Posts tagged ‘Spain’

April 23, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXVIII

Ok so on a cloudy rainy day in my neck of the woods and the same at Madrid, except the rain temps of 53F (11C) there and 61F (16C)  with me. Its time to tell you a bit more about my beloved Spain!

The DGT’s (Direccion General de Tràfico) environmental label, which will be compulsory since April 24th, must be visible in your vehicle to enter the Madrid (more on the fashion in Europe to charge you more to come to the city without adequate public transports or park and relay garages), something that will be a minor infringement of the ordinance and that will be associated with fines of up to 100 euros. All labels can be purchased at the post offices, and also in several workshops, thanks to the agreement of the DGT with the Spanish Confederation of Workshops. To purchase it in person, it is essential to present the registration  of the vehicle for which the sticker is requested, and the DNI (personal identification Documento Nacional de Identidad) of the owner of the vehicle or the person authorized for it. In addition, you can buy  online ; the sticker has a price of five euros at any site. The label would reach the selected home address within three days, but due to the high volume of orders, it may take up to 10 working days.

There are four types of stickers, depending on the emissions of the vehicle: Zero Emissions,  ECO, C ,and  B.  Madrid delimits the motorized access to much of the center of the city depending on the levels of pollution. Cars with labels B or C can only access the Central Madrid area if they stay in a car park, but never to cross the perimeter. They will also be able to enter if they have the invitation of a resident registered in the area, since each one has 20 invitations per month. Cars with ECO or zero tags can access the Central Madrid area without any risk of fine. All registered in the area of Central Madrid, regardless of the label that have their vehicles, can circulate without problem and park in your car park or in the area , either blue or green. If at any time you need to access the city, either by tourism or for work, you will have to have visible the sticker of the DGT that corresponds according to the emissions of your car.So visitors if renting a car make sure it has the corresponding sticker! More on the DGT here:

New chapter in the family war of the Alvarez Mezquíriz. The family owned the Bodegas Vega Sicilia and Grupo Eulen again have the swords in high, this time, by the decision of the five litigious  sons ‘ of the founder,  Pablo, Emilio, Elvira, Marta and Juan Carlos, to modify the statutes of El Enebro SA Owner of Bodegas Vega Sicilia,(the most historically famous Spanish wine label)  to prevent a shareholder from forcing the sale of his or her share if the company does not share dividends. It has convened an extraordinary meeting, next May 24th, called to approve  “The modification of the social statutes. María José Álvarez, who controls 59% of Eulen through the company Daval Control, has a 16% stake in the El Enebro. In 2013, its five brothers sold their shares of Eulen with Enebro for 100 million euros, operation which is contested judicially. Info in newspaper The Confidencial 23/04/2019 .The wine here:

Premio Cervantes award given to her by the King Felipe VI  this  past April 23, Day of the Book, the Uruguayan poet Ida Vitale (Montevideo, 1923) has offered an ironical apology for an affirmation of the author of Don Quixote regarding the craft of poetry to which she has applied her whole  literary career that still today, at her 95 years, is still in full activity. A ceremony held in the auditorium of the University of Alcalá de Henares has recalled her readings “Libres y Tardias” or free and late of Don Quijote in an illustrated edition that already read as a teenager in her  native Montevideo and immediately fascinated by the respect that showed Cervantes for her character. Vitale’s speech has followed the usual model of the genre: Homage to his predecessors, Cervantes, Garcilaso, Baudelaire, vindication of the Spanish language, rejuvenated and revitalized on the American shores ,brief biographical exegesis and acknowledgments.  The spider’s thread woven by the poet has succeeded in trapping the author of Don Quijote, to pluck it from prose and recover it for poetry, the creative imagination of the award-winning poet. Well done! Official Culture Ministry of Spain:

And how about that weather huh! Always gives the current but what about a bit ahead , well call in the AEMET or the meteorological agency of Spain. They say, today Tuesday the rains and showers will affect the Atlantic and Cantabrian slopes and in the north of Aragon and Catalonia, where there are likely to be occasional storms before the crossing of an Atlantic front, reported by the AEMET. Rainfall may be extended to the rest of the peninsula throughout the day, except in the Levante coast in northern Huesca and Catalonia, rainfall will be locally strong and persistent. In the Canary Island there will be probability of rainfall in the north, without ruling out some afternoon showers in the rest of islands. During the Wednesday, temperatures will not vary too much, but if the wind blows strongly in many areas of the interior and coastline. In fact, the AEMET has already activated several yellow warnings (risk) by wind. On Thursday, another front will leave rain in the western half of the country, in the surroundings of the Pyrenees, and can be strong in the west of Galicia and Pyrenees. As of Friday,the Anticyclone will again act of presence and therefore the rains disappear. Temps will be accordingly low before going up by Friday. Official webpage here:

Beautiful and unknown off the beaten path places of my Spain:

The Manchuela, between the provinces of Albacete and Cuenca, this natural region comprising about 25 municipalities is a gem from all points of view. It includes wonders like the Hoz del Júcar with spectacular villages including Jorquera and Alcalá. But also the valley of the Cabriel that can be seen in all its grandeur from the lookout or Mirador del Ensueno. Official in Spanish more info on Manchuela:

The Pedroches, this region of near Cordoba hidden in the foothills of Sierra Morena that connects with Extremadura but also with Castilla La Mancha, is one of the best kept secrets of Andalusia. They call attention to their huge meadows where they feed  one of the best hams porks or  Pata Negra, best in the World. More on the Pedroches here:

And you have four towns of prominence of Castilla La Mancha because of their connection to Don Quijote have joined together to design ; the country of Don Quijote, a dream route, a new planning for your next trip and by car is glorious! More on the below towns in Spanish more info here:

Very glad to tell you that tonight on Spain TVE the route was shown in the program  España Directo that I watch every night; it is awesome do it. cheers

Alcázar de San Juan, this town in the province of Ciudad Real is the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, so they claim. In its Church of Santa Maria La Mayor (St. Mary the Eldest) , you can see a baptism game on whose margins a manuscript reads “This was the author of the story of Don Quijote “, words that Don Blas Nasarre would sign in 1748 when he found the baptism game in the name of Miguel. There you can also visit the Museum of Hidalgo, located in the old palace known as the Casa del Rey (king’s house), where the historical and ethnographic heritage of Castilla-La Mancha is exhibited and disseminated. The Formma Museum, where the Manchego pottery is shown, its spectacular palace and ecclesiastical ensemble or the windmills of the Cerro de San Antón are another of the attractions of Álcazar de San Juan.

Argamasilla de Alba;  in the cave of Medrano you can visit the place where Cervantes was prisoner and who saw the birth of the history of Don Quijote. The castle of Peñarroya, the Church of San Juan Bautista or the Pósito de la Tercia are another of the obligatory visits in this locality that serves as gateway to the Natural Park of the Lagunas de Ruidera, a place that hides one of the great wetlands of the geography  of Spain.

Campo de Criptana has the original windmills that inspired Miguel de Cervantes to narrate the most famous adventure of universal literature: Don Quijote against the Giants. Its Sierra and the district of the Albaicín are the zenith of the literary Cervantes universe and paradigm of the Manchego quaintness. There is no better place to contemplate all the stain in its splendor and one of the most beautiful sunsets on the planet. It is best to go through the Pósito Real, former bank to give loans in kind to farmers in times of shortage. The caves, the snow well or the Sara Montiel Museum (great Spanish actress and singer), complete this quixotic kingdom.

Finally, you get to El Toboso , the homeland of universal Love;  the home of Dulcinea. In its streets and squares we find phrases carved in the walls of the facades, which honor the chapter IX of the second part of the book, which narrates the visit of Don Quijote and Sancho to El Toboso in search of Dulcinea. The Casa de Dulcinea Museum, which belonged to Mrs. Ana Martínez Zarco de Morales, to which Cervantes immortalized as Dulcinea (sweet Ann or Dulce Ana or Dulcinea), maintains part of its 16C structure; Typical example of the houses of gentlemen and wealthy Manchego workers. Several museums, such as the Cervantino or the graphic humour “Dulcinea”, as well as the set of churches and convents make up one of the places that keep a love story without borders.

And finally, to find something classy, good, vintage, second hand, griffés stores in Madrid, my family swear to these ones; enjoy it the shopping!

