March 19, 2019

Teatro Nacional D. Maria II at Lisbon!

And talking about theaters well been to a few, not from a pro angle but mostly because of their history and architecture which I like. Visiting Lisbon, Portugal is always a pleasure and many times there and many friends.

I ,of course, have written several posts on Portugal in my blog; but decided to do justice to this cultural monument in the old town. I like to tell you a bit more about the Dom Maria II National Theater or Teatro Nacional D. Maria II of Lisbon.

The National Theatre Dona Maria II or Teatro Nacional D. Maria II is located on the Rossio neighborhood at Praça D. Pedro IV in the historic heart of the old town of Lisbon. The theatre is one of the most prestigious venues in the country.

It is built on the northern façade of the Rossio square at the site of the former Estaus Palace , built around 1450 to house the foreign dignitaries and the nobles visiting Lisbon. In the 16C, the Estaus Palace became the seat of the Portuguese Inquisition. The palace was spared by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake but is completely destroyed by a fire in 1836.

Thanks to the stubborn efforts of the Romantic poet and writer Almeida Garrett, it is decided to replace the old palace with a modern theatre dedicated to Queen Mary II of Portugal. The construction began in 1842 on plans of the Italian neoclassical to finish in 1846.

The Theater of D Maria II  is one of the best representatives of the influence of neo-Palladianism in Lisbon. The main element of the façade is a portico of six Ionic columns supporting a triangular pediment. The tympanum is decorated with bas-reliefs representing Apollo and the Muses. The pediment is surmounted by a statue of the Renaissance playwright Gil Vicente, considered the father of the Portuguese theater. Some of Gil Vicente’s plays were censored by the Inquisition at the end of the 16C.

Lisbon

The interior is decorated by the best Portuguese artists of the 19C, but the bulk of the original decoration was lost in a fire that occurred in 1964. The theater D. Maria II had to be completely renovated and only re-opened its doors in 1978. The building that you see today was reconstructed preserving the original neoclassical style from the 1840s.

There are guided tours that lead you from the performance rooms to the unseen areas in the theater backstage, including dressing rooms, technical areas, prop and costume-making rooms. The guided tours take approximately one hour, and are available in Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, Italian and German. Enjoy it!

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Official webpage Theater of D. Maria II in Portuguese

Tourist office of Lisbon on the Theater D Maria II in English

Tourist office of Portugal on theater D Maria II in English

There you go a cultural stop on your glorious walking of Lisbon as we did; and plenty to see and taste around it too. Enjoy the theater of D Maria II and Lisbon!

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

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March 18, 2019

Capuchins theater of Luxembourg city!

So lets move back to the east in Europe shall we! And I take you back to one of my favorite countries in Europe, that is Luxembourg. Needless ,to say I have come here several times over the last 28 years and always lovely with great memories with the family.

In our walking endlessly routine in town we have come across many interesting buildings and many off the beaten path sites. This one is overshadow by its grander theater but we like it for the cosyness of and the old town feel all around it. In addition, we have parked here underground garage many times to start our walks of the city.

So ,therefore, let me tell you a bit more on the Theater of Capuchins. Briefly ok

The Theater of Capuchins or Thêatre des Capucins is located at 9, Place du Théâtre, (theater square), just around the corner where we have parked many times and therefore took a peek at this quant theater. The Capuchins theater is managed by the city of Luxembourg City. It puts on performances in German, French and Luxembourgish.

The theater of Capuchins has an Italian room of 270 seats. The Capucins theater is one of the witnesses of the eventful history of the city of Luxembourg. Successively was a Convent of Capuchin monks, grain store, theater, place without assignment, it was renovated in 1985.

Luxembourg

Making a big part of the dramatic creation, it offers viewers the opportunity to discover artists from all over Europe. The Capuchins theater presents an eclectic programming, representative of what is sung, plays and dances on national and international plateaus, with a constant demand of quality, without exclusive, and always motivated by the desire to meet the expectations of a cosmopolitan audience.So claims their official city site.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Luxembourg city on the theater

Advance ticket site for the theater and future events

Tourist office of Luxembourg on the theater

It is lovely to attend even briefly as we did and especially walk around this lovely part of the old town of Luxembourg city. Enjoy it and do stop by the Thêatre des Capucins!

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

 

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March 18, 2019

Two countries road trip, Bratislava, Brno, and Otrokovice!

Ok so let me bring my memories into my blog blossoms into the old eastern Europe. I have venture there with my eyes opened to see the differences in the changes of the guards. The young  may not remember, I do. I can tell the changes.  The trip was an eye opener of the positive changes encounter all over my road trip.

Oh I took a road trip thru the countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, (old Czechoslovakia). It was a cruising trip fast pace by car so not much to see just glimpses of the cities of Bratislava, Brno, and town of Otrokovice.  I like to share for me and you, some of the things I would like to have seen if time there and the pictures I was able to take on the road!

Bratislava is the capital of independent Slovakia since 1993, located in the southwest of the country, just on the border with Austria, only 60 km from Vienna , with Hungary about 10 km and nearby also from the border with the Czech Republic.

