Posts tagged ‘Spain’

February 22, 2018

Madrid is more than a city to me.

So here I am again to speak about the city of Madrid this time. See previous post on the Real Madrid. I have several posts on it ,but some are older ,from my beginning blogging and figure they should be showcase more. This is their story, my story.

There are so many posts already even from this year, I am not going to go into full lenght on what is Madrid to me. It was simply a early teen view of a new surrounding, once told by grandparents and now visually upon me back in 1971.

I grew up there at Calle de Alcalà 331 , 2do A ,Buzon 67, metro Quintana line 5 just out of the metro. Nearby was/is Plaza Quintana, and our closest park was Parque el Calero. Going to the sports complex Elipa (still there!!) was fun on the bus P13 now name 113. Docamar the best patatas bravas de Madrid since 1963 are still there!

Calzados Victor at 238 Alcalà my mom purchased my first shoes in Spain there, and ever since, I stop by and already got my boys shoes there too. The beltway or first one the M30 was finished by 1974 when I left Madrid. It was nice to walk all the way to the Monumental Ventas bullring.

It was a nice quiet working class neighborhood part of Ciudad Lineal, and now drastically change, almost beyond recognition even thus I do stop by for memories’s sake.

I still remember the elevator/lift in my piso/apartment you could take it up but not down, it was from the belle epoque era very nice but old and rusty. We were only on the second floor (3rd US).

Anyway, I get very sentimental just talking about the city. Therefore, here are the old posts just the earlier ones; there are many others in my blog on Madrid. As the saying goes; From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!!! yes!!

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2012/09/22/madrid-madrid-walking-and-memories-of-teenager-always-madrid/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2012/04/13/my-madrid-alcala-how-can-i-forget-you/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2012/03/28/nostalgic-madrid-to-heaven-and-a-hole-on-the-sky-to-look-down-on-it-every-day/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/11/04/my-latest-encounter-with-madrid/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/04/26/the-temple-of-debod-in-madrid/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/04/25/the-sierras-around-madrid/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/04/10/wax-museum-of-madridmuseo-de-ceras/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/from-madrid-to-heaven-and/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/04/10/madridthe-bulls-of-san-isidro/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/03/14/the-districts-of-madridneighborhoods/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/03/01/madrid-sights-and-smells/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/02/21/madrid-puerta-del-sol-y-cibeles/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/02/21/madrid-other-plazas-and-fountains/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/02/12/madridpuerta-de-alcala-and-fuente-de-cibeles/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/02/09/madrid-ventas-and-the-bulls/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2010/12/26/best-shopping-my-shopping-in-madrid/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2010/12/18/my-restaurants-and-bars-of-madrid/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2010/12/18/getting-in-and-around-madrid/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2010/11/28/my-life-in-madrid-spain/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2010/11/28/37/

Enjoy the posts and just one photo on this post ok. Have a great week everyone. Cheers!

Tags: , ,
February 22, 2018

My Real Madrid CF, a love story!

So, yes I love football/soccer/calcio; been playing since early teens in Spain and up to pro level in US and France. My story is here with the help of my previous posts on the subject. I do not want to put to much into the sport as have no time as it is with the travel section but once in a while is good to reminiscent.

My story of football/soccer/calcio, really started while living in Madrid as an early teens playing on the sport club of baseball for a club call, Real Madrid that at the time sponsored a team in the Madrid championship with 8 teams. While playing there and having already knowledge of the sport thru my grandparents from Tenerife (Candelaria and Pajarà) ,I made the switch to football in early 1972. Playing the alavin division with Real Madrid

It has been a wonderful journey with many friends in different parts of the world , just last year finished playing indoor soccer /fooball here in France on a Corporate league. Now just follow the sports on different venues online and on TV.

The moment I entered the casa de campo training site for the Real Madrid CF change my orientation of sports forever. My love for Real Madrid is huge, even my French native wife who was not into it ,is now very lively following it; good for both ::) Now here is the story briefly !

The Real Madrid CF was actually born in 1902, and given the title of Real or Royal by King Alfonso XIII in 1920. Juan Padrós was elected the first ever club President and adopted a white uniform Carlos Padrós, the brother and also future President organized a tournament for the crowning of king Alfonso XIII, sort of the first national tournament called Madrid football association tournament and received popular support that made extends the tournament and later named Copa del Rey as it is still play today!

The initial club takes over the Moderno FC who was the winner of the first regional championship in 1903 and was renamed the Madrid Moderno FC. The team wins all these regional tournaments from 1905-08 as well as the Copa del Rey or King’s Cup. The management leaders of the club participated in the creation of the first Spanish football federation in 1909. At the same time that the club won the regional championships of 1910, 1913, 1916, 1917, 1918 and 1920, as well as the Copa del Rey in 1917.

following the initiative of the English league, a national championship appears in 1926 with the approval of the Spanish federation in 1928; the first championship is held in 1929 with the first division teams of Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona ,Atlético de Madrid ,and the Real Madrid3.

The abolition of the monarchy and the establishement of the Second Republic in 1931 enforced the club of retiring the Royal emblems logos and lose the title of Real becoming simply the Madrid Football Club. Finally, in the 1931-1932 season the club wins the national championship and all due to the amazing goalkeeper Ricardo Zamora, recruited in 1930. Later in 1959 his name is chosen to award the best goalkeeper in the Spanish first division. In 1934 and 1936,Real Madrid wins the Copa del Presidente de la República, ( the president of the republic cup) who replaced the Copa del Rey. The year 1936 was the last year playing of Ricardo Zamora with Madrid, and also, the tragic Spanish Civil War begins.

After the defeat of the Republicans by the Nationalist of Gen Francisco Franco,the club is giving back the title of royal or Real and the crown logo on their shirts. The football championship starts again ,and the club wins the 1943 Copa del Generalísimo (the king’s cup change to the general’s cup).

LBy 1943 entered into the club the legendary figure of our new President Santiago Bernabéu ; he was a player in 1909 and played in first division as captain until 1927 (689 games and more than 340 goals), after passing to the technical team. The club lost a lot during the Spanish Civil War comparing to the Atlético Madrid (taken over by the army air force and renamed Athletico Aviación de Madrid). Bernabéu spent several months trying to rebuilt the Real Madrid.

The march to glory begins. The Real Madrid recruits the Argentine forward Alfredo Di Stéfano and wins the Spanish championship in 1953 and Di Stéfano,finished as best goal scorer with 29 goals together with the young Francisco Gento. The Stadium is enlarged in 1954 to 125 000 persons and the team recruits another Argentine Héctor Rial, and again the championship is won with Di Stéfano scoring 25 goals. During the summer of 1955, the Real Madrid wins the Copa Latina that opposed the champions clubs of Spain, Italy, France, and Portugal beating in the final at the Paris Parc des Princes,the French club Stade de Reims.

In the 1955-1956 season was founded the first edition of the Cup of Europe, and the Real Madrid wins its first European championship beating the same Stade de Reims led by Raymond Kopa 4-3. A few weeks later the Real signs Raymond Kopa making a deadly attack with Di Stefano, Rial, and Gento.

In the season 1957-1958,the Real Madrid signed the defender Uruguayan José Santamaría and in 1958 signed the Hungarian Ferenc Puskás that together with Gento, Kopa and Di Stéfano allows the club to win the European championships five times all together during this period.

In 1960, the Real Madrid wins the first Intercontinental Cup beating Peñarol of Uruguay winner of the Copa Libertadores,5×1. In 1966, Real Madrid wins its 6th European Cup!! The era of Santiago Bernabéu comes to an end on June 2,1978 with the passing of Don Santiago at age 82, just before the opening of the World Cup in Argentina . After 35 years as President of the club; the following year the club creates the Trofeo Bernabeu tournament that still is play today.

It begins a drought in European Cups with the Quinta del Buitre group from 1981-1990 with players such as Manolo Sanchís, Martín Vázquez, Míchel, Miguel Pardeza, and Emilio Butragueño (El buitre) and later the Mexicaine Hugo Sánchez blending veterans such as Juanito, Valdano ,and Santillana. The magnificent period includes two Champions of the UEFA Cup,1985-1986, five times the Liga national championship between 1986 and 1990 (a record),and one Cup of Spain in 1989. Only the European Cup escapes them.

The period 1991-2000, saw many dry hands and a period of adjustments to many coaches and presidents. Finally in 1998, under the new name of the competition from European Cup to Champions league (1992) ,and the Real Madrid wins its 7th beating Juventus 1X0 in the final ;later in December they win the Intercontinental Cup beating Vasco da Gama of Brazil.

From 2000 on the new President is Florentino Perez known for his bib checks and gallactic players, such as Luís Figo, Zinédine Zidane,Ronaldo, David Beckham, Michael Owen, and Robinho. Winning again the Champions league of 2000 and 2002 as well as the Intercontinental of 2002, and the UEFA Supercup of 2002. Also, in 2006 Florentino Perez resigns first time.

The era 2006-2009 under President Ramon Calderon, on a disastrous period of not winning that caused his resignation and the retunr of Florentino Perez in June 2009. Cristiano Ronaldo is signed in 2009. Various coaches changes of not so good performances continues

Finally, the era of Zinedine Zidane begins on January 2016. Winning the World Club championship ;also winning the Champions league two years in a row a record never before done. Also, in 2017, later in August it wins the UEFA SuperCup also two times in a row!!! 6/8 titles for Zidane!!!! again in August they win the SuperCup of Spain , and later in December they win the World Club tournament to bring the total of 5 titles in 2017 out a possible 6, a record for the club.

In December 2000, the club is name by FIFA the best club of the 20C and also received the order of merit by FIFA in 2004.

Has won competitions still held: 33 Championships of Spain ; 19 Cups of Spain, 10 Supercup of Spain 3 World Club cups , 12 Champions leagues 2 UEFA Cups, and 4 UEFA Supercup. Simply the best ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! On April 1st 2017 the Real Madrid became the first club with 100 millions fans in their Facebook page!!!

Real Madrid

Real Madrid

Champions Real Madrid vs Atletico de Madrid

Real Madrid

My posts on the Real Madrid as of today. Now they are playing the 8th finals with the return game vs Paris-Saint-Germain on March 6th 2018 in Paris.

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/09/09/real-madrid-fc-is-on-the-move-as-always/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/05/25/real-madrid-10th-champions-the-greatest/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2013/07/28/real-madrid-the-liga-is-here-again-my-other-love/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2012/08/19/real-madrid-la-liga-is-here-again-hala-madrid/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/11/27/what-about-the-real-madrid/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/04/14/real-madrid-on-the-march/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/04/08/real-madrid-forever/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/01/07/real-madrid-the-greatest-club-in-footballsoccer/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2010/11/27/el-clasico-in-spain-real-madrid/

 

 

 

February 21, 2018

Some news from Spain LXI

Ok so this is time to talk about Spain, and this time on rather serious subjects in our history. The weather in Madrid is nice at 49F or about 9C no rain and it predicted the same for the rest of the week.

Therefore, let me tell you a bit about the history of Spain still lingering.

