Posts tagged ‘Spain’

October 15, 2021

Some news from Spain CXII

And here I am again back to my dear Spain. Lots of things going on as time is of the essence for stepping out! We are carefully monitoring the finishing of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium to go to my dear Madrid!!! For now from my breton neck of the woods , this is another episode of some news from Spain; brought to you by yours truly with care. Hope you enjoy it as I.

The Prado Museum’s sensitivity to 17C Spanish painting explains the pictorial, iconographic and even detective interest of the exhibition dedicated to Murillo. It impresses the vicissitudes of the paintings and the outcome that has allowed them to be recovered since they came out in 1867. Queen Isabel II then agreed to give them to Pope Pius IX. And the Vatican sold them to a British collector, the Earl of Dudley, although the Murillos, like the false currency, would pass from hand to hand until they settled in Ireland owned by the Beit family. They were not safe. They ‘survived’ a fire. The IRA Stole them in 1974 . And the illustrious criminal Martin Cahill stole them again in 1986, in such a way that the kind Beit finally agreed to donate them to the National Gallery Museum. The collaboration consists of the pictorial and artistic interest of a Dublin loan that can be enjoyed in Madrid until January 23 2022, webpage: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/whats-on/exhibition/murillos-the-prodigal-son-and-the-art-of/762c7a6f-2cb8-fcdc-0eb7-8eea50406b18

A painting from the series ‘Musketeer with a pipe’ that Pablo Picasso painted in 1968 will go on sale in November at Christie’s in New York for an initial price of $30 million (25.8 million euros), as the firm itself has reported in a statement, The oil painting ‘Musketeer with a pipe II’ (with dimensions of 146 by 96.5 centimeters) contains the artist’s signature in the upper right corner and is dated November 5, 1968. According to Christie’s until now it was the property of a distinguished American collector who, for the moment, does not wish to reveal his identity. Webpage : https://www.liveauctioneers.com/c/art/pablo-picasso/1/18755/

The appearance of the Roman wall solves the great archaeological mystery of Sevilla ! The construction of the 3C, whose layout until now was hypothesis, is in front of the City Hall, 2.10 meters below the ground ! Since archeology was born as a historical discipline, in the middle of the 18C, researchers have put forward the most varied hypotheses about the route of the wall of the Romula Híspalis colony, a great work cited by Julio Cesar and by other written sources, but which no one, until now, had found. At number 11 Plaza de San Francisco, in front of the Plateresque façade of the City Hall, 2.10 meters below the current level of the street, they have unearthed large limestone ashlars from the project for the construction of a hotel, they began to excavate from there and went down almost three meters more until they reached a linear segment of 9.30 meters of wall from the middle of the 3C. with a total width of 4.80 meters, the result of the addition of a 1.70 meter high plinth and the preserved elevation of the wall, 3.25 wide in the section that has been discovered during the construction works from the service basement of a five-star luxury hotel that will open in September 2022 part of the Millenium Hotels Real Estate,webpage: https://www.milleniumhotelsrealestate.com/en/assets/plaza-magdalena/

The prize Planeta was, with its 601,000 euros, the prize best endowed with Spanish letters, accompanied by the tagline, “only surpassed by the Nobel.” This will have been the case until this edition: by surprise, the president of Grupo Planeta, Josep Creuheras, has announced that the award will now award its winner one million euros. The Planeta thus narrowly exceeds the Nobel prize, which is around 980,000 euros. The million euros comes in the year in which the award breaks records for originals presented, 654 novels, a clear trace of the recent covid past: it is 11% higher than those presented in 2020 (582 originals) the celebration of an edition round as it is the 70th anniversary with the presence of the Kings of Spain The group also owns the Casa del Libro chain of bookstores, and despite the ravages of the pandemic, the objective is still to extend the network even further : This year five bookstores have been opened and the forecast is to open another six next year.Great !! webpage: https://www.premioplaneta.es/

The portrait of José de Toro-Zambrano, first director of the Banco de San Carlos, painted by Goya ,was the first portrait that Goya would paint for the Banco de San Carlos, an exhibition with which a brand new exhibition space is inaugurated in the heart of the Golden Mile of art in Madrid, which adds carats to the Paseo del Prado-Recoletos axis, recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. On a corner of the Plaza de Cibeles, flanked by the Paseo del Prado and Calle de Alcalá, stands one of the most outstanding buildings in Madrid: the Bank of Spain, its splendid collection, made up of more than 5,300 works (paintings, sculptures , drawings, photographs, prints and pieces of decorative arts), divided into two sets: the historical part (20%) and the contemporary (80%). , A collection that has Francisco de Goya as its standard. A treasure that in the almost 240 years of the institution’s history, only bank workers and those who attended guided tours have been able to enjoy (yes!!). The opening sequence will be ; first, in the middle of the pandemic, the raison d’être, in three volumes, of the collection of paintings, drawings and sculptures of the Bank of Spain, with 1,200 works. Later those of engraving and decorative arts will be undertaken. A heritage web portal was also launched. And now open to the public, which was inaugurated by the King. It will be free to access, although for now you have to reserve tickets ‘online’. This is a small room with capacity for 80 persons ; barely 350 square meters, divided between a central room and two adjoining triangular rooms, The exhibition will run to February 26, 2022, The singularities of the collections of the Bank of Spain prevail. 28 paintings, a sculpture, a drawing, 7 pieces of decorative arts and 96 documents from the Historical Archive and Library of the Bank of Spain are exhibited. They date back to the Banco de San Carlos (founded in 1782), whose leaders commissioned the most powerful artists of the time to portray the Kings, heads of state, finance ministers, directors and governors of the institution, which decorated different rooms of its headquarters. . It is one of the best galleries of official portraits in Spain. Over the years, funds from the Bank of San Fernando and the Bank of Isabel II were added, from whose merger the current Bank of Spain would be born in 1856. Webpage :https://coleccion.bde.es/wca/es/secciones/coleccion/

We are almost five hundred million, or what seems the same, four hundred and ninety-three million (four more than in 2020), 6.5% of the world population, That is the headline that throws the traditional yearbook published by the Cervantes Institute every October , Which does not hide the weight of inertia in this success as projections indicate that the Spanish-speaking community will continue to grow gradually until 2068, when it will exceed the seven hundred and twenty-six million, with different degrees of command of the language. The Spanish in the world. Cervantes Institute Yearbook 2021. According to Cervantes, Spanish is the native language of 493 million people; only Mandarin Chinese has more. If you add to the account those non-native speakers but who have some linguistic competence, the figure rises to 591 million people. English and Chinese are ahead. The language appears as the second preferred language in educational programs in the United Kingdom and the United States and in 18 of the 27 states of the European Union. The White House has relaunched its website in Spanish, the language that represents 7.5% of the world’s population, 9% of global GDP and will soon be spoken by 27% of Americans. Spanish is also the third most used language on the internet and the second on channels such as YouTube, Netflix or Spotify. There you go, yo lo sabia !!! Webpage : https://www.cervantes.es/sobre_instituto_cervantes/prensa/2021/noticias/anuario-IC-2021.htm

It has plenty of titles: pretty and historical complex … this year it adds one more: the most beautiful in Castilla y León. The town San Felipe de los Gallegos transport the visitor back to the Middle Ages. It is a very well preserved villa. The legendary foundation of San Felices takes place in the year 690. Felix, who was Bishop of Porto, ordered the founding of a town here in honor of his saint. And since he brought a Galician colony with him, he has just completed the name. So we are the town of the three lies: we are neither saints, nor are we happy, nor are we Galicians “.hehehe !

San Felices de los Gallegos is ‘The most beautiful town in Castilla y León‘, after winning the Castilla y León Television contest in the category of town with less than 1,000 inhabitants. It was Don Dionís, the Portuguese king, who after seizing the town of San Felices in 1296 built the fortress on a promontory that dominates the entire plain. It was between the end of the 13C and the first decade of the 14C. The old fence is preserved from that time, although the castle had up to five walled enclosures. The town would return to Castilian hands in the year 1326 and there begins the parade from one owner to another. Among its noblest inhabitants, Leonor de Albuquerque, mother of four kings and grandmother of Fernando ,the Catholic. ( later husband of Isabel the Catholic) Although it would be the Casa de Alba, at the beginning of the 16C, which would give it a more palatial appearance. In the 20C it was abandoned. To such an extent that some neighbors took possession of it with the intention of selling it stone by stone to a quarry. Angel de Dios prevented it by buying it from Alba’s house , The castle was inherited by his son Francisco, a priest who donated it to the town in 2013 for its use and enjoyment. Today, any curious person can climb its keep. San Felices also has two stunning churches. Everything is two steps away. One belongs to the Augustinian convent of La Pasión. There are only seven sisters, but they continues to make her sweets: puff pastry, peeled, perronillas … they have a huge poster with all the offer on the façade. The route continues along Nuestra Señora entre dos Álamos, which is surprising due to its large size. Opposite, you have to stop at the peculiar Bell Tower, another of the town’s landmarks. The Casa de los Mayorazgos, one of the largest civil buildings. One is the stonework museum and the other is the Oil Museum, called El Lagar del Mudo. With a meticulous restoration, this mill built in the 18C preserves all the charm of yesteryear and tells in detail the immemorial history of olive cultivation in this land. Or all the way by car, a thrill !! webpage: http://www.salamancaemocion.es/es/destinos/las-arribes/nuestros-pueblos/san-felices-de-los-gallegos

Circusland, covers 250 years of the history of the greatest show in the world through 6,000 pieces inside an old monastery in the Girona town of Besalú. It has the largest collection of stamps on this theme, the largest miniature circus on the planet and haute couture garments of famous clowns. the first professional museum on the circus in Europe, just opened in Besalú, the beautiful medieval town of Garrotxa in Girona, with its photogenic 11C Old Bridge over the River Fluvià as one of its main architectural emblems. Another of them is the old Benedictine monastery of Sant Pere, in whose Casa del Abad (later it would become a textile factory), the new 1,500-square-meter exhibition complex now stands (and the idea is to expand it to 10,000) divided into three plants. The tour of Circusland is made through 60,000 pieces including costumes, posters, photographs, stamps, engravings, postcards, autographs, books, porcelain, sculptures … They are divided into different specialties, from illusionism to acrobatics, comedy, magic, juggling or animal artists. Not surprisingly, here is the largest collection of philately on thecircus theme on the planet, with more than 900 stamps from 115 countries signed by illustrious artists such as Picasso, Chéret or Toulouse-Lautrec. Without forgetting the 27 haute couture dresses used by different clowns of the Cara Blanca typology, made between 1950 and 1980 by the prestigious Maison Vicaire tailor shop in Paris. Note: Each garment took more than 400 hours to make. What’s more, there is no such professional museum in Europe, and there are only two in the world, both in the United States, in Florida and Wisconsin. The question is: why is Besalú the headquarters of the museum? “In Girona and Catalonia in general there is a lot of tradition for this discipline. Here is the Golden Elephant Circus, one of the five most important in the world, the Great Girona Christmas Circus and the Circus World Market fair”, says the director of Circusland, who is also a jury member of the main international festivals of this type of show, as well as the first doctor in History of Circus in Europe. Circusland. Plaza del Prat de Sant Pere, 15, Besalú (Girona). Webpage:  https://circusland.org/en/inicial-3/

One more year, and for just one day, the Teatro Real will be the setting for the Madrid Fado Festival, an event that will feature the presence of three of the great stars of this musical genre, Carminho, (she sang duo with Pablo Alboràn !) Camané and Teresinha Landeiro. In its eleventh edition, it will pay tribute to the cradle of fado: Lisbon, with a complete program that will revolve around the Portuguese capital, the cultural epicenter of the life of fado. Teatro Real ,Plaza de Isabel II, s / n. Sunday October 17, from 10h. Admission 0 to 20 euros. Webpage : https://www.teatroreal.es/en/show/festival-fado-madrid-2021

Gettysburg, 1863 is the name of the original exhibition in the Moda Shopping Mall in Madrid that recalls the famous battle of the American Civil War with 11 dioramas and more than 500 authentic objects, relics and replicas of weapons, ammunition, documents, maps and different belongings of the contest. Moda Shopping Mall ,Avenida. General Perón, 38-40. Shown until October 31, 2021 Free !.Great fashion/moda shopping center too near the Santiago Bernabeu stadium of Real Madrid CF !! webpage :https://www.modashopping.com/8695/gettysburg-1863

There you go folks, another dandy from my dandy Spain. Hope you are all ready to go, it is a welcome sign to come to Spain, everything under the Sun!!! And remember,happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 14, 2021

Valencia, a lot more in sunny Spain!