Vintalogy:  It is the largest vintage clothing store in Europe and boasts that there you can find accessories that are not in any other second-hand clothing store. Most of their garments come from the United States although more special ones, such as dresses and jacket and trouser sets, are selected by themselves one by one. At Calle Atocha 10. More info here:

La Mona Checa:  It is located at the beginning of what is known as the ‘ vintage ‘ shopping street of Madrid, Calle Velarde. From its beginning in Tribunal until its end in the Plaza del 2 de Mayo, you will be able to find all kinds of treasures among its different  locations .Calle  Velarde, 3. More in this blog of them:

So enjoy Spain, everything under the sun. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 15, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXVII

In continuing my saga of making known some of the things to do in my beloved Spain here I am again with some of the latest tidbits. My 77th post since Nov 2010! thanks. The weather in my neck of the woods is sunny breezy cool, no rain! and in my lovely Madrid is 17C sunny nice , this is about 63F.

The Fifth edition of the initiative Welcome to Palace! Or Bienvenido a Palacio! Locals and visitors can get to know some of these architectural gems of the region of Madrid, such as the Palace of the Dukes of Santoña, the current headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce, industry and Services of Madrid; The Palacio de Buenavista, headquarters of the Army, and the Palacio del Infante Don Luis de Borbón, in Boadilla del Monte, among others. A program that extends until January 2020 and will allow you to know for free these properties through guided tours, concerts, theater plays, itineraries and conferences.

On this occasion, the recitals will take place in the Palacio de las Marquesas de Fontalba on the 9th and 10th of May at 20h; In the Palacio del Duque de Santoña, June 8th and 9th at 12h; In the Palacio de Buenavista, June 12 at 20h, and in the Palacio del Marques de  Amboage, 17th and 18th July at 20h30. The registration period, both for guided tours and for concerts, is now open at  Bienvenido a Palacio! official site

The dramatized visits, this year will be held again in the Palacio de Fernán Núñez, headquarters of the Spanish Railways Foundation. This activity, already indispensable on Christmas will be held between December 2019 and January 2020 in Madrid. The palaces that can be visited on this occasion are the Buenavista (headquarters of the Army), the Palacio de Don Javier González-Longoria (General Society of Authors and Publishers), the Palace of the Duke of Fernán Núñez, the palace of the Marquis de Amboage ( Residence of the Ambassador of Italy), the Palace of Godoy, (Center of Political and Constitutional Studies), the Palace of the Marquis of Rafal (residence of the Ambassador of Belgium), the palace of the Duchess of Parcent  (Ministry of Justice), the Laredo Palace (Center International Historical Studies Cisneros and Museo Cisneriano), the Palace of Joaquín Sorolla (Museo Sorolla) and the Palace of Infante Don Luis de Borbón, among others.

Marclay in Compositions, one of the most ambitious samples of the artist in Spain in recent years, which can be seen in the MACBA until September 24. In The images you can play the piano, the guitar, shout, sing, whistle, clap, roll on the ground or tap, among the endless attitudes related to sound, but in each of the four screens can be seen a different clip but synchronized  with the rest as if it were a perfect music quartet.

Marclay became world famous when his film The Clock (2010) won the Golden Lion of Venice the following year and became a masterpiece of contemporary art. The 24-hour film made with thousands of fragments (Truncates tiles) of films in which watches or people who watch or wonder the time synchronized with real time, is not in the MACBA for the desire of Marclay. But , you can see Screenplay (2005), another collage with silent movie images. More info here:

The reopening of the Teatro Salon Cervantes in Alcalá de Henares is 30 years old. The building housed a theater since the late 19C, but it was in private hands. After many works and years of inactivity, the City/Town Hall bought the parcel and rehabilitated the theater, which opened its doors again on April 14th, 1989. The belief that Cervantes was born in the garden of the Convent of the Capuchin Fathers was spread like gunpowder by Alcalá in the 19C. After the confiscation of Mendizábal in 1836 the land was acquired by individuals, who built a theater on the plot in 1888 in just 29 days. They placed two commemorative plaques on the façade and got the City Council to give the street the name of the author of El Quijote, a denomination it maintains. Its bad condition forced to reform it in 1925, which provoked an important aesthetic change in the facade and in the lower floor,  the capacity was widened and the wooden boxes of the second floor were replaced by a structure of work, which is still preserved. After the Spanish Civil War,  began to project films, but also served as a ballroom, hence its current name. There was nothing to guarantee that Cervantes was born there but a document was found  in 1943 and showed that he did was born  in the Calle de la Imagen (parallel to the one that bears his name Calle Cervantes). The Birth House of Cervantes opened in 1956. The Local was conditioned in 1979 as a bingo room, but years later they abandoned it. In 1985 the City Council acquired the property. The Teatro Salon Cervantes, currently integrated in the Network of Theaters of the Community of Madrid, has a rectangular layout and its facade tryptic is of modernist style. It has a seating capacity of 458 persons distributed in a rectangular patio, a tiered amphitheater and two boxes on the sides. More info in the network of theaters of Madrid here:

And the Alcalà de Henares Theater Salon Cervantes site here:

One up my alley while living there in Madrid is the Teatro Daoíz y Velarde that finally will see the light next year. After years of struggle and vindication, the neighbors of the Pacifico and Adelfas neighborhoods, in the Retiro District, see the theater promised them, a scenic space  located on one of the nave of the former military barracks Daoíz y Velarde  of Italian style, which will have two rooms and a capacity of more than 400 persons. The Theater will have an independent access to the rest of the cultural center and a central space for different uses and that contains a mural with images on the history of the Retiro District. More info here:

At the Teatro Real (Royal Theater of Madrid). Seven titles of the 12 planned for 2019 and 2020 will be completely new to the spectators. This is The case of Il Pirata, of Bellini, or Iris, of Pietro Mascagni. Titles to which one must add Into The Little Hill (George Benjamin), Three Tales (Steve Reich) and three clear bets highlighted by Matabosch as very risky: The passenger (Mieczyslaw Weinberg), Lear, of Aribert Reimann, and Achille in Sciro, of Coselli.

Throughout the 18C,Ma drid was one of the main centers of the creation of operas. The great casters Farinelli began together with Felipe V a series of productions that continued throughout the century with its successors. And among them is Achille in Sciro. It is a work of Coselli premiered in 1744 in the Coliseo del Buen Retiro (in the park), commissioned by Farinelli himself. But he never staged again. Also noteworthy are the recitals that will be offered by three stars such as Anna Netrebko (on November 1), Joyce DiDonato (May 15) and Philippe Jaroussky (May 25). In the section of ballet are scheduled the performances of the English National Ballet, the National Ballet of Spain and the Nederlands Dans Theatre  (Dutch theater co).More info here:

Go to Toledo is always sublime, many times there and never tired of seeing it. Now lets see it through the eyes of Eugenia de Montijo, (Impératrice of France married Napoléon III).

The conversion of the Palace of Eugenia de Montijo in the only five-star hotel in the Old Town of Toledo serves as a pretext to rediscover the imperial city and fall back in love with it. It is not known exactly when Eugenia Palafox Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick were for the first time in this city so attached to history and literature, but had to be before becoming Empress of France after her marriage to Napoleon III. It Is known that there were many trips between Granada, Madrid and Paris, and Toledo was the perfect place to take a few days off before entering the capital. Also still family castle at Belmonte in Castilla La Mancha as well. See my posts on items mentioned here.

One of the favorite places of Eugenia de Montijo in Toledo was the Palacio de Fuensalida, now the seat of the Presidency of the Board. She was interested in its architecture and, above all, its relationship with the Empress Isabel, wife of Carlos I and mother of Felipe II. In the interior of its Palace, converted into a hotel her spirit and, at the same time, play with themes such as fashion and design that were so important in her life Eugenia de Montijo, Autograph Collection. Her portrait is hang in  the bar-cafeteria located in the lobby.

