Category Archives: Travelling

San Francisco Javier y Castillo de Javier (Navarra)

El pasado verano de camino hacia Francia hicimos una excursión en Navarra, con parada en Javier, donde se encuentra el Castillo de Javier y donde nació San Francisco Javier el 7 de abril de 1506.

Castillo

La construcción del castillo se inició a finales del siglo X, en tiempos de Almanzor, como torre de vigilancia para defender el valle del río Aragón. Con el paso de los siglos se añaden estructuras hasta que en el siglo XIV se edifica el “Palacio Nuevo”, siendo propiedad de la familia Azpilicueta.

Escudo

En una de las salas del castillo se muestra un árbol genealógico con todos los “Señores y Condes de Javier” desde el siglo XII, comenzando por Aznar de Sada (1194-1203) hasta el actual Javier de Urzaiz y Ramírez de Haro (1975- ). San Francisco Javier, con el nombre Francisco de Jaso y Azpilicueta al nacer, fue el quinto hijo de Juan de Jaso y Atondo (Señor de Javier) y María de Azpilicueta y Aznarez de Sada (Señora de Javier).

Arbol

A los 19 años se fue a estudiar a la Universidad Sorbona de Paris, donde conoce a Ignacio de Loyola, junto a quien, entre otros, fundaría la Compañía de Jesús en 1534. En 1540 parte a Lisboa para luego seguir con su viaje como misionero a Mozambique, la India, las islas Molucas o Japón entre otros. Es por ello que en 1927 se le nombra como patrón de las misiones católicas en el mundo.

Painting

En el pórtico de la basílica que se encuentra junto al castillo, construida en 1901, se mencionan todos los lugares que visitó, junto con una cita del evangelio de San Mateo (16:26) “¿Quid prodest homini si mundum universum lucretur animae vero suae detrimentum patiatur?” (“¿Porque qué aprovechará al hombre, si ganare todo el mundo, y perdiere su alma?”).

Basilica

Portico

Dentro de la basílica se puede contemplar una losa que marca el lugar donde nació Francisco, dado que esa parte de la iglesia anteriormente formaba parte del Palacio Nuevo, derribado parcialmente para levantar la basílica.

Nacimiento

Javieradas. Fuera del castillo, unos paneles explican en qué consisten las Javieradas: unas peregrinaciones que se realizan en honor al santo desde 1932 por iniciativa de Camino Jaurrieta Muzquiz, rescatando una primera peregrinación organizada en 1886 en agradecimiento porque Navarra no había sido afectada por la epidemia de cólera de aquel año. Las peregrinaciones se realizan en el primer domingo entre el 4 y 12 de marzo, y al domingo siguiente.

Javierada

Por último, la festividad del santo se celebra el 3 de diciembre por ser la fecha en que murió el santo en 1552 en la isla Shangchuan (China), a los 46 años de edad. Sus restos se llevaron en 1554 a Goa (India) donde fue enterrado.

Libros

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Travelling

First World War Armistice Day and Compiègne Wagon

Today, November 11th is commemorated “Armistice Day”, the day in which First World War representatives of the Allies and Germany signed at Compiègne (France) an armistice for the cessation of hostilities on the Western front at the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month“.

NYTimes-Page1-11-11-1918

Last May, we visited the “Musée de l’Armistice 14-18” at Compiègne, in a forest north of Paris. The main attraction of the museum is the Compiègne Wagon, the train coach in which the armistice was signed. A replica of the coach is displayed today at the museum, showing the position of each delegation within the train.

Coach

The coach itself, number 2419 D, was a restaurant coach built in May 1914 and delivered to the French Marshal Foch in September 1918 and employed as an office. The coach was the sixth out of the seven of the train that brought the Allied delegation.

Coach number

Complete_trains

As part of the display, one can see pieces of the original wagon, the rails where the train once stayed, some monuments to the main actors of the event, military uniforms of the time, pictures of how the delegations arrived to Compiègne, documents with the letters exchanged in advance of the meeting, announcements made to communicate it, some videos of the time, etc.