This is one of those cities that should be visited more. I was there as a child when had my aunt on mother’s side living there in a farm just south of the city near El Saler; when we lived in Madrid we would go there as our “vacation” ; then, their passing took us a dry spell of many, many years, finally with my wife and boys ,we decided upon my request to visit the city. We enjoyed the sites especially the markets and the beach front. I am talking about Valencia, Spain. I have several posts on Valencia sights in my blog with pictures; this one was my introduction post.

Valencia a city by the mediterranean sea founded in 138BC by Roman consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus with the name of Valentia Edetanorum which later in the middle ages became the capital of the kingdom of Valencia. It’s old town area is the most extensive in all of Spain, 169 hectares! The main motorways of Valencia have a radial route, such as the V-21, the V-31, the A-3 (the one to go from Madrid), the V-15/CV-500, the CV-35 or the CV-36. But Valencia also has a series of beltway roads around it, you are the by-pass, the V-30, which joins the A-7 with the city port, or the CV-30, which borders the north area of the city. The International Airport is located about 8 km west of Valencia, on the territories of the towns of Manises and Poblet.

The metro/Subway/tube network of Valencia is the third oldest in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. The Port of Valencia is one of the ports managed by the Port Authority of Valencia (Valenciaport) ;the passenger Terminal of the Port of Valencia is managed by the shipping company Acciona Transmediterranea and has all the necessary services to meet the demand of cruise ship owners: assistance to the crew, gangways for direct access to ships, passenger parking, gift shops, duty free, etc.

The natural park of the Albufera has 21 120 hectares located just 10 km south of the city on the way to El Saler which is right on the tip of it. The park includes the Lake Albufera. Its environment is humid, and adjacent to both the coastal strip. The marshes of Rafalell and Vistabella, with an area of 103 hectares, is one of the last marshes that extends to the north of the river Turia at Alboraya Sagunto, which shoots the groundwater and the irrigation. La Horta of Valencia (vegetable garden) was born in the Roman Empire , but what is really today the Horta of Valencia was developed in the Middle Ages, during the Arabic period.  Arabs have created an extensive network of irrigation infrastructures: irrigation canals; Wells; and small dams. This network is derived from the canals of the Turia and allows to the formation of marshes carrying large amounts of water to the irrigation fields, and rice, and paella !!

A bit of history I like

In 711, the city was taken by the Arabs/Moors. Abd al-Allah, the son of Abd al-Rahman I, (first Emir of Cordoba), settled in Balansiya (name of the city in Arabic) and exercised his authority over the region of Valencia.  The Arabs imported their language, religion and customs, but coexistence with Hispanic people is done in a peaceful way. The assimilation of the indigenous population to the Muslim religion and the Arab culture was very rapid, since it was estimated that by the end of the 10C, Christians and Jews represented only 10% of the population. Within the taifa of the Amirides (descendants of Almanzor), Valencia is a city with an important influence.

Here comes the story of El Cid or Rodrigo , who was then staying in Zaragoza, besieges Valencia and takes over the city in July 1093. A skillful politician or warrior, Rodrigo does not seem to have aspired to exercise power directly. The arrival of a Almoravid army sent by Emir Youssef Ibn-Tashfin led the Valencians to shake the yoke again. As the Almoravids ran out of food without an arrow being  fired, Rodrigo besieged the city again. After vainly awaiting the arrival of reinforcements, Valencia, decimated by hunger, capitulates on June 15, 1094. Rodrigo allied with Pedro I of Aragon and Raimond-Berenguer III of Barcelona with the aim of curbing the constant progression of the Almoravid. In 1096, the great mosque was transformed into a church. Then, in 1097, Jérôme de Périgord, acclaimed and elected by the chapter, consecrated by the hand of the Roman Pontiff, was named Bishop of the city. Rodrigo continued to consolidate his power on the Levant, notably with the capture of Murviedro (Sagunto), in 1098, Rodrigo El  Cid died in Valencia on July 10, 1099. Chimenea his wife succeeded in defending the city with the help of his son-in-law Raimond-Berenguer III Count of Barcelona, until 1101 when King Alfonso VI of Castilla ordered the evacuation of the city. From 1102, the family of the El Cid and his companions abandoned the city to the Almoravids. Valencia will only be recaptured definitively from the Arabs moors in 1238, by king Jaime I of Aragon. In 1391, the Christians forced the jewish to convert to Christianism or face death;by 1456 the Muslims face the same dilemma. The 15C is known as the golden age of Valencian culture, and since 1437 the Holy Chalise is preserved in the Cathedral of Valencia.

In the war of Independence vs Napoleon’s invasion,the first battle took place on 28 june 1808 and you can still see the canons shots in the tower of Quart and lower base on fields around it. The city felled under command of Marshal Suchet on January 8 1812 after a long siege  and lasted until the end of the war in 1814.  In 1936 during the Spanish Civil War Valencia becomes the capital of Republican Spain until 1939.

There is so much to see in Valencia city alone, its incredible. You really several days here. I have some individual posts on the things to see and do in Valencia, take a look, A general briefing me think is as such : 

Valencia has two urban beaches of golden sand,  Las arenas and the beach of Malvarrosa,  which are bounded by south the Port of Valencia and north the beach Patacona Alboraya. They are urban beaches, which have a large promenade where there are many large premises, which occupy old public baths, and offer a wide choice of accommodations and local cuisine. There are other beaches like those of Pinedo, with the area of the black house where the beach is nudist, of Perellonet, of Recatí and the Gola del Perello, more than 15 km of coasts of sand (protected by dunes), which constitute an offer of large beaches , in the heart of the Albufera Natural Park. A must the beaches, Malvarrosa and Las Arenas are right in the city easy.

The royal Chapel of the Virgin of the Forsaken, (Real Capilla de la Virgen de los Desamparados) with Basilica category from 1872, was made between 1652 and 1666 the temple dedicated to Saint Catherine Martyr, located in the Plaza Virgen de la Paz, rose on a previous mosque and in 1245 had already acquired the rank of parish Church. The old hermitage was erected before 1240 on the mosque in the newly erected temple preached St. Vincent Ferrer and there offered his first sermon on the day of St. John the Baptist.  The Church of San Juan del Hospital was the first church built in Valencia, behind the cathedral, as a priory of the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. St. Mary’s Cathedral of Valencia  is a must.

The Monasterio de San Miguel de los Reyes isan important work of the Valencian renaissance that according to some authors can be considered as precedent of the monastery of El Escorial, being like this, Jerónimo Monastery, cultural focus and church commemorative of the memory of its Founder. The first stone was placed in 1548 by the bishop and  Fernando of Aragon, Duke of Calabria. The construction of the monastery lasted during the 17C, beginning the church of the monastery from 1601 in 1821 the disentailment of the liberal three years abolished the Jerónima community in 1835 the definitive secularization is produced, passing the monastery ,and their properties at the hands of the state. It is now the home of the Valencian library or Biblioteca Valenciana. Located in the Avenida de la Constitucion.

There were crosses, which in the Crown of Aragon were used to be called peirones and in other places wayside shrines, were located in the paths to mark the limits of the city ; the one cross covering the Camino Real de Játiva, is still visible on the  current Calle San Vicente. It is a gothic work carried out in the year 1376 (14C) by an unknown author. Between the years 1432 and 1435 (15C) ,it was renovated the cross on behalf of the factory (Fàbrica) of Murs and Valls, and in the 16C the temple restored itself and in 1898 (19C) it was carried out a complete reconstruction of the work.

The building of La Lonja de la Seda is a masterpiece of the Valencian Civil Gothic located in the historical center of the city; Gothic-Renaissance style is the Palacio de Benicarló, the current headquarters of the Valencian courts. This building is an aristocratic mansion, which was built in the 15C as a residence of the Borja family in the capital of the ancient kingdom of Valencia. Between the years 1485 and 1520, adaptation activities of several pre-existing buildings were carried out, as well as the construction of the stone staircase of the patio the palace of the Valencian government is also a building late gothic with interventions Renaissance dating back to the 15C. The construction of the palace began in the year 1421, expanding in the 16C. In 1831 the territorial courts hearing was installed, which in 1922 became the provincial council.  The towers of Serranos are one of the twelve gates that guarded the old wall of the city of Valencia. Las Torres de Quart, a pair of twin towers, also formed part of the medieval wall that surrounded the old town of Valencia, whose function was defend the city. These towers are located at the intersection of Calle Guillén de Castro with Calle Quart.

The Palace of the Marquis de Dos Aguas ( two waters), as it is known today, is the product of a radical reform carried out on the old manor house of the Rabassa of Perellós, holders of the marquis of Dos Aguas, in the decade of 1740 (18C) in a Rococo style houses the National Museum of Ceramics and the arts sumptuary González Martí with one of the most important collection of ceramics in Spain and Europe.In 1914 it became the seat of the Palace of Justice the Plaza Redonda, of singular round perimeter, was built in 1840 ,and is located next to the Church of Santa Catalina and the Plaza de la Virgen, in the historical center of the City.

The bullring of Valencia was built between the years 1850 and 1860 (19C) on the site of a previous square that because of budget problems was never finished. It is neoclassical, inspired by Roman civil architecture. There is, also, a bullfighting museum, which was founded in 1929 with funds from the donation of Luis Moróder Peiró and the bull chopper José Bayard Badia, which for years collected a significant number of materials and objects of Valencian bullfighting of the 19C to the 20C . I like to put my picture not elsewhere.

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The Ayuntamiento or city hall of Valencia integrates in a slightly trapezoidal block  two constructions of period and style well differentiated: the Casa de Enseñanza or house of Teaching, built by the initiative of the Archbishop Don Andrés Mayoral, between 1758 and 1763; and the building body (the main façade), made between the second and third decades of the  20C in a marked modernist style another of the most important modernist buildings of Valencia is the Estacion del Norte or North station, built between the years 1906 and 1917 the building of the Mercado Central market is also another construction of Valencian modernist style and began to be built in the year 1914 ;the Mercado de Colón (where we parked underground parking!!!) is another clear example of Valencian modernism of the early 20C. This market was designed and built  between the years 1914 and 1916.

The Puente 9 de Octubre or 9th of October Bridge was built in the 1980’s by the then still not recognized Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava, by the Bridge of the exhibition (Puente de la Exposicion) and the metro station of the Alameda, which is located under the old channel of the river Turia to which you have to go down to access the station. These works were inaugurated in the year 1995 the complex of the City of Arts and Sciences, also designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela, one of the most popular areas of the city. Since,  1998 when the hemispheric (Hemisférico) was inaugurated, and in 2009 with the opening of the Agora. The Museum of Fine Arts St. Pius V and the IVAM (Institut Valencià d’Art Modern) , which are spaces in which permanent collections can be seen as well as temporary.