One of the few women who, at that time, had the honor of entering as an academic of merit for the painting of History at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in San Fernando. A unique artistic career that the National Library recovers through the exhibition ‘ Drawings of Rosario Weiss (1814-1843) ‘, open to the public until next April 22nd. Rosario Weiss was born in 1814, being the third daughter of Leocadia Zorrilla and Isodoro Weiss, a German Jewish jeweler based in Madrid. But it was not until 1817 when his mother decided to settle down as housekeeper of the Quinta del Sordo or farm of the deaf.” The farm owned by Francisco de Goya at that time on the outskirts of Madrid. Goya loved her as a daughter: in a letter to Leocadia refers to her as “My Rosario”, in another  wrote to his friend Ferrer asks him to treat her as his daughter . ” In the autumn of 1824, following in the footsteps of Goya, Leocadia Zorrilla and his two sons arrived in Bordeaux. Months after settling down with him, Rosario entered the public school of drawing that led by the master Pierre Lacour . The death of Goya in 1828 left Leocadia, who at that time was considered his sentimental partner in a difficult position. Although she recounted in letters after the death that, in her last moments, the Aragonese painter wanted to make a testament in her favor, the hatred that professed to each other with the only surviving son of Goya condemned her to spent some difficult years.  According to friends they were able to sustain themselves thanks to a pension that Leocadia obtained from the French government as  political exiled  and to the support of his circle of friends from exiled Spaniards and of Pierre LaCour, the professor of Weiss in Bordeaux.” The hardships ended in 1833, when amnesty for the exiled liberals allowed Leocadia and his children to returned to Madrid. At that time, Rosario, at the age of 19, began working as a copyist at the Prado museum and  then at the Academy of San Fernando ;after 1840 Rosario Weiss got to be admitted as an professor in San Fernando, an appointment that, provided personal and professional prestige and she used it as collateral in her request to occupy the position of Master drawer of the daughters of  king Fernando VII as he had died seven years earlier. The arrival to the power of the Liberals in March 1841 led to the renovation of the personnel responsible for the education of the heir to the throne and his sister, who sought to keep away from the interference of his mother, exiled in France. Rosario Weiss was selected thanks to “her good training, her liberal profile and also  for the fact of being a woman”.  She did drawings for Queen  Isabel II and Luisa Fernanda of Bourbon  as shown in the exposition in the Biblioteca Nacional or National Library. Delicate health did not allow Weiss to have time to teach the Queen much more, and just a year after she had started practicing  as the “royal teacher”  she died of cholera. However ,as told by many her  legacy has been preserved intact to show, in an exhibition like the National Library, that one day not too long ago an artist as few knew in Spain  was a pupil of one of the greatest masters and teacher of a Queen.  More here:  https://www.esmadrid.com/en/whats-on/rosario-weiss-1814-1843-drawings-biblioteca-nacional?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.esmadrid.com%2Ffr%2Fagenda%2Frosario-weiss-1814-1843-dessins-bibliotheque-nationale

Malva (Editions Rey Naranjo), the first novel by the Dutch poet Hagar Peeters. It has been 84 years and Peeters shakes the mantle of mystery that for eight decades covered the life of this girl with hydrocephalus, Malva Marina, hidden and repudiated by his own father, one of the greatest poets in history. Malvita, as they treated her in the family, came to the world in Madrid in 1934 and died at the age of eight in Gouda, the Dutch city that gives name to the famous cheese.  She was the daughter of Pablo Neruda, unique and legitimate, the result of his marriage to Maria Hagenaar Vogelzang-ling-, with whom he had married in Java four years earlier. We are on August 18, 1934, two years before the Spanish Civil war erupts. Malva was just born in a hospital in Madrid. And in principle nothing makes you suppose that that big-head creature, to which they have baptized as Malva Marina Trinidad Reyes Basoalto, rather than to unite their parents, will be the beginning of a tragedy. Malva, was born with a disproportionate head, the result of a hydrocephalus that heralded a premature, irremediable death.  But in Neruda, pseudonym under which was hidden the Chilean Ricardo Eliécer Naphtali Reyes Basoalto, the birth of a sick daughter was out of all its calculations. First he hid it is a perfectly ridiculous being, “he said,” a kind of semicolon “-and then he erased the” three kilo vamp “of his life, abandon forever. Not only was she the first wife of the prize-winning writer, she was also the mother of Malva Marina, her only and failed descendant. After meeting in a tennis match held in one of the most refined clubs in Java, Neruda and Ling were married. Probably by then he would maintain some relationship with the Argentinean Delia of the Lane, the ant, for which he would then abandon his wife and daughter. In 1936 the poet definitively leaves his wife and child to go to live with the ant. It leaves them almost without money in Montecarlo, city to which they arrive fleeing the Civil war. Ling crosses all France with her sick girl until arriving in Holland, where it settles in the city of Gouda. Mother and daughter go hungry and hardship. Ling lives in pensions and works on what she finds while her child leaves her in the care of a Christian family. He pleads with Neruda to send him money to feed his daughter: “My last penny will be spent on sending this letter.” Said Neruda. The daughter forgotten by the Nobel Prize of Literature died on March 2, 1943 in Gouda, where it is buried, away from the sea where the flower of the marine mallow grows. She was eight years old. Her mother, through the consulate of Chile in The Hague warns Neruda of the death of the little girl and asks him to meet him. The silence was his response “Malva” (edited by Rey Naranjo), the first novel by the Dutch writer Hagar Peeters, is now on sale. So sad story and so bad for Neruda, change my opinion of him. The editor is here: http://www.reynaranjo.net/index.html#

More on the book in Spanish here: http://www.librosyletras.com/2017/06/malva-hagar-peeters-rey-naranjo.html

Consuelo Ordóñez, president of the Collective of victims of terrorism and sister of Gregorio Ordóñez (murdered in 1995). The “What happened” of his words refers to the history of violence and social exclusion that has been experienced in the Basque Country for the last 50 years. And Patria is obviously the novel by which Fernando Aramburu picked up last Monday the Fundacion Umbral Award for Best book published in Spain in 2017, and promoted by the newspaper El MUNDO, the newspaper that the writer chose for his Years of fulfillment. “For me, the value of the novel is the way we calls each of us, the way we asks us where we were and what we did, whether we look to the other side or not, “explains Gorka Maneiro, former parliamentarian of Union Progreso and democracy in Basque Parliament and victim of an attack of the Kale Borroka in the year 2000. You have to read Patria; really, you have to read it because there are things you will not understand until you read the novel, because it is not the same to be a victim of ETA in Seville than in the Basque Country ‘. And here comes a description of vexations that will sound to any reader of Aramburu: The human pack, the graffiti on the walls, friends who cease to be friends, victims become guilty… and movies? Not much, actually. Only Fuego (fire), of Luis Marias, appears in the memory. The cinema still awaits its Patria (motherland) More here:  https://www.politico.eu/article/basque-novel-evokes-unresolved-history-of-violence-fernando-aramburu-patria-spain/

What better way to celebrate your 10th anniversary as the first ballerina of the Royal Ballet. And it is that on Monday, Laura Morera (Madrid, 1977) starred in the stage of Covent Garden Giselle, the great romantic title par excellence and a challenging interpretative challenge that took well. But, in addition, on Tuesday, it was Paulina in winter story, a total immersion in the world of Shakespeare, with acclaimed choreography of Christopher Wheeldon, when it had scarcely detached from the previous tutu. With Giselle-“It was only the third time she danced it,” and discovers-she was hailed as soon as she came out to greet at the end and, after a winter story, the applause of the audience was excited. She says “If I could make such a long career, and still continue, it is because of the artistic richness that we live in the Royal Ballet. The dancers do not have the popularity of the actors, but the dance is a very respected art in the United Kingdom and the public is very understood. ” I feel very supported by the public. I have sacrificed a lot to adapt to this style and I am always rewarded with applause. I’m so happy. ” Morera is one of the most solid dancers of the Royal Ballet, company in which she joined as a body of dance in 1995, after having studied in this school since 11 yrs old, and in which she continues, therefore, more than half life will be with the next emission in cinemas of  summer on February 28th, when you can see her play this key character for the outcome of this story of love, jealousy and reconciliation  Winter story is a ballet with a special expressiveness by which her intense history is perfectly understood and, With William Shakespeare’s permission, you don’t miss the words. Lauren Cuthbertson plays Hermione, Ryochi Hirano, is Lionesses, Sarah Lamb, her daughter Perdita and Vadim Muntagirov, the beloved of, Florizel. Awarded in 2016 with the National Dance Award, the most prestigious award given by British critics. More here: http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/the-winters-tale-by-christopher-wheeldon

The rumors of a definitive closing were only that, rumors, because the Casa del Libro Gran Via has already communicated to its partners that will make “a temporary closure (six months) to undertake a reform work” starting last Friday. Taking advantage of the works that will be carried out in the building so that Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) can raise his first hotel in Madrid, the bookshop will be reformed to «offer a new model and a new concept the Casa del Libro will be fired up with two days of frantic activity ;Literary starting tomorrow Wednesday afternoon with the visit of the mouse Geronimo Stilton (17h30 ), character protagonist of the series of books homonymous written by Elisabetta Dami. An hour later, the presentation and signature of copies of the book “Make Up” will be held with her author Silvia Quirós, who also teaches a special effects workshop open to the public the turn for poetry will arrive on Thursday from 18h30 pm. , when the bookstore will receive Luis García Piedehierro, Victoria Ash and Carlos Salem to share an evening of recitals. Also on Thursday, from 19h30  on the ground floor will be held one of the activities star of this farewell with the signature of samples  by a large troop of fashion writers such as Lorenzo Silva, Blue Jeans, nurse saturated, Angela Quintas , Sara Herranz or Margarita García. To finish the day, from 21h30, will offer a icing only reserved for the members, a very special surprise literary event before closing the doors of the Casa del Libro until after the summer. The bookshop, the oldest in Madrid occupies the first three floors of the building located at number 29 of Gran Vía. With this reform the third floor will be eliminated to obtain a much more spacious second level. That third floor will be left by the future Cristiano Ronaldo Hotel. In return will yield more space in the second floor. The webpage of Casa del Libro : https://www.casadellibro.com/nosotros/tienda/gran-via-29/1?idprovincia=28&idciudad=6&idlibreria=1

There are 101.397 bars in Spain or one for each 458 inhabitants! , according to the  Federación Española de Hostelería y Restauración  (Spanish federation of hotellery and restaurants) . The most expensive city to have a beer is Madrid, at 2,93 euros, while Cádiz  is the cheapest at 1,25 euros. These are the results of a survey by  Cuponation. Taking into account  103 bars in the 51 provincial capitals and two autonomous cities  where it was also found the average price for a glass of beer in Spain is 1,87 euros .  By community, Madrid  once again is leading with the most expensive beer  (even thus I paid 70c for a caña in Alcalà de Henares::)) followed by  País Vasco, 2,29 euros, and Baleares, 2,25 euros. At the other extreme , it was found the cheapest region to be Extremadura with  an average price of 1,38 euros; follow by Murcia 1,60  and  Castilla-La Mancha at 1,75 euros.  And you are thinking of having a free tapa with the glass of beer , well that custom is coming down too as only 58,5% of the 103 bars in the survey claims to offer it Here is the full report in 20Minutos newspaper : https://www.20minutos.es/noticia/3074430/0/cuanto-cuesta-cerveza-espana/

There you go, my beloved dear Spain, or Spain everything under the Sun. Enjoy your week everyone, Cheers!!

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February 20, 2018

Portugal, that other land of Discoverers!

So, therefore, in my continuing saga of bringing back my old posts on some beautiful countries/cities, today I bring you Portugal. Especially ,Lisbon and Porto.

Another link to the family starting when young used to play football/soccer for a team of Portuguese immigrants and got to know many of them. Later in life, a couple became good friends and they are the godparents of my oldest boy, they are from Faro in the south of Portugal. Eventually, I got  to visit the country, several times even crossing from France and Spain. It is a wonderful country to visit, still I think unknown to many. Let me tell you my story and a bit of history from other sources other than mine.

