Archive for August 11th, 2018

August 11, 2018

The road warrior ok the M-30 of Madrid!

As you know, love the road and freedom that it provides, and just glancing at my blog realized in a particular way have yet to write about one of my nicest memories on the road and I was there from the beginning of it all!

Well ,you see the title, the M-30 is a beltway road of Madrid, the first one, and it is a 3 because it is actually the third beltway in history see it down below. I was living in Madrid when they started building it and left when they had finished it! It has been a love affairs ever since 1974!

I have included in the narrative below some tidbits of my encounters here, the main arch over it passes near the Monumental bullfight arena of Las Ventas on Calle de Alcalà on the way to my piso (apartment in Quintana). It seems every visit  I need to take somebody by here and tell of all the businesses there,gone and new over the years. Some like where my Mom purchase my first shoes are still there (Victor Calzados) and of course I purchase my boys shoes there too! The restaurant where we spent many evenings and I do concur the best patatas bravas of Madrid, Docamar since 1963 still there!

I remember, going by bus P13 (today 113) to the baseball field of Elipa,now a huge sports complex park and baseball field still there, the Madrid baseball federation is base there etc. Now ,you can even go there from Doctor Esquerdo street and over the passarelle of the M-30! All wonderful memories never to be forgotten. Enough of me, let me tell you about the M-30.

The M-30, also call the Madrid ring road (beltway), is a road done like a highway except in the North of the city on the Avenida de la Ilustracion, this road goes around the city.  It has a length of about  32.5 km with an average radius of 5.17 km with respect to the Puerta del Sol. It is heavily congestion and high traffic volume, and some says the most in Spain. It has a speed limit of 90 KPH on the above sections and 70 KPH below the tunnels. The peculiarity is to be the only Spanish highway of which is own by the City Hall of Madrid.  The construction of the M-30 would  started  in 1970 (while I was living in the city) , in two different sections: the East section, or Avenida de la Paz, between the Carretera de Irún (to France) A-1 and Carretera de Cadiz  A-4, which followed the riverbed of the old Abroñigal, which was to be channeled and buried under the the highway. The West stretch, or the Manzanares highway, between the Puente de los Francéses (bridge of the French) and the Carretera de Cadiz (road), mostly built following the course of the Manzanares River. Both sections were joined in the South junction, and were not completed until 1974. (When I left Madrid after my  1st time there)

The first beltway would be formed by the streets that follow the old plot of the wall of king Felipe IV that formerly circled the city: lower part of the Cuesta de la Vega, Ronda de Segovia, Puerta de Toledo, Ronda de Toledo, Plaza de Embajadores, Ronda de Valencia , Ronda de Atocha, Glorieta de Atocha, exterior wall of Retiro park (currently, Avenida de Menéndez Pelayo, the first section of  Calle O’Donnell and Calle de Alcalá), Paseo de Recoletos up to the current Plaza Colón, and the “boulevards”, (Calle de Genoa, Calle de Sagasta and Calle Carranza ). With the construction of the viaduct, the extension of Calle de Bailen and its union with the Gran Via de San Francisco, at the same time as the construction of the last two boulevards already in the 20C (Calle de Alberto Aguilera and Paseo del Marqués de Urquijo) , the belt was enclosed by the West.

The second beltway  would be formed by the Rondas: Avenida de la Reina Victoria, Calle de Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, Calle de Joaquin Costa, Calle de Francisco Silvela, Calle del Doctor Esquerdo and Calle de Pedro Bosch.  The highway was designated as M-30 because it was the theoretical third beltway of Madrid. And my first encounter with a highway in the city of many nice memories even crossing it on the Passarella later on !  Its construction really was thought out in the 1960s and required the underground canalisation of the Abroñigal river, required to avoid flooding since the road runs through the lowest part of the city. In the 1970s the most important section was open between the junction of Manoteras (cross with the A-1, M-11 and accesses to Sanchinarro) north side of Madrid  and the Nudo Sur (South Junction), that connects to the Avenida de Andalucia (previously N-IV) now A-4.