Eugenia liked to recommend the route that begins with the Puerta de Bisagra (Hinge gate), modified under the reign of Carlos V to make it more ornamental than defensive, to go later to the Plaza de San Vicente before reaching the Cathedral. Next to the Puerta de Bisagra stands the Church Santiago del Arrabal, the largest and most beautiful Mudejar church in Toledo. From here you can go up the Calle Real del Arrabal towards the city center. Before reaching the Cuesta de las Armas (Slope of the arms). It is worth observing the Puerta del Sol, on the right, and the Chapel of San José, a Renaissance work usually closed because it is privately owned that houses inside Greco’s paintings. Not far from the Archiepiscopal Palace stands the Church of San Marcos (St. Mark), the only existing remnant of the convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians back in the 13C. Nowadays it is the exhibition center of the Caja Castilla-La Mancha Foundation. At the end of the  Cuesta de las Armas is the Plaza de Zocodover, the neuralgic center of Toledo, place of appointment and meeting of its neighbors since the Moslem period (the origin of its name, Suk-al-Dawad, the market of the meat animals). Nearby are the Hospital and Museum of Santa Cruz and the Alcázar.Lost in the sunset that is contemplated from the Alcazar, a magical panorama on the Tajo river. Although , I would also propose to look in the morning to the viewpoint of the plaza del Conde from where another extraordinary vision of the river is contemplated with dozens of cicadas sounds as backdrop. As to the hotel itself , here is more info:

Quant visits holes in my beloved Madrid. Enjoy the walks!

Incursion in the Montmartre of Madrid. Every Sunday morning and for three decades, the Plaza Conde de Barajas, located next to the Arco de Cuchilleros, off the Plaza Mayor , and a few steps from the Mercado San Miguel (market), becomes the exhibitor of dozens of artists. The painters who meet here show off their painting works. Watercolors and oils coexist with the drawings, acrylics and sketches that give color a large palette of genres and formats.Nice indeed.

A visit to  the Sistine Chapel of Madrid!. The frescoes that cover all its walls, from the roof to the ground, have earned this nickname to the Church of San Antonio de los Alemanes (Germans), located in Calle Ballesta. Its elliptical layout  is another of its major peculiarities.

Since 1839, the halls of Lhardy have been silent witnesses to the history of the capital. Benito Pérez Galdós mentioned it in his National Episodes. Isabel II visited incognito in some other occasion, and Alfonso XII did the same in his meetings with the Duke of Sesto. Located in the Carrera de San Jerónimo, Lhardy was the first hotel in Madrid to allow the entrance of women alone. Its cocido (stew), as famous as its callos (tripe), includes in its three overturns chickpeas, carrot, potatoes, cabbage, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), sausage and stewed meats. More on the institution here: Restaurant Lhardy

The Valencian confectioner Luis Mira began to sell turrones (nougats) in a street post in the Plaza Mayor. Today, the house that bears his surname , stands, a few meters from Lhardy, as a sweet reference. Although their specialty is turrones made from traditional ingredients, their artisan recipes also include cakes, buds, marzipan or polvorones (Spanish shortbread). Casa Mira heirs site here: Casa Mira Madrid

In the Madrid neighborhood of La Guindalera, belonging to the district of Salamanca, still resist some of the curious Villas of modernist airs that brought together the modern Madrid colony, which was said to be the most European enclave of all neighborhoods Madrid  Of the more than 60 homes that were built between 1890 and 1906, only a dozen survive. A very nice walk indeed here.

Popularly known as the Cuesta de los Arrastraculos, an explicit nickname that alludes to the times in which it was a ravine of dirt, the stairway that shorten the biggest slope of Madrid connects the Calle  Segovia and that of the Calle Moreria. The origin of this name is divided between two possible beliefs. On the one hand, the presence in the past of blind neighbors who dwelt in the humble houses that dotted the hillside. On the other, the visit of St. Francis of Assisi, in which, according to tradition, returned the view to two indigents after ungirded eyelids with oil.

And last tip but not least,this hidden mirador (lookout) framed in the area of the Vistillas presents, behind the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, a few sunsets that have nothing to envy to the Temple of Debod. The more than 4,000 square meters of this botanical garden host up to 724 specimens of all kinds of dahlias which reach its greatest splendor in the month of June. Enjoy them all in my lovely dear Madrid!

Vestidos Simultanios or Simultaneous Dresses ,three women, shapes, colors, of 1925, is one of the works that stand out in the exhibition Pioneers: Women Artists of the Russian avant-garde, in room 43 of the National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza. It is a sample that reveals the importance of these artists, who not only participated in complete equality in this crucial movement of the avant-garde of the early 20C, but in many cases were names that led some of their currents to follow. They are key figures of the essential Russian avant-garde. The exhibition brings together 12 works, selected from the permanent collection of the Thyssen, by the artists Natalia Goncharova, Alexandra Exter, Olga Rózanova, Nadeshda Udaltsova, Liubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova and Sonia Delaunay. These creators did not become a group, but many of them met and influenced each other. Along with their paintings, photographs of the artists are exhibited and a small review of their trajectories. More info here:

And here is a find! Hear all about it in my blog! Two valuable 13C manuscripts by Bernardo de Brihuega, collaborator of King Alfonso X, have been located in the Provincial Historical Archive of Ourense (AHPOU). This is a folio and a loose sheet, in Castilian, of the lives and passions of the Apostles , of the end of the 13C or beginning of the 14C,  and that constitute the oldest preserved testimony of this work, of which until now only some late copies were known. Such as from the second half of the 14C to the beginning of the 16C, in Latin, Castilian and Portuguese. The fragment located in the Historical Archive shows that De Brihuega’s work would have been disseminated and translated into the Western peninsula. The Historical Archive of Ourense is state-owned but is transferred and depends on the Department of Culture. In its five linear km of its deposits it guards 221 funds, of which 153 are of private origin. It is headquartered in the former Episcopal palace.The webpage for the Historical Archive of Ourense is here in Castilian or Galician:

There you ,and now is the best times to visit Spain, Semana Santa (Holy Week) is on and the cofradias prepare for the march on the streets of the great Saints/Virgins of my Spain. Happy Easter, Feliz Pascua, Joyeuses Pâques! 

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



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April 12, 2019

Wines of the world!

So in continuing with the good news on the wine world, my world maybe your world too, let me tell you some numbers. Even with the pressure to reduce comsumption the trend is up because wine is an integral part of our cultures and cannot be eliminated. It is like taken down Notre Dame Cathedral ,etc etc. En vino veritas!

According to the International Vine and Wine Organization (OIV). Italy confirms its rank as the first producer in front of France. World production reached a record level of 292.3 million hectoliters, up 14.5% !!, according to the OIV . It needs to  go back fifteen years to regain a comparable volume. This situation is all the more remarkable as the vineyard has not ceased to decline since 2004. It stabilized last year.

Some numbers: A world vineyard area of 7.4 million hectares in 2018. A strong increase in production, with 292.3 million hectoliters, representing a growth of 42.5 Million hectoliters compared to 2017. A quasi-stabilized consumption of 246 million hectoliters.  World trade in wine rising with 108 million hectoliters and an increase in value of 1.2% to reach the 31.3 billion Euros!!! Thank you world!!!

In Europe, the area would grow most in Italy between 2017 and 2018, of about 5000 hectares to reach 706 millions ha, unlike other European countries that show a stabilization of the vineyard areas. Nevertheless, Spain remains in the lead in the world ranking with 969 million ha. In Asia, after more than 10 years of strong progression, the growth of the Chinese vineyard  with 875 million ha slows, while that of Turkey 448 mil ha  sees its size stabilize in 2018 after a steady decline since 2003. In the American continent, the vineyard is increasing in Mexico, which is 34 mil ha. The vineyard of South Africa continues to shrink slowly since 2012, to reach 125 mil ha in 2018. In Oceania, the Australian vineyard of 145 mil ha) would see its recent decline slow, while the New Zealand vineyard remains almost stable, with an area around 39 mil ha.

Italy confirm its place of the premier global producer with 54.8 Mil hl, followed by France with 49.1 Mil hl and Spain which registers 44.4 Mil hl. On the other hand, weather conditions have been less favorable for some European countries. In Portugal  6.1 Mil hl, attacks of mildew and powdery mildew have had an impact on the production in 2017, which remains even all with a higher production than the average of the last years.