First, let me tell you about my old posts in my blog on Portugal. You can see plenty of info there on many things and photos. These posts are:

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/6700

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/9020

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/10636

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/15475

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/21294

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/3425

And the work begins now:
Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic is located in the southeast of Europe ,in the territory of the Iberian Peninsula and islands of the Atlantic North. It has borders to the North and East with Spain, and South and West with the Atlantic ocean on the continental side and the autonomous regions of Açores and Madeira in the Atlantic ocean. The first time the name of Portugal is known was around the years 930-950 and not used frequently than by the end of the 10C. Part of the Roman empire and later Germanic tribes and eventually in the 8C by the moors of Northern Africa. The Reconquest of the country began and it was created into a Portuguese county established in the 11C by Vímara Peres,a subject under the King of Asturias (present day Spain); later the county came to passed under the kingdom of Leon (Spain) in 1097 and finally after the Treaty of São Mamede. The establishement of the kingdom of Portugal was done in 1139 and recognized in 1143. By 1297 the frontiers were defined in the Treaty of Alcanizes . Later, the Portugal of the conquests took their influence to far away places like África, Ásia, Oceânia, and South America. Been the most expansive, powerful and lasting over 600 years of the European empires from the conquest of Ceuta in 1415 to the transfer of Macau to China in 1999.

By maintaining an alliance with England , Portugal was invaded by the armies of Napoleon I three times first in 1807. The royal family needed to take exile in Brazil and putting the capital in Rio de Janeiro until 1821. When king João VI,since 1816 king of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves return to Lisbon to swear in the first constitution, the following year his son Pedro IV known in Brazil as Pedro I is proclaimed emperor of Brazil. With the revolution of 1910, the monarchy ended during which 34 monarchs ruled from 1139 to 1910. The first Portuguese republic was very shaky with too much politics, and this gave way to the military dictatorship of May 26 1926, by 1933 there was a dictator under a new state led by Gen Salazar that ruled until April 1974. The representative democracy was established as per the Cravos revolution on that year 1974; that ,also ended the Portuguese colonial wars given independence to Angola and Mozambique in Africa. Now , Portugal is a member of the United Nations, European Union, space Schengen, NATO, OCDE, and the community of countries of the Portuguese language or CPLP.

The principal administrative regions of the country which numbered 18 districts and the two autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira making Portugal in the top 20 most visited countries in the world with an average of 13M visitors per year. The last figures tells in general the most visitors comes from Great Britain, Spain, Germany, France, and Brazil. The main tourist areas are Lisbon, Algarve and Madeira with big promotions to bring more to Valley of the Douro river, island of Porto Santo, and Alentejo regions.

The country tourist webpage is here in English.  https://www.visitportugal.com/en

As I take you to the two most important cities that I have been as well now.

Lisbon the origins of the name are unknown as well as the natives of the city are locally known as alfacinhas, also, of unknown origin. By 1385 Lisbon replaces Coimbra as the capital of the country. Lisbon was almost completely destroyed due to the earthquake of November 1st 1755 ; it was later rebuilt from the ground up following the plans of the Marquês de Pombal (Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo),War and Foreign Affairs Minister.

Here, I have been by air and car to Lisbon. The public transports are good lead by Comboios de Portugal (CP),for the trains and the airport of Lisboa (Portela) Humberto Delgado , hub of the national airline TAP Portugal and about 7 kms from the city ; a wonderful metro system with direct access to the airport and tramways, inner city trains to the outlying areas. There are two bridges which I have taken by car as did rode to Porto and around Lisbon once there. Two bridges link Lisbon to the Tejo river the bridge or Ponte 25 de Abril that links LIsbon to Almada, opened in 1966 with the name of Ponte Salazar and later change due to the Cravos revolution mentioned above, the wonderful bridge or Ponte Vasco da Gama, with 17.2 km long ;the longest in Europe and fifth longest in the world links the western zone with Sacavém and Montijo. This bridge opened in 1998 during Expo 98, commemorating 500 years of the arrival of Vasco da Gama to India. There is also a great port of Lisbon with good cruising activity.

The train network is very good with 9 lines of metro and 5 suburban trains lines for 117 stations total managed by the Metropolitano de Lisboa, and the train network by Caminhos-de-Ferro Portugueses with principal stations of Oriente, Rossio, Cais do Sodré, Entrecampos , and Santa Apolónia. There are wonderful quaint tramways in the city center managed by Carris, and the must to try the various elevators or lifts to bring you up to the upper and lower city such as elevador da Bica, elevador da Glória, elevador do Lavra, and elevador de Santa Justa. These elevators or lifts are also managed by Carris. The main bus terminal is the Terminal Rodoviário de Lisboa.

Tramways here:  http://www.carris.pt/en/home/

Metro/Subway/tube here:  http://www.metrolisboa.pt/eng/

Trains:  https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/pt

Buses :  https://www.rodoviariadelisboa.pt/#tab0

As far as roads, well this is my domain, the area is criss cross with several highways going north south especillay and beltway roads such as CRIL, Circular Regional Interior de Lisboa and CREL,Circular Regional Exterior de Lisboa, or A9. The main north south are A1 taken all the time going north to Porto by Vila Franca de Xira, A8 going north by Loures), A5 going west until Cascais, A2 going south by Almada, and the A12 going east by Montijo. Only drawback for most but not for me as speaks Portuguese is the webpage for the expressways is only in Portuguese here:  http://www.estradas.pt/index

However, on the tolls on them, that they have it in English : http://www.portugaltolls.com/en/web/portal-de-portagens/home

What is there to see in Lisbon, well plenty indeed. The museums are many and interestings , of course ,not been to all of them but the main ones such as Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, ancient arts and the most important collection in the country; Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, 6K objects of arts from various periods ; Museu do Chiado, a must to visit the Chiado museum with Portuguese arts from the 19C ; Museu Nacional dos Coches (national carriage museum), a must to visit, biggest collection in the world ; Oceanário de Lisboa, or aquarium nice for the family, impressive collection of living species ;and the military museum or Museu Militar de Lisboa, permanent collection of weapons from different periods. Then there are others just mentioned by Portuguese name here: Museu Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva; Museu Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro; Museu do Design e da Moda; Museu de Artes Decorativas; Museu Nacional de Arqueologia; Museu Nacional do Traje; Museu do Oriente; Museu Nacional do Azulejo; Museu da Farmácia; Museu de Marinha; Museu da Água; Museu da Companhia Carris de Ferro de Lisboa; Casa-Museu de Fernando Pessoa; Fundação José Saramago.

You stroll thru the wonderful quaint old cobblestones districts for Lisbon such as the Baixa Pombalina and Chiado ,the heart of the city. Built on the ruins of the 1755 earthquake ; walk by the lovely square (my favorite áreas come to eat here always) Praça dos Restauradores and the elevator or lift of Santa Justa,built end of 19C ; at the end of the walk from the previous square you come to the Praça do Comércio, aka as Rossio, or Praça Dom Pedro V, Chiado, or convent or Convento do Carmo at Praça dos Restauradores.

Lisbon

Alfama ,another of the typical districts of LIsbon. It has architecture from the medieval and Arabic times with very narrow streets that maybe allow it to survive the 1755 earthquake. You will find here many houses of the popular music Fado with live entertainment. Also, see the wonderful castle or Castelo de São Jorge, on the highest hill in the city; the Catedral of Sé de Lisboa, or the national pantheon Panteão Nacional and the fairs or Feira da Ladra and Miradouro de Santa Luzia. In the Bairro Alto district another typical área in the city center above the Baixa Pombalina you have one of the most nightly entertainment areas of Lisbon.

In the quays along the Tejo river you will find the area of Belém, there is since the discoveries of the conquerors of Portugal. Here you have two Unesco heritage sites such as the monastery or Mosteiro dos Jerónimos,ordered built by King Manuel I in 1501 and the best example of the Manuelino architectural style ; also, the stone monument of the discoverers or Padrão dos Descobrimentos. The Belem palace or Palácio de Belém,is the official residence of the President of the Republic; you have the national carriages museum or Museu Nacional dos Coches,also the electricity museum or Museu da Electricidade, the Church or Igreja da Memória and the cultural center of Belem or Centro Cultural de Belém.

There is ,also to see the aqueduct of live waters (sp) or Aqueduto das Águas Livres (18C) in Alcântara. In the zone of Estrela you have two wonderful parks and the oldest in the city such as the Jardim da Estrela, already more than 100 years old inspired by Hyde Park, London. The Basílica da Estrela, in the barroque neo classic style and the huge Nations park or Parque das Nações the most modern área of Lisbon, where you find the towers or Torre São Rafael,and Torre São Gabriel, both 110 meters high, the highest in all the country. The best attractions here, however are the aquarium or Oceanário de Lisboa, Atlantic pavillion or Pavilhão Atlântico, the Pavilhão de Portugal, tower or Torre Vasco da Gama, bridge or Ponte Vasco da Gama , and the train station or Gare do Oriente. By the end of the 19C the city planners extended the city beyond Baixa or lower city to the current liberation avenue or Avenida da Liberdade; near where I always stayed. In 1934, was built the square or Praça do Marquês de Pombal at the extreme north of the avenue in memory of the planner of the city after the big earthquake of 1755. By the 20C more new urbanization was done such as the university or Universidade de Lisboa (Cidade Universitária), in the area of Olivais.

The tourist office of Lisbon is here:  http://www.cm-lisboa.pt/en/visit/the-city

Let’s go quickly to another grand city, that of Porto. This is the city that gave the name to the country of Portugal since around 200 AD, when it was called Portus Cale, later forming the capital of the county or Condado Portucalense, where Portugal was created.

Some of the things to see here are in my opinión, the tower or Torre dos Clérigos, Fundação de Serralves, an contemporary arts museum . In the very touristic district of Foz by many the prettiest in the city where you can see the Atlantic ocean along a gorgeous marine view. I have been to the wonderful market or Mercado do Bolhão,an architecture symbol of traditional commerce ; the Couvento do Bom Pastor,located in Paranhos, where the fame arrived by sister or Irmã Maria do Divino Coração, countess of Droste zu Vischering, that became famous for convincing Pope Leon XIII to consecrate the human of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; later she was declared venerable and beautified in November 1,1975 by Pope Paul VI. This convent has two chapels for prayers and a museum of relics of the Mother Superior of the Sisters of Bom Pastor.

Here, I have come by airplane and car. The wonderful international airport of Francisco Sá Carneiro (OPO),one of the best in Portugal. The local transport is handle by the firm Sociedade de Transportes Colectivos do Porto (STCP) of the metro/Subway/tuve of Porto, that today has 68 stations with 8 kms of underground network, considered the best network of public transport in Portugal. There is ,also, the quaint cable car or Funicular dos Guindais, managed by the Metro do Porto, covering the área of Batalha to Avenida Gustavo Eiffel, via Ribeira. The city has a railroad network managed by the firm CP=lines of Aveiro, Braga, Guimarães ,and Penafiel or Caíde.

