Archive for November 6th, 2020

November 6, 2020

My nostalgic Madrid!!!

Again, this is my black and white series as I like to call them, revising and updating old posts in my blog for a new life. The pictures are in the individual posts on the things to see. I feel attach to them and need to bring them to the light. What better to do so than on my huge Madrid!!!

Yes, something I need to write about. I lived in Madrid from 1970-1974, there other times other periods, harder times for all. However, my love for the city has not waned in all these years. I am an appreciative person , and remember kindly all the good times of my life. Madrid is a big part of it.

When a young boy I had the inmense luck of playing for the Real Madrid organisation, first in baseball then in football/soccer. Real Madrid has remained my team of my life, Hala Madrid to all!!!  I used to lived at Calle de Alcalà ,331; 2do A, Buzon 67 Madrid 28027, right by the exit of metro line 5 Quintana corner with Calle de la Argentina. Many memories too intense to write all about it. I came from one dictatorship to another, and it was tough. We were dissidents in both right or left, they are not good.

This street or calle de Alcala has 10,5 km long from the Puerta del Sol to the Ave de la Hispanidad,passing by the best of Madrid. Yes, it was and always will be MY street. For those who knows,  I lived in working class Madrid away from tourist center, right in with the locals, and the experience was great, and is each time on the city. Thanks God it has been often after I left it in 1974. Who has not heard of this song Los Nardos from the movie Las Leandras with Rocio Durcal in 1969 “Por la calle de Alcalá…….”

While there, one of my anecdotes tells all was to go play baseball, we went to the field at the Parque de la Elipa, no metro then, just by bus, the P13, it was a glorious ride of youth chasing the girls going to the park as a means of entertainement in those days. (see post). I left Madrid for New Jersey, USA , and then Florida USA, where I spent most of my life. After many years, I try to remember the bus line and had in my mind the P13. However, Madrid and Spain had change since the 70’s , overall for the better. When I got back in 1990 , the bus line was no longer there,and could not find it. Then; one day trying to find information on the general strike in the city I stumbled into a wiki page that talk about a bus line 113. Well to my surprise this bus line 113 is the new number for the P13 after the creation of the Madrid bus system EMT!!! Amazing that I found it, after so many years, now that I know the numbers change, maybe I can have some fun looking up old bus lines while I was living there lol!! The P13 was nice, now the service of the 113 is even larger, and there is even a metro Elipa now there on line 2.  So glad Elipa is advancing, and glad the old P13 is still alive in the 113!

Madrid to heavens and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day! Hala Madrid!! We win most often the best football club in history with 13 Champions titles and 34 national titles most than anybody else. Club of the 20C by FIFA and European club of the 20C by IFFHS!!!

But wait a minute, not just my story! Calle de Alcalà has a long history and wonderful things to see along its long way. I love history, so will like to tell you a bit of history I like. Hope you enjoy it.

The street began in the early 15C on the old road to Alcalá de Henares ,and reaching to Aragón,and was call then calle de los  Olivares  (olive trees street) ,the street was started by masons, horseshoe artists, and carriage rentals with mules, and was the beginning of the diligences or people mover in the whole of Spain!! When Madrid became the capital of Spain in 1561, more luxurious mansions and palaces were built on it.

Given way to the Puerta del Sol, until 1856  was the site of the Church and Hospital of  Buen Suceso, founded by king  Carlos I ;later it was the Hotel París, the most elegant of Madrid at that time, and on the bottom floor it was the venerable Café de la Montaña, now all gone. At the corner with the calle de Sevilla, it was La Equitativa insurance company building built between 1882-1891  you see the facade with heads of elephants under the balcony of the first floor  crown with a small tower and clock; in 1920 the Banco Español de Crédito purchase the building.

Continue on and see the old Customs or Aduanas building, and continue to see the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, built in 1724-1725; follow this up with the Casino de Madrid built in 1905-1910  in the old building of the palacio de Villarroel.  See the emblematic building of Madrid, in the corner with Caballero de Gracia,and beginning of the Gran Vía, see the French style palace of Union and Fénix, finished in 1910 . Its cupola a city landmark today ,used to be crowned with a ave fénix  symbolising the old company ,but in 1975, when the new company took over was change to a victoria style statue, this is the company or building  Metrópolis.