The United States would record in 2018, with 23.9 Mil hl, a production of wines excluding juice and musts greater than + 0.5 Mil hl compared to 2017. Argentina, with 14.5 Mil hl, grew by + 2.7 Mil hl. Chile recorded a strong progression: + 3.4 Mil hl, with 12.9 Mil hl, opposite Brazil, whose production declined with 3.1 Mil hl in 2018. South Africa sees a drop of-1.4 Mil hl per compared to 2017, explained the impact of drought and reached 9.5 Mil hl. In Oceania,  Australian production with 12, 9 Mil hl  in 2018 remains stable. The New Zealand production is 3.0 Mil hl, registering + 0.2 Mil hl increase compared to 2017

In 2018, World wine consumption, estimated at 246 million hectoliters, would seem to pause in its progression, mainly influenced by a decline in consumption in China and the United Kingdom.  The United States is still the world’s largest consumer since 2011 and reached  33. Mil hl, a slight increase from the previous year  + 1.1%. In South America, there is a slight setback, except in Brazil where consumption 2018 remained almost unchanged from 2017 and amounted to 3.6 Mil hl. In Europe , wine consumption stabilizes in the majority of countries, with the exception of Spain,  increase for the third consecutive year with 10.7 Mil hl in 2018, Portugal , 5.5 Mil hl in 2018, Romania 4, 5 Mil hl, and Hungary  2.4 Mil hl.  In China, the consumption by  in 2018 would drop by 6.6% compared to 2017, and would reached  18 Mil hl.  South Africa also registers a slight setback to reach 4.3 Mil hl. In Oceania, however, Australia increased by 6.1% compared to 2017 and reached 6.3 Mil hl. New Zealand remains almost stable at 0.9 Mil hl.

Spain continues to be the largest exporter in volume with 20.9 Mil hl, representing 19.4% of the the world market. France is still the world’s largest exporter in value with 9.3 billion Euros exported in 2018. Exports of  wines are still largely dominated by Spain, Italy and France, which account the three, more than 50% of the world market volume in 2018, or 54.8 Mil hl the first five importing countries are Germany, United Kingdom, USA, France and China-represent more than half of total imports.

First 2019 harvest estimates in the southern hemisphere  the harvest show a decline in most of the southern hemisphere countries (notably Argentina, Brazil and Chile).  In light of  high temperatures recorded were reportedly impacted by the harvest and South Africa would still be severely affected by drought. The only country that will harvest upwards from the previous year is New Zealand.

OIV entire article on World Wine Production here in English

The next OIV Congress will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, July 15-19 2019. This will be the  42nd World Congress of Vine and Wine. Who is the OIV well a brief description follows.

The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) is an intergovernmental organization established in 1924. It works in the scientific and technical fields of the whole wine sector. The organization is comprised of 46 States that account for 85% of world wine production and almost 80% of world consumption.  In addition, ten international non-governmental organizations also participate as observers.  The International Organization of Vine and Wine was created on April 3, 2001. It replaces the international vine and wine office of 1958, replacing it with the international wine board of 29 November 1924.

There you go , wine is nice, good health, and helps provide millions of jobs for families of traditional values all over the World. Enjoy it wisely, consume smart, and share it. And remember, happy travels, (to vineyards is awesome) ,good health, (wine is an anti oxydant good for you), and many cheers to all (with wine the cheering will be better) !!!


April 5, 2019

And wines of my Spain, it is!!!

Ok as I was cerfified on both commercial offices of France and Spain, on wine knowledge and expertise, and citizen of both countries … I did a previous one on the latest news on France,and why not on Spain! An always exciting country for wine, for many years left in decay and from the last 20 or so slowly coming back out with its great potential. I love the Riberas, Rias, Riojas, Toro, Jumillas, sherries, and especially all of the Castillas with especial emphasis on Castilla La Mancha. Ok so that’s me bragging, now for the news!

Uclés (also famous for a great monastery see my previous post) is a small denomination of Castellano-Manchega origin that seeks to be noted in a sea of bulk and table wines of low profitability. Conditions are not lacking, from its more than 800 meters of height to the continental climate with strong thermal differential, passing through the soils that both give quantity and, suitably cultivated, quality. Finca La Estacada, of the family Cantarero Rodríguez, started in 2001. A large family rooted in the Cuenca área of which some created Bodegas Fontana, a landmark renovator in its time; Others follow the trail with Finca La Estacada, which has its greatest achievement in this selection of varietals. They are part of a successful combination of grapes that bring their seal to the aromatic range laden with ripe fruit, which is adorned with spices and roasted oak, perhaps too present. Powerful, juicy, fresh and long wine, not surprising but convincing. Finca La Estacada. Tarancón (Cuenca) DO: Uclés Red Reserva, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo,Merlot and Syrah. One of my best finds lately staying in this área of Castilla La Mancha. More Info click here:

Rigorous, restless, imaginative, convincing, Victoria Pariente and daughter Martina offer masterful elaborations with the Verdejo variety. And they do it in all forms: young crianzas, aged on lees, fermented in ovoid deposits of clay cement, fermented and bred in oak. And now they surprise with this farm wine that represents the culmination of a pioneer saga in the difficult task of dignifying the whites of Rueda when few believed it possible. For this they have chosen the grapes of a small vineyard in the plot Las Comas, where vegetative strains planted in 1910, have waited to have an exceptional vintage, and finally, fermented and bred with its lees in a barrel of 2,250 liters for 12 months. On a reverberating surface of gravel, ripe fleshy fruit covered by the fresh balsamic touch of the herbal fields, and enriched with subtle floral notes, in discreet wooden background suggesting toasted spices. Slender, soft, full, long. Jose Pariente La Seca (Valladolid) DO: White Rueda crianza, 13.5% Verdejo.More Info click here:

It began by opening the way of the Albariño, soon surpassed by the Verdejo, which now feels the breath of Godello. It is not surprising that the most dynamic wineries in Rioja, Ribera del Duero or Penedès have expanded their offer with wines from Rías Baixas, Rueda, Valdeorras and Bierzo. The last one to bet on Godello is Emilio Moro. They began buying vineyards and land in the highest area of Bierzo, then building the winery. They begin by enticing the terrain, with small productions, and two marks, The El Zarzal and the La Revelia. It is a white fermented in French oak barrels of 500 liters, aged on eight-month lees. Precise elaboration that achieves a cleanly varietal aroma, with the bone fruit wrapped in leaves and dry flower notes, and a citrus freshness in the shaded atmosphere of the smoked oak. Tasty, enveloping, leaves an elegant fruity memory. Emilio Moro. Pesquera de Duero (Valladolid) OD: Bierzo Blanco crianza, Godello 13.5%  More Info click here:

Point apart. As above El Zarzal, Bodegas Emilio Moro, Castilla y León (Bierzo), 2017, White Godello, 13.50 º . Aromatically fine, with laurel, dried flowers and a stony background. Very greedy, powerful and with good persistence and texture. Notes of green figs. It will improve in bottle even more. Lovely tasted good. More Info click here:

The Ribera del Duero denomination of origin, which houses vineyards located in Castilla y León, has become one of the most vibrant Spanish wine regions. Each of these bottles can be purchased on the Internet for less than 10 euros, but it depends on your geographical region.

Viña Sastre Roble 2017 14%. This emblematic winery of La Horra, founded by the Sastre family in 1992, is characterized by its traditional style, faithful to its terroir and vineyards. 45 hectares of property located at a certain altitude. Viña Sastre Roble is characterized by being 100% of the Tinta del Pais, the local name of the Tempranillo variety, and for its long ageing, of nine months in American and French oak casks, which gives the whole complexity. It is a wine of deep cherry color, of elegant nose of black wild forest with a touch roasted and of licorice; Deep and sensual in the mouth, of great fruitiness, fresh for its good acidity and balanced bitterness. More Info click here:

Melior de Matarromera Roble 2016  14%. Carlos Moro founded its Matarromera Winery in 1988, in the heart of La Ribera, in Valbuena de Duero. At present, there are 90 hectares of vineyards mainly of the Tempranillo variety, whose ripe bunches are harvested by hand to prevent their breakage and to express their best quality. The 2016 Melior Roble performs a six month ageing in oak casks, and its color is a deep dark cherry red color, fruit of its youth. On the nose displays seductive notes of red and black wild, blackberries and blueberries, and interacting touches with notes of quality. It is tasty, juicy and very fruity, with a medium, fresh-pitched body, very aromatic and fine; fluid, with volume and full of sensations, of elegant bitterness, very balanced, with a pleasant mineral finish. It is a very elegant, harmonious, round and balanced wine. More Info click here:

Celeste 2017 14%. Celeste is the definitive bet of the Torres family, of the well-known bodega of Penedés, on the Ribera del Duero. Its winery, baptized as Pagos del Cielo  with vineyards located at high altitude, is located in Campos de Peñafiel (Valladolid). Celeste 2017 is made of fine red and a three month ageing in French and American oak casks. It has a deep dark cherry color of youth, and displays a fine aroma of blackberries with a floral touch of violets, and a pleasant end of cocoa and bitter chocolate. Greedy, with an attractive rusticity, half-bodied, with fine bitterness, fruity finish and pleasurable persistence. These characteristics make it a very balanced wine, and with a delicious final minerality.  More Info click here:

La Planta 2017, 14.5%. The La Planta is the oak wine of the famous Bodega Arzuaga Navarro, well known for its spectacular winery in the Golden Mile, between Peñafiel and Valladolid. The Arzuaga Family founded it in the early nineties, surrounded by a spectacular spot with vibrant native fauna and flora. Its vineyards, of which 150 hectares are owned, are located in the prestigious Valladolid region where the Tempranillo grape variety continues to dominate. The 2017 La Planta is made from vineyards located at an altitude of 900 meters and the grapes are macerated in cold, which then ferment at a controlled temperature of 25 º C (77F). Finally, the wine performs a 6 month ageing in American oak casks. To the eye it possesses the typical color of its youth, an intense cherry color and bruised. In the nose it displays pleasing notes of black wilds of forest, blackberries, currants, blueberries, with a pleasant toasted oak bottom. Meaty, of ample craving, with notes of vanilla of cast wood , being tasty, of ample fruitiness and with body. In short, a satisfying wine, with the final memory of the sweetness of vanilla. More Info click here:

Valtravieso Finca Santa María 2017 ,14%. Very close to Peñafiel, in one of the most stony and high moors of the Ribera del Duero at 915 meters, stands the Bodega Valtravieso. Founded in 1985, it has some 60 hectares of vineyards, where it not only cultivates the emblematic fine tinta del pais variety, but a small extension of the grapes of French Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The peculiarity of its oak-type wine Valtravieso Finca Santa Maria is that the grapes come exclusively from this farm, where it intervenes in 95% of Tempranillo with a touch of 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the final blend of wine makes a six month ageing in oak barrels. Its cherry color, very concentrated, makes you think of a wine with a body. Its aroma is of fresh fruit, with strawberries of forest and currants, and a touch of black plum, as well as balsamic country herbs. The entrance of the mouth is different from the other Riberas, by the French varieties, very potent, tannic and virile, with body and a vivid bitterness in equilibrium with its vibrant acidity, which brings freshness, and very marked end of currants. It is a very tasty wine, corporeal, powerful and balanced, long remembered. More Info click here:

The climate, the grape variety and the elaboration process are essential for the wine, yes. But so is the land where the vine is cultivated. As a general rule, the most suitable terrain should have a proportion of limestone, clay and silicon components so that the wine has finesse, potency, intensity, character and freshness. Having this in mind these wines selection below will tantalize your taste bugs!

Navaherreros 2016 . San Martín de Valdeiglesias (Madrid). DO: Vinos de Madrid. Red Crianza, Garnacha 14.5%. Into from old Garnachas bred in French oak. Intense aroma, with candied notes of red wild, flower and spices. Tasty, fruity finish. More Info click here:

Teneguía Caletas 2015 . Fuencaliente (La Palma). DO: La Palma. Canary Islands. White Crianza, 13%.With local grapes Vijariego, Malvasia, Albillo, Sabro, Gual and Listán. Go back to my roots!. Achieved a combination of white varieties of free standing for an aromatic landscape of elegant fruity complexity, with floral notes and pastries souvenirs on a smoked background. Soft and greedy. More Info click here:

From the Rioja wines to the Parmesan or Manchego cheese and the Spanish turrón from Jijona (nougat), the European products with denomination of origin must be protected before the Brexit or risk that third parties will appropriate their brand and reputation. This was raised in statements to EFE agency by Massimo Vittori, director of OriGIn, a non-profit organization that from 2003 represents more than 500 associations of producers of goods with Denomination of Origin(DO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), in they are of forty countries. However, note the pact has not been approved by the British Parliament. And, if by April 12 there is no agreement, the United kingdom could leave the block with nothing, which means that legal protection over the PGI’s would disappear in a coup. He said “All appellations of origin must register as soon as possible as a mark in the UK ” More info about OriGIn Click here:

Already past but interesting. In the Circle of Fine Arts (Circulo de Bellas Artes)  in Madrid the First International Congress on Traditional Wines of Andalusia (CIVTA), was held. The objectives of this Congress are basically three: to claim the common historical origin of the traditional wines made in Andalusia and transmitting it’s personality; to defend the singularity, exclusivity and quality; and define and discuss the current situation of wines, as an important factor in the economic and social development of the production area. The four regulatory councils that have promoted this Congress are Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP) Montilla-Moriles, DOP Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, DOP Malaga and DOP Condado de Huelva. They are highly recognized at the professional level, but very little understood by the final consumer.Indeed as to most wines of Andalucia.  And that is the great handicap that they have, because they are wines that have always been associated also to a moment of consumption that is not the table. However, this is changing now to joined them now to the gastronomy, to the great chefs, that in Andalusia are right now a reference, is the fundamental aspect that they want to emphasize . Thus, there has been an interesting pairing by four chefs with Michelin stars: Xanty Elías (from the restaurant  Acánthum, Huelva), Kisco García (from Choco,Cordoba), José Carlos García (from the Malaga restaurant of the same name) and Juanlu Fernandez (who after spending ten years with Ángel León decided just over a year to open Lú, Cocina y Alma (Lú, Kitchen and Soul) and in a few months got his star. The four have presented a gastronomic fusion, elaborating dishes that have paired with the wines of their provinces. They have probably the best driest wines in the world and also probably the best sweetest in the world. More Information click here:

There you go, come to the sunny Spain and indulge in its superb gastronomy and each time better and better wines. Spain everything under the sun! Drink in moderation but keep the traditions alive, wine is part of our every day lives, en vino veritas!!!

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






April 3, 2019

Pau, Aquitaine, wonderful region!

This was my headquarters destination for the first traject of our vacations, Pau is an interesting town. We had passed by it many times, even stay in quick night hôtels on the town, but never really wandered about it, and we decided that after so many choices we have here to pick one that we have not seen fully; so therefore, this is it PAU. We came avoiding tolls on the N165 to Nantes then the N149, and then the D824,D834,D932, etc to the N10,A63 free ride to the D834 again entering Pau on the rocade at the D817. This is a re post of August 2014 but worth the detour and repeat.

The tourist office is here,  Tourist office of Pau  , and the city page is here  City of Pau on heritage


We came by car as always, and we rented inexpensive hôtels in the outskirts so enjoy the sights and smells of the basque without paying for excessive hôtels and tolls, which with a family can leave quite a bit of centimes for better things. Our favorite chain is ACCOR and for this trip we chose the Ibis Budget Pau Est ,wonderful service by manager Véronique and great stay easy on and off from the highways and straight down the city center of Pau.  More here: Ibis hotel Pau Est

We had to tell you about the castle museum of Pau; (see post apart) here is their homepage  This is a wonderful property still Under renovation but the public is still invited in with guided tours, as well as individuals. The gardens are great wonderful views over the Pyrénées mountains and well maintained.

We visited the museum of Bernadotte, the birthplace of this   Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte chosen by Napoleon I to secure the continuation of the royal house of Sweden in 1818 he finally became the king of Sweden, today the current king Gustav is a descendant Bernadotte.


We visited the boulevard des pyrénées famous look over the mountains and took the funiculaire or cable car up and down;and it is free!!!  more here: Tourist office of Pau on the Funicular


We went to several wonderful churches such as Saint Martin, Saint Jacques, and the religious Library now of the Church of Reparatrice. We took a walk by the museum of deportation and liberation that was closed but in the beautiful park of Villa Lawrence. Many more about them and ideas here too numerours to mention,  the museums and parks are here: Tourist office of Pau on cultural heritage



We did our shopping in the Auchan cc near us, wonderful place with all you need including micromania hehehe and Flunch restos,nice refreshing site to relax after a long day of sightseeing.  CC Auchan at Pau


Of course we ate out, and the best there was pizzeria l’Etna at rue Sully, very nice folks and great food at reasonable prices. Even thus some of the rating is average 3 out of 5 we found it above average for the price, quality, excellent service, and quick; leave you with my site in English The Fork : The Fork on the Etna of Pau


We did lots of eating in house, buying at the Auchan cc or the covered market Halles in Pau is excellent fresh produce great quality and good prices for take home from veggies to wines; every day except sundays and at place de la République,  now totally renovated! more here: Halles or covered market of Pau


We did our shopping of goodies here mostly the kids bought stuff like foot locker,fnac, micromania, lacoste and hugo boss, we settle for the food, chocolates !!! the L’Atelier du Chocolat at Maréchal Joffre is excellent, we got the touron basque or the basque nougat,  more here: Atelier du Chocolat at Pau


Also, at the palais des pyrénées shopping center where FNAC ,Micromania are located off place Clemenceau you find the Chocolaterie de la Couronne, here we went for the suedoise or swedish and the pallet des pyrénées, delicious, try it;  more here:  Chocolaterie de la Couronne



We did took a peek at the Galeries Lafayette store at place Clemenceau, and had our cold beers at the Café de l’Europe just there too at rue Maréchal Foch  with nice fast friendly service. We , also, stop first one at La Brasserie Royale at place Royale for cold beers and drinks.




