Posts tagged ‘Spain’

November 27, 2020

Valencia from the El Cid to now!!!

The black and white revise posts continue in my quest to provide in my blog up to date information on all my travels; a big task but easy does it. Hope you are enjoying them and thank you for reading.  This time I bring you to Valencia , Spain in August of 2016.

It has been visited in my early teen when family were still in the area, and now many many years later came back to Valencia. It is a major city of Spain and many many things to see which our time could not possibly allowed for all. Nevertheless, well planned I think we hit the main areas that needed  to be visited and might encourage others to do the same; we will be back. And we did years later…

We came in by car on the A3 expressway  passing the viaduc de Buñol,  and getting by the Torres de Quarts and the Puente de las Artes straight to our underground parking garage as planned, this was the parking empart Colon at Carrer del Comte Salvatierra de Alava, 24 underneath the great Mercado Colon. Wonderful choice walk all over from here. New webpage here: https://www.parking.ai/es/valencia/detail-aparcamiento-mercado-de-colon-empark-m-c46519-ppd/

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Therefore, the first thing we saw was the Mercado Colon.  Created as the market of the area of Ensanche and beautifully restored. It is a magical place with plenty of food stalls, and supermarket especialising in meats, seafood, cheeses, wines etc on the below ground floor and restos on the ground floor, way below is the parking. More here: https://mercadocolon.es/en/

And more from the tourist office on Mercado Colonhttps://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/colon-market

From there, we move on by foot to visit as much as the main sights as possible.  Walking is always better than public transport for us;once we parked our car. They were many and we did pretty well and seeing them, we came back years later to see more, see the pictures in their posts.

Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados or Our Lady of the Foresaken; the city patron Saint as well as the Community of Valencia. This is a must  ,gorgeous in and out. More here: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/basilica-virgen-desamparados-basilica-our-lady-forsaken

We reach the Cathedral or Catedral Santa Maria, very nice but a long line so we skip the interior this year. More here; https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/catedral-valencia-cathedral

We went by the Church San Juan de la Cruz, nice architecture of Baroque style ,indeed. Before it was the parroquial Church of San Andrés…More here from the city of Valencia: http://www.valencia.es/ayuntamiento/infociudad_accesible.nsf/vListadoCategoriasWeb/AC7B33289E52608DC12572C200225556?OpenDocument&bdOrigen=&idapoyo=&nivel=15&lang=1

We went to the Church San Martin, there since the Christian conquest of 1238. More here: http://www.valencia.es/ayuntamiento/Infociudad_accesible.nsf/vDocumentosWebListado/813ACEAB7DA3A602C12572C20023FD5D?OpenDocument&bdOrigen=&idapoyo=&nivel=15&lang=1

We passed by the Church Saint Nicolas y San Pedro, a nice Church with lots of history. More here: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/iglesia-san-nicolas-bari-san-pedro-martir-valencia

We took a peek at the Church Santa Caterina and tower right around the Plaza de la Reina. The tower is impressive. More info here: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/santa-catalina-church-and-tower

Again more history and architecture in the Church of San Juan del Hospital, claiming to be the oldest Church in Valencia. More info. https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/san-juan-hospital-church

The Parrish Church San Tomàs Apostol and San Felipe Neri, borrowing the baroque from Rome, nice architecture . More here: http://www.valencia.es/ayuntamiento/Infociudad_accesible.nsf/vDocumentosWebListado/78A24FEADED6C803C12572C20023FD62?OpenDocument&bdOrigen=&idapoyo=&nivel=15&lang=1

Government buildings are dull except the city halls of Europe that can be rich and ornamental sometimes former palaces and manor houses; this is no exception in Valencia where on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (city hall square) you have a beautiful city hall building before you.  More info: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/city-hall

There is a great statue here of Francesc de Vinatea a great heroe of the region opposing the feudal ideas of the king and serve as First Juror . One of his famous phrases and slogans of the time is this one “cada uno de nos somos tanto como vos, pero todos juntos mucho más que vos.” It reads something like ,Each of us is as much as you, but all together are more than you. Democracy rings! but this was in around 1300!

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This is supposed to be the biggest attraction in Valencia, the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or the arts and sciences city actually just outside city center ;not really big on huge complex trying to be all in one , we skip it. However, it is here for content, and more information: https://www.cac.es/en/home.html

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We, also, took a look at another novelty the train station, we are road warriors so the train is only when must on business trips. The estacion del Norte is very nice architecturally thus and it could be visited. Locals call it Estaçio Nord. More info: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/norte-railway-station

And we arrive at the Mercado Central, now this is us, love it, vibrant live, great ambiance and great food and drinks… the center of it. The gorgeous hams was a tentation as well as the great wines to take back to the house. This is a must and for us just enough to be back.  The construction is marvelous and it was already pack with locals and visitors alike. More here: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/central-market

The El Colegio del Patriarca San Juan de Ribera , but just call it the Patriarch. A gorgeous monument showcasing the work of Father Juan de Ribera (Saint).  It is a vast building, we took a peek inside and it is gorgeous. Worth coming back for a detail look. More here: https://patriarcavalencia.es/?lang=en

Another that needed more time was the Museo Nacional de Ceràmica y Artes Suntuarias “Gonzalez Martî” -Palacio Marqués de Dos Aguas. or simply the Ceramics and arts museum. A gorgeous baroque building richly decorated with what it shows. More here: http://www.culturaydeporte.gob.es/mnceramica/en/home.html

There is a Plaza de Toros or  bullfight arena here, and rather dull round brick building. It is next to the Estacio Nord train station. More here: https://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-do-valencia/valencian-culture/monuments-in-valencia/bullring

And we headed for the beaches, passing by the Puerta de la Mar arch. The weather by now was cloudy a bit of fine rain so not much action but the beach is long and wide, rather nice. We moved the car and park at the Paseo Neptuno parking garage, and then walk up and down the beaches of Arenal and Cabanyal, and continues into Malvarossa. The paseo maritimo walkway is rather nice with shops and restos and of course hôtels. Plenty of activities in sandy wide beach, something to think about next time with more time.  There is a nice statue mémorial to Antonio Ferrandis a great Valencian actor.