It usually counts three lanes of traffic in each direction and can align up to 9 lanes, especially east of the city. This is where most of the country’s radial highways go to the various cardinal points of Spain: A-1: North Corridor, A-2: Northeast Corridor, A-3: East Corridor, A-4: South Corridor, A-5: South-West Corridor A-6: Northwest Corridor. A bit technical but will try to give you as much of the history and layout of the M-30

The construction of the tunnel by  the South Pass , that connects it directly with the  A-5  to the southwest of the city and to the A-3, needed the use of the two biggest tunnel grounders of the world. They are the longest urban highway  tunnels in Europe, with sections of more than 6 km in length and 3 to 6 lanes in each direction, between the south entry of the Avenida de Portugal tunnel and the north exit of the M-30 south by-pass there are close to 10 km of continuos tunnels. The M30 tunnels run between a point roughly 700 meters north of the junction with A5 motorway and continue all the way up to the junction between M30 and A3 motorway.  Lately my entry in and out of Madrid.

To tell you a bit of the different sectors of the M30: North sector: Between the A-6 and the A-1 the flow from the northwest via the A-6 connects to the M-30 north-west of the city surrounding the urban center. It runs along the Puerta de Hierro Park before connecting to the M-40 for the first time. It serves all the northern districts of the city (Antonio Machado and Lacoma).   The M-30 loses its highway status to become the Avenida de la Ilustracion while waiting for the tunnel by the North Pass  from which the M-607 is towards  Colmenar Viejo (Segovia etc)  on the extension of the Paseo de la Castellana until the junction with the A-1 and the M-11 to the northeast of the city. Hope I have not lost you , is all well posted!

East sector: Between A-1 (Burgos) and A-3 (Valencia); It is a very busy area because it recovers the flow from the north of Spain from Burgos, Barcelona or Zaragoza. Indeed very busy by me too ! The M-30 serves the eastern part of the city, where the northeast Highway connects to the 2nd largest city in the country: Barcelona.   In this area the road is particularly large and loaded and includes up to 8 traffic lanes, separated according to destination in, each direction. At the Calle de O’Donnell the road crosses the M-23 which allows to reach the radial highway R-3  from the East. Then to the southeast of the city, come the connection to  the A-3 which allows to reach the Spanish Levant. It is at this bifurcation that the tunnel by Pass is detached which directly connects the A-5 to the west of the city.

Sector South: Between the A-3 (Valencia) and the A-42 (Toledo), it is a double stretch of the road, first with the tunnel By Pass on which connects the southeast to the southwest of the city. The A-4 southbound disconnects to the Manzanares River to serve Andalusia (Cordoba, Seville,…). At this bifurcation it is joined by the Embajadores Tunnel which connects the South highway directly to Calle de Embajadores near the Atocha station in Madrid. My way of course, good driving, are you with me?

Sector West: Between A-42 and A-6; The M-30 forks with the A-42 to Toledo  (yeah the old N400) before going along the Manzanares by joining the tunnel by South Pass. It runs under the west stands of the Vicente Calderon Stadium. A kilometer further away is the Avenida de Portugal to serve the south-western suburbs of Madrid (Alcorcon, Mostoles…).

The M-30 crosses the M-500 and loops its turn at the junction with the A-6; there are 31 exits/salidas  in total, last count. The principal exits to big cities are the no 1- A-1 – Alcobendas, Burgos, exit 2, M-11 to A-2 (E-90)/A-3/A-4/Calle de Arturo Soria – Feria de Madrid, Madrid-Barajas Airport, Zaragoza, Exit 4b,  A-2/Calle de Arturo Soria – Zaragoza, Exit 9,  A-3 – Valencia, Exit 18,  A-5/Plaza España – Badajoz, exit 23a , A-6 – Madrid, Moncloa, Exit 23B,  A-6 – a Coruña, exit 23,  Calle de Sinesio Delgado exit 23,  Calle de Arroyofresno, Avenida Ventisquero de la Condesa, M-605/M-40 to M-607/avenue Cardenal Herrera Oria– El Pardo, Colmenar Viejo, M-40 to A-6 –  A Coruña .