The above was done in and out as we got our wheels and travel all over the region and even into Spain on one day trips from our base in Pau. Great family trip, and good driving all the way with little or no traffic. Over 2450 kms of travels by the road warrior once again. Cheers and stay tune for more.

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

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April 3, 2019

Deep pyrénées at Saint Jean Pied-de-Port!

We continue our journey now in the  Southwest  and we enter the domain of the Basques as well as their reputed excellent cuisine. As much as driven this is a new area for me. I usually driven by pass this mountaineous area to go by Oloron Sainte Marie or go further into Saint Jean de Luz/Bayonne/Biarritz areas.  We took the plunge into Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port again in the Pyrénées Atlantiques dept 64. We drove from Pau and took the most scenic route ,meaning mountains !! This is a re post of August 2014! Worth the detour!!!

We set out on the N134 direction Oloron Sainte Marie, and here took the road D919 direction Aramits (yes please the famous member of the 3 muskeeteers is from here ,the film Aramis personage real name  Henri d’Aramitz) so I can say been to see Richelieu, D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos ,and now Aramis. My motto all for one and one for all !! Here we took the road D918 directon Tardets, and then we hit the mountains on the D26 to reach Larrau and then Iraty and its col de Bergagi!!!1327 meters high through the clouds wow!!! on third gear on the D19 now, then again thru huge mountains we hit the road D18 direction Saint-Jean-le-Vieux (here they had a fairs all goodies from the region and it was packed traffic directed to connect with the road D933 that took us in to Saint Jean Pied de Port at last!!! Great ride !!!

St jean pied de port

St jean pied de port

St jean pied de port

We got in thru the citadel ramparts of the old castle of citadelle de Mendiguren that you can meandered through. tourist office is at  St jean de port tourist office

and the town site here,  City of St Jean de Port on heritage

St jean pied de port

St jean pied de port

You need to see the Church of the Assomption de la Vierge (that locals still insist is the old name that counts such as Notre-Dame-du-Bout-du-Pont) . The various gates or portes surrounding the old town along rue de la Citadelle such as Porte St Jacques, Notre Dame, Navarre, Spanish , and France.  This street is full of shops and restos very quaint and picturesques. The Bishop’s prison or Maison prison des évêques is nice small museum. Photos to follow not in order.

St jean pied de port

St jean pied de port

St jean pied de port

St jean pied de port

St jean pied de port

 St jean pied de port

The most impressive for us however, was the food, we are very gourmand and wine lovers so we had our lunch with local products at a butcher, traiteur shop, this is the real thing forget the restaurants. We had our Bayonne ham, Roncal brebis(ewe) (goat) cheese, basque sangria with piment espelettes,and delicious cherry and apple gateau basque or basque cakes  at Charcuterie Basquaise Maison Gastellou on 9 rue d’Espagne (and we follow them when in our Fairs). Go for it !!. We took it and ate at the parc with an overview of the city by Place Floquet. We then came back to buy more to take home ::)  See them here: Maison Gastellou at St Jean Pied de Port

St jean pied de port

St jean pied de port

St jean pied de port

We went for the basque macarons at the La Fabrique de Macarons on rue de la Citadelle, yummy for desserts. here they had almonds, chocolate, lemon, noix de coco, almonds with piment d’espelette, flavors that we clean the house.  More here: La Fabrique de Macarons

At the La Caves aux Fromages we clean up on brebis(ewe)  cheeses in different shapes and textures from Ossau-Iraty region simply awesome we eat them at home like bread lol!!! They are at the place des remparts back on the left of the covered market, this is what you would get there the real thing. More here: The Ossau Iraty cooperative on the La Cave aux Fromages

And to end it all, we stop by the store of Etienne Brana, one of the original irouléguy wine and do not forget the apéritf wine Txapa ::)  , the page for them, which you can also tour their winery, we decided to go for the wine at the store instead on rue de l’église.  More here:  Etienne Brana winery and store

Now we were all set to go back on a full day swinging since early hours, we decided to take it easy and go thru more flat terrain now; so we head out of the D933 road direction St Jean le Vieux. Then took the D918 direction Mauléon-Licharre.  Continue on fast empty departémental roads we took the D2 direction Navarrenx (which had already visited) , took the D947 direction Orthez and then the rocade road D817 to Pau. And rest at our base there!!! but ready for more…always!

Hope you enjoy it ,really very nice part of my belle France. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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March 30, 2019

Hostal Restaurant Palacios ,Toledo!

Ok so today will go into again uncharted territory for me. I do travel whether business or pleasure always try to sneek in and see things in our beautiful world. Spain is like my home, I am Spanish citizen since birth from my grandparents of Tenerife.  I have lived in Madrid and still cousins there and near north of Toledo. I do visit Spain at least once every year since upteem times. All said and done.

However, when I write I tell you about experiences and things to see eat do, but I like to bring one dear place to give it the credit it deserves in my arsenal of memories ,hoping they become yours too. My family was taken to Spain by my insistance for several years now and they became to love it too; no question every year vacation time Spain came out on top and get away from our beloved France where we have lived for the last 16 years.

The visit to Toledo is a must for all, and no different for us Spaniards to see the history of our country ,the tolerance of Toledo is awesome(search my many posts on it). While walking its narrow cobblestone streets in the center and beyond and got to the point of been hungry we stop at a restaurant that is also a hostal (inexpensive hotel) right in the tourist central! We thought would be crazy to eat there but the price was right, amazing even 7,95€ complete meal with wine/beer so we took the opportunity.

It has been our must stop each time in the city for lunch for the last several years except 2018 when my dear late wife Martine passed away from pancreatic cancer. She loved this place so much. I would tell you briefly on Hostal Restaurant Palacios in Toledo!


The magic lunch menu price has been kept from 7,50€ to 7,95€ over the years and always fully loaded with entrée, main dish, dessert, drink of juice sodas/wines/beers and coffee! It changes every time often. The food is terrific and the place very quant with very nice people we have come to know, they even remember us!!


This Small and modern Hostel-Restaurant is located in the heart of the old town of Toledo next to the Cathedral and 200 meters from the Plaza de Zocodover and the Alcázar de Toledo.


Restaurant Palacios is part of the facilities of the Hostal Palacios, located in Calle Alfonso X the Wise. In this restaurant they have been satisfying the tastes of the most exquisite palates with their wide variety of dishes and portions and the excellent quality of their products. Enjoy homemade food and typical Toledo dishes.


In General, Toledo eats well. It Is true that not always cheap, as many stand out, but if you look a bit, you will find gems like Palacios.

Hostal Palacios (this not tried yet) offers comfortable accommodation in this impressive city. The air-conditioned rooms are decorated in a warm and rustic style and feature a plasma-screen satellite TV and views of the old town of Toledo. The hotel offers an Internet point from where you can organise your excursion to the beautiful Alcázar and other sights.

I like to give you handy some webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful property worthy of my recommendation.

Official Hostal Palacios

Tourist office of Toledo on the Hostal Palacios

And two of my favorites sites already mentioned in my blogroll end of my front blog page are The Fork or Tenedor or Fourchette ,and Yelp

The Tenedor or fork reviews on Restaurant Palacios

Yelp reviews on Hostal Restaurant Palacios

There you go, I feel better now, it is worth mention good memorable places when we travel even if humble places, they are part of the thrill of traveling and family stories to last a lifetime. I know Martine would be happy to tell you about it too!


One for the memories forever my dear late wife Martine!