Moving right alont on old Madrid, as you crossed the Gran Vía and calle del Marqués de Valdeiglesias, you found the  Casa del Párroco, first building done between 1910-1912,as part of the public works to do the Gran Vía.  Just after you have the old theater or Teatro Apolo,considered a cathedral of the small art, capacity for 2,500 persons and built in 1873. Here was first played the greatest zarzuelas in history such as La verbena de la Paloma (1894), La Revoltosa (1898), and Doña Francisquita (1923). It closed in 1929, after being purchased by the bank Banco de Vizcaya for its headquarters in Madrid.  Going on the sidewalk to the right crossing the calle de Sevilla,you first see a building for the Banco de Bilbao built between 1920-1923.

You follow wandering the street and see the old Education ministry building or Ministerio de Educación, built in  1929 ,and it has a beautiful room or salon de Goya, and a completer gallery of pictures of all its ministries.  Another emblematic building and great for snack and coffee, is the El Círculo de Bellas Artes done in Calle de Alcalà by 1921-1926 You are about to reach Cibeles, and on the right you see the Banco de España built between  1882-1891. Right by the angle to  calle del Barquillo,in a former palace now you find the Instituto Cervantes. Right after at the old palace of Buenavista you now see the Cuartel General del Ejército de Tierra (headquarters of the Army).

You then reach the plaza de Cibeles, done under king Carlos III, with a nice perpective of the Puerta de Alcala. You have here the old Palacio de Linares built in 1873, today the wonderful Casa de América, to the left, and the palacio de Comunicaciones ,(old post office of Spain) today is the seat of the Mayor’s office to the right, built in 1905-1918. On the left sidewalk you see the reopen by 1994 and a different business there (El Secreto del Lobo resto) at the old  Cervecería de Correos, that have the peña or gathering group of  Federico García Lorca, and the Café Lión, with its famous crypt of La Ballena Alegre (happy whale) that have frequent visits by many  great names of Spain such as  Valle-Inclán, Penagos, Bergamín and Francisco Ayala;as well as politicals such as Azaña, Calvo Sotelo , José Antonio Primo de Rivera, and after the Civil War, such as  Dámaso Alonso and Vicente Aleixandre…It closed in 1993. And to the right you see the wonderful gardens Parque del Buen Retiro.

The Puerta de Alcalá, yes we arrive at the grand daddy for me, need to be here always visit by, the Church of San Manuel y San Benito, built in 1911.  The Puerta de Alcala was done under king Carlos III in 1778 by Sabatini. At the entrance to what today is calle de Serrano, an old execution site of the Holy Seat, was the old primitive first bullfight arena of Madrid done in 1799. The current plaza Monumental de Las Ventas,was built in neomudéjar style in 1931. Around it many wonderful bars such as La Tienta, La Divisa, La Monumental, Los Timbales(my all time favorite in the area), El Albero, and Los Tarantos. Awesome and more local away from the Centro!!!

A bit after by metro Quintana you have my hangout when in Madrid at Docamar, since 1963 ,the best patatas bravas in Madrid !!! And the calle de Alcalá continues it crosses the beltway road M-30, and goes across the districts of Ciudad Lineal (Quintana is one neighborhood) and San Blas ,finally ends running parallel to the avenida de América,in the interchange Eisenhower,where the road A-2 (carretera de Barcelona) and road  M-14 (avenida de la Hispanidad to the Aeropuerto Adolfo Suàrez Madrid-Barajas  crossed. And yes, you can link up to the airport or even to France from here. Awesome!!!!

The long link of the city of Madrid on transports:traffic in Spanish:

The much shorter tourist office of Madrid in English:

The tourist office of the Community of Madrid regional govt in Spanish:

You have the idea, Madrid is awesome and worth every centime/penny to come and see and see it again as there is a world there To Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day! Yes!

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

November 6, 2020

Train travel Bretagne-Paris-Bretagne!!

So continuing my saga of black and white posts revising and updating old posts with the pictures in their individual sight posts of my travels. Hope you are enjoying this journalistic approach ::)

One subject done was train travel. Yes you have read love the road warrior way, best . However, working in France one needs to take the public transposts so I have plenty SNCF Frequent traveler lol!

This trip in particular was different as was taken my father to visit his sister in Miami FL USA. And as he is always in the car as well (runs in the family!) never had taken the trains here (only the metro) so this was his taste of it, finally!