We have some nice building running alongside this highway M30, the best for me is the Elipa park where I used to played baseball! In my youth there and not there is a passarelle bridge from calle del Doctor Esquerdo to Calle Pez Volador to the passarelle and over to the park easy walk.  Others are in a clockwise direction from the junction of Manoteras ,north of Madrid up Paseo de la Castellana:   Cámara de Comercio de Madrid(chamber of commerce of Madrid) ,  Centro Cultural Islámico y Mezquita de Madrid, (the mosque of the M30), Plaza de toros de Las Ventas(monumental bullfights arena right off my old neighborhood on Calle de Alcalà), Torrespaña, Centro Comercial Moratalaz (shopping mall) , Matadero Madrid (arts entertainment center today on the old slaughterhouse of Madrid), Estadio Vicente Calderón (old stadium previous of the Atlético de Madrid FC), Ermita de la Virgen del Puerto( a nice Church), Jardines del Palacio Real de Madrid (gardens of the Royal Palace), Estación de Príncipe Pío(train station), Jardines del Palacio de La Moncloa (gardens of the house of government Moncloa),  Real Club Puerta de Hierro ( a private club) , Centro Comercial La Vaguada (shopping mall and one of my favorites in the city), Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Hospital Universitario La Paz(hospitals).

The M-30 appears in numerous films set in Madrid. A very characteristic one is  “Que he hecho yo para merecer esto,?” OR what have I done to deserve this? by Pedro Almodóvar. And in literature, it is the protagonist scene of the work of Esther García Llovet  La M-30, la gran velada or  the M30 the great evening.

There you go, a nice ride in the beehive of roads in Madrid today, from the M-30 you have today all the way around to the M 55 and many R (radials) with tolls to make driving in Madrid a Grand Prix Challenge , good ground for the road warior lol! Actually , folks, it is a lot easier than read, if you have driven in big cities before, of course.

Some webpages to help you understand a bit more this wonderful beltway are

On history here:

On circulation traffic laws here:

State of traffic in Madrid:

City of Madrid maps in pdf files  by main districts:

And remember, easy on the road but enjoy the freedom it provides. As said, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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August 11, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXVII

Ok so as routine, I did my errands today, the big work day with the family which is now my 3 boys. My Dad stays home as not able to walk much, and my dear late wife Martine sadly is no longer with us on earth, even if always in our minds: 29 years do not and will not go away that easy.

Anyway, back to our continuation of life and family life. We set out a bit late today, the weather was nice at 19C  and now it is 72F or about 20C with periods of clouds and sunshine. It was a heavy busy day as it was rate it Orange color (scale goes from the lowest  green, yellow, orange, red, and black, the highest) from the beaches here for coming and going visitors , locals and the British ,Germans etc that do come here. The Americans seems to only know Paris ::)

First, we finally try the Domino’s Pizza in Auray, it took over from our favorite in the area Pizza Sprint, and now the US Chain Domino’s is taken all over.  We did this Friday night pizza party day with German beers from V&B! It was cheaper then we thought at around 9€ and we got a special four medium pizzas for 26€! I still like the Sprint or Scampi local tastes better but the Dominos is cheaper. It is at rue Aristide Briand in Auray with a convenient bus stop of Auraybus and TIM line 5 in front. More here: Domino’s Pizza at Auray

I took the back roads as usual to avoid the traffic and we did all our errands. Starting with going to get our regular weekly stash of beers at V&B in Auray  (V=vins=wines, B=biéres=beers) for a few bottles…home. From there, we needed to circumvent the traditional French mid day break, they call it in Spain the Siesta , they think is only Spanish but the French practice it a lot! Most here close between noon and 14h (2pm).  Given before but the newbies to my blog here is the webpage: V&B at Auray

We continue our tour of our area and our to do list, with a stop at our favorite fashion store for men’s, Armand Thiery in Vannes. We are regular customers and buy most of our clothing here, recommended. My boys load up on some good ones as Summer sales was going on. They do have a line for women call Toscane (Tuscany) very chic Italian/French cuts at reasonable prices. The store in Vannes is right around a park of several more stores ! at rue Théophaste Renaudot webpage: Armand Thiery at Vannes

