July 23, 2018

Some news from France CXCVI

On a nice sunny breezy Monday I come back to you for the latest news gossips and whatnots of my belle France and especially gorgeous Paris.  The temp in my neck of the woods is 26C or about 78F and in Paris hotter at 87F no rain in sight !

It is becoming hotter and when you still need to work sad; folks asked me aren’t you at the beach, well I live here work here and not on vacation yet ok. It seems to me friends and family thinks that by living here we are on an eternal vacation time lol!

Anyway ,enough of my ramblings; here are the news.

Just read in our nice little Parisian newspaper appropiatly call Le Parisien, that we will be for a long haul in parkings in Paris. At least as long as we have the immigrant from Cadiz in the Mayor’s office of Paris lol!  This is their reporting:  So far they were only used to park your good old car gas/petrol or diesel. Tomorrow, they will also be used to recharge your electric vehicle, to borrow or rent other cars, to park bikes or scooters, or even to… harvest mushrooms , this is in the underground parkings of Paris! The idea is  to equip with charging stations thousands of parking spaces. The objective of the city is to reach about 30% of the places equipped with terminals. A considerable upheaval when we know that Indigo(system)  currently has only 113 terminals on more than 57 000 spaces or… 0.2%;  diesel cars will indeed be banned in the capital in 2024 and it will take alternatives , well mine is due to be change in 2020 lol!!!.  The city of Paris plans to promote the parking of the two wheels underground (that is motos, scooters, bikes). According to our information, a “Multipark” pass will be proposed by the end of 2018. It will allow scooters and motorcycles to go down to park in any underground parking, from different operators, for about 70€  per month (50€ subscription for parking, plus 20€ to enjoy 4 hours of parking per day in other parks , without reservation). For secure car parks for bicycles, with offers of subscriptions around 10€ per month. In addition, with the failure of Autolib (car system similar to velib for bikes), new car-parting services are being deployed, and the underground parking lots will also have to be reserved for some places. The Saemes (parking group) thinks, for one of its next car parks, to create an urban farm on a level. The underground car park has little light and a constant temperature, which is an advantage for growing mushrooms or endive!! With all these new services, how to park your car “normal” like today? The city/town  hall of Paris is not worried. They claim the number of cars is dropping, and at the same time, the number of road places increases with the parking reform. they are at 12% of the “vacuum rate” in open spaces, the city is being assured. Source: Le Parisien

And more work… During the work, the trains circulate and the station is open! The RER A station has, at Vincennes, major restructuring work which will take place there for three years, until 2021 ,of course for the comfort of the passengers, namely the creation of a public bathroom, a bicycle set-up Véligo along the passenger building, rue Aubert, the improvement of accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities and the creation of an opening on the place Pierre-Sémard. The press kiosk will disappeared in the works, the city plans to install a newsstand on the place Sémard.  The extension of the passenger building on the place Pierre-Sémard, but also the expansion of the two secondary accesses located on Rue de la République, the complete renovation of the quays and, in the end, the main access will be by place Pierre-Sémard, facing the Rue du aprés-midi and not by Rue Aubert. As far as the pedestrian pathway is concerned, the signs have just been laid. A crosswalk, marked in yellow, was created to reach the north sidewalk of rue Aubert, so as to avoid walking on the roadway and to cross safely across the entrance to the station. More in French here: city of Vincennes on RER A works

The Butte aux Cailles, an authentic little village hidden behind the Place d’Italie(13C). In the enclosure of the butte by an open passage on the Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui. First, the inescapable historical reminders, like the worker’s past of the small enclave built on quarries. Here were turning factories and small shops of old trades thanks to the water of the river Bièvre (now buried ,you can walk on top at rue de Biévre near St Germain-des-Prés). It was in 1860 that the former Hill of 62 m in height, once attached to the nearby town of Gentilly, incorporates  into the City of Paris,  before playing an important role in the battle of the Commune of Paris, in 1871. In the previous century, it was also there that landed in 1783 the famous first balloon flight of Pilâtre de Rozier. Street art artists love to express themselves on the walls of these places. We pass the famous Rue des Cinq-diamants, or the cute place Paul-Verlaine has us the facades of the charming little Alsace, this set of half-timbered houses that once housed workers.  Next  photo Stroll call the  “quails and scoundrels” of Atypic’Photo will be July 29. Price:39€ (and 16€ for accompanying persons without a camera). Registration at A Typic Photo

Goodbye, Marks & Spencer. Long live the Galeries Lafayette. The department store will set up in the Beaugrenelle Shopping Centre (15éme) in the second half of 2019 in lieu of the British store specializing in ready-to-wear and food . While waiting for the opening of the future store, Parisians and visitors can discover the new store of 52 Avenue des Champs-Elysées (8éme) which should open its doors in March 2019.  Stay tune here: Galeries Lafayette

And my nostalgic beautiful Yvelines dept 78 , we have good news.    The mansion in which Georges Bizet composed and orchestrated “Carmen” was awarded the “heritage of regional interest” label. A new step in relaunching the site. This heritage of regional interest label is a label that covers the unprotected regional heritage of which “heritage value is a regional interest”. 30 sites in Île-de-France region  received this label: the house where Georges Bizet is the only one in the Yvelines. This boost allows the city of Bougival to advance on its great project of European Music Center on this site. It will be distributed in several places. First of all, Bizet’s house, which will host an artist’s residence, and the “Espace Carmen”, in which excerpts from the opera are broadcast in conference rooms. Also located in Bougival, Villa Viardot, which belonged to the soprano Pauline Viardot, will be part of the project. In ruins, it must, above all, benefit from important restoration work. This is a great effort and here are the other sites as well in French: Heritage sites of regional interest Ile de France

The Promenade des petits ponts,(walks of small bridges) in Chevreuse, is certainly the most romantic place in the Yvelines, Ile-de-France region. Imagine a trail along a canal that spans about twenty flowering walkways, not two alike. Beautiful stone houses and antiques. More vivid testimony of this story: The Château de la Madeleine, and its 12C dungeon, perched on a mound of land offering an incomparable view of the city. Chevreuse, it is also a city very quickly turned on water, with the Yvette river crossing it, and its canal not far from the beautiful Church of Saint Martin, the Place des Halles recalls the large wheat market, one of the largest in Ile-de-France which stood there until the French Revolution. The city has also seen many personalities: the beautiful Marie de Rohan, Duchess of Chevreuse to the many lovers, the sulphurous poet and revolutionaries Fabre of Eglantine, or the playwright Jean Racine. Chevreuse,  guided visits contact  email:  charonmi@wanadoo.fr.  More information on  Memories of the Chevreuse