Needless to write that all folks visiting here love to take them. I guess for the souvenir, the locals have no choice due to the high cost of going by car and parking in the Paris region, and I have tried them all. Still for me the car is king/queen. I once again tried the trains if only to give a taste of them to my father to Roissy CDG from our home in Brec’h, Morbihan, Brittany.

Well, as can best do it on a weekend due to my job,  the trains were far and fewer than on weekdays, so the best connection was to start from Auray train station at 14h33 on a TER Bretagne train service to Rennes, passing by Vannes, Questermbert, and Redon. At Rennes we change train to a TGV direction Marseille lol!!! but stop at MassyPalaiseau while passing, Laval, and Le Mans, then at Massey TGV station took another TGV train direction Brussels!!! passing by Marne-la-Vallée Chessy (Disneyland) and finally stopping at Roissy CDG T2 SNCF station. Arrival time 21h15 !!!! with a 25 minutes delay at Massy. Ufff do not know how people like these trips!!

We stayed at the IBIS CDG at Roissypole on T3, which I have been before on business layovers,  and was very nice location hotel, easy in and out for our departure the next day. The hotel was expensive thus at 112€ but normal for CDG airport properties. All for a tyny room hardly space to shower , this has to be the smallest room I have stayed in ever in France. The food was overprice at the Sud et Cie restaurant but good service and good food of burger ibis and bucher cut of beef with grimbergen beers, and coffee for 97€ for two! . The hotel is airy,new, modern, very loaded with amenities and very central to the terminals and the CDGVAL airport inter terminal train service. So on a must stayed , its ok otherwise avoid it! The hotel webpage:

The system CDGVAL is nice, fast ,clean, and convenient way to go between terminals at Roissy CDG and by now all use it a lot.  It goes in 8 minutes from one terminal to the other and its true! Just glad I was there with Dad otherwise he might end up in Saint Denis lol!! just kidding!! CDGVAL webpage:

We were supposed to fly Delta or rather my father was, on terminal 2E, this was change when we got there to terminal 2F, so no big deal across the street…. The gate for him to leave was L34, but by the time he went in thru security it has been change to L53. It must be Delta but….Thanks God folks inside help my father to the gate or he would have end up in moscow!!! Poor fellow was lost in an airport.

Finally I came back to the TGV station to get my return trip home. From Roissy CDG SNCF train station took a TGV train to Rennes, passing Marne-la-Vallée Chessy (Disneyland) then Le Mans to finally reach Rennes with 1h30 time to spare before taking my next TGV train to Auray. Left at 12h48 and arrive at gare d’Auray at 18h33. Long days, the car is better I tell you. And I told you SO!!!

Ahh yes, but there was the pickup as my father arrived on Delta from MIA as usually do by 11h after spending two weeks with his sister. I , therefore, went to pick him up but this time by car!!! I drove from Brec’h, Morbihan, Bretagne to Roissy CDG terminal 2E. I did got up really early but had the day off for this . The ride was smooth as road warrior does it on no tolls road (no extra tax from me) on the N12 passing closer by Dreux , Houdan, to connect with the A12 which connects with the A13 autoroute de Normandie for free here. I got off exit 6 to take on the N186 direction Port de Marly, Saint Germain en Laye to take a quick ride on the N13 before heading on the N184 thru the forest of Saint Germain to the expressway A15 passing simply underneath it and continue on the N184 or here call La Francilienne , this road becomes the A104 same just follow by now direction Charles de Gaulle aéroport and once in it just follow terminal 2 to the parking PX that connects with the CDGVAL! Much easier!!

And I brough him back the same way home safe and sound! The scary anecdote is that upon picking him up I saw him with a big carton box and I thought wow tons of goodies! Then he drops in the middle of the luggage carrousels and was trying to get his attention not to leave this box alone! No avail so using my best negotiating skills convince the gendarme police to let me in to get my father out and he did. Once in, he told me the box was given to him by someone else!!! omg glad he drop the box!! Then, ask him where was his luggage because he was moving around and not finding it. I look up his ticket and said carrousel 45 while he was looking at 42!! When I got to 45 the only luggage left was his lol!! Gladly this was his last trip alone!!!