The Carpathians begin on the territory of the city Malé Karpaty, or small Carpathians. It is crossed by the Danube river . It includes universities, many museums, theatres and other cultural institutions including a famous philharmonica. The city was traditionally influenced by several nationalities such as Austrians, Hungarians, Slovaks etc. Throughout its history, the city has also been known as Pressburg.

The nice thing I heard about the city is its many theatres, museums, galleries, concert halls and cinemas. The best known are the Slovak National Theater. Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. Slovak National Museum. Slovak National Gallery. The Museum of Natural History, with two million exhibits, is one of the richest in Europe. The Mirbach Palace, built in 1768 and renovated in 1975, houses Baroque works from the 17-18C in a fascinating Rococo décor. The watchmaking Museum allows, meanwhile, to discover a superb collection of portable sundials, clocks and ornate gussets, made by the masters of the city in the time of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Grassalkovitch Palace b. 1760 and residence today of the President of the Slovak Republic; another site is the Gothic St. Martin Cathedral built between the 13C and 16C, where nearly nineteen Kings and Queens were crowned between 1563 and 1830. The major monument of the 20C is the Pont Neuf or new bridge over the Danube river with its panoramic restaurant in the form of a flying saucer. Bratislava also has two castles. The first simply called Bratislava castle overlooks the city and the Danube river. The second is completely ruined, it is the castle of Devin above the Morava River which forms the border between Austria and Slovakia. It was destroyed by Napoleon’s troops in 1809 and today still constitutes a strong Slovak national symbol.

Tourist office of Bratislava

Bratislava

bratislava

Brno is a city in the Czech Republic and the capital of the South Moravia region. Brno was the capital of the historic region of Moravia. It is located at the confluence of the Svitava and Svratka rivers, 112 km north of Vienna, 123 km NNW of Bratislava, and 185 km SE of Prague.

Brno was founded in 1243 and remains a fortified town until the 19C. It became the capital of Moravia Margraviate from 1641. It is the political and cultural centre of the Southern Moravia region.

Some things I would love to see here are the City/Town hall , built in the 13C, is the oldest civil building in the city. In particular, it holds a high tower, topped by a Renaissance roof. Some parts of the city are underground labyrinths accessible by guided tour with master cellar corner , and ossuary under the Church of St. James (second largest in Europe), modern sewers, tunnels..etc.

St. Peter and St. Paul’s Cathedral; The Cathedral, built on the site of a former fortress, dominates Petrov Hill. It is a late Gothic building of the 13C, built on an older crypt, and reengineered in the Baroque style in 1743-1746 after the Swedes burned it during the siege of 1645. The façade and towers were completed at the beginning of the 20C.

The fortress of Spielberg was a State prison famous for its dungeons having enclosed protagonists of the Italian Risorgimento. It was also nicknamed “the prison of Nations”. During WWII, the Gestapo invested the fortress, which became a center of torture. This place of sinister memory now houses an exhibition on the history of the city and the Municipal Museum. In the Chartreuse of Parma of Stendhal, the young Fabrice twice expresses his fear of being sent there. The namesti svobody (central republic square) is emblematic of the city.

Tourist office of Brno

brno

Otrokovice is a city in the district and the Zlín region of the Czech Republic. Otrokovice is located at the confluence of Morava and Dřevnice rivers , 10 km west of Zlín, 68 km east of Brno and 243 km SE of Prague

The first written mention of the locality dates from 1141. In 1930, the shoe manufacturer Tomáš Baťa created the Baťov industrial zone, in which the subsidiaries of the Baťa company and the aircraft manufacturer Zlín settled. Otrokovice was named Baťov between 1938 and 1946 and Otrokovice-Kvítkovice between 1960 and 1964.

The Canal of Bata is the historical waterway on the Morava river. It is also possible to navigate there now. The canal is passable from Spytihněv to Strážnice. The castle Nový Světlov was built in Gothic style . Buchlovice castle from the end of 17C and the beginning of the 18C0 Brumov castle is from the year 1255 The castle opens from the beginnig of May, You can visit the Jewish cementary. Bucovice castle, this casle has 3 floors and arcades on 3 sides of the courtyard. The visitors of the castle can be surprised with the mannerism ornamentation of the room for Emperor and with the Bird Hall. The area is literally filled with many other castles I just mentioned the ones I would had love to visit.

City of Otrokovice on things to see

Otrokovice

otrokovice passing town hall oct16

There you go ,another road warrior tour of yours truly ;of course I got first there by plane to Prague ::) and then the glorious car rides!! I would love to go back one day for an in depth look, done so at Prague (see previous posts on Prague in my blog). A bit of patient and will do it.

Prague

Hope you have enjoy it and take the chance tell me about it ok. Enjoy the ride

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

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March 18, 2019

Capitol, Havana, a symbol of a Nation

Let me bring along a emblematic building that represent a linkage of the past and present, a symbol of what and where you are in Cuba and especially Havana.  In my early youth ,I spent many afternoon going by and on school tours to see the meaning that it was to the Cubans. Inside is a plethora of historical facts to better understand the country.

I am talking about the Capitol building in old Havana. El Capitolio as it is known in Spanish, built in 1929  to house the two chambers of the Cuban congress. Its was inspired by the Roman capitol and that which is in Washington DC USA. The building has a front neo classic style with a dome of 92 meters tall ( 303 ft).  It is located between the streets or  calle Pardo, Dragones, Industria, and San Jose. Inside it marks the kilomerter zero of all distances in Cuba with a diamond on the floor. After the Cuban castro revolution it house the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment and the Academy of Sciences of Cuba.