And we came back one more time to home base in the Serrania de Cuenca. Before moving the car from the parking at Mercado Colon we had lunch at Pantalan 5 in the ground floor of the market, nice cold beers and sandwiches of chorizo and potatoes, croquettes of ham and cheese and other goodies for about 8€ per person. Nice simple and grand style lunch in a beautiful place. The Facebook page works better today! https://www.facebook.com/pantalan5/

The Valencia tourist officehttps://www.visitvalencia.com/en

The city of Valencia with monuments link: http://www.valencia.es/ayuntamiento/infociudad_accesible.nsf/vListadoCategoriasWeb/AC7B33289E52608DC12572C200225556?OpenDocument&bdOrigen=&idapoyo=&nivel=15&lang=1

The Community of Valencia region on Valencia: https://www.comunitatvalenciana.com/en/valencia/valencia

There you go you are now all updated and all set to see the best of Valencia me think, and do see the individual posts on these monuments. Hope it helps!

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

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November 26, 2020

La Granja de San Ildefonso, Versailles in Spain!!!

And I continue my journey of black and white posts revising, updating and giving you the current links of the things and towns we traveled in the past This one was from our family trip to Spain in August 2016 to the royal town of La Granja de San Ildefonso!

On our way back from Segovia we came up the mountain of Navacerrada to see La Granja de San Ildefonso and its Palace. I have to say ,never been here, even if heard all about for it yeeears even from the time of living in Madrid, and coming down to Madrid several times a year. Been with the family and already at Segovia , I said ,this is the closest I will ever be so let’s give a visit. It is about 11 km from Segovia.

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We arrive on time, but the palace was getting some facelift, and we did not go in , and believe or not ; I was not impressed. Maybe so used to the best castles/palaces in Europe , especially France and Spain, seen this one was a bit letdown. Nevertheless , the gardens are gorgeous and a brief visit while from Segovia will be good.  We were able to find parking just outside the property gates around the corner restaurant.  The we set out to walk inside. We saw the palace and the rénovations and proceeded to the gardens.

King Felipe V (who is the Grandson of King Louis XIV of France and was born at Versailles–1683) acquired the land and building of the Jeronimos in 1721. He wanted to re create the splendeur and ambiance of his native Versailles but really felled short.  Construction continues into the reign of king Carlos III.

The garden are the best part of it and are surrounded by several fountains with the best looking one the one call Fuente de Neptuno. The gardens have more than 12,000 trees in-line, 70,000 trees in total , and 30 km of lawn with 26 fountains It has a total area of 146 hectares and a high wall of 6 km around the encercle garden. The highest point is at the Ultimo Pino at 1325 meters high and the lowest point is at the Puerta del Vivero.

la granja de san ildefonso fountain gardens aug16

la granja de san ildefonso garden big fountain aug16

The work on the Palace of San Ildefonso, continues from 1725  to 1732,and the Patio de Coches (carriages) is built where today visitors entered the palace.  Next to the palace you see the Real Colegiata de la Santisima Trinidad Church where the tomb of Felipe V and his wife Isabel de Farnesio are laid.

Spanish history here is a bit intro: At this palace was the summer residence of the Bourbon kings and held the wedding of Carlos IV with Maria Luisa de Parma, the signing of the Treaty of San Ildefonso between Spain and France, the sargeants in the revolt obliges Maria Cristina de Nàpoles of proclaimed the Constitution of 1812.  Here too , was a place for receptions of embassies, births and baptism amongt them those of the Infanta Isabel (la Chata) and Don Juan (father of former King Juan Carlos I of Spain) Grandfather of the current one Felipe VI.

The tourist office of  Madrid on La Granja de San Ildefonso: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/granja-san-ildefonso

National Heritage of Spain on La Granja de San Ildefonso: https://www.patrimonionacional.es/en/visita/royal-palace-la-granja-de-san-ildefonso

The tourist office of the Royal sites of Spain on the La Granja de San Ildefonso: https://www.turismorealsitiodesanildefonso.com/punto-de-interes/palacio-real-de-la-granja-de-san-ildefonso/

Yes , is a nice high mountain range, very regal but the palace is smallish even thus it was thought of as a little Versailles. Don’t they all try to match!!! Anyway for the architecture and especially the historical value it is worth the detour. Hope you enjoy it

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

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November 26, 2020

Torrejon de Ardoz, Huete, Ségobriga,and Belmonte!!!

These I bunch in together the first time passing by with the family on our road warrior trips. I have newer posts in my blog with plenty of more pictures. This is updating the post from August 2016. Hope you get to see these real Spain towns of mine. Enjoy it

For reference, Torrejon de Ardoz is in the Comunidad de Madrid region and Huete, Ségobriga, and Belmonte are in the Castilla La Mancha region.