The botanical garden managed by the University of Valencia, the Royal garden or pots (Jardines Real) in the neighborhood of Pla del Real right where it was located the Royal Palace of Valencia (Palacio del Real de Valencia). Along the vast and nice Paseo de la Alameda you reach it from the sea, today it has a bit over a km walk between the Puente del Real and the Puente de Aragon bridges. The promenade without garden goes for 2,5 km from Plaza Zaragoza to Grao Cemetery. The parterre lawn or Plaza de Alfonso the Magnanimous was built on some existing plots in the old Customs square (Plaza de la Aduana), more or less in the year 1850, since its creation the garden has undergone very few variations, emphasizing fundamentally that due to the flood of 1957 which damaged this garden, thereby changing its morphology. The gardens of Saveros (which include the gardens of Montroy), the Jardín de Monforte  or the gardens of the Túria, former bed of the river Túria, which was deviated from the city center in the 1960’s after the Last flood of 1957. The Oceanogràfico, a oceanarium, a zoological park of 8 hectares, the Biopark Valencia, takes place west of the city by the Turia river too.

Main festivities in Valencia in my opinion are

From March 15 to March 19 the days and nights in Valencia are a continuous party, but since March 1 are shot every day at 14h (2pm)  the popular Mascletás. Fallas is a party with an entrenched tradition in the city of Valencia and different populations of the Valencian Community .yes the Fallas!  Easter has its prolongation with the festivity in honor of St. Vincent Ferrer,(who also is a revered Saint in Brittany and his body rests at the St Peters Cathedral of Vannes!)  Patron of the community canonized by the Pope Calixto III (Alfonso Borja, Spanish). This day is customary to visit the birthplace of the saint (currently a chapel), where it is “the Pouet of Sant Vicent” of which the children are given to drink ,so that they speak soon, they do not suffer from angina, they do not swear false or they are blasphemous. And of course ,when in Valencia is the time to eat Paella, the original and always the best , the dish of Valencia , which was originally a humble dish cooked by the inhabitants of the swamp of Albufera mainly of chicken, rabbit, duck, snails, legumes and fresh vegetables (later many variations have come forward). A legend ,I was told by the elders is that the name PAELLA is a contraction on how we speak cutting letters to speak faster so Para Ella or For Her became pa’ella and it was the fisherman out to sea for days to bring the food in to the families and the wives stayed behind to do everything else…One day a fisherman decided that they should all gathered their catch and prepare a dish for the wives, so they did and when a name was called, simply stayed well it is for them/her so PAELLA. I stick to this version.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit to the city of Valencia are :

The City of Valencia on its heritage/history: https://www.valencia.es/cas/la-ciudad

The Valencia tourist office: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en

The Autonomous Comunity of Valencia on Valencia: https://www.comunitatvalenciana.com/en/cultural-tourism

There you go folks, hope you enjoy the introductory post, and maybe take a look at Valencia! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 14, 2021

Memories of a lifetime, Las Majadas!!!

And I make you arrive at our place in Spain for the last few years pre virus. Oh yes we have to go to Madrid of course, used to lived there and memories of family and visits on so many years, but once we found out about renting a house in the mountains near Cuenca.  We as a family came to rent a house in the Serrania de Cuenca mountains at 1400 meters of altitude in the town of Las Majadas! I like to update this memorable post with new text and updated links, a most memorable post indeed, We will see now when we will be back but hard missing my dear late wife Martine. The town of Las Majadas has officially 277 inhabitants but believe me we saw a lot less even if we went in summer. Winter the town is empty with the Rural Guard only around.

We said, Las Majadas? I even have to look it up as this is way in the mountain on really narrow roads max speed 50 KPH  (about 30 MPH) and that is too much very narrow, hilly, and curvy roads up to get to the town passing by huge extension of hunting forest. The house was fantastic and the owners superb!!!  The house had 4 bedrooms for all two bath, right in the town near restaurant , bakery ,bars on the main square. The people in town very friendly and the owners Maria Isabel and Luis just fantastic human beings ! The Casa Pitu is the name given to the house in the Calle Anastasio Lasso of Las Majadas. A town that will remain in our hearts forever. Highly recommended, and if you are into walking, nature lover this is a must.

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I cannot say enough of Las Majadas we came back to repeat staying here, and my family love it as well. My dear late wife Martine love it, she spoked Spanish and immediately made friends with the locals and owners. We got pastries, wines, you name it as gifts always a friendly smile, and even Martine felled in love with the decoration in the kitchen ,utensils and paper towel holder, and the owner just simply gave it to her!! Amazing experiences to last a lifetime ; I still have it.  I have several posts on Las Majadas in my blog as an hommage to the town, the people and my dear Martine. Just do the search. Thanks.

Of course we always did the run by car from France, a wonderful trip, full of nice memories and encounters on the road, like the wonderful always stop at Bielle in the French pyrénées for breakfast, and the lunches on the A23 after Zaragoza with chorizo sandwiches my boys love it still remember fondly; the lunch and dinner in the different restaurants around Cuenca all wonderful memories on the road.(see posts). 

More on Las Majadas from the Castilla La Mancha tourist boardhttp://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/las-majadas-69831/

Like I said we used the house as a base to run all over the Castillas and even into Valencia; for the nature lover, hunters, joggers, walkers, this is tops. Because of fondness for the house this was the Top Rural renting site we got the house from , now the site is call Vrbo: https://www.vrbo.com/es-es/viajes/campa%C3%B1a/toprural-vrbo?brre=TRES

And the official webpage for Casa Pitu in Las Majadashttp://www.casapitu.es/

 Some on the history and activities in the small town are

So called Majadas, because the first to settle in this area were sheperds who were there at night. It tells the tradition that the people had been settled here  by shepherds of Poyatos through cabins in the well of the Animas. In the 12C the manor came to the Jaraba family, linked to the conquest of Cuenca.  The Jarabas came from Ramon IV Berenguer, 10th Count of Barcelona, King of Aragon to marry Petronila, daughter of Ramiro II, the monk. By not having offspring they asked Our Lady of Jarabas to grant them a wish and so they put one of her children to her, forming this family. The eldest of the marriage was Alfonso II, King of Aragon who helped  king Alfonso VIII in the conquest of Cuenca.

In the book of Montería (hunting trips) of king Alfonso XI , speaks about the good hunting in the Majadas of the king. It was a villa of relaxation or entertainment.  The patron Saint is the Virgin of the Sagrario since king Alfonso VIII. The Church Virgen del Sagrario consists of three bodies: The Belfry, the nave and the altar, these two separated by a half-point arch with pillars of ashlar.  The altarpiece has different figures of different artistic style, with two bodies of columns with corinthian capitals.  The date of 1618 is listed.  The pedestal has reliefs of the adoration of the shepherds and adoration of the Kings. The paintings of the altarpiece are Saint Lucia (martyr), Saint Christopher and Penitent Monk, the Saint Veronica, the Immaculate, the crucified Christ and the Annunciation.  The well-preserved coffered ceiling is in mudejar style with Western roots. In the courtyard of the parish is the Roll of Justice where the law was taught in medieval times.  There were also four hermitages in the 17C: San Juan, Santiago apostle, San Bartolomé and San Sebastián

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The culinary delights is awesome and the dishes are the Morteruelo (sirloin, liver, chicken, rib, ham, lard, rabbit, breadcrumbs, paprika, cinnamon, cloves and also with game meat). Porridge (flour, grass peas, bacon fat, garlic, paprika…)  , shepherd crumbs (bread crumbs, garlic, paprika, bacon fat, water…), they are eaten with grapes.  Red Beans  with chorizo and rib.  Shepherd’s Cakes (flour, salt, oil, water…) Bacalado (salted and soaked codfish), battered with egg and flour. At Easter,  Puches de los Santos (flour, water, sugar and croutons…)  Toasts of bread crumbs and egg (in sugar water with apple, honey, etc.) Anise Rolls (flour, sugar, aguardiente (heavy rum type made with grapes), etc.)  They make sausages, loins, ribs, etc. All good and with good Castilian wine.

There you go folks, hope it helps you come and enjoy the real Spain, and the birth of it in Castilla. We will go on carrying with us these marvelous memories and wonderful souvenirs of our trips as a family to Las Majadas, And who knows, maybe we will make a nostalgic return one day. Thank you for your support reading me since November 2010 !

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

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October 10, 2021

The wonderful M-30 beltway of Madrid!!!

As you know, love the road and freedom that it provides, and just glancing at my blog realized in a particular way have yet to write about one of my nicest memories on the road and I was there from the beginning of it all! Not usual for a blogger to write about a betlway circular highway, and driving in a big city , however, this is my Madrid I dare to drive in it

The M 30 is a beltway semi circular road of Madrid, the first one, and it is a 3 because it is actually the third beltway in history of Madrid. In 1857 was built the first circular road name the M10, running by Calle Princesa, plaza Colón, paseo de Recoletos, Gran Vía, and Calle de Alcalá. The second attempt was shorty afterward called the Paseo de Ronda, but popularly called the M20. It ran by the calle de Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, calle del Doctor Esquerdo, calle de Pedro Bosch, calle de Joaquín Costa and calle de Francisco Silvela. In 1929, it is spoken of a third beltway and called the M30 ; this plan was approved in 1942 but due to economic constraints and WWII it was not started until 1970 !! Ah yes the M is for Madrid of course ! I was living in the city, when they started building it and left when they had finished it! It has been a trademark to drive on it after finished in 1974! Of course, could not drive then, but walk over its arch and passarelle many times until finally able to drive on it in 1982 and thereafter,

The pretty arch (photo from arch to M30) over it passes near the Monumental bullfight arena of Las Ventas (see post)  on Calle de Alcalà on the way to my piso (apartment in Quintana metro line 5 stop). It seems every visit  I need to take somebody by here and tell of all the businesses there,gone and new over the years. Some like where my Mom purchase my first shoes are still there (Victor Calzados) and of course I purchase my boys shoes there too! The restaurant where we spent many evenings and I do concur the best patatas bravas of Madrid, Docamar since 1963 still there! I remember, going by bus P13 (today 113) to the baseball field of Elipa,(see post) now a huge sports complex park and baseball field still there, the Madrid baseball federation is base there etc. Now ,you can even go there from Calle Doctor Esquerdo on foot and over the passarelle of the M-30! All wonderful memories never to be forgotten. Enough of me, let me tell you about the M-30.

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The M-30, also call the Madrid ring road (beltway), is a road done like a highway except in the North of the city on the Avenida de la Ilustracion, this road goes around the city.  It has a length of about  32.5 km with an average radius of 5.17 km with respect to the Puerta del Sol. It is heavily congestion and high traffic volume, and some says the most in Spain. It has a speed limit of 90 KPH on the above sections and 70 KPH below the tunnels. The peculiarity is to be the only Spanish highway of which is own by the City/Town Hall of Madrid.  The construction of the M-30 started  in 1970 (while I was living in the city) , in two different sections: the East section, or Avenida de la Paz, between the Carretera de Irún (to France) A-1 and Carretera de Cadiz  A-4, which followed the riverbed of the old Abroñigal, which was to be channeled and buried under the highway. The West stretch, or the Manzanares highway, between the Puente de los Francéses (bridge of the French) and the Carretera de Cadiz (road), mostly built following the course of the Manzanares River. Both sections were joined in the South junction, and were not completed until 1974. (When I left Madrid after living 4 yrs).

The first beltway would be formed by the streets that follow the old plot of the wall of king Felipe IV that formerly encircled the city: lower part of the Cuesta de la Vega, Ronda de Segovia, Puerta de Toledo, Ronda de Toledo, Plaza de Embajadores, Ronda de Valencia , Ronda de Atocha, Glorieta de Atocha, exterior wall of Retiro park (currently, Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo, the first section of  Calle O’Donnell and Calle de Alcalá), Paseo de Recoletos up to the current Plaza Colón, and the “boulevards”, Calle de Genoa, Calle de Sagasta and Calle Carranza. With the construction of the viaduct, the extension of Calle de Bailen and its union with the Gran Via de San Francisco, at the same time as the construction of the last two boulevards already in the 20C that is Calle de Alberto Aguilera and Paseo del Marqués de Urquijo, the belt was enclosed by the West.

