vacation. Cheers.