There you go a train ride with a family twist and happily ended at last. By the way this is also the only time we have gone by train on a personal trip. Hope you enjoy the story. Maybe share yours…

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

November 6, 2020

The fortified city of Hennebont,,,lovely past, beautiful present!

And here I go again, amazing the amount of old posts I had which were never updated. Oh well too many things to see in my belle France! Now is the best time to do so as most of the rest are closed by you know what! Here we are still roaming strong as of November 2020.

As it was , my father’s birthday –78 (now 85!); and thanks God still with us. So we went out to eat as he likes to travel too. I have heard about Hennebont as been a fortified city like Port Louis where i had already been, so decided to go there, new city for all. Well just 24 km from my home and is like been in the neighborhood and not crossing the street!!

You can get here on the N165 road Nantes-Brest exit 40 for Hennebont centre by car. By train it has a train station or gare but never use it. You can make it from Paris gare Montparnasse direction Quimper Brest.  There is a bus network of CTRL Lorient serving Hennebont on lines 32, 34, and 137 but never use them either;for info:

You can go from Vannes for instance by train TER to the Lorient train station and there take bus 14 to Hennebont, but again for info only never taken it. The transport site for all of Bretagne here:

Hennebont shows its old side the moment you entered by the viaduc over the port and river, seeing the trains going above you as you enter the town by the river port area. Immediately you see the ramparts of the old castle, still intact. You can even walk it on top all the way from city center to the river facing it. Great views of course. Even my father did it so anyone can lol!!!

The city is all by the river Blavet, that is beautiful when calm but devastating when flooded. All is surrounded by the ramparts of the old fortified town, and the castle now museum. And of course climbing the ramparts is the best way to see the city and the river below.  We found this time crossing the river Blavet on the new bridge (2009) on the other side an old Church Saint Caradec. The story goes that the parish dates from the 13C, created by Henri of Hennebont to satisfied the population living in the old town around the castle seat of Kemenet-Heboe.  The Church was raised in 1732 entirely redesigned in 1895 . In 1901 the latest restructuring added aisles to the chorus and the vaults. Inside, rarely accessible because it is closed for at least 15 years . You could have seen an ex-voto painted wood and a polychrome wooden statue of Saint Isidore dating from the 18C.

There is a name Hennebont from at least the year 1000, from the 13C the castle was done by duke Jean I of Brittany.  From 1857, the haras nationaux  or horse raising training site is created at the old abbaye de la Joye. On august 7 , 1944, a great part of the city is destroyed by Nazi bombardments trench on the pocket of Lorient. The districts the most old were badly destroyed and a period of reconstruction began to what is today.

You must see the basilica of Notre Dame de Paradis, 16C , on the flamboyant gothic style constructed between 1514 and 1524 on the honor of the virgin Mary under Notre Dame de Paradis (see post).

You must see the ramparts, 15C placed at the old fortification of the times of duke Jean 1 13C. Overcoming many wars such as the one of the succession of Brittany and the war of the league in 1590. The towers crown the corners at four cardinal points ,now only 3 remained, Tour St Nicolas (at south side), Tour des Carmes,(north east side), and the fortified porte or door at the east side, built before the 14C (see post).

The Porte Broêrec’h is a defensive work to serve tower to tower the guards of the prison that it was  (Marion du Faouët,  the famouse brigand was held here in 1746), with room for the homeless and finally a museum; one of the richest in the department on the Breton Arts. (see post).

Le Haras National( done in 1857), with its park a la English with 23 hectares and 7 huge stables. Horses and its history are home here, a must to see and watch the show.(see post).

And it is always time to eat for us so we had lunch by choosing the Pizzeria del Castello or The pizzeria du chateau in Italian, very nice, friendly folks,  and were prompt and food well done. The resto is very near the Porte Broêrec’h . We had faux filet grill in sauce poivre 3, pizza primavera with chorizos, Tartiflettes, and Burger à cheval, apertififs from porto to jack daniels, kir, beer, then desserts from banana splits(2) ,poire belle helene, ice cream of different flavors; a bottle of Villa Burghese, Paqua, Bardolino red of Italy, very good. All for less than 24€ per person. Their Facebook page:

The tourist office of Hennebont:

So there you go folks a wonderful town of Hennebont which we have come several times and plenty in my blog. Hope you have enjoy this update with fresh new text as the pictures are in the individual posts. My black and white way!

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

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