Since the death in 1975 of Baron Guy-François de Roig, the last owner of the premises, the Château de Jossigny had only opened its doors on rare occasions. It is therefore an exceptional visit of this 18C castle that the Heritage Festival of Seine-et-Marne (dept 77) proposed in recent days the 35th Heritage Days scheduled on 15 and 16 September 2018. For this reopening to the public, several rooms on the ground floor of the building were refurnished the “bean” sofas, closed to the public due to the collapse of the floors, thus took place in the alcoves of the Grand Salon, under the portraits of the castle’s sponsors, Augustin Leconte des Gravels and his wife Marie-Anne de Bragelongne. The vestibule, the gentleman’s Lounge, the dining room and the kitchen are also filled with precious testimonies of the life of a pleasure house, partly destroyed by the Prussian occupation in 1870. More here: Official site of the Chateau de Jossigny

Another great event at Chantilly is back!   On track. Warm lights, Oriental music… The horses and their riders follow each other in the great stables which will propose from this Wednesday the show “On the steps of Marco Polo”. Rehearsal started. For an hour, we witnessed the travels and meetings of the Italian merchant, first embodied by Moroccan rider Ibrahim Chihi. Eight riders accompany him from Wednesday to August 26th, at 14h30 (2:30pm), at the grand stables or Grandes Ecuries de Chantilly. admission 21€ adults. Information at tel +33 (0) More here: Domaine de Chantilly events

A dandy with new chef, admit been here on business lunch ,but the mounting of the top is great with wonderful views of Paris. Set on the roof of the Théatre des Champs-Elysées Theater in the 8th arrondissement, with its dining room and two terraces, each offering a sumptuous view of the capital, the Maison Blanche (white house) is one of the mythical places. The new chef is Fabrice Giraud, has nothing to envy  the previous ones. The light for lunch niçoise salad that has blown me away by the freshness of its ingredients and the tart-fruity balance of the seasoning. See it at the La Maison Blanche,15, avenue Montaigne, 8éme. Tél.+33 ( 0) 1 47 23 55 99. Formules lunch two dishes at 49€, three dishes at 59€.  Menu carte about 100-120€ with a half bottle of wine per person. More info here: Restaurant La Maison Blanche

Summer in Paris is without concession. Pushing us to look for the trenches. And we find this small square lined with roses with eternal flowers, protected by the Hotel du Grand Veneur, historical building reminiscent of the petticoats and corsets before the take of the Bastille. Great for a late afternoon picnic and escape the heat of Paris.  square Saint-Gilles du Grand Veneur 9, rue du Grand-Veneur, 3éme. Bring your baguette et voilà. More info here: Tourist office of Paris

And last but not least, we have away from Paris in beautiful historical stunning Rouen.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), the Museum of Fine Arts of Rouen in partnership with the Centre Pompidou and the  Metropolitan Museums,  presents an important exhibition devoted to his work, Until September 24th, 2018. Entitled “ABCDuchamp: the Expo to understand Marcel Duchamp”. It proposes a course in the form of an ABC to better understand the magnitude of his work, its impact on the artistic scene of the time and its influence on the different currents of Contemporary art and current creation.  Such work as the ready made and iconic fountain that created a veritable shockwave in 1917 in the art community. Nice.  More in French here: Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rouen

There you go for now folks, that’s is all … Stay tune as France is a movable feast ::)

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

July 23, 2018

My beautiful Cuenca!!!

And I have reach out in my soul to speak about Cuenca. For many years, I have convinced my dear late wife Martine to come to Spain on vacations. She was always very gentle in agreeing with me and we came to my beloved Spain, Madrid and the Castillas, the soul of the kingdom of Spain. Over the years, she became very attach as well, and who would’nt , Spain is very friendly very family very traditional and just great!  She love it as I do; and of course our boys too.

From friends I gather forces to bring them all and rented a house in the adjacent mountains (the theme of my next blog post), and of course our base for all was Cuenca. Very nice memories with the family walking its streets not only from a tourist point of view but from a local enjoyment of eating and shopping like the natives. Do not know when will be back here, but no matter the time, it will always be special to me, the boys and rememberance of our dear Martine.

I have written before on it of course, see my previous blog entries on Cuenca for reference below

Casas Colgadas de Cuenca

Home base at Cuenca

Cuenca is UNESCO

More on the hanging houses of Cuenca

Magnificent Cathedral of Cuenca

Now let me tell you briefly on Cuenca. A bit of history I like.

Cuenca is in the province of Cuenca, it’s capital and in the autonomous region of Castilla-La Mancha.  It is one of the most beautiful medieval Spanish cities and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the mountains of same name (Serrania de Cuenca) on the canyons of the Júcar river and its tributary the Huécar river.  The city is divided in two sections, one is the old town located in a rocky hill surrounded by the  canyons of the Júcar river on the north and the Huécar river on the south that throws itself on the lower part of the old town  just before the bridge of  San Antón.  On the west and south of the old town  separated by the Huécar river, you have the new town. The altitudes here are high from 920 meters in the new town to over 1000 meters in the old town.

By the 9C there was a fortress here called Conca  built by the Moors that were under the emir of Valencia in the times of the king of the  Taïfas.  This fortress passed later to the king of Sevilla  Al-Maramit,later to the  Almoravides, and finally to king Alfonso VIII of Castilla.

It has many things to see you will find in my previous posts above. However, you cannot missed under any circumtances the St Mary and St Julian Cathedral built in gothic anglo norman style unique in Spain; next to it you find the Episcopal palace and a nice museum.  The Casas Colgadas or hanging houses are another must to come here ,built in the 14C and very nicely restored, plunging on the rocky canyons of the Huecar river. They now host a restaurant and a museum of Spanish Abstract Arts.



There is the wonderful Plaza de las Angustias (square of the sorrows) in the lower old town near the Júcar river, small and tree lined where there is an image of the Virgin of Angustias in baroque style. Go up and down to see the Clock Tower or Torre Mangana  built in the 16C on a defensive style architecture like a middle ages bunker. Today it is a symbol of the city of Cuenca.


There is so much else to see and do, again take a look at my previous blog posts. The main festivities here are those of San Mateo (St Mathieu) by September 18-21 commemorating the conquest of Cuenca by king Alfonso VIII of Castilla in 1085. During this festival the groups or  peñas filled the streets with colorful costumes, music and the traditional Zurra ( a drink of wine, fruits and other secret ingredients) ,and you run around the cows in a place on the big square. The other is the Holy Week or Semana Santa celebration declared of international tourist interest of Spain.