Havana

It is in the space where the old city of Havana walls were crossing built in colonial period by the Spanish.  The walls here were destroyed in 1863. There was a statue to queen Isabel II, and it was the start of the now Parque Central de La Habana or Central Park.  Part of the public work efforts by then President Gerardo Machado (later dictator too), the team of architects Cuban and French participated in its design and decorations, with an American company for its construction. However, it was the French ,who put together the urban plan of the Capitol and surrounding areas as in Paris.

havana

The details of the work made the building  207 meters long in its facade  which included a large monumental stair of about  36 meters wide ( 119 ft) , 28 meters long (92 ft) , and 55 steps with three rest squares . At the two sides of the end of the stair you have two sculptures made in bronze by an Italian  artist, call ” La Virtud Tutelar del Pueblo ” (the virtue of the people) , and ” El Trabajo” (the work) ,both of 6,50 meters high (21 ft).

To continue the description of this wonderful building, we come to the main central door with a lenght of 36 meters (119 ft)  and 16 meters high (53 ft)  all held by 12 ionic columns of granite.  It is here that the main doors of access to the building are place with 7,70 meters high (25 ft) and 2,35  meters wide (8 ft) as well as the sculpture in relief of marbre ,also done by Italian artists.  The dome with a high of 92 meters (304 ft)  was at the moment the fifth highest in the world with a diameter of 32 meters (106 ft).  It has 16 panels of which the most impressive are those covered with gold leaves of 22 karats .  The dome has a lantern with 10 ionic columns of which interior were 5 light reflectors until 1959 when taken down by the revolutionary government.  In this space you see the symbolism architectural of the sculpture of the ” La República” or the lady marianne under the dome done in bronze of  15 meters high  (50 ft) and 30 tons in weight that at the moment was the second biggest in the world under a roof.

havana

Havana

You come to the great room call the “Salón de los Pasos Perdidos” ( the hall of the lost steps, the most monumental of the spaces with almost  50 meters long (165 ft) and 14,5 meters wide( 48 ft)  and almost 20 meters high (66 ft)  that serve the interconnection to the two bodies of government the  Cámara de Representantes (House of Representatives) and the  Senado (Senate). These two blocks are organised in a rectangular fashion around two gardens with dimentions of  45 by 15 meters each (149 x 50 ft). 58 types of marbre, wood of the most exquisite in the country, decoration and ambiance done by an  English firm.   The wrough iron in bronze by  an American company,  the lamps by the French, and Italians, Germans  for the work in marbre, onyx, etc .  The diamond that mark the distances in Cuba is of brilliance of 25 karats the last owner was the tzar of Russia Nicolas II, and arrive in Cuba by Turkish jewerler that purchase it in Paris. Now you see a replica, the original is the the vaults of the Bank of Cuba.  Looking at the volume of its construction it is estimated that the Capitolio of La Habana is the third in importance for its monolithic construction in the world ,and the only one with its characteristics built in the 20C.

havana

havana

It is inmense ,the pride of Havana, and one of the most visited buildings in the city as of today. It was always like that, a must to see while in Havana. Just now looking at the pictures I am in awe of  its beauty and I have seem some beauties now living in France. Hope you enjoy it.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are

trip to Cuba private site good info and Capitolio

La Habana private site good info on city and Capitol

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

March 17, 2019

A tribute to friendships and good cheers!

And I need to re write this old post as it brings very nice souvenirs overall. I have been lucky to have visited 81 countries of our wonderful world (dont read the fake news) , and lived in 6 (Cuba, Spain, USA, France, Brazil, Nigeria, and Swizerland) and able to fluent speak 4 languages (English, French, Spanish,and Portuguese). I have dealt with the internet and travel forums and enjoyed finally even meeting some of the folks there and even had them visited my home and even stayed in my home! over the years. I am now alone as my dear late wife Martine, who accompany me on many of these trips and welcome these folks to our home is no longer due to the dreadful pancreatic cancer; this one is for her too.

I like to bring this post up again the best way I can, reblogging do not know how that works lol! Sorry not techie but humanoid lol! Here is part of my story.

Over the years I had the opportunity to meet wonderful folks from around the World that have come over to meet me in France or Spain or USA or me meeting them in their country. I like to pay tribute to their enduring friendship in this up dated post.

I have had the opportunity to be involved in several travel forums over the years that have been fulfilling to say the least. Encounter folks from many lands who right away established a good friendly rapport with, and it continues for some.

Some of the sites were Madridman, Cityvox(now yelp), Slow Travel, Tripadvisor, Virtual Tourist (now gone), Fodor’s, and Bottin Gourmand (as taster in France). I am no longer with any for reason of time and personal expressions that led me to start this blog, and away from forums. It is my intention to help readers enjoy the beauty of my surroundings and travels, and to help them enjoy their visits to these wonderful places more and better.

