Archive for December 17th, 2020

December 17, 2020

Some news from France, CCCXXI

Oh well busy updating old posts really overlook this series of mine. I really enjoy getting the information and hope you do too. And thank you for reading me over these years; it has been fun , me think. Now let me tell you have mild weather now about 11C or 50F so degrees and raining on and off in my lovely Morbihan. Pretty much the same in Paris.  Let me tell you my latest of some news from France!

Well the so call covid19 or SARS or wuhan (now the WHO is sending a team to Wuhan China, finally!) is still around us but we have much flexibility in moving around and many places are open. There are still dining room restaurants/bars who are closed,but you can pre order or click and collect from them. We have tried some in town and is ok, of course nothing beat the presence in them but… Macron rule! Oh yes now he is with the virus too and quarantine for 7 days. Oh well guess did not follow the rules… in fact they show in local tv news a dinner given with his team where everyone was sitting close and no mask! Scoundrel!  The beat goes on I am still on teletravail or work from home and dearly hoping for next March to see if can ask for retirement. Finally!!!

Some of my favorites public transports  news/rants.

A new Metro exit at the foot of the Grand Palais. At the crossroads of metro lines 1 and 13, the Champs-Élysées – Clemenceau station ideally serves museums, theaters, avenues and surrounding gardens. For the comfort of its 15,000 daily travelers, the station has been redeveloped with the creation of an additional access on Avenue du Général Eisenhower, in the immediate vicinity of the Grand Palais, which facilitates service from the district to Avenue Franklin Roosevelt, the Palais de la Découverte, the Théâtre du Rond-Point… to Avenue Montaigne.

Last Monday December 14, from 16h, the extension of line 14 was put into service, thus connecting Olympiades to the new terminus of Mairie de Saint-Ouen. The Pont Cardinet, Saint-Ouen and Mairie de Saint-Ouen stations have opened their doors to you in mid-December. And you will be able to discover the Porte de Clichy station in January 2021.

The wagon washing machine for trains on line 2 will be located in a tunnel on a secondary track connecting the terminus of line 2 between Nation and the train maintenance workshops, located rue de Lagny in the 20éme arrondissement of Paris.

The State (France) will challenge the decision of the Montreuil court suspending work on the direct link between Gare de l’Est and Roissy. The so called CDG Express, a 24 km non-stop connection to the airport, covered in 20 minutes. For their part, elected officials from the Ile-de-France region have launched a petition against the CDG Express, demanding its definitive abandonment. OF course nothing for convenience, this line is needed yesterday!

The RER “NG” project (new generation trains) could well change the lives of RER D and RER E travelers, who were seriously starting to overload the lines. These new trains will be able to accommodate up to 1,860 persons, with 600 seats spread over two floors. These new RER trains, without separation between the cars to optimise space, will provide exceptional comfort, air conditioning and USB ports will be made available to you. Several spaces have been created depending on the type of trip: spaces with and without seats for short trips, as well as more comfortable spaces including only seats for longer trips. As for the ends of the train, they will be reserved for strollers, people in wheelchairs, as well as travelers with suitcases. The RER NG will also equip the new western section of the RER E, which must be delivered at the end of 2022 to Nanterre, (92) then at the end of 2024 to Mantes-la-Jolie (78).

The Thoiry Park, in the Yvelines dept78 , will have its festival of lights,as one of the few places to have reopened its doors since last Wednesday December 16. This of great help as the park already is 30% less revenue due to the virus.

In Avignon, the Rocher des Doms dominates the Rhône: on the river side, it sees the bridge as famous as it has collapsed, then Villeneuve-lès-Avignon on the other bank and Mont Ventoux in the distance; on the city side, the Palace of the Popes, below, almost leans on it. Converted into a public garden in 1830, it is climbed by the Sainte-Anne staircase or from the banks of the Rhône. A haven of peace above the city, it invites you to stroll between the busts of forgotten local glories and the terraces offering multiple points of view.   Children love the ducks and peacocks in the basin (which make them feel good) and the analemmatic sundial that invites them to climb onto the studs to tell the time. In bright sunshine, it is the shadow cast from their body that serves as a sort of needle!

Very appropiate for the time of the year lets talk about Aÿ. The town is known to Champagne lovers above all, to the point that the name of the vineyard has been officially attached to it since 2016. For if the Marne river flows below the houses, some of which are half-timbered, the inhabitants are surrounded by hillsides of vines laid on chalk, all classified as Grands Crus. Also, prestigious brands own or buy grapes there, especially Bollinger, but also Veuve Clicquot, Deutz, Moët & Chandon, Henri Giraud, Gosset or Ayala.