Again so much to see and do. Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Tourism info from the city of Cuenca in Spanish : http://turismo.cuenca.es/portal/lang__es/tabid__9376/default.aspx

UNESCO world heritage site on Cuenca : http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/781/

Tourist office of the Province of Cuenca in Spanish: http://www.descubrecuenca.com/es/rutas/la-capital/la-capital-7#ficha

Tourist office of the region of Castilla La Mancha in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/cuenca/

You will do good to visit Cuenca, it will stay with us forever in my minds.  Many good times and many memories here for our family.

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

ps for the anecdote, I just realized this is my 1502 post in my blog; wow, cannot believe done this, thank you all for your support since 2010. Cheers

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July 22, 2018

Cibeles and Alcalà one two punch in Calle Alcalà of Madrid!

Ok so this is the Madrid of my younger days, the Madrid of bringing my girlfriend, and later wife, the Madrid of bringing my kids growing older with time. Madrid is and will be a hole on the sky to look down on the city every day! On sunny days, cold days, rainy days, snow days , Madrid is awesome ,full of memories and great times. With time my dear late wife Martine came to love it too as do my boys.

I have written pieces of it in other blog posts, but none that I can read were just on them. These are the main symbols of Madrid in my opinion, but maybe I am biased as they were and are my home. I lived not far from them and past them every day back then, and at every occasion passing by Madrid now even in summer vacations.

I am talking of the Plaza de Cibeles and it’s fountain of same name as well as the Puerta de Alcalà gate.  I have written two previous blog posts on them in grouping, these are



The Plaza de Cibeles is located at the union of the districts of Centro, Retiro, and Salamanca and the intersection of the Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo del Prado . The Square is cross by the Calle de Alcalà . Before, it was called the Madrid square or Plaza de Madrid, then rename Plaza Castelar in 1900 until finally getting the current name after the end of the Spanish Civil War 1939.

On the Western side of the square you have the initial traject of the Calle de Alcalà, widen to later include the Gran Via. The Metropolis building and the Circulo de Bellas Artes as well as the Instituto Cervantes are some of the notable buildings you can see from the square. On the Eastern side once reaching the square and the Calle de Alcalà, upward bound you have a better view of the Puerta de Alcalà that is in the near square of independence or Plaza de la Independencia.


In the Plaza de Cibeles you have the famous fountain of Cibeles or Fuente de Cibeles; representing the Greek goddess of Cybil a work of architect Ventura Rodriguez and sculptors Francisco Gutierrez Arribas for the Cibeles figure, and Roberto Michel for the lions, Miguel Jimenez for the decoration elements of the chariot. The fountain was built between 1777 and 1782 in front of the palace of Buenavista. The fountain was put here in 1895 showing the Greek goddess Cibeles of fertility ,holding a scepter and a key while being pulled by two lions on a chariot.  The pull of the wild lions symbolize the power of nature or of the goddess; the figures took about 10K kg of stones and three different artists.


The Spanish football (soccer) team Real Madrid has unofficially adopted the fountain. It is used as a meeting point for its fans and often for the players themselves whenever the team wins the Spanish league ,Spanish King’s Cup or the Champions League. And this happens often as the team is the best ever ,mine, excuse me.

Other emblematic buildings around the square are the before mentioned Palacio de Buenavista on the northwest angle of the square built in 1777 holding the general hq of the army. Also, the Palacio de Linares on the northeast side completed in 1900 and it houses since 1992 the House of America or Casa de América a cultural institution for the American continent. The Palacio de Comunicaciones  (aka Palacio de Cibeles) built in 1909 on orders of king Alfonso XIII to house the seat of the post office of Spain with an imposing façade on the south east side of the square. Since 2007, it is centro cibeles or the city hall of Madrid.




There is the building of the Banco de España or Bank of Spain with long facades along the Calle de Alcalà and Paseo del Prado, housing since 1981 the principal seat of the Bank of Spain.


The Puerta de Alcalà is one of the five old gates for entry into Madrid. It is at the Plaza de la Independencia or independence square facing the Retiro Park (my old entry point to the center of Madrid in my days there) . The gate was built on the orders of King Charles III to replace an old gate that existed since the 16C. The Italian architect Francesco Sabatini was chosen by the king himself to do the gate. The work began in 1769 and continued until the inauguration in 1778.  This is the first triumphal arc built in Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire, making it the forerunner of the Arc de Triomphe of Paris or the Brandenburg Gate of Berlin. The gate allowed the entrance in Madrid to travelers from Aragon, Catalonia and France.

MAdrid Madrid

The neoclassical-style Puerta de Alcalà has a width of  about 44 meters and culminates at 22 meters in height. The structure of the gate is made of granite from the quarries of Colmenar Viejo, Alpedrete and Hoyo de Manzanares. The decorative elements are made of limestone from Colmenar of Oreja. The sculptures of children who crown the Puerta de Alcalá represent the four cardinal virtues. Made by Francisco Gutiérrez Arribas, these sculptures are sometimes referred to as  the Angels of Peace.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are



Hope it helps enjoy this wonderful area of Madrid, the Retiro park is just around the corner too.

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

July 22, 2018

Oh Toledo, the essence of Spain!

When I lived in Madrid in the 1970’s, my trip to Toledo were often as family living nearby took me there for long afternoon walks.  The trips were done by car on the old N401 road (now A42). On each trip to Madrid , a stop at Toledo was a must. When in 1990 I took my girlfriend (later wife) to Madrid , a stop in Toledo was a must. We have come back many times with the boys, my dear late wife Martine, love the city, especially the good prices she found on decoration on swords and the lunches ! It will stay in our memories forever. Toledo is a forever event.

Toledo is about 71 km from Madrid. From Toledo part the N-400, which connects this city with Cuenca by Ocaña and Tarancón.  There is now an excellent  A-40 highway of Castilla-La Mancha, that unites Avila with Maqueda (where it links with the Extremadura highway), Toledo, Ocaña (where it joins the highway of Andalusia), Tarancón (where it connects with the highway of Levante), Cuenca and Teruel. A former national road 401 Madrid-Toledo-Ciudad Real was transformed at the end of the decade of 1980 in the current A-42 .  The mid 19C Toledo was one of the first Spanish cities to have a railway, being joined to Madrid by Aranjuez and inaugurated the line by Queen Isabel II on June 12, 1858. The current Toledo station, in the Neomudejar style, was inaugurated on the 24th of April of 1919 and is a building of remarkable beauty, especially the coffered ceilings of the main room.


I have written some previous blog posts on it, like to remind you about them below

Mythical beautiful Toledo

Toledo , the magical blend of Spain

Cathedral of Santa Maria at Toledo

I think have enough on the posts above, I would tell you a bit about the history of the city and some things to see in general.