To continue our story with our beloved Spain , we went by our own car on the roads of Castile=Castilla. We went to Torrejon de Ardoz to revisit some shopping center and then down to Huete to visit a cheese factory and further down to Ségobriga archeological site (Roman times)  and onwards to Belmonte to visit a castle. I am a road warrior, I am telling you ::)

We went straight to Torrejon de Ardoz on the A40/A3/M50/CM420 right into our old ave de la constitucion to see the old town where I used to come as a young teen ,and took my boys when very Young to shop at the Toys ‘R Us store in the shopping center parque Corredor. Well we came back with them much older and it was a nice memorable trip. Of course,this time we did not stop at Toys’R Us but it was a chance for them to now pay their own and buy us some drinks lol!!! The shopping center is loaded with stores (about 180 of them) and restaurants and a good stopping point out of Madrid as well to shop better prices. webpage: http://www.parque-corredor.com/

And to go to Parque Corredor, you don’t need a car if coming from Madrid, as from Avenida America bus depot you can take bus 251/252 (we used to take the 224A)   to Torrejon de Ardoz and there take the bus to the shopping center Parque Corredor on bus 4 as we did once.

Going down to Huete and the manchego cheese factory we got in on time for the cucumber festival! There was a pepino de Huete festival on August 9th, and we had a blast with the cucumber tasting and local white wines, on a market ambiance festive. We had time to wandered the streets of Huete and see its arquitecture richness for a small town, very good. The Antiguo monasterio de Santo Domingo de Guzmán founded in 1620.

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The Casa Palacio de los Condes de Garcinarro; built mid 15C, here stayed the King Felipe III in 1604. There is a nice Torre del reloj build on the old city hall and done in 1795 ,right alongside the wall encircling the old town of Huete.

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In Ségobriga , (Salieces) they have found practically a city of Roman times fully excavated that is quite large, the information desk told us about 1H30 so in the scorching sun of about 35C we decided it was too much to do, we will come back in better walking weather but the site is a must.  It is known as the Parque Archeologico de Segobriga. We just stopped by to see the détails and gather information.We did came the following year ,see post.

We finally set route for Belmonte one of the best preserve castles in the region of Castilla La Mancha South of Madrid.  There is always something going on here even of medieval looks, and it is wonderful a must to visit. We did not have time to see it all but is on our agenda to come back for more here. And again we did , see post.

The Castle of Belmonte, built in the later part of the 15C by the Marquis of Villena who did a lot building around the region and has inprints in some of the town we visited in Castilla La Mancha region. The castle was abandoned and in ruins for many centuries and later served as a monastery ,the a prison, and finally restored again and open to the public in 2010. Interesting for me and maybe many here is that this castle came by heritage to a member of the house of Villena, Eugenia de Guzman, better known as the Empress  Eugenia de Montijo (imperatrice Eugénie of the French wife of emperor Napoleon III) she spent money restoring it until her end from power in 1870. The castle passed to her descendants the Casa Ducal de Peñaranda – Montijo, consisting of the Duque de Peñaranda (and Conde de Montijo), and his  3 brothers in direct line who are still the owners. History here some facts recall the many battles to conquer the Castilian crown, Royal Lodge to the Catholic Monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella,(Fernando y Isabel I) or the birth of the renaissance poet Fray Luis de Leon.  It has also been the setting of the film “El Cid“ with Charlton Heston and Sofia Loren as main characters. Wonderful indeed the photos of from the exterior and you can see the windmills written and spoken in so many works from the time of Don Quijote de la Mancha.!!!

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After a long hot day on the road we headed back to our home base in the Serrania de Cuenca at 1400 meters cool mountain air. Ready to plan our next traiblazing outing in Spain.

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

The tourist office of Huetehttps://www.turismohuete.com/

The tourist office of Ségobrigahttp://www.segobriga.org/inicio.html

The City tourist office of Belmontehttps://www.belmonte.es/turismo/

Now you have a quick overlook of these wonderful towns and will invite you to see my newer posts on them for detail on things to see. Hope you have enjoy my memories of Spain.

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

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November 26, 2020

Alcalà de Henares, Cervantes was born here!

This is getting fun, love these posts of mine, bringing back beautiful memories of family travels in my beloved Spain! I like to take you now to Alcalà de Henares back in August 2016. Hope you enjoy it as I do writing it

And we arrive at the wonderful historical beautiful and educational Alcalà de Henares in the Community of Madrid. We arrive straight from our house in the mountains at Serrania de Cuenca, on the A40 then A3 towards Madrid where we took the M50 and A2 Zaragoza until the M300 and arriving at our parking in plaza de San Lucas underground and nice easy walk to all over the city.

From Via Complutense we set out on foot to see the city. You have wonderful Arch of San Bernardo and into the parque O’Donnell park , and right into Plaza de Cervantes. Here you have the wonderful music kiosk and the statue to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra the Creator of Don Quijote ,the utmost story of the Spanish language and a native of the city (b.1547 d.1616).

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Right around it is Calle Mayor and we went looking frantically for his House Museum Cervantes at no. 48 ,opened to the public since 1956. You come in for free!!! and right into the courtyard or patio.  You take the walk tour into the surgery room, from his father’s trade; then the dining room, kitchen, ladies’ drawing room, a puppet show of the novel Don Quijote, his bedroom, bathroom private parlour, children room,and exhibition hall. More info here: http://www.museocasanataldecervantes.org/information/

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Then, we headed for the Cathedral or Catedral Magistral de los Santos Justo y Pastor, children martyrs of the faith. This was a great Church and wonderful belltower that you climb 140 steps right from the spot where the children Justo and Pastor were massacred and became Saint Justus and Saint Pastor. It offers a spectacular view of the city after climbing the helicoidal staircase.  You will see wonderful chapels and the tomb of Cardinal Cisneros that together with Queen Isabel I the Catholic were instrumental in Columbus discovery of new lands in America.  The cloister also has a nice collection of statues and stones found in the area. More info here: http://www.visitascatedraldealcala.org/

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You will do well to visit the Church Santa Maria la Mayor ,this one has a wonderful belltower overlooking the plaza de Cervantes and  inside has spectacular altar to the Virgin as well as a beautiful Chapel.  You see wonderful architecture such as the City Hall (Palacio Consistorial b.1870), and the Convento de las Clarisas de San Diego.  The great University of Alcalà de Henares ,the University: founded in 1499 by Cardinal Cisneros.