The second beltway  would be formed by the Rondas: Avenida de la Reina Victoria, Calle de Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, Calle de Joaquin Costa, Calle de Francisco Silvela, Calle del Doctor Esquerdo and Calle de Pedro Bosch.  In the 1970s the most important section was open between the junction of Manoteras (cross with the A-1, M-11 and accesses to Sanchinarro) north side of Madrid  and the Nudo Sur (South Junction), that connects to the Avenida de Andalucia (previously N-IV) now A-4.

It usually counts three lanes of traffic in each direction and can align up to 9 lanes, especially east of the city. This is where most of the country’s radial highways go to the various cardinal points of Spain: A-1: North Corridor, A-2: Northeast Corridor, A-3: East Corridor, A-4: South Corridor, A-5: South-West Corridor A-6: Northwest Corridor. A bit technical but will try to give you as much of the history and layout of the M-30

The construction of the tunnel by  the South Pass , that connects it directly with the  A-5  to the southwest of the city and to the A-3, needed the use of the two biggest tunnel grounders of the world. They are the longest urban highway  tunnels in Europe, with sections of more than 6 km in length and 3 to 6 lanes in each direction, between the south entry of the Avenida de Portugal tunnel and the north exit of the M-30 south by-pass there are close to 10 km of continuos tunnels. The M30 tunnels run between a point roughly 700 meters north of the junction with A5 motorway and continue all the way up to the junction between M30 and A3 highway/motorway.  Lately my entry in and out of Madrid.

To tell you a bit of the different sectors of the M30:

North sector: Between the A-6 and the A-1 the flow from the northwest via the A-6 connects to the M-30 north-west of the city surrounding the urban center. It runs along the Puerta de Hierro Park before connecting to the M-40 for the first time. It serves all the northern districts of the city (Antonio Machado and Lacoma).   The M-30 loses its highway status to become the Avenida de la Ilustracion while waiting for the tunnel by the North Pass  from which the M-607 is towards  Colmenar Viejo (Segovia etc)  on the extension of the Paseo de la Castellana until the junction with the A-1 and the M-11 to the northeast of the city. Hope I have not lost you , is all well posted!

East sector: Between A-1 (Burgos) and A-3 (Valencia); It is a very busy area because it recovers the flow from the north of Spain from Burgos, Barcelona or ZaragozaIndeed very busy by me too ! The M-30 serves the eastern part of the city, where the northeast Highway connects to the 2nd largest city in the country: Barcelona. In this area the road is particularly large and loaded and includes up to 8 traffic lanes, separated according to destination in, each direction. At the Calle de O’Donnell the road crosses the M-23 which allows to reach the radial highway R-3  from the East. Then to the southeast of the city, come the connection to  the A-3 which allows to reach the Spanish Levant (Valencia etc). It is at this bifurcation that the tunnel by Pass is detached which directly connects the A-5 to the west of the city.

madrid M30 from calle pez volador pasarela to madrid apr17

South sector: Between the A-3 (Valencia) and the A-42 (Toledo), it is a double stretch of the road, first with the tunnel By Pass on which connects the southeast to the southwest of the city. The A-4 southbound disconnects to the Manzanares River to serve Andalusia (Cordoba, Seville,…). At this bifurcation it is joined by the Embajadores Tunnel which connects the South highway directly to Calle de Embajadores near the Atocha station in Madrid. My way of course, good driving, are you with me?

madrid M30 passarelle out city valencia on A3 aug16

West sector: Between A-42 and A-6; The M-30 forks with the A-42 to Toledo  (yeah the old N400) before going along the Manzanares by joining the tunnel by South Pass. A kilometer further away is the Avenida de Portugal to serve the south-western suburbs of Madrid (Alcorcon, Mostoles etc).

The M-30 crosses the M-500 and loops its turn at the junction with the A-6; there are 31 exits/salidas  in total, last count. The principal exits to big cities are the no 1- A-1 – Alcobendas, Burgos, exit 2, M-11 to A-2 (E-90)/A-3/A-4/Calle de Arturo Soria – Feria de Madrid, Madrid-Barajas Airport, Zaragoza, Exit 4b,  A-2/Calle de Arturo Soria – Zaragoza, Exit 9,  A-3 – Valencia, Exit 18,  A-5/Plaza España – Badajoz, exit 23a , A-6 – Madrid, Moncloa, Exit 23B,  A-6 – a Coruña, exit 23,  Calle de Sinesio Delgado exit 23,  Calle de Arroyofresno, Avenida Ventisquero de la Condesa, M-605/M-40 to M-607/avenue Cardenal Herrera Oria– El Pardo, Colmenar Viejo, M-40 to A-6 –  A Coruña

We have some nice building running alongside this highway M30, the best for me is the Elipa park where I used to played baseball! In my youth there and now there is a passarelle bridge from calle del Doctor Esquerdo to Calle Pez Volador to the passarelle and over to the park easy walk.  Others are in a clockwise direction from the junction of Manoteras ,north of Madrid up Paseo de la Castellana:   Cámara de Comercio de Madrid (chamber of commerce of Madrid) ,  Centro Cultural Islámico y Mezquita de Madrid, (the mosque of the M30), Plaza de toros de Las Ventas (monumental bullfights arena right off my old neighborhood on Calle de Alcalà), Torrespaña, Centro Comercial Moratalaz (shopping mall) , Matadero Madrid (arts entertainment center today on the old slaughterhouse of Madrid),  Ermita de la Virgen del Puerto ( a nice Church), Jardines del Palacio Real de Madrid (gardens of the Royal Palace), Estación de Príncipe Pío (train station and shopping), Jardines del Palacio de La Moncloa (gardens of the house of government Moncloa),  Real Club Puerta de Hierro ( a private club) , Centro Comercial La Vaguada (shopping mall and one of my favorites in the city), Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Hospital Universitario La Paz(hospitals).

The M-30 appears in numerous films set in Madrid. A very characteristic one is  “Que he hecho yo para merecer esto,?” Or what have I done to deserve this? by Pedro Almodóvar. And in literature, it is the protagonist scene of the work of Esther García Llovet  La M-30, la gran velada or  the M30 the great evening. Of course, only my favorites!

A wonderful ride indeed on the M3O. However, in Madrid today there is like a beehive of roads , from the M-30 you have today all the way around to the M 55 and many R (radials) with tolls to make driving in Madrid a Grand Prix Challenge , good ground for the road warior lol! Actually , folks, it is a lot easier than read, if you have driven in big cities before, of course.

Some webpages to help get around the wonderful M30 are :

The city of Madrid who manage the M30 circulation infohttps://www.mc30.es/index.php/explotacion/circular-por-calle-30

The trafic on the M30 by emesa who manage it. webpage: https://www.emesa-m30.es/ 

The trafic info by the Comunidad de Madrid on the M30https://informo.madrid.es/#/realtime?panel=live

There you go folks, a dandy of a M30 beltway in Madrid, with many memories walking over it and driving me, the family, all enjoyed it very much, Hope you can too, and thanks for reading me since Nov 2010,

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

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October 10, 2021

Parish Church of the Assomption in Villanueva de la Jara !

For some reason, perhaps so much beauty to write about, I have written about this town and its monuments and left out the main one me think!! So let’s take you back into the countryside of my beloved Spain. Yes ,I know most go to the big cities and ventures into the popular places, but Spain is everything under the Sun! I like to take you a bit back in time to my lovely Cuenca province in the Autonomous Comunity of Castilla La Mancha. We had great memories of it while with my dear late wife Martine and the boys. Many strong souvenirs that will not fade away with time, I promise. The town is well connected as it passes through the town the N-320 that goes from Cuenca to Albacete, Let me tell you a bit more on the wonderful nice country town of Villanueva de la Jara, and its main church, Parrish Church of the Assomption or Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion, also a basilica. And my family in below picture!

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This is the main thing you should take a detour and visit this town is the Parish Church or Basilica of the Assomption. Let me give you my side of the story from brochures taken on site, The Church or Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion holds the title of Basilica . In town it is at Calle Jesùs Casanova s/n.

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This Church was built with the stones of the old arab castle in the 15C.  Built in ashlar stone, it has a polygonal apse and high-rise buttresses. The high Altar has a beautiful retable on three bodies of golden wood.  Its tower frames a chapel that is said to be the primitive one of the castle of the Marquis of Villena, on whose building the church was built, You see next to it, three slabs with circular towers all that is left of the castle of Villanueva (Marquis of Villena).

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The original portal consists of two lowered arches with vegetal decoration under a large circular window, like a Gothic rose window, framed by a wide blind semi-circular arch whose voussoirs are decorated with circular geometric and floral motifs. On the mullion a small sculpture can be seen of the Virgin and Child in a niche.  The access main portal consists of a Renaissance-style arch framed like a triumphal arch and a covered atrium that leads to the garden, the perimeter of which follows the layout of the old medieval wall. The other portal, also Renaissance, it has a semicircular arch, with niches on both sides of the door created by two pairs of pilasters behind Ionic columns on high rectangular podiums and topped by an entablature with a running cornice on which decorative motifs can be observed. Typical of the time of the Catholic Monarchs such as balls and diamond points.

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The bell tower, 65 meters high, obeys Renaissance canons; quadrangular in shape, at the end of the 17C, it was finished off with a baroque style hood with conical finishes and three series of semicircular arches that decrease in size as the finish rises. The church is of ample proportions, with a single nave, divided into four sections occupied by seven side chapels, a presbytery in a polygonal apse, a sacristy and a chapter house. The vaults of the central nave are starry Gothic. The openings that communicate with the side chapels are framed by pilasters on which semicircular arches rest.

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Five are the most important chapels of the temple: the Main Chapel, located in the apse or head, where a baroque altarpiece is installed, made between the years 1,693 and 1,697; the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception with its transitional altarpiece from Gothic to Renaissance; the Chapel of Cristo de la Llaga with a starry vault; the Chapel of the Virgen del Rosario, with its baroque altarpiece, made at the end of the 17C, with a Greek cross plan and covered by a half-orange dome on pendentives full of plant and animal motifs in white plaster; finally, the Chapel of the Virgen del Pilar with a 16C altarpiece.

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Among the works of art that preserves, highlights, in the first chapel of the Epistle, the altarpiece of Saint Martin, outstanding sample of Spanish-Flemish painting. The chapter house features a neoclassical baptismal font.

The province of Cuenca tourist board on the church: https://www.descubrecuenca.com/es/enclaves-y-poblaciones/la-manchuela/basilica-de-nuestra-senora-de-la-asuncion-villanueva-de-la-jara-52

The city of Villanueva de la Jara on tourist info : http://www.villanuevadelajara.es/turismo.html

The Castilla la Mancha region tourist board on the church : http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/iglesia-basilical-nuestra-senora-de-la-asuncion-69064/

There you go folks, another dandy on the roads of Don Quijote in my dream beloved Spain, traditions to hold on to for life. Hope you enjoy the post on the Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion in Villanueva de la Jara !

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

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October 9, 2021

Nuevos Ministerios of Madrid!!

I have mentioned it briefly in several posts but feel needs a post of its own. Perhaps the most important connection coming to Madrid on public transports for many years. I like to tell you a bit more on Nuevos Ministerios or new ministries of Madrid!

The Nuevos Ministerios constitute a government complex that houses the headquarters of several ministries in the Chamberí district of Madrid. It is located in the block delimited by Paseo de la Castellana, Raimundo Fernández Villaverde and Agustín de Betancourt streets and San Juan de la Cruz square.