Transports site: http://www.stcp.pt/en/travel/

metro of Porto: https://www.metrodoporto.pt/

trains in Porto: https://www.cp.pt/passageiros/en

The road here is very good with the expressway A20 with various exits to the city with a beltway to go to northern cities and to the Atlantic coast. Porto is link to Valencia Spain by the expressway A28, to Estarreja by the A29, and Lisbon by the A1, Bragança by the A4 , Braga by the A3. There is an internal beltway road that links all the towns around Porto ,and to other roads such as the A7, A11, A42, A43, and A44. There is a relatively new road the A32, linking the metro área to São João da Madeira, and Oliveira de Azeméis. Along the Douro river, there is the bridge or Ponte das Barcas built in 1806 that later was replaced by a permanent bridge the Ponte Maria II in 1843; and again replaced by the Ponte Luis I in 1886, the oldest bridge in the city of Porto. There is the bridge or Ponte Maria Pia built between January 1876 and November 1877 done by the company of Gustave Eiffel, the first railroad bridge to link the two banks of the Douro river. This was replaced by the Ponte de Sao Joao in 1991. The bridge or Ponte da Arràbida has the biggest arch in the world in mortar cement and is done on a section of the A1 that reaches Lisbon to Porto ;Yes!!! Even after building the Ponte do Freixo, this bridge of Arràbida continues to be the main connection between Porto and the south of the Douro river. There are two bridges linking the city of Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia,these are the Ponte do Freixo and Ponte de Infante. This later bridge has replaced the superior road of the Ponte Dom Luís, to be used as the yellow(amarelo) line going from Hospital de São João/Santo Ovídio of the metro of Porto, reaching from the neighborhood of das Fontainhas in Porto to Serra do Pilar in Vila Nova de Gaia.

Porto

Of course, here Porto fortified wine is king, and plenty of choices. More here from my blog: https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2017/12/10/the-wines-of-portugal-and-the-best-porto/

The tourist office of Porto:  http://www.portoenorte.pt/en/what-to-do/

There you have it, wonderful Portugal. Hope it helps plan your trip there. A destination to be reckoned with and a possible retirement home for me ::) Enjoy your week; Cheers!!

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February 20, 2018

Brussels is Europe or Belgium is Europe!

Ok in continuing my saga of old posts that comes to life, I will talk today about Brussels in specific and Belgium in general. Well Brussels or Bruxelles is to me the essence of the Belges! I have good friends here,and family living close to the border, and over the years my family have enjoyed our vacations there from Brugge to Geel, Olen ,Anvers, and Brussels. I like to write about Brussels in specific today.

What better way to start than to show you my previous posts in my blog on Brussels and Belgium in general here:

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/1871

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/6767

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/6814

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/6827

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/6840

https://wordpress.com/post/paris1972-versailles2003.com/6802

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/08/06/my-escapades-in-europe/

Brussels or Bruxelles (FR) or Brussel (NL) is the capital of the  Brussels-Capital Region comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium, as well as Anderlecht, Auderghem, Berchem-Sainte Agathe, Etterbeek, Evere, Forest, Ganshoren, Ixelles,Jette,Koekelberg, Molenbeek-Saint Jean, Saint Gilles, Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, Schaerbeek, Uccle, Watermael-Boitsford,Woluwe-Saint Lambert, and Woluwe-Saint-Pierre (French names version) . The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the region of Flanders (in which it forms an enclave) or Wallonia (French speaking side). As you can see a bit complicated indeed. Historically a Dutch-speaking city, Brussels has seen a language shift to French from the late 19C onwards. Today, the Brussels Capital Region  is officially bilingual in Flemish/Dutch and French, but French is now the de facto main language with over 90% of the population speaking it.

Brussels is the home of numerous international organizations. Brussels is the de facto capital of the European Union, the secretariat of the Benelux and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) are also located in Brussels. Today, it is classified as an Alpha global city. The Royal Palace, where the King of Belgium acts as the  head of state. The Palace of the Nation is located on the opposite side, and is the seat of the Belgian Federal Parliament. The office of the Prime Minister of Belgium, colloquially called Law Street 16 , is located adjacent to this building. This is also the place where the Council of Ministers holds its meetings. The Court of Cassation, Belgium’s main court, has its seat in the Palace of Justice. Other important institutions in the City of Brussels are the Constitutional Court, the Council of State, the Court of Audit, the Royal Belgian Mint and the National Bank of Belgium.  The City of Brussels is also the capital of both the French Community of Belgium  and the Flemish Community. The Flemish Parliament and Flemish Government have their seats in Brussels, as do the Parliament of the French Community and the Government of the French Community. Ok ok…

A bit of history I like tells us that the official founding of Brussels is usually situated around 979, when Duke Charles of Lower Lotharingia transferred the relics of Saint Gudula from Moorsel to the Saint Gaugericus chapel. Charles would construct the first permanent fortification in the city, doing so on that same island. By the middle ages Lambert I of Leuven, Count of Leuven, gained the County of Brussels around 1000, by marrying Charles’ daughter.

In the 15C, by means of the wedding of heiress Margaret III of Flanders with Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, a new Duke of Brabant emerged from the House of Valois (namely Antoine, their son). In 1477, the Burgundian duke Charles the Bold perished in the Battle of Nancy. Through the marriage of his daughter Mary of Burgundy (who was born in Brussels) to Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, the Low Countries fell under Habsburg sovereignty. Brabant had lost its independence, but Brussels became the Princely Capital of the prosperous Burgundian Netherlands, also known as the Seventeen Provinces, and flourished. After the death of Mary in 1482, her son Philip the Handsome succeeded as the Duke of Brabant. In 1506, he became King of Castile, and hence the period of the Spanish Netherlands began. In 1516, Charles V, who had been heir of the Low Countries since 1506, was declared King of Spain (Charles I) in the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula of Brussels. Upon the death of his grandfather Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, Charles became the new ruler of the Habsburg Empire and was subsequently elected Holy Roman Emperor. It was in the Palace complex at Coudenberg that Charles V abdicated in 1555. Following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the Spanish sovereignty over the Southern Netherlands was transferred to the Austrian branch of the House of Habsburg. This event started the era of the Austrian Netherlands. The city was captured by France in 1746, during the War of the Austrian Succession, but was handed back to Austria three years later. Brussels remained with Austria until 1795, when the Southern Netherlands were captured and annexed by France. Brussels became the capital of the department of the Dyle. The French rule ended in 1815, with the defeat of Napoleon on the battlefield of Waterloo, which is located south of today’s Brussels-Capital Region. With the Congress of Vienna, the Southern Netherlands joined the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, under William I of Orange. The former Dyle department became the province of South Brabant, with Brussels as its capital.

In 1830, the Belgian revolution took place in Brussels, after a performance of Auber’s opera La Muette de Portici at La Monnaie theatre. Brussels became the capital and seat of government of the new nation. South Brabant was renamed simply Brabant, with Brussels as its capital. On 21 July 1831, Leopold I, the first King of the Belgians, ascended the throne, undertaking the destruction of the city walls and the construction of many buildings. During World War I, Brussels was an occupied city, but German troops did not cause much damage. During World War II, the city was again occupied, and was spared major damage during its occupation by German forces, before it was liberated by the British Guards Armored Division, on 3 September 1944. The Brussels-Capital Region was formed on 18 June 1989, after a constitutional reform in 1988. It has bilingual status and it is one of the three federal regions of Belgium, along with Flanders and Wallonia.

Some of the things to see , walk is great , I have there by train, plane and mostly car but once in, walking is better than public transports unless very far off like to the Atomic attraction. The medieval architecture is still around  in the historic center or  Îlot Sacré, such as the neighborhoods of  Saint Géry/Sint-Goriks and Sainte-Catherine/Sint Katelijne.  The wonderful Brabantine Gothic Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula is still a prominent feature in the skyline of downtown Brussels. The second walls is the Halle Gate can still be seen. The Grand Place is the main attraction in the city center; the square is dominated by the 15C Flamboyant City Hall, the Neo-Gothic Breadhouse , and the Baroque guildhalls of the Guilds of Brussels. The Manneken Pis, a fountain containing a small bronze sculpture of a urinating youth, is a tourist attraction and symbol of the city.

Brussels

Grand Place parents 1993

The neoclassical style of the 18-19C can be seen in the Royal Quarter/Coudenberg area, around the Brussels Park and Royal Square. You can see such buildings as the Royal Palace, the Church of Saint Jacques-sur-Coudenberg, the Palace of the Nation (Parliament building), the Academy Palace, the Palace of Charles of Lorraine, the Egmont Palace, etc. Other uniform neoclassical ensembles can be found around Martyrs’ Square and Barricades’ Square. Some other landmarks, in the centre, are the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert (1847), one of the oldest covered shopping arcades in Europe; the Congress Column (1859); the Brussels Stock Exchange building (1873); and the Palace of Justice (1883), reputed to be the largest building constructed in the 19C.  Located outside the city center/Downtown, you come to the wonderful  Cinquantenaire park with its triumphal arch and nearby museums,  Royal Castle of Laeken and the Royal Domain with its large greenhouses, as well as the Museums of the Far East.

The Art Nouveau style is well represented too with work by the Belgian architects Victor Horta, Paul Hankar and Henry Van de Velde. Good examples can be found in the neighborhoods of Schaerbeek, Etterbeek, Ixelles, and Saint-Gilles. The Major Town Houses of the Architect Victor Horta – Hôtel Tassel (1893), Hôtel Solvay (1894), Hôtel van Eetvelde (1895) and the Horta Museum (1901) – have been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site .  Another example of Brussels Art Nouveau is the Stoclet Palace (1911), by the Viennese architect Josef Hoffmann, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Art Deco is also, represented here including the Résidence Palace (1927), the Centre for Fine Arts (1928), the Villa Empain (1934), the Town Hall of Forest (1938), and the former House of the Radio building on Flagey Square (1935–1938) in Ixelles. Some religious buildings from the interwar era were also constructed in that style, such as the Church of St John the Baptist (1932) in Molenbeek and the Church of Saint Augustine (1935) in Forest. Completed only in 1969, and combining Art Deco with Neo-Byzantine elements, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Koekelberg is one of the largest Roman Catholic basilicas by area in the world, and its cupola provides a panoramic view of Brussels and its outskirts. Another example are the exhibition halls of the Centenary Palace (Brussels Expo), built for the 1935 World Fair on the Heysel Plateau in northern Brussels.

The Atomium is a symbolic 103 meters (338 ft) tall modernist structure, located on the Heysel Plateau, which was originally built for the 1958 World’s Fair (Expo ’58). It consists of nine steel spheres connected by tubes, and forms a model of an iron crystal , magnified 165 billion times. A great experience indeed, and a great one-two combination visit to the  Mini-Europe park, with 1:25 scale models of famous buildings from across Europe.

Brussels contains over 80 museums lol!! The wonderful Royal Museums of Fine Arts (beaux-arts) is great as well as the Royal Museums of Art and History, and the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History. The Musical Instruments Museum (MIM), housed in the splendid Old England building, is part of the Royal Museums of Art and History and is internationally renowned for its collection of over 8,000 instruments. The Belgian Comic Strip Center combines two artistic leitmotifs of Brussels, being a museum devoted to Belgian comic strips, housed in the former Waucquez department store, designed by Victor Horta in the Art Nouveau style. The King Baudouin Stadium is a concert and competition facility with a 50,000 seat capacity, the largest in Belgium. The site was formerly occupied by the Heysel Stadium. Furthermore, the Center for Fine Arts (often referred to as Bozar), a multi-purpose center for theatre, cinema, music, literature and art exhibitions, is home to the National Orchestra of Belgium and to the annual Queen Elisabeth Competition for classical singers and instrumentalists, one of the most challenging and prestigious competitions of the kind.

Nice parks in my opinion are the Botanical Garden of Brussels 6 ha (14.8 acres) lovely; Leopold Park 10 ha (25 acres) Brussels Park 11 ha (27 acres) and my favorite the Parc du Cinquantenaire / Jubelpark 30 ha (74 acres).