Coming out from the Cathedral I saw this quant Church and decided to take a closer look, the Ermita de Santa Lucia: This is a barroque Hermitage from the 17C that has its origins in a medieval Church from the 12C where the city Council convene to discussed business. In 1515,on this site Cardenal Cisneros called for the concordat of Santa Lucia to resolve conflicts between the nobility and the people. Inside there is a chapel that welcomes all the Polish immigrants to the city and the thriving community today.

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By Calle Mayor, you have the Hospital de Antezana, in the old Jewish quarters. This hospital is one of the oldest in Europe and continues to functions for the elderly. Here San Ignacio de Loyola, founder of the Jesuits and maybe too, Rodrigo, father of Miguel de Cervantes. Previously it was called the Hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia, founded in 1483 by Luis de Antezana; and the new one took his name.

Right around the Plaza Cervantes, do not missed the free admission the Interpration Centre, The Universes of Cervantes (previously the building was the hermitage San Juan de los Caballeros where the nobility were buried and those in prison paid their penalties as well as a burial for the cavalery.  This is now an eye opener into the life and times of Cervantes where you can even see the baptismal vase where he was baptised on the wishes of his father Rodrigo and mother Leonor.

The Monasterio de San Bernardo and the Palacio Episcopal are two other great architecture buildings to see while walking in this area. These we just passed by taking a picture and move on. Another we did came in and it’s a must is the Museo Archeologico Regional (archeological museum) ,also, free admission.  It is house in the old convent of the dominicans Mother of God (convento de frailes dominicos de la Madre de Dios) built in 1565. It is opened since 1999 and the permanent collection opened in 2003. You have nine themes from the entrance garden of antiquities to the patio of glass (patio de los cristales) to areas of knowing and not inventing, Madrid and the Courts, medieval Madrid, hispano roman history, agriculture, early towns, before humanity and another section on temp exhibition call the Los Escipiones: Rome conquest Hispania. (Scipios). Many artifacts and statues, stones, drawings Tools of the time of the Romans in Spain. Again, this is a must visit.

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Oh yes , we did eat of course lol!  We left the mornings with breakfast at home and come back in the evenings for dinner at home, the way to go with large families, and for lunch we eat out local, nothing touristic, so we headed for one right smack in tourist lane yet it was great!!! Go figure it/ The resto tapas bar La Gitana Loca is just across from the Cathedral. An umpretentious place that look more like a bar than a restaurant but the service was very friendly and the food sublime and cheap, tapas for one euro and beer for 50 centimes attack attack, (last was at 70 cents!!) and we came out for about 7 euros per person full bellies and delicious Spanish fares. See the picture for the glorious menu. Well it seems the branch in Alcalà de Henares is no longer but the chain webpage is here for the memories: https://www.lagitanaloca.es/

And yes at the end of the day it was time to head back home and quickly get on the A3 then A40 flowlessly back to Cuenca , always little or no traffic at all especially on the A40. We arrive home late time for the Mahou cinco estrellas cold beer and ibericos, manchegos and chorizos and listening to our neighbors heavy metal music practice, yes a band lol! Our boys were in heaven, and I am dead lol!!!

The tourist office of Alcalà de Henareshttps://www.turismoalcala.es/

Again hope you enjoy the ride into wonderful Alcalà de Henares!! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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November 25, 2020

Chinchon, Colmenar de Oreja, and Villarejo de Salvanés, Comunidad de Madrid!

So this is a fun update as these are nice memorable towns in my road warrior ways in my beloved Spain. I am updating them with revised text and not repeated pictures. I have posted individually on the monuments.

I like to take you to the quant towns of Chinchon, Colmenar de Oreja, and Villarejo de Salvanés! All in the Comunidad de Madrid region.

And so we took off on a little tour of my beloved Spain, we took a day and made it long sort of. We move on by car on the road M305 to Chinchon , another wonderful old town. We followed up with Colmenar de Oreja and then Villarejo de Salvanés before getting back on the A3 /A40 back to home base.

Chinchon is a nice town famous for its wonderful anisette base liquor and its great Plaza Mayor square.  Here at the plaza mayor the first houses were built in the 15C and the square is used for many things not least the bullfight arena!

The Church Nuestra Señora de la Asunción was built in 1534 and finished in 1626; and the great belltower without a Church of the old Church of Nuestra Señora de Gracia, built in the 15C as well, now only see a clocktower or Torre del Reloj  over the plaza mayor.

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The castle of the Counts built in the 16C or Castillo de los Condes; its last used was a liquor factory, and now it is just there holding fairs and temporary events.  Entering town you see the Convento de las Clarisas built in 1653.

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We continue our journey on the M311 road , after doing some excellent foot work on the streets of Chinchon to reach our next town on the trailblazing sun of Spain; this town was Colmenar de Oreja.

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We quickly gather around the Plaza Mayor that has an overhanging house to get to on one side and opens up on the other side encircling a bulls arena as well. The  Plaza Mayor (Major Square), built on a cliff between 1676 and 1794, and we walk around the Church of Santa María la Mayor.

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I wanted to visit one more town before heading back home for the day, we are fast ::)  We continue the journey on the road M311 crossing over our expressway A3 to reach Villarejo de Salvanés.  I have read it has a nice tower and indeed it is. There you will see the wonderful  Torre del Homenaje  a part of the old Castle of Villarejo de Salvanés.  By here , passed the old road of Toledo as well as the Senda Galiana (Roman road that linked Galia (France) and Hispania (Spain) used during the Middle Ages.