On this site there was the racecourse of Madrid and the Republican government at the time decided to do a complex of several government buildings in the same spot. The construction began in 1933 and, although it was paralyzed during the Spanish Civil War, the entire complex was completed in 1942 (already under Franco). The construction styles consists of a large clear spaces with squares, fountains and ponds, around which the different ministries are arranged, as well as a large arcade on the side facing the Paseo de la Castellana.

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Today it houses the headquarters of the Ministries of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Labor and Social Economy, Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations and the Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge. The entire architectural complex is fully integrated into the so-called AZCA center (see post) , one of the most important business and office centers in Madrid. Also, a shopping mall.

Next to these buildings and facing Paseo de la Castellana street you have a multimodal transports station, If you come from the Adolfo Suarez Inter Airport you probably come by here as I do most of the times too. This is done on metro line 8, as well as Cercanias suburban trains C1 and C10, From a tourist view me think C1 is better, Another thing have done on the metro line 8 you can stop out at Colombia and take line 9. Once in Nuevos Ministerios you can take as I line 6 or more often line 10 to Santiago Bernabeu stadium of Real Madrid CF (see posts) if raining as you can also walk to it.

The Nuevos Ministerios Station interchange you can reach the government complex through Cercanías Lines C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, C-7, C-8 and C-10 , Metro Lines 6, 8 and 10, and Bus lines 7, 14, 27, 40, 126, 147, 150, C1 and C2. Which either directly or indirectly can take you anywhere in the city.

I have come often to this area and in fact on my way out stop by the stores for last minutes shopping as near just across the street there is a big  El Corté Inglés department store (see post).

The Madrid tourist office on Nuevos Ministerioshttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/nuevos-ministerios

The official Metro of Madrid on Nuevos Ministerios (nice picture) :  https://www.metromadrid.es/es/estacion-emblematica/nuevos-ministerios

The Renfe on cercanias trains at Nuevos Ministerioshttps://www.renfe.com/es/es/cercanias/cercanias-madrid/rodajes/estacion-nuevos-ministerios

There you go folks, feel better now. Hope you find it useful and visit my Madrid. The area of Nuevos Ministerios is good for walks up or down paseo de la Castellana and shopping is good. And remember, happy travels good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 9, 2021

How to come and get around Madrid!!!

This is my Madrid , a city that I came to know in 1970 and have not stop visiting whenever and wherever I am, I first drove on the city in 1982 , and then with what would be my wife took her for a spin in 1990 to show off ! She was impressed ! . Yes you can drive in Madrid as in any other major city if you are used to coming from driving in big cities. Madrid is no different than any others. I know,,,,,As I have plenty of pictures on single out posts about Madrid, will do this one in my black and white series, no pictures, Hope you enjoy it as I.

I hear many tall tales of folks fear of driving in Madrid. However, if you have driven in similar size and traffic city or worse like in Paris, London, Rome, Brussels, Frankfort, New York, Jakarta, Sao Paulo, Mexico DF, just to name a few than driving in Madrid will be easier. If you have experience driving in smaller towns like Ronda, Samsula, Vineland, etc than you might as well be aware, it will be different….

To start, Madrid has grown enormously since my time living there and it has been literally an explosion, Newer arrivals tell of the trafic and maze of roads but an old timer like me can tell them the growth has been huge ! Madrid has several major roads coming out from it such as the A1 Madrid-Aranda de Duero-Miranda de Ebro-Vitoria-San Sebastian, and the A2 Madrid-Guadalajara-Zaragoza-Lérida-Barcelona-Gerona-PortBon-Frontier France, A3 Madrid-Valencia, A4 Madrid-Aranjuez-Cordoba-Sevilla-Jerez-Cadiz, A5 Madrid-Talavera de la Reina-Navalmoral-de-la-Mata-Mérida-Badajoz-frontier Portugal; A6 Madrid-Medina del Campo-Tordesillas-Benavente-Astorga-Ponferrada-Lugo-La Coruña. Other highways with origins in Madrid of major impact are the A42 Madrid-Toledo, M607 Madrid -Puerto de Navacerrada to service to Colmenar Viejo and Tres Cantos. The city ,also, has several beltways roads that have grown since living there such as the M30 (finished with me living there), This beltway below or above ground practically goes around Madrid inner ring; you have the M40 going further out into the residential areas and the M45 again further out, the M50 further out on a big huge circle and then again maybe more needed. Yes , already working on the M60!

This is the beltway road M-30 that was done when living there (has a pretty arch bridge while you cross Calle de Alcalà by the Plaza de Toros Monumental! ) and thereafter I use a lot to get around points in the city without going thru the center : the webpage has more info in Spanish :https://www.emesa-m30.es/trafico-m30/

Madrid has becomes a huge metropolis. Heavy traffic are encountered on a daily basis and need to know the rush hours to have it easier. Know that on weekends it is heavier on Saturday going out between 10h and 12h mid day and on Sundays coming back between 18h and 21h, Rush hour weekdays is in the morning like folks going to work and school are between 7h30 and 10h30 while in afternoons is between 18h and 20h , Statistics show the heaviest trafic day are Mondays,

The highway Directorio General del Trafico watchdog with cameras, and heavy traffic points to avoid per road is here in Spanish. Webpage : https://www.dgt.es/es/el-trafico/camaras-de-trafico/madrid/

The Comunidad de Madrid has a map in pdf file format on highways that can be magnified and printed for info webpage: http://www.madrid.org/bvirtual/BVCM006219.pdf

The wonderful metro/tube/subway of Madrid, openned in 1919 and already with 301 stations and 13 lines. The network has 12 regular lines and the section Opera to Principe Pio as well as 3 lines of light metro with 38 additional stations. Of the current total of 301 stations, 200 are single line and 27 are double and 10 have on three lines and the station of Avenida de America with four lines  correspondances. It connects in 21 stations with the suburban train network Cercanicas of Madrid managed by RENFE. The beltway lines are MetroSur (Line 12) passing by Alcorcón, Móstoles, Fuenlabrada, Getafe, and Leganés; MetroNorte (Line 10) passing Alcobendas and San Sebastián de los Reyes; MetroEste (Line 7) reaching to  Coslada and San Fernando de Henares; TFM (Line 9)  connecting  Rivas Vaciamadrid and Arganda del Rey, as well as Metro Ligero Oeste (Lines 2 and 3), there is a tramway network at Pozuelo to Boadilla del Monte.

Some of my nostalgic metro lines are the line 5 stop Quintana where my apartment was and a must visit each time, The metro line 8 coming from Adolfo Suarez Barajas international airport to Nuevos Ministerios by paseo de la Castellana, The line 10 to Santiago Bernabeu stadium, The circular line 6 stopping at Sàinz de Baranda where my usual hotel lately have been, etc etc, The Metro runs from 6h to 01h30, with trains departing every 2 minutes in the morning rush hour and every 15 minutes in the early hours (after midnight). At weekends, trains are less frequent during the day.

The metro of Madrid webpage: https://www.metromadrid.es/en

The Madrid tourist office on the Metro: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-metro

There is a huge bus network runs by CRTM (comunidad) and the EMT(Madrid city) with 2000 buses and 200 lines . The principal terminals are at Avenida de America, Mendez Alvaro, and Plaza de Castilla, there are other smaller ones such as Moncloa, Principe Pio, and Plaza Eliptica. CRTM webpage : https://www.crtm.es/?lang=en

Madrid city transports service or EMT has a well define network with bus lanes . The vast majority of these buses work from 6h to 23h30 at 4-15 minutes intervals and the weekend and holidays from 7h to 23h. There is a night bus or Bùhos lines known by their N number from N1 to N27 from their terminal at Plaza de Cibeles.  EMT webpage: https://www.emtmadrid.es/Bloques-EMT/EMT-BUS/Navega-por-Madrid.aspx?lang=en-GB

I took a lot the old P13 today 113 bus from Quintana to Elipa for my baseball times while living there, Upon returning years later rode again for the nostalgia this route, Also, did the 14,27, and 46 buses. Nice rides and if a bit more complicated than the metro, you ride above ground for wonderful views of the city.

The main airport is the Adolfo Suarez Barajas at 12 km from city center connecting with the city on line 8 at Nuevos Ministerios to T4 airport in about 20 minutes and about 12 minutes on the other terminals.  The airport is the one used the most and by now it could my second home, so many trips over the years by it, Saw its growth from a simple terminal airport to the mega complex is today, OF course, have come on Air France, Air Europa, Velotea, and most on Iberia where I am a frequent flyer member, Official AENA airports of Spain on the Madrid airport: https://www.aena.es/en/adolfo-suarez-madrid-barajas.html

The Madrid tourist office on the airport : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/adolfo-suarez-madrid-barajas-airport

There is a express bus line 203 from the airport T1, T2, and T4 terminals to stops in 0’Donnell, Cibeles, and Atocha (where I have taken it and gone) , There is a regular bus line 200 from T1, T2, and T4 to Avenida de America connect Canillejas on metro line 5 (my line!) and the interchange terminal at Avenida de America to connect with metro lines 4 6 7 and 9, See schedules on the 200 and 203 buses or any other bus at EMT webpage: https://www.emtmadrid.es/Bloques-EMT/EMT-BUS/Mi-linea-(1).aspx?lang=en-GB

Two main line train station, one at Atocha and the other at Chamartin . I have only visited Chamartin but have used trains and visited at Atocha, (see post).

The ADIF transports webpage on Chamartin train station Madrid : http://www.adif.es/en_US/infraestructuras/estaciones/17000/informacion_000295.shtml

The Madrid tourist office on the Chamartin train station : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/estacion-de-chamartin

The ADIF transports webpage on Atocha train station Madrid : http://www.adif.es/en_US/infraestructuras/estaciones/60000/informacion_000070.shtml

The Madrid tourist office on Atocha train station : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/estacion-de-atocha

Cercanías is a service of Renfe on suburbian train service having 9 lines . They connect all the lines by the Atocha train station that allows you to go to San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Aranjuez, mountain towns in the Sierra de Guadarrama (C-8 and C9 to Cercedilla and Cotos) ,and Alcala de Henares  as well as reaching rapidly the T4 terminal at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport  The C-2 and C-7 to Alcala de Henares and C-3 to Aranjuez and El Escorial. The line C-1 is the one very fast from T4 to the city as well as connecting Atocha with Chamartin main train stations. 

The cercanias have used the C1 from the Adolfo Suarez inter airport as well as the C3 to El Escorial. Nice rides clean fun for the experience !

The RENFE Cercanias Madrid train info webpage : https://www.renfe.com/es/en/suburban/suburban-madrid

The Madrid tourist office on Cercanias trains : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-cercanias-train

The taxis of Madrid are white with a diagonal red and  white line on the front door and the city coat of arms.  If the roof is green the taxi is free to take passengers, you simply signal for them the usual way.  If the trip is from the airport there is a fix price of 30€ as long as the trip is inside the beltway M30 (the old central beltway). This price does not include any other service added as long as the place of pickup and the hour are respected. I have used them several times over the years and good service always, Now even better with the airport fixe price.

The Madrid tourist office on getting around by taxi in Madrid : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-taxi

There is a bike network but just putting it for information here as never used it, The city BiciMad network with electric bikes that last count were 1560 with 3216 bornes to pickup and dropoff at 124 stations. The city of Madrid has several technological innovations such as application Don Cicleto, and Donkey Republic allowing you to find your bike and others such as Ofo-Smart Bike Sharing available in itunes, google play or Bike as well. 

