Category Archives: Spain

CAN THE MAGIC HOUSE BE SAVED?

La Casa Magica, Villatuerta, Spain – charming, warm, old and threatened with foreclosure.

I received an SOS email last night. A 500-year-old albergue in which my cousin Iain and I stayed while walking the Camino de Santiago is in serious financial trouble. I suspect that is not uncommon in Spain at the moment.

I have no idea whether the inn’s owners Simone and Miguel are good or bad at running a business. I know they bought La Casa Magica at a bad time, just before Spanish property prices plummetted. They probably paid too much for their building. I’m sure they weren’t the only ones. Continue reading

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HASTA LA VISTA – six Spanish highlights

Great food, great company, striking art and plenty of sitting around in the sun.

We really enjoyed our time in Spain. We didn’t spend enough euros there to lift the Spanish out of their current economic problems, but we can heartily recommend that everyone else should go and do so – pronto.

Here’s a brief ‘best of’ from our trip. Continue reading

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THE MIRACLE OF SANTO DOMINGO

The cathedral at Santo Domingo.

Santo Domingo and feathered friends.

Remarkable things can happen in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, though the modern miracles could never be as amazing as the events of bygone days…

A young man who was walking the Camino de Santiago with his parents caught the eye of an innkeeper’s daughter. Unfortunately her feelings for him were not reciprocated, so she planted a silver cup in his backpack, falsely accused the lad of theft, and had him hanged. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

His grieving parents sadly continued their pilgrimage to Santiago, but on their way past the gallows, noticed that their son, though still hanging from his neck, was surprisingly alive. Continue reading

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CAMINO DE SANTIAGO – of food and drink and beds

Casa Magica, Villatuerta. It’s not five star; the magic is in the charm and the warm welcome.

La Casa Magica in Villatuerta is old. Camino de Santiago pilgrims have been pulling off their boots and hobbling across its rough stone floor for over 500 years.

Now the old albergue is on Facebook and has a website and guest wi-fi.

A bed costs ten euros and breakfast an additional four.

‘I’m sorry if we’re a little more expensive than some albergues,’ says our hostess Simone. Expensive? 14 euros for B&B?? We’ve paid that much for coffee and a croissant in other countries, and bad coffee at that.

Most people spending a month or so walking to Santiago will be doing it on a budget but this is ridiculous. We’ve never found any travel in Europe as cheap as this. Continue reading

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FRANK GEHRY’S EXTRAORDINARY HOTEL – Elciego, Spain

A great work of art or a blot on the landscape?



In a small Spanish village in the wine-growing area La Rioja, one building stands out.

Hotel Marques de Riscal is a Starwood hotel designed in 2006 by Frank O. Gehry, well known to Spaniards and architecture students for his work on Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.
Continue reading

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CAMINO DE SANTIAGO – walking the road much travelled

Peregrinos coming through.



Making a pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago had never been on my bucket list. Everybody had ‘done’ the Camino, like they’d ‘done’ Kilimanjaro, the Milford Track and Machu Picchu.

I’ve yet to tackle any of those famous walks, being slightly deterred by their popularity, but now I’ve started along the Camino, I feel differently about it. Yes, lots of people have done it, hundreds of thousands of them, maybe millions over the centuries, and that’s the whole point. Continue reading

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