Aÿ is located between the two large wine towns, 4 km from Epernay and 28 km from Reims. Suffice to say that it is in the center of Champagne. It was before the 18C, when the village was famous for its still red wine, beyond the borders; the English would stop there to buy it. Aÿ was the capital of the Pinot Noir grape variety to the point that the towns that surround it owe its name like Avenay means “before Aÿ”, and Epernay “after Aÿ”. From this ancestral period, it has kept a true winegrowing culture: it is one of the rare Champagne communes whose houses are open to visitors.

In the 18C, the bubble changed the fate of Aÿ. The village is still sitting on a wine treasure with its Pinot Noir, but which has changed in taste and color in the bottle. Of the 323 vintages of the Champagne region, only 17 are classified as 100% grands crus, including Aÿ. Its vines, which extend over 429 hectares, are sought after to participate in the blends of the finest vintages from the great houses. Because nature has spoiled this very active limestone hillside, with an ideal exposure.

So much so that the hectare is now trading at around 1.5 million euros. In other words, it is a rich village. When you walk in Aÿ-Champagne, the streets reflect prosperity and serenity. The income of the population is a little higher than the French average but it is less than in Epernay. Less also than in Mesnil-sur-Oger , about 15 km away, another flagship city of Champagne, this time for its chardonnay

Something we do at home often, and gladly give you the French version of the Spanish omelette or tortilla.

Ingredients for a tortilla for 4 to 6 people: 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) of melting potatoes (Bintje type better), 4 large fresh eggs, olive oil of the sweeter variety, 1 large soft white sweet onion, 1.5 tbsp of powdered sugar, salt, and pepper to taste.

Preparation: Peel the potatoes and cut them into slices (about 5 mm thick). They can be split apart rather than cut. Pour the olive oil in a pan (sauté pan with curved edge) over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes. When they are soft (candied and not fried), drain them on absorbent paper or in a colander. Salt. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the lukewarm potatoes and mix them all. Leave this preparation to stand for about ten minutes.

Cooking: Meanwhile, mince the onion and fry in the remaining oil. Add the sugar and stir so that the onions are caramelised. Drain the onions and add them to the eggs and potatoes. Heat the pan over low heat, add a little olive oil if necessary and pour in the preparation. Let it set a little and stir the pan so that the tortilla does not stick.

When the underside is golden (do not put on a too high heat), turn the omelette over (either by sliding it onto a large plate, or using a double pan). Pre-remove the olive oil in a container to avoid burning yourself when turning the tortilla, and return the same oil to the pan to resume cooking on the second side. Brown, making sure that the tortilla keeps its soft interior. Finish by sliding it into a serving dish. Season with fine salt immediately after cooking. Serve the tortilla hot, warm or cold. Recipe of Celia Tunc ; general secretary of the Collège Culinaire de France or culinary school of France.

Now this final point is for the Francophiles to know and decipher ok Eternal Paris !! You know you just arrived in Paris when …

You do your shopping in Châtelet. You will have a drink at Café de Flore. You’re going to eat at the Indiana Café. When evening comes, you go out on the Grands Boulevards at O’Sullivans or Truskel. You feel like you’re living in a movie. You go to the shooting locations of Amélie Poulain and Emily in Paris. You make stories when you eat at Bouillon Chartier. You say hello when you walk into a store. You are shocked at how fast people walk in the street or in the subway. You are surprised out loud at the price of a pint at 7€. You walk so slowly that it really takes 12 minutes to walk 12 minutes according to Google. You know that people who have just arrived in Paris too … and you have trouble making Parisian friends. You live in an 11 m2 with the toilet on the landing and the shower in the kitchen. Le Marais is the ultimate cool spot. You sit on the terrace at all rotten and super expensive breweries but you think it’s cool . You wait until the man is green to cross the street. Which district is the Sacré Cœur in? You pronounce Saint-Cloud “Saint Cloude”. You say sorry to people who push you around. You take real taxis and not VTCs You have a picnic at Champ-de-Mars or at the Tuileries. You do your shopping in rue de Rivoli or at Galeries Lafayette. You take the metro to make mini-distances because you don’t know the city well enough. You moved to line 13 without realizing all that this involved .You have not yet discovered the use of Franglais!

Sound familiar of course lots of clichés indeed but some sound alright. Hope you enjoy the post and stay tune.

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

December 17, 2020

Feria del Libro de Madrid:Book Fair!!

Ok so again , looking at these older posts in order to update them and revising if needed; a great time to do so now. In this wonderful ride of mine, I realised there were nice sights events places that were left out or simply briefly mentioned , and they deserve more in my opinion.