The BiciMad network webpage : https://www.bicimad.com/

I won’t go into details with pricing and choices for metro/bus transports as these are change often, and on different needs , you need to check the official sites before your trip to be sure. IF I go for a single trip like football watching I get the single ticket, and if on vacation than the tourist pass . All are now on magnetic card call Tarjeta Multi costing a one only time of 2,50€, you can recharge it and they last 10 years credit, It is free if you purchase the 1, 2, 3, 5 or 7-day Tourist Travel Pass, and once the pass expires, you can top up the smartcard with pay-per-ride tickets (single or 10-ride tickets). This tourist travel pass are valid for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7 days and for two zones (A and T). If you do not wish to acquire a Tourist Travel Pass, you can buy the Tarjeta Multi and simply top it up with pay-per-ride tickets.

You have plenty more info on Madrid tourist office on the Tourist Travel Pass : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-tourist-travel-pass

The Zone A  allows you to go to all the lines of the metro, airport (with supplement of 3€ included) , all the bus lines in town like the blue buses of EMT except the Express line Airport, the zones 0 and A of the Cercanias network of Madrid and the line M1 of Metro LIgero. The  Zone T  is recommended for those willing to go outside the city such as to go to El Escorial, Alcalá de Henares, Aranjuez etc and includes the entire metro network such as zones A, B1, B2 ,and B3, all the lines of city bus blue EMT and intercity green bus of the comunidad de Madrid , the Express Airport bus is included as well as the services to Guadalajara and Toledo,as well as the Cercanias trains of Madrid , and lines ML2 and ML3 of the Metro Ligero,as well as the tramway ML4  to Parla.

You have plenty of tourist information points throughtout the city that helps you with all questions (really a big improvement for the visitors) including security issues. These are

Tourist Information centers at Cuesta de Moyano Plaza Mayor ,Plaza Mayor, 27 (Casa de la Panadería), Info kiosk Paseo del Prado  , info kiosk Atocha Ronda de Atocha, s/n (next to Museo Reina Sofía), info kiosk Plaza de Callao, Plaza de Callao, s/n; info kiosk Paseo de la Castellana, 138 (next to  Santiago Bernabéu stadium) , info kiosk CentroCentro, Plaza de Cibeles, 1 (Palacio de Cibeles), Royal Palace, Calle Bailén, info kiosk at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport T2 between halls 5 and 6; info kiosk airport as well at T4 hall 10 and 11; , and SATE  Calle Leganitos, 19 (police).  More from the Madrid tourist office on the Foreign Tourist Assistance Service (SATE) webpage: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/sate

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip and enjoy the transports of Madrid:

The Madrid tourist office on a pdf file map of Madrid: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/madrid-city-map

To find an underground secure parking garages in Madrid, OnePark : https://www.onepark.co/places/7897-madrid-center-car-parks

How to plan your trip on streets and help find your way around use callejero or street finder in Madrid: https://madrid.callejero.net/directorio.html

There you go folks, a brief ,general overview of the many transports option in my beloved Madrid, Of course, if you have questions let me know, Hope it helps make your visit a more enjoyable one to a great city very close to my heart . And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 2, 2021

Some news from Spain CXI

And now is time to tell you about my bulletin news series, some news from Spain. We have many things opening up and time to plan ahead, me for Madrid and the Santiago Bernabeu!! We need each other to help bring the economy and travel back to its feet. I will do my part ; hope you too. Let me tell you the latest of my chosen news from my beloved Spain. Hope you enjoy it as I.

The centenary of the death of Emilia Pardo Bazán, Countess of Bazán Brun, also known as Emilia, Countess of Pardo Bazán ,Woman of letters of extreme fertility, she wrote forty-one novels, seven dramas, two cookbooks, more than five hundred and eighty tales and hundreds of essays, In 1906 she nevertheless became the first woman to chair the Literature Section of the Athenaeum in Madrid and the first to hold a chair of neo-Latin literatures at the Central University of Madrid, reminds us that the city of A Coruña, as well as its province, has been the cradle of some of the most outstanding women in the history of Spain over the centuries. In addition to the writer, journalist and countess, a brief memory of María Pita is enough, defender of the city besieged in 1589 by the English fleet of the privateer Francis Drake. To Isabel Zendal (born in 1773 and died at the beginning of the 19C somewhere in the Viceroyalty of New Spain(vast area from Central America so sw USA), considered by the WHO as the first nurse in history on an international mission for her work in the expedition that carried the vaccine from smallpox to the New World, and of whom there is a statue in Calle Victoria Fernández España in A Coruña. To Juana de Vega , widow of the insurgent liberal general Espoz y Mina, nursemaid and waitress of the future Queen Elizabeth II, progressive political-social activist and author of two extraordinary memoir books, an unusual genre at that time. Or Concepción Arenal, jurist, writer, pioneer of social work, fighter against the deplorable state of Spanish prisons and defender, perhaps one of the first in Europe, of the new role that women should have. Also Rosalía de Castro , the greatest poet, both in Galician and in Castilian, of our Romanticism, comparable to any other European poet of her time. O Sofía Casanova (1861-1958), journalist and writer immersed in all the great and serious international conflicts of her time, which she masterfully narrated. María Barbeito Cerviño, a great teacher educator, writer and linguist, introducer of the principles of Montessori and those of Ovide Decroly and promoter of the compulsory and gratuitous nature of teaching.

The story of the Prado continues….(see post). At the other end of the Villanueva building, the first built to house the Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture, the precursor of the Prado. It shows how it came into the world; from its origin, the space it occupies today was literally a meadow outside the city to what it will be in the future with the expansion proposed by the new project from architects. In the rooms formerly occupied by the Tesoro del Delfin or Treasure of the Dolphin, the Prado now explains itself in the metamuseum converts the temporary exhibition organized to celebrate its bicentennial, Museo del Prado 1819-2019. A place of memory. In another part of its permanent collection to show its evolution as a living being: photographs, documents, clothing, models, furniture … History of the Prado Museum and its buildings brings together 265 pieces to humanize, from nudity, to the emperor of painting museums in Europe.

The one known as the Salon del Prado or Prado Hall in the time of king Carlos III, today Paseo del Prado, was a place to see and be seen. A space for a walk in the lots attached to the monastery of San Jerónimo, where the Madrileñas (local female folks) wore the latest French fashions, rich dresses with brightly colored fabrics, and the Madrileños (local male folks) followed the tradition of capes and tricorns. The Buen Retiro Palace already existed of which today the Casón del Buen Retiro and the Salón de Reinos are preserved, which are also part of the museum. The urban planning of streets such as Atocha (no. 25) or Plaza de Antón Martín (no. 3) have hardly changed in two and a half centuries!

The year 2019 marked another milestone in the history of the Prado Museum when it turned 200 years old, received more than three million visits (its record) and won the Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities at a time when communication is precisely a challenge for museums. The Prado was only closed for three months and since last June 6 it remains open, showing that it is a safe place if anti-virus security measures are maintained. Good news!!!! After six years of waiting, the Council of Ministers approved this past Tuesday 28 September 2021, the credit line of 36 million euros for the expansion of the Prado Museum through the rehabilitation and museum adaptation of the Salón de Reinos. The building to be transformed was the headquarters of the Museo del Ejército or Army Museum and is located next to the Casón del Buen Retiro, in the vicinity of the Prado. They are the last remaining vestiges of the Royal Palace of Buen Retiro, a complex erected between 1633 and 1639 under the reign of king Felipe IV. The urban reorganization of the project, called Campus Prado, will connect the Prado and the Salón de Reinos, facilitating transit on foot by the visitors through Calle Felipe IV and joining in the same complex the buildings of Villanueva, the Jerónimos, the Casón del Buen Retiro and the Salón de Reinos. The expansion works will gain 2,500 square meters of exhibition space for the gallery. The current appearance of the façade of the Army Museum, which was intervened in the late 19C and early 20C, will be modified, as will the roof, which will also be renovated. The purpose that was raised when the project was announced is to present long-term transversal and temporary exhibitions, mainly from the Prado collection (it has more than 27,000 pieces, of which more than 7,800 are paintings), most of which are stored in warehouses. And you will see more of the gems stored there!!! More on Campus Prado in Spanish: https://www.museodelprado.es/recurso/el-campus-prado/68258c17-7f90-4da2-a217-039bd021aabd

Walid Raad’s exhibition is not an exhibition… Several voices run through Cotton Under my Feet, the exhibition that takes him to Madrid these days. Commissioned by TBA21 and conceived for the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza,(see post) it presents the work that the artist carried out during three years of research on the collection, archives and the genesis of the museum. Although this is not the first time that Raad has worked in Madrid. In 2009, within the framework of PhotoEspaña, he occupied the Museo Reina Sofía (see post) under his preferred pseudonym, The Atlas Group , a project on the contemporary history of Lebanon. There he was born in 1967, in Chbaniyeh, a few kilometers from Beirut, although he studied art in the United States. Today he is a professor at Cooper Union, in the East Village of New York, one of the most prestigious universities in the country. See it ‘Walid Raad: Cotton Under my Feet’. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. From October 5 to January 23, 2022. webpage: https://www.museothyssen.org/en/exhibitions/walid-raad-cotton-under-my-feet

One of my most memorable areas of my beloved Spain, and yes you can drink good Madrid wines!!

A good time to take a tour from winery to winery through Colmenar de Oreja, (see posts) the still unknown wine capital of the Comunidad de Madrid. Its centenary caves hide thousands and thousands of whites, reds and even sparkling wines underground. We are at the Bodega Jesús Díaz e Hijos, in the center of Colmenar de Oreja, the wine capital of the Las Vegas region, an hour from Madrid, where these days the winegrowers rush the harvest. 17 of these pot-bellied 5,000-liter jars where wine is made and preserved. The winery smells of must and history founded in 1898 but before it was a convent of friars and a piece of jars, the place where they were made by hand before being taken to the oven for cooking. This was also the first winery of the D.O. Wines of Madrid. Not only the grape changes here, by the way, the malvar variety wins, the most cultivated. Once we adjust our eyes, the caves that make this land so unique suddenly appear. Dug into the ground, they turn Colmenar de Oreja into an underground Gruyère cheese, full of wine. We descend twelve meters between oak barrels and bottles in rhyme of sparkling wines, the traditional champagne. This is the first sparkling wine that was made in Madrid!!

Los Tinajones to stay, a charming rural house that opened its doors last spring. Completely restored, the accommodation was also an old winery with caves included that they hope to turn into a spa soon. The name of Los Tinajones was not random. He has borrowed it from one of the paintings by Ulpiano Checa, the great 19C painter and native of the town. The museum houses the largest collection that exists of the master, and is a must-see in the town. Even more so now, that it has just incorporated important pieces, among them those donated by Baroness Thyssen from her personal collection this summer.

You have to go to Bodegas Peral, another member of the Madrid Wine Route, which also has a cave dating back to 1882 worth seeing. covered by a guide, with or without a tasting and cover. Its bicentennial entrails collide with the modernity of the facilities as a chill out where the wine tastes of glory. Therefore, it can only be done in Madrid and consists of fermenting 50 percent of the white skins and the seed in the must. And not only that, because it is not racked and macerated with its lees and these skins until bottling. The result is a white with a red soul.

One minute you have to walk to the Bodega Pedro García. Many know its wines without knowing that they come from here because they are the ones Iberia serves in the cabin. Founded in 1931, it has the highest production in the area. We have already learned that there is no winery without a cave here. These date back several centuries and are also accessible. On the way to the Plaza Mayor we recognize that lavish limestone of the Church of Santa María la Mayor. (see post). There is always atmosphere in this porticoed Castilian square built on a ravine in the 17C. What’s more, you can also walk under the arch of the Puente de Zacatín bridge. Also, the artisan cheese factory Ciriaco. Their recipe is simple: freshly milked sheep’s milk, rennet and salt. The secret of his cured: seven months in the cave under our feet!