Brussels is known for its local waffle, its chocolate, its French fries and its numerous types of beers, and reasons enough to come visit the city or country. Belgian cuisine is characterised by the combination of French cuisine with the more hearty Flemish fare. Notable specialties include Brussels waffles (gaufres) and mussels (usually as moules-frites, served with fries). The city is a stronghold of chocolate and pralines manufacturers with renowned companies like Neuhaus, Leonidas and Godiva. Pralines were first introduced in 1912, by Jean Neuhaus II, a Belgian chocolatier of Swiss origin, in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert, in central Brussels. Numerous friteries are spread throughout the city, and in tourist areas, fresh hot waffles are also sold on the street. In addition to the regular selection of Belgian beer, the famous Lambic style of beer is predominately brewed in and around Brussels, and the yeasts have their origin in the Senne valley. Kriek, a cherry Lambic, enjoys outstanding popularity, as it does in the rest of Belgium. Kriek is available in almost every bar or restaurant.

Brussels

corne port royal galerie Royales Saint Hubert Brussels wife

Brussels

my gang museum of beers off grand place Brussels

Shopping is done best by amous shopping areas include the pedestrian-only Rue Neuve (Dutch: Nieuwstraat), the second busiest shopping street in Belgium (after the Meir, in Antwerp)  Avenue Louise lined with high-end fashion stores and boutiques; the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert; as well as the neighbourhood around Antoine Dansaert Street. The Old Market  on the Place du Jeu de Balle/Vossenplein, in the Marollen neighbourhood, is particularly renowned. The nearby Sablon area is home to many of Brussels’ antique dealers.  The Midi Market around Brussels-South train station and Boulevard du Midi is reputed to be one of the largest markets in Europe.

How to move about, reach Brussels and al. There are two main airport located outside the region of Brussels, Brussels-National Airport, located in Zaventem, 12 km (10 mi) east of the capital; and Brussels South Charleroi Airport, located near Charleroi , some 50 km (30 mi) south-west of Brussels.

Water traffic is important even for a land city like Brussels, the port of Brussels. Located near the Sainte-Catherine/Sint-Katelijne square, it lies on the Brussels-Scheldt Maritime Canal (commonly called Willebroek Canal), which connects Brussels to Antwerp via the Scheldt. The connection of the Willebroek Canal with the Brussels-Charleroi Canal, in the very heart of the capital, creates a north-south link, by means of waterways, between the Netherlands, Flanders and the industrial zone of Hainaut (Wallonia). There, navigation can access the network of French canals, thanks to the important inclined plane of Ronquières and the lifts of Strépy-Bracquegnies.

The train; the Brussels Capital-Region has three main train stations: Brussels-South (Sud), Central (Midi) and North (Nord). Brussels-South/Sud is also served by direct high-speed rail links: to London by Eurostar trains via the Channel Tunnel ; to Amsterdam by Thalys and InterCity connections; to Amsterdam, Paris and , and Cologne by Thalys; and to Cologne , and Frankfurt by the German ICE. The City has minor railway stations at Bockstael, Brussels-Chapel, Brussels-Congres, Brussels-Luxembourg, Brussels-Schuman, Brussels-West, Haren, Haren-South, Simonis. In the Brussels Region, there are also railways stations at Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Boitsfort, Boondael, Bordet (Evere), Etterbeek, Evere, Forest-East, Forest-South, Jette, Meiser (Schaarbeek), Moensberg (Uccle), Saint-Job (Uccle), Schaarbeek, Uccle-Calevoet, Uccle-Stalle, Vivier d’Oie-Diesdelle (Uccle), Merode and Watermael.

The Brussels Metro with underground lines known as premetro has a network consisting  of four conventional metro lines and three premetro lines. The metro network within the region has a total of 69 metro and premetro stations. The metro connects  with six railway stations of the National Railway Company of Belgium, and many tram and bus stops operated by STIB/MIVB, and with Flemish De Lijn and Walloon TEC bus stops.  A comprehensive bus and tram network covers the city with the Brussels tram system consisting of  17 tram lines making  it one of the largest tram networks in Europe. The Brussels bus network is complementary to the rail network and consists of 50 bus routes and 11 night routes, STIB/MIVB has been operating a night bus network called Noctis. On Fridays and Saturdays, 11 bus routes operate from midnight until 03h.  They run from the centre of Brussels to the outer reaches of the Brussels-Capital Region.

Now we go to automobile and you will read Brussels is the most congested city in Europe and so on. Well , I have been driving to it since 1992, and never had a problem on traffic or parking’s underground; the street level can be had if you can walk long. Brussels is the hub of a range of old national roads, the main ones being clockwise: the N1 (N to Breda), N2 (E to Maastricht), N3 (E to Aachen), N4 (SE to Luxembourg) N5 (S to Reims), N6 (S to Maubeuge), N7 (SW to Lille), N8 (W to Koksijde) and N9 (NW to Ostend). The town is skirted by the European route E19 (N-S) and the E40 (E-W), while the E411 leads away to the SE. Brussels has an orbital motorway, numbered R0 (R-zero) and commonly referred to as the Ring. It is pear-shaped, as the southern side was never built as originally conceived, owing to residents’ objections. And yes this RO or ring is the best way to get to city center just pinpoint your central location and the exit from them and you are off; once at final destination parked and walk, lovely.

Tourist office here in English : https://visit.brussels/en

Region tourist office in English: http://be.brussels/culture-tourism-leisure

Belgium tourist board in English : https://www.belgium.be/en/about_belgium/tourism/cities_of_art

Enjoy Belgium and especially the Brussels region as we do. Do take a look at my previous posts for plenty of info and photos. Enjoy your week, happy travels. Cheers!!!

 

 

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February 18, 2018

The big one, Germany! and now closer….

I am on the move this Sunday, and rather stay home most of the day. Taking you back to older posts and given them new life. I already passed you by the North so why not the East, Germany it is.

I rather bring about my previous posts on and about cities in the country. Why closer, well it started with my college roommate  from Wiesbaden and then continue with business colleagues of many years from several cities, follow by my alma mater graduation class of 1982  buddy who was married to a lady of the country and moved to near Stuttgart where he is at for many many years already… and a family. Finally, it hit closer to home as my cousin-sister married a German from Hamburg  so now the cycle is complete. Welcome to a very international family!!

This is the Federal Republic of Germany with 16 states. and the most populous country in the European Union.  It’s major cities are Berlin, its capital as well as Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Leipzig, Bremen, Dresden, Hanover, and Nuremberg.

In 1871, Germany became a nation state when the German state was unified into a Prussian dominated German empire. After WWI, the Empire was replaced by the Weimar Republic. The worse period was from 1933 to 1945 and WWII.  After the end of WWII in Europe, passing by a period of allied occupation into four zones, two German states were formed, West Germany with American, British,and French zones and East Germany with Soviet occupation zone.  Following the free revolution of 1989 that ended communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe, the country was united as of now in October 3rd 1990.

The Federal Republic of Germany (rather West Germany) was a founding member of the European Economic Community in 1957 and the whole Germany of the European Union in 1993. It is part of the Schengen Area and became a co-founder of the Eurozone in 1999. Germany is a member of the United Nations, NATO, G7, G20, and OECD organizations.

Tourism wise, it has created several routes such as the Romantic Road, the Wine Route, the Castle Road, and the Avenue Road.  Also, a quaint road call the German Timber-Frame Road. According to various sources online, the most visited places there are Neuschwanstein Castle, Cologne Cathedral, Berlin Bundestag, Hofräuhaus Munich, Heidelberg Castle, Dresden Zwinger, Fernsehturm Berlin, and Anchen Cathedral; with Europa Park near Freiburg been the second most visited theme park in Europe.

The official German tourist office in English is here: http://www.germany.travel/en/index.html

According to official sources such as the German tourist office , EU, and  Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden 2016, the most visitors to Germany in order are the Netherlands, Switzerland, USA, Great Britain, Italy, Austria, France, Denmark, Belgium, and Spain. the same study shows that the prefer destination of Germans are in order, Spain ,Italy, Austria, Turkey, Croatia, Scandinavia, Greece, and France. It is mentioned ,Germany is the 7th country in the world as far as visitors with about 35,6M in 2016. Other than the tourist office, I think this is a good site for public transport in Germany. Of course, I only been there once by airplane to Düsseldorf, and then hire a taxi lol!! the rest has been by car from France. The site here: https://www.german-way.com/travel-and-tourism/public-transport-in-germany/

Oberemmel

Beer and wine festival at Oberemmel south of Trier

 

I give you my previous posts in my blog on Germany as promise; take a look at them and you will se a wealth of travel and history information even on public transport ::) Enjoy the ride, and your Sunday. Cheers!

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/03/27/trier-oldest-city-in-germany/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/11/26/a-new-city-on-my-map-dusseldorf-germany/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/08/24/the-saarland-of-germany-konz-oberemmel/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/08/24/we-came-back-to-nice-quaint-trier-germany/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/09/06/and-we-came-back-again-to-trier-nice/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/08/25/the-saarland-of-germany-saarbrucken/

 https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/08/26/the-land-of-sarre-in-germany-mettlach/

 https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/09/07/memorable-darmstadt-germany/

 https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/08/27/the-saarland-of-germany-saarburg/

 https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/08/30/bitburg-land-of-the-bitburger-beer/

 https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2015/09/04/koblenz-on-the-german-corner-deutsche-eck/

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February 15, 2018

Casa de Campo de Madrid!

And as I am with the parks of Madrid, and already told you my other favorites ,and Retiro, why not the biggest in Madrid, Casa de Campo or Country House Park ::) Located in the district of Moncloa-Aravaca is the largest in Madrid with 1772 hectares or 80K m2 ; it is ,also the biggest in Europe with 6,5 times bigger than Hyde Park in London and 2X bigger than Bois de Boulogne in Paris. It is 2,5 x bigger then Phoenix park in Dublin,  and 5x bigger than Central Park in New York. My many souvenirs of living and visiting my beloved Madrid. It is ,also, next to the forest of Pardo where the Zarzuela castle and residence of the king of Spain

All started briefly with King Felipe II who in 1560 thereabouts purchase the land after he decides to put his court in Madrid. Later king Fernando VI the area is declared a royal forest and served as hunting grounds. It is now managed by the city of Madrid and serves well all residents and visitors alike since 1931.

There are many wonderful things to do and see here. These are ; a Parque de Atracciones or amusement park , easiest to get there is by metro Batán on line 10,in this park you will enjoy three different areas including Nickelodeon Land, Lanzadera (free fall attraction) Tornado and Abismo that are rollercoasters, and the Walking Dead Experience. You ,also, have a ZOO de Madrid , here you will see incredible animals such as giant panda, monocled cobra, Asian elephant, Siberian tigers and even dolphins. In total, you will see more than 6000 animals of 500 different species. There is the famous (my favorite ride lol) cable car or Téléferico linking you to Paseo del Pintor Rosales. During the trip you will hear an explanation (in Spanish) about the history of Madrid and the monuments you will see during this time. Don’t forget your camera because there will be a lot of chances to take amazing pictures of the city and bridges of Madrid. And of course, you have the Aquarium one of the biggest in Spain.

Zoo and Aquarium here: https://www.zoomadrid.com/en

Attractions park here: https://www.parquedeatracciones.es/

Cable car Rosales here: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/teleferico-de-madrid

A map of the park by the city of Madrid here:

Casa de Campo Madrid

There is,also, a youth hostal, exposition park, and the Venta de Batàn (storage for the bullring corridas). There is of course clean air!, soft ground and silence; the perfect combination for jogging and running, and you can choose flat paths or those with different slopes etc. You can ride a bike or rent one for 5€ per day in stores located along the Manzanares river. It’s a perfect spot for mountain bikes but there are also areas suitable for regular bikes. There are great areas for picnic under a tree or in one of the tables and benches all around the park. When you need to eat some snacks there is also a cafeteria right in the middle of the park. There ,also, a complex for cultural activities  IFEMA , all along the year with concerts, exhibitions, fairs, sport events all year long. In the park you can find a small lake with many aquatic activities such as Kayaking and boat paddles. During the weekends, many families come to the park for a picnic.