One of the events that brings back memories and need to be fully in my blog is the Feria del Libro or Book Fair of Madrid. Let me tell you briefly on it ok.

However, one novelty on my walks that I came to know first was passing by the Cuesta de Moyano and see the lineup of libraries with books of many diverse universe ready for sale and expecting the Feria del Libro de Madrid or book fair to begin. This inquiry let me to the Parque del Buen Retiro park and the rest was history each time in the city in late May or early June.

The association of libraries that form the Cuesta de Moyano group in Spanish here :


So if you are into books, of any form and shape you need to be here. I get my inspiration to read from the Feria del Libro de Madrid,a unique event anywhere, the best is in Madrid.


And the 80th Feria del Libro at Retiro park will be held from May 28 to June 13 2021 with Colombia as the country of honor. The official webpage of the Book Fair:

As usual from me , nothing is famous or good if it does not have a good history, and to undertand better let me give some of it now

The Feria del Libro de Madrid or Book Fair is a cultural event that is held once a year, during the last days of May and the beginning of June. For some years now   it has been held in the Parque del Buen Retiro.

The first time the book fair, was held on April 23-29, 1933, it was held on Paseo de Recoletos. It was organized by Madrid booksellers. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War brought its suspension. The fifth edition was not convened until 1944, changing its time of celebration to the end of May and the beginning of June. From that year on, the Spanish National Book Institute would be in charge of organizing the event, which was renamed the National Book Fair.

In 1967, the book fair moved to the Parque del Buen Retiro, specifically the Salón del Estanque. In 1970, always within the Retiro, the chosen location is the area between the Paseo de Coches (now Fernan Nuñez) and the wall of the then Zoological Park (no longer there of course). And this was my first time there as a young teen!  In 1979, the book fair was transferred to the Palacio de Cristal in the Casa de Campo, with a great failure of attendance, so it returned to the Retiro the following year. The 1981 edition was the last edition organized by the National Institute of the Spanish Book, becoming it by an inter-union commission of booksellers, publishers and distributors.


The Feria del Libro is also a great opportunity to meet little-known publishers, some on very specific topics such as cinema, comics, science, spirituality, etc. Or newly created publishers that bet on new topics or new authors. Bookstores and publishers offer their books with a special discount on the occasion of the Book Fair. The discount is usually 10%. In addition to the booths with the books, the Book Fair proposes other related activities. For this, it uses the pavilions in the central part or the Casa de Fieras (old zoo) . These activities tend to have a very good public acceptance: opening speech, book presentations, commented readings, literary encounters, storytelling, creative workshops for children or puppet theater performances for the little ones.

The Feria del Libro de Madrid or Book Fair is held on the Paseo Fernán Núñez. You get here by Metro Retiro line 2, Príncipe de Vergara lines 2 and 9, Ibiza  line  9, Atocha line 1). Buses stopping or passing by it are lines 1, 2, 9, 14, 15, 19, 20, 26, 28, 32, 51, 52, 61, 63, 74, 146, 152, 202, and C. There is a bicimadrid depot at plaza de la Independencia, and Calle de Alcalà ,95.

The Madrid tourist office on the Book Fair

And there you have it folks, a wonderful event to be in Madrid at the time, the place is lively ,great conversation, and even better finds at good prices. Hope you enjoy the Feria del Libro , and I am glad I have it fully in my blog.

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

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December 17, 2020

Madrid: Puerta de Moncloa!

So here I go updating older posts in my blog. In this case I am not only updating and revising the old post but also ,split into two the Faro and the Puerta of Moncloa of my dear Madrid. Hope you enjoy and thanks for coming along the tour.

Let me tell you a bit about the Puerta de Moncloa. It is known as the Arco de la Victoria for other reasons I prefer to call it a gate which is also. It is located before the Faro de Moncloa (see post), the Puerta de Moncloa or Arco de la Victoria an arch gate entering the city of Madrid from the northwest.


The gate is on a rectangular base of 130 meters with 42 meters high supported by two corps of columns in rectangular form as well.  The height can be increase by 7 meters as there are on top the horses of the carriage of Minerva . On the foot of each corps of column there is a lobby that you can go in up with a marble stair. On the top there is a room with expositions and lookout that never has been used; you can climb here with an elevator/lift that is on both corps of columns as well.

There are inscriptions there and the years in Latin style showing the start and end of the battle that took place here. A very moving place in Spanish history. History cannot be erase but taught in better ways to avoid the mistakes of the past. Therefore, Puerta de Moncloa is a better name.