I have met them in New Jersey USA, Florida USA, Madrid, Spain, Paris, France, Versailles,France, Suresnes, France, St Germain en Laye, France , South Africa, etc. Some have come and some I have gone over, the general feeling is the same. Our love for travel and the human spirit remains strong attachment to our continuing relationship.

It is with great joy that I decide to interject my blog travel writing with this one, a special post in Paris1972-Versailles2003 blog. A bit of an explanation on the name: Paris 1972 was the first time I saw Paris visiting it from my home in Madrid! Versailles 2003 was my coming to live permanently as a French citizen in France from Florida USA! Two important dates in my life.

Those met in Madrid

madrid

madrid

madrid

Those met in Paris

paris

paris

paris

paris

Those met in Suresnes, Hauts de Seine dept 92

suresnes

Those met at Versailles!

versailles

versailles

Those met in Carnac, Pluvigner , Morbihan(56)

Carnac

Pluvigner

Those met in Johannesburg, South Africa.

South Africa

Thank you very much, and may the relationships and friendships  grow stronger with time. And welcome all new readers and followers to my blog.  La vie est belle en France, life is beautiful in France.

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

 

 

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March 17, 2019

Bordeaux, Médoc, family vacations!

So here I will redo update a popular destination and our favorite for the last several years. Bordeaux is it, and those words means a lot more than the city. You need to go around it and into the Médoc peninsula to see more gems.  As my belle France the sights are endless.

I like to tell you a bit more on our family vacations sort of a nostalgia event for me. Bear with me please ,and hope you too can enjoy it with your family. This is the Médoc and Bordeaux, one-two best!

I like to talk today about the Bordeaux region, one my favorite in all of France. There are many regions in France, total 13 as the country is divided sort of like States but not the same. The Bordeaux sits in the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine and is great because of the following reasons :  first,the wines, the best in the world in my wine lovers’s opinion. Second ,the beaches, true only good for july and august but they are on the same level as the  best in Europe and the Americas. Third, the abundance of its gastronomy, diverse natural passages, and its friendly people. There is a huge amount of information here, will need an entire blog to tell you, have written several posts on it so browse my blog for more or contact me.

If you take the city of Bordeaux, you have a bit south the area of the Graves, and Leognan, and Cadaujac beautiful country towns with many activities for the kids and wines of course.  The whole huge area around Bordeaux is connected by a beltway road, the “rocade” or the A630 that takes you into the city or out into the other areas and Spain. My best is to go into the Médoc, the famous area of wines but it has a lot more. From the rocade you  take exit 4 to go into central Bordeaux or exit /sortie in French to no 7 that takes you into the side D1/D2 of wine country along the Garonne river, the other exit/sortie no 8 takes you into the beaches and central area of Medoc.  There is a bus from the Bordeaux train station St Jean to Lacanau near the beaches the No 702, 701,and 710 (need to check for updates as never taken them) ; and train service to Pauillac (again check update as never taken it). The train station is best for schedules at the TER webpage here , see the webpage here: TER Nouvelle Aquitaine region

bordeaux

Bordeaux

The buses  info is here  https://www.transgironde.fr/fr/horaires/23 .  There is, also, a great airport connecting to the rest of France and some European destinations webpage in English http://www.bordeaux.aeroport.fr/en . Once in the Medoc you have many department roads that takes you everywhere there, like the D215 and D207,D208,D3,and D5; via Michelin is good for a starter to guide you while on the road, more here: https://www.viamichelin.co.uk/ .  Again if you need shortcuts or curious let me know.

The main sites in the city of Bordeaux are; Esplanade des Quinconces ( one of the biggest plazas in Europe, see the towers statues of Montaigne,and Montesquiou ; Grand Théatre ( one of the most beautiful in France b. 1773-1780); walk the street of Cours de l’Intendance ( where at no 57 Goya lived,died in 1828,and now a Spanish cultural center); Place Gambetta (houses style Louis XV, the English garden where the guillotine was placed during the French revolution,and the door porte Dijeaux b.1748 ; Place de la Bourse (b. 1730-1755 with its fountain Trois Grâces b.1860), Place du Parlement (old royal market place), Basilique Saint-Michel (b. 1350) ,and its tower Tour St Michel with it clock dates from the end 15C,and the tallest tower in the south at 114.60 meters {378 ft]) ; Porte de la Grosse Cloche ( from a belltower of the 15C the big clock is an institution in Bordeaux); Rue Sainte-Catherine (pedestrian and full of shops and restos, walk it about 2 kms long); see the Musée d’Aquitaine ( the prehistoric to today history of the region) ;Musée des Beaux-Arts or fine arts museum( next to hotel de ville great paintings); Cathedrale St Andre (by the place Pey-Beland, the most majestic of the churches in Bordeaux, built in the 12-13C) Tour Pey-Berland ( 229 steps to reach the top,and a beautiful view of Bordeaux); Centre Jean Moulin( the hero of the French resistance, deportation,and view of WWII); Basilique St Seurin ( UNESCO heritage site, built 11C; great historical chapels,and rosaries, gorgeous); Musee du Vin( for the wine story in detail by the river Chartrons district), Hotel de Ville (palais de Rohan b 18C), and Pont de Pierre. These are the highlights, you could easily spend two days in the city alone. the tourist office webpage is at  https://www.bordeaux-tourisme.com/

