Archive for October 10th, 2021

October 10, 2021

Curiosities of Saint Jean Pied de Port!!

I am bringing you back to one of my fav areas of my belle France. This is deep pyrénées and basque country of Saint Jean Pied de Port!!  I have written before, but left several nice pictures out and decided they should be shown in my blog, So, therefore, this is all new text and older pictures, Hope you enjoy it as I 

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (in Basque Donibane Garazi) is located in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department 64, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is located 118 km from Pau, where we were base this time , and we took the easy way by the Autoroute 64 and the D 933 via Orthez and Saint-Palais (see posts).

The town is located on 3 pilgrimage routes to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle,(Santiago de Compostela) If you arrived, by the north, you see the chapel of the Madeleine, the pilgrims entered the upper town by the Porte Saint-Jacques, then followed the rue d ‘Espagne to the bridge over the Nive. There, two routes were available to them to reach Roncesvalles: that of the port of Cize, which follows the route of the ancient Iter XXXIV of the Antonine Route linking Bordeaux to Astorga, or the easier one that joins the col de Roncesvalles (puerto de Ibañeta in Spanish) by Valcarlos, located in the Nive valley, where Charlemagne once established his camp, before flying to Roland’s aid in Roncesvalles. At the Maison Laborde, at 39 rue de la Citadelle, the welcoming staff inform the pilgrims: The pilgrims’ office is not a Tourist Office they claim for all to hear ; that of St Jean Pied de Port is responsible for tourist info. The welcoming must respect strict neutrality in the information concerning the orientation of pilgrims to refuges and other accommodation.


In the Maison des Pélerins there is a boutique, webpage:

There is ,also, a weekly market  held every Thursday, from 9h at the covered market, in season from June to September. Gourmets can find cold meats, cheeses, jams, local honey, Basque cakes… Local artisans will also be there to present their articles. The covered market is located in Zuharpeta, behind the city walls at 12 Place des Remparts. The usual outdoors market is open from 8h to 13h. These times may vary depending on the weather and the season.We loaded up coming here, love it and also visit some wonderful foodie places such as


We went for the basque macarons at the La Fabrique de Macarons on 25 rue de la Citadelle, yummy for desserts. here they had almonds, chocolate, lemon, noix de coco, almonds with piment d’espelette, flavors that we clean up the house. Webpage:


The La Caves aux Fromages  or cheese cellars is located at 2 pl des Remparts near the covered market,,We clean up on brebis(ewe)  cheeses in different shapes and textures from Ossau-Iraty region simply awesome we eat them at home like bread lol!!! On the spot they taste even better lol!!. This is the fromagerie des Aldudes who produces these wonderful cheeses for the cave. webpage:


And to end it all, we stop by the store of Etienne Brana, one of the original Irouléguy wine and do not forget the apéritf wine Txapa ! You can, also tour their winery, but we decided to go for the wine at the store instead on 6 rue de l’église. Brief story of this venerable wine of the Basque country tell us that the family has been doing wine here for more than a century ,and already four generations of family in the wine business, In 1974 Etienne Brana and his wife Adrienne created a distillery and planted pear William. Martine and Jean their children continue the tradition today. webpage:


Some webpages to help you plan your trip and all worth it are

The Basque country tourist office on St Jean de Pied :

The city of Saint Jean Pied de Port on the way of Santiago

The French Basque country tourist office on St Jean Pied de Port :

There you go folks, a dandy of a town in Saint Jean Pied de Port, we love it already visited twice and looking forward for more, See my other posts on town’s many sights, worth the detour indeed

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

October 10, 2021

The wonderful M-30 beltway 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! Not usual for a blogger to write about a betlway circular highway, and driving in a big city , however, this is my Madrid I dare to drive in it

The M 30 is a beltway semi circular road of Madrid, the first one, and it is a 3 because it is actually the third beltway in history of Madrid. In 1857 was built the first circular road name the M10, running by Calle Princesa, plaza Colón, paseo de Recoletos, Gran Vía, and Calle de Alcalá. The second attempt was shorty afterward called the Paseo de Ronda, but popularly called the M20. It ran by the calle de Raimundo Fernández Villaverde, calle del Doctor Esquerdo, calle de Pedro Bosch, calle de Joaquín Costa and calle de Francisco Silvela. In 1929, it is spoken of a third beltway and called the M30 ; this plan was approved in 1942 but due to economic constraints and WWII it was not started until 1970 !! Ah yes the M is for Madrid of course ! I was living in the city, when they started building it and left when they had finished it! It has been a trademark to drive on it after finished in 1974! Of course, could not drive then, but walk over its arch and passarelle many times until finally able to drive on it in 1982 and thereafter,

The pretty arch (photo from arch to M30) over it passes near the Monumental bullfight arena of Las Ventas (see post)  on Calle de Alcalà on the way to my piso (apartment in Quintana metro line 5 stop). 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,(see post) 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 Calle Doctor Esquerdo on foot 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/Town Hall of Madrid.  The construction of the M-30 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 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 living 4 yrs).