There is the Air Force or Ejército del Aire building and the Templete de los Caidos or temple of the fallen across the Puerta de Moncloa.


The Arco de la Victoria as originally known was built between 1950-56 and it is popularly called the Puerta de Moncloa for its counterparts in Alcalà, Hierro, etc in Madrid. It is a triumphal arch in memory of the victory of the Nationalists over the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War around the university grounds that took place between Nov 1937 to March 1939 with the peculiarity that it was built right in the middle of what it was the battlefield. Nearby it was the infamous Model prison or Càrcel Modelo that was dynamited and built in its place the grand beautiful building of the Ejercito del Aire or  Spanish Air Force .


The Puerta de Moncloa is located at one of the main entrances to Madrid from the La Coruña highway, in the center of the so-called Avenida de la Memoria in the Moncloa-Aravaca district. The arch has a total height of 49 meters. There is a heavy presence of transportation here from metro lines 3 and 6, and buses  such as 44 46 82 84 132 133 160, 162, A, C1, G , U etc , as well as biciMadrid bike rentals as it is ,also, near the University of Madrid and the Museo de America amongst others.


The location of the Puerta de Moncloa or Arco de la Victoria has a meaning around the battle of the University City within the historical context of the Spanish Civil War .This battle lasted eight hundred and fifty-eight days from November 17, 1936 to March 28, 1939 .The bloodiest of the battle of Madrid or for the defense of Madrid depending on which side you were, occurred a few meters from its current location. The triumphal arch is a tradition of Roman architecture that consisted in the construction of a gate to commemorate the war victory and to greet the victorious armies entering the city. It is for this reason that this Arco de la Victoria is the only one of its kind, having been built on the terrain of the battlefield itself. Below picture of the Puerta de Moncloa taken from the Faro de Moncloa!


The Madrid tourist office on the Puerta de Moncloa or Arco de la Victoria

There you go folks, another dandy in my dear Madrid. Perhaps an off the beaten path sight but nevertheless worth the detour ,nice walks and great eateries here see my posts. Hope you enjoy the post and helping me remember these memorable moments in Madrid.

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

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December 17, 2020

Madrid: Faro de Moncloa!

So here I go updating older posts in my blog. In this case I am not only updating and revising the old post but also ,split into two the Faro and the Puerta of Moncloa of my dear Madrid. Hope you enjoy and thanks for coming along the tour.

Let me tell you a bit about the Faro de Moncloa.

I had to take the pictures from this lighthouse or Faro of Moncloa. It was and is an emblematic symbol of Madrid for many years and enjoying it since 1992 when it originally opened. It was closed abandoned really for many years and reopen in 2015.  This is about the Faro de Moncloa.


Officially, is name the Torre de Iluminación y Comunicaciones del Ayuntamiento de Madrid or the  Lighting and Communications Tower of the Madrid City Council, better known as the Faro de Moncloa or lighthouse. It is a 110 meter high structure, located in the University City of Madrid, in the Moncloa-Aravaca district.


Ascent is via panoramic glass elevators. Beware of those who have vertigo, the view is very impressive. Information panels are available to learn more about the development of the city of Madrid and its history. At the top, huge bays give way to the view of the main monuments of Madrid on a clear day you can see the  Palacio Real, Palacio de Cristal , Catedral de la Almudena, the telephone company building or  Telefónica in the Gran Vía,the four towers or Cuatro Torres, and at the back the Sierra de Guadarrama.



From there you can also see the city’s large parks and green spaces including Parque del Buen Retiro, Parque del Oeste ,Casa de Campo, and Monte del Pardo.


The traffic junction at Avenida de los Reyes Católicos, Highway A-6 and Avenida de la Victoria is extremely busy. IF you stay on the right hand side looking at the Faro there is an underground pass as well, yet we took the crossing for the courageous in us! While, the Faro de Moncloa was principally designed as a high point for holding transmission antennas, it also serves as an illumination source for the busy traffic junction below. Twenty projector lamps with a combined capacity of 40,000 watts light up the area. It is mainly for this reason that it is called Faro, or Lighthouse, de Moncloa.

There is a heavy presence of transportation here from metro lines 3 and 6, and buses  such as 44 46 82 84 132 133 160, 162, A, C1, G , U etc , as well as biciMadrid bike rentals as it is ,also, near the University of Madrid and the Museo de America amongst others.

The Madrid tourist office on the Faro de Moncloa:

Like I said, an emblematic tower of Madrid, the Faro de Moncloa is one of the sights to see while in the city. My boys love the views from the top ,and I came back older but loving it still. Again enjoy the post and Madrid!

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

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