For shopping the city is just like Paris, you have all the main stores here too, and for me and the family  the shopping mall at Meriadeck is great and easy to reach on public transport from anywhere in the city plus a great underground parking for yours truly; webpage https://www.meriadeck.com/ . If you want to buy wines,etc in the city, the very best selection, service, and availability with price is La Vinothéque,near the tourist office, webpage  https://www.vinotheque-bordeaux.com/fr/la-vinotheque.html

Food is king so we have eaten in many over the years, our long time favorites are: El Bodegon, 14 place de la Victoire.Brasserie du Passage St Michel, 14 place Canteloup; Cafe Opera, (inside Grand Théatre) Place de la Comedie, Le Dix (now the Gabriel), 10 place de la Bourse, le Bal des Grands Hommes, (inside shopping Les Grands Hommes, good parking underground) 2 rue Montesquieu; Cafe des Arts, 138 cours Victor Hugo, just a sampler.

Moving south you can visit Cadaujac, with its petting zoo and stables, great for kids, La Ferme Exotique, its call, and you need a car as this is in deep country with great views south of Bordeaux. Highly recommended if with kids and have a car, my boys still remember it!!. webpage  https://www.fermeexotique.fr/

Cadujac

Going over the Médoc, now you are in heaven country, my country, we are base here always. We go here every year, sometimes twice a year during school vacations, the long one in the summer we spent 3 weeks each year. We skip 2018 due to the death of my dear wife Martine, will see when going again.  Our favorite was to rent a camping at Les Grand Pins ,and great for the whole family only 300 meters from the beach!!!  Webpage here: https://www.lesgrandspins.com/en/

lacanau-ocean

You have a nice mobile homes, with all amenities, great pricing, with grocery store ,bike rental, pool, exercise room, dancing at nights,and free parking so close to all in the region even trips to Bordeaux. The beach is glorious here, as good as any anywhere. It is in the town of Lacanau-Océan, the webpage for the town Lacanau is here in English: https://www.lacanau.fr/

You are along the ocean here, you can go south or north from here or over the pines central section of the Medoc to the wine chateaux. Lacanau-Océan is a world center of Surfing in Europe and the best come here to compete in the Lacanau Pro event.  We eat at the camping on our own, but if we splash out of town our evening favorite is Kayoc, by the beach overlooking its sunsets glorious, webpage  http://www.restaurant-lacanau.com/  . For ice cream we go to Pinocchio in city center, for groceries and more selection we go old supermarché Shoppi, now a Carrefour at 4 rue Emile Baudoux, near the main street to the beach webpage : https://www.carrefour.fr/magasin/contact-lacanau-ocean , and outside by the huge lake of Lacanau with many water activities, we eat at Restaurant La Conche, 24 allée du club de voile, la Grande Escoure, webpage and reservation contact for evenings  here: https://lacanauocean.com/fr/restaurant-la-conche-lac-lacanau.htm

e head for the beaches of Cancans and Hourtin as well like our playground area, crisscrossing this wonderful region, great beaches there if a bit smaller. We love the italian ices in Cancans, and the pizza at Hourtin. Can’t missed the ice creams in Cancans its right in the small city center street facing the beach at Maubuisson at 2 rue Rossignols, the webpage for tourism there and Hourtin,and Lacanau in English! is here  https://www.medoc-atlantique.com/a-voir-a-faire/tous-a-l-eau?listpage=1

The pizza at Hourtin is Restaurant Pizzeria Le Palerme at 8 place de l’église, tel +33 05 56 09 18 46.right in front of the church, in the market plaza and the road to the beach. The Hourtin area has a huge lake too. There is also a webpage for Carcans-Maubuisson here  https://carcans-maubuisson.com/

Throughout this wonderful area we enjoy all kind of beach activities, but,also,kart racing, bike riding ,and horse riding at these places . For Karting we go north along the ocean to Vendays-Montalivet motorsports center, great rides all pro done, and fun for the teen kids, You can contact them ahead for info and direction but its really easy on the D6 road, the webpage for the karting is http://www.gironde-tourisme.info/randonnee,quad,medoc-65.html

For the horse riding we have been using since 2005  this place, Lacanau Equi-Passion, you can taylor made the rides according to level of expertise,and arrange for rides on the ocean ! webpage http://lacanau-equipassion.fr/

For bicycle riding, we can use the local rental at the camping but they have a limited number of bikes, so we go out into the town and rent at Locacycles,Avenue de l’Europe, Central Garage ,tel +33 05 56 26 30 99. just before the Kayoc resto on your way to the beach. Webpage: https://www.locacyclelacanau.fr/

While at the famous D2 wine route and cruising all these wonderful properties, we have eaten at the Restaurant La Toscane, 28 rue Aristide Briand, Pauillac, right from the harbor city center up the pedestrian street to the resto on your left side;great Italian dishes and Pizza which our teens love always. Try for local traditional dishes the Restaurant Saint Martin, 5 quai Leon Perier across from pleasure boat marina, webpage:  http://restaurant-lesaintmartin.com/

Here of course you are in heaven at least me, its my place PAUILLAC, got it.  You can indulge yourselves by visiting the museum and property of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, by reservation at tel + 33 05.56.73.21.29. webpage  https://www.bpdr.com/en/chateau-mouton-rothschild-2 , or the museum of the property of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande with reservation at tel +33 05.56.59.19.40. webpage  http://www.pichon-comtesse.com/

