April 3, 2020

The Calle Mayor of Alcalà de Henares!

So here I am on a sunny day, and remembering the places I have been and really not given them the full credit in my blog. This is one beautiful town of Alcalà de Henares which we have enjoyed over the years even from my eternal Madrid. Walking this rich architectural and historical town is a must even if not into walking. The main street here is the Calle Mayor and is gorgeous ; let me tell you a bit more on it ok. Hope you enjoy as we did.

The main street of Alcalá de Henares is the Calle Mayor, as said,  one of the most important in its historic quarter, both commercially and socially. It is a supported street, on both sides. It owes its origin to the old Jewish quarters of the city, around the 12C, which was built following the layout of the Caesar Augusta Roman road that passed through Complutum (Alcalà de Henares). Like today, it was the commercial street of Alcalá de Henares par excellence during the Middle Ages, so it was supported almost entirely, to locate the shops at street level, while the houses were on the upper floor with a gallery that communicated to the inhabitants of the different homes without having to descend onto public roads.

Alcala de HEnares

The archbishops Tenorio, Carrillo and Cisneros changed the wooden right feet for round stone columns between the 14C and 16C, of which there are still enough copies even with remains of the painting in red and blue colors, as they were decorated at parties during the Siglo de Oro (Golden Age). Most were replaced by square pillars in the 19C. Six peepholes are preserved above the entrance to old Jewish houses. Today, Calle Mayor has 242 free or isolated vertical supports with 29 been columns and 213 are pillars and three pilasters.

Alcala de Henares

With a rectilinear and flat layout it goes from one of the corners of Plaza de Cervantes to Plaza de los Santos Niños, site of the Cathedral of Santos Justo y Pastor. It is 396 meters long, the longest preserved in Europe and its width measures 8 meters. In 1986 the Calle Mayor became pedestrian and, among other transformations, the asphalt was changed to cobblestone.

Alcala de Henares

It is currently a pedestrian street, and remains one of the main axes of the city.  There you find from hospitality venues such as bars, restaurants and ice cream parlors, to bookstores, fashion stores, banks and real estate offices. The interesting monuments some of which have written in other posts are: Casa Natal y Museo of Cervantes (birthplace and museum): A reconstruction of a typical 17C house on the site where Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s birthplace was built. It is one of the most visited museums in the Community of Madrid for its representation of daily life and the high-value furniture it contains. The Antezana Hospital: Founded by order of the Antezana couple in 1483, it is one of the oldest operating hospitals in Europe. Having less than 20 beds they called it hospitalillo (little hospital). Since 2006 the nuns gave way to the NGO of the Messengers of Peace. The Corral de la Sinagoga: In medieval times, when the street was located in the Jewish quarter, a synagogue was built that was destroyed in a fire. Only two entrances were preserved, one facing Calle de la Imagen, which has the old door with which the inner courtyards and small squares were closed at night, and another entrance around number 37 of Calle Mayor that conserves the original floor. . These entrances end in the Plaza de los Irlandeses,(Irish square) which was the center of the synagogue and a place of prayer.

And there you go we did shopping here and eat out so much beautiful architecture and history all around you, a pleasant spot for a nice family walk in Calle Mayor at Alcalà de Henares, Comunidad de Madrid! Hope you enjoy the tour and see some nice webpages on it here

A great webpage in Spanich La Calle Mayor on the Calle MayorLa Calle Mayor on things to see at Calle Mayor

And of course, the tourist office of Alcalà de Henares on Calle Mayor in Spanish: Official tourist office of Alcala de Henares on Calle Mayor

The city of Alcalà de Henares on things to see in Spanish: City of Alcalà de Henares on tourism

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


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April 3, 2020

Some streets of Alcalà de Henares!

So here I am going back to my beloved Spain and memorable Comunidad de Madrid region, where i spent most of my time in Spain and even lived in Madrid! This is one of the historical cities and even thus written many posts on it left out the wonderful walks in it and some of its streets so therefore ,here are some streets of Alcalà de Henares!

Let me tell you a bit more on the Calle de los Colegios and Calle Libreros of Alcalà de Henares. Two wonderful streets for you to walk fully and see architecture and history before your eyes.

The Calle de los Colegios or colleges street came out from the story of two bishops. A young student at the Madre de Dios School of Theologians commented on this street: ‘Famous place to build schools’, to which a colleague replied: ‘In this place we have to found two, each one of them.’ So it was. They were Archbishop Loaysa and Bishop Moscoso. Once called calle de Roma for the belief that the old road that linked Emérita Augusta (Mérida) with Caesar Augusta (Zaragoza) ran through it ; the name de los Colegios (streets of colleges) is due to the many who were founded in this axis of the old university city. Some disappeared and have not reached us, such as that of Santiago or the Manriques, that of the Military Orders or of the Maltese, that of Mercedarios Calzados, that of Bernardos Cistercienses and that of Trinitarios Calzados ,later a nursing home. Others have resisted the passing of the centuries and offer a beautiful urban landscape.

Alcala de henares

Some of these monuments, I have written before ,but now they are on this street and they are the remains of the Church of Santa María la Mayor. From the 15C, it was destroyed in July 1936. In one of its chapels there is a replica, with some original fragments, of the font where Miguel de Cervantes was baptized on October 9, 1547. Old College of San Ciriaco and Santa Paula de Malaga. It was founded by Juan Alonso de Moscoso, Bishop of Málaga. After its closure, it was a San Bernardino asylum and the Nuestra Señora de la Paloma school. Currently it is a Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. The legend of the lion’s mouth is famous at the source of one of the two courtyards, which are separated by an imperial-type staircase. Old College of Santa Catalina or Los Físicos y Artistas. Located in the Callejon Santa María alley, it was founded by Cardinal Cisneros. It has a Castilian patio with Tuscan columns on the ground floor, and a wooden balustrade on the upper floor.   Old College of Theologians of La Madre de Dios. Founded by Cardinal Cisneros, it enjoyed great prestige. After its closure, it was the headquarters of the Civil Guard. It is currently the headquarters of the Bar Association. The testimony of the errata of the first edition of Don Quijote de la Mancha was made in this school in December 1604.   Former Royal College-Convent of Agustin Calzados de San Agustin. Current seat of the courts. The name of ‘Real’ is due to the patronage of Juana de Austria, sister of Felipe II. The cover preserves the image of Saint Augustine and coats of arms of the Order and the House of Austria. Old College of San Jerónimo or Trilingual. It was founded for the study of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. There may also have been an Arabic study. Its Renaissance cloister is the work of Pedro de la Cotera. On two of its sides is the Hostería del Student, the second oldest establishment in the network of hostels in Spain (it was created in 1929). On another side of the cloister is the entrance to the Auditorium, the place where the Cervantes Prize for Literature was presented.

A fine city webpage on the Calle de los Colegios in Spanish: LA Calle Mayor tourism on Calle de los Colegios

The Calle Libreros of Alcalá de Henares is a commercial street located in the historic center of the city. An important part of the Complutean history is reflected in its buildings. Its initial name was Calle de Guadalajara. But due to the large number of printers and bookstores that were installed in it from the 16C, it changed its name in the 17C. It is the extension of Calle Mayor. It begins in the northeast corner of the Plaza de Cervantes, and ends in the Plaza de Los Mártires or de los Cuatro Caños.

Alcala de henares

From the 16C, several minor colleges of the University of Alcalá were installed on this street. In 1551 the Colegio del Rey (current headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes) was founded, in 1563 the Colegio de los Vizcaínos, in 1567 the Colegio de los Jesuitas (current Faculty of Law), in 1568 the Colegio de Mena, in 1586 the Colegio de Leon y de los Verdes. This intense academic activity was accompanied by an important editorial activity, which was mainly located on this street. In 1585, La Galatea, the first novel by Miguel de Cervantes, was printed in Juan Gracián’s workshop. The decline of the University of Alcalá began in the 18C, an event that dragged the city’s publishing industry to the point that no original building that has been a typographic workshop is currently preserved.

Again have written before on some of these monuments but these are on this street and they are: Old College of León or Santa María de la Regla and of Saints Justo and Pastor. Founded in 1586 and closed in 1781.It is currently the Graduate School of the University of Alcalá. Old College of the King or of San Felipe and Santiago. Built during the reign of Felipe II, it was inaugurated in 1551. It was attended by the children of the employees of the Royal House, such as Francisco de Quevedo (son of the assistant to the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia). Since 1991 it has been one of the two main headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes. The Church of Santa María la Mayor. Parish located on the old chapel of the Jesuit College. Its granite façade features four sculptures carved in 1624 by Manuel Pereira. Inside, its baroque altarpiece, the work of Francisco Bautista, and the decoration of the vault of the chapel of the Santas Formas (Holy Forms) , painted by Juan Vicente Ribera in 1699, stand out. Former Máximo Colegio de la Compañía de Jesús or de los Jesuitas. Founded in 1545, and with that location since 1620. It highlights inside, the imperial-style staircase. After the confiscation of the University of Alcalá in 1836, it would eventually become the Mendigorría barracks. Since 1990 it houses the Law School of the University of Alcalá. Former Colegio Menor de San Cosme y San Damián, or Colegio de Mena, founded by the doctor Fernando de Mena in 1568 and closed in 1759. Today they are private homes.

A fine city webpage on Calle Libreros in Spanish: La Calle Mayor webpage on Calle LIbreros

The tourist office of Alcalà de Henares in English: Tourist office of Alcala de Henares

And this is the tourist office of the Comunidad de Madrid on Alcalà de Henares in Spanish: Todo Sobre Madrid tourist office on Alcala de Henares

There you go a wonderful way to get lost in history with beauty and old world charm all around you; this is Cervantes’s town, this is Alcalà de Henares! Hope you have enjoy the tour.

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

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April 3, 2020

Stop at Hong Kong!

Ok talking about airports, well been to a few. Some been not too long but are very memorable for x reasons, and I thought rather than just barely mentioned them in my blog giving it a bit more credit in a single post. This is the case of the Hong Kong International Airport. Here is all about it!

I first flew with Cathay Pacific for the first time; and it was a nice ride indeed. This is the airline of Hong Kong and I was going to the airport there for connection to a final destination. The Hong Kong International Airport was my first time too, but as connections were made tight, really had no time to see Hong Kong. Even if passed twice by it on two different trips! This will be for another time. OF course, with the times that will be a bit further away.

The Hong Kong International Airport is the airport of Hong Kong, about 30 km from the city center. Inaugurated on July 6, 1998, to replace the former Kai Tak International Airport. The current airport has become a major global center for freight transport, a connecting platform for passengers and a gateway to destinations in mainland China, east and southeast Asia. it is the first platform for the companies Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, but also for smaller companies like Hong Kong Express or Hong Kong Airlines. It also houses the Hong Kong Government Flying Service aircraft.

The airport was erected on a large artificial island called Huan Fu Zu, built from the mountainous islands of Chep Lap Kok and Lam Chau which were razed to the ground and joined together in part by their own embankments. It is connected to the north coast of Lantau Island near the historic village of Tung Chung, now in a new city. The construction of the new airport was part of a larger program which also included the construction of a new road and a railway connecting the city to the airport and comprising many bridges and tunnels. The airport is managed by the Airport Authority, which is controlled by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The airport has two parallel runways, each 3,800 meters long and 60 meters wide. The southern runway belongs to the “Category II Precision Approach”, while the northern runway belongs to the higher category (“Category IIIA”), which allows pilots to land with only 200 meters of visibility.

The Hong Kong International Airport has a total of 90 boarding gates,with 77 jet bridge gates (1–12, 23–36, 40–50, 60–71, 201–219, 501–506, 508–510) and 12 virtual gates (228–230, 511–513, 520–525) which are used as assembly points for passengers, who are then ferried to the aircraft by apron buses. Of the 66 jet bridges, five (Gates 5,23,60,62,64) are capable of handling the Airbus A380. Besides T2, the SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course has been opened in 2007 whereas the second airport hotel, the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel; and a permanent cross-boundary ferry terminal, the Skypier, began operations in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Development around T2 also includes the AsiaWorld-Expo which has started operation in late 2005. A second passenger concourse, the North Satellite Concourse (NSC), opened in 2010, followed by the Midfield Concourse in December 2015.

hong kong

Hong kong

Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport is the third largest airport passenger terminal building in the world. Terminal 2 together with the SkyPlaza, opened on 28 February 2007 along with the opening of the Airport Station’s Platform 3. It is only a check-in and processing facility for departing passengers with no gates or arrival facilities (passengers are transported underground to gates at Terminal 1) So far most low-cost carriers and some full-service carriers have relocated their check-in operations to T2. A two-storey North Satellite Concourse (NSC), this concourse was designed for narrow-body aircraft and is equipped with 10 jet bridges. There is a shuttle bus service between the NSC and Terminal 1 every four minutes. The midfield area is located to the west of Terminal 1 between the two existing runways This includes 20 aircraft parking stands, three of these are wide enough to serve the Airbus A380.   Passengers reach the concourse through an extension of the underground automated people mover On 31 March 2016, the Concourse was officially inaugurated.

hong kong

hong kong

The Hong Kong International Airport is renowned for its quality among tour operators and passengers. It is one of the three world airports to have received the 5 stars of the classification made by Skytrax. The airport is accessible with the Hong Kong Metro Airport station on the Airport Express line. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge arrives in Hong Kong near the airport island.

Hong Kong

On 2 July 1998, Air Force One, carrying United States President Bill Clinton, landed at the new airport and became the first foreign visitor to arrive at the new airport.

The official webpage of HKIA here: Official Hong Kong International Airport

The Airport Express Services here: Official Metro Airport Express Services

The Hong Kong Zhuhai-Macao BridgeHong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge

The tourist office of Hong KongTourist office of Hong Kong

There you go all you need for a wonderful stop over or longer stay. I have done the first one;looking forward to do the second one. Enjoy the Hong Kong International Airport

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


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April 2, 2020

My airports in Indonesia!

So this is a strategic post lol!!! I have been thru too many airports in my last 20 years to last me for the rest of my lifetime! I do not look at them as tourist attractions but a necessary step to tourism. As Indonesia is a country of many islands and vast distances the use of airplane is a must.

Let me tell you briefly on my airports in Indonesia! Oh yes all coming from my belle France! However, plenty of domestic flights once there!

My main point of entry was the Jakarta International Airport (Soekarno-Hatta) is the main airport serving the greater Jakarta area on the island of Java. It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu, who also designed Paris-Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) airport. The Soekarno-Hatta airport was Inaugurated in 1985, it was named after Soekarno, first president of the Republic of Indonesia, and Hatta, first vice-president. They were the ones who proclaimed the independence of the country in 1945.   Jakarta International Airport has 150 check-in counters, 30 baggage carousels and 42 gates. Each sub-terminal has 25 check-in counters, 5 baggage carrousels and 7 gates.


Terminal 1 accommodates domestic flights, except for Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia AirAsia, NAM Air and Sriwijaya Air. Terminal 2 accommodates all international flights other than those of SkyTeam companies, as well as domestic flights of Indonesia AirAsia, NAM Air and Sriwijaya Air. Terminal 3 accommodates all Garuda Indonesia flights as well as those of SkyTeam companies. A shuttle system connects the 3 terminals.


Taxi counters are located on the Arrivals level after customs and outside at the taxi stand. Several Taxi companies operate at Jakarta airport, including Blue Bird, Silver Bird, Golden Bird and Gamya. Blue Bird taxis are blue and provide basic taxi service from a reliable company. Silver Bird taxis are black and provide premium taxi service at slightly higher rates. Golden Bird is a limousine service.


The official airport webpage is here: Soekarno-Hatta Airport at Jakarta

Additional helpful webpage is the tourist office of Jakarta in English: Tourist office of Jakarta

The Surabaya Juanda International Airport serves Surabaya, East Java and surrounding areas. It is my second most used airport in Indonesia. It is located in the kabupaten ,department of Sidoarjo, 20 km south of Surabaya. Open December 7, 1964 as an air and naval base, December 24, 1990, Juanda Airport obtains the status of international airport, after the opening of an international terminal.



The Surabaya Airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 is split into a couple of sections: section 1A and section 1B. The Level 1 is the Arrivals level, where check-in counters and baggage claim area are located. Level 2 is for Departures, where the boarding area is located. Find in this level access to boarding gates 1 to 6 ,and 7 to 12.   There are lounges close to gates 2, 8 and 11.   Terminal 2, handles international flights and some domestic services of Garuda and Indonesia Air Asia. Terminal 2 is the newest one and opened in 2014. It is located at the east side of Terminal 1. The Ground level This is the Check-in area and the Arrivals level. It has a boarding lounge at west and the Arrivals facilities plus the baggage claim can be found at east.   Find also here transportation options (bus, taxi, shuttle, car rental). Upper level: This is the Departures area, split into the Domestic and International departures.   Access to boarding gates 1 to 9 from a single point. Mezzanine level Find in this level the airport lounges. Taxi ranks are properly located outside Arrivals of both terminals, after the baggage claim area.   In order to take a taxi at Surabaya Airport, passengers should purchase a taxi coupon from the transportation counter. Blue Bird and Orenz Taxi.


The Surabaya Juanda airport webpage in English here: Surabaya Juanda airport

A very nice experience for me was to go inland into Yogyakarta and Ngoro, etc towns.

The Yogyakarta Adisutjipto International Airport is the airport of the city of Yogyakarta. The airport was inaugurated as international in 2004. Adisucipto airport also houses an Indonesian air force base. Adisutjipto will be gradually replaced by the new international airport of Yogyakarta in the kabupaten of Kulon Progo. Airport taxis are available on the arrivals level. Taxi rate is fixed depending on the distance. Purchase a fixed price taxi coupon from the Transportation counter and proceed to the taxi stand outside.


The Adisutjipto airport webpage is here in English: Adisutjipto Yogyakarta airport



The new airport Yogyakarta International Airport or Kulon Progo International Airport, is in the district of Temon, kabupaten of Kulon Progo, which serves the special territory of Yogyakarta in Java, The airport was inaugurated on May 6, 2019. This one I have not try yet.

The new Yogyakarta airport webpage in English here: Yogyakarta airport

And there you go a nice way to move about in Indonesia using various airlines most of the time Garuda Indonesia; sriwijaya airline; and Wings, etc. The tourist office of Indonesia in English for reference here: Tourist office of Indonesia


Now you all set to enjoy this exotic beautiful country in Asia. Lots of memory of my 8 trips there in the last 9 years! And lots of good friends still in touch. Hopefully, will have other opportunities to be back soon. IN the meantime, get to know the airports of Indonesia, you will needed.

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


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April 2, 2020

Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria!

A few years back I had the opportunity to do a consulting job for an important fuel company base in the south of France. The mission was carried out in Lagos ,Nigeria for several months. I lived in Ikoyi a district of Lagos. I have told before the historical part and the restaurants and hotels of the area but and again, missed telling you about my residence. Well now is time to tell you all about it ok. Hope you enjoy the off the beaten path trip at Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.

The best areas are east of city center at Ikoyi (where I lived), and Victoria Island. The district of Lagos Island is the business area with an artificial island named Eko Atlantic City. I must tell you that even thus I was not there as a tourist and not many sites that can be tourist oriented at least at that time, I enjoyed very much the stay  ,travel all over even further away from Lagos and made many friends still in contact as much as this week, the reason to do this post. Friends forever, and they know my blog!

First, a bit about the district of Ikoyi.

Ikoyi is the most affluent neighborhood of Lagos, located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area.It lies to the northeast of Obalende and adjoins Lagos Island to the west, and at the edge of the Lagos Lagoon. Popular with the extreme upper class residents of Nigerian society, Ikoyi is arguably one of the wealthiest communities within Nigeria.

The area that makes up Ikoyi was originally a continuous land mass with Lagos Island, until it was separated from by a narrow waterway that was dug by the British colonial government. This canal has now been built over or filled so that the island is fused with Lagos Island once again.  During the colonial era, the island was developed as a residential cantonment for the expatriate British community and still retains many of the large colonial residences built between 1900 and 1950. Upmarket residential properties continued to be built after the colonial period, and the Island and its Dodan Barracks became the residence of some of Nigeria’s military rulers

One of the main attractions in Ikoyi is Awolowo Road, which is a high street lined with upscale shops and boutiques. Due to its proximity to Victoria Island and Lagos Island, much of Lagos’s business tourism is centred on Ikoyi, which has a mix of excellent 4-star hotels. The area is now home to several large luxury apartments,estates, and upscale office developments. Lagos Preparatory School (13+), regarded as Africa’s most highly accredited British School, is located in Ikoyi . The Lagos Jet Ski Riders Club, an elite club for the wealthiest of Nigerians is located in Ikoyi. Also, the Ikoyi Golf Club.

Bourdillon Road, Alexander Road and Gerrard Road, is a long stretch of road, that is considered to be the most prestigious not only in Lagos, but in Nigeria. Ikoyi includes the newer suburbs of Banana Island, Parkview Estate, Dolphin Estate and other luxurious blocks of flats that are springing up.


The Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge,wonderful to ride it over and more beautiful spots on that side;  is a 1.36 km cable-stayed bridge in Lagos State. It links the Phase 1 area of Lekki, with Ikoyi district of Lagos. The bridge was commissioned on the 29th of May 2013. The bridge is the first cable-stayed bridge to be built in Nigeria. The bridge has a 9-meters headroom above water level in order to allow for the flow of maritime traffic.   Tourists and other visitors also find this bridge as one of the places to visit and the bridge is the most photographed place in Lagos . The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg went on a morning run on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge on his visit to Lagos.

And now for my accommodations at Somerset Court, Ikoyi!

I stayed in a very nice compound, Osborne Foreshore Estates, call Somerset Court ,very well protected as it is the home of many armed forces personnel. The place is at  Ikoji, one of the nicest districts of Lagos, very nice with all amenities including a pool, billiard room,bar, restaurant, sports TV all over, exercise room, and very friendly staff.


Somerset Court is a top class luxury hotel situated at No 2, Asejire Close, Osborne Phase 1, Ikoyi, Lagos. It’s a tourist favorite due to its proximity to a lot of business outlet and also Ikoyi Golf Club among other leisure centres.

Somerset Court has rooms with classy and home feel with designs incorporating modern furnishing. Room categories include Executive Room and Suite. Some rooms have a view overlooking the city. Each room features a spacious bathroom, king-sized beds, cable connected LCD TV sets, refrigerators and air conditioners. A number of facilities are available, these include free WiFi, a swimming pool, a body spa, a restaurant and a bar. Guests at this hotel will have more time to enjoy their stay at the hotel. The hotel offers additional services on request such as 24-hour front desk, shuttle service, Concierge service, Luggage storage, Express check-in/check-out, Cleaning services, Room service, Free Parking Space, Ironing service, Car Rental, Dry cleaning/Laundry service and business center. All was wonderful!


Some assorted webpages to help you plan your trip here and know more about Ikoyi are

The Private Property guide on IkoyiPrivate Property on Ikoyi Lagos

A New York Times magazine article on Ikoyi that i found very informative. New York Time magazine on Ikoyi

And a very good local youtube video on Ikoyi  area of Lagos ,enjoy it

I like to again thanks all the staff at Somerset Court for a memorable stay and many nice souvenirs that won’t be forgotten. In the meantime, hope one day to return as really enjoyed my stay in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. Hope you enjoy the tour.

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



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April 2, 2020

The Gauchos of Porto Alegre!

So, lets stay with Brazil shall we. A huge country of many faces and sights which I had the opportunity to see over the years from north to south and even lived there for several months and speak the language, Portuguese. Many souvenirs and friends over these years that are still in touch!

I like to bring from the vault a visit and friends that made the trip and the introduction to Brazil much more enjoyable. Porto Alegre was the first city I visited in Brazil, and they are the Gauchos of Brazil! Let me tell you a bit about it ok

A bit about the State of Rio Grande do Sul!

The Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost of the 27 States of the Federative Republic of Brazil. It is separated from the State of Santa Catarina by the Rio Mampituba, is bordered to the east by the Atlantic Ocean and is bordered by the Argentina and Uruguay. Its capital is Porto Alegre. The inhabitants of the state are called Rio Grandenses or, more commonly, Gauchos!

A bit of history to set up the State of Rio Grande do Sul (big southern river)

In 1627 the Spanish settled near the Uruguay river, but were expelled from it by the Portuguese in 1680, who founded the colony of Sacramento on the Rio de la Plata. However, Spanish Jesuits established missions in 1682 in a geographical area straddling the contemporary states of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.  In 1737, the Portuguese arrived in present-day Rio Grande do Sul with the military expedition of José da Silva Paes. Many conflicts later broke out with the Spanish for the possession of the land and did not end until 1801.  In 1816, the Portuguese extended their presence in the region by seizing the Banda Oriental (en. Eastern Band ,the old name of Uruguay), which became a Brazilian province, the Cisplatin Province. But in 1825, the independence of Uruguay is proclaimed; a war ensued until its recognition by Brazil in 1828.

On February 28, 1821, after the proclamation of the Republic in Brazil, the State of Rio Grande do Sul was formed. In the 19C, the Rio Grande do Sul was the scene of several federalist revolts, such as the Farrapos War (1835-1845). During the Revolution of 1893, left-wing insurgents occupied the states of Santa Catarina and Paraná, occupying the city of Curitiba, but were ultimately overthrown due to their inability to obtain war ammunition. Then in 1923,a civil war broke out again between supporters of the President of the State, and the opposition. In 1930, the president of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Getúlio Vargas, after having presented himself without success in the presidential elections against the candidate of São Paulo, took the head of a revolt against the federal government and succeeds in overthrowing it. This led to the dictatorship of Vargas in 1937 and the period known in Brazil as the Estado Novo (en New State, same new and similitude with the one in Portugal); the  Third Republic which ended the dictatorship of Vargas in 1945. And the rest is the modern history of Brazil.

Coming now to my city of Porto Alegre the first city ever visited by me in Brazil , as well as been the Capital of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, and the largest city in the southern region of Brazil. The city was established on the east bank of the Rio Guaiba, a bay within which converge five rivers that form the Lagoa dos Patos. The latter is a huge lake that faces south on the Atlantic Ocean. It is thanks to it that Porto Alegre is in constant contact with the sea, even if it is not by the sea. The activities of the port are so important that every year, the locals celebrate a feast dedicated to Our Lady of the Navigators or Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes. This event is held every February 2.

The first inhabitants of Porto Alegre were the Amerindians Minuanos and Tapes who were mainly cattle breeders. The Portuguese from the Azores then arrived who brought in the African slaves. After the abolition of slavery in the country and especially its independence, new immigrants also came to settle there, including Germans, Poles and Italians.   As the city is very close to Uruguay, its history is also linked to it, including that of Gaucho culture. This term describes the culture in which the Gauchos evolve every day, cattle breeders who also specialize in rodeo. the majority of the inhabitants are strongly anchored in the gaucho culture which implies musical traditions as well as the famous rodeo or throwing a bottle intended to capture the cows. The gaucho are in Argentina, Uruguay and in the south of Brazil, a guardian of herds of the South American plains or the pampa, in the same way in Paraguay, in the south-east of Bolivia by Tarija   and the south of Chile . In Brazil, the term is at the origin of the gentile Gaucho, which is used to designate the inhabitants of the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

My wonderful introduction to the Brazilian Gaucho tradition at Porto Alegre was at the magnificent Churrascaria Galpao Crioulo ; Rua Otavio Francisco Caruso da Rocha s / n and praça Mauricio Sirotsky Sobrinho square. The official webpage in Portuguese here: official churrasqueria Galpao Crioulo in Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre

I was with local friends and their families and had a great meal, wine of the region and a great Gaucho show. The youtube video below best show this wonderful tradition.


The tourist office for Porto Alegre in Portuguese with contact info: Official govt tourist section with contacts info for Porto Alegre

Tourist office of Brazil on Porto Alegre in Spanish (cant seen to find others) : Tourist office of Brazil on Porto Alegre

Tourist office of State of Rio Grande do Sul on Porto Alegre in Portuguese: Tourist office Rio Grande do Sul on Porto Alegre

And there you go a wonderful world different from what most think of Brazil. Lucky to have been there and won’t mind going back, time will tell…For now enjoy the Gauchos of Porto Alegre.

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


April 1, 2020

Copacabana!!! yes Brazil!!!

So here I am picking up some oldies from my vault to tell you about a wonderful country and a great city of our world, more precisely one of the best known spots on Earth. I have written pieces before but fell a post should be merited. Let me tell you a bit more on Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A bit on the name first shall we

There are several hypotheses for the name Copacabana. The first alleges that the term came from the Quechua language spoken in the ancient Inca Empire, meaning “luminous place”, “blue beach or” viewpoint of blue”. Other sources point to the term as originating from the Aymara language spoken in Bolivia, meaning “view of the lake. “. In that country, Copacabana is the name given to a city located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, founded on an ancient Inca place of worship. There are reports that, in this place, before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, there was the cult of a deity called Kopakawana, who would protect the marriage and the fertility of women.

The beach and the entire region around it had the Tupi name of “Sacopenapã”, which means “the noise and the flapping of the wings of the socós”. In the 18C, with the opening of a chapel in honor of Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, or Our Lady of Copacabana on a rock at the end of the beach, the name of the beach and the region was changed to Copacabana.

And the beach at Copacabana!

Copacabana is a district of Rio de Janeiro. It is located south of the city. The district includes the beach of the same name, one of the most famous beaches on the planet. The area is lively and full of good restaurants, cinemas, banks. Many football fans come to spend time there.. The beach is a half-moon extending for 4.5 km, from Leme to the Arpoador, along Avenue Atlântica. It is nicknamed in Portuguese the Princesinha do Mar, or the little princess of the seas as heard on the song by Tom Jobim. Copacabana is one of the tourist emblems of Rio de Janeiro. On August 13, 1923, the Copacabana Palace Hotel was opened, in front of the beach. Since then, the hotel has become a symbol of the city

Leme is usually a less crowded corner of the beach. It is the left end for those looking towards the sea, close to the rock of the same name and those who have a view of the shore almost as spectacular as that of Arpoador, in neighboring Ipanema. Although the strip of sand is the same, it is considered another neighborhood, and has two favelas (Babilônia and Chapéu-Mangueira) that can scare the unsuspecting a little. But, in general, everything is quiet on the boardwalk, in the sand and in the nearby streets, without major problems.

Then, Posto (station) 2 is almost in front of the trendy Copacabana Palace Hotel. There is the most crowded spot on the waterfront at any time, as it is the first drop off by bus or metro/subway at Cardeal Arcoverde station from city center/downtown or from the north of Rio. During New Year’s Eve, you can hardly walk. But few things compare to the grandeur of the Copa (the hotel’s nickname) facing the sea.

Posto (station) 3, 4 and 5 are right in the middle of the beach, a little less crowded, but no less beautiful. At Posto 3 there is the Siqueira Campos metro/subway station, while Posto 4 receives the third and last one in the neighborhood, Cantagalo metro/subway station. Both are further into the beach at about 300 meters.

Finally, the stretch of sand ends at Posto 6, with the famous statue of Carlos Drummond de Andrade and at the Copacabana Fort, which has the Army Historical Museum and the delicious café Confeitaria Colombo, where it is it is possible to have a breakfast or afternoon snack with a view of the entire length of the beach. During Sundays and holidays, Avenida Atlântica is closed in its closest part to the boardwalk, and it is possible to ride a bike, rollerblade, skateboard or just walk / run with ease.

Rio de Janeiro

The district of Copacabana has four metro/subway stations such as Cardeal Arcoverde, Siqueira Campos, Cantagalo and General Osório; and more than eighty municipal and intercity bus lines. Which, of course, did not took any as had a car   lol!

This is the skyline webcam on Copacabana beach, beautiful even from a distance: Skyline webcam on Copacabana beach

A bit on the anecdote and main reason of writing this post.  Hotéis Othon is one of the largest network of hotels in Brazil. The first Othon hotel was launched in Rio de Janeiro in 1943, former “Hotel Aeroporto” close to the city airport, today known as Aeroporto Othon Travel. Until the seventies it was built and launched seven more hotels at the famous Copacabana beach. From the year 2000 on, the Othon group of hotels started to operate third parties units abroad with 11 units in countries such as France, Portugal, United States of America, Argentina and Peru. In 2003, Othon decided to invest in a new market, creating the brand “Othon Pousadas”, starting to manage tourist class hotels or “Bed & Breakfast”.  In the same year, there was the start-up of the managing of condos with the launch of the Othon Brand “Othon Flats” ,today “Othon Suítes” , with five units. At the moment, they currently operate 12 hotels, four of which are wholly owned by the Company and eight of them owned by third parties, which are managed units. The Rio Othon Palace unit, situated at the famous Copacabana beach, is one of the most famous national luxury hotel, Seven floor are now, after the modernization, included in the luxury category, focusing on business executives guests.

However, I have a story here. While visiting Rio for the first time back in the 80’s we were booked by my company a trip here and apparently by mistake they booked us on the Copacabana Palace which of course at the time was like 500 US Dollars per night. This was too much, and they cancelled the reservation. I came to know this while at Guarulhos airport! When asked to booked me in another hotel before I got to the city, the company booked me at the Othon Palace Hotel which was at that time at 150 US dollars per night. The good deed for me, they ,also, make a mistake and instead of booking for two night they did it for three so an extra day of enjoying Copacabana beach!!! The Rio Othon Palace Hotel is a highrise hotel with 98 meters high , 30-stories which opened in 1977 and had 585 guest rooms.

Rio de Janeiro

The official Othon Palace webpage in English: Othon Hotels on the Othon Palace Copacabana Hotel

And there you, been back and have enjoyed always. A wonderful souvenir for me and still many friends from those times . Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana beach, Brazil, nice! Hope you have enjoy the tour

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


April 1, 2020

A bridge in Cebu, Philippines!

Ok so let me tell you about an anecdote that this road warrior likes. I have visited the Philippines about 5 times in the last few years and this particular area of Cebu 3 times. There has not been too much time to sightseeing as these were business trips but the memorable of the post is the driving and the crossing of the channel from the Mactan airport to city center Cebu. 

However, let me give a bit more about this particular area of the Philippines as I cannot go to a spot on earth without knowing its history.  I will be telling you about the Marcelo Fernan Bridge in Cebu. First, an introduction.

A bit on the province region of Cebu.

Cebu is a province located in the Central Visayas (Region VII) region, and consists of a main island and 167 surrounding islands and islets. Its capital is Cebu City, known as the Queen City of the South, the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines, which is politically independent from the provincial government. The Metro Cebu is formed by 7 neighboring cities such as Carcar City, Cebu City (I was base here), Danao City, Lapu-Lapu City (passed by here) , Mandaue City (passed by here), Naga City, and Talisay City; and 6 smaller towns like Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla, and San Fernando. Cebu City as the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas. Mactan – Cebu International Airport, located on Mactan Island, is the second busiest airport in the Philippines and about 20 km from Cebu city.

And a bit on the City of Cebu.

Cebu is the second largest city in the Philippines (after Manila) and is very similar to the capital: teeming, noisy and contrasting. The city has the particularity of presenting places steeped in history but also very beautiful paradisiacal beaches not far away .It still offers interesting architectural curiosities, witnesses of the different influences of the Philippines.

Cebu is located in the east of the island of the same name. It is the capital of the province of Cebu and that of the region of Central Visayas. Cebu is also the oldest city in the Philippines and it was the first place of colonization of the Spanish in the archipelago. It is the main shipping port of the Philippines and is home to around 80% of the country’s inland shipping companies.

A bit of history I like

It was on April 7, 1521 that Fernand de Magellan landed in Cebu. He is greeted by Rajah Humabon, King of Cebu, and the Queen who converted to Catholicism on April 14 with 800 Magellan natives, however, failed to claim the island for the crown of Spain, having been killed by the king of Mactan Lapu-Lapu on April 27, 1521 during the battle of Mactan. On April 27, 1565, the expedition led by Miguel López de Legazpi begins the colonization of the region with the Augustinian brother Andrés de Urdaneta.

The Villa de San Miguel is the first founded by Legazpi in the archipelago on May 8, 1565. The villa becomes a city with all the rights relating thereto, on January 1, 1571, thanks to a royal decree of king Felipe II under the name of Ciudad del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús or City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. In 1898, the city was ceded to the United States of America after the Spanish-American War and the American-Philippine War. In 1901, it was administered for a brief period by the United States and obtained a special status of self-government in 1936 allowing it to be managed independently by Filipino politicians. Occupied by the Japanese during WWII, the city eventually integrated the Republic of the Philippines by July 4 1946.

Some of the things to see an enjoy here are

The Sinulog held each year, festival and ritual dance of nine days organized from the third Sunday in January to celebrate the baby Jesus of Cebu: Santo Nino. It’s a ritual dance, two steps forward then one step back, to the sound of percussion. I have been twice at the beginning of it with lots of actions activities in town, a real fun way to visit Cebu! Until 1980, the Sinulog, which falls every third Sunday in January, was not a major event in Cebu, but the regional director of the Ministry of Sports wanted to give it new impetus and organize a larger parade, mainly around the Cebu Basilica. Supported by authorities, the festival has grown in importance and is now one of the most important events in the Philippines. It is huge!!! Official webpage:  Official Sinulot Festival at Cebu

There are a number of significant Spanish colonial constructions in the City such as the Basilica of the Holy Child , Fort San Pedro, the Casa Gorordo museum and the Magellanic Cross. The Taoist temple of Cebu dominates the city and its neighbors of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.

And after all, I give the most famous bridge in all of the Philippines and yours truly has passed and enjoy it on several occasions. A great souvenir to remember forever.

The Marcelo Fernan Bridge is an extradosed cable-stayed bridge located in Metro Cebu. It spans across Mactan Channel connecting from Cebu to Mandaue City and to Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island (where the airport is located). It is currently the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Philippines. It has a total length of 1237 meters (4058feet) with a center span of 185 meters (607 feet), and was completed and inaugurated by President Joseph Estrada on August 3, 1999. And this is the bridge I passed each time there from the airport to city center Cebu! Nice ride!


On the Mactan Island side of the bridge, there is a park called the Millennium Park at the base of the bridge’s piers, and the Filipino Seafarers Memorial is located in that park. Also, the bridge has two pedestrian walkways, one on the north side of the bridge, and one on the south side. On the Cebu Island side of the bridge, there is Mandaue City, and the bridge is accessed via United Nations Avenue. The Mactan Island side of the bridge, which is in Lapu-Lapu City, is accessed by Old Patiller Road, a spur road of the Manuel L. Quezon National Highway.


The memories and friendship will endure and hoping one day to be back there. Time will tell, in the meantime, thank you for the warm wonderful welcome each time.  Remember , even the best here are the beaches! Cebu is wonderful.

I leave you with a couple of webpages to help you plan your trip here

The official tourist office of Cebu Bohol in English: Tourist office Cebu Bohol on Cebu

A guide to Cebu unofficial: Tourism info on Cebu and Philippines

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





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March 31, 2020

The Gates of Belmonte!

And here we are in Belmonte again, the wonderful town of the province of Cuenca and the autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha in my beloved Spain! It has become a town visited several times.

However, when there concentrated on the castle (see posts) and not on the rest, which is plenty. I will need to be back. On this post, let me tell you a bit more on the Puertas or Gates from the ramparts walls to the town of Belmonte. Hope you enjoy it as we did.

The Muralla Urbana of Belmonte or Urban Wall was built in the 15C, and it has preserves in perfect condition the canvases that come down from the castle to the town. The enclosure had five gates that opened along the walled enclosure, three of which are still used as access to the city. These gates are the San Juan to the north, the Chinchilla Gate to the south, the Almudí or Rollo Gate, the Estrella or Toledo or Monreal Gate and the New Gate (Puerta Nueva gone) to the west.




Two sections are preserved in a perfect state of conservation, which go down from the castle to the town. One of the sections that remains intact, and with a beautiful Albarrana tower is the one that goes from the Chinchilla gate to the castle. From the Puerta de San Juan the jamb and tower on the right are preserved. The jamb on the left to the first cube was demolished in 1912 to build the current gate.

The Puerta de Chinchilla is the first one that was made, and the one that has best reached our days. From here to the Castle the wall canvas is still conserved entirely, with a beautiful Albarrana tower. The gate located to the south in the walled compound of Belmonte.


On August 12, 1488, the Catholic Monarchs (Fernando II and Isabel I), in transit from Alicante to Alcalá de Henares, arrived in Belmonte, being welcomed by the Marquis of Villena at the Castle. Before entering the town through this Puerta de Chinchilla, since they came from San Clemente, the town went out to receive them and made them swear to their Highnesses with their real hands placed bodily on the Holy Crucifix, to keep and save all the letters of ridges, privileges, uses and good customs that it has and has been granted to it by the Lords who had been there.

It was wonderful to walk around these gates and even awesome to drive my car thru them. Many times praying not to scratch as was just enough. Surrounded by such beauty and history not to leave architecture behind it is just sublime. I will be back.

The tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on things to see including the gates of Belmonte: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on heritage

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



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March 31, 2020

Church San Bartolome, Belmonte!

So let me stay in this picturesque town of my Castilla La Mancha region as in Belmonte all is nice. I have to admit came here for the castle very historical of Spain and France.However, there is a lot more in this small town in the province of Cuenca. Let me tell you a bit more on the Church San Bartolomé.

This is one never been inside as not enough time for the castle on both times there. It will be on my list to hit it next time.

The Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé is located in the upper town of Belmonte, wthin the walled area, guards the wealth of faith and religiosity of a town made history and art, for more than five centuries. The Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé was built on the old Visigothic parish of the 5C. A human burial and a flat stone at its head, with the Crismón incised XP, along with other remains and old walls, which appeared in restoration works of 1976, so attest.


The Marquis of Villena and Master of the Order of Santiago, Don Juan Pacheco makes almost all the church work and built it again from the foundations. At his request, Pope Pius II erected the parish of Belmonte as a Collegiate Church in 1459.


The brief description from the translated blog of it as I did not had time to go inside. Too much time spent on the castle!!(see post). It has a floor plan of three large naves and of severe magnificence, with four sections that separate thick round pillars, supporting pointed arches and ribbed vaults. The supports are circular, solid and robust columns, with double pillars that serve as support to the same vaults. The Puerta de Perdones (forgiveness door), the one to the west, is flanked by two sprouted and lowered arches, sheltered under another slightly pointed one, on whose eardrum and above the mullion the solemn and majestic figure of Saint Bartholomew emerges. The Puerta del Sol or (Sun door), facing towards noon, is surrounded by two Gothic pinnacles. The hollow of the door is a lowered arch inscribed inside another trilobal of the flowery Gothic. At the intersection of all the ribs of the vault, as well as its support in each of the corresponding columns, a heraldic motif appears with the arms of the Marquis de Villena’s surnames.

The stalls of the choir of the Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé are from 1454, is the first historical choir in Spain, made up of an icon and one of the most outstanding parts of the collegiate church. It was carved from walnut wood originally intended for the Cathedral of Cuenca as commissioned by Bishop Don Lope Barrientos and transferred to Belmonte in the 18C, as stated in the minutes of the town’s council of Cuenca. The painting of the Virgin that is in the Sacristy, is placed on the presidential chair; it is a beautiful canvas on panel of the Virgin with Jesus, recently taken down from the Cross, dead in her arms, of great merit and artistic quality, The stalls were completed with the realization in 1718 of a pipe organ.

From a distance it looks very nice, and closeup outside is awesome indeed more like a Cathedral than a Collegiate Church so on the list to be seen in my beloved Castilla La Mancha. Hope you make it here too it is worth it I say.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The official blog of the Church San Bartolomé in Spanish: Collegiate Church San Bartolomé

Tourist office of province of Cuenca on the Church in English: Tourist office of province of Cuenca on the church

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Church in English: Tourist office Castilla La Mancha on the Church

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Church’s museum in English:  Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Church’s museum

There you go for me noted down on the list to see. Belmonte is nice worth the trip to see these wonderful monuments again and of course inside the Collegiate Church of San Bartolome.

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


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