Toledo is a municipality and city of Spain, capital of the homonymous province and the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. It is known as “the Imperial City” because it was the main seat of the Court of  Carlos V and also as “the city of the three cultures”, for having been populated for centuries by Christians, Jews and Muslims. The old town is located on the right bank of the Tagus, on a hill hundred meters high above the river, which surrounds it by its base, forming a pronounced meander known as “Torna del Tajo”.

The history of the city dates back to the Bronze Age. It was an important center Carpetania until its Roman conquest in 193 BC and there are several remains of the Roman activity in the city, like the aqueduct or the circus. After the Germanic invasions, the city would become with Leovigildo in capital and, later, in the principal ecclesiastical seat of the Visigoth kingdom. In the year 711, after a moderate resistance, Toledo was conquered by the Moors led by Tariq ibn Ziyad. During the Moslem domination, the old capital Visigoth was characterized by its opposition and individualism, concretised in the Taifa of Toledo. king Alfonso VI reconquered the city in 1085. During the modern age the city stood out as the seat of the Catholic monarchs and for their participation in the war of the communities of Castile. When the court moved to Madrid in 1561 the city went into decline, accentuated by the economic crisis of the moment. Already in contemporary times, its Alcazar became a symbol of the Spanish Civil war because of its siege and defense. In 1983 it became the capital of Castilla-La Mancha, maintaining the capital of the province of Toledo.

In 1162 the city was conquered by King Fernando II of León, during the convulsed period of the age minority of Alfonso VIII of Castilla. King Leonese named Fernando Rodríguez de Castro “El Castellano “, a member of the House of Castro, governor of the city. The city of Toledo remained in the power of the Leon until the year 1166, when it was recovered by the Castilians.  Queen  Isabel the Catholic commanded to build in Toledo the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes to commemorate the Battle of Toro and be buried there with her husband, but after the reconquest of Granada the Kings decided to be bury in this last city, (Granada) where their remain today .

After the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the city remained in the Republican zone. However, in the Alcazar of the city, seat of the Academy of Infantry, a group of loyalists to the Rebels (Nationalists) took refuge, in command by the Colonel Moscardó, who It resisted the government since July 21, 1936 until the arrival of the troops of the General Varela on September 27  1936. The Alcazar, almost completely destroyed in the siege, was rebuilt in its entirety later.

The manufacture of swords in the city of Toledo goes back to Roman times, more specifically at the time of the Republic, when they were famous their swords and knives, but it was under Arab/Moors domination and during the Reconquista when Toledo and its guilds of swords played a key role. Between the 15C and 17C the industry related to the manufacture of swords had a great boom in Toledo to the point that the industry of swords Toledo became considered the best in Europe in late 16C. In early 18C began the decline of production, which motivated the creation of one of the royal factories, the arms factory of Toledo, in 1761 by the command of King Carlos III. In the Royal Factory all the swordmakers guilds of the city were gathered and it was located in the old house of the Coins. During the 20C, the production of white weapons for the troop was reduced exclusively to the arms of cavalry and, after the Spanish Civil war, to the supply of Sabres to officers and noncommissioners of the different bodies. After the closing of the factory, in 1996, this place was rehabilitated to house the school of Architecture of the Campus of Toledo.

Things to see in a general view as more in my blog postings above.

Like the Puerta del Sol (Mudejar), the new Puerta Nueva de Bisagra, the old Puerta de Bisagra, the Puerta del Vado and the Puerta del Cambron. The wall has the so-called Torre de la Alsneera. Among the various bridges that cross the waters of the Tagus are the Alcantara and San Martín. The Cathedral of Santa Maria (Gothic), the Church of San Ildefonso (Baroque), the Church of San Román (Mozarabic), the Church of Santiago del Arrabal (Mudejar), the Church of Santo Tomé (Mudejar). Other Catholic buildings are the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, a prominent representative of the Gothic Elizabethan; The convents of the Mother of God, Santo Domingo el Antiguo and San Pedro the Martyr, the Hermitage of Cristo de la Vega (Mudejar), or the Church San Sebastián (Mudejar), built on a mosque.


Properties associated with other creeds are the synagogues of Santa Maria La Blanca (in synagogue origin, although later it was transformed into a Church) and the Synagogue of the Transit (present Sephardic Museum), in addition to the mosques of Bab al-Mardum, or of the Christ of the light (Cristo de la Luz), in origin a Muslim temple and enlarged for conversion into Church, and the ancient Mosque. Others like the Palace of Galiana, the Palace of Fuensalida, the Palace of Amusco, the House of the Temple, the House of the Nuncio, and the archiepiscopal Palace of Toledo, as well as the Posada de la Hermandad. One of the nerve points of the city is the square of Zocodover. In the streets of Toledo there are other buildings such as the museum-Hospital of Santa Cruz (Renaissance), the Hospital de Tavera (Renaissance), the Teatro Rojas and a Roman circus.


The castle of San Servando, a medieval castle next to the banks of the Tagus River and the Infantry Academy, as well as the Alcázar de Toledo, a fortification on rocks located in the highest part of the city. It’s from the 16C-20C. From 2010 It houses the Army Museum.   Among the finished works are the escalator of the farm (or «of Recaredo»); Museum of Santa Cruz and the so-called Museum of El Greco, a house-museum conceived as recreation of the home of the artist, as this was lost centuries ago. This House contains several relevant paintings, although the famous painting of the burial of the Count of Orgaz is located in the Church of Santo Tomé, also in Toledo.


The Museum of the Councils and the Visigoth culture, located in the Church of San Román, has Romanesque paintings from the 13C and an important collection, original and replicas, of Goldsmith Visigoth, along with other archaeological finds dated between the 6C to 8C. The Sephardic Museum is located in the Transit synagogue, located in the Jewish quarter. In the hermitage of Cristo de la Vega, the image that presides the altar was popularized in the work to good judge, better witness of Jose Zorrilla.

Some of the activities of great interest here and worth to be here at the time are the Easter celebration declared a festival of international tourist interest since March 14, 2014, is celebrated in spring with various processions, highlighting those that take place on Good Friday, and religious and cultural events. Due to the Spanish Civil war, most of the steps were burned or destroyed, so they have had to create new steps or use other images from churches and convents of Toledo. As Toledo is a Castilian city, its Holy Week is characterized by being austere and introspective, as well as great beauty, due in part to the beautiful frame in which it takes place: Toledo. Many people take advantage of Easter to visit the Conventual churches that are only open to the general public at this time of year.  Also, the Corpus Christi ,a festival declared of international tourist interest, the origins of which date back to the 13C. The procession goes through 2 km of  decorated streets. In recent years, after the transfer of the festivity of the traditional Thursday to the current Sunday, has chosen to make two processions, one each of those days, there are certain differences in terms of members and protocol between them.