Other than visiting the chateaux direct, if time is of the essence, you must stop by the vinothéque de Pauillac, it is in the Maison du tourisme et vins de Pauillac building just at the entrance to the town; info at bottom at this webpage https://www.pauillac-medoc.com/fr/pauillac-tourisme/vins-chateaux/   with many souvenirs and food items from the region as well . Once in the area I recommend heading over to Chateau Lanessan at Cussac-Fort-Medoc, with its nice fortress (Fort Medoc) by the river in the town , and on the chateau property a very nice carriage museum and horse history with tastings, my kids introduction to wine tasting was here back in 2008! webpage http://www.lanessan.com/#/Visite/

Fort Cusac

Another great wine and information center is the Maison du vins de Margaux ,which has it own webpage http://maisonduvindemargaux.com/ ; here we have try the Brasserie du Lac part of relais de Margaux complex and its wonderful, webpage https://www.relais-margaux.fr/fr-fr/restaurants1/brasserie-du-lac1

Do not forget to stop by in Margaux at the Mademoiselle de Margaux chocolates, for the famous serments de Medoc ,webpage : https://www.mademoiselledemargaux.com/

Going to Saint Estéphe, the maison du vins there is excellent in inner court of the street very quaint area, webpage http://saint-estephe.fr/ .  And, a page in French, for everything, or almost everything you need to know about the Medoc, Bordeaux region or the Gironde, private site Caruso33 ,here is a know it all webpage http://www.caruso33.net/

Of course there are many individual properties visited over the years too numerous to mention, buy the Feret edition, Bordeaux and its Wines book at any serious book store, the essential historical analytical guide to the wines of the Médoc,last edition from 2014. Webpage:  http://www.feret.com/bordeaux-et-ses-vins/bordeaux-et-ses-vins-19-edition-2014.html . Hope it bring some taste for visiting the region, its glorious, for all ages, and the France profonde/deep France I love so much.

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

 

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March 17, 2019

Ben Thanh Market at Ho Chi Minh City!

So here I am taking you back east all the way to Vietnam. I have visited the country several times in the last few years and always impressive with its recovery after the wars. My main city was Ho Chi Minh City or old Saigon; even if some locals still call it Saigon!

On the several posts done on the country , I like to tell you about one particular spot that I got in by surprise walking from my hotel once, and then on another occassion came back to see it fully inside. This is the Ben Thanh Market, a must to visit.

The Ben Thanh market or Ho Chi Minh Market,  or Saigon market , whose Vietnamese name is Cho Ben Thanh is the best tourist shopping destination in Ho Chi Minh City. This tourist spot is located in the heart of the city, in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, more precisely the Ben Thanh market  is located at the end of a commercial street call Le Loi, and at the beginning of the Le Lai street.

Ho Chi minh city

This building, which covers an area of more than 13 000 m 2, is made of cream-painted concrete with red roofs. Rectangular in shape, has 4 entrance doors or access inside the building, each door is equipped with an animal as a symbol of this entry, for example at the door of the animal is a cow. The highlight of the main façade is the huge clock housed in the middle of the front door turret.

ho chi minh city

Cho Ben Thanh Market was built in 1914 by the French in Ho Chi Minh. Although the building is relatively modern market, the inhabitants of the city and traded near the river since the 17C.

On the market you can find clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry, equipment, pet shops, crafts, flowers, spices, nuts, food and restaurants . If you can’t find what you want inside the Ben Thanh market, you won’t be able to find it in Ho Chi Minh city!,so is the claim.

ho chi minh city

As a rule, prices are not fixed and will need to be haggle, or as traders say, apply a discount (except for restaurants). During the day, traders and stands  inside the market building, but in the evening , after 18h, the market closes to make room for the so-called Ben Thanh Night Market. A part of the traders mounted their stalls and shelves outside the Ben Thanh Market and all the restaurants and food stalls, without exception, continue its activity at the gates of Cho Ben Thanh Market.

The market opens its doors in the early hours of the morning and closes in the evening at 18h.  It is open every day of the week ,Monday to Sunday, whether it is a holiday, only during the Lunar New Year (Tết) and holidays, some stores can be closed. From 18h until midnight, outside the market, it continues the night market as above mentioned.

ho chi minh city

Hope you enjoy the tour, and see some webpages to help you plan your trip here

Official Ben Thanh Market HCMC

Vietnam Guide hotels.com on Ben Thanh Market

A nice Youtube video on Ben Thank Market:

There you go always busy but so many wonders inside to bring home as souvenirs from Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. Enjoy Ben Thanh Market!

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

 

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March 17, 2019

Chateau de La Roche Guyon!

And I am coming to an old hunting ground when I used to lived in Versailles. Now out west have been lagging passing by here but always good to remember. This is an updated new blogging of an old post from 2011. It is always good to have nice memories of the Castle of La Roche Guyon!

Let me tell you a bit about with some personal old photos included! La Roche Guyon is in dept 95 Val-d’Oise in the Île-de-France region. Very nicely along the A13 by car, direction from Paris on the autoroute A13 of normandy, direction Rouen, at Mantes exit 14 take it followed direction Limay than Vétheuil./La Roche Guyon or even better the A15/D14 more scenic out of Paris.

We always stop by La Roche Guyon, make it a one two punch hard to resist while driving this beautiful area great for weekends. Here you have the Chateau de la Roche Guyon, here the Seine river form an unique turn by the river with a high elevation ideal for a lookout from those invading Normans

la roche guyon

A bit of history I like

In the 3C AD, the troglodyctives caves, and the local lord Guy eventually gave the name to Roche Guyon. History tell us that from the year 911 AD, the treaty of Saint Clair sur Epte giving Normandy to the Vikings, the Roche Guyon keeps the limits of the frontier with the French kingdom over the Seine river.  The French revolution has a tragic and bloody event here, as the owner of the castle was Louis Alexandre de La Rochefoucauld, he was very close to the ideals of the American Revolution and translate to French all the articles of the constitution of the States of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina with first editions in 1778.  He along with the Marquis de Lafayette, joined the estates generals and guided in principles the avenants of the French Revolution, elected President of the department of Paris in 1791. Aftet the revolutionaries turn against him for fear of his democratic ideals, he take refuge with his wife and mother at  Forges-les-Eaux where he hides there but in september 4, 1792 while doing a carriage transfer at Gisors he is arrested and massacre by stoning while his mother and wife looks on in disbelief.  More than 1000 are taken prisioners there and killed, the mother the Duchess of Enville is spare with the daughter in law by the intervention of the local people who appreciated their support always. She died in Paris in 1797 and the grandson continues with the property of Roche Guyon which eventually passes to his heir, the Cardinal Rohan. Some renovation is done to preserve the castle from lack of care in years later.

la roche guyon

Then WWII starts, from 1940 the village is occupied by the nazis, and on 1943 a civil defense field  created.  In February 1944, marshal Rommel established his command HQ in the Château de La Roche-Guyon.  The town is liberated the 8 august 1944 after 8 bombs hits the Chateau ,taking about 20 yrs to make it back to how it was before the war.

la roche guyon

The castle and gardens are now visited from February 5, every day from 10h to 17h. From March 28 from  10h to 18h during the week and 10h to 19h the weekends, from October 31 every day from 10 to 17h.  The visit is done following the terrases, then along and inside the salons or rooms, then the circuit of donjons /towers, and chapels, then the casements. Dont forget to visit the gardens just in front of castle towards the Seine river.

La roche guyon

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Chateau de La Roche Guyon

City of La Roche Guyon on the Castle in French

Hope you enjoy the ride, it is a historical nice place to visit and the views over the garden and into the  Seine river are sublime. Enjoy La Roche Guyon!

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

 

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March 16, 2019

The sierras , mountains around Madrid!

One thing that escapes many is the sierras or mountain passes and outdoors available just outside the city of Madrid.  In my youth I used to come by Navacerrada, Cercecilla,Villalba, Guadarrama, and San Lorenzo a lot with my family and friends.

These were nice moment spent outside the grinder of the city, and especially in summer it was great. In Winter too, but my first encounter with the snow trails at Navacerrada turn into a twisting roll down the mountain that almost cost my life, luckily came out ok, but took me away from the slopes forever. Now my boys are into it, and they have been with our family there, and I have gone back to drive thru and see the beautiful scenary.  The idea of this post is to let you know a bit more of glorious Madrid, and its Comunidad de Madrid and its sierras.

First the Navacerrada mountain pass and ski resort is fantastic, and the only medal winner in the Olympics games of Sapporo 1972 came from here.  The Navacerrada is a complete resort nowdays with all modern facilities.  You have 9 slopes in the zona alta or high hill and 7 slopes in the zona baja or low hill; the zona baja is for beginners and such and the zona alta is for pros. It has 9 lifts to carry you all over the mountain. At this moment the station is close for maintenance but its the end of the season, really, be ready for next winter. However for summer splurges and walks into the valleys or a ride by car it is still wonderful. Most folks visiting arrive here by train, leaving from Estación de Chamartín in Madrid you take the cercanias or suburbian train C-8b to Cercedilla ,and the the C-9 or train of Cotos to Puerto de Navacerrada. Info tel +34  902 240 202, and train webpage RENFE , www.renfe.es  . There is a bus service as alternative but never taken it,it is every day from the  intercambiador de Moncloa in  Madrid on line  691 of the group Avanza Intercambiador de Moncloa bus station. webpage bus company http://www.autobuseslarrea.com/

Then you have it by car, my way. You have two ways recommended, from Madrid on the A-6 to Collado Villalba and here take the road M-601 direccion Segovia until you reach Puerto de Navacerrada.  A better way off expressways is to take the road  M-607 (the ones from the north of Madrid direction  Colmenar Viejo, and follow the signs for Puerto de Navacerrada. The Madrid route planner is good on Repsol for all of Spain here  https://www.guiarepsol.com/es/descubrir/

This is the official site for the Puerto de Navacerrada in Spanish,  http://www.puertonavacerrada.com/comun.php?seccion=laestacion

Navacerrada

navacerrada

The other towns are smaller but plenty of outdoor activities around the embalse or water reservoirs especially around Cercedilla as well as mirador or lookout points to see farther into the Sierra. In addition walk trails such as the Siete Picos, in the village of Adesgam for 5 kms and low density for all. And for the more experience and with good weather the 17 kms of Puerto de Navacerrada to Manzanares El Real.

These webpage will help seek out all the information you need on this vast area, that will need several visits to know it all. Even I ,admit have not seen it all here,its a huge Sierra. For the Guadarrama Sierra in general this site is great , https://sierraguadarrama.info/espacios-naturales-protegidos-2/

If you like to go further north in the Sierra Norte and reach Buitrago del Lozoya then you will be thrown back to medieval times in an authentic Castilian town , just perfect wonderful , the webpage for the area is https://sierranorte.com/

You will have a wonderful open country forest, mountain, lakes, rivers, and plenty more here just as little as 25 minutes outside Madrid. The Comunidad de Madrid tourist office with info in English on all these towns is at http://turismomadrid.es/en/

It all start with a bit of open space at Casa de Campo next to Madrid where we spent several trips with the family.

Hope you enjoy the openness and natural beauty of this region easily reach from Madrid. Enjoy the Sierras around Madrid.

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

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March 16, 2019

The Synagogues of Toledo!

So coming all the way south of my beloved Madrid passing by family  north of Toledo, and reaching nice historical huge and architecturally stunning Toledo. It is in the Autonomous Region of Castilla La Mancha. I have written several posts on Toledo and region but today will like to tell you about another gem.

I like to tell you a bit about the synagogues of Toledo and a bit of history I like.

The architecture of this part of the city differs in nothing from the rest of Toledo. The district orbits between the two ancient synagogues: Santa María la Blanca and Tránsito. It is difficult to find with certainty the topography of the old Jewish quarter. First of all, only very few writings or testimonies have been found to date. In addition, the Jewish community left the city after the violent pogrom of 1391, and again in 1492. The Jewish quarter fell completely into ruins until the second half of the 19C, where important reconstruction work took place. The rediscovery and rehabilitation of this district dates back to the 20C. However, the researchers have retraced with certainty the existence of several sub-districts: Arriasa, Sofer, Hamanzeit, Mármol (marble), and Degolladero (the slaughterhouse).

The Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca (St Mary the White)  was a Jewish place of worship ,then Catholic, and today a museum, located in Toledo. Built at 12C to serve as a synagogue, it was transformed into a church after the pogroms of the 14C.  Today it belongs to the Catholic Church which has made it into a museum open to the public.

Toledo

The synagogue Santa María la Blanca was built in 1180 as evidenced by a date in Hebrew on one of the beams. Toledo was already reconquered by the Christian princes since 1085. It is a superb example of a mudejar style that looks more like a mosque than a synagogue, especially by the absence of a gallery for women. Also typically Mudejar are, the use of white and smooth walls made of bricks covered with cement and lime, the geometric decoration of the friezes, and vegetal style of the capitals.  The synagogue is characterized by five naves separated from pillars supporting horseshoe arches. It was transformed into a church from 1405 after what centuries later one would have called a pogrom perhaps led by Saint Vincent Ferrier.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to Santa Maria La Blanca are

Tourist office of Toledo on Santa Maria La Blanca

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Santa Maria la Blanca

The Tránsito Synagogue was built in 1357 by order of the treasurer of King Pedro I, Samuel Levi. Archaeological digs suggest that this imposing construction is probably located on the grounds of an older synagogue. In 1492, the Catholic Monarchs donated it to the military Order of Calatrava, which transformed it into a priory. During the Napoleonic Wars, it served as barracks.

Toledo

It was joined by the Sefardí Museum, in the neighboring dependencies. As in many cases, the brick façade is austere and without decoration, but the interior is of great beauty. This is probably one of the best examples of Mudejar style in Spain. of harmonious dimensions with 23 meters long on 9.50 meters wide, and 17 meters high, it has a coffered ceiling in larch, richly adorned. With a special entrance, the Ladies ‘ day-care center is well lit by five large windows. It is the interior decoration that made this building famous with the wall that hosts the niche reserved for the Sifrei Torah, is covered with panels and a frieze of plaster carved in the oriental tradition. Many inscriptions run along the walls ,commemorating the name of Samuel Levi and Pedro I. Excerpts from the Psalms complete the décor illuminated by windows finely decorated with small columns and mashrabiyya of stone lace. In the dependencies, the museum exhibits donations and coins collected throughout Spain, which will allow you to explore the history of Spanish Judaism. Seminars, courses and lectures are organized during the year on topics related to Spanish Judaism. The synagogue is not used for worship.

toledo

The anecdote is that right outside there is gift shop held by an English lady for over 50 years living in Toledo. We made good talk on our several trips here and she has good stuff; does not know how long further as it seems there is no family takeover after she is gone. Maybe a chance to buy the place….

toledo

Some webpages to help you plan your visit to the Transito synagogue are

Tourist office of Toledo on the museum Sefardi at Transito

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Sefardi museum at Transito

There you go two gems to visit and it is a must while in gorgeous Toledo, the Santa Maria la Blanca and Trànsito synagogues are nice to visit; hope you enjoy the post.

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

 

 

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