Picture

The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days. It was followed by the Paris Peace Conference in which diplomats from several countries participated. The British economist John Maynard Keynes was a delegate at the conference, and he wrote the book “The Economic Consequences of the Peace” about it (see here a post about the book).

Delegation_Paris_conference

Months later, on June 28th 1919 the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

Peace Treaty

In September 1919 the coach was donated to the Musée de l’Armée, in Paris. It was then moved to the Cour des Invalides where it was displayed in open air for some years. Thanks to the contribution of the American businessman Arthur H Fleming, a building to house it in the forest of Compiègne was built, where it was displayed until the Second World War.

Second World War

Once France was occupied, on June 22nd 1940, Hitler ordered that the wagon was taken out of the exhibition building and be placed in the rails outside in the exact location in which it was on November 11, 1918, for the signature of another armistice. He carefully prepared the setting, by switching sides for the occasion, the German delegation occupying this time the seats that the Allies had taken in 1918, with Hitler taking the place of Foch. As the story goes, he stayed while the terms were read out by someone of his delegation and left the coach before the signature took place. He then disposed that the coach be transferred to Berlin to be displayed there, at the Cathedral. As the second world war advanced the coach was moved to different locations in Germany and destroyed before the end of the war. Thus, what it is shown today is a replica.

Leave a comment

Filed under France, Travelling

Flight excursion to Menorca and Mallorca

Last weekend, with Luca and our children, we took one of the aeroclub’s DR-400 to make a flight excursion from Toulouse (France) to the islands of Menorca and Mallorca, in Spain. The excursion was part of a “Fly out” organised by the Aviation Society of the Airbus Staff Council in which 5 aircraft would make the same trip.

The main purpose of the flight was to visit Menorca, and we flew to Mallorca to refuel before coming back. It is an excursion that in the Society we had been trying to make since 2015 but we have had to cancel it due to bad or uncertain meteorological conditions several times. The flight includes a leap over the sea of about 1 hour from the East of Bagur (in Gerona) to the North of Menorca and, as there are no safe landing spots in that area, you want to have more or less certain good weather along the route both the day of the departure and return flights.

22. a Formentor, Alcudia, Cap Farrutx

Cape Formentor, Alcudia & Cape Farrutx.

We made 4 flights.

Toulouse Lasbordes (LFCL) – Perpignan (LFMP)

Flight duration: 1h11’.

Flight_route_LFCL_LFMP

We included this first stop over Perpignan just to refuel the aircraft to the maximum before flying over the sea all the way through Menorca, so in case of bad weather or any other problem at the destination we could make a comeback to France or somewhere else in the Spanish coast. We selected Perpignan instead of other viable options such as Ampuriabrava for various reasons, among them lower cost of fuel and landing fees.

In the way to Perpignan the sky was overcast (OVC) at a low level around Carcassonne, and, as I did not want to fly on top for that leg, this forced us to fly just at 1000 ft above ground and to follow the highway to Narbonne rather than taking a more direct route to Perpignan over the mountains. You can see the route we followed above.

It was the first time I landed at Perpignan, but finding the field from the way points NL (in the coast) and NF was trivial. Once in the vicinity we integrated directly into the circuit for runway 31, closer to the fuel pump. There, we had a quick lunch and prepared for the following flight.

Perpignan_chart

Find the Garmin record of the flight here.

Perpignan (LFMP) – San Luis (LESL)

Flight duration: 1h56’.

Flight_route_LFMP_LESL

Just after the take-off from Perpignan we took a right turn towards the East and reached the coast South of waypoint EA. From then on we started climbing up to 5500 ft, the altitude selected for the flight over the sea (the highest, the better). In order to keep a high altitude you need to avoid the TMA from Barcelona, otherwise they may ask you to descend below 3000 ft. Thus, we went to the capes of Bear, then Creus and from then on South East heading to pass about 10 nm East of the VOR at Bagur. From then on we followed a series of IFR waypoints (NEMUM – AGENA – VERSO – TOSNU – SARGO).

TMA_BCN

Flying above the sea is not particularly eventful. You mainly need to maintain the altitude and attitude and the heading stable, as it is very easy to loose references with the difficulty to distinguish the horizon.

