Archive for June, 2018

June 30, 2018

Again we have the Tour de France !

The greatest bicycle race in the world is back. There may be others older, but this is the grand daddy of them all. My family on my dear late wife side are fanatics and I even purchase a bike myself couple years back. Not the biggest user of it, but we enjoy a leisure ride in the park once in a while. However, the Tour de France is it, we watch it wholly and it is superb. Even if not into bike the views of the race on TV are super. If you have the chance like us to go and watch it live, then you can tell the love for the sport here.

In my neck of the woods now, the Bretons are avid bikers and there are so many clubs and competitions all year around. The Tour is very much followed by all here and on my job too is big.

This year’s event will be no different. The Tour de France starts July 7 for its 105th edition. The first stage will begin in familiar local territory in the island of Nourmoutier (île de Noirmoutier), Department 85 of Vendée, region of  Pays de la Loire and the final in Paris after 21 stages.

I will tell you the stages and their trajectory with a map to follow

1: Noirmoutier-en-L’Île / Fontenay-le-Comte (flat run of 201 km)

2:  Mouilleron-Saint-Germain / La Roche-sur-Yon ( flat run of 182,5 km)

3: Cholet-Cholet ( against the clock of 35,5 km)

4: La Baule-Sarzeau (flat run 195 km)

5: Lorient-Quimper (average mountain run of 204 km)

6: Brest-Mûr de Bretagne Guerlédan (average mountain run of 181 km)

7: Fougères-Chartres ( flat run of 231 km)

8: Dreux-Amiens Metrópole (flat run of 181 km)

9: Arras Citadelle-Roubaix (stony road of 156,5 km)

10: Annecy-Le Grand-Bornand (high mountain run of 158,5 km)

11: Albertville-La Rosière (high mountain run of 108,5 km)

12: Bourg-Saint-Maurice Les Arcs / Alpe d’Huez (high mountain of 175,5 km)

13: Bourg d’Oisans-Valence (flat run of 169,5 km)

14: Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux / Mende (average mountain run of 188 km)

15: Millau / Carcassonne (average mountain run of 181,5 km)

16: Carcassonne / Bagnères-de-Luchon (mountain of 218 km)

17: Bagnères-de-Luchon / Saint-Lary-Soulan (mountain of 65 km)

18: Trie-sur-Baïse / Pau (flat run of 171 km)

19: Lourdes / Laruns (mountain run of 200,5 km)

20: Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle / Espelette (against the clock of 31 km)

21: Houilles / Paris Champs-Élysées (flat run to end of 116 km)

The end will be in Paris as always when in about 52 km of run the race will enter the city and inside Paris there will be 8 rounds in a circuit of 13 km . For this year’s race so far 22 teams are confirmed.

Looking at the schedule above , 4-7 stages will be in my Brittany and runs 4-5 will be in my dear department 56 of Morbihan so will see them lol!!!  and sentimental previous experiences will be at 18 by Pau, and 21 Houilles (Yvelines dept 78) and Paris. All the big names will be there again so another very nice Tour coming up.

You can follow it in the official site in English (you can change to German and Spanish and of course French as well) : https://www.letour.fr/en/overall-route

Enjoy the race ,remember July 7 next Saturday be there or be square!

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

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June 30, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXIII

So on a very hot Saturday with temps up to 32C or about 90F and intense sun, and many things to do and tell you in my lovely Morbihan department 56 of Brittany.

We had as usual our breakfast, took our dog Rex out and feed him as well. Then, he was put in the Veranda with door half open and plenty of water in his water bowl.

We set out to do our usual errands in our family life now with the boys and me as my father stays home as usual watching TV and most of the time Spanish TV in cable like TVE.

I had to take the boys to Micromania for some orders pending as usual from them, they just don’t stop, the most popular customers in the store, everybody knows them and even the store manager had come to our house for lunch! This store is in the shopping center Carrefour in Vannes.

We went to try a store we have been before but closer to home just to re check prices on animal food, dogs of course as we  have one now 7 months old Borador (mix border collier mom and Labrador dad). This is Animalis in Ploeren just outside Vannes; and it was confirmed the prices are higher so we move on.

We went by our favorite animal store Maxi Zoo at the near town of Séné next to Vannes going along the inner city streets easily as our expressway N165 is beginning to be full of traffic with visitors especially from the British isles. Estimates this year put Brittany in the top 3 of favorite French destinations for vacation by the French, of course we know ::) Here we did purchase our usual dog food 15 kg bag and again nice and cheaper. So we continue here.

As we got there in the shopping plaza les quais de Séné, we saw that a popular shoe store chain here Chaussea had summer sales of up to 70% on most of their stock. So we went in to take a look,and as usual things remaining from her mother’s time , we got out with one pair of sandals for my oldest, and two pairs (one sporty and one dressy) for me; both pairs for 52€! (who says France is expensive!). There are some nice names here including one of our favorite resto chain Au Bureau an English style bar restaurant ,and Chausséa, MaxiZoo, Sport 2000, Gifi , and CrocBook.

We had to eat and believe or not again, my boys insisted on going to Burger King! Well ,can’t really blame them , born in Florida they grew up with BK, and here is a connection to the old country. So we went for lunch at the BK in Ploeren, just outside Vannes. We tried the new whopper chorizo menu lol!! and blueberry muffins dessert ! A nice boys lunch , always missing our dear late wife Martine and heck of a mother. She will always be on our side on the tables.

After this lunch, we went for our groceries as we needed to be ready for the big football/soccer game coming up.  Our groceries are done in a couple hypermarkets here and this time it was E Leclerc in Ploeren, Vannes. We loaded up for the game here too with the boys leading the way.

WE rush home by side roads to reach home just five minutes before game match. The match well the Russia World Cup 2018 8th finals between France and Argentina. We won 4×3 (that is France) with the young Mbappe netting two goals.  It is big here, there are celebrations all over as if we won the World Cup and now a new best is born in Mbappe; all part of the hyper media of our days.  There still a lot to run in this World Cup. Tonight is the game from which our next rival will come, Uruguay vs Portugal. Photo below is from my TFI TV channel !!!!

Now cruising at home waiting for the next game and all loaded up. The temps are still higher with Paris getting around 36C (97F) and by us around 33C!! (91F) Another heat wave for the next couple of days.

In we are staying in the shade lol! Hope you enjoy our every day life in the belle France. The real living in France.

Remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 27, 2018

An hommage to Paris,Martine and us!!!

We have a nice sunny day today high will be by 31C or about 87F just gorgeous outside and the beaches are full. I like to look back in my blog just to see Paris, well Paris is everywhere. Paris is eternal why tell more. It is time to show you to search for my other posts on Paris! There are so many covering most if not all subjects. I let you do the searching  ,there is something for everyone in it.

Paris

Gare de l’Est Paris, our first trip by train the route to her office in Paris 11

It reminds me that almost 8 years ago (November 26 2010) , a group of friends from an online travel forum VT now part of TA, asked me to write a book or a blog on my travel experiences. Well, it was nice, but me a book lol!! My writing is rambling all over, just could not be done. However,  a blog well maybe. Have an American friend living in Madrid for over 20 yrs already who is into these blogs thingy and recommended to me WordPress  because it was easy to set up me not tech oriented. So it was done Paris1972-Versailles2003.com came about with the name of Paris as my first year visited the city while living in Madrid. The year of Versailles is from when came to live in France permanently at that Royal city of France.  The blog have been entertaining thanks to all those readers “like” and comments ; I really enjoy it.  As my  Frenchie from Meaux, Martine, passed away last April 30th from the dreadful cancer, I have come to appreciate more the fact that I am French and live in this wonderful country. I thank her for that,  and will continue to showcase my love for France (if anything to honor her) ,and my roots of Spain in my blog.

Meaux palais episcopal jun10

Enjoy Paris, the most beautiful city in the world, and for reason the most visited too…

There you go enjoy Paris, my beloved dear Paris and my belle France (thanks Martine). And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

June 24, 2018

Metropole Nantes!

I was going to see some World Cup games with a friend near Nantes city, and as usually go by there on my trips out by plane at Nantes Atlantique airport the trip was on usual territory. One of my best friends just moved there, and we went to visit and share some pints with the football/soccer games of the World Cup.

The games were so so on the first game Belgium beat Tunisia 5×2 a really lopsided game. The following one was a bit better as Mexico doing an excellent World Cup beat South Korea 2×1, and finally the best matchup of the day saw Germany beat Sweden 2×1 on a last minute free kick from Real Madrid ‘ player Toni Kroos , superb shot and kept Germany with chances of continue and avoiding catastrophy at home. More on official webpage: https://www.fifa.com/worldcup/

All with plenty of pints from Germany, Belgium, and Brittany and munchies food plancha style. And with good company. the town is Orvault and it is one of 24 comprising the metropole of Nantes as well as the 5th biggest town in it.

A bit of info in French from the city of Orvault with a map of what is the Metropole of Nantes:  http://www.orvault.fr/mairie/presentation-de-la-ville/orvault-dans-la-metropole

The site in French of the Nantes Metropole on Orvault is here:  https://www.nantesmetropole.fr/institution-metropolitaine/24-communes/orvault-22473.kjsp

Of course ,Orvault is today in dept 44 Loire-Atlantique, région of Pays de la Loire ; and was on the historic territory of Brittany. Dense traffic around here even if on weekends is ok; The national road N165 (known as route de Vannes because it goes my way there) is actually starts here by the beltway or boulevard périphérique of Nantes. This one crosses Orvault,and it has two exits/sorties or call here gates or Portes these are the porte de Rennes at No 37,and porte d’Orvault at no 36. There are no train station because it uses that of Nantes. The tramway is connected on line 2 which goes around the area we were (even if we went by car lol!) this line has the departure and terminus at Orvault-Grand Val, it goes by Le Cardo, and reaches Nantes city, and line 3 by the districts of Beauséjour , Plaisance, and Petit Chantilly. There is also a bus line 86.

We really went to see friends as locals, but it has some interesting spots to see as always in these territories worth coming back for the tourist look. Some of these are:

The Château de La Tour built in the 12C, and renovated in the 16C and again after 1900. It was done of granite stone in the neo gothic style of the 20C. The Chapel of the castle was built in the 15C ; it has a stained glass showing the founders of it done in the 16C shown also the Calvary and the deposition of the Cross. There is also, the Château de la Morlière a manoir or big mansion house of the 18C. As well as the newer Château de la Gobinière built in 1872. In 1923, the castle was given to a Catholic congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Comptenplacies, that in turn in 1951 left it to another congregation of the Sisters of Retirements. The Diocese of Nantes sold the castle to the city of Orvault in 1976. The Castle is surrounded by a park, named today as parc Michel-Baudry (that was the mayor when it was sold to the city). There is a municipal theater call the théâtre de la Gobinière in the property. There is a Church of Saint-Léger from the end of the 19C.

Well as said, not a tourist visit but a personal one, and we went by the route de Vannes and Rennes; and of  course we went to get some goodies at the wonderful E Leclerc hypermarché just walking distance from the house. Webpage here:  http://www.e-leclerc.com/orvault

Nantes

And the most important the beers, no time to stay ,just came to purchase and take home for the games at the Bistrot Houblon also at walking distance from the house. Their webpage is at Facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/bistrothoublon/

Nantes Nantes

At the end we stayed on untl 3h or 3am or a very nice party ambiance amongst friends really nice these days to have a stop like this, especially in my situation. I just wanted to make it part of my blog so the memories can lingered more. And now for more games at the World Cup today!!!

Enjoy your Sunday , and remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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June 20, 2018

Some news from France CXCII

So here I am in my pretty Morbihan of Brittany, Summer officially starts June 21st here but it is already 28C or about 80F very hot sun ,no rain very hot clear sunny day. I just came back from my monthly escapade to Paris and have many things to tell you.

First, this is the time of terraces in Paris. That wonderful sublime institution of a Parisian summer out on the sidewalk and seeing the world go by. Well , I have some favorites to share with my readers

Baïeta. 5, rue de Pontoise (5éme).  Tél. +33 (0) 1 42 02 59 19. open every day except Sundays and Mondays . Menus: à 29 € (lunch.), 45 et 85 € (dinners). Carte: between 50-75€.

Les Fables de la Fontaine with new chef 131, rue Saint-Dominique, (7éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 44 18 37 55).

Uncino. 31, rue de la Bruyère (9éme). Tél. +33 (0) 9 73 28 31 56. open every day except Saturdays lunch and Sundays/Mondays dinners. Formule: à 25 € (lunch), menu  32 € (lunch.). Carte: about 40€

Hugo & Co. 48, rue Monge (5éme). Tél. +33 (0) 9 53 92 62 77. open every day except Saturdays and Sundays. Carte:between  30 and 45 €.

Sauvage. 55, rue du Cherche-Midi (6éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 45 48 86 79. open every day except Sundays and Mondays . Carte: about  35-50 €.

For the Sunday market with terraces head for the Les Enfants du Marché. 39, rue de Bretagne (3éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 40 24 01 43. open every day except Mondays and Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesday (dinners). Carte: between 35  and 55€.

B.B. 21, rue Blanche (9éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 42 40 12 12. open every day  Carte between 40 and 60 €.

On horse races Thursdays best to head for the Le Petit Pré. Hippodrome de Longchamp. Grille d’Honneur. 2, route des Tribunes (16éme). From Thursdays to Sundays  Carte between  25 and 40€.

IF simply want a glass of wine or beer heads for the le Bal de la Marine  in the Port de Suffren, below the Eiffel Tower on the Seine river (7éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 47 05 66 57.

And if looking for a great roofstop now with plants heads for the top of store Au Printemps at Perruche au Printemps. 2, rue du Havre (9éme). Every day open mid July  Carte: between 30 and 50 €.

In the hotels you have great ones too  ,these two old hangouts still looks good. Anne at the Hôtel Pavillon de la Reine. 28, place des Vosges (3éme). Tél. +33 (0) 1 40 29 19 19. open every day Carte: about 80 €.

And the new table lineup at the old Hilton for a while now name Hôtel Le Collectionneur 57, rue de Courcelles, (8éme). Tél. +33 (0)1 58 36 67 97).

Enjoy your summers in Paris!!!

And now even better the music festival all over France, and Paris is big on it. We will have it even on the campus of my company! June 21st is it, Fête de la Musique!!!

A very nice one at the Church Saint-Eustache. From June 20 at 16h to June 21 at 21h . Church located at  2, impasse Saint-Eustache (1éme). Another wonderful in the middle of government, the House of Representatives or Assemblée Nationale , june 21 from 18h30 to 22h30 you will enter by 128, rue de l’Université (7éme). Great places for a great event in Paris.

Great spot in Versailles at Rue de Satory off Avenue de Sceaux. Also at the parvis de Potager du Roi and the parvis de la Cathédrale Saint Louis.

The full program in Paris ,but you can search elsewhere too official webpage :  Culture Ministry Fête de la Musique

And what about those open Summer films events glorious in Paris; these are my favorites

The 14th edition of  Films sous les étoiles  (movies under the stars) have programs for free at the parc de Saint-Cloud from June 22-24  2018. First showing at 22h. More here:  http://www.domaine-saint-cloud.fr/Actualites/Films-sous-les-etoiles5

And the big one from July 19 to August 18 2018. Showings begins at  22h30. At the Parc de la Villette. Prairie du Triangle – 211, av. Jean Jaurès (19éme). Free admission! You can hire a cover and drinks from 19h30 for  7€. Forfait 5  20€. The name is Festival de cinéma en plein air de la Villette 2018. more info here: https://lavillette.com/evenement/cinema-en-plein-air-2018/

And as the World Cup of football/Soccer is now, why not see in big all big around you.  3500 square meters of space on the 8th floor (9 US) in the parking of Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. There will be a specific space of 150 square meters dedicated to watching the games until July 15 in a giant screen all games shown by French TV station TF1. And the suspended garden or  Le Jardin Suspendu is only to open on Thursdays to Sundays but in France advance in the rounds it will exceptionally open for them. There will be space for Grill, and shop Fratelli, as well as bars on site.  Le Jardin Suspendu.  The entrance is facing the  40, rue d’Oradour sur Glane (15éme). Thursdays to Sundays from 16h to midnite , Fridays from 16h to 02h ,Saturdays from 11h to 02h and Sundays from 11h to midnite. Free admission. Directions here: Le Jardin Suspendu

And if not enough , another big is coming to Paris well bigger now. The biggest H&M Swedish chain in France will be open today at 11h   at the angle of rue La Fayette and boulevard Haussmann (9éme). Right by the big department stores area ! It is open Mondays to Saturdays from 9h30 to 20h and Sundays from 11h to 19h.

In my trip to Paris yesterday, I stop by the Seine at Levallois-Perret in Hauts de Seine dept 92 and along rue Anatole France by metro line 3 pont de levallois bécon ,and then had a car ride and went by Dupleix on the line 6 and had me my lunch at Au Dernier Metro on 70 Boulevard de Grenelle. Couple planchas of ewe milk cheese with ham, pate, terrines chorizos salad and bread down with a leffe beer blonde just what Paris is all about. Info on the resto recommended by a Parisian friend who lives just around the corner. Official webpage : http://au-dernier-metro.lafourchette.rest/

and my favorite for comments from folks like us Yelp here: https://www.yelp.com/biz/au-dernier-m%C3%A9tro-paris-2

Yesterday an incident never seen, even the public workers of several Paris institutions were closed due to a strike. Including the Château de Versailles, and as well as the musée d’Orsay, Arc de Triomphe, Panthéon, château de Vincennes, Basilique de Saint-Denis, and the Notre Dame towers were closed as of mid day 12H, they are planning on reimbursement to those already with tickets. Well I told you its a past time and we are used to it but unfortuantely for a visitor to have this happened. Sorry.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI or Great War, there will be a wonderful air show  with about 90 airplanes flighing non stop for five hours organized by the aéro-club de Meaux-Esbly, Seine-et-Marne 77.  1900 ‘s music live and five bands from the US army representing the USA will be there. The show will see flying machines from WWI and WWII as well as modern planes.  Two Mirages 2 000 coming from Nancy will do a tactical demonstration , while a third one will do an interception of a civil airplane. There will be an expo space of 1 000 m2  presenting dozens of old vehicules like a taxi of the Marne of WWI. You will discover kites Saconney that took observation photos  during the conflict.  The only paying event will be a simulator ride on a fighter jet Rafale, 5 €. Good for the whole family.

And for now it is all from my side of the corner or the ocean in the Morbihan 56.  Have a great week, and remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

June 18, 2018

Remembering Curitiba, Paranà, Brazil!

Over the weekend you have time to think and remember wonderful places you/I/we have been ,and lucky enough to go back to the country, it has been a while without returning to Curitiba, Paranà State of Brazil. I was there back in 2008 ,and even thus go to Brazil now every year, luck has it, not been by Curitiba since. It is time to bring it alive ,these wonderful memories of forever.

Let me tell you about Curitiba where I spent 3 months back in 2008, of great lasting souvenirs, experiences ,and worth it going there for all. The city of Curitiba has a high level of education, the best in Brazil, according to MasterCard Emerging Markets Index in 2008 it rank 49th amongst the cities with a growing world influence. The magazine Forbes in 2009, rank Curitiba as the 3rd most educated/intelligent cities in the world considering  its outlook on the ecology, durable development, quality of life, and performing infrastructure’s as well as a dynamic economy.  The city is an example of urban planning especially with the invention of the above surface metro (sort like a big long bus) . It has been call the City model of Latin America by many experts. The city is divided today into 75 neighborhoods and into 10 administrative districts.

A bit of history I like. The city of Curitiba was founded in 1654 and raised to City status in 1693 under the name of Vila de Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais or City of Our Lady of Light of Pines. The current name was officially given by an act of Congress in 1721 and come from the Tupi Indian word Coré Etuba, that means many pines making reference to the many pines on the hills surrounding the city. In the 1700s, Curitiba possessed a favorable location between cattle-breeding country and marketplaces, leading to a successful cattle trade and the city’s first major expansion. Beginning in 1870, many immigrants started to arrive due to a government land expansion program to inhabits large tracks of lands in Brazil. The majority of these immigrants came from Germany, Poland, Italy, and also French, Japanese, English, and Swiss.  The Germans came in by 1872, and Polish by 1871, the Italians by 1872 founding the district of Santa Felicidade in 1878 (very good restos here !). You, also, have the Ukrainians coming in by 1895, and the Japanese by 1915 and many from 1924 onwards. The Syrians/Lebanese came in also around this time as well. The first federal University in Brazil was founded here in 1913 as well the year of the electrification of the trolley bus . The city has three language schools teaching English, German,and French (the alliance française) webpage here: Alliance Française Curitiba

The gateway to wild Brazil and the Iguazu Falls, plus Pantanal, Ile da Mielhe, and Morrete, Ruta  Gracioza  , Serra Verde train ride!, marvelous terrain and inland historical Lapa ,in Parana state.  What is there ,well a very nice cosmopolitan city.  I spent over the years the most consecutive time here,2 months!! its an enchanting city!

My home the apart hotel the Mercure Curitiba Batel  ; you come in from the airport on avenida vicomte de guarapauva and leave on ave sete de septembro. Webpage: http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-2127-mercure-curitiba-batel/index.shtml

Batel is a noble/chic neighborhood where you will be in good safe areas, full of everything around you. That is where the Mercure hotel is on, you come in from the airport on avenida vicomte de guarapauva and leave on ave sete de septembro. The corner of this later on you have a grocery store, mercadorama. Walking distace from here you can see the tower font de jerusalem, mercado central, rodoferraria bus and train, praça Japao (Japan Plaza), and the main downtown city center shopping mall like Batel novo shops webpage http://www.shoppingnovobatel.com.br/, and Shopping Crystal at  webpage http://www.shoppingcrystal.com.br/, as well as shopping Curitibahttp://www.shoppingcuritiba.com.br/, and Shopping Estaçao Central with a railroad museum inside!  http://www.espacoestacao.com.br/site/. You have your typical Wal-Mart store at http://www2.walmart.com.br/Site/StoreLocatorResultadoLoja.aspx?IdLoja=64. You have the Carrefour store too, at Pinhais just outside the city was my store, http://www.carrefour.com.br/stores/PR/Pinhais.  And Extra Hipermercado in Av. Mal Humberto A C Branco, 230 – Jardim Social, webpage http://www.extra.com.br/Atendimento/LocalizadorLojas.aspx

Other shopping pleasures are shopping Mueller, by jardim public at http://www.shoppingmueller.com.br/. The biggest just outside by the park Barigui is  Shopping Barigui at http://www.parkshoppingbarigui.com.br/home/ , and yet in city center you have shopping Italia at   http://www.shoppingcenteritalia.com.br/principal.php.  There are various restaurants/bars  in town in addition to those found in the shopping centers above that I like such as Emporio San Francisco with great beers and live music at http://emporiosaofrancisco.com.br/programacao.php?id_dias=5 ; Jokers Pub Cafe in centro, great ambiance at nights webpage http://www.jokerspubcafe.com.br/.

Restaurant Familia Fadanelli (wonderful place ) in neighborhood of Santa Felicidade, great Italian tradition and the farewell restaurant for me last time in the city with many friends, http://www.famigliafadanelli.com.br/?s=introChurrasqueria Batel Grill, the great Brazilian steak houses, cant beat it ,webpage http://batelgrill.com.br/inicio/ . Mustang Sally for the real Mexican in you ,right in Batel, webpage http://www.mustangsally.com.br/ . For an American in Brazil, and great burgers deluxe head for Peggy Sue (now call Sheridans) ,webpage http://www.peggysue.com.br/. For the Cuban mojito and some salsa then head for Guantanamera (this I know has closed) , no web ,but Rua Colonel Dulcidio, 540 in front of shopping Novo Batel. For the real Brazilian taste and home cooking head for Tropilha Grill, webpage here , http://www.chimarraochurrascaria.com.br/home.php?where=curt. For the Spanish in me go to Pata Negra, Rua Fernando Simas,23, in the area of Batel, Praça de Espanha, flamenco music live on Fridays. Spanish and great cooking, like I was at home. no web. If you want to bring home some Brazilian wines with an Italian twist then head for Durigans winery, a real wine store, winery in one; webpage here http://www.vinhosdurigan.com.br/index.php#inicio

And for things to see there are so many in and around the city and not far from it if with a car as I had, my Chevy Prisma lol!

For tourist attractions ,my favorites were/are Bosque Alemao (German black forest), Cathedral (Basílica Menor de Nossa Senhora da Luz de Curitiba) , Centro historico or city historical center walks, Jardim Botanico or botanical gardens where in 2007 in Brazil poll it was declared one of the seven wonders of Brazil! it houses a part of the University  ,Memorial Ucraniano(Ukranian memorial) at Parque Tingui, Opéra de Arame (Wire Opera House) at the Parque da Pedreiras , built in 1992 in a circular design of metal tubes covered with polycarbonate fiber given it a cage feel , Parque Barigui( with an antique automobile museum webpage auto museum in Portuguese) my best park , Parque Tangua (impressive!), Passeio Publico (first park n Curitiba 1886) , Praça do Japao (Japan plaza),Praça Tiradentes (center and birthplace of the city),Torre Panoramica (panoramic tower of 109.5 meters), Santa Felicidade neighborhood (Little North Italy),Castelo do Batel or castle inspired by the French castles owners saw in France, now a cultural center, webpage http://www.castelodobatel.com.br/. The Contemporary Arts museum of Oscar Niemeyer, webpage http://www.museuoscarniemeyer.org.br/. A great historical center of learning the Universidade Federal do Parana, oldest in Brazil. The Municipal Market is not a normal market, there are a lot of organic products, and vegan food. The food court has a lot of Asian food, vegan food and organic too. There you will find everything and more. It is located in downtown, next to the bus station of Curitiba. It is superb, webpage here: Mercado Municipal de Curitiba

Curitiba Curitiba

A modern city of our world, public transport is second to none in Brazil, even I tried it lol!

There is a linha Turismo bus service that take you to the 22  principal spots in the city coming out from Centro praça tiradentes from 9h to 17h30 every 30 minutes for 20R reales. Line 208 take you from the airport Alfonso Pena to the city center, schedules at the city govt webpage http://www.urbs.curitiba.pr.gov.br/PORTAL/tabelahorario/tabela.php.  The main bus terminal is at avenida Presidente Afonso Camargo,340 Centro right across from mercado central, praça rua Barosa, the central market of the city. http://www.rodoviariaonline.com.br/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=41:curitiba-pr&Itemid=67&layout=default

The airport for all arrivals and departures is the Afonso Pena international airport, just outside the city at Sao Jose des Pinhas,  as above bus 208 takes you into the city or hire a taxi, services webpage http://www.infraero.gov.br/index.php/br/aeroportos/parana/aeroporto-afonso-pena/facilidades.html.  One of the best ways to see the coastal areas from Curitiba is to take the Serra Verde train, a wonderful ride into time with magnificent views ,webpage http://www.serraverdeexpress.com.br/

Another nice areas to visit from Curitiba other than Foz de Iguaçu are Morretes ( the summer get away of folks in Curitiba), and Lapa (epic battle for the federal union of Brazil), they were weekends escapes for me while there by car.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip are:

This is the tourist office for Curitiba webpage http://www.turismo.curitiba.pr.gov.br/

City hall prefecture of Curitiba in Portuguese : http://www.curitiba.pr.gov.br/conteudo/perfil-da-cidade-de-curitiba/174

You need to check for updates but in my time there you had 8 buses daily lasting about 11 hours, and you can choose a conventional or convencional bus or a couch bed bus Leito. The line was Catarinense, their webpage here: Catarinense bus line  The Foz do Iguaçu official : Foz do Iguaçu

To Morretes you can go on the quaint Serra Verde train ride along the mountain and viaducs from Curitiba or by road as I did too. Info on the town from Brazil tourism here: Morretes

The train Serra Verde takes you there on  Sundays but I did it by car here, this is historical Lapa. Serra Verde on Lapa

Hope it helps come to see something different in big and beautiful Brazil. And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!!

June 17, 2018

The beer is catching on to wine in France!

Well a major past time here is the wine of course, the simply the best in the world, often imitated and many times wishing to be, the French wines are tops for years. However, what is a fact and you need to spent some time in the local bars and brasseries of France is that the beer is catching up. I know for a fact in my beautiful Brittany, the beer is king.

I like to give you some numbers on this phenomenon.

The market for beers continue to grow in France; in 2017 the sales went up again 3,3% representing 3,4 billion euros and by 2018, it is already 3,8% higher as of February. There is a huge numbers of breweries artisanal done and micro breweries popping up all over.  As of 2017, there were 1280 breweries in France , and if you look back, in 2014 there was only 550 including 30 institutional ones. In 2015, it went up to 700 and now by May 2018 it is close to 1300!.

As I dwell into the beers and wine since adult younger ages ,and work on establishments as well as holding diplomas on wine from France and Spain, I had written some blog posts on beers here, these are: Beers of France and Brittany

Beers of Brittany

However, the sales are becoming more niche specialized brands for specific groups. In 2017, 400 liquor stores sold 80% of their sales on the offering of beers and some even 100% !. As in Paris liquor stores  such as  Brewberry, Moustache blanche, La Cave à Bulles, and the chain Bières cultes, as well as in the province (outside the Paris region) you have La Capsule at Nancy, La Minute blonde at Niort,  and franchises such as La Cervoiserie ( we have one in Vannes) and Orge & Houblon.

The biggest tendance is the IPA beer(  India Pale Ale ) a style of beer that is as usual as asking for a mojito. It was the style most represented at the beer event Planète Bière (next event March 2019 see webpage) .  Almost all the breweries present had an IPA. Leffe, was the first one three years ago with the Leffe Royale Cascade IPA. Tried it but not my glass of beer fyi. Planéte Biere

This innovation is the fundamental line of the big French brewery Kronenbourg SAS, with a history of 354 years!  They have three new products out, on the market of non alcoholic beers growing at 10,6% from last year, the Aromatic market at 11,2% and the tasting beers at 11,9% growth.  A fact, the French are more and more liking the beers with 80% of us drinking it in 2017. In the stock exchange , Anheuser-Bush InBev  has a porffolio of 500 brands of beers of which the famous Leffe (Belgian abbey beer). Last year, they presented us with the  Caractère by Leffe. They had included brewing in oak of Scotch whisky into it having them dried before dipping into the beer in a tank for maturation! In 2018, Leffe Ambrée ( amber scented) a combination taste of a lager blonde type and the complexity of a dark beer for this summer on a limited edition, and announcing as one of the most refreshing of the Leffe beers with a taste of sweet and sour.

Some of the trends:

In aperitif beer: Vitus, from the German brewery Weihenstephaner which would be the oldest active brewery in the world.  In tasting beer: The Original, from the Scottish brewery Innis & Gunn. A beer brewed at low temperatures, infused with pieces of bourbon casks thanks to the amplifier Kit, a special technology inspired by the percolator. Since then, Innis and Gunn has launched his beer mangoes on the Run, an India Pale Ale (IPA) infused with mangoes.  The beer card. Maps are established around a theme such as local beers (Parisian, Ile, Breton…), artisan beers with different styles, etc. On the map of the beers of the restaurant Spoon by Alain Ducasse in Paris, we quote the one made by Philippe Starck in collaboration with the Olt Brewery in Aveyron. The acidity. Acid Beers (Sauer) are obtained with the help of certain yeasts and this was the great trend at the BXL BeerFest, Brussels International Festival. There were some on all the stands. Acid or aged beers in casks. To appreciate the Sauer, you need an educated palace. They are complex but the acidity can produce very pickled beers that give ideas of original chords with dishes and cheeses in particular. The beers are no longer distinguished by their color – blonde, redhead, Brunette… – but by their style (IPA, Pils, Stout, Sauer…). Wild yeast. A type of fermentation appears, from wild yeasts found in a natural environment, tamed by the master brewers of Heineken or the Belgian brewery Alvine. The latter took two years to control a yeast found in the forest in the central Massif.  Organic and gluten-free beers. These are not background trends. Small thought for the brewery of Vézelay, which produces organic beers without any input, in accordance with the law of Purity enacted in Bavaria in the 16C. The BLX Beer Festival site in Brussels: BXL Beer Festival

Raw materials and brewing techniques. Experiments and innovations take part in the dynamics of a brand while bringing new flavors. Beer aged in new oak casks or in casks having wine content (Sauternes, Pinot Noir, Meursault), rum, cognac, whisky or calvados. Beers brewed from stale bread, grapes, smoked malt with beech wood, wheat malt (or cheese), rye, buckwheat, oats. Beers flavoured with the addition of plants, fruit, fruit juices, non-alcoholic beers…You name it they are all innovating ideas and surprisingly there are markets for them!

Styles and large families:
Lager: A generic term for low, blond, amber, brown, cold and refreshing beers, the most popular being pils, or pilsner. A blond, light, well-hopped beer.
Ale (ale means beer): traditional beer from the United Kingdom, high fermentation, light in alcohol. It is available in Pale Ale (Claire), mild (mild), Brown (a bit sweet), bitter (very hoppy, so bitter), Porter (brunette), stout (black, malt-based very roasted barley), barley wine (meaning barley wine, with a lot of malted barley, strongly Alcoholic).
Within this family of beers is the India Pale Ale (IPA), rich in very specific hops, with citrus, floral, earthy, fruity aromas…
Abbey beer: Beer is named after an abbey but brewing is carried out by an outside brewery.
Trappist: Beer brewed in the enclosure of an abbey or under the control and responsibility of the monastic community.
Double or triple: Used in Belgium for Abbey Beers in particular, these denominations refer to the strongest beers in alcohol. The double is a dark beer measuring at least 6% alcohol. The triple is a blonde or golden beer that titles between 7.5% and 9%. I am just trying one from France and another from Brittany; Duchesse Anne Triple 9% and Belzebuth at 8,5% blonde pilsners.
Specialty Beers: Those that are unclassifiable in other families, generally regional beers and high fermentation.

There are three types of beer fermentation, these are:

The high fermentation beers : In the brewing, the yeast work at high temperatures between 15C and 25C ( 59F and 77F) transforming the sugars into alcohol and carbonic gas.

The low fermentation beers : the yeast work at temperatures between 5C and 12C(41F to 54F).

The beers with spontaneous fermentation: the yeasts work in the changing air climates making a natural fermentation putting the malt of the beers in open barrels.  This is the case of the lambics and  gueuzes beers of Belgium.

There are big events coming such as from June 29 to July 1 2018, the 2e  Parisian edition of World Beers of the Mutualité houses.  Where 20 Nations and 120 breweries will be present to show off their malts.  Also, from August 25-26 2018, at Brussels the next  BXL BeerFest will be held with many beer lovers of the world as well as independent breweries (see above the site for BXL BeerFest). Here is the webpage for the Parisian event in English: Beer Worlds in Paris

We have lately been set on the German beers which we can get here easily with La Cervoiserie  or V&B beer :wine stores. We do continue to drink the Belgians and Bretons as well as wines. In fact, a meal is not perfect without neither of them! Yes yes, we drink in  moderation but this is a cultural thing and we are very traditionalists ::)

Anyway hope you have enjoy the update, and remember, drink in moderation and don’t drink and drive. After all, we need you to continue with happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 16, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXVI

Here I am on a Saturday afternoon, my errands are done and time for World Cup football/soccer on TV. The day has been cloudy, and fine rain for a while then stop it is supposed to be like that tomorrow too. We have run into some flooding over in Seine et Marne our family area ,and for the first time in 40 years ,the village was flooded!!!

We are still searching for places to go, I have a run at Paris on the 19 June and then possible friends visits in Nantes weekend of the 23-24, another one in Guérande, and that is about all . In July, I am for the Philippines but not set yet. Time goes on without my beloved dear late wife Martine. As said, she was the organizer to go places and it is missed.

In my ongoing posts to tell the world of everyday life in my belle France away from the tourists and fancy places of our beloved country, I have set out to tell you how is life here ,really for a normal family. No clichés as life here is as anywhere else. I know lived in 6 countries and many regions and average a home every five years!!

We got up this morning waiting for the nurse to come in for my father, yes here they come to your house. He is going on 83 and with diabetes so needs to control it. He is ok. He is independent still and love it! Once the nurse came and went ,we set out with him in tow by car.

My son had already gone out in his scooter to get us the baguette breads so essential here can’t have breakfast without it and not even lunch or dinner lol! From our town city hall webpage the boulangerie Tual in city center pl Saint Michel: Boulangerie Tual Pluvigner

First stop , the bank to drop off some papers in Auray, quick turnaround. The bank is out of the old town zone. Then ,we continue to Electro Depot in Vannes to get some external hard drive for my sons games etc. Very nice Verbatim done deal. The boys walking in photo.  The store chain is very good on prices good guaranties, and good service indeed.  Here is the webpage: Electro Depot Vannes

We got on to get me some computer ink for the printer at my favorite office supply store here, Bureau Vallée in Vannes. Always available, cheaper than most or all places and good service. Here is the webpage: Bureau Vallee Vannes

We got back into the big complex of E Leclerc hypermarché in Vannes. Here we put gas, diesel now at 1,414€  a liter or about 5,34 € a US Gallon (about 6,21 US Dollars), and yes gas has always been more expensive here but can’t  go around on gas/petrol alone::) Comparing that in my previous country of  Miramar, Broward county, Florida USA the diesel is at 3,19 USD or about 2.75 € today exchange rate. My full tank came to 51 euros!

We went with the boys to browse at the Centre Culturel Leclerc inside the shopping center, and then we did our groceries. IN the time, we  purchase the Father’s Day gifts as it is Tomorrow Sunday June 17 in France. It has an unique webpage for the books, dvd, cd, etc section here: Centre culturel Leclerc

I got my usual wish , always good bottles of Bordeaux wines with the nostalgia that these properties we had visited with my late wife Martine over the years on several occasion and are our favorites.  I got some underwear t-shirts for my father as he likes them for wearing all day.

Finally, we did our groceries. E Leclerc Hypermarché is an experience like not anywhere. This is huge and it has everything for the house from clothing,to appliances, entertainment, garden, you name it and it is all here in one stop shopping.  The webpage is here: E Leclerc Vannes

Now , let me tell you, this is World Cup Russia 2018 on football/Soccer, we are fanatics yes… and me played even at low professional league levels in USA and France (Yvelines dept 78). My team if you read my blog is the Real Madrid FC forever Hala Madrid!!! (Played Benjamin for it in Madrid in the 70’s). Then, as National team well then it gets complicated. Having lived and citizen of four countries when competitions like these come around choosing is hard. At this World Cup , I have two sentimental teams, my beloved blood country Spain and my marriage adopted country of France. Spain started out brilliant 3X3 vs Portugal (current European Champions) ,and they are off to good after some troublesome coaching moves (but very strategic for my club) . France just finished their first game wining barely 2X1 vs Australia!

Spain is in group B with Portugal, Iran, and Morocco. and France is in group C with Australia, Peru,and Denmark. The official FIFA World cup webpage is here: FIFA World Cup Russia 2018

We will continue to follow the Cup until the big finale July 15 2018. May the best win,,,,,nahh which is my team, won’t tell you ho ho ho!!!   Enjoy it

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

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June 7, 2018

Deep Béarn Basque, St Jean Pied de Port

On our wandering trips in the south of France we did some amazing trips by car in our belle France. One of this was going by the Pyrénées mountain French side on very very steep narrow roads and the world below you !!! I admit I was very tense even scare sometimes at the height and no turning back climbing the ladders of a mountain, and the family was silence not a whisper…before we rearch beautiful enchanted Saint Jean Pied de Port.

I like to tell you more about it and bring memories to me and my dear late wife Martine.

Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (in Basque Donibane Garazi) is in the département  64,  Pyrénées-Atlantiques, région of  Nouvelle-Aquitaine. It gets its name from the fact that is at the foot of the port of Roncevaux (about 1057 meters high) in the Spanish territory. The city is at the confluence of the Nive and Laurhibar rivers. In 2016 it received the designation as one of the most beautiful villages of France or Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Other interesting facts are the different local languages the town is name as Sent Joan Pè de Pòrt in Gascon, Sant Chuan Piet de Puerto in Aragonese, and San Juan Pie de Puerto in Spanish. During the French revolution it was rename Nive-Franche (1793) and later Jean-Pied-de-Port (1794).

There is an upper city on the right bank of the Nive river enclosed by ramparts of the 15C and on the left bank ramparts from the 17C. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is on the railroad line Bayonne- Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and the roads D933 to the frontier with Arnéguy, Spain at only 7 km, and the D918 as well as the D401. It connects to Bayonne by the D22 a road ordered done by Napoléon I while the war of independence in Spain to use as an strategic  escape route to the sea. Coming from Pau as we did on our family trip, we passed very high mountain passes such as the road D26 to reach Larrau and then Iraty and its col de Bergagi!!!1327 meters high through the clouds wow!!! on third gear on the D19 now, then again thru huge mountains we hit the road D18 direction Saint-Jean-le-Vieux (here they had a fairs all goodies from the region and it was packed traffic directed to connect with the road D933  and onwards to Saint jean Pied de Port!

A bit of history I like

It is a “new city” built in the 12C. One of the first buildings in the city was the Church of Saint Eulalie, raised in the 12C near the ford of the Nive; You can still see its well-preserved Romanesque portal on the façade of the retirement home Toki Eder in the Ugange district. On the hill dominating the city stood the castle of Mendiguren, which is mentioned as early as 1191. At the foot of the castle, Sancho VII the Strong, King of Navarre (born in 1152, King of 1172 to 1221), built in the early 13C a fortified city, surrounded by ramparts with ogive gates, still visible today, as well as a Church, included in the defensive system of the city. He was one of the main players in the victory over the Almohades in 1212, in Las Navas de Tolosa. The kings of Navarre make frequent stays there and, importantly, in the 15C, Bishop Schismatic of the Pope of Avignon resides there from 1383 to 1388, during the schism of the West, while that of the Pope of Rome reigned in Bayonne.

In 1512, king Fernando ,the Catholic of Spain removed Navarre from its rightful sovereigns, Jean and Catherine of Albret, who took refuge in Béarn. The Spanish army crossed the Pyrenees and took Saint Jean in 1512. The city passes from one hand to the other, not without suffering significant damage. In 1516, Jean Albret seized it, but failed to take the citadel. Beaten in the Col of Roncesvalles, he died. A new siege in front of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in 1521 by his son Henri II of Navarre, who took town and castle, thanks to the help of a French army. But this one is beaten at Noain. The Duke of Alba took over the city, and the garrison perished after a siege of three weeks. The Spaniards evacuated the garrison in 1522, before returning to the city in 1524 during the invasion of the south of France. Charles V gave up in the Foix-Albret-Navarre, as he found the city too costly to preserve, and destroyed the château.  The northern part of the Navarre then became Lower Navarre as opposed to Upper Navarre. This is why king Henri IV, when he accedes to the throne, called himself King of France and Navarre, a title that his successors carry to Charles X.

In March 1789, meeting in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the states of Navarre, considering that Navarre is not a simple French province, refuse to send members to the States General (French revolution was on). At a session in June, they nonetheless send four deputies, with very strict mandates, including respect for their laws. This was in vain; their privileges are abolished on August 1789. Lower Navarre, with the other two provinces of the northern Basque Country, is attached to the Béarn to form the department of the Basses-Pyrenees All remain calm until  1793, the beginning of the war between the French revolutionary Convention and Spain, the stronghold, renamed Nive-Franche, played an important role in defending the Territory, particularly with the Basque hunters. In 1813, the counterattack of the Napoleonic armies commanded by Soult to attempt to deliver Pamplona, besieged by Wellington and its allies, is a failure, France is invaded. The Spanish general Mina is responsible for the remote siege of the city which only goes to Louis XVIII, after the abdication of Napoleon I. The rest is fairly quiet.

Things to see and do in this wonderful town of many nice memories.

The town is located on the via Podiensis, one of the pilgrimage routes of Santiago de Compostela (St James) , which departs from Puy-en-Velay and extends to the Col de Roncesvalles and thence to Santiago de Compostela. Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is also located on the way to the Nive, a variant of the Santiago de Compostela Road followed by the pilgrims who, from Bayonne, sought to return to the Camino Navarro before crossing the Pyrenees, to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Arriving to the north, through the chapel of the Madeleine, the pilgrims entered the upper town by the Porte Saint-Jacques, and then followed the rue d’Espagne to the bridge spanning the Nive. There, two itineraries were offered to them to win Roncesvalles: that of the port of Cize, which follows the route of the ancient Iter XXXIV of the itinerary of Antoninus connecting Bordeaux to Astorga, or the easier one that joins the Col de Roncesvalles (Puerto de Ibañeta in Spanish) by Valcarlos, located in the valley of the Nive, where Charlemagne once established his camp, before going to the rescue of Roland, in Roncesvalles.

The food is superb here and we love so much that we follow this house when they come over to our area on gourmet and wine fair; the Maison Gastellou, hightly recommended all they do is prime and delicious.  More here: Maison Gastellou

The citadel of Mendiguren with four bastions, it was built in 1625-1627, and then continues building it in 1640-1648. Its west wall includes artillery bunkers built in the years 1540 or 1550, to ensure the city’s fidelity. The 19C hardly modifies this citadel, which is a well-preserved and exceptional example of the military architecture as it was understood in France, in the first half of the 1600s a ramp allows to reach it. From the West half-moon, the panorama opens onto the town and the Cize basin. The fortress, occupied by a school, cannot be visited. Around the inner courtyard and against the rampart, built over vaulted underground bunkers, the barracks, the governor’s pavilion and its chapel, the powder shops and the well.

Saint Jean Pied de Port

Porte Arrankuntzea called  Saint-Jacques or St James , and the ramparts of the upper City .One enters the city by this porte or gate, opened in the ramparts of the 15C, improved in 1680. The steep slope of the rue de la Citadelle, bordered by pink sandstone facades, sometimes alternated with grey sandstone. The stones still draw the frames of the old stalls, tightened against each other and sheltered under the protective awnings. The chiseled door lintels have, between decorative motifs, the name of the house, the date of its construction, the names of the first owners and sometimes even their profession. The attentive walker can read the history of some of the city’s families.

Saint Jean Pied de Port

The Porte  Notre-Dame curiously opened in the Church steeple, it gives on one side on the street of the Citadel, on the other on the bridge Notre-Dame. Its harrow and impressive wooden leaves are well preserved. Above the door is nestled a copy of the Virgin and the Child who, during the wars of Religion, found refuge in Upper Navarre and was never returned. The Pont Notre-Dame (Bridge) also called Pont Sainte-Marie, this work was built on the levy  that led to the Church, told  Romaine , in reality Medieval  in style and restored in 1634. The Rue d’Espagne , where the pilgrims left their wide and richly carved awnings, are already announcing the nearby Spain; Lintels carry original inscriptions and sometimes even signs of crafts carved in stone.

The Mansart house located in the market square, this spacious Louis XIV-style hotel, with a classic and symmetrical façade, houses the City/Town hall. Majestic, it is built in chisel stone and pierced upstairs by six large stone-crossed windows. Beautiful skylights open in the large slate roof. In front of it stands a part of the wall that encircled the old town. The lower part, of the 13C, in well-paired stones, was raised late by a coarser masonry on which appear deadly and elegant Bartizans and Brattices.

The Church, formerly Notre-Dame at the end of the bridge is presently Church of the Assumption-of-the-Virgin, the  Gate (Porte)  of Navarre leads to the forecourt of the Church. On the left, a staircase leads to the round road that can be walk on almost the entire rampart of the right bank of the Nive river and from where you discover a magnificent view of the basin of the country of Cize. Near the bridge, the house that adjoins the bell tower has sheltered for centuries the Hôpital Sainte-Marie. The Church and the Hospital were part of the same ensemble, according to a classical hospital architecture built in Gothic style radiating on Romanesque bases, the Church presents a nave with two aisles, two floors of grandstands, slender pillars, without other decor as the search for the line and a polygonal chorus. It has a portal and Bedsides ogivaux, a five-pan apse.  The Church, also has an organ dating from the mid 19C.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must are

Tourist office St Jean Pied de Port : http://www.saintjeanpieddeport-paysbasque-tourisme.com/

City of St Jean Pied de Port on tourism : http://www.st-jean-pied-de-port.fr/decouvrir/saint-jean-pied-de-port/

Région of Nouvelle Aquitaine tourism : http://www.visit-nouvelle-aquitaine.com/Destinations2/Biarritz-Basque-Country

There you go, all ready for you. This is one of the most memorable stops we have done in our belle France, and believe me ,done a few…. I highly recommend a visit here.

And ,but of course, remember life as just happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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June 7, 2018

Those wonderful castles of Havana!

Ok so we like castles, actually I love them. Just one reason for me to visit a city is if it has a castle. Any shape really a castle on a hill or by a river is just wonderful. My old Havana has plenty and still in good shape. I like to tell you about them a bit.

In the first place the castle of the Real Fuerza was built, the oldest of all. After it were built at the same time the castle of the Morro and the castle of the Punta, to finally add the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña. Not to leave out the more inland Castle of  Atares.

After the British took Havana in 1762, besieging the castle of Morro from the hill where today stands the Fortress San Carlos de La Cabaña, the Spaniards realized that they needed to build a new fort that complemented the defenses of the city . When they recovered the villa in 1763, the construction works of the fortress began. It was the most expensive building that financed Spain outside the peninsula, being also today the largest fortress in all of America. With the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Che Guevara installed his command center in San Carlos de la Cabaña. At this time numerous deaths by firing squads were also carried out. Today the San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress functions as a historic park, along with the nearby Morro Castle. Also inside is the museum of fortifications and Weapons and the Cultural center of Che Guevara, as well as restaurants and shops. But the most famous attraction is the cannon at 9pm or 21h, recreated by military dressed in 18C uniforms. It is reminiscent of the time when Havana was surrounded by ramparts, whose doors were closed every day at 21h.

Havana

Located at the entrance of the Bay of Havana, next to the fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, the castle of the Tres Reyes del Morro was one of the strategic points of the defense of the city during the Spanish occupation. The construction of the castle took place between the years 1589 and 1630, at the same time as the Castillo San Salvador de la Punta, an impregnable fortress up to 1762, when the English troops after a siege of about two months, managed to get the castle of the  Three kings of the Morro and therefore the city.  An irregular polygon that is formed by huge walls of 3 meters of height surrounded by a deep moat. The most emblematic point of the castle is the lighthouse of the Morro, it has illuminated the entrance of the boats to the bay from 1844. With a height of 30 meters, it is the ideal place to enjoy with the panoramic view of the Malecon of Havana, especially at dusk. Nowadays, it is part of the Morro-Cabaña military historical Park, along with the nearby fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, and inside it is the Maritime Museum.

Located next to the Plaza de Armas, in the heart of Old Havana, the Castle de la Real Fuerza is part of the defensive ensemble that the city had during the colonial era, next to the San Salvador de la Punta Castle and the Morro-Cabaña military historical Park.  The Royal Force was the first to be built in Havana, in fact it is considered the oldest stone fortress in America. The works began in 1558 and were terminated in 1577, although it soon lost its defensive function due to its remoteness from the bay. In 1588 became the residence of the Governor of Havana, later it worked as a national archive, army barracks or National Library. Today the castle of the Royal Force houses the Museum of the Royal Force and in its impressive moat the most important maritime museum in Cuba. The most striking element of the ensemble is the tower that houses the Giraldilla, it was added in 1634. It is a woman-shaped vane that is one of the symbols of the city, besides being the oldest cast bronze sculpture in Cuba. The weather vane that can be seen today on the tower of waiting (Torre de la Espera) is a copy, the original is kept in the museum of the city.

Located at the entrance of Havana Bay, San Salvador de la Punta Castle formed along with the castle of the three Kings del Morro, the main line of defense of the city during the Spanish occupation. The construction works began in the year 1590, parallel to the works in the nearby Castillo del Morro. Because of this proximity, since 1630 when the cannon of  9pm (21h)  was sounded and the doors of the wall were closed, a heavy copper chain was stretched between the two forts to leave the access to the bay closed. In 1997 a deep renovation was carried out to install in this historic building the Castle Museum. At the moment you can see in the Castillo de la Punta a hall that tells the history of the fortress, as well as an exhibition of ships built on the island and a treasure room with objects that have been found in the marine depths.

Havana

Castle of Atarés, military fortress that integrates the defensive system of Havana built by the Spaniards to protect the city in the 18C. The castle of Santo Domingo de Atarés, began construction in 1763, together with that of the fortress of the Cabañas, due to the need to complete the defense of the villa in its vulnerable points. The Castillo de Santo Domingo de Atarés was the first of these new military buildings to be completed, specifically in 1767. On the Loma de Soto site from where the bay is partially dominated-, an irregular hexagon without bastions, crowned in its vertices by the same hexagonal openings, which corresponds to the forms used for these elements during the 18C. The castle has a large vaulted bomb-proof barracks in its enclosure for all the garrison that can contain cistern, warehouses and all the offices necessary for its defense. It was fitted with 26 cannons and its garrison had about 90 men.  The castle was named in honor of Count Ricla, whose father was the  Earl of Atarés. In addition, in complements this fortress has a covered road filling and a small Central square, surrounded by constructions for lodging, warehouses and other services, in whose roofs were conditioned platforms to establish the artillery, as well as a perimeter trench.

Havana

The bay of Havana was heavily protected because after some mishaps the Spaniards learned to assembled the fleet with the gold of the Americas here, and then set sail for Spain with all the load and minimize the attack by pirates/corsairs and other powers.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here

Tourist office of Havana: Havana tourism

Tourist office of Cuba: Cuba Tourism

Hope it helps your curiosity for these castles in Havana of yesteryears. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers!!!

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