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The wonderful Church of San Andrés the Apostle sit facing direct to the tower and castle ruins on a nice square or Plaza del Castillo.

A wonderful entry into the real Spain away from the crowds in a peaceful surrounding, at Villarejo we spoked with locals waiting for their bus which connects to the city of Madrid, got to know the bus routes and the Mercadona supermarket , my dear late wife Martine love it!!!

It was time to head back to our mountain retrieve in the Serrania de Cuenca along the A3 and then the A40. Enjoy it as much as we did. Spain is everything under the Sun, a slogan of the tourist office from the movida years of the 80’s and still holding true.

The Comunidad de Madrid tourist office on Chinchonhttp://turismomadrid.es/en/discover/chinchon/11294-chinchon.html

The Comunidad de Madrid tourist office on Colmenar de Orejahttps://turismomadrid.es/en/discover/colmenar-de-oreja/202-colmenar-de-oreja.html

The Comunidad de Madrid tourist office on Villarejo de Salvanéshttps://turismomadrid.es/en/discover/las-vegas-region/7368-villarejo-de-salvanes-1.html

You have a dandy trio to visit, you can hit all 3 in one day and eat out if get up early but all worth it. If need to pick one to stay longer would be Chinchon. Enjoy the region around the capital city of Madrid!!

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

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November 25, 2020

Aranjuez is more than a concerto !

So by now it has become a regular series of mine to look at my blog and go over old posts to update links, revise the text, and insert the pertinent pictures. It has been a wonderful route for me and I hope it has help my readers to get up to date information for a future travel plan.

I like to bring up to date my passage with my family to the city of Aranjuez in the comunidad de Madrid region last August 2016. Enjoy it!

And we came to the wonderful city of Aranjuez, a princely town made very famous by all Spaniards for the concerto created by Joaquin Rodrigo on an old story of love between a prince and princesse, hear it, sublime music of Aranjuez. My dear late mother Gladys made me come into it when a boy and it has always stay with me up to today.

We follow by car the A40 from Cuenca all the way to Aranjuez that is  just south of Madrid and closer to Toledo.

We came right into the the Church Chapel of San Antonio after passing the arches that hold the Church together on each side. This is right next to the Royal palace or Palacio Real. Here we took the chiquitren or litle train ride all over town for about 50 minutes; which we usually do not take but were in nostalgia land to take a quick trip around the city to start.

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We did thereafter, our usual walking around town soaking in the local life after the litle train ride into Calle Principe where we found free parking, and Calle Postas right by the Mercado del Abasto or food covered market.

The Calle Postas takes you right into the Plaza de Toros on your left at corner with calle Mirasierra. Its not a major arena so we just walk around it. We headed back walking to see the garden or Jardin de Isabel II and a nice statue of the Queen.

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The Palacio Real we did not go in as already seen lots of palaces including this one before, but for first timers is a must. We rather had some granizados crushed ice with flavored drinks for the heat and continue walking into the jardin del Principe and Parterre of the castle behind it. This is pristine beautiful natural area with lots of statues and fountains.

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The highlight for us is the local food and off tourist trails we headed for one closer to the plaza de Toros, the De Cañas en Fedario, at Calle Postas ,68. This was great menu for 7,50€ included a first plate of Arroz con Tres Delicias, Gazpacho, ensaladilla Rusa, and then second plate of chicken breasts, roasted pig a la plancha, or hake fish rounds in spices, all with french fries, dessert we had arroz con leche and flan, beers of mahou very cold , a great deal indeed. I cannot confirm if they are still open so check.

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While in town you notice a nice looking Church on end of calle Principe, this the Church of Alpajes (also known as the Señora de Angustias) and see the wonderful fountain of Apolo at Plaza de la Mariblanca right in front of the Palace.

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It was a quick visit that we combine with our next town, and of course we were back eventually . In the meantime, enjoy Aranjuez and its concerto !

The city of Aranjuez on tourist info in Spanish: https://www.aranjuez.es/turismo/

This is a private initiative with tourist information and can be seen in several languages, I find it very good: https://www.aranjuez.com/

And there you go folks, a quick introduction to a nice princely city of Spain, Aranjuez. Hope you get the taste and see my other posts on it, worth the detour.

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

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November 25, 2020

The mythical beautiful Toledo!

And I continue my hard head way to update revise and show new photos of older posts in my blog. A loving work and time well spend me think. Hope you are following along and I thank you.

This time will do the mythical city of Toledo in Castilla La Mancha! A city I came way back many years as had family living outside now they have passed away. I did took my family there for a family reunion and later to visit the mythical city of Toledo.

For those on public transports the train station is very nice and just on the outskirts of town with great bus service inward. We did try the bus no 61 to get us from the back of the Church of Santiago del Arrabal (puerta bisagra stop) back to the Plaza Zocodover after an exhaustive day of walking , the ride was nice.

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And I made it back to Toledo this time with the family and it was one of our best expériences from our trip to Spain. Believe or not , I have come here often on my rounds by Madrid , but this time came with the wife and kids!  Toledo is magical but been to many places and little time for it, this time with the family finally made it back and it was very special.

We came by car on the N400 after going most of the way on the A40 from the mountains north of Cuenca. The drive was easy with little or no traffic ,and the parking was easy to find and plenty of spaces available in the Corralillo de San Miguel just next to the Alcazar.

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Of course, the first building was the Alcazar and the museo del Ejercito or army museum.  We are not into muséums preferred the street walks and soaking in the local flavors of the gastronomy and shopping.  However, this is a must for museum goers. More on the museum in Spanish: https://turismo.toledo.es/museo-monumento-expo/museo-del-ejercito/

We quickly moved to wonderful Plaza del Zocodover, full of life and great eateries and shopping, we loaded up on Swords and pennants which the boys soaked up pretty quickly; even a musket pistol! The shop is just across from the entrance to the army museum, the name escapes me as usual on these things duh!