Other things to see here are the primitive palace of the Vargas was property of king Felipe II; you see the gallery of grottos or the Galería de las Grutas  in the gardens or  jardines de El Reservado, next to the palace. These are grottos artificially done from the 16C that were decorated with fountains, sculptures and motifs inspired by nature; from the five trails that was created now only two and part of a third one are open. You see the bridge or  Puente de la Culebra  built in 1782 on orders of king Carlos III by  Francesco Sabatini, the artistic work most representative still there and an example of Italian baroque style work. Sabatini also did other four bridges of which only exist today the Puente de la Agachadiza and Puente del Álamo Negro with its three original blinded eyes and the brick structure covered with cement. The Puente de la Culebra is in an area known as the El Zarzon next to the pathway of Prado Rodajes and the road to Zarzon where there is a small dam with waters of the Meaques creek on the place it is known as the small lake or  “Estanque Chico“, surrounded by thick vegetation. Most of the Casa de Campo is surrounded by a stone wall with 70 cm thick and done with brick and cement and chalk. The upper section is covered with granite stone with some parts rebuilt or reduced; and you can still see the ones given access to the Club de Campo that were the old gates of Aravaca, and Castilla. They had small gates to allow pedestrians to go thru such as the ones of  Agachadiza, Casa Quemada, Los Pinos , and Zarzón, all rebuilt.

Another element were the wrough iron grills that gave access to the creeks to allow water in with a set of three grills and available to open them in case of flooding. You can see these wall grilles in the creeks of  Meaques, Prado del Rey,  Zorra  and two at  Antequina. The railroad bridge or puente del ferrocarril, was built in 1860; all bricks and granite with a half point arch on the road to Robles, and have several fountains such as  the  triangle or Triángulo  by the southewest of the lake and the Neveros  nearby crossing the square or Glorieta de Patines; and some older such as the Zarzón, from 1898, even if a bit change; see also the fountain or Fuente de Rodajos even older , and the  potager or Huerta de la Partida dating from the 16C to give service to the palace de los Vargas, for which a canal for irrigation was done named the La Partida, coming from the creek of Meaques, as time went on the potager lost its function from the 20C onwards and by 1928  it was done on the land an experimental potager of medicinal plants.

The harbor for the Lago/lake of Casa de Campo where you will find boats and paddle boats etc up to four persons per boat where they can be rented for a period of times usually 45 minutes but check for the latest on site. It is located at Paseo del Embarcadero, 8, Tel. +34 91 464 46 10 , hours are Mondays to Sundays from 8h30 to sunset , prices are according to the day Mondays to Fridays 6€ and Saturdays and Sundays 8€ again check for latest on site ticket counter or call ahead . The best locations to reach the Casa de Campo are by the metro station Lago, you have the lake, pools and tennis courts, the expo center, and expo fair. Near the metro station Casa de Campo you have the Zoo and Aquarium, and near the station Batàn you have the amusement park.

More on the lake here in Spanish is more info: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/lago-de-la-casa-de-campo

You can walk or bike to reach the Casa de Campo by eleven entrances such as  Río or  Rey and Moreras , Batán,  Venta,  Dante, Grande and Ángel; also,  Aravaca, Somosaguas,Rodajos ,and Zarzón , and by here entrance to another half dozen small pedestrian gates .  You can do this by bus on lines 25, 31, 33, 36, 39, 55 y 65 on the south ,and 41 and 75 on east;  and 160 and 161 by the north.By metro you can do so on line 5  Casa de Campo, and line 10  Lago, Batán , and Casa de Campo). By auto is only allowed by the Avenida de Portugal, to reach the parkings located next to the amusement park, Zoo, and cable car terminus, lake area and some sports installations; these access are open from 06h to 00H30 or 01h0 at the end of the food kiosks time or the activities at the amusement park.

Further information can be had by contacting the park itself here: Parque Casa de Campo ,Avenida de Portugal, s/n; Tel +34 91 479 60 02 Fax: +34 915267708; Guided Tours: +34 91 526 77 03 and email: infocasacampo@madrid.es
The city of Madrid has a webpage in Spanish with more info here:  http://www.madrid.es/portales/munimadrid/es/Inicio/El-Ayuntamiento/Medio-ambiente/Parques-y-jardines/Patrimonio-Verde/Parques-en-Madrid/Parque-de-la-Casa-de-Campo?vgnextfmt=default&vgnextoid=482a315919a9e210VgnVCM1000000b205a0aRCRD&vgnextchannel=38bb1914e7d4e210VgnVCM1000000b205a0aRCRD

The tourist office of Madrid has more info here: https://www.esmadrid.com/barrios-de-madrid/casa-campo

Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid

Hope you enjoy the ride and history,and see the beauty found here. It is a sublime place, love by all Madridistas and the lucky visitor who comes here. You will love it too I am sure! Enjoy the Casa de Campo in Madrid, where else! Cheers!!!

 

 

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February 14, 2018

The parks of Madrid, my parks!

So on a rainy day and waiting for the big game with my Real Madrid vs PSG in the Champions league on a romantic football /soccer evening of Valentine’s Day in my beautiful Morbihan;;uff long ok sorry. It’s time to talk about my other love , Madrid and it’s parks I share while in my adolescent life and later.

I have written before about the wonderful Parque del Buen Retiro or just Retiro Park.  Let’s take you on a brief tour of several others that I have been to, played in them, chase for my first love, and oh well many other things even introducing them to my now wife.

The park closest to my old home in Madrid was the Parque El Calero, on Metro Line 5 Quintana or Carmen, it has nice promenade and an open air auditorium for concerts and cultural events. Also a petanque field and bike paths. You can easily go from the metro Quintana in Calle Alcalà (where I lived) up avenida del Sagrado Corazon to it. My last trip the area has change but still a good walk into the real Madrid at daytime.  Here is a pdf map of the park: Madrid

The next park is more for the tourist /visitor , this is the Parque Quinta de la Fuente del Berro. Early on it was a farm or Quinta de Miraflores ordered by king Felipe IV as a new royal site with more than 13 hectares (adding the gardens or Jardines Sancho Davila). It is on the limits of the Calle Enrique D’Almonte, Avenida de Alcalde Saenz de Baranda, and the M-30 (first beltway of Madrid) until reaching the Calle de Alcalà and the bridge or Puente de Ventas parallel to the M-30 to join up with the Jardines Sancho Davila; all total about 53K m2 of green. It is not far from the Monumental Ventas bullring. The main entrance is by Calle Enrique D’Almonte with two small towers in brick; and you can see the old palace remaining of what it was before.  The park is well designed with several slopes with prairies and rustic stairs of stone. One of the things to see here is the Monument to Bécquer ,and the statue to the Russian writer Pushkin, a fountain with a stone jar next to the main entrance, a cascading waterfall, and two small lakes. You can see more in Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/parque-de-la-fuente-del-berro?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.fr%2F

And the map of the park here in pdf: Parque Fuente del Berro

I walk you to the Parque del Oeste , a gorgeous part of Madrid. This park is by Moncloa between the avenida del Arco de la Victoria, and the Paseo del Pintor Rosales; next is the railroad track and the Avenida de Seneca, traversing the park are the Paseo de Ruperto Chapí, Paseo de Camoens, Calle Francisco and Calle Jacinto Alcàntara.  Worked on the park began in 1893 and the first phase was finished in 1905 with 87 hectares between the streets of today Calle Moret and Calle Seneca in addition to a carriages street ,Paseo de Camoens. IN 1906 the second phase continue the work and the park reached the Cuartel de la Montaña (HQ of army during Franco) and today it is where the Templo de Debod (gift from Egypt) is located.  The park was extended parallel to the Paseo Del Pintor Rosales . In the years 1956 -1973 it was enlarged not only by the Cuartel de la Montaña but also the rosary place La Rosaleda and the Parque de la Montaña today the Templo of Debod as mentioned. The northern parts of the park is the nicest as well as the oldest with an artificial creek of 600 meters long.

Special attention to the big oak tree the grandfather or el Abuelo this is a Cedrus atlantica; and two sophora pendulum trees , and a majestic Ginko, etc all really nice.  At the end of the promenade of plaintains or paseo de Plátanos, you can see birds in the fauna center or Centro de Avifauna with informative panels. You can reach here on metro lines 3 and 6 at Moncloa , lines 2,3 and 10 at Plaza de España , and lines 6 and 10 at Príncipe Pío; also, buses 21, 46, 74, 160, 161, and A , as well as Cercanías train at  Príncipe Pío. A real trip recommended. More on it from the tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/parque-del-oeste

And the pdf map here: Parque del Oeste

 Madrid  Madrid  Madrid

Moving right along to a garden nearby but it can be an extension of the above park too we reach the Jardín de la Rosaleda  with more than 500 variaties of Roses from the world over; perfect for a family walk and beautiful pictures. La Rosaleda del Parque del Oeste exist since 1956.  This was the work of the main gardener here who was inspired  from the great work done in Paris etc at the end of the 19C early 20C as well as the one at Retiro done in 1915 .  The central part has small lakes and here you can see the fountain of youth or Fuente de la Juventud, done by Federico Coullant Valera, who, also did the alas of victory that adorn the Metropolis building in the Gran Vía , and the Monument to Cervantes in the  Plaza de España.  On the laterals you will see arches that you can go in, walk by them like if you were in an underground passageway where the walls are decorated with green leaves and colorful roses. Plenty of trails here to walk into the lawns,and find many variaties of roses, their origins and year that participated and won a prize. The best here is the cable car of many rides of youth and now family trips this is the  Teleférico de Rosales.  You can climb into the mountain of Principe Pio and visit the Templo de Debod and its gardens, and see from there wonderful views of the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of the Almudena. The hours here are from 10h to 20h every day and in summer to 21h, check always for hours. The entrance is free. The Rosaleda del Parque del Oeste  is located in the Calle Rosaleda s/n, a bit away from Paseo del Pintor Rosales,close to the Templo de Debod,and a few meters from the cable car /Teleférico. More from the city of Madrid tourist office: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/rosaleda-parque-oeste

MadridMadrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid Madrid

This is a bit off the beaten path for most but it is Madrid at it local best. Come to the Parque del Cerro del Tío Pío in the neighborhood of  Numancia,  district of Puente de Vallecas, and extending over neighborhoods or colonies of residences  Colonia de Fontarrón, Colonia de Santa Ana , and Colonia de los taxistas.  It is locally known as the park of the seven tits or Parque de las Siete Tetas because of its peaks or hills.  You come here to see the city sunset or sunrise and see most of the city. The park is bordered by the Calle Benjamín Palencia, Calle Camino de Valderribas, Calle Sierra de Cuerda Larga , and Calle Maruja García Romero.  It is recommended for a panoramic view of the city from this park as well as the mountains outside of Madrid.  The park has 3 entrances and on the highest there is a lookout , bar, and game zone for children as well as machines to do outdoors sport.  There is ,also, a bike trail. On the lower part of the park you find sports complexes for indoor football/soccer, basketball, and ping pong. You reach here by metro light line 1 stations Portazgo and Buenos Aires as well as buses lines 54 , 141 , and 143 .   More from the tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/parque-cerro-tio-pio