Right around the corner there was a huge Summer sale on the sporting goods store Intersport so we took a peek to see if anything was worth buying, nothing I am afraid; but we really prefered Décathlon ::)  Anyway this one is the second best, promise. More here: Intersport at Vannes

Finally, it was time to eat, and lunch in this area, we had already welcome Steak N Shake US chain to our Vannes, so trying once is not enough, we went again with a different set of menus and drinks. The bacon burger was better, however , the mango milkshake was no where to be found the mango, and the Pepsi drink was nice icy cold. However, at 15.40€ per person still has a way to go to beat our BK lol!!! Besides BK are from Florida ::) . Another thing, the lines are long, if they want to compete they will need to shorten the serving time… We do like it thus and probably will come again with another menu twist. The store at Vannes still not listed in their webpage !!! here: Steak N Shake at Vannes



Now, almost next door we went to EasyCash, as my sons continue to sell their inventory of old stuff, the pawn shops would love them and so does already EasyCash. They have sold over 300 euros already, which is ok as they got some old games, dvd, books collecting dust at home and never touch again, we are not collectors so get some cash and buy some more lol!! The store is in the same area of the restaurant. More here: EasyCash at Vannes


Wait! we are not done yet, we plan ahead for this buying tour so we go quick in and out sting and you lose…. My Dad wantes some groceries he likes olives without seeds and bananas not to ripe ,and we were just across going out of one of our favorite hypermarkets Carrefour of Vannes so we purchase his stuff there. More on this Carrefour here: Carrefour at Vannes

While at the Carrefour hypermarket anchoring a small shopping center, we, well the boys, stopped at Micromania to get the latest of their machines, the PS4 Pro, 4K! whatever that is lol!!!  They are the biggest customers there and all the staff knows us, even the store manager had lunch in our house! More on the store loc here: Micromania at Vannes

And finally, on our way home, crossing the expressway N165 on the road D779 we stop for our groceries in our top favorite hypermarket. The E Leclerc of Vannes  , huge all in one place ,easy parking even covered parking,cinema and plenty of stores and restaurants around it. Picking up some Breton cake or Gateau Breton with Prunes , yummy!! I was tired a bit but heck we did a lot in one day! More on this one given before but for the newbies in my blog , here it is: E Leclerc of VAnnes

And we arrive home just in time for our boys to installed their new equipment, and the news with some chow and plenty of white wine from the Loire! Now let it come Sunday! And my days are counting , out on Vacation August 14th (The 15th is a holiday as well off work), and not back to the office until Sept 6th!!! Vive la France!!! My belle France, and beautiful Morbihan breton! Of course, we will be wandering throughtout the gorgeous Loire!!! and a bit of necessary to Honfleur,Normandy. Stay tune!!!

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

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August 11, 2018

La Vuelta de España 2018! bike race

And another bike spectacle I like and seeing it and would to see it again. As I do locally now, when on vacation by Cuenca last year we saw it coming into the town on the 7th stage. The whole family was with me and it was great. My dear late wife Martine, father’s side family are very much into cycling and do follow the tour de France for years, I actually began following it with them and then it spilled over the Vuelta.

The 2018 edition is coming up and would like to tell you about it briefly.

The La Vuelta de España (Spain) or simply La Vuelta (the Lap) is a professional race of road cycling contested throughout the Spanish geography. It is held between the end of August and the beginning of September and belongs to the UCI WorldTour calendar, the highest category of professional racers.

The Vuelta was first disputed in 1935. Since its creation, the race has been suspended four times: from 1937 to 1940 due to the Spanish Civil War, from 1943 to 1944 due to WWII and the bad economic situation of Spain, in 1949 and from 1951 to 1954. It is the last and youngest of the well-known “great laps” of cycling, next to the Tour de France and the Giro d’italia. With four wins (2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005), Roberto Heras is the most prized runner in the race. The Vuelta in the 1970’s begain in 1970 with the triumph of Luis Ocaña, who was already consolidated in the International platoon as one of the great figures of cycling. José Manuel Fuente, with his triumphs in 1972 and 1974, became the third cyclist who managed to win two laps to Spain. A few years later, Bernard Hinault repeated the feat. In 1973 Eddy Merckx managed to win the Vuelta and did so in a sweeping way winning six stages and all the individual ratings except for the mountain, in which he finished second. In the 1980’s the main dominator of the Vuelta was Pedro Delgado with two victories (1985 and 1989), a second place and two thirds. In 2008, the winner was the Spaniard Alberto Contador, winner that same year of the Giro d’italia, and thus became the first Spaniard to win the three great laps. He won again in 2012. and again in 2014.  The first Vuelta was in 1935 with 14 stages and 3431 km ; by country the most wins have been by Spain 32, France 9, Belgium 7, Italy 6, and Switzerland 5.