There ,hope it helps your next visit here as I believe history is part of travel and makes it more full. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Toledo https://turismo.toledo.es/

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Toledo http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/toledo/

City of Toledo on districts of the city: http://www.toledo.es/servicios-municipales/oficinas-de-atencion-al-ciudadano/

There you go, a wonderful town to spent dayss… really in every little croony street on every temple, history and sharing is evident. Hope you enjoy the trip.

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




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July 22, 2018

A new face in the East, Ho Chi Minh!

This one was a surprise, never expected to visit this city nor this country but business always prevail. After so many trips to Vietnam ,north and south, it has been a pleasant experience full of friendly people and good times.

I have written before on Ho Chi Minh alone and these are my previous blog posts on it.

A different trip to Asia

Vietnam repeat visit

Back to wonderful Vietnam

Then, let me give you this time something on the history of this old and new city of the East.

Ho Chi Minh City, commonly called Saigon, which was the official name until 1975, or formerly Prey Nokor when it belonged to the Khmer Empire. Ho Chi Minh City, whose status corresponds to that of a Vietnamese province, is divided in 19 boroughs and 5 districts,and  it is located on the banks of the Saigon River. Located near the Mekong Delta, this city is the southern metropolis of the country. It was originally a Khmer fishing village and in the 17C became a Vietnamese (and Chinese) Settlement City under the impetus of the imperial Court of Nguyên in Hue. During the French colonization, it was first the capital of the colony of Cochinchina, then that of French Indochina from 1887 to 1901. After the partition of the country at the end of the Indochina War, Saigon became the capital of the Republic of Việt Nam (from 1954). Its capture by the Communists on April 30, 1975 (Fall of Saigon) after the Americans left them, marked the end of the conflict, and the winners rename the city in favor of their historical leader, Hồ Chí Minh, who died more than five years earlier.

The name Saigon refers to the district of Cholon (Big Market), while the mandarins use various appellations, Dong Nai, Phan Yen, Gia Dinh and, by local traders, Ben Nghe and Ben Thanh. The French, for their part, perpetuate the name Sài Gòn,  it is the French pronunciation, until the 1920’s. From 1931 to 1956, this name will be officially associated with that of Cholon, the city bordering on a strong Chinese community, with which it will be merged, Saigon-Cholon, before resuming the name of Saigon alone.

Tan Son Nhat International Airport, located inside the city, and the one I have used in and out and several others in trips to other cities in Vietnam.  There is a new airport which should be completed at least in 2020 as Long Thành International Airport, which will then receive international flights, Tan Son Nhat retaining the service of the national lines. Ho Chi Minh City has two major bus stations: Ben XE Mien Tay which connects it to the south of Vietnam, and Ben Xe Mien Dong which connects it to the north there are many taxi companies in this city, more or less reliable in terms of prices; very cheap but stick to a price. I have been given rides by locals there so other than a couple times on taxis all has been by locals in addition to flying out with them.

Ho Chi Ming

More on the history trail I like. During the Lê Kings dynasty the period from 1428 to 1789 in Vietnam, the spice Route attracted the first European missionaries and traders around the 16C. The country was divided and competed by two seigneurial forces, the Trinh in the north of the country and the Nguyen in the south. The Westerners called the lower Cochinchina the part governed by the Nguyen, of which Saigon became the capital the first Vietnamese presence in the city of Ho Chi Minh date in the early 17C when Lord Nguyen established a tax station in 1623 and an officer of the Lords Nguyen establishes a military post at Tan My, in the current region of Saigon in 1679.

Before becoming Vietnamese, Saigon was the most important port in Cambodia, under the name of Prey Kor. Occupied by Vietnamese from the 17C, the site was then called Saigon, then surrounded by walls in the 18C, before being conquered by the French in 1859. Saigon will then be known for years as the Paris of the Far East , however, Ho Chi Minh City has lost most of its colonial heritage outside of the monuments and completely lost its character.

Ho Chi Ming

Someof the things to see there in my opinion of course are the Notre-Dame Cathedral, in red brick imported from Toulouse, on the model of the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris but of inferior dimensions. It was built by the French from 1877 to 1880. It is located in the Paris square , formerly Place Pigneau de Behaine.  On the side the large central train station whose metal frame was designed by Gustave Eiffel are two colonial maps preserved at the entrance. The Hotel Continental, built in 1880, the writer André Malraux (later prime minister of culture of France)  and his wife lived there between 1924 and 1925.The Hotel Majestic, built in 1925 in the colonial French style.  The opera or  Municipal Theater  built on the model of the Petit Palais of Paris, in 1900. Ä very nice City/ town hall of Ho Chi Minh City built between 1902-1908.  The Palace of Reunification (former presidential palace built at the site of the Palace of Norodom). The Jade Emperor Pagoda, the Pagoda of Giac Làm, the Vinh Nghîem Pagoda. The Hindu temple of Mariamman at Trương Định street (ex-Lareynière Street). The Indian mosque at Đông Du street (ex- Admiral-Dupré street).

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

The Church of Cha Tàm in the Chinatown of Cholon whose interior is a mixture of Gothic and Chinese.  The Temple dedicated to the goddess Thien Hau, protector of navigators, also located in Cholon ( Nguyen Trai street ) and built in the Chinese style. The Ben Thanh Market (very popular)  ,and Binh Tay Market in the Chinatown of Cholon .. Museum of the revolution where many  planes, helicopters and other vehicles are exposed in the gardens mostly from the American time. Museum of Ho Chi Minh City, located in the former premises of the Maritime company , a brick building and the oldest French vestige in town. In fact, Saigon was the Asian head of the maritime passenger and freight transport, between Marseille and the Far East during the colonial period.

Ho Chi Ming

Ho Chi Ming

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Ho Chi Minh on tourism and history in English : http://www.eng.hochiminhcity.gov.vn/abouthcmcity/Lists/Posts/AllPosts.aspx?CategoryId=9

Tourist information on Ho Chi Ming city : https://vietnam.travel/places-to-go/southern-vietnam/ho-chi-minh

Tourist office of Vietnam : http://www.vietnamtourism.com/en/index.php/tourism/items/72

Hope it helps enjoy the city  , very crowded interesting and great nightlife.

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

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July 21, 2018

Another dandy in the East,Manila!