We come to one dear to me this is the Parque de El Capricho on a green zone in the neighborhood of Alameda de Osuna in the district of Barajas ,yes the town of the airport of Madrid.  It was ordered built by the Duchess of Osuna between 1787 and 1839 ,and it has now an area of 14 hectares; with the only unique Romanesque garden in Madrid.  It has a laberinth of shrubs, buildings, small palaces, small chapel and a beautiful dance hall as well as creeks and lakes where you can find swans and ducks. Here, the weekends you find concerts, theater, dance etc in the so call «Tardes de Capricho» or craving afternoons. You can see here a bunker at the Jaca position the password of the general headquarters of the Republican army during the Spanish Civil War 1936-39. More from the Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/parque-del-capricho

 Another park ,known later in life is the Parque Quinta de Torre Arias located in the neighborhood of Salvador, district of  San Blas-Canillejas; the old home of my maternal aunt.  It is located between the Calle de Alcalà, Calle Rodríguez Ayuso,  Calle Eduardo Terán, Calle de Fernando Mijares , and Calle Marquesado de Sta. Marta. This was the old farm of  Torre Arias with 17 hectares with very nice garden to find 51 species of trees some of more than 300 years old.  It belongs to the nobility of Madrid from 1600 until our days today.  The park is created after the passing of the last owner . In 1986, the owners signed an agreement to give it to the city as a donation that finally become owner in 2013 by the city of Madrid. You can reach here on metro line 5 Torre Arias, and buses lines 104, 77, 140, and 153. More here from the city tourist office:https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/quinta-torre-arias

And last ,but not least for this post I like to tell you about the Parque de la Bombilla, on 13 hectares running parallel to the Parque del Oeste by which can communicate with passarelles trails. The park is located between the Avenida de Valladolid, Ciudad Universitaria , and the old North Station that is bisected by train of the cercanias lines C7  and C10. Each June 13 the park is host to the festivities of Saint Anthony  as well as the circus in winter and the summer cinema showing in summer.  It has a tracing from the Royal Palace where in the old days royal carriages took the nobility by the Calle Bailén, to the forest of  El Pardo.  This tree lined road was given the name of the King’s way or Senda del Rey  and part of it can still be done inside the park.  At the end of the 19C it was changed into municipals garden center and the tramway cars.  In the interior of the park there are benches, prairies, stair terraces where water runs ,a lake and a fountain. You can reach it on metro lines 6 and 10  Príncipe Pío ,and buses lines 41, 46, 75,  and N20; also cercanias lines  C1, C7, C10 ,and regional at Principe Pio. More info here from Madrid tourist office: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/parque-de-la-bombilla

And the map of the park in pdf here: Parque de la Bombilla

Another mythical park of Madrid for me is the Parque de la Quinta de los Molinos located in the neighborhood of Salvador, district of San Blas-Canillejas .  It is considered a historic park located in between my Calle Alcalà , Calle Miami, Calle de Juan Ignacio Luca de Tena ,and the Avenida del Veinticinco de Septiembre.  It has 25 hectares and in the park includes great lawns and prairies of trees with lots of olives, pines eucaplyptus, and figs trees, even thus the start of the park of the almond trees that flowered every spring offering a wonderful spectacle.  You can find here at the extreme north of the park a palace from early 20C , gardens and lawns, there is ,also a lake, windmill (why the name of the park) and a building known as the watch house or Casa del Reloj.  The park has trails of dirt and pavement bordered by plaintain trees from the main entrance  in my Calle de Alcalà to the palace.  During the summer, there are many activities here with concerts on the Summers of the city activity or Veranos de la Villa. Due to its location by Calle de Alcalà the access is easy from anywhere in the city; next to the main entrance there is the metro Suanzes, for line 5  (mine!!!) and also by Calle de Alcalà you get the buses lines  77  and  104.  By the Calle Juan Ignacio Luca de Tena you can catch buses lines  114  and 146, where there are two entries to the park. Other access to the park are at the Calle Miami on metro line 6  O’Donnell , and buses lines  2, 56, 69, 71, 143, 15, and 28. More info from Madrid tourist office here: https://www.esmadrid.com/informacion-turistica/quinta-de-los-molinos

Hope you enjoy this ride into the parks of Madrid, my favorites of course (missing photos and all) , and there are other even call gardens, but these are my favorite parks of Madrid. Well, it remains Casa de Campo stay tuned and the before mentioned done Retiro park. Enjoy your week, me ready for the match. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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February 11, 2018

Simply E R A U ,Eagles Soar!

As my blog says travel and anecdotes well it’s time to come back to a bit of a story on my past. We write about beautiful interesting places we visit and or live/d and I recount my every day living on my series Some news from …. but I have souvenirs never to be forgotten either ,such as my university days. Do you have university days stories to tell? I have plenty but let’s keep it clean lol! I will tell you a bit more on my university ERAU, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA.

I was living in New Jersey where I grew up, and college time came in , my dream at those tender ages was to go into aviation and from a friend heard about ERAU= Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. One application form and I was accepted right away ,this was back in Augusut 1977 ::)

I have written a post early in 2011 on this episode here:
https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/01/12/my-college-days-in-florida-usa-erau/

Now I want to tell you a bit more on the University per se. Briefly, here it is the story.

Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is a private university system offering associate, bachelor, master’s, and PhD degree programs in arts and sciences, aviation, business, engineering, computer programming, cyber security and security and intelligence. It is the largest, fully accredited university system specializing in aviation and aerospace, and has campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida and Prescott, Arizona, and other 22 locations around the world mostly in US military bases.

On December 17, 1925 ,Talton Higbee Embry and John Paul Riddle founded the Embry-Riddle Company at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio. In spring 1926, the company opened the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation. In 1939 Riddle, John Graham McKay and wife Isabel re-established the school in Opa-Locka airport near Miami, Florida. It is still there as a general aviation/business airport, webpage here: http://www.miami-airport.com/opalocka.asp

John Paul Riddle I had the pleasure of meeting him. He had admission to both the US Naval Academy and West Point and finally chose the first one. He met later on one of his former flying student now with some wealth Talon Higbee Embry and with a contract from Waco Aircraft both founded the Embry-Riddle Company in 1925! The only had two Jenny airplanes and a dream.

They won several air mail routes and eventually Cincinnati got air mail service By now the service was flawless and by 1927 was the only of two companies that could fly passengers, the other was the Boeing Air Transport Company. On a led by Gen Doolittle the flying school got to be one of the first instrument flight instruction in the USA. The Aeronautic Board of the Dept of Commerce gave the school the endorsement as a safe flight company, only five in the USA in 1929. As the business grew financing was found by W Averell Harriman and Co and Lehman Brothers to create a financial aviation company, Aviation Corporation of Delaware in March 1929. They purchase several smaller companies and this company later became the famous AVCO. By 1930, a new holding company was founded called American Airways (today still goes on as American Airlines)

In Florida, he came to continue his dreams by purchasing other companies in the aviation industry. In 1939, he founded in association with John G Mckay the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation, leaving the name of the original founder on the name of the school. the school flew even seaplanes on the McArthur Causeway in Miami. The school provided help to Great Britain in WWII, they were exposed directly as Europe had surrender to Nazi Germany and needed pilots to defend the island. they were shipped to Jacksonville (now major naval base at Mayport here: https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrse/installations/nas_jacksonville/about/history.html

From there ,they were transported by bus to the now famous fields of Carlstrom, Clewiston (no 5 British flying training school) , Dorr field, and the seaplane base in Miami. ERAU trainers did all the work on them, and later trained American pilots too! they have lease the Old Fritz hotel in Miami as headquarters located at NW 27 avenue or SR9. They trained pilots up to August 6 1945. By the time of the peace treaty more than 26K men and women had graduated their wings by the school.

In 1944 however, they have created the first flight training school in Brazil under the Escola Tecnica de Aviaçao in Sao Paulo, training 3500 Brazilians on how to flight before turning it over to the government. The School was now called the Embry-Riddle International School of Aviation. It signed contracts for training for advance flight to the Free French Republic pilots. By October 1947, the school finally moved to Opa-Locka.

The school contracted with the US Air Force to trained pilots there with more than 1500 graduating. Later, it continue training USAF pilots in the ROTC program ( Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). The school grew internationally training pilots from many countries including Cuba, China, Turkey, Belgium, England, Canada, etc. etc. By 1958 the 1000 students came from 21 countries and 44 US States. By 1963, the facilities at Opa Locka were too small for this growth. While the operations in South Florida the school trained over 40K students!

The new president (with John Paul Riddle on the board) became Jack Reed Hunt, he was famous as been the one piloting the first non stop round trip flight across the Atlantic in a US Navy blimp ZPG-2 in March 1957. The route was Massachusetts to Portugal, Africa, Puerto Rico, Cuba, to Florida. He received his presidential medals.

President Hunt (my school president during my time) did immediately the decision to move to bigger place a location needed to be found, candidates were Sebring, Fort Pierce, Plant City, outside Miami in Dade County ,and Daytona Beach. The city of Daytona Beach got going and did all it could to win the prize, and I am so glad they did!! Operation Bootstrap started moving the school ,setting up new campus there and all help from shoestrings by donations and help from the business community there. All was moved by ourselves and on trucks. Ormond Beach (where I later lived) decided against the move so the decision was to set up by the Daytona Beach Regional Airport (now name international) ,and also next to the Daytona Beach Speedway (NASCAR auto racing) on 185 acres of land. The school arrived at Daytona Beach operational on May 19 1965. Only 239 students including the 168 relocated from Miami.

By 1968, we had Cessna 150s, Piper Cherokee, single engine Aero Commanders, twin engine Beech B-18 and some biplane stearmen; by 1968 the school was accredited to the SACS or Southern Association of Schools and Colleges! By 1968 the first dormitory was built to housed 386 students, this was known as Doolittle Dorm 1 (my first dorm)!! three stories high. By 1970, the school was known as the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute earning approval by the FAA =Federal Aviation Administration. The info on the Dorm 1 Doolittle now see it here: http://daytonabeach.erau.edu/campus-life/housing/residence-halls/doolittle/index.html

Daytona Beach

By 1972, the school is known as we know it today , Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the one I came in on August 23 1977 to start classes! I visited many times President Hunt residence on the beach at Ormond by the Sea (now sold and gone a while back). This house we call it the Battleship as it look one from the distance, and we had the University Center where the cafeteria was at ,to eat and mingle you know. By my first year 1977, the school already counted with 2 725 students! me included lol!

Daytona Beach

By 1979, Times Magazine called us the “Harvard of the sky” And before that in 1978, we purchase Prescott college in Prescott Arizona to serve as our western campus. The International Campus was started ,now call the Extended Campus with over 100 locations many online. Now the Daytona Beach and Prescott campuses have both about 5000 students. President Jack Hunt passed away of cancer in January 7 1984 RIP. He said, ” it may be easy to get in to Embry-Riddle, but it is not easy to get out” amen.

As the new team took over the school continues to grow and influence the world of aviation. In 1986 , the school was awarded the management training of the FAA and a specific center was opened in Palm Coast.

Ok not all is goody goody, the Administration announced in July 2014 that Embry-Riddle has been accepted into the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II membership. Embry-Riddle began intercollegiate athletics competition on its Daytona Beach Campus in 1988. Well not really, from the photos you will see that I participated in the NCAA Div 2 soccer program already in 1978-1980 playing against much bigger schools like FIU, Univ of Florida, Univ Central Florida, South Florida Tampa, etc with good results, winning records. However, the school decided to leave sports in 1981 and even with petitions by students the decision remained until starting again in 1988. The unfortunate thingy here is that those who participated before are not been recognized in school records!!! We had , also, baseball, tennis, and golf teams.  And of course, we had intramural sports and I did volleyball and softball, photo. The special site for athletics is here: http://erauathletics.com/index.aspx

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach

The school has won several prizes in aviation flight competition; these are call NIFA/SAFECON , and remain the provider of about 50% of US Air Force pilots the best flyboys in the world! Following a short illness, on April 6 1989, John Paul Riddle passed away at his home in Coral Gables, near Miami he was 87 yrs. old. RIP sir. His last airplane ride took place on April 10th when following funeral services and a memorial service at the University, his ashes were sprinkled over Biscayne Bay and in the Oak Ridge cemetery at Arcadia, Florida.