The 2018 Vuelta will have 21 stages to complete a total of 3,254 km . Beginning in Malaga, on August 25th, and final in Madrid, on September 16th.   There will be six plain and two level stages with a high end, six mountain stages, five half-mountain stages and two individual time-trial stages. 46 Mountain ports and two days rest. The official departure of the Vuelta 2018 will be the 30th visit of the Spanish Vuelta to Malaga city. The first was in 1936, second edition of the Vuelta, with a departure and a goal towards Granada and Sevilla, respectively.

The stages and pictorials photos to follow individually, happy race

Stage 1: Málaga-Málaga, 8 km. CRI level (August 25), just a warm up!

Stage 2: Marbella-Caminito del Rey, 163.5 km. Plain (26 August)

Stage 3: Mijas-Alahurín de la Torre, 178 km. Half-Mountain (27 August)

Stage 4: Vélez-Málaga-Alfácar (Sierra de la Alfaguara), 161 km. Half-Mountain (28 August)

Stage 5: Granada-Roquetas del Mar, 188 km. Half-Mountain (August 29)

Stage 6: Huércal-Overa-San Javier. Mar Meno, 155 km. Plain (30 August)

Stage 7: Port-Lumbreras-Pozo Alcón. 185 km. Level (31st August)

Stage 8: Linares-Almadén, 195 km. Trowel (1 September)

Stage 9: Talavera de la Reina-la Covatilla, 200 km. Mountain (September 2)

Etage 10: Salamanca – Fermoselle-Bermillo de Sayago, 177 km. plain (4 September)

Etage 11: Mombuey – Ribeira Sacra. Luintra, 207 km. Half Mountain (5 September)

Stage 12: Mondoñedo. Faro de Estaca de Bares. Mañó, 181 kilometers. Half-Mountain (September 6)

Stage 13: Candás-Carreño-Valle de Knowo. La Campero, 174 km. Mountain. (September 7th)

Stage 14: Cistierna-Les Praeres. Nava, 171 km. Mountain (September 8)

Stage 15: Ribera de Arriba-Lagos de Covadonga. 178 km. Mountain (9 September)

Stage 16: Santillana del Mar-Torrelavega, 32 km. Individual time trial (11 September)

Stage 17: Getxo-Balcon de Bizkaia, 157 km. Half-Mountain (September 12)

Stage 18: Ejea de los Caballeros-Lleida, 186 km. Plain (September 13)

Stage 19: Lleida-Andorra. Naturlandia, 154 km. Level with end in high (September 14)

Stage 20: Andorra. Escaldes-Engordany-Coll de la Gallina. Sanctuary of Canolich. Mountain (15 September)

Stage 21: Alcorcón-Madrid, 100 km. Plain (September 16) Final

There you , enjoy as much as we do and if you are there let me see some pictures please.

The above pictorials was taken from my fav sports magazine in Spain AS, more here: AS on the Vuelta 2018

The official webpage for the Vuelta in English/French/Spanish is here: La Vuelta 2018

I had to tell you an anecdote on Ejea de los Caballeros in Aragon, back in 1990 I was traveling there with my girlfriend (later wife) and we were on her VW Golf driving, the gas/petrol tank was almost empty and this is in the middle of barren lands almost like a desert nothing in sight, I though well there is always a first to walk the road to find gasoline!!! She told me her VW was very economical on gas/petrol and so it was, we made it alright to get the road back to France. Never again with a not full tank of gasoline to take a trip! Enjoy it , and remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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