Another surprise visit to a far away land, business many times provides unexpected visits to some exotic far away lands, and I am lucky to be part of the business travel loop. I came here and repeat several times and the experiences have been gratifying indeed. I am talking now of the capital, Manila ,in the Philippines.

I have written a previous blog post on it as well and here it is for reference:


The city of Manila is the capital of the Philippines, and one of the 16 cities of the metropolitan area of Manila, one of the most populous in the world. The latter, located on the west coast of Luzon Island, is the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila), and is not part of any province in the country. It is located on the east bank of Manila Bay.  The city is divided into six legislative districts and sixteen geographic districts: Binondo , Ermita, Intramuros, Malate , Paco, Pandacan , Manila Port, Quiapo , Sampaloc , San Andres, San Miguel, San Nicolas , Santa Ana, Santa Cruz , Santa Mesa , and Mowo.

Some of the key dates in history I like are

1571, founding of the city by Miguel López de Legazpi. The Spaniards settled there, and occupied the premises until 1898. 1762-1764: British occupation of Manila and Cavite during the war of seven years. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, American troops destroyed Spain’s fleet (Battle of Manila Bay), and take over the Philippines.

On December 26, 1941, following the bombardment of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into  WWII, the Americans abandoned the city and withdrew all their military facilities. The Japanese Air force bombarded Manila, before the Imperial Army entered the city on January 2, 1942. In February 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy refused to evacuate the perimeter, the Allies continue the advance to the city, at the cost of intense fighting that destroyed the town and resulted in the death of many civilians. Manila was one of the most devastated cities during  WWII. In 1948, Quezon City became the new capital of the Republic of the Philippines. Manila becomes the capital of the country on May 29th, 1976.

Some of the interesting areas to visit are on the south bank of the Pasig River where the ancient colonial district of Intramuros, founded in 1571 by the Spaniards, which in a peaceful atmosphere has preserved surprising examples of 17C architecture, and Rizal Park, Manila’s Central Park . Further south, the districts of Ermita and Malate, around its Baroque church, host many bars and restaurants. This is also where you can watch the sunset over Manila Bay.  On the North of the Pasig River, the district of Quiapo is famous for its steel church, the Basilica of San Sebastian, its market and its Basilica of the Black Nazarene, where the procession of the Black Nazarene is held every 9th January and brings together millions of devotees. A little further away the Binondo district is home to the city’s very authentic Chinatown. A fascinating Chinese cemetery is located in the north of the city.

Other popular sites include the Spanish colonial buildings in Intramuros, the World Heritage Site of San Agustin Church, and a few Art Deco and Revival style buildings like Manila Metropolitan Theater and the National Museum of Fine Arts. There are also modern attractions such as the Manila Ocean Park, the integrated resort complex of resorts World Manila, and the City of Dreams Manila and Okada Manila in Entertainment City.

Tourist attractions located inside the Intramuros old town include Fort Santiago, a Spanish citadel located at the mouth of the Pasig River, Manila Cathedral, a 19C ecclesiastical Cathedral which is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, San Agustin Church. At the Rizal park the Rizal Monument, located in the center of the park, is the memorial to the Philippine national hero, José Rizal. Museums within Manila include the National Museum of Fine Arts, formerly the National Art Gallery, the National Museum of Anthropology, an anthropology and archaeology museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, a premier museum of modern and contemporary visual arts.

The Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium with a marine-themed mall and hotel, it is located behind Quirino Grandstand, which fronts Rizal Park. Malate, the tourism center of Manila, is famous for the Baywalk and the Remedios nightlife district. Manila Zoo, the oldest zoo and botanical garden in the Philippines, is also located in that district. Binondo, an old district of Manila that is home to Manila’s Chinatown, is established since 1521. Its main attractions are Binondo Church, Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch, Seng Guan Buddhist temple and Chinese restaurants. Quiapo is the location of Plaza Miranda and Quiapo Church, which is home to the Black Nazarene. The San Sebastian Church, which is also located in Quiapo, is the only all-steel Gothic basilica in Asia.

I was briefly on a ride above places but was base in the business district of Makati CBD, one of Southeast Asia’s biggest financial hubs, and noted for its cosmopolitan cultural and entertainment ambiance around the huge complex of the Ayala Center, and  the Ayala Triangle Gardens.

Manila Manila

Moving about I was with a local driver because the streets of Manila suffers from a lot of chronic traffic jams. The jeepneys are the main public transport. These are old American army jeeps, left behind after WWII, which were turned into very colorful but also very polluting mini buses, and was told can be dangerous for visitors. Manila has an aerial light rail network, the LRT, which often follows the main axes of the city. It is one of the first urban railway collective transport systems in Southeast Asia. About 29 km Long it has 29 stations, on two lines: the LRT-1 (Yellow Line), and the LRT-2 (Violet line). The city also has a predominantly aerial metro line, the MRT-3 (Blue Line), and a ferry service on the Pasig River, which has 17 stations. The city comprises 10 bridges over the Pasig river of whirch, 2 railway bridges and 8 road bridges (The bridges of Roxas, Jones, McArthur, Quezon, Ayala, Mabini, Padre Zamora and Lambingan).  I always arrived by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport located 8 km southeast of the city center.



Hope it helps your planning for a nice visit to Manila. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Philippines tourist office : http://www.experiencephilippines.org/tourism/destinations-tourism/manila-environs-department-of-tourism/

Unofficial useful info on Manila and al: http://www.visitmyphilippines.com/index.php?title=CityofManila&func=all&pid=2557&tbl=0

Enjoy the exotic East and the islands of Philippines. I am looking forward to be back by next Fall.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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July 21, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXV

And as had a longer weekend this time, here I am again to tell about our daily lives in our belle France! And even better our gorgeous Morbihan Breton. Today was hot sunny 25C or 77K and just bright perfect, even if we got up with a light rain at 8h. By noon it was just perfect day indeed.

As told in my previous blog post on my travels in the Morbihan , we were today to do some heavy work which was needed.  First , painted the laundry room in our basement , now just perfect. But still more work in my vacation in the basement, as the ultimate goal is to do two bedrooms for family and guests in the future.


I went out and did my gardener’s  best as usually it was my dear late wife Martine who took care of it. We have 1000 square meters of land including the house, the garden is about 750 square meters and the house about 255 sm. So its a lot of land, and hopefully my boys still here helps me a lot.


As my boys were changing TV from the one they got yesterday at Eletro Depot as in my previous post, the old one needed to be discarded.  We have been flooded now with pawn shops or cash outlets in our area and the new one was Easy Cash, (very nice French name ::)).  They were not only able to sell the old TV there but ,also some manga books and now they know. The store takes in almost anything so video games, cd’s, dvd’s etc. They will be back to clean up some of their older stuff which is hardly seen nowadays.