As far as radio communications are concerned: we were first transferred with the Gerona traffic control and then to the one of Barcelona. The communications were held in Spanish. Easy, as long as you have a flight plan and follow the announced route. Those frequencies were mainly used by commercial flights going to/from Barcelona or Palma, mainly Vueling flights. Also good to know is that as you fly away from Barcelona at some points you may not be heard by the control; no worries, keep going and sending the messages.

About an hour later we had in sight the North of the island of Menorca, the cape of Cavalleria. But before that, approaching the way point of SARGO (about 25 nm or 14 minutes from the shore) you need to descend down to below 2500 ft, though the control will ask to go down to 1000 ft AMSL as that is the limit of the air space class A around the main airport in Menorca, Mahon.

Cavalleria

Cape of Cavalleria.

Once in sight of the shore we requested to follow the coastal line to the East down to the East Corridor for Mahon in order to reach San Luis from the East (the control had however proposed to surround the island around the West and South).

San Luis_chart

Following that route we took the opportunity to take some nice pictures of the coast, the lighthouses and the fortress of Isabel II at La Mola.

San Luis is a non-controlled aerodrome without radio. Therefore, you must stay connected to the frequency of Mahon and land at your discretion, with a circuit to the East of the runway (02/20). The aerodrome is managed by the Aero-club of Menorca. In their site you may find contacts and charts (old ones being in use). There are not official fees but a contribution is expected; 10 euros for landing, 5 for parking. These are paid at the restaurant by the apron, which serves very decent menus and where the staff will be happy to help you calling for  taxi.

We spent the remaining of Friday afternoon and all Saturday enjoying the beach and the hotel’s pools, including a beer on Saturday night with the colleagues from the Society at a bar by the beach, Es Corb Mari (in Son Bou).

Find the Garmin record of the flight here.

San Luis (LESL) – Son Bonet (LESB)

Flight duration: 1h10’.

Flight_route_LESL_LESB

As the aerodrome of San Luis doesn’t have a fuel pump we could refuel at the main airport of Mahon, but as it requires to contract handling (with expensive fees) we preferred to fly down to Son Bonet (in Mallorca island), which landing fee is less than 7 euros, no handling contracting is required and there is free parking for a stay below 2 hours.

We filed the flight plan on the phone with Menorca airport (at this time the number for flight plans being: +34971157138). On ground, we were already connected to the frequency of Menorca and right after take-off we were cleared to turn West and cross the axis of the airport in our way to the West corridor which took us to the South coast of the island up to the cape and lighthouse of Artrutx.

From Artrutx we flew over the sea towards the bay of Pollensa (making use of its VOR), in Mallorca, and then we flew within the inner side of the island following the road from Alcudia to Mallorca by way of Inca. When leaving Inca we passed with the frequency of Son Bonet (123.5) around which English is mainly spoken as there are quite a few helicopters flying in and out. Finding the aerodrome coming from the road was trivial and we easily integrated into the circuit for runway 23.

At Son Bonet we paid the landing fees (~ 7 euro) and filed the flight plan at the small office by the parking. We refuelled (~3.05 euros per litre of Avgas 100LL) and had some lunch before the long  flight to Toulouse.

Find the Garmin record of the flight here.

Son Bonet (LESB) – Toulouse Lasbordes (LFCL)

Flight duration: 3h04’.

Flight_route_LESB_LFCL

Once we were ready at Son Bonet, we got on board and departed from runway 23 again, took a right turn to the West during the climb to fly North of Son Moix on the way to Esporles to reach the coast of Tramuntana in order to fly along it up to the cape of Formentor.

Flight_route_LESB_LFCL_2

In the past, we had visited several spots along the way of this coast on the ground. The landscapes are remarkable. This time we wanted to get a view of them from the plane, which was breath-taking.

Once we reached Formentor we took a heading to the North and followed another series of IFR waypoints (KENAS – SULID – AGENA – NEMUM) to reach the East of the above mentioned VOR of Bagur, cape of Creus and enter back into French air space. This time, as the weather was clearer than during the first flight of the excursion, we maintained 5500 ft altitude until we had exited the TMA of Carcassonne.