Information gathered from memories, yearbook Phoenix from graduation 1982,(and my yearbook photo!)  and the book “The Sky is Home”, and the Alumni directory of 1998 all jealousy guarded by yours truly.

 

Daytona Beach Daytona Beach Daytona Beach

There is an ERAU alumni network, that has tattled with lack of support for a long time. I was on the first meeting to do an alumni network at Harley Hotel in Atlanta, GA back in 1984; then another try from Florida at the city hall of Hollywood Fl back in 1994, and finally as the Director of Alumni relations in France where we have over 60 French students graduated from my university now working French aviation/Aerospace industry, some of them quite well designing the wings for the A 380 to test pilot on maiden mission Toulouse-Hamburg, to working on the Arianne rocket etc. I helped organized the Paris Air Show of several years back believe it was 2013 with a dinner organized by me at the prestigious Aviation club de France ; but nothing of support so I decided to leave the organizing back in early 2017, and the position still vacant. More on the alumni ERAU here: https://alumni.erau.edu/s/867/index.aspx

Another organization that does not exist no more and I was very active was the Management Club; I was the Treasurer 1981-82 and helped created the club as a non profit organization with the help of Accounting professor Mr Campbell and created the first scholarship fund to helped students pay for their book with the help of my Finance professor Mr De la Rosa back in 1980.  Both with the help of our councilor professor Mr Knabe.  These pictures are some of the souvenirs of this period;

Daytona Beach Daytona Beach

I, even kept some photos from class trips this one visiting the Hartfield Atlanta International Airport on a thrill bus ride and fun antics in the Days Inn hotel we stayed, location forgotten but the actions did not ::) The planes are Lockheed 1011 from Delta!

Daytona Beach Daytona Beach

Some more facts: Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University is ranked by  U.S. News & World Report magazine in several categories for 2017:

Regional Universities South – Tie – 12th;  Best Colleges for Veterans – 8th; Best Engineering Programs (At schools whose highest degree is a doctorate) – Tie – 84th;   Best Graduate Engineering Schools – Tie – 104th;   Aerospace/Aeronautical/Astronautical (At schools whose highest degree is a doctorate) – Tie – 16th;  Best Online Bachelor’s Programs – 1st;   Best Online MBA Programs – Tie – 100th;
Best Online Graduate Business Programs (Excluding MBA) – Tie – 55th

Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University is also ranked by Forbes’ List of America’s Top Colleges for 2016:

Top Colleges: 480;  Private Colleges: 319;  Grateful Grads: 381;  Forbes Financial Grade: B
America’s Best Value Colleges: 280

See the link info by the US News magazine here: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/embry-riddle-1479

And Forbes’s both campuses here: https://www.forbes.com/colleges/embry-riddle-aeronautical-university-daytona-beach/

https://www.forbes.com/colleges/embry-riddle-aeronautical-university-prescott/

The main webpage for ERAU here: https://erau.edu/

The ERAU bookstore online: https://www.bkstr.com/embryriddleaeronauticalstore/home

The ERAU lift magazine publication here: https://lift.erau.edu/

Still call the Avion campus newspaper here:  http://theavion.com/

And last but not least the story of the school via youtube video here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gB4Ke5FrHU

Back in August, 2009, I visited Florida with the family and did pay a visit to ERAU as to show my boys the thrill of college non existent in France. We got a nice ride from the Alumni office to all of us, memories of young at heart.

Daytona Beach

Enjoy it the memories you have, they will follow you all over and the friendships made will stay with you forever. Happy Sunday, Cheers!

 

 

January 28, 2018

Some news from Spain LX

Well on a cool Sunday  night and already thinking of another work week, my thoughts goes to Spain. My beloved Spain is kicking high on tourism this year ,record breaking year in 2017 and this one starts ok.  In Madrid tonite is 54F or about 12C very cloudy feeling colder with the rest of the week better with more sunshine and no rain.

Some news on my Spain:

A nice town and region known as the city of the three lies because no saint no valley and no sea on the name but is Santillana del Mar (ok Spanish joke maybe lost in translation) , it is very photogenics and ydillic population located only about 30 km from Santander.  The town was called Santa Juliana and became Santillana.  The king Alfonso VIII gave it city status in 1209. The main streets for walks and sightseeing are the Calle de Carrera, Calle Cantón or Calle del Río (they are all the same road but on each section are name different !). The main square is Plaza Pelayo at the center of town  with a triangular shape. Nearby at only 2 km are the famous caves or  Cuevas de Altamira, and inside there is the museum and center of investigations of or Museo Nacional y Centro de Investigación de Altamira. At this moment you can only go in five persons groups per week during 37 minutes for protection. However, you can visit the nearby it’s replica the  Neocueva , and the sixtine chapel of rural art in the museum or Museo de Altamira,a few meters from the original cave. More here: http://www.mecd.gob.es/mnaltamira/home.html;jsessionid=BD794FF3EF2116D36D86F675AD646181

The whole area town can be check in English here: https://www.santillana-del-mar.com/english/altamira.htm

Moving right alone, the Aller Mountains is a gorgeous spot in the Cantabrian mountain range; here you have wonderful ski resorts such as the one at Fuentes de Invierno in Valgrande-Pajares in Asturias.  The snow allowed the third oldest ski station in Spain to open 40 days before than last year with 30,9 km with four new trails The one in  Valgrande has a trail  skimo,  while  Fuentes de Invierno  is known for its trails.  Here it has  8,7 km of trails maybe small station but well supplied and the challenge of skiing on the sides and hills around it. You can reach this heaven in a bit over an hour from Oviedo o go with the train AVE from Leon,  those coming from Madrid can be here by car in about 3,5 hours.  More on my skinfo source site here: https://www.onthesnow.com/cordillera-cantabrica/valgrande-pajares/ski-resort.html

https://www.onthesnow.com/cordillera-cantabrica/fuentes-de-invierno/ski-resort.html

and the Valgrande station in Spanish here: http://www.valgrande-pajares.com/

The Fuente de Invierno in Spanish here: http://www.fuentesdeinvierno.com/

Ski stores in Madrid abound , over the years and I tried my at Navacerrada when I was 10 and boy did I tumble down like a yo yo; oh well; my sons have done better ::)

The one that over two decades have supply Madrid with more than 700 m2 of space divided in three floors with all you need is Ski Market . It does not rentals but has a repair shop. The owner is a former Champion of Spain  Luis Ruiz Muradas,  Calle  Mónaco, 47. (P.I. Európolis, Las Rozas).tel +34 91 626 61 51.  Best by car as public transport takes over an hours on metro line 3 and then bus 661 dir San Lorenzo de El Escorial; More here: http://skimarket.es/

Others pretty good ones, and recommended by folks who does skiing in Spain a lot including my cousins are Tornal Moya est 1985 offering all lines of ski and all types including snowboard. Located at Ronda de Valencia , 8 , Metro: Embajadores line 3 and cercanias C5. Tel +34 91 527 54 40. More here: http://www.tornalmoya.com/

And one with other sports in it as well is Deportes Alaska with over 25 years offering all the lines for ski you need in all disciplines. You have brands here like ATomic, Polaroid, Descente, Fischer, and Mammot etc. They offered rental service for a complete set,and a small shop for repairs etc all in one shop. Corner of the very popular neighborhood Prosperidad at Calle Cartagena 174, metro Cruz del Rayo line 9/Prosperidad line 4, and tel +34 91 561 16 33. More here: http://www.deportesalaska.com/

Something to fill that empty stomach on a winter day in Madrid, the wonderful dish cocido Madrileño. Where to have it best! My opinion of course.

La Cruzada at Calle Amnistía, 8. In what was the oldest tavern in Madrid founded in 1827 and with the same name you now have this restaurant with the same old good cooking philosophy. Offering a real cocido Madrileño  in three dishes for a price of about 30 €. More here: http://tabernalacruzada.es/cocido-la-cruzada

 La Bola  at Calle Bola, 5 my all time place in Madrid for a real  cocido Madrileño  and of course reservations are a must.  A family tradition and doing it with individual vases of terracotta and slow fire on wood with three dishes for about 30€. More here: http://labola.es/carta/

And why not paired with a wonderful Castilian wine from Marqués de Griñón Graciano  ,Dominio de Valdepusa, Castilla La Mancha of 2012 Tinto/red,  with the grape Graciano , to drink now to 2021 . A very dense black wine with a toasted oaky and vegetal flavors later it comes out with the blueberries and prunes to have in your mouth with warmst maturity all delicious. This is a prefered property for my wines from Spain.  Just out at the property they still show the 2010! More here: http://www.pagosdefamilia.es/html_en/vinos_graciano.html

However, at my favorite El Corte Inglés you can find the 2012  at 24,50€  in Spanish: https://www.elcorteingles.es/club-del-gourmet/A13408372-vino-tinto-marques-de-grinon-graciano-dominio-de-valdepusa/

Estampa has reached agreement to showcase contemporary arts in Spain for 2018. At the Feria de Madrid, on October 18 and 21 . This is again a primer, the webpage only show the 2017 event at Matadero de Madrid. The Estampa webpage is to follow for this artful event here: http://www.estampa.org/index.php/estampa-2015/la-feria/

And the Feria de Madrid or IFEMA ,how to get there; http://www.ifema.es/Institucional_06/informacion_general/como_llegar/index.htm

A historical fact now to be told. the memory of the basque Blas de Lezo who at Cartagena de Indias, Colombia defended the Spanish main against the biggest naval fleet ever assembled from England in 1741, and kept the whole continent for Spain. He was ordered to return to Spain by King Felipe V but he refused staying at Cartagena until his death in September 7, 1741. The Fundacion Blas de Lezo has prepared an exposition to tell of this marine in various parts of Spain. call the “Blas de Lezo y la Guerra del Asiento” showing with 400 miniatures the English assault on the castle or Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Shown at Casa de las America, plaz de Cibeles Madrid; more in Spanish here: http://www.acblasdelezo.es/

Something I have always known: “La Nación más fuerte del mundo es sin duda España. Siempre ha intentado autodestruirse, y nunca lo ha conseguido.” El día que dejen de intentarlo, Volverán a ser la vanguardia del mundo. ….cosa que a muchos no interesa. by Otto Von Bismark (simply translated it means the strongest nation on earth is without doubt Spain; always tried to auto destruct herself and never have been able to do it. The day that it stop trying will return to be the vanguard of the world something that many show no interest. Otto Von Bismark chancellor of Germany) .

And another historical fact I like. In the spring of 1877 at the Plaza de la Barceloneta, Barcelona was surprise to assist for the first time a bullfight from Madrid and observed that no music was played unless the matador pin pole flags on the bull banderillas or a cape movement something close that was done by Lagartijo el Grande.  It was here in Barcelona on May 13 1877 where for the first time music was played on a show by Lagartijo. He left the plazas on May 21 1893 with six bulls of Duke of Veragua. All written on the book ” Toros en Barcelona” by Rafael Lopez Chacon. And the story on the Spanish newspaper ABC here: http://www.abc.es/cultura/toros/abci-barceloneta-primera-plaza-toros-sono-musica-201801250155_noticia.html

And with that I leave my Spain for this Sunday. Wishing you a happy week ahead and happy travels. I will be back soon. Cheers!

 

 

 

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