We came back home and already did some work on the items we plan to sell including mines. Have very old CD especially which hardly listen to nowadays no need to have clutter in the house. Next time. This is the time of family vacation but as we are here far (min 6 hrs car drive) still do not think if going to visit some family members or just take off somewhere. We are always last minutes travelers. Only thing fix is Honfleur in late August but not really vacation, will be there to drop the ashes of my wife to sea with the SNSM volunteer lifeguards Notre Dame boat.

Oh yes we did eat of course. This time at home we had lunch with our great Krombacher German beer ,our wonderful local terrine of pork with 5 peppers, brie cheese from the market of Vannes, and the local Pluvigner baguette bread here call Breizh (which is Brittany in Breton language).  Also, top it off with wonderful saucisson sec home style with 3 peppers and Corréze area one a bit spicy call the Correzo.

Pluvigner Pluvigner

The day still long and time to catch up on my previous travels and update my posts. It will keep me occupied and nothing better than going over memories at home on a hot day out.  Best weekend for most or finishing some.

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



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July 21, 2018

Some wine news from France!

I let this subject slip by often, even if it is dear to me. Read my blog on wines and you will see my credentials. Maybe wine is so personal I dare not write much about it, but it is there with me always with me, wine is in me. Ever since my maternal grandmother let me taste some when 8 ,it has not stop. It’s part of our culture regardless on what the cro magnons will say.

Let me bring you some news on the wine trade in France, my belle cher France!

As we are getting into Summer, and barbecue is here as I write lol!  On the meat side, almost all combinations are possible , really stop been bigots all works. You have mastered barbecue cooking so that the taste of “burnt” is not too marked and does not eclipse that of the wine. On the other hand, vine branches used as fuels develop very subtle smoky flavors in meat. This gives relief to the food-wine chords.

With a rib of beef, tender and fond, this piece of noble red meat does not have its equal to magnify the Grands crus. It’s time to get out of the cellar a beautiful Hermitage, a Côte Rotie, a grand cru of Pauillac or a great Burgundy wine of which one is particularly proud. There is no possible error; on the other hand, treat the seasoning of this meat with peppers sorted on the shutter, few sauces and fireworks.

With skewers of poultry; the ideal, is the red wines of the Loire Valley type Sancerre or Saumur-Champigny  (love it) which give the response to poultry with their fruity, their vegetable tip but also a characteristic sour freshness. But the Burgundy red wines such as the Mercurey or the Beaujolais wines also lend themselves to the game of concordance with this type of food.  Lovers of white wines and skewers that mix poultry, lemon and vegetables will turn to a little fleshy cuvées; Meursault, Pouilly-Fuissé, white wines from the Massif de La Clape.

With grilled fish, try the rosés Provencal, the white wines of Cassis, those of the range of Ballet or Corsica enjoy the company of a bar or a grilled sea bream. And with sardines? Prefer the rosés of Roussillon, like those of Collioure powerful, with aromas of red fruits. The rosé, color of summer, is also the wine of the Grill par excellence! Prefer those who possess matter and density such as the rosés of Tavel, a rosé Bourgueil or a Marsannay.  There you go from 45 years of wine drinker, collecting, selling, and diploma guy from France and Spain.

A wonderful  event always looking forward to it if not always attending like this year. This will the 71st anniversary,of  the Wine Fair of Alsace inviting you from Friday 27 July to Sunday 5 August 2018 in Colmar.  Since 1948 the Wine Fair of Alsace has been vibrating in the summer thanks to numerous animations and a daily concert program in its open-air theater of 10,000 places!

It is around a good glass that professionals and wine lovers exchange opinions and wine knowledge. For others it will be an opportunity to discover good vintages at the stand of the vine leaf and share their impressions. The Fair is an opportunity to participate in commented tastings, lectures and initiations animated by passionate professionals. As each year you will also be able to attend the enthronement of the Queen of Vines. This year’s program will include Cooking classes provided by great chefs, Cabaret Colmarien that promises laughter and wonder, Children’s entertainment, -Stage OFF with regional artists, burlesque dance shows with Alsatian pinups.

Practical information shows the dates from Friday 27 July to Sunday 5 August at the Fairgrounds and Congress of Colmar. Monday to Saturday from 11h30 to 01h00. Sunday from 11h to 01h00. Rates: from 4.50 euros to 55 euros. More info here: Colmar Wine Fair

Some of my favorite bottles is the Les Folatières the largest Premier Cru vineyard in the Côte de Beaune commune of Puligny-Montrachet. It is located on the same line of the slope as the Le Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru vineyards, although its higher end reaches further up the slope of the Côte d’Or.  Les Folatières Premier Cru wines, made from Chardonnay, are typically Puligny  focused and minerally, but with nutty, rich overtones of fruit.

The vineyard covers 17 hectares (42 acres) Les Folatieres is right in the middle of the slope and is surrounded by other Premier Cru vineyards like Clavaillon and Champ Gain, with village-level vineyards visible in the distance at the bottom of the hill. Unlike many Burgundy Premier Cru climats, which are mostly named for the state of the soil or the vegetation there, Les Folatières’ name has a rather colorful origin. It refers to lights seen in the vineyard from a distance, although whether the word signifies fairies or the weather phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s fire is a cause of some debate.

The leading estates making wine from this vineyard include the Domaine Leflaive (my favorite) , Lalou Bize-Leroy’s Domaine d’Auvenay, and Domaine Etienne Sauzet. Their webpages to follow.

Domaine Leflaive

Domaine Etienne Sauzet

Domaine Leroy_ Auvenay

A bit on mother nature.  After the violent hail storms that destroyed more than 7,000 hectares of Bordeaux vineyards last May, a new stormy episode hit the Gironde last Sunday 07/15/18)  evening and touched some 2,000 hectares of the most affected areas of Bordeaux . During this last episode of Hail are most affected the  Médoc, Graves, Bourgeais and the Sauternes, according to the president of the CIVB (interprofessional Wine Council of Bordeaux) Allan Sichel, at the General Assembly of this forum on Monday 16 July. More on the wines ,grapes, history , all you need to know of Bordeaux here:  Bordeaux wines



And you got some news, the latest from the world of wines, or Bordeaux or well France, what else is there. Always trying to be imitated, but never surpassed.  My opinion of course.

Enjoy the wines ,it’s good for you, and helps keep a long long tradition of human existence alive. Drink in moderation, always with a meal and good friends. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!




July 21, 2018

A Palace in the forests of Castilla!