Find the Garmin record of the flight here.

Some general remarks:

All the navigation logs were again prepared using the tool Mach 7, and during the flight we used the help of the AirNav Pro on the mobile phone (no tablet, though it would be easier). For Spain we had 1/1.000.000 chart from AIR MILLION (Editerra) and the 1/500.000 from Rogers Data. Neither of them has the IFR waypoints marked on them, so you need to write them down yourself in advance.

VFR aerodrome charts in Spain are retrieved from the site of ENAIRE, which in my opinion is less user friendly than the French equivalent. The charts themselves are comprised of too many different documents to handle; it is better to have a simple single PDF of 2-8 pages s in the French case for VFR. On top of that, not all small aerodromes have the information in ENAIRE, try googling about them or contact the local club.

Leave a comment

Filed under Aerospace & Defence, Travelling

Normandy landings on June 6, 1944. D-Day.

Today, June 6th, we commemorate the anniversary of the Normandy landings during World War II in 1944, what is often referred to as D-Day.

A few weeks ago, we visited “Omaha beach“, one of the beaches where Americans landed, which you may have seen as, along with many documentaries, it was staged in the film “Saving Private Ryan“. The beach is about 6 kilometres long and extends through different villages. And it is not the only beach where Allied forces landed, as there were Americans landing at Utah beach as well, together with British landing at Sword and Gold beaches, more to the East, and Canadians at Juno beach.

Omaha_1

The Germans had fortified the hills, built barracks, installed obstacles in the beach and planted thousands of mines.

The landings, part of the Operation Overlord, code named Neptune, started at 6:30am, and they continued for weeks. Just on D-Day Allied forces counted 10,000 casualties with over 4,000 confirmed dead, with similar figures in the German side.

After the first days, a bridge, “Mulberry” was built to offload vehicles from boats coming from the United Kingdom. Some days during the summer up to 24,000 men or 3,000 vehicles crossed that bridge. An aerodrome was built uphill to evacuate the injured. The original bridge was brought down in the following winter by strong sea tides. Today a relic has been built, with some of the original concrete blocks visible in low tide.

Omaha_7

Today, there are several monuments along the beach, one of them Les Braves Omaha Beach Memorial. It is a sculpture that symbolizes wings of hope, freedom, fraternity.

Omaha_5

In front of it there is a monument to the 1st US Infantry Division. It has the following inscription engraved in it:

No mission too difficult.

No sacrifice too great. Duty first.

Forced Omaha beach at dawn 6 June.

Omaha_6

By the monument visitors leave candles, flowers and some written notes. Most of them stand by in silence watching the vastness of the beach, thinking of the sheer numbers of people involved in the operation and what awaited them, praying for their lost ones. Occasionally a bus comes with veterans, relatives of soldiers who fought there, you name it, and trumpet plays Taps.

Nearby, a panel reminds the lyrics of the song “Remember Omaha” by Jean Goujon.

Leave a comment

Filed under France, Travelling

Château de Chenonceau

During our last Christmas road trip, we made a stop by the Château de Chenonceau, one of those castles of the Loire valley that stands out among the rest and which we had wanted to visit it on ground since we flew over it in 2015.

Chenonceau_family

As the brochure of the visit tells, and the different panels along the rooms and corridors let you grasp, the Château de Chenonceau is a Ladies’ castle, due to the several women that left a mark in its configuration and history.

The first castle did not cross the river Cher, and was located at the small island between the gardens, where today stands alone the Marques tower (see the aerial view below), built after the castle was burnt down to punish the Marques family, the first proprietors of the castle.

The Marques family facing problems, the chamberlain of the king, Thomas Bohier and his wife Katherine Briçonnet, maneuvered to get in possession of the castle, which they started to rebuild to their taste, used if to host French nobility and to project an image of themselves.

Chenonceau_aerial

They adopted common initials (TBK) that they displayed around the castle.

IMG_20171228_124000130

They created an aspirational personal motto while building the castle: “S’il vient à point, me souviendra” (i.e. if I get to the end of this construction, I will be remembered).