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


March 29, 2019

Fontainebleau,King of Rome!

Once again for my memories , the first castle ever visited in France because it was near my dear late wife Martine native town. We have been here several times and are friends of the castle members. Well, a while back  ,I went back to Fontainebleau, to see the exposition of the Le Roi de Rome was going on.

Le Roi de Rome, un enfant, un prince it is call in French. It is about the son of Napoleon I, who was so in love with all things Roman, that he created and bestowed the title of king of Rome on his only male son.  The son was born on March 20, 1811 at the Palais des Tuileries in Paris (was set on fire by communards in 1871 and raze by the city of Paris in 1884, no longer there, but a group is trying to rebuilt it on private funds).


He never set foot in Fontainebleau as his father and later uncle (Napoleon III) did, because of the turmoils of the time.  When Josephine could not provide Napoleon I a child because of old age he decided to divorce her ,and marry the sister of the tsar Alexandre I, marrying Marie-Louise of Austria at age 18 yrs old who was sacrificed  by her father the emperor François II. He married her by procuration in Vienna, brought her over to Compiegne on March 27 1810, and spent the night with her there before the religious ceremony that took place later at the Salon Carré in the Louvre, Paris.


The title of king of Rome or roi du Rome was to tell the Pope Pie VII that the new king was above him, as Rome was one of the States of the French empire.  At the same time taken away the power of the emperor of the Germanic Holy Roman empire  by given the new born the title of king of the Romans.

The baptisme was done on June 9 1811 at Notre Dame  Cathedral of Paris. The June 16 1811 a bal is organised in the Palais des Tuileries and again another one at the chateau de Saint Cloud (today also lost in history, but still a nice garden) . Important work was done in the Palais des Tuileries to host the child, the Pavillon de Marsan was rename the appartement des Enfants de France. He,also, lived at chateau de Meudon in april of 1812, Compiégne in the summer of 1811, Rambouillet in 1812, where a mansion was built call the palais du roi de Rome still in existance. A castle was to be built in the Chaillot area of Paris right by the pont d’Iena but the wars and funds were never enough to do so.

Without his father, and after the revolt first in 1814 and then in 1815, the child Napoleon François Joseph Charles, Prince of Parma, and King of Rome refuses to leave the Palais des Tuileries. Napoleon I release his title in favor of his son as Napoleon II, but the enemy refuse the deal. The child is made to run, first Rambouillet, then Blois, and Orléans, finally he leaves France on May 2 1814 by Belfort at age 3, he never will return.  At Vienna with his grandfather he was given the title of Duke of Reichstadt, his link with France or French visitors is prohibited. However tuberculosis takes him in 1832 at age 21.

The photos in this exposition were prohibited even without flash, the material presented is so precious but very much worth your trip if ever again it is shown. Instead I will bring new photos of the Chateau de Fontainebleau.


There some info on the Napoleon museum here: Official Chateau de Fontainebleau on the Napoleon Museum

Enjoy it for its history,its architecture,and its wonderful gardens. Fontainebleau is France, Europe and the World to be understood.

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



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March 28, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXVI

And here I am back at you on my beloved Spain, oh yes and times are getting warmer !!! It sunny and 15C in my neck of the woods or about 58F but in Madrid it is also sunny and 65F or about 18C. Enjoy the latest and see you maybe this summer there!!!

The biography, the Nature, the topicality of the tradition, the biography as impulse of the writing, the music like shelter and as space of coexistence in the classrooms, in the parks, in the street. In life. That’s the date. That’s what MarPoética will deploy in Marbella. Because poetry is of all.  Every day in the afternoon y 18h30, the famous Park of the Constitution (Parque de la Constitución) will unfold the Cycle ‘ Words of the Sea ‘, in which they ask the voice and the word the youngest, recognized and award-winning poets. Another of the great scenarios of the meeting will be the Royal Hospital of Mercy (Hospital Real de la Misericordia) where from the 20h30 will develop the ambitious ‘ Poetic Dialogues ‘, which call the debate to authors of first line. More here:

The culture of cheese, so deeply rooted in the Spanish tradition, needed specialized establishments to nurture and nurture it. Fortunately, we have some temples with experience and expertise.One of the best in Madrid at Poncelet , Calle Argensola 27 More here:

A free marathon with the best works of Garcia Lorca. On Wednesday March 27th is celebrated the World Theatre Day, a day that since 1961 remembers the importance that this art has to create a free and committed citizenship. The Royal Post Office (Real Casa de Correos),home of the Community of Madrid, hosts this Saturday a marathon of Lorquianas works to commemorate the centenary of the arrival of the Andalusian poet to the Residence of Students. The Act will commence at 18h.

It has Been more than two decades since, in 1994, a score of sculptures by Fernando Botero took the Paseo de Recoletos of Madrid, and enjoyed such a welcome among the pedestrians during their stay that one of them was finally gifted to the city, achievement that they did not get New York or Paris, where it had traveled before this same exhibition. His Woman with a Mirror rests, since then, placidly and face down beside the Paseo de Recoletos, turning her back to the Calle Génova. Now, a large selection of canvases by the versatile Colombian artist, who in the decade of the 70’s came to consolidate as the most quoted living sculptor on the planet, he rushes his last days in Marlborough. Considered one of the great exponents of contemporary figurative painting, his balances of composition also speak of his understanding of the mechanisms of abstraction. The same is true of its color management, another of the features of its canvases, in which humor and critique always walk by hand. Gallery Marlborough (Calle Orfila, 5).Until Saturday, March 30th.

Some curiosities of my beloved Madrid:

If today’s Retiro park seems like a fascinating place, at the time it was a much more impressive place. The Royal Site of the Gran Retiro (Great Retreat) came to count, centuries ago, with 20 buildings, five squares, six ponds and eight hermitages.

Anyone who has gone through the Puerta del Sol knows that everyone, of any creed or condition, has a hole in it. Something that is also true in a physical way, because it has an area of about 11,000 square meters.

In the Plaza de Colon area are the Gardens of Discovery, a space full of symbology. For example, the three large blocks that we can observe next to the pond represent the three caravels of the famous Columbus expedition of 1492.

We go now with a disturbing fact, and that in Madrid there are more dead people  than alive. Only in the Almudena cemetery can we find the remains of some five million people!.

The disputes in the 17C in Madrid could be caused by the slightest reason. For example, not giving up the seat in the Church or passing in front of another by a door could be reason enough to end paddling in mourning (duels).

Located in the Alameda de Osuna, the park of Capricho is almost with total security the most beautiful in Madrid. One of the great surprises that it has prepared to the visitors is a bunker of the Civil War of 1500 square meters that can be visited by means of previous reservation, the so-called Jaca Position.

Did you know that Madrid has a castle? This is a fact that very few people know and with whom we encourage the reader to investigate a little more, visit included. We refer to the Castle of the Alameda, erected in the 15C, and located in the district of Barajas.

Robustness and agility, have strong and clear voice and not have been processed by racketeer or disturbing. These were some of the requirements required to be able to be a Sereno in Madrid in the mid-20C. Sereno, the men who guarde the streets of Madrid and many times thought to be a watchdog of the government system. However, very handy of opening the door of buildings late at night if forgotten the key or came too drunk!

If you walk through any neighborhood of the city you will not advance too many meters until you run into a gym. And it is that these places have experienced a real boom in the last decade. The first Gymnasium in Spain opened in Chueca in 1859.

The growth of Madrid led to the development of neighborhoods on land that used to be a very different function. For example, where today is Moratalaz, there was a meadow in which King Alfonso XIII liked to play polo. Ok

What would be Lent and Easter without French toast (Torrijas)? This sweet, of European origin but of long tradition in Spain, consists of a slice of bread of several days that, once soaked in syrup, milk or wine, is battered in egg and fried in a frying pan with oil. It is usually sweetened with molasses, sugar or honey and sometimes it is aromatized with cinnamon… It looks pretty much like French toast, but it’s not the same. The III Contest of French Toasts of the Community of Madrid,( III Concurso de Torrijas de la Comunidad de Madrid) which, on this occasion, has been organized by three associations (Craftsmen Artisans of Pastry-Confectioners of Madrid, Association of Cooks and confectioners of Madrid and Hotel Business Association of Madrid) and it has developed in three different categories: traditional, innovative and gluten-free elaborated by bakers as well as by cooks and food confectioners.