The first beltway would be formed by the streets that follow the old plot of the wall of king Felipe IV that formerly encircled 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 that is 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.  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 highway/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 ZaragozaIndeed 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 (Valencia etc). It is at this bifurcation that the tunnel by Pass is detached which directly connects the A-5 to the west of the city.

madrid M30 from calle pez volador pasarela to madrid apr17

South sector: 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?

madrid M30 passarelle out city valencia on A3 aug16

West sector: 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. A kilometer further away is the Avenida de Portugal to serve the south-western suburbs of Madrid (Alcorcon, Mostoles etc).

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 now 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),  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 and shopping), 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. Of course, only my favorites!

A wonderful ride indeed on the M3O. However, in Madrid today there is like a beehive of roads , 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 get around the wonderful M30 are :

The city of Madrid who manage the M30 circulation info

The trafic on the M30 by emesa who manage it. webpage: 

The trafic info by the Comunidad de Madrid on the M30

There you go folks, a dandy of a M30 beltway in Madrid, with many memories walking over it and driving me, the family, all enjoyed it very much, Hope you can too, and thanks for reading me since Nov 2010,

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

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October 10, 2021

Parish Church of the Assomption in Villanueva de la Jara !

For some reason, perhaps so much beauty to write about, I have written about this town and its monuments and left out the main one me think!! So let’s take you back into the countryside of my beloved Spain. Yes ,I know most go to the big cities and ventures into the popular places, but Spain is everything under the Sun! I like to take you a bit back in time to my lovely Cuenca province in the Autonomous Comunity of Castilla La Mancha. We had great memories of it while with my dear late wife Martine and the boys. Many strong souvenirs that will not fade away with time, I promise. The town is well connected as it passes through the town the N-320 that goes from Cuenca to Albacete, Let me tell you a bit more on the wonderful nice country town of Villanueva de la Jara, and its main church, Parrish Church of the Assomption or Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion, also a basilica. And my family in below picture!


This is the main thing you should take a detour and visit this town is the Parish Church or Basilica of the Assomption. Let me give you my side of the story from brochures taken on site, The Church or Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion holds the title of Basilica . In town it is at Calle Jesùs Casanova s/n.


This Church was built with the stones of the old arab castle in the 15C.  Built in ashlar stone, it has a polygonal apse and high-rise buttresses. The high Altar has a beautiful retable on three bodies of golden wood.  Its tower frames a chapel that is said to be the primitive one of the castle of the Marquis of Villena, on whose building the church was built, You see next to it, three slabs with circular towers all that is left of the castle of Villanueva (Marquis of Villena).


The original portal consists of two lowered arches with vegetal decoration under a large circular window, like a Gothic rose window, framed by a wide blind semi-circular arch whose voussoirs are decorated with circular geometric and floral motifs. On the mullion a small sculpture can be seen of the Virgin and Child in a niche.  The access main portal consists of a Renaissance-style arch framed like a triumphal arch and a covered atrium that leads to the garden, the perimeter of which follows the layout of the old medieval wall. The other portal, also Renaissance, it has a semicircular arch, with niches on both sides of the door created by two pairs of pilasters behind Ionic columns on high rectangular podiums and topped by an entablature with a running cornice on which decorative motifs can be observed. Typical of the time of the Catholic Monarchs such as balls and diamond points.


The bell tower, 65 meters high, obeys Renaissance canons; quadrangular in shape, at the end of the 17C, it was finished off with a baroque style hood with conical finishes and three series of semicircular arches that decrease in size as the finish rises. The church is of ample proportions, with a single nave, divided into four sections occupied by seven side chapels, a presbytery in a polygonal apse, a sacristy and a chapter house. The vaults of the central nave are starry Gothic. The openings that communicate with the side chapels are framed by pilasters on which semicircular arches rest.


Five are the most important chapels of the temple: the Main Chapel, located in the apse or head, where a baroque altarpiece is installed, made between the years 1,693 and 1,697; the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception with its transitional altarpiece from Gothic to Renaissance; the Chapel of Cristo de la Llaga with a starry vault; the Chapel of the Virgen del Rosario, with its baroque altarpiece, made at the end of the 17C, with a Greek cross plan and covered by a half-orange dome on pendentives full of plant and animal motifs in white plaster; finally, the Chapel of the Virgen del Pilar with a 16C altarpiece.





Among the works of art that preserves, highlights, in the first chapel of the Epistle, the altarpiece of Saint Martin, outstanding sample of Spanish-Flemish painting. The chapter house features a neoclassical baptismal font.

The province of Cuenca tourist board on the church:

The city of Villanueva de la Jara on tourist info :

The Castilla la Mancha region tourist board on the church :

There you go folks, another dandy on the roads of Don Quijote in my dream beloved Spain, traditions to hold on to for life. Hope you enjoy the post on the Iglesia Parroquial de la Asuncion in Villanueva de la Jara !

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

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