The ruta de vinos de Madrid with info on bodegas, cheesemakers, resto museums along the route of wines of Madrid : https://madridenoturismo.org/descubre-las-bodegas-de-madrid/?zona=4&tipo_plan=-1&tipo_actividad=-1

The official wine routes of Spain on the Arganda/Colmenar de Oreja region of Madrid : https://wineroutesofspain.com/rv-madrid/#pll_switcher

And you may have heard in the news, there is a big volcano eruption in the island of La Palma, part of the Canaries islands. It has been huge, and lots of destruction already and some permanent. Sadly, these islands are all volcanos and many in them. As well as ironically, been one of the tourist attractions of them!

La Palma has registered in the last hours a dozen small earthquakes in the south of the island, according to the report published this Saturday (today) by the Department of National Security of Spain. The Cumbre Vieja volcano, which continues its activity, is estimated to have expelled more than 80 million cubic meters of lava, double that of the Teneguía eruption in 1971, in half the time. The magma delta formed on the coast has a surface area of ​​more than 27 hectares and the new flow, generated by the two magmatic mouths opened on Friday night to the northeast of the main cone, advances towards the trace of the main flow, which flows stably. The ash expelled by the new La Palma volcano since its eruption began on September 19 has covered an area of ​​3,304 hectares. This is stated in the latest update of the European Copernicus terrestrial monitoring satellite system with data collected this Friday afternoon. Regarding the buildings affected by the runoffs, the calculation of 1,005 is maintained, although those that have been completely destroyed rise to 880, ten more compared to the previous count. The number of kilometers of roads affected increases to 30.7, of which 28.3 have been destroyed by the passage of lava.

The Canary Islands are on the African continental plate, which ‘floats’ on the earth’s mantle in an easterly direction at a speed similar to that of the growth of fingernails. About 20 million years ago, the plate began to pass over the ‘hot spot’, which injected magma and began to create the first islands: Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. La Palma and El Hierro are the youngest islands, barely 1.8 and 1.2 million years old respectively. The hot spot is still under them and that is why they have active volcanoes that make them grow in extension and surface. Nicer pictures and news on a specialise Volcano Discovery webpage: https://www.volcanodiscovery.com/lapalma/sep2021seismic-crisis/current-activity.html

And speaking of volcanos ,they are in the peninsula as well most in the Autonomous Community of Castilla La Mancha region:

Campo de Calatrava, south of Ciudad Real, has numerous volcanoes over 2.5 million years old, one of the most important manifestations in Europe. In the middle of La Mancha, in the territory of Entreparques, located in the province of Ciudad Real, between the Cabañeros National Parks and the Tablas de Daimiel, is one of the most important volcanic areas in Spain and Europe. With an area of ​​about 5,000 km2, the Campo de Calatrava region is home to about 300 of these natural manifestations whose origin dates back 2.5 million years on the outskirts of the town of Poblete next to the hermitage of San Isidro, you will find the Mirador de los Maares, from the height of the Volcán Cabezo del Rey, from where you can see a large number of craters, holes, hills and castles. The open wooden facility houses the Volcanological Interpretation Center, which has panels and digital resources for augmented reality with complete and varied information on the volcanic activity in the area.

Volcàan and Laguna de Peñarroya is about 20 km from Poblete, between the towns of Alcolea de Calatrava and Corral de Calatrava, where they are located. The volcano is an almost perfect cone of 60 meters high, one of the best examples of Strombolian-type building, and one of the highest in this volcanic region, whose slopes are populated by forests of holm oaks, kermes oak, juniper, broom and Mediterranean scrub. The lagoon (or maar), whose origin is due to a hydromagmatic eruptive event, was formed when the lava from the volcano captured the Lobo stream and reaches more than 1 km in diameter, which favors biodiversity in the flora and fauna when it is filled of water. On the outskirts of Porzuna, about 40 km north of Alcolea de Calatrava (and very close to the Cabañeros National Park), Cerro de los Santos, the volcano born from a single eruption is formed by a large dome raised over the plain . Today, you can still see the black and reddish slags from the lava flows on its slopes. At the top is the hermitage of San Isidro. The place is also known for being one of the points where the Celtiberians settled.

Las Navas de Malagón, at the foot of the Sierra de Malagón, next to the town of the same name. It is a protected natural space, declared a Natural Reserve, made up of three lagoons: La Nava Grande, Nava de Enmedio and Nava Chica. The Nava Grande stands out especially, for its larger size, for the greater permanence of its waters and for presenting a ring of volcanic tuffs around it. In addition to doing this route by car and walking along its many trails, there is the possibility of seeing the entire volcanic region from the air through balloon rides. The company Vuela en Globo organizes the experience. A battle between volcanoes, a trip that leaves the town of Poblete to enjoy the region from the heights and discover, in addition to the history of the volcanoes, the battlefield that was the scene of fights fierce during the Reconquest, in the 12C. In the distance, you can see the Castillo de Alarcos, the bastion of Alfonso VIII in 1195 that he lost in the Battle of Alarcos against the Al-Mansur Almohad army. The Vuela en Globo webpage for info: https://vuelaenglobo.es/la-mancha/poblete-alarcos-una-batalla-entre-volcanes/

There you go folks, another dandy news from Spain, coming right at you by yours truly! Hope you enjoy the reading and take it as tips for future travels, in my beloved Spain.

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

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September 17, 2021

Some news from Spain CX

And back to sunny everything under the sun, and my series of some news from Spain! Things are picking up and my Santiago Bernabeu stadium is almost done already we beat Celta de Vigo there and next is Mallorca. I am looking forward to the official opening and going there for sure! For now, let me tell you about Spain ok

Dabid Muñoz, from Madrid, the chef of DiverXo, has been chosen as the “best chef in the world” by having achieved first place in the world Top 100 of the ‘The Best Chef Awards 2021‘, in a gala that was held this past Wednesday September 8 2021 in Amsterdam, In third place, in addition, the chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of San Sebastián and from the Mugaritz restaurant has been awarded, Yes!

Some nice artsy events coming up and long into next year worth the detour if in Madrid, I will be there soon,,,

La máquina Magritte at the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza ,(see post) Retrospective of René Magritte , the great Belgian surrealist painter, whose work is characterized by its repetitive and combinatorial component: when he became obsessed with a theme, he repeated them with innumerable variations. The exhibition brings together more than 90 paintings and includes an installation and a selection of photographs and domestic films made by the author. From September 14 2021.

Sorolla. Tormento y devoción or Sorolla. Torment and Devotion at the Sorolla Museum (see post) until January 9, 2022 you can see a selection of the early years of the Valencian painter’s work, when he entered popular and devout manners, a genre that became fashionable during the last quarter of the 19C. Among his pieces, you can see those with scenes in sacred interiors and Valencian baroque churches, with episodes of folkloric religious devotion.

El Hijo Pródigo de Murillo y el arte de narrar en el barroco andaluz or The Prodigal Son of Murillo and the art of narrating in the Andalusian Baroque in the Prado Museum (see post). Exhibition dedicated to some of the main protagonists of the Andalusian pictorial baroque such as Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Antonio del Castillo, Juan Valdés Leal and Alonso Cano, They carried out their works in the 17C, works that have in common being organized in series, being mostly medium in size and having been commissioned by particular characters for domestic or oratory interiors. Among the selection you can see The Dissipation of the Prodigal Son (1660), by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo , or the series on the history of José, made by Antonio del Castillo. Will be on from September 29 2021.

El Jardín de las delicias or the Garden of Earthly Delights in the Matadero Madrid (see post), About fifteen artists from around the world contribute their multiple views on The Garden of Earthly Delights, Bosco’s masterpiece, in various formats, ranging from artificial intelligence or sound art to 3D animation, painting, sculpture or installation. The exhibition, curated by the SOLO Collection and co-produced by Matadero Madrid, can be seen from October 7 2021.

Another wonderful tour , I have been in sections over a period by car, recommended, The route of the Holy Grail in Spain, which traveled from Huesca to Valencia. The Jubilee Year of the Holy Chalice, which ends on October 28 2021, is an opportunity to visit the Cathedral of Valencia or to travel the route that the historic cup followed. To enter the Cathedral of Valencia, you have to pay 8 euros, not counting the climb to the Miguelete (two euros more). There are usually no queues, even in high season. It takes a few minutes to be in front of the maybe Holy Grail, the cup used at the Last Supper, from which Saint Peter and the first Popes later drank, This year, until the end of October, Valencia celebrates its Jubilee Year, a good reason to approach the cathedral or even to do the complete route that the Holy Chalice could follow since its arrival in Spain, through Huesca, to its current location in Valencia. They are just over 500 km (about 310 miles) in which some pilgrims have already been seen.

It is believed that this story began in the time of Sixtus II, who was executed in 258 in full persecution against the Church. His deacon, Saint Lawrence, then took care to safeguard the Holy Chalice that Saint Peter had brought from the Holy Land to Rome. Saint Lawrence, as is known, was roasted alive on a grill. But the current patron of Huesca would have managed to send the chalice to his hometown before that unbearable martyrdom. They say that in 553 the Grail was transferred to the Church of San Pedro el Viejo in Huesca, built by Bishop Vicencio precisely to contain the sacred relic, and where it could have been until the year 711. During the Muslim invasion, the chalice would have been passed through different refuges such as the Cave-Hermitage of Yebra de Basa, in the Alto Gállego region; the monastery of San Pedro de Siresa, where it is said that he was from 815 to 831; or, already in the 11C, San Pedro de la Sede del Real de Bailo, the Cathedral of Jaca and, of course, the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña, (see posts) where it would have remained until 1399, before being transferred to Zaragoza, Barcelona and Valencia, where it would have arrived in 1424 from the hand of King Alfonso the Magnanimous. The Chapel of the Holy Chalice, (see post) where it can be seen now, has exhibited this piece since 1916. The Valencian Holy Chalice is made up of a glass 7 centimeters high and 9.5 centimeters in diameter, made of agate, which could correspond to the time, the beginning of the Christian era; and a foot with handles added later, A must to see in Valencia.

And bring you some news of my roots and my dear Tenerife (see post). Let’s do some traveling ok,

Tenerife has a surface area is 2,034 square kilometers, its maximum length is 87 kilometers and its maximum width is 45 km. It has two airports: the north and the south. But not only airplanes divide the island, so does its landscape and even the weather. In the north you can breathe a more tropical, leafy climate with black sand beaches. On the other hand, the south stands out for its drier heat and its endless beaches. The first thing is that the proximity to Teide, the visit par excellence, will not define anything, because it is located in the center of the island.

The most typical option, especially if you go with children or as a family is the southern area full of resorts with all-inclusive options, various amenities and many on the beachfront or just a few minutes walk. It is also understood by the climate, hotter and drier than in the north, so you will have guaranteed beach and pool days. In the South, you also have attractions such as Siam Park, the largest water park in Europe and the best in the world.

The northern area offers a quieter vacation. Of course, you must take the weather into account, because it is more likely that you have cold, cloudy and even rainy days. In the north are many of the island’s must-see spots, such as La Laguna (World Heritage Site), La Orotava or Garachico. Nor can you miss the natural pools of Bajamar or the famous Teresitas beach, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife with golden sand (brought from the Sahara in the 60s), turquoise water and usually) calm, it is considered the Caribbean of Tenerife. The gastronomic options of the north are more attractive thanks to its guachinches, simple food houses that are mainly concentrated in the La Corujera area, in the town of Santa Úrsula, these are spaces within farmers’ houses that, to give way to their wine production, they gave it to taste and accompanied it with something to eat. Thus, you will not find great menus or many pretensions, but food typical of the island (grilled meats, stews …) and the best wine. Yes do enjoy it as I!