IMG_20171228_115416510 - Copy

Years later, in 1535, being the castle in possession of Bohier’s son, it was taken by the king Francis I (to cancel out unpaid debts). After his death, his son, king Henri II gave it as a present to his mistress Diane de Poitiers in 1547. It was Diane who built the bridge to join the castle with the opposite river bank, and it was that move that started to make it unique.

At the death of Henri II, her widow, Catherine de Medici, forced Diane to exchange Chenonceau for another castle, the Château Chaumont, and made Chenonceau her favourite residence and a place full of intrigues for the years to come. She closed the bridge into a gallery (multi-storied), she added several rooms and bedrooms, made gardens more magnificent, gathered art collections and hosted parties.

Corridor

IMG_20171228_120958621

Ever since, the castle was to be linked to French royal family and later French nobility. There is a telling name of the power of the running family, that of the “Five Queens’ Bedroom“, named after Catherine de Medici’s two daughters and three daughters-in-law:

  • Daughters: Queen Margot (wife of Henri IV), Elizabeth of France (wife of Philippe II of Spain),
  • Daughters-in-law: Mary Stuart (wife of Francois II), Elisabeth of Austria (wife of Charles IX) and Louise of Lorraine (wife of Henri III).

IMG_20171228_120157427

Once a widow, after her husband was assassinated, Louise of Lorraine, would retire herself to pray at the castle. A room would be decorated in black, being that another of the landmarks of the castle, under restoration at the time of our visit, though.

Further women would contribute to the enlightenment of the castle in the following centuries, renovating it, bringing in artists and writers such as Montesquieu, Voltaire or Rousseau. It even played the role of hospital where over 2,000 injured were attended during Second World War.

IMG_20171228_125855410-EFFECTS

1 Comment

Filed under France, Travelling

Belén Monumental de San Lorenzo del Escorial

La semana pasada aprovechamos nuestra estancia en Madrid para acercarnos a San Lorenzo del Escorial para pasear con los niños.

En fechas navideñas el Escorial cuenta no sólo con el impresionante monasterio y su lonja como atractivos para dar un paseo, sino con el tradicional Belén Monumental realizado por los voluntarios de Mariano Pardo, “Pardito”, que llevan 21 años realizando dicho Belén, y que forma ya parte del folclore cultural de la Sierra en estas fechas.

En esta entrada quería dejar una serie de fotos de la visita.

IMG_20180103_164505786_HDR

Fachada oeste del monasterio.

IMG_20180103_161814852_HDR

Nacimiento.

IMG_20180103_161951173

IMG_20180103_162343396

¿Herodes?

IMG_20180103_162419224

Soldados romanos.

IMG_20180103_162628839

Gladiadores.

IMG_20180103_162635584

Biga.

IMG_20180103_162225146

IMG_20180103_163223072

Río, molino, patos…

IMG_20180103_161555254

Poblado.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Travelling

Baarle-Hertog and Baarle-Nassau

A few days ago, we visited the villages of Baarle-Hertog (Belgium) and Baarle-Nassau (The Netherlands). I tweeted a short thread about it that you can see below:

Briefly:

  • The village is divided between Belgian and Dutch exclaves in a very intricate border, including several exclaves which are no more than a few houses or a farm. The Belgian part of the village itself is an exclave in The Netherlands, a few kilometres from the border (such as Llivia from Spain within France, or Treviño of Castile within the Basque country in Spain).
  • The borders were defined in the Maastricht Treaty in 1843. In 1995 a commission clarified the borders.
  • There are marks in the ground that show where the border goes, indicating which side belongs to which country. The panels of the streets or the numbering of the houses also help you to locate where you are.
  • There is a bike route which takes you through the different border lines.

Baarle_1

Baarle_2

Baarle_3

Baarle_4

Baarle_5

Once I tweeted that thread, the beauty of Twitter made it that a friend, Miguel, referred me to a series of posts about that village written by the blogger Diego González who hosts a blog about borders.

On top of that, I had taken the idea to visit that village from yet another retweet from another friend, Pablo.

You can see in that tweet below the different posts (in Spanish).

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Travelling