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We ,then, took the calle Comercio full of shops and restos very colorful, we love it came by here many times sometimes in circles so be it ,it is wonderful. I can stay here all day ,you walk. This street takes you on the back of the Catedral Primada. Now, again not into seeing buildings but if not been in it you should see it.  more in Spanish here: https://turismo.toledo.es/museo-monumento-expo/catedral-primada/

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In our walks, we passed by many Churches with lots of history but we just walk by them soaking in the architecture and the sights even of other tourists…. One that was worth it was the Church of del Salvador or Savior built on a mosque and Christian by the 12C. Of interest Queen Juana of Castile was baptised here, been the mother of Carlos V.   The Church of San Idelfonso an original Jesuit Church that took 150 years to built, following the example of  Il Gesú in Rome. Next we came to the Church of San Romàn, located on one of the 12 hills of Toledo! on the foundations of a Roman building, and Inside it has a Visigoth museum or museo de concilios. Another, was the Church of Santiago del Arrabal, considered one of the best example of Mudéjar style architecture in Toledo.

We came into a nice square Plaza de San Vicente where the Circulo del Arte building is located; this is a nice example of old, religious like building used to expose great works of arts in temporary and permanent expositions. More info here in Spanish: http://www.circuloartetoledo.org/circulo/presentacion

The nice  Convento de Santa Isabel de los Reyes, a convent where nuns sells the sweets of the area is quite nice and very inviting to eat even in the heat of 35C. An interesting building was the Posada de la Hermandad or brotherhood created to protect the farmers from bandits even if today is used for exhibitions by the city. The city hall or town hall (Ayuntamiento) is always attractive in many cities and one to look at its architecture, this one in Toledo is no exception.

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A super site just by the puerta de Valmardon is the Mezquita Cristo de la Luz.  The Cristo de la Luz mosque is the most perfect example of islamic art in Spain ,kept almost intact from the time of the Caliphs by around 999.  Another interesting gate is the puerta de Alcantara and the Puerta de Bisagra.

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There is a nice Teatro de Rojas in Toledo not stay overnight to try it but it looks very nice and good alternative for the day activities of anyone. From 1578 a comedy theater to the one now from 1878. More here in Spanish: http://www.teatroderojas.es/es/el-teatro

And of course, we did delves into ice creams and granizados or granitas best can translate, its syrup of different flavors to choose on crushed ice great for the heat of the day. However, for a formal lunch we could not resist the 6,95€ menu from Meson Palacios part of Hostal Palacios on Calle Alfonso XI El Sabio (the sage) no 5 corner with calle Navarro Ledesma. We had first plate arroz a la Cubana, judias blancas con panceta y rabo, croquetas Roquefort, then 2nd plate, bistec a las finas hierbas, hamburguesas con patatas, pollo en pepitoria, also bread, dessert like rice pudding, a glass of beer and coffee tax included all this for 6,95!!! The best bargain in our trip and all deliciously serve with great friendly funny service. A memorable family moment to last. Indeed we came back next year and by now a fond family spot in Spain. Webpage in Spanish: http://www.hostalpalacios.net/Inicio.17.0.html

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On the way back, we stop for more shopping and ice cream at the shopping center or centro comercial Luz del Tajo on the N400 road, follow centro comercial and then luz de tajo ,further there is Fusion shopping plaza but not as good. Something to use as a rest stop as well. The Luz del Tajo webpage: https://www.luzdeltajo.net/

And our first trip to Toledo with the family ended good. Memories for me and especially for the other half as 30 years ago I brought her here searching for a hotel and could not ,all booked, we end up back in Madrid where we found one, driving on the road with no réservations, never again. Toledo is now seen by our sons and we pass on the thirst for more in the future as they like it too !!! Enjoy it,  and may it bring you the thirst to come here too, Toledo is magical, mythical, beautiful.

The tourist office of Toledo: https://turismo.toledo.es/

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

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November 24, 2020

Madrid and my Calle Alcalà!!!

Ok so this one I need to update and revise from 2017. I have been to this city well I used to lived in it. Always memorable for me in fact if in Spain and not passing by it at least , then  I have not been in Spain. Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!!!

And of course, what can I say about the street I lived in and is part of my mind, my heart, my life’s history. A very famous street from songs to movies in Spain! My Calle de Alcalà!

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

My first entry and my first apartment or piso in Madrid was at Calle de Alcalà 331, 2do A , Buzon 67, right as you came up the metro station of Quintana in the line 5 of metro de Madrid! Memories that will never go away even if in those early days of the 1970’s with my Mom Gladys,so poor had no camera no photos to show; it is all in my mind.