This is the dam where Doctor Zhivago was filmed, the most spectacular in Spain, The Salto de Aldeadávila, in the province of Salamanca, is 139.5 meters high and is located in the amazing gorge of the Duero River, La Presa de Aldeadávila, (a dam) also known as the Salto de Aldeadávila, is not the highest in Spain, but perhaps the most spectacular. It is located in the amazing gorge of the Duero River, in a granitic canyon, the largest natural canyon on the Iberian Peninsula, which extends for almost a hundred kilometers, with walls of more 400 meters high, and serves as the natural border between Spain and Portugal in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park. It is located 7 km. from the Salamanca province town of Aldeadávila de la Ribera, In 1965 it rose to world fame as it appeared in the opening and ending scenes of David Lean’s film Doctor Zhivago, which received five Oscars. Also, Tim Miller shot some scenes from the sixth installment of Terminator, Dark Fate movie. Impressive!

A long but worthy me think tribute to Francesco Sabatini of Palermo, Sicily Italy! And his contribution to my Madrid!

Three hundred years ago, one of the most contributor to creating the image of Madrid as a great European capital was born in Palermo in 1721 Francesco Sabatini. He was the architect responsible for some of the most representative monuments, palaces and corners of the regeneration of the city during the reign of its great patron, King Carlos III.
I like to start at the Puerta de Alcalá. It may not be the only Sabatini construction to which a song has been dedicated, (very famous in Spain) but it is certainly the best known and most symbolic. And Alcalá’s was not even the only gate that he designed for Madrid. Also his is the one in San Vicente, on the Paseo de la Florida (although the one designed by Sabatini was dismantled at the end of the 19C and the current one is a copy inaugurated in 1995. And we could also add the Royal Gate through which the Botanical Garden was entered, (see posts).


His direct source of inspiration was not the architecture of ancient Rome and ancient Greece, but that of the Italian Renaissance. This can be seen very well in the building of the Real Casa de la Aduana (current headquarters of the Ministry of Finance, almost at the beginning of Calle de Alcalá), with that air of a 16C Italian palace created by its façade of padded granite and brick and the pediments alternating curved and triangular of the first-floor windows.

The Paseo del Prado (then known as the Salón del Prado) was one of the great projects of the reign of Carlos III, a place for walking and recreation for the people of Madrid, with roundabouts and fountains, where several spaces dedicated to science would also be located such as the Astronomical Observatory, the Cabinet of Natural History (today the Prado Museum) and the Royal Botanical Garden. (see posts) Sabatini was commissioned to design the latter, to move from its previous location next to the Manzanares river the more than two thousand plants that the botanist José Quer had collected in his travels through Europe. However, the garden that can be visited today has little to do with Sabatini’s design, since it was finished by Juan de Villanueva, the brain behind most of the Prado project who would modify it by creating the current layout divided into square barracks,


The architectural history of the General and Passion Hospital (which you will know better as the Reina Sofía Museum) is complicated, since delays, financing problems, deaths, invasions and other difficulties caused the project to go through several hands, The current building, has inspiration and work from José de Hermosilla, Sabatini, Ventura Rodríguez, Juan de Villanueva and others such as Jean Nouvel and his famous extension are mixed, without the project ever being fully completed . However, it is to Sabatini that we owe the current image of the building was the Italian who added to the project the monumental facade open towards Atocha.

King Carlos III who, at that time was still Carlos VII of Naples discovered Sabatini when he helped his father-in-law, Luigi Vanvitelli, in the construction of the Royal Palace of Caserta. So it is not surprising that, when Carlos unexpectedly acceded to the Spanish throne after the deaths of his half-brothers Luis I and Fernando VI, he turned to Sabatini to reform Madrid’s Royal Palace to his liking. for example in the Hall of Halberdiers and in the Hall of Columns and projected an extension of which only a part was carried out, the one known as San Gil wing, in the palace complex, which later served as private rooms of Isabel II, Alfonso XII and Alfonso XIII. He also modified, already by order of Carlos IV, the main staircase of the palace, changing its orientation.

And the famous Sabatini Gardens, (see post) next to the palace? Well, curiously, they have very little to do with the Italian architect, since they were created long after his death, during the Second Republic (1931-1939). The name apart from being an appropriate tribute, since it is a neoclassical style garden is mainly due to the fact that they occupy the place where the royal stables designed by him used to be.

The Royal Palace is not the only one where Sabatini worked in Madrid. That of the Marquis de Grimaldi (adjacent to the Senate and which today houses the Center for Political and Constitutional Studies) is less imposing, but is entirely the work of the Sicilian, The Genoese Jerónimo Grimaldi, Secretary of State of Carlos III ; despite the fact that the palace has kept his name, Grimaldi never lived in it, since he resigned from his position even before it began to be built. For this reason, his first tenant was the Count of Floridablanca, Grimaldi’s successor. After him it was occupied by Manuel Godoy, who had it expanded and luxuriously redecorated and who took there his large collection of paintings, including Velázquez’s “The Venus of the Mirror” and the two majas -nude and dressed by ​​Goya. Later it was the residence of the marshal Murat during the French Napeolonic occupation, the Royal Library, headquarters of several ministries, the Admiralty Palace and the Museum of the Spanish People.

The magnificent Royal Basilica of San Francisco el Grande is known for the spectacular dome, the largest in Spain and only surpassed in the world by those of Saint Peter in the Vatican, the Roman Pantheon and Santa Maria del Fiore , It is not his work, but that of Francisco Cabezas and Antonio Plo. Sabatini’s contribution was the main façade of the basilica, which overlooks the Plaza de San Francisco, at the crossroads of Calle de Bailén, Carrera de San Francisco and Gran Vía de San Francisco. What is unique about Sabatini’s work here is that, instead of joining a straight façade to the basilica’s circular plan, he made the façade itself convex, an ingenious solution that also made him set back the two towers. between which the dome protrudes.

The Convent of the Comendadoras de Santiago, This old convent gives its name to the Plaza de las Comendadoras, where some of the most lively terraces in the University neighborhood are located. Again, Sabatini shares the limelight with other architects, such as Manuel and José del Olmo (who designed the church) and Francisco Moradillo (courtyard and Sacristy of the Knights, among other rooms). In fact, the part designed by Sabatini is the latest, which closes the block and unifies all the rooms of the convent, which until then were divided into different houses.

Proof that Sabatini was not only an architect of palaces and monuments, but that he knew how to give practical solutions to very different spaces are the many works he did in the Casa de Campo, all of them very functional in nature, It was he who restored and completed the wall that closes the enclosure and it was he who (with the help of the engineer José de la Ballina) was in charge of channeling all the waters of the Royal Site, with a set of measures that include the small aqueduct still known as Sabatini or de la Partida and an ingenious set of oscillating bars that allowed the various streams that ran through the place to save the wall, preventing floods. Sabatini also built five bridges over the Meaques stream, a small tributary of the Manzanares river. Of two of them, no remains are preserved and two others are partially blinded and their structure covered with cement. But the most beautiful and original of them can still be seen in good condition, the Culebra Bridge, originally called Narrow Bridge and now known by that name due to the meandering granite parapets that crown its brick arches.

The Convent of San Pascual , Sabatini not only worked for king Carlos III in Madrid, but also in other places linked to the royal court, such as Aranjuez. His most important work there was the facade of the Church of the Convent of San Pascual, in front of the Old Hospital of San Carlos, built at the same time. It is a very classicist facade, although with some touches of Italian Baroque, especially in the two towers. On its main altar there is a painting by Antonio Rafael Mengs, but perhaps the most curious thing was that both on the altar and in other parts of the church there were initially works by Tiepolo, However, after his death his style went out of style and his paintings were badly withdrawn and discarded. Those that survived are now in the Prado Museum.

Hope you enjoy this tour of Sabatini’s Madrid, a great walk idea indeed, I have done on foot on various trips and its wonderful, One reason we say Madrid to Heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day !

There you go folks, plenty of news and this time more tips to enjoy my dear Spain! Hope you find it useful and be prepare, times are improving and travel is back with the health pass and the mask…

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

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September 13, 2021

The wonderful Saint Jean de Luz!!

Ok so needed to dig deep into my vault of pictures to showcase a bit more on this wonderful city of Saint Jean de Luz. We used to spent quite a bit of time here especially when living in Versailles; once moved to the Morbihan we have not been yet. I have many family souvenirs ,and will post some old family picture for mon mémoires of good family times.

In fact, if my memory does not failed me, the first time we came here was by chance after spending beach time in Lacanau-Océan and wanting to get out of the park to see the cities nearby and we did even as far as San Sebastian in Spain but this is another post already in my blog. For now let me tell you a bit more of Saint Jean de Luz, and hope you enjoy it as I do.

Saint-Jean-de-Luz is located in the department 64 of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. The town is part of the Basque province of Labourd and the urban area of ​​Bayonne ; it shares with Ciboure ,the Bay of Socoa, on the Bay of Biscay, The bay of Socoa is the only sheltered harbor between Arcachon and Spain. Thanks to its dikes which protect it from the anger of the Atlantic Ocean, it is popular with bathers and has become a famous seaside resort on the Basque coast.

Saint jean de Luz harbor looking pyrenées mountain France

Saint-Jean-de-Luz extends on either side of the RD 810, (former N10). The agglomeration is served by the A63 motorway: exits 3 (Saint-Jean-de-Luz north) and 2 (Saint-Jean-de-Luz south). There is a train station but never taken, gare de Saint-Jean-de-Luz – Ciboure.

st jean de luz Kids in front of train station

The city center roughly corresponds to Vieux-Saint-Jean, limited by the port, rue du Midi and boulevard Thiers, but extends around boulevard Victor-Hugo well beyond the initial site of the ” city ​​of the Corsairs ”, St Jean de Luz. A large pedestrian area with restaurants, shops, etc connects the sea on the Promenade Jacques-Thibaud to the main street rue Gambetta which leads to our favorite spot ,the Place Louis XIV and its welcoming terraces.

st jean de luz Kids at le suisse resto pl louis XIV

It’s time to dive into the Vieux Saint-Jean to explore the shipowners’ houses. Four centuries later, many are still in very good condition and are worth a visit. The oldest “Esquerrénéa” at 17, rue de la République, dates from the 16C, with its tower which allowed to monitor the arrival of boats, then “Ornoaga” and “Grange Baïta” at 3 and 2, rue Mazarin , which welcomed Napoleon 1st on a visit in 1808. “Saint Martin Baïta” at 13 rue Mazarin as well has a magnificent wrought iron ramp, “Aux Trois Canons” at 10 rue Mazarin, with its cannon-shaped gargoyles and “ Alexandrenia ” at 12 rue Mazarin. Also, “Joanoenia” known as the Maison de l’Infante at 1, quai de l’Infante welcomed Marie-Thérèse before her marriage, Most are closed to visitors, except that of the Infanta and Louis XIV, but the exteriors are magnificent and deserve a look.

st jean de luz Pedro harbor of Saint Jean deluz

In Saint Jean de Luz , after many wars the peace is achieved in the region by the edit of Union in 1620 signed by king Louis XIII when the kings of France become automatically kings of Navarra as well with the confirmation of the treaty of the Pyrenées in 1659 due to the union of king Louix XIV and Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. The frontiers and the repartition has remained intact to our days.

In all a wonderful town to walk, with lots of history and pretty architecture. The web pages to help you plan your trip are:

The tourist office of Saint Jean de Luzhttps://www.saint-jean-de-luz.com/homepage/

The city of Saint Jean de Luz :https://www.saintjeandeluz.fr/fr/tourisme/saint-jean-de-luz-ville-balneaire/

The Nouvelle Aquitaine region tourist board on St Jean de Luzhttps://www.nouvelle-aquitaine-tourisme.com/en/biarritz-pays-basque/my-two-day-in-saint-jean-de-luz

There you go a bit more on Saint Jean de Luz ,a link between my beloved France and Spain in basque country to boot! A bit more on my family travels, which we love and a blog for keeping these precious moments. Hope you enjoy the reading and again thanks for reading me since November 2010!

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

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