Since my youth ,I have been coming to this area of Spain first with my mother, than friends, then girlfriend, and my dear late wife Martine, and last with the boys. A lifetime of memories all floating now in the forest of Castilla. This is the fairy tail dream of a man native of Versailles, France.

The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso is an 18C palace, summer residence of the kings of Spain since Felipe V of Spain. It is located in the village of San Ildefonso, in the province of Segovia, 80 km from Madrid. In Baroque style, it is surrounded by French gardens and 26 sculptured fountains. It is now open to the public as a museum.

I have written a blog entry on it a while back ,here it is for reference: Palace of San Ildefonso

The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, located in the Sierra du Guadarrama, is an example of European palatial architecture, dream over by Felipe grandson of king Louis XIV of France born at Versailles, baptised at Notre Dame Church of Versailles and move over as bourbon king of Spain under Felipe V. Current king of Spain Felipe VI is a descendant.

Of course, been born at the Palace of Versailles and coming over, the need to try to recreate the splendor of the old place was imminent. So he decided to ordered built the palace in the forest around the village of San Ildenfonso. This he succeeded in a smaller scale but just as beautiful.

The story goes that in 1450, king Henry IV built a hunting lodge at the site of the present palace. Later, the Catholic monarchs gave the property to the monks of the Order of St. Jerome of Parral. In 1720, Felipe V, the first Spanish king of the Bourbon dynasty, bought the land and ordered built the royal Palace of San Ildefonso. In 1724, the wings were added to house the courtyard.  A new facade on the garden ends the building in 1735. We owe king Carlos III the beautiful portal that marks the main access of the ensemble. The palace has 40 rooms with Flemish paintings from the 17C and a collection of tapestries. In the Royal Chapel, a tomb contains the bodies of Felipe V and Isabel de Farnesio. The French gardens are inspired by Marly’s and the 26 monumental fountains are part of splendid water games. A real Versailles lost in the forest

It is a splendid example of the European palatial architecture and has gardens and fountains inspired by Versailles, with constant references to legends and mythology. The palace’s rooms are adorned with Carrara marble, Japanese lacquers and crystal lamps. Its name is due to an old farm of the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome of Parral. Felipe V  is buried here.

San Ildefonso San Idefonso San Idefonso San Idefonso San Idefonso

king Felipe V wanted a garden that reminds him of  his childhood in Versailles. To develop these 145 ha, the landscapers of the Grama and the gardeners were inspired by Versailles and gave a unique identity to their realization. Forest perspectives and French country aisles connect well-independent garden parts in the Arabic style. The water games of the Neptune Basin, the new waterfall and the Fountain of water jet and the chestnut trees imported directly from France are superb.

A wonderful side trip from Segovia or even Madrid. Easy to get to the shortest cheapest way is by the Puerta de Moncloa under the Tunnel from Madrid and continues on the A-6 highway passing the town of Las Rosas (famous for the outlet mall) get on the road M601 exit/salida 39 direction Puerto de Navacerrada and continue on this direction and road passing the town of Navacerrada, Cercedilla, with hilly roads until you reach the town of San Idefonso.The palace will be on your right hand side. There is train and bus  « La Sepulvedana »  but only took the bus as a boy with my mother afterward all has been by car.

Some of the webpages to help you plan your trip here are

National Heritage Royal sites of Spain on the Palace

Tourist office of Madrid on the Palace of San Ildefonso

Tourist office of Castilla y Léon on the palace

Tourist office of San Ildefonso

A really nice place to visit and one I would have no problems in a repeat. Hope it helps

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





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July 20, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXIIII

So here I am earlier than ever or most as I had the day off from work. It was special because it was my Father’s 83rd birthday and he lives with us. The day was sunny but not too hot around 24C or 75F.

We had as usual many errands to do usually done on Saturdays lately, but as we had the day off we did them today,and tomorrow is work around the house, painting and fixing for the Summer break ahead. My vacation is in mid August onwards.

In my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of Brittany we set out to do the routines of an every day family in France without the glitzy ribbons of the famous and fake news tribal groups.

We started our day going to by now famous liquor store, V&B in Auray to load up on German beers (my favorite is the Krombacher pilsner) here at 2,10€ with deposit refund for the bottle,  and Rosé wines from Gascogne of all places but a reputable name for years you won’t go wrong at 5,20€ it can’t be beat. The Rosé de Presse 2017, Domaine du Tariquet.

Auray Auray Auray

We then, move on to our bank as we needed to make some moves in our finances to have a soft landing in my retirement so the bank in Auray BNP Paribas is great with excellent service by our able advisor Madame ….

Auray Auray

We stop by at Micromania in the Shopping center Carrefour in Vannes for my sons to pick up a cable to connect to their new game machine, another one !!! It looks as I have a TV studio at home.. oh well.


We then move on to Electro Depot to buy a big 127 cm or 50 inches TV for their better reading of the video games, something with the word 4K in it go figure too high tech for me.  Well they got a good price and of course Dad help with the price ::)

VAnnes Vannes Vannes

We got back home to deliver the TV and beers/wines but needed to come back to celebrate my father’s 83. So here we go again back to our now almost home Vannes to have lunch with Dad at Hippopotamus steakhouse chain, that has been renovated and upgraded for their menus. The service was impeccable, even with no WiFi the manager provided his own code so we had connection! The server was very nice and prompt, and the food all agree was better than we ever had at this chain . Which it has been at least 8 years we did not go to them.



not often on photos my Dad is 83 today!

Vannes Vannes

Anyway, my father was happy to do so and had his couple of beers 1664 French with us so more to celebrate what has been a sad year for us.  We had different things but I had my usual Burger Hippo and fries, crème brulée or sort of custard crème vanilla, and a couple of pints of the 1664 French beer. We share the foie gras platter with cassis jelly and breads. All very well done, surprise return.

Vannes Vannes Vannes

We finally ,came to our beloved E Leclerc hypermarket for our groceries, again a day in advance. This is a huge place in a multi shopping center with other stores and restos, very popular and convenient covered parking.  We did our bags and Dad did his as usual he does during the week with his grandson (my oldest son) but as we were in a special weekend we all did it together and it was fun to chase my Dad all over the hypermarket on his rounds lol!!

Vannes Vannes

Then we finally came home at last. A time to organize all we did and put away what was done. ALso, the list oh yes the list we got from their mother, the list to do things. We already wrote down tomorrow is painting the laundry room, and cutting some trees and if time, get to Vannes again to sell our old TV to an Easy Cash outlet.  To be continue…. And of course, we took care of our 8 month old dog Rex, enjoying life very much with us and we with him !!


You all have a great weekend, and fun loving family time. And, remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!



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