The Latasia Restaurant has not had a rival. Among the innovative proposals, the restaurant Koma, made with iced horchata or the Barra Dulce (sweet bar) with tea chai and chocolate. Café de la Opera (in the lower floor of the Hotel Opera, opposite the Teatro Real) to taste its classic French toast. In addition, the reinterpretations that can be tasted in Catalonia Atocha (a pair of brioches inspired by breakfast and in the afternoon snack that children usually take) and the one presented by the restaurant El Etxeko of the Hotel Bless (French-toasted ingot, caramelized and perfect flavor and texture, with almond cream and pistachio ice cream)

The best for me its still the Viena Repostería Capellanes (Vienna Pastry Shops Chaplains) at Calle Alcalá, 127 ,and other locations in Madrid, Also, the Patiseria La Oriental calle Ferraz, 47. From April 5 to 21 , you can taste the best French toasts in the pastries, restaurants and hotel that have participated in this contest. More on the contest here:

If you fancy the famous American dish (burgers) and don’t want to resort to the battle burgers, investing just a little more skyline diner is an option to contemplate. Always among the listings of the best burger, in their flirty and central local feel like staying and their burgers bet on quality ingredients. It can be created to taste, for those who start by removing the greener part or fleeing the sauces. Its Strenght is the artisan bread and the three types of meat to choose (D.O. Avila Veal, Black Angus and Pollo Campero (farm chicken). At Calle de Jesús, 14. Tel. +34  913 89 67 00. average Price 15-18 euros. More here:

During the 1930s and 40’s of the 20C, the border towns of Alcoutim (Portugal) and Sanlúcar de Guadiana (Huelva), separated by the river, were dark and abrupt places, where smuggling was rampant. The porters defied the law to pass merchandise from one side of the Guadiana to the other in wartime, both day and night. This cross-border activity marked the daily lives of the inhabitants of both populations and, at the same time, established a cultural and emotional link between their people. In memory of those times, and twinned by a tradition and a common feeling, Alcoutim and Sanlúcar jointly celebrate the third edition of the Festival of smuggling, (Festival del Contrabando,) an event in which, for three days from Friday 29 to Sunday 31 March, its inhabitants revive the past through a program full of activities, with ingredients as important as art, culture, gastronomy and natural heritage shared by both villas. The official start of the festival will be on Friday 29th by 15h30 with the opening of the Market of Trades and Fair, a traditional rural market that has become one of the attractions of the event. The most anticipated moment of the festival is the inauguration of the Floating Bridge on Friday 29th, at 16h, an ephemeral platform that connects both municipalities (the rest of the year, to access from one side to another must be done by boat), which has become a tourist attraction. Thousands of people will cross the bridge in the water, between the pier of Alcoutim and the one of Sanlúcar, the three days that is installed, which facilitate to the public the access to the different events of the festival on the shores. Places like the Castillo de San Marcos, in Sanlúcar de Guadiana, or the Castle of the Villa and the Hermitage of Our Lady of the Conception, in Alcoutim, accommodate some of the festive activities, but it is worthwhile to visit them with tranquility. The complete program is here in Portuguese:

The Old Convent of Santa Fe receives 250 works of modern and contemporary authors little represented in Spain. One of the works of modern and contemporary art of the Roberto Polo collection that from this Wednesday 27th March, can be seen in the old convent of Santa Fe. The meeting, which has been possible after four years of work between the Government of Castilla-La Mancha, the Cuban-American collector Roberto Polo  and the journalist and art expert Rafael Sierra, assumes that for 15 years a renewable period by the one who signed the free transfer of 475 works of 171 artists will remain in the region. The agreement, signed last July, includes the opening of another headquarters in the old Court of the Inquisition of Cuenca, a 16C building that will house the rest of the cession and whose rehabilitation is not completed until 2023. From the beginnings of the abstraction with Kandinsky, the constructivism with The Lissitzky, the new realismes and the surrealism with Max Ernst. It is a bridge that allows us to recover the relationship between Spain and Flanders, which was lost in the 17C.

The Old Convent of Santa Fe ,closed since 1973, whose construction began in the 9C as the palace of Rahman III, then passed to the order of Calatrava and, in the 16C, Isabel the Catholic gave it to the Mother Superior of Santiago. After 15 years of restoration, the space has recovered the palatial Andalusian part and the caliphal Qubba, of which the poly lobular arches of the vault are still preserved, since that small chapel of Bethlehem, currently with mural paintings of the 16C has always been a place of prayer. Corpo also has a temporary exhibition hall, which shares with the Santa Cruz Museum and presents, for the first time in Spain, a large exhibition (60 canvases and 135 drawings) by Belgian artist Werner Mannaers. The visit to both spaces will be free until March 31st.

The bullfighter José Tomás Toreará this year at the Granada Corpus Fair on Saturday 22nd June. This will be the first paseíllo of the Spanish season of José Tomás, who wore lights in national arenas for the last time last year 29 June 2018 in Algeciras. More on Corpus Christi in  Granada here:

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

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March 26, 2019

Rabastens, cathar and wine country the Tarn

We are in the area of the south west or Sud Ouest of my belle France, waving our way thru wonderful country.  Here again wine and cathar history mingle, the cathars are gone but the wine remains in the appellation of Gaillac. This is a repost from 2015 , the birth region of my dear late wife Martine, late father Pierre.

Lets talk a bit about Rabastens, yes, it is in the Tarn department no 81 in the region of Occitanie.  It sits half way between Toulouse and Gaillac on the D988 or old N88 road, easily done and parking by the long promenade in city center close to Hotel de Ville.  You can use the fast A68 to the village of Coufouleux ,exit or sortie 7 on road D12 ,where the train station is before entering Rabastens, only 800 meters (2640 ft) from city center.  The train station is at gare de Rabastens-Coufouleux , which is a close village of Rabastens.  The webpage for the TER Occitanie . The bus system is the TarnBus, and it covers the town bus No 702 from Albi or Gaillac, with webpage

It is an old town as such in the area, been inhabited by Visigoths from which it takes its “ens”. The Cathar or Albigeois was big here as the city was considered a center of heresy!  By the treaty of Paris of 1229 the city is forced to destroyed its religious buildings. The war of the Hundred years by 1337 does a lot of damage and many perished under it force, by 1450 the end of the war, the new discovery of pastel or the teint in textiles gave the city a new birth, but then again the war of Religion of 1561 the city is a center of protestanism and suffer heavy damages.  The peace in 1563 does not stop here what is started in Paris with the massacre of St Barthelomy.  Finally the cave or cellars of wine in 1953 gives the wine back to the city and its a source of prosperous times still today.


Some of the things to see and do here are the Hôtel de Ville or mayors’ office an old prayer house and tower of the 16C; and the Museum or musée du pays Rabastinois house in the mansion or hôtel particulier of the 17C, it contains collections of archeology, art and local history, and exhibitions of ancient and contemporary art, the webpage in the region’s webpage in French  info Hôtel de la Fite, 2 rue Amédée Clausade . Open tuesdays to fridays from 10h -12h and 14h-18h, saturdays,sundays and holidays from 15h -18h. Closed in December and January.


The must church in town and listed on the route to Santiago or the road to St James de Compostela is Notre Dame du Bourg, it has wonderful stained glass paintings showing the religious life real or legendary of  James the Mayor or St James. The oldest part dates from the 13C completely done in red brick.  There is the official site here:


You have a wonderful district or quartier du Bourg with old quaint medieval streets looking into the river Tarn,especially rue Gouzy, a lovely red brick bridge, and the gorgeous ramparts that show the fortifications of old at quai des remparts, and the district or quartier du Chateau; the oldest in town, limits of the quai des rempartsquai de la Libération ,and quai du descargadou. This is a great town to walk its ramparts and medieval streets especially in spring time. Lovely.

rabastens hotel particulier rue du pont de Plo cc

For shopping the best is the winery at 33 rue d’Albi, its actually a cooperative where many small winegrowers (about 150) pull their resources to make a delicious wine, well known in France. The Cave de Rabastens, lovely appellation Gaillac from indigenous grapes of the region like the Mauzac for whites. See the webpage of the union of cooperatives Vinovalie here:


The tourist page for the town of Rabastens is at

Again the tourist office for the department 81 Tarn is at

And the region Occitanie tourist office is at

Have a wonderful trip in a gorgeous country of the Tarn, and of course pretty Rabastens!!

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


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