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And to go to Elipa to play baseball for the Real Madrid CF organisation!! I would take the bus P13 that after the EMT transport in Madrid was created it became the line 113, still running today! ok so here is the line today! https://www.crtm.es/tu-transporte-publico/autobuses-emt/lineas/6__113___.aspx?origen=2

Lots of walking especially going to the back park of Parque El Calero!  This is a great blog like to give credit as essentially they talked about the old movie houses in Madrid now gone; mine was the cine Aragon (as Alcalà used to be called!) it was almost next to me lol The good of the blog story is that it shows how it looks in 2005 on the last year open and what the spot looks today wow!! Look down the page to cine Aragon ok  Here is the  cinedemadrid blog :  https://cinesdemadrid.blogspot.com/2009/08/los-cines-de-la-carretera-de-aragon.html

I still emotionally remember how my dear late mother Gladys took me to Calzados Victor Calle de Alcalà 278 to buy me my first shoes in Spain! and the immense joy to have my 3 boys going there and buy them shoes as well , really a great feeling would love to repeat this summer.  No webpage just a news journal Diario Abierto site with a write up on it  in Spanish, 90 years in the spot and about 52 now doing shoes. A real family tradition and we are glad to be part of it. https://www.diarioabierto.es/204762/calzados-victor-zapatos-y-muchas-sonrisas

And well will need a book so many places there to remember and enjoy , even the wonderful Docamar in the sublime Plaza Quintana, the best patatas bravas in Madrid since 1963!  Our home away from home and do stop by now when visiting! Webpage: https://docamar.com/

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

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

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

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You continue to see wonderful architecture and beautiful buildings such as the Ministerio de Hacienda or ministry of the Treasury, built in 1796.  And what about the gorgeous Real Academia de Bellas Artes San Fernando! And of course the Casino de  Madrid : Calle Alcalà ,15 just gorgeous!   Across from the Casino you have the building call Banesto and here was installed the first American bank in Spain; it has deco of elephants big ears in the front façade.

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

This is Alcalà, the street that is. My street my spot on another part of the world. Calle Alcalà, 331 where the world seems different and harder to understand from an early teen point of view. I have come many times, lucky call me!

The tourist office of Madridhttps://www.esmadrid.com/en

I feel better, filled to finish this post, thank you for reading it along with me. Madrid is more than just a city. Hope you enjoy the post as I did

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

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November 24, 2020

Madrid ,is more than a word for me!!!

So continuing my updates, refreshing text, and new links I bring you to one that I have many many posts in my blog. This is my wonderful city of Madrid. I will leave you the pictures for the specific posts and will only show here those that I could not find posted elsewhere. Hope you enjoy this wonderful city ,capital of the kingdom of Spain! My Madrid is more than a word for me!!

Well Madrid for me is everything to come back to Spain for it. If you have read my posts/blog you know I used to lived in Madrid and visit several times a year now usually alone. Later came with family on several occasions and show them my love for the city they later claim the same. As our vacation time in Spain began, there is no way I would skip Madrid and even arriving the first thought was to come here and visit again. Madrid I never get tired of visiting, long story going back to my early teen years living there. Lucky enough to visited several times even more than once in the year. This time with the entire family was even more memorable.

We drove from Las Majadas ,province of Cuenca , Castilla La Mancha region on the A40 connecting at Tarancon with the A3 to Madrid and parking on the Atocha train station Saba parking lot. Then, we were all over walking at first, from Atocha to calle Atocha to the Plaza Mayor and onwards to Calle Arenal, Preciados, Carmen and back to Calle Bailén and the Royal Palace and Cathedral of Almudena!!

By Calle Arenal we past the old archives building of Madrid dating from the 17C. The Palacio Real is always wonderful to see even if been there several times, the Cathedral of Almudena is a wonderful monument that was seen again, and onwards along calle Bailén on the other side to the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande.

On Calle Atocha got in finally into the Church parroquia Santa Cruz , a wonderful Church that in the past had been close when passing by , this time it was fully open and wonderful.  I took the kids to my all time favorite since even younger than they, Chocolateria San Ginés, in my youth used to come here after the dance club next door ; Joy Eslava, which at the time was a community dance hall and theater, later becoming a chic discothéque. I past by it too. San Ginés is the famous churros con chocolate racion or the porros a bigger size churro. A must in Madrid!  We did went shopping at El Corte Inglés by calle Preciados 3 and had our lunch in the 7th floor cafeteria ,and later stop by my favorite store, the official Real Madrid store at Calle Carmen off Sol. We did shopping here too and got a nice beer mug ::)

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We came back to the Plaza Mayor a must to visit while in Madrid , always a happening ; see the Plaza del Callao and the famous cinema there, and got around the Teatro Real or royal theater, and the Puerta del Sol square.  We passed by the mercado de la Cebada market and the famous theater La Latina. A visit to the mercado San Miguel is a must and see the beautiful building of the museum of Anthropology and the Ministry of Agriculture. Down to the Puerta de Toledo where we took the C2 bus to get back after a long exhaustive day of walking to all the wonderful Madrid Streets always telling my sons where their Dad had walked before even younger than they! A nice neat family experience.

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We came back next day, but this time we headed to Cibeles and found parking in Recoletos underground garage just next to Plaza de Cibeles, very central and nice. We then as usual set out on foot to see the city.

Of course, when we parked at Recoletos (Paseo de) , we immediately took a look at the Fuente de Cibeles that was undergoing renovation/cleaning and the Palacio de las Cibeles, the old city hall of Madrid and now a great place to see and climb to the top for great views of the city.  At the corner you can see the Casa de America a cultural center sharing the heritage of Spain and the Americas, all in the Plaza de la Cibeles.

Of course, we ate all sorts of ice creams and sodas along the way and water from mini grocery stores, but the nice sit in was near my old neighborhood on a new outfit call Audrey Brunch & Coffee, Calle Alcalà 183.  This is a new place, nice clean and friendly full of locals in non tourist area. We had our chorizo sandwich and fanta lemon here as well as coffees and sweets to load up on the sugar content and survive the 35C weather in the city.

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A bit further walking and you reach my Puerta de Alcalà, the great gate of Madrid and I lived closed to it for four years! And from there, you go in to the fame Parque del Buen Retiro park another must and always a must for me, a wonderful memories of youth and still feeling Young just stepping into the park. ear here, in Calle Alcalà just across from the Retiro park before arriving at the Puerta de Alcalà lies the Church of San Manuel y San Benito where my mom used to take me as a boy. It is still nostalgic to see it and remind if need to of my mother again, always in my mind even if already 13 years of her passing.

