Archive for July, 2018

July 31, 2018

The streets of Madrid!!

And while we are at it, it’s Summer time,and that is Madrid time as well. For me it is always Madrid time. I come back to this wonderful historic ,architecturally stunning, and humane friendly city of my youth and ever lasting life. Madrid is and will be Madrid to heavens and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day. Is all of Spain in one, or Spain, is everything under the Sun.

I like to tackle a huge subject as briefly as possible. The streets of Madrid, there are many good ones, hard to do, however, I will choose some that are dear to me for been by them the most over the course of my already long life.

First, I have written before on the districts of Madrid, the barrios of my Madrid; proud to say mine was Ciudad Lineal in the neighborhood of Quintana in another era long ago. Here is the previous blog post on them: Districts of Madrid

And differently , will give you the webpage of the tourist office of Madrid on the maps sections : Tourist office of Madrid on maps

Now, let me tell you about my favorite streets of Madrid amongst the favorites streets of Madrid.

Gran Via ,start your walk from the lovely Plaza de España, taking in the atmosphere of the crowded Plaza del Callao. Here you can enjoy stunning views of Gran Vía from the Gourmet Experience, situated atop the Corte Inglés shopping department store. Don’t forget to look up as you stroll down Gran Vía, keeping an eye out for the iconic angel on top of the Metropolis Building. Enjoy the grandeur of some of Madrid’s most famous buildings like the Telefónica Building or veer off to one of the beautiful squares, like Plaza de España or Plaza de Callao. Today the street is known as the Spanish Broadway, and it is one of the streets with the most nightlife in Europe. It is known as the street that never sleeps. It leads from Calle de Alcalá, close to Plaza de Cibeles, to Plaza de España.

Madrid

Calle Fuencarral, Tree-lined Calle Fuencarral draws the line between funky Malasaña and gay-friendly Chueca neighborhoods. Life is slower here, with locals doing their shopping and enjoying coffee breaks. Don’t miss Mercado de San Ildefonso, a New York-inspired indoor food market that, unlike Madrid’s more traditional food markets, spans three floors. it is a popular shopping street and tourist area. It also serves as the dividing line between the Chueca and Malasaña neighborhoods of downtown Madrid

Calle del Espiritu Santo, closer to the heart of Malasaña, smaller Calle del Espíritu Santo is the quintessence of this neighbourhood, with a unique mix of street art, cobblestones and colourful coffee shops. Here you’ll see locals walking their dogs, dragging their bikes along and chatting with friends. If local charm is what you’re looking for, this street is definitely one you shouldn’t skip.

Calle de Alcalà,(My street at no. 331!!!) . Where Gran Vía ends at the Metropolis Building, Calle de Alcalá picks up and continues the stream of magnificent architecture, from the buzzing Puerta del Sol to the picture-perfect Palacio de Cibeles with its rooftop lounge. Along the way you can enjoy the city’s most stunning views from the rooftop terrace of the Círculo de Bellas Artes, as well as from the impressive Banco de España building. The longest street in Madrid, it starts at the Puerta del Sol and goes on for 10.5 km, to the northeastern outskirts of the city. Along this street it is possible to find landmarks such as Banco Bilbao Vizcaya at number 16, the former Alcalá 20 discothèque at number 20, Edificio Metrópolis, the Unión y el Fénix Español building at number 23, Círculo de Bellas Artes, Plaza de Cibeles, Puerta de Alcalá, the Spanish Ministry of Education, the Instituto Cervantes HQ building, the Bank of Spain building, Parque del Buen Retiro and Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. Stunning indeed!!!

Madrid

Calle Virgen del Sagