Posts tagged ‘Spain’

June 23, 2020

Some news from Spain XCII

And back at you with my now regular series, Some news from Spain. The places we love are slowly getting back on even if painful losses are incur and many remained almost empty. Let me bring you the latest tidbits from my beloved Spain.

Something going on all over now, but an old tragedy that seems not to go away. However, the looting, destruction,and defacing of monument dear to many is not right. No cause will win by it to the contrary more differences. My five cents on the matter. Cervantes and Fray Junípero have nothing to do, much less Voltaire and Roosevelt. The wave of vandalism against statues in public spaces (and the removal of some sculptures and murals in institutions) in the context of protests against racial discrimination and the imprint of slavery, only responds to a simplistic and reductive logic. The attack against Cervantes ,a slave himself when he was held captive in Algiers  carried out in the Golden Gate Park of San Francisco has been the last straw, and has caused the rejection of institutions and personalities in the media and networks. The Royal Academy of History and the Fine Arts of San Fernando will address this issue in their next meetings.

And another serious matter, not to be taken lighly in my Spain. Bullfighters and fans crowd the Las Ventas esplanade in defense of bullfighting reading the manifesto the bullfighter and director of the Bullfighting Center of the Community of Madrid, bullfighting is the industry that reports the most money in fiscal terms to the State in terms of ticket sales, around 500 million euros in the last decade. One out of every ten Spaniards goes to a bullring every year, the same period in which more than 15,000 popular celebrations are celebrated in the streets and towns of our country. The act, in which a minute of silence has been observed, has concluded with the reading of the manifesto that has been common in the other thirty Spanish cities. During the march, numerous bullfighters have been seen such as Diego Urdiales, Emilio de Justo, Fernando Robleño, Julio Aparicio, Frascuelo, David Luguillano, Alberto Lamelas, Uceda Leal, El Fundi, Ortega Cano, Curro Vázquez, Adrien Salenc, Joaquín Galdós , Sergio Aguilar, Agustín Serrano, Chapurra, Rafael de Julia, Ignacio Olmos, Villita, Amor Rodríguez or the rejoneador Leonardo Hernández, among others. All attendees have put the finishing touch to the march by going around the Las Ventas arena, on the outside, and claiming for the last time, as the banner said, “Bullfighting is culture”. In Spain it is ,your choice to go see it or not as in any free country.

And now a new book on one that definitively enjoyed all Latin cultures even if not one.A new book is out 2020 ,and I got it, not read it all yet but fascinating. I will start with the title first, «Hemingway en otoño» or Hemingway in Autumn/Fall by Andrea Di Robilant ; essay and translation by Susana Carrale. Editor: Hatari! Books, 319 pages retail for 36 euros in Spain. Been so intricate related to the history of countries all dear to me and in which I carry a passport, Spain, Cuba, USA, and France. The Nobel Prize came to him in 1954, when many thought he was a finished writer. But the publication of The Old Man and the Sea (1953 from Cojimar Havana ,Cuba) stirred the old lion and returned to the lists of the best-selling books and to the columns of the most demanding literary critics, even, sometimes even rigorous, since a year later he was awarded what, even today, is considered by Andrea Di Robilant’s book the highest literary award . The book is published in an edition exquisitely cared for by Hatari! Books, with an excellent translation by Susana Carral and illustrated with a series of complementary photographs of the events that are narrated, is a moving story of the years that elapsed between 1948, the trip he undertook to Venice with his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, and 1961, the year the author of Paris is a Moveable Feast   committed suicide. Meanwhile he entertains himself, with trips to Paris, stays at the Ritz; Venice, and its wonderful Gritti hotel, hours and hours at the Venetian Harry’s Bar, witty dinners and unbeatable wines, mornings of eternal crazy conversation, duck hunts, the fights between Einaudi and Mondadori to acquire the rights to their editions in Italian, then return to Finca Vigía (his farm near Havana, Cuba now nationalised) , items sold for thousands of dollars, safaris in Africa (and serious injuries that will have fatal consequences), return to Pamplona, encounter with Dominguín and Ordóñez, and the running of the bulls, and with Ava Gardner in Madrid, his curious relationship of deep friendship with Marlene Dietrich. The roster of characters is endless stories forking. They all know him, they all chase him. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir visit Havana and pay homage to him. Whatever the reader’s opinion about Hemingway’s excess and the value, or not, that he grants to his literary and journalistic work, Di Robilant has written one of the most exciting and definitive portraits of an author from the first half of the 20C, a faithful reflection of his time, his miseries and his greatness, that one can read without, in the end, understanding that a good part of a time of wine, roses and literature was melancholy left behind. Indeed a wonderful book on an icon of our times, Ernest Hemingway!

And something Mr Hemingway would vote for it and so do I!  Spain, is the country with the most bars and restaurants in the world, and have asked to make them a World Heritage Site. The Together for Hospitality platform, made up of the most prominent groups in the sector, requests that these establishments be declared Heritage as Spain is the country with the most bars and restaurants per person in the world: one for every 175 inhabitants, totaling 277,539 gastronomic establishments, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE). The business organization Hospitality of Spain, the Association of Manufacturers and Distributors Companies (AECOC) and the Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries (FIAB), which represent the main pillars of the country’s hospitality industry, are responsible for the candidacy, as they themselves have expressed in a statement. Spain with 48 tangible and intangible assets recognized so far, such as the Alhambra, the Mediterranean diet, flamenco or the Fallas, is the third country in the world, behind China and Italy, with the highest Heritages. As for cities, Spain has 15 with that title, from Alcalá de Henares to Úbeda, passing through Córdoba, Salamanca and Santiago de Compostela. In addition, they ensure that significant events in the history of Spain have taken place in the counter of a bar, such as the drafting of the Spanish Constitution. On the other hand, many writers, musicians and comedians took their first steps in local restaurants. In short, they are very much ours. Indeed, no questions here, Spain is everything under the Sun!

The Prado Museum reopens last June 6. And the Prado National Museum has implemented a protocol whose consequences will not go unnoticed by visitors, whom they thank in advance for their understanding and collaboration. Those who visit the Prado Museum until September 13 will not be able to visit all its rooms, but those they visit will provide a unique experience. For this, a spectacular installation has been conceived in the Galería Central or central gallery and adjacent rooms, an emblematic space that, due to its architectural characteristics, guarantees compliance with the recommendations of the health authorities and procures a safe visit model for the public and employees. The montage, made up of 249 works, follows a preferably chronological order, from the 15C to the dawn of the 20C, but given its exceptional nature, it dilutes the traditional distribution by national schools and proposes dialogues between authors and paintings separated by geography and weather; associations that tell us about influences, admiration and rivalries and point out the deeply self-referential nature of the Prado Museum collections. Any time is worth seeing the Prado Museum!

Three centuries ago, the first stone of the Sabatini building was placed in that lusterless corner through which the workers with helmet and mask now come and go. Today it houses the Reina Sofía museum, but it opened as a hospital in 1788, shortly after the death of its promoter, king Carlos III. Around that corner, the art center that would change four years later into a national museum also began operating in 1986, based in the imposing illustrated construction that languished for decades after having served the city during the worst of the Spanish Civil War. Thirty years later, work has begun to recover for the public those vaulted spaces, destined since 1992 to easements such as carpentry, reprography or storage of office supplies and the publication service. The Reina Sofia museum’s collection includes around 30,000 works (1,000 of them on display) from the end of the 19C and currently; 1700 sculptures, 3600 drawings, 4100 paintings and 4,230 Photographs. As well as other Installations, decorative arts, architecture, videos and cinema. Th new space at the AO floor has a project that will allow two things: add to the permanent collection 21 new rooms (about 2,000 square meters) and resolve Sabatini’s coexistence with the Jean Nouvel expansion inaugurated in 2005. To go from one building to another, two mastodons separated by more than two centuries that turn their backs with disdain, the visitor now has to climb a floor, which has added during these 15 years more ingredients to the proverbial disorientation that the visitor feels hopelessly in the Reina Sofía Museum. Now you can go directly from the ground level of Nouvel to the -1 of Sabatini, which gives continuity and fluidity to the route. The reception facilities, such as the box office, the luggage room or the information desk, will also be improved. The golden triangle of arts gets better in my Madrid.

The Palacio de Liria and the Palacio de las Dueñas reopen June 23 (today) in Madrid and Sevilla respectively. A novelty at the Palacio de Liria. You will be able to admire for the first time the only work by the French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres located in Spain: “Felipe V imposing the Golden Fleece on the Duke of Berwick”. It is a programmatic commission to one of the most important artists of the time, with which the Duke Carlos Miguel wanted to commemorate the most important events and characters in his family: from the Álvarez de Toledo family, with the 3rd Duke Don Fernando, and of Stuart ancestors with the first duke of Berwick. In the Palacio de Liria, it is also preserved with a sketch of the same painting made in 1817. It was a gift that the author himself made in gratitude to Mr. Poublon, attorney for the 14th Duke, who was the intermediary in commissioning the painting. The drawing has an autograph dedication from the artist. It is important to highlight the painting’s own value and its sketch, since it represents a fundamental moment in the History of the House of Alba, when the Marshal of Berwick, ancestor of the current duke, is awarded the Gold Fleece decoration and receives the duchies of Liria and Jérica, where the name of the palace comes from. Indeed gorgeous architecture and history here!

A ‘traviata’ without hugs to reopen the Teatro Real with security measures to resume its functions on July 1, 2020. It was the first rehearsal of La Traviata, Verdi’s opera with which the theater will reopen its doors to the public, after four months of closure. Many workers at the theatre slipped into the orchestra room to witness that little historical moment. When Luisotti raised the baton and the first bars of the play’s most popular overture were heard, few were able to hold back their tears as they hummed the tune. Never before had there been such a long silence in that place. In the absence of scenery, all the limelight will fall on the music and voices of the four different casts that will perform the 27 performances scheduled between July 1 and 29. Five traviatas will alternate (Marina Rebeka, Ruth Iniesta, Ekaterina Bakanova, Lana Kos and Lisette Oropesa) and four alfredos (Michael Fabiano, Ivan Magrì, Matthew Polenzani and Ismael Jordi). Behold, the Royal Theater will be back!

Artemisia Gentileschi, from forgotten painter to feminist icon. The date marked on the calendar was April 4. That day an exhibition, finally postponed by the health crisis, should have opened at the National Gallery in London, dedicated to Artemisia Gentileschi, the 17C Italian painter. Born in a country marked by antiquity by great figures of painting, who do not overshadow her, she has become from the last third of the 20C and to this day a media artist, especially by the feminist trend of art history , who has presented her as a victim of men and whose art would emerge, Freudian, as revenge for the violence against her in her adolescence. She is the only female artist of Western culture that has attracted the interest of novelists and filmmakers, and there have been several works that have dealt with her life, rather than her art, trying to find answers to the mystery that the painter continues to embody in the present.

Since 1630 she lived, with her two living daughters, of the five she had had, in the rich and important Naples, an artistic center where this skillful entrepreneur husband founded a workshop that competed with the best artists in the city, such as Ribera or Stanzione, and co-orders of important employers. Among others, the viceroy of Spain, who had three of her works and commissioned for king Felipe IV “The Birth of Saint John the Baptist “. The painting hangs, for a few days, in the Prado Museum, which has included it in her new exhibition tour, Reunion, until September 13. The artist is certainly in the current times and not only because she is an icon of feminism, but because she died, possibly, according to the latest hypotheses, in the terrible plague epidemic that struck Naples in 1656. More than half of the population disappeared and among the victims were some of the most important artists in the city, such as Bernardo Cavallino or Stanzione, a friend and collaborator of Artemisia. However, there is no news of her, although according to a document from 1654 she was still alive that year. Her name does not appear among the artists killed in the epidemic and perhaps she should be searched among the more than 40,000 skulls that lie in the Neapolitan cemetery of Fontanella. An inscription on the Neapolitan Church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini, destroyed in WWII, perhaps indicated the location of her tomb: Hei Artemisia or “Here Artemisia”, even though late-century news reported it 18C, surely imagined. To be found!

And last but not least, another memorable building of my youth. I used to come here and walk, play a lot on Plaza de España overlook by this huge building heights higher at the times. Built at a time when Spain was so impoverished (and I lived it at the end) that it did not have enough iron, so isolated that it could not be bought outside and so paid for by itself that it thought that it did not need it, the Edificio España (see post) or Spain building is a monument to the autarchy that was built with only reinforced concrete, the latter characteristic that makes it unique. After its acquisition by the Mallorcan hotel group Riu, which has carried out a complete refurbishment of the entire building, it houses the four-star Hotel Riu Plaza España, with 589 rooms and 17 meeting rooms. The hotel also has a gastrobar in the reception, two restaurants and a skybar distributed over the two upper floors, 26 (covered) and 27, with a large terrace of 500 square meters. The outdoor swimming pool, open only in summer, is on the 21st floor. Indeed an emblematic building of my old Spain, and glad now protected with the hotel.  By Calle de la Princesa overlooking the Plaza de España.

And there you go folks, another dandy in my dandy Madrid, hope you have enjoy the news……and my Spain.

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

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June 18, 2020

Cheeses anyone? For the love of cheeses!!

Ok so written plenty on wines, and not on my other love cheeses. Again, my fault, this is a big omission. However, as the saying goes , better late than never. Therefore, here is my first post on cheeses, an introduction, more will be coming, promise.

I have chosen an overview on the cheeses of France and Spain. My two worlds and two heavy hitters in the world of cheeses. However, first a very brief overview of a broad subject; cheese comes from…

Although it seems the legend, or the story, or both together, tell us about a Sumerian shepherd of sheep, or goats, or both, back there around 5000 BC, who kept a part of the freshly milked milk from his herd in a container that was neither more nor less than the stuffed stomach of one of his animals. Legend does not say it, but it was the fourth stomach, called abomasum or, more commonly, curdling. Therefore, there is nothing more to add: white and abomasums … CHEESE. I affirm- that the first cheese in history -or legend if you prefer was a mixed coagulation cheese with a marked lactic tendency. Well, something like the increasingly well-known goat rollers ,and there are also sheep that we have the possibility to taste without thinking that they necessarily come from beyond the Pyrenees. The truth is that cheese, as an efficient and effective way of preserving milk, was the first known dairy product that transcended borders and civilizations, a true economic and cultural engine that over time has only improved and improved its condition.It is not an exaggeration to say that a good way , but not the only way , to get to know a region, a country and its people is through its cheeses (amen) Read all about it in the book by Bronween Percival in her book ‘Reinventing the wheel’.

It is worth noting (bragging here…) that the principle of heat treatment in the food industry is due to a humble French pastry chef named Nicolas Appert of Chalons-en-Champagne who applied it to hermetically packed plant and animal foods in glass containers , thus solving one of the most serious and pressing supply problems of the Napoleonic army, which is why even today he is considered the father of the canning industry. But it had to be another Frenchman, Louis Pasteur of Dôle who, interpreting the concept of Mr Appert , who died without knowing why he had achieved such success would first apply it to wine , then in beer; and later in milk (pasteurisation).

Today, where cheeses for family consumption in their origins, with the Camembert or Brie in France as ‘primus inter pares’ of an overwhelming family of fresh and soft and semi-hard cheeses, have experienced sustained growth underpinned by the third pillar of the revolution industrial applied to food: cold storage. Thus, today the cheese world moves between mega factories with state-of-the-art equipment and hardware / software, with increasingly deep and developed raw material and process standardization concepts and small cheese factories where the milk produced by the cattlerancher themselves and following practices as ancient as the grandparents of our grandparents’ grandparents … and grandmothers. And, between both extremes, all the possibilities and realities that have been and will be. Take it from me get the cattlerancher’s cheeses and raw milk, simply the best!

Now, lets go to Spain, shall we!

There are 26 cheeses in Spain with denomination of origins, they are listed in Spanish here: Ceres Spain on Cheeses of Spain

You can read more information in Spanish on all of them including my favorites below:

The Manchego cheese is one of the most famous in Spain and in all of Europe. These cheeses are known worldwide and historically have won numerous gastronomic awards for their quality and inimitable flavor. Manchego cheese is made from the milk of La Mancha sheep and has a minimum cure of 30 days and a maximum maturity of 2 years. These cheeses, if you have not yet tried them, are usually characterized by having a hard crust and free of plastics, a firm and compact paste and with a color that varies from white to ivory yellow. This is Castilla La Mancha autonomous region of the kingdom of Spain! I buy when there or from a Spanish own store in Paris, Cap Hispania already written on it in my blog.

Huete

Then , there are others nice ones such as:

Torta del Casar of Cáceres, is a cheese made using traditional methods based on raw sheep’s milk, from controlled livestock, vegetable rennet and salt.

Idiazábal from Navarra-País Vasco, a cheese made from Latxa and Carranzana sheep’s milk, unmixed and unpasteurized. The production and processing area for milk and cheese is the Basque Country and Navarra, except for the municipalities that make up the Roncal Valley.

Cabrales of Asturias, is a natural cheese, handcrafted by the farmers themselves, with raw cow’s milk or with a mixture of two or three kinds of milk: cow, sheep and goat.

Grazalema of Cádiz, is one of the most sought-after cheeses. It is made with milk from Merino sheep and Payoya breed goats, which are indigenous to the Sierra de Grazalema. It is a cylindrical cheese, with a weight that ranges between 1.5 and 2.5 kilos. It has a firm texture and an intense, fatty and slightly spicy flavor.

The San Simón de Costa from Lugo, Galicia, is a smoked cheese made from cow’s milk from the Rubia Gallega, Parda Alpina, Frisona and crossbreeds. It has a characteristic shape, intermediate between top and bullet, ending in the upper part in a beak.

And in my adopted country of France!

From the Cheese guide to follow or le guide du fromage you can see France has over 10K name cheeses. The webpage is here in French; Le Guide du Fromage of France

The types varied according to the definition and can go to over 400 different types and 45 have AOC by France or AOP by the EU; 6 have geographical designations or IGP and 6 others have red labels or label rouge.The Association of French terroir cheese have a webpage in English to tell you more about the cheeses better than I here: Fromages de Terroirs of France

Some of my favorites from France are of course my sentimental Brie de Meaux, the king of cheeses, or the cheese of kings Vienna congress 1815! This have written a couple of post already in my blog.

The Brie de Meaux is done on a covering crusted in hormones of the cow’s milk ,soft and fondant, it has a flowery smell and it is delicious alone or with bread or an apple or even with honey. It takes about 25 liters of milk for 3,5 kg of cheese in a round form. It was first given credit to be created in the Abbey of Notre Dame de Jouarre about 17 kms from Meaux. However, the best is still around the town of Meaux and Jouarre.

meaux

And then, there are others in no particular rank.

The Coulommiers is a soft, unpressed and uncooked cow’s milk cheese, composed of 45 to 50% fat from Coulommiers, related to Brie, even if it has not been produced in the city since long time.

The famous Camembert of Normandy, I have it sometimes in raw milk from La Fromagerie d’Eugénie done in Languidic,  (very near me), Morbihan breton. Yes one of those cheeses that as long as the process is maintain can be made anywhere. These folks here makes it good.

languidic

The Crémeux du Mont-Saint-Michel or creamy cheese is a soft cheese from Normandy with a floral rind and made with raw whole milk from Normandy cows. The Crémeux du Mont-Saint-Michel is enriched with cream from a local farmer, and if you have the patience to wait for it to mature perfectly, it will be tasty creamy.

The Pont l’Évêque is a soft, cow-milk cheese with a floral rind that can be brushed or washed. It is made in Normandy. Its name comes from the town of Pont-l’Évêque located between Lisieux and Deauville in the heart of the Auge region.

The Deauville is a partially skimmed, soft pasteurized cow’s milk cheese with a washed rind. It is produced by the Houssaye cheese dairy located in the town of Saint-Pierre-en-Auge (formerly called Boissey) in the Calvados department in Normandy.

The Ossau-Iraty is an appellation of origin designating an uncooked pressed sheep’s milk cheese made in the departments of Pyrénées-Atlantiques and some towns of Hautes-Pyrénées. The cheese comes from the Basque Country and Béarn, the Ossau-Iraty appellation originates from the Midi d’Ossau peak and the Iraty forest.

The Timanoix is an uncooked pressed pasteurized cow’s milk cheese, ripened with nut liqueur and made in the Trappist tradition. It is handcrafted by the monks of Timadeuc Abbey, located in Bréhan, in Morbihan, in the Brittany region. The local favorite.

The Sainte-Maure de Touraine is a raw (my take) and whole goat’s milk cheese, with a mainly lactic soft paste and a natural and ashy rind, produced in several towns of the department of Indre-et-Loire and some towns of the departments of l ‘Indre and Loir-et-Cher in the Centre-Val de Loire region.

The Selles-sur-Cher is a whole, raw milk cheese from a soft goat cheese with a flower-rind crust made with vegetable charcoal. It is from the village of the same name, Selles-sur-Cher, located in the department of Loir-et-Cher in the Centre-Val de Loire region.

selles sur cher

The Valençay is a berrichon goat cheese, done in a pyramid mold, and from the Centre-Val de Loire region.

The Cabri de Touraine is made from raw, whole goat milk, soft cheese and a floral, ashy rind, made by the Cloche d’Or cheese dairy located in Pont-de-Ruan in the department of Indre-et-Loire in the Centre-Val de Loire region.

The Chaource is made from raw (my take) or pasteurized cow’s milk, with a soft paste and a floral rind, originating in the town of the same name, located in the department of Aube in the Grand-Est region.

There you go , of course, bear in mind the above are just my favorites out of thousands! The taste and feel is so varied there is a cheese for everyone as in wines. However, hope you try one of the above, there are sublimes! Enjoy the cheeses of France and Spain.

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

June 16, 2020

Some news from Spain XCI

And well, need to catch up on my beloved Spain news, it has been a while. I let it pass the worse moments and come back to the real world, my world of Spain. Therefore, I am back with Some news from Spain, on its 91st post! thank you for reading.

Spain is considering quarantining UK visitors when it opens its borders June 21st in reciprocity to a similar measure imposed by London, Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya has told the BBC. We do not seems to learn restriction keeps away the human race and we need more opening.

The bull taurino sector has concentrated in Salamanca to claim bullfighting as a part of universal culture, as a means of expression of the people around tradition and reminded the “new powerful” that, therefore, the culture “does not is censored, it cannot be limited. ” About three thousand people have gathered in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca, wearing masks and scrupulously keeping the security distance, among which were active matadors such as Enrique Ponce, El Juli, Miguel Ángel Perera, El Capea and Jiménez Fortes, seconded this protest in the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca ; that this past Saturday was repeated in various cities of Castilla y León. What is a tradition of a country where thousands come to see even from abroad it must be maintain. My region of Canarias abolished corridas, the first in Spain as it was not our Guanche culture, but that does not mean other places can’t have it. Open up freedom of choice is an important human trait.

In Santiago de Compostela to study in depth a stone sculpture of a Gothic-looking Virgin that, according to the first analyses, could date back to the 14C and which was casually located in recent days in a surprising setting. An amateur fisherman discovered it leaning on the bed of the Sar river as he passed through La Coruña, semi-submerged in an area with little flow. It is a round bundle carving that is carved on four of its five faces and represents a virgin enthroned with the Child. On both sides of the Virgin, on her shoulders, two angels arise. This part of the sculpture is quite worn, but in any case, the face and hand of each of the angels can be seen holding some object or the Virgin’s own cloak. Therefore, another one to see soon in the Cathedral

Benito Pérez Galdós (there is a new bio coming out on him) toured the mid-19C and the first bars of the 20C with a vocation to look at everything, understand it on site when possible and write it without fatigue. It is not a modern pawn nor a vintage one by installments. He was a writer unleashed in all directions. A Canarian (Las Palmas) boy who came to Madrid at the age of 19, in 1863, with the purpose of studying Law until the city, journalism, theater and the upheaval of those years turn him to writing. He was the giant who starting from nothing (no family of education, nor great fortune), he became one of the best European writers of his time. He was such a popular author that on the day of his death, the mayor of Madrid dictated a side ” With his books he honored his homeland, with his life he honored himself “, who encouraged the neighbors to honor him. More from Casa del Libro in Madrid here: https://www.casadellibro.com/libros-ebooks/benito-perez-galdos/78143

The Council of Ministers is expected to approve two museum expansions: that of the Prado (see post) salon de Reinos or kingdom hall; and that of the Sorolla house-museum,(see post) both located in Madrid. Originally scheduled for 2019 and postponed on successive occasions until 2024 due to the tumultuous political situation of recent years, the works of rehabilitation and museum adaptation of the Salon de Reinos of the Prado National Museum will be carried out by the studies of the British architect Norman Foster and the Spanish Carlos Rubio. These two buildings are the last remains of the Royal Palace of Buen Retiro, a complex erected between 1633 and 1639 under the reign of Felipe IV. The urban reorganization of the project, called Campus Prado, will connect the Prado and the Salon de Reinos, facilitating the transit on foot of visitors through Calle Felipe IV and joining in the same complex the buildings of Villanueva, Los Jerónimos, El Casón del Buen Retiro and the Salón de Reinos. This extension is linked to the candidacy of El Paseo del Prado and El Buen Retiro, Landscape of Arts and Sciences for World Heritage, which UNESCO must decide soon!!

The King Felipe VI appeals to international tourism: “Spain is a safe and quality tourist destination” “We have demonstrated world leadership in tourism development policies and now is the time to continue doing so”. Spain opens borders on July 1. And where to go , well some points. Yes he is the tradition that must represent folks knowing about Spain and coming over to see its wonders!

Here is some ammunitation for you planning to visit Spain next week!!!

Palma de Mallorca is the most expensive, while Alicante the least expensive, according to the Habits of Savings report, which compares the price of a seven-night getaway in a three-star central hotel, a rental car, a dinner for two, a beer, a coffee and a liter of gasoline. Not surprisingly, at the moment Spain is already the country with the most hotel reservations for summer in the world. It is followed by the United States , Portugal , Italy , France and Mexico. These are the data managed by the online platform Travelgate, based in Palma de Mallorca. If we analyze only the Spanish regions, Andalusia takes 31.66% of hotel reservations. Then came the Canary Islands (16.7%), Valencia (13.4%), the Balearic Islands (13.01%) and Catalonia (9.69%). In the list are the 10 most tourist Spanish cities according to data from the National Statistics Institute (INE). Spending seven nights in a three-star hotel costs an average of 508 euros. However, in Almería, the cheapest city to stay, the average cost is 314 euros (about 44 euros per night), 38% below the average. Almería is followed by Madrid (51.5 euros per night), a city whose prices outside the summer season are usually much higher than in August. Alicante (60 euros per night) and Barcelona (65 euros per night), as the cheapest cities to stay in a hotel. In contrast, Palma de Mallorca is the most expensive city, with an average price per night of more than 102 euros, followed by Cádiz (100 euros per night), Gijón (85 euros) and Tarragona (77 euros). When it comes to moving around the city and going from beach to beach, many people decide to rent a car at their destination. In this regard, Cádiz ranks as the city with the highest price (235 euros for a seven-day rental, 68% above the average) and Alicante -due to the greater offer of this service in the region- is the cheapest city (35 euros if the collection point is the airport, 75% below average).  Almería is the most expensive city to have a beer, with an average price of six euros per half liter, 35% above the national average, which stands at 4.40 euros. On the contrary, Cádiz is positioned as the cheapest, with a price of two euros, 55% below the national average. If we talk about the price of a dinner for two in a restaurant in the city center, A Coruña is the cheapest city, with an average price of 34 euros, 22% below the average, followed by Cádiz (34 euros, -20%), and Malaga (37 euros, -15%). At the opposite extreme is Palma de Mallorca, with an average price of 53 euros, 22% above the average, followed by Tarragona (51 euros) and Barcelona,with a cost of 49 euros (+ 12%). Now you chose….

And festivals are back , book quick, they are been taken in hordes, people want out!!!

Five absolute premieres this year make up the program of the most special Classical Theater Festival in Mérida in recent years. Throughout a month -from July 22 to August 23- the event will take place under security and hygiene measures and with the idea of being an example of the revival of the performing arts. The program proposes five great shows at the Roman Theater, all absolute premieres, in addition to performances in the Roman theaters of Medellín, Regina and the Roman city of Cáparra and a wide content of artistic, recreational, informative and educational activities both in Mérida and in other parts of Extremadura’s geography. More info in English here: https://www.festivaldemerida.es/en/

The Almagro Festival will celebrate its 43rd edition between the 14th and 26th of July this year there will be shows in the Corral de Comedias, the flagship of the La Mancha theater event; at the Adolfo Marsillach Theater (former Hospital de San Juan), the summer headquarters of the National Classical Theater Company; in the Old Renaissance University of Almagro (AUREA), a closed and air-conditioned space; and in the Palacio de los Oviedo, an old summer cinema recovered as a stage space two years ago. The Almagro Festival will be held guaranteeing all health regulations for workers, companies and the attending public, thus ensuring the well-being and health of all people who visit the town of La Mancha and its inhabitants this summer. More info in English here: https://www.festivaldealmagro.com/en/

Now if you are like me who like nice places typical of the country and away from crowded cities, as a base; then check these out, all known visited by me over the years.

There are many rural accommodations, but they do not have a Michelin star. The Molino or Mill of Alcuneza de Sigüenza ,Guadalajara province is one of them. After a renovation, it is time to visit this 15C flour mill with 17 rooms and a spa. More information at https://www.molinodealcuneza.com/

La Casona de la Paca is a 19C Indian (as from America) palace built in Cudillero by an Asturian who marched to Cuba (and we had plenty even in my town) and, on his return, wanted to pay tribute to his mother by giving it his name. It offers 19 rooms ,where you are greeted with a handful of walnuts and a few apples from the area, and several apartments that occupy the old blocks. More information at http://casonadelapaca.com/web/

The name of La Casa del Presidente is not accidental, since this was the summer residence of Adolfo Suárez (former prime minister and founder of Spanish democracy, a great men). Located in the city of Ávila, this five-star rural style preserves the structure of the original building built in the 70s and the president’s office practically intact. You can also see the wooden beams and shutters typical of Castilian palaces or the stone hallway that welcomes the guest. In addition, it is the only hotel with a swimming pool within the wall. More information at https://www.fontecruzhoteles.com/en/

Los Ánades, Abànades, Guadalajara province. We moved to 135 kilometers from Madrid, in the Serranía de Guadalajara mountains, to enjoy this complex consisting of a rural hotel plus three houses distributed in 180 square meters built on three floors. The town in which it is located, Abánades, barely has 70 inhabitants, so social distancing in these times is guaranteed. Another of its strong points is the one-hour private sessions in the spa, with a bottle of cava included. More information at https://www.losanades.com/

And there you , some news to start the new season of opening up all over Europe, and Spain is right there, waiting for its usual visitors, welcome to my beloved Spain! Hope you enjoy the post, and thanks for reading again.

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

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June 15, 2020

The airport of Madrid!!

Ok ok so here is another forgotten piece from my blog. I mentioned before briefly in passing visits but really needs a  post of its own. I know the Barajas or Madrid airport for many years taken it and then the Adolfo Suàrez Madrid airport since 2014; a wonderful modern aiport indeed. Let me tell you a bit more on it ok. The airport of Madrid!

The main airport of Spain is in Madrid name the Adolfo Suarez Barajas international airport located at about 12 km from city center. Most of my trips by plane there have landed at T4 on Iberia; sometimes on T4S and once at T3. Of course, I have not gone by car there as flying from France is easy and inexpensive in low season or FF miles. However, I have gone to take folks there from Madrid and it now has super highways. And of course, I have driven many times from France/Spain-Madrid/Versailles/Pluvigner!

Needless to say ,this is now Madrid as the town of Barajas has been annexed as a district. To go from T4 to T4S there is a subterranean minitrain and it takes again 15-20 minutes.  The arrivals are done on the ground floor (1 fl),and departures , check in, boarding on the first floor (2 fl). The main airport site in Spain AENA for Adolfo Suàrez Barajas information in English here : AENA on Madrid airport

There are tourist office in the airport at T1 and T4 open every day from 8h to 20h. The airport has consignment of luggage open 24/24h. They are between the passageways of terminals T2 and the metro entrance and on the arrivals level of T4.

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A bit on the history I like

The Adolfo Suarez International airport of Madrid is located in Madrid, Barajas district, as said about 12 km from the center of Madrid. The airport changed its name from Madrid-Barajas to Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas in 2014. The reappointment sought to pay tribute to Adolfo Suárez, the first Prime Minister of Spain after the restoration of democracy and recognized as one of the architects of the Spanish Transition who died on March 23, 2014, a few days before the decision to change his name.

It has four passenger terminals, an Executive Terminal, an air cargo center and two main hangar areas, one in the Old Industrial Area, between T3 and T4, and another in the La Muñoza Industrial Area. On March 23, 1929, the specifications were published for a contest to choose the land to develop the Madrid civil airport. The intention was to replace the aerodromes of Alcalá, Carabanchel and Getafe, and for this a wasteland meadow was selected in the northeast of the city in the then town of Barajas with good communications with the city via the highway from France (the current A-2) and in an uninhabited area free of obstacles. The purchase of the land was signed on July 30, 1930. It was opened to national and international air traffic on April 22, 1931, although regular commercial operations took two more years to begin, as the airport was still under construction.

The first regular line was established by the company Spanish Post Air Lines (LAPE) with its line to Barcelona. During the Spanish Civil War, military and civil transport services are carried out with Paris, Barcelona and the north. Once the war was over, Barajas regained its status as a civil airport, with the landing on April 12, 1939 of a German plane from the Lufthansa company. On May 1, 1939, Iberia moved its equipment from Matacán (Salamanca) to Madrid-Barajas. In July 1946, Barajas was opened to international traffic.

In 1997 the North Dock was inaugurated, which is used as Iberia’s exclusive terminal for Schengen flights. In 1998 the new control tower, 71 meters high, was inaugurated and in 1999 the new South Dock, which represents an expansion of the international terminal. For these dates the distribution of the terminals is changed: The south dock and most of the International Terminal are renamed T1; the rest of the International Terminal and the National Terminal are now called T2 and the north dock is called T3. The construction of the new T4 terminals and its satellite, T4S Terminal 4 has 470,000 m², 38 contact positions and a capacity for 35 million passengers per year, while the satellite building has 290,000 m², 26 positions of contact and capacity for 15 million passengers a year. Both buildings are 2.5 km apart. On February 4, 2006, Terminal 4 was opened.

In 1999 the Madrid Metro links the airport with Mar de Cristal through Line 8, arriving at Nuevos Ministerios in 2002. In October 2006, the project to build a Renfe Cercanías line that linked the airport with the Chamartín stations and with it the Atocha-Cercanías station with completion date initially planned for 2009 and finally inaugurated in 2011 as Line C-1.

The airport terminals are layout as such :

T1: Gates A, B and C, the latter up to C42. It has 170 check-in counters, including automatic ones, and has a total of 43 boarding gates. It also has two arrival halls, each with eight and seven baggage claim belts, respectively. It is made up of part of the old International Terminal and the new South Dock.

T2: Gates C, from C43 onwards, and D. In addition to the 99 check-in counters, it has a few more at the gateway to the airport, which have not been indicated. It has 20 gates for boarding and baggage claim from two arrival lounges with six baggage straps each. It corresponds to the old National Terminal plus part of the old International Terminal.

T3: Gates E and F. It has twenty check-in counters , five baggage claim belts (in a room attached to that of T2) and 21 boarding gates (from E68 to E82 and F90 to F94, the latter destined exclusively for regional flights). T3 corresponds to the North Dock.

T4: Gates H, J and K. On the first floor there are 22 baggage claim belts divided between 2 lounges, 10 and 11, the first for international arrival flights and the second for domestic arrival flights. It has 2 double straps and 2 straps for the collection of special luggage. The first floor has 76 boarding gates (from H1 to H37, from J40 to J59 and from K62 to K98). On the second floor are the billing desks and the main security filters.

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Madrid

T4-S: Gates M and S. It has 19 boarding gates (gates M22 to M48) in the Schengen area. The second floor is dedicated to international departures, with 48 boarding gates (gates S1 to S12 and S15 to S50). The third is dedicated to receiving international arrival flights, so it has the appropriate security filters for this purpose.

The get around routines hope its clear if not let me know.

All terminals have taxi ranks outside the properly marked areas. Terminal 4 floor 0, Arrivals area,  Terminal 4 floor 2, Departures area,  Terminal 1 floor 0, Arrivals area,  Terminal 1 floor 1, Departures area,  Terminal 2 floor 0, Arrivals area,  Terminal 2 floor 2, Departures area,  Terminal 3 floor 0, Arrivals area. The rates are fixed for all journeys between the Airport and the city of Madrid, regardless of the number of passengers and the distance traveled. Thus, if the travel destination is within the M-30 (initial beltway of Madrid where visitors go anyway), the price is 30 euros, while if the destination is in the outer area of the M-30, the price is 20 euros for tours of up to 9, 5 km. After 9.5 km, the meter will continue to count at the corresponding rate. The official taxis are white with red bands and Madrid City Hall shields on the doors.

Bus line 200 of the EMT city bus network, connects the Avenida de América Interchange (with metro/subway on lines 7,9,4, and circular line 6 ) with Canillejas and terminals T1-T2-T3 and T4, respectively. The buses that operate line 200 are specifically designed for this route, have luggage racks and operate between 05:00 and 24:00, a much longer schedule than the other EMT lines. Bus line 101 connects terminals 1,2 and 3 of the Airport with the Historic Center of Barajas on one end and with the Canillejas interchange on the other. You can connect with the center on metro line 5. The same can be done on bus 204 from T4 at ground level to intercambiador Avenida de America.

There is a nice Airport Express or bus 203 which have taken several times from T4 to Plaza de Cibeles and Atocha in Madrid. The Airport Express bus is a good alternative for getting around Madrid. From Madrid Airport T1 T2-T3 T4.  During the day, the bus runs every 15 to 20 minutes to Atocha station. From 23h30 to 6h, the Airport Express operates every 35 minutes as line N27 . The bus stops are Terminal 4, Terminal 2, Terminal 1, O’Donnell, Cibeles (great stop) and Atocha (train if continue traveling). The Madrid EMT bus network on the Airport Express bus in English: EMT Madrid airport express

The Madrid metro Line 8 goes from the airport to Nuevos Ministerios and connects the Nuevos Ministerios station with the airport terminals in 20 min. There are 2 stations at the airport, the one that serves the old terminals (T1-T2-T3, located in Terminal T3) and the one in the new terminal area (Airport T4) with a shuttle train connecting to T4S. To enter or exit any of the two stations a supplement of 3€ is required, which can be purchased separately or added to the corresponding cost of the single metro ticket which last was 1.50€ . Official metro/subway/tube of Madrid: Metro de Madrid

Terminal 4 has a Renfe commuter station or Cercanias C1 and C10  (floor -1). In the future, it is planned to take the AVE fast trains to the airport. In this way, the Adolfo Suarez International Airport will be integrated, not only in the Madrid Cercanías network, but also in the AVE and Long Distance RENFE networks. The Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas airport has available for the users a bus connecting for free 24/24 the terminals T1, T2, T3, and T4. The train C1 goes to Príncipe Pío in about 38 minutes, Atocha : 25 minutes, Nuevos Ministerios : 18 minutes, and Chamartín : 11 minutes. The train C10 goes to Príncipe Pío in about 41 minutes, Estación de Chamartín15 minutes, Estación de Nuevos Ministerios22 minutes, Estación de Atocha 29 minutes, and Méndez Álvaro 34 minutes.

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And there you go folks, one big airport but easy to use me think, well I think CDG is easy too so bear with me lol!!! Anyway I spent quite a bit of time on airport lately and think will reduce the trips in the future as we are now in telework, skype; webex, video conf etc etc etct, the future.

Hope you enjoy the post and can find it useful. The Adolfo Suàrez Madrid international airport is a dandy indeed. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 15, 2020

Bus of Madrid!

Well as I have said before, people comes to the big cities in Europe and dream of taking the metro/tube like a tourist attraction. Never understood this phenomenon! I come to a city by plane or car or even train but once inside, walk is the best, second is the bus. The bus is above ground and you see everything; in fact, it is like a cheaper tourist bus rides.

I like to tell you a bit more in one single post if possible on the bus network of my beloved Madrid, Spain.

There is a huge bus network runs by CRTM (community )and the EMT (city) with 2000 buses and 200 lines. The network of bus lines covers more than 3,000 kms and has 10,000 stops. They generally start their service around 6h and finish around 23h30. Some lines have slightly more restricted schedules. Madrid has 26 night bus lines, also called Búhos (night owls). These lines operate throughout much of the city overnight. These buses run every day between approximately 23h55 and 5h55. The bus won’t stop unless you waive or raise your hand. If you want to get off at a stop, press one of the red buttons scattered around the bus with some time in advance. As a rule of thumb, bus passengers form a line to enter the vehicle one by one. Please respect it.

The principal terminals EMT  in the city are at Avenida de America, Mendez Alvaro, and Plaza de Castilla, there are other smaller ones such as Moncloa, Principe Pio, and Plaza Eliptica.

For the interurban CRTM, you have big stations at Estación Sur de Madrid ;Méndez Álvaro, 83  with metro Méndez Álvaro  gray circular line 6 exit takes you directly to the bus station.

Estación de Avenida de América ; Avda. de América, 9.  metro Avda. de América  orange line 7;  gray circular line 6;  violet line 9 ;  brown line 4.  All less than 5 minutes walking to the bus station.

Estación de Conde de Casal ,Plaza Conde de Casal, 5. Metro Conde de Casal circular line gray 6 , and less than 5 minutes walking to bus station.

For interurban lines see the CRTM: CRTM bus lines

You go above  for a daytime bus lines hit “Diurnas” and for nightime bus lines hit “ Nocturnas” or All =todas. Then, entered the line number if known. Or on next line choose the line number with end and beginning places. For instance, my experience here has been with Avenida de America station bus line 224 Avenida de America to Torrejon de Ardoz avenida de la Constitucion.

Night buses run on 20 different routes, and each of them runs on Plaza de la Cibeles. This is convenient, as it is only a 15 minute walk from the center (Sol and Gran Via), where most of the nightlife takes place. Some interesting lines for visitors as well as locals are the Line N4: Plaza de Cibeles ↔ Barajas and Line N27: Plaza de Cibeles ↔ Aeropuerto de Barajas.

My bus experience here have been with line 27 Embajadores(near Atocha train station) or at Cibeles to Plaza Castilla stops at Santiago Bernabeu stadiums Bus line 46 Sevilla to Moncloa we went stopping many places and getting back on nice route. My memorable bus line which took while living as a teen in Madrid was 113 now (it was call P13 then).direction Mendez Alvaro to Ciudad Lineal and vice versa of course. I stopped at avenida de Logroño Polideportivo La Elipa to play baseball!!! For the Real Madrid org!!!

Madrid

 

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The EMT Madrid webpage is here: EMT Madrid bus lines

Above link for the Madrid Bus network the first line tells you “introduzca no. de parada” here you enter the name of the stop if you know it, destination. The other tells you “ seleccione una linea” here you enter the number of the bus line if you know it.

The airport is well served by EMT buses. Line 200 runs daily from Adolfo Suarez Barajas Airport T1 T2 and T3 to Avenida de América . Line 204 will take you from the T4 to Avenida de América. You can also travel from the airport T1 T2 and T3 towards Canillejas, where you can take the metro green line 5 to the center, on bus line 101.However, never taken any of these.

There is a nice Airport Express which have taken several times from T4 to Plaza de Cibeles and Atocha in Madrid. The Airport Express bus is a good alternative for getting around Madrid. From Madrid Airport T1 T2-T3 T4.  During the day, the bus runs every 15 to 20 minutes to Atocha station. From 23h30 to 6h, the Airport Express operates every 35 minutes. The bus stops are Terminal 4, Terminal 2, Terminal 1, O’Donnell, Cibeles (great stop) and Atocha (train if continue traveling). The Madrid EMT bus network on the Airport Express bus in English: Madrid tourist office on EMT Airport Express bus

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This is the Madrid tourist office on getting around Madrid general information: Madrid tourist office on getting around Madrid

This is an interactive map for EMT bus lines with schedules and hours very nice indeed to trace your route before leaving home or hotel/aprt etc. Navega por Madrid transport interactive tool

And there you go folks, nice easy above ground transportation in a lovely city like Madrid. No need for anything else but do lots of walking like we do all over, great sights, wonderful architecture and history all around your eyes. Hope you enjoy the bus ride in and around Madrid.

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

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June 15, 2020

Los Guerrilleros!

Got you!ha!! well lack of creativity makes you come up with these names. It sound awful , guerrillas wow I am going radical!! nahhh; is one of my nicest stories in my blog. Let me tell you a bit about Los Guerrilleros of Madrid! Another memorable spot for me!

It was a shoe store. It had a bellicose name: Los Guerrilleros or guerrillas. I was a teen, and way back then my true homeland was my childhood. I don’t know why, I never asked my mother why so many people came into that store. I understood what was behind that slogan. “Don’t buy here, we sell‘ very expensive. ” It was about honesty. It was rebellion. It was about a sense of humor. It was about originality. The shoe sales company ‘Los Guerrilleros’ definitely close all its stores on January 10, 2015.

The company, founded in 1962, was very popular for its motto ‘Don’t buy here, we sell very expensive. Throughout these 53 years, the company has opened a total of 14 own stores in the Comunidad de Madrid region. In Madrid, the best-known store was the one located in Puerta del Sol, 5. Metro Sol lines 1,2, and 3. The bus lines 3 51 and N16 N26 nights leave you right at the square. The bus lines 5 15 20 53 and 150 leaves you close by calle de Alcalà or Calle Mayor.

It was the first Spanish franchise for footwear and accessories with a multi-brand concept. The product range, which is mainly based on footwear and leather accessories, also includes bags, belts, watches and sunglasses. Under the motto ‘Don’t buy here, we sell very expensively’, the well-known establishment ranked as one of the 5,000 most outstanding companies in Spain.  On a professional level, the Los Guerrilleros had also been rewarded at various points in their long career. It was the first shoe retailer to achieve the “ISO 9002 Certified Quality System”. It also holds various business merit awards such as the “International Master Company”, such as the “Golden Laurel” or the recently achieved: the prestigious “Avanza Quality Awards” for business management.

The headquarters was base near my neighborhood at Calle Valentin Beato, 24 on metro line 5 ,Ciudad Lineal. Today at the building at Puerta del Sol, 5 there is the community of Madrid tourist office or Centro de Turismo del Sol. The webpage is here in English: https://www.turismomadrid.es/en/

Just last year we were in Madrid, and I bought shoes for my boys at a new shoe store next door at no 6  Zapshop , (see post) they had managed to keep its stores always full. The key? the prices. And I still have my shoes!!

But why all these writing you may ask? And no photos of Los Guerrilleros. Well , this was one of the two stores(other Victor see post)  in my teen years in Madrid that my Mom purchase shoes for me, I must have been 12! The first time was magical, we had people there that my mother had known for years before even before arriving in Spain. One of then still there as when we all left for NJ USA, she felled in love with a local Spaniard who worked at the store, and stayed behind, never leaving, love triumph as always. Every time in Madrid and passing by the Puerta del Sol,this is one of the buildings I look as memories of my Mom becomes stronger and sad she is not with me to visit. Just wanted to have this story in my blog.

The closest photo is of 2013, shows the Madroño with the post office building behind it and to the left is the building of Puerta del Sol no 5 and 6 etc.

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Hope you like it and enjoy visiting the Puerta del Sol, many posts on it in my blog a must to visit while in Madrid, km zero of all distances in Spain! And of course the Madroño bear symbol of my beloved Madrid.

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

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June 15, 2020

Retiro, Madrid, and Cuba!

So lets swing back down to my beloved Madrid, another city cannot be too far away and lucky to be near and able to see it every year. Madrid well I lived as a teenager with wonderful memories never to be forgotten. I am lucky to be able to visit and now every year since 2003! From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day!!!

Ok you can read my blog with the many many posts on Madrid and thereabouts not the least my Spain. On this post , will tell a bit of the relationship of Spain to her favorite daughter Cuba and especific on mentions in Madrid that I walked by since teen years. Hope you enjoy the Retiro, Madrid and Cuba !

Let me start with one figure dear to Spain and not so much with Cuba but will all respect of a faithful daughter. General Martinez Campos at Retiro park

The monument to General Arsenio Martínez Campos is located in the Plaza de Guatemala in the Parque del Buen Retiro park. The equestrian monument was erected on the initiative of the Marquis of Cabriñana after a popular subscription started in December 1904, it was inaugurated on January 28, 1907 Designed by the sculptor Mariano Benlliure, it consists of a stone pedestal that supports the bronze statue of General Martínez Campos with dimensions of 7 × 5.65 × 7.40 meters. It is located behind the monument to Alfonso XII facing the estanque or pond.

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More than 2,000 soldiers paraded through the Paseo de Coches. As well as the kings, Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia, the mother of the king and former secretary, María Cristina, the Infanta Teresa (sister of the king), and the infants and brothers-in-law of the king, Carlos de Borbón-Dos Sicilias and Fernando from Bavaria. Queen Victoria Eugenia, just 19 years old at the time, came pregnant with her son Alfonso, who would be born in May. Also in attendance were the Prime Minister, Antonio Maura; the president of the Congress of Deputies, José Canalejas, several ministers and the mayor of Madrid, newly appointed that same day, Eduardo Dato. Also, sent to Cuba to pacified the uprisings which he could not avoid. During his lifetime, Gen. Arsenio Martínez Campos (d 1900) was Minister of War, President of the Government and Governor of Cuba. But it went down in history for the pronouncement of Sagunto, where he proclaimed Prince Alfonso as King of Spain and ended the First Republic.

The monument to Gen Martínez Campos is in the same gazebo where the equestrian statue of Felipe IV, which now is in the Plaza de Oriente. Even this area of the Retiro was displaced at some date in the 18C from its original location in the Palacio del Buen Retiro. It already appears in the roundabout or plaza de Guatemala in model map of 1830, currently in the Madrid History Museum. The Retiro equestrian statue stands on a bronze base on a large limestone rock. On the front you can see the banners of the Artillery and the Infantry and on one of the sides the battle of the Castillejos is represented, in North Africa, in which Martínez Campos participated under the command of General Prim. At the base of the monument you can read the different campaigns in which Martínez Campos participated: the war in Africa, the war in Cuba and the Carlist wars in Catalonia. It is also mentioned that it was possible thanks to a popular subscription initiated by the Marquis of Cabriñana, Julio de Urbina. Part of my history since schoolage!

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An even beautiful monument lies in the Fountain of Cuba at the Retiro park too!

At the end of the Paseo de Colombia, is the Plaza del Salvador, where we can see the Fuente de Cuba or fountain of Cuba. The idea to erect a monument in tribute to the Caribbean Republic comes as thanks to the Cuban government for the construction it made, in 1929, of a Monument to the Spanish Soldier in the hills of San Juan, in Santiago de Cuba. The construction of the fountain progressed rapidly, being almost finished by 1931. However, after the end of the dictatorship of General Primo de Rivera, it was  delayed the inauguration until October 27, 1952, when it was finally inaugurated coinciding with the 460th anniversary of the discovery of Cuba. The monument constitutes a semblance of Cuban history and the wealth of its land and with it, homage is paid both to the feat of its discovery and to the characters who made it possible, keeping the highest recognition of its constitution as a Republic.

Cristobal Colon or Christopher Columbus discovered the island during his first trip, on October 27, 1492, although colonization did not begin until 1511. Havana (or San Cristobal de La Habana) , was found in 1514. Previously, a first war had been waged for independence between 1868 and 1878 (or Guerra de los 10 años =War of Ten years) that ended with the Peace of Zanjón (refused by Gen Maceo of Cuba and others). Another small war or Guerra Chiquita was carried out between 1879-1880. A later independence movement or Guerra de la Independencia (1895-1898) would end in the Spanish-American war of 1898 (with Cuban helping the Americans against Spanish forces), after which the “Pearl of the Antilles” separated from Spain under the tutelage of the United States 1898-1902, proclaiming itself in May 20th 1902 as the Republic of Cuba (1902-1959).

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The monument or Fountain of Cuba, presents in the center a structure with three bodies and a cross plan, delimited on each of its fronts by a semi-circular granite pylon. The main or front face of the fountain is oriented to the East and the rear face to the West. On each respective pedestals the bronze figures of an iguana and a terrapin (galàpago). The reason for using the figures of these two animals must be found in the fact that both are part of the oldest island fauna, in particular the iguana. Likewise, the presence of the terrapin is explained, also, based on its known longevity, as an intention to highlight the long time elapsed, more than four hundred years then, since the arrival of the Spanish on the island. The fountain of Cuba was made of limestone and rectangular in shape, and in which the two largest sides correspond to the front and rear faces of the monument. It consists of three superimposed bodies in the shape of parallelepipeds and whose size decreases in an ascending manner. The bow of a caravel boat appears with a figurehead made up of an angel carrying a cross. The boat appears supported on two dolphin-shaped water jets and under a garland made with the typical products of Cuban agriculture, as if it were a laurel wreath, recalling the great wealth that it meant for Spain. The first stone body as a Roman rostra column that represents the celebration of the triumph of the Colombus’s ships by crossing the Atlantic Ocean and reaching the Cuban coasts, without forgetting the importance of the evangelisation process that, on occasions, directed the conquest of America. On each side of the second body, you will see a shield or statue built in marble. it looks like the Coat of Arms of the Republic of Cuba, which was adopted by Cuban President Tomás Estrada Palma on April 21, 1906. On the backside, the Coat of Arms of the Catholic Monarchs (Fernando II and Isabel I) is represented, with some shortcomings, under whose government Spanish ships reached the Cuba.

On the north side is the seated statue of Queen Isabel la Católica (Elizabeth I,the Catholic), which, given the possibility that it could open up to achieve the Christianisation of all Asia, decided to support the projects of Christopher Columbus. The sculpture of Christopher Columbus is located on the side opposite of the Monument.The second body ends in a large cornice that gives way to the third, in which, on a square base, a female figure (giraldilla like on top of Morro castle in Havana and inside the Cuban capitol building today=see posts)) stands as a symbol of the Republic of Cuba. The Cuban Republic is presented to us as well as the figure of an equally young woman covered by the Phrygian cap, symbol of the Republic, who looks calmly to the right while, with her left hand, points to a horn of plenty held by a horn of abundance, and from which various flowers and fruits stand out as an allegorical figure of the enormous wealth and fertility of those lands that long supplied Spain with sugar, coffee and tobacco. With the orchid, considered one of the most beautiful and beloved flowers in America, the author wanted to represent the meaning of Cuba for Spain.

There are other spots that I have walked in my beloved Madrid that relates very strongly with Cuba.  These are

The first is of our hero , Jose Marti. This poet, thinker and politician was one of the great standard-bearers of the Independence of Cuba and his person can still be felt in Madrid, the city where he lived between 1871 and 1874 during which time he was exiled. Martí attended Law class at the Central University located on Calle San Bernardo. Not far from there, in the centrally Calle del Desengaño no.10 was the pension run by Doña Antonia in which a young Martí lived. A huge plaque on the wall still remembers him. He also lived on Calle Lope de Vega. Also ,in the callejero de la Villa street pays its discreet tribute to Cuba, it is only necessary to realize the existence of the Calle de la Isla de Cuba, near the Metro de Canillejas, and the Paseo de Cuba, one of the main arteries of the Retiro, going from the Fuente de la Alcachofa to the Fuente del Angel Caido, (see posts) passing closely by the Palacio de Cristal (see post) and the estanque or pond, or the well-known Paseo de la Habana just back of Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

For reference, the Madrid tourist office in English: Madrid tourist office

And there you , nice walks in my beloved Madrid all gloriously illustrated with great architecture and history , of course that of Cuba and Spain. Two out of my four loves in my life !!! Hope you enjoy the tour and do walk by them in the future.

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

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June 14, 2020

Museo del Patriarca , Valencia!

Ok again digging for my trips and souvenirs that I have left unnoticed in previous posts. I come back to you to my beloved Spain and the city of Valencia. Of course, plenty written on it over the years in my blog but this is one that needs well more.. Hope you enjoy it as we did

We actually were not looking for it ,just walking around the city sightseeing all and eating and drinking well. Until we spotted the building and decided to take a small peek.  In Spanish is as such just call it the Museo del Patriarca. 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.

The Museo del Patriarca or Patriarch’s museum was founded to offer the public access to much of the best works in its collection of paintings. The State archive is managed by the Royal Seminary College of Corpus Christi. This Royal College, known among the Valencians with the name of the Patriarca, had as its main task the formation of priests according to the spirit and provisions of the Council of Trent.

Valencia

The exhibition houses valuable and unique heritage objects, paintings by artists such as Juan Sariñena, Francisco Ribalta, Gregorio Bausá or Luis de Morales, books, documents, textiles and unique goldsmith pieces. The exhibition tour allows the viewer to get closer to the history of the building, to the social context, to the religious climate of the Counter-Reformation and to the personality and artistic patronage of the founder, the archbishop and patriarch Juan de Ribera.

Valencia

Among the curiosities that the building contains is having served as a warehouse for many of the works of the Prado museum during the Spanish Civil War The General Study Room traces a journey through the history of the Patriarch through goldsmith pieces, documents, books of hours, bibles, a sculpture of a virgin by Alonso Cano and paintings by Ribalta or Luis de Morales. One of the most valuable pieces is a chest in which Thomas More kept the sheets of the manuscript that he wrote in his captivity in the Tower of London, entitled “Instructions and Prayers or De Tristia Christi” (The Agony of Christ), and which after the execution of Moro, it passed through the will of his daughter Margaret to Spanish hands and through Fray Pedro de Soto, confessor of the Emperor Carlos V, it went to Valencia, the homeland of Luis Vives, Moro’s close friend. In the Sala Duc de Calàbria the latest studies on Renaissance music in Valencia are revealed, with various artistic and musical objects from the 16C and 17C, as well as scores by authors such as Haydn.

The Patriarca college or seminary official page in Spanish is here : Patriarca of Valencia college seminary

The tourist office of Valencia on the Patriarca museum in English: Tourist office of Valencia on the Patriarca museum

Another dandy in Valencia and worth the detour , in fact, we will be back to see more of it once things settled down in our world. The Patriarca is one interesting place to see. Hope you enjoy it as we did

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

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June 14, 2020

King Jaime I the Conqueror in Valencia!

Ok so with several posts on Valencia and forgot this one. Ok nothing to make you lose time but if walking the city beat as we do and passing by so many beautiful architecture and history along the way, then this one is worth the detour.

Let me tell you a bit on the statue on King Jaime I the Conqueror in Valencia.

The old Plaza de la Aduana is now Plaça d’Alfons el Magnanim or Plaza Alfonso el Magnánimo, a large green space located in the heart of the city, opposite the Porta de la Mar . The gardens created in 1850 made up of large magnolia and aucaria trees, palm trees, giant ficus, and numerous botanical species. Among the vegetation there are numerous sculptures and busts, as well as an ornamental pond with aquatic plants and a fountain dedicated to Neptune. A very monumental cast iron statue presides over this square, dedicated to Jaime I the Conqueror, done in 1857 the sixth centenary of his death. Finally, it will be in 1891 said statue was located in the Parterre.

Valencia

King Jaime I  the Conqueror, very much in the local fabric; he was  Jaime I de Aragon el  Conquistador ( Born Montpellier France in 1208 and died in Alcira in 1276) He was king of Aragon (1213-1276), of Valencia (1238-1276 and Mallorca (1229-1276), Count of Barcelona (1213-1276), Count of  Urgel,Lord of Montpellier (1219-1276),and other places in Occitania (covering France and Spain). Since it was built, the Parterre gardens have not undergone major changes. The Riada of 1957 forced to rebuild the garden; of the four ponds it had, only one remains.

Valencia

The city of Valencia on the king and the prizes on cultural endeavors of King James I. City of Valencia on King Jaime I the Conqueror

So with all those titles and reigns I figure he deserves a post… Lovely garden, wonderful statue weighing they said 11,5 tons!  A lovely walk indeed, hope you do and enjoy it as we did.

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

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June 6, 2020

Parque San Julian, Cuenca!

Well this is another soft spot for us, as spent many vacations there over the years and even with the family in Summers. Cuenca is Unesco heritage site but it has more a  lot more. We like to walk a lot , we always figure is the best way to see a city once in it. The architecture and the city comes out alive right in front of your eyes with time to indulge on its past.

However, once in a while we stop by the greens of the city, the parks and gardens , the lungs of any city. Cuenca is no different and here we have very nice memorable moments with the family. I have written many many posts on Cuenca and surrounding, but again failed to tell you more about the Parque San Julian in city center, and it is time.

For the geographical part, Cuenca is in the Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha autonomous region of the kingdom of  Spain. The parque San Julian is in still the old to new lower town right next to several government buildings including the main post office. Very close to important streets such as Carretería, Tintes, Aguirre or Las Torres, and located a few minutes from the Old Town of Cuenca.

A fundamental enclave in the social life of Cuenca. Venue of pleasant walks, moments of relaxation and classy events. It saw the light in the old orchards of the Huécar river, back in the 1920s when known as Canalejas park. Since then, almost 100 years later, it continues to be frequented every day by dozens of people.. Its has restaurant terraces for a drink on the hot summer days under the shades of the imposing trees of Parque San Julian.. The expansion of the city in its lower part, where formerly there were only vegetable gardens. This is how Carretería arises and what we understand as the Cuenca expansion, that is, Parque San Julián and surroundings.

Cuenca

The mosaic of a part of the temple, as well as housing unique plant species, outdoor sculptural works by Luis Marco Pérez and bronze fountains, still in operation. Housing statures and busts, sometimes too hidden, of characters that were important in the city. The Parque San Julián park, has always been that, the just the parque or park. Much of the population of Cuenca gives it from the moment it becomes something very significant for this city: a meeting place for people of all ages and conditions, an unbeatable stage for all kinds of shows, a showcase for different cultural activities, a platform to publicize the most diverse ideas, proposals, etc. or simply an oasis in the middle of the desert.

The parque San Julián, as had been announced some time ago, will be the first two spaces in the city center to be reformed with part of the funds from the Sustainable Urban Development Strategy (Edusi), for which the Cuenca City Council has announced the convening of an ideas competition. So you better act quickly before its all change for the worse me think.

It was a resting place after a long walk in the city or a place for lunch while doing our rounds on foot. The family enjoyed much and always each time there made plans for a stop. Memories forever with my dear late wife Martine.

Cuenca

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did/do and visit once in town for the bigger monuments already mentioned in my previous posts on Cuenca. The parque San Julian is very nice indeed.

For reference, tourist office of CuencaTourist office of Cuenca

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

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