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One park that used to be my hangout and so far until now no pictures is the parque Eva Peron off the Plaza Manuel Becerra. There is a Church parroquia de la Covadonga right there too.  There is one by Doctor Esquerdo going towards Plaza Conde de Casal and another one by Menendez Pelayo and Calle del Alcalde Sainz de Baranda across from Retiro park, this is the Cerveceria Cruz Blanca, is another of the typical one in my Madrid away from tourist central. Right diagonally from the brewery restaurant and before crossing the street to Retiro park there is a nice archicturally done Church the Parroquia del Santisimo Sacramento. 

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In no particular order, we had to go see the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium of my lifetime team Real Madrid FC, and had a beer and tapas at the Real Café Bernabeu with wonderful views of the stadium field.

Of course , we walked a lot see Madrid soak up its air, feel the city , once again is beyond words for me. We took the metro this time from the fame  Plaza de España to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. line 10.

We had the opportunity to try the bus network taken bus 21 from Plaza de Toros (Ventas) to Paseo Rosales .This get you a nice overall view of the city and go from the wonderful historical Plaza de Toros very near of my old home to Paseo Rosales and the Teléferico (cable car) and the Temple of Debod Egyptian gift to Spain.

I used to hang around the Plaza de Toros when as an early teen lived here and always a pilgrimage to this cultural and historical mecca of Spain. The teléferico or cable car, my mother used to take me to the Casa de Campo attraction park and the temple de Debod a gift of Egypt to Spain for helping in the flooding of the Aswan Dam. The temple sits on the Cuartel  de la Montana park, and old establishement military base during the Spanish Civil War and now practically part of the Parque del Oeste along Paseo del Pintor Rosales.

And we took bus 14 from Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to paseo de Recoletos parking spot to recover our car.  Oh well once again, had to leave my Madrid. I never get tired of visiting even repeat places. I have lived/worked in 5 countries, visited 81 countries and countless cities of our world but Madrid is touching, virus like proportions, again I never get tired of visiting it.

The tourist office of Madrid for reference: https://www.esmadrid.com/en

I have no words Madrid is more than a city to me, it is part of my life and a happy nice life indeed; always Madrid or From Madrid to Heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day !!!

Hope you enjoy the tour of my Madrid, and remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

November 24, 2020

Memories of Villalba de la Sierra!!!

So here I am updating my older posts in my blog, and again came across a spot barely mentioned or not at all me think. This is a memorable town if writing brings to life sad moments in my life. For the soul is good to have it, for the memories, for the good times we spent together as a family with my dear late wife Martine.

Let me introduce you to the mountain town of Villalba de la Sierra!

Villalba de la Sierra is located in the province of Cuenca, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha, in the area known as Serranía de Cuenca (see post) and, more specifically, within the El Campichuelo area. It is located 20 km from Cuenca,(see posts) the capital of the province by the same name, on the banks of the Júcar river.

Many mountain roads access the town of Villalba de la Sierra. The most important, according to locals is the CM-2105. This road is well known, as it is the one that leads to such emblematic places of the province as the Ventano del Diablo, Uña, Tragacete (see post) or the Nacimiento del Río Cuervo (the birth of the Cuervo river). The CUV-9115 road, which runs to Zarzuela, and the CUV-9114, which leads you to Portilla, also start from the urban nucleus. The one we took the most of course, was the road CUV-9113 , as it brings us down from our house in Las Majadas (see post) which is also, known for its famous Callejones (big road in the mountain alleys). For reference, the CM roads are Castilla La Mancha regional roads while the CUV roads are provincial roads.

In the town of Villalba de la Sierra there is a hydroelectric power station in the place called El Salto, inaugurated in 1926 by King Alfonso XIII, which works thanks to the water supply of the Laguna de Uña (see post) through a channel that connects it with a water tank located on a hill near El Salto.

The most well-known places in Villalba de la Sierra are the Ventano del Diablo (or window to the devil) viewpoint, the Cambrón valley, where the remains of an old Carmelite convent are preserved, and the cuttings of the Júcar river. El Ventano del Diablo, an impressive natural viewpoint in the shape of a cave over the Barranco del Júcar where you can enjoy the beautiful views. From the viewpoint you will be able to see the Ventano del Diablo via ferrata, which passes through the lower part of the cut above the Júcar river.

The town of Villalba de la Sierra  (go to “conoce Villalba” °on things to see with emphasis in the Ventano del Diablo here: http://www.villalbadelasierra.org/el-ventano

It is an area good for natural river fishing on the Jùcar river on two spots call the Coto de Villalba, and  El Tablazo

The town been on the banks of the Júcar River, has one of its greatest claims, the enjoyment of the bathing areas and its nature which is a unique experience and highly recommended if you are thinking of visiting this area. From the town of Villalba de la Sierra you have dozens of routes for hiking.   The most famous ones are in this pdf file for printing from JucarAventura: https://jucaraventura.es/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/folleto-senderos-parque-natural-serrania-de-cuenca.pdf

This town we passed all the time for several years and sometimes stop in it for refreshement before going up to our house at 1400 meters (6600 feet). The sad story is that here my dear late wife Martine was treated for pains in the medical center or Centro de Salud in city center while on vacation, the first signs of her terrible cancer. Villalba de la Sierra will be only sadly remember I am afraid.

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So even if it brings back tearful memories, I have to have it here as this blog is the soothing time for me over time, and have many memorials to her and pictures that will stay with me forever. She was a great wife and one heck of a mother, my Martine.

The things to do and see here in a more happier time. Villalba de la Sierra was a nice spot and very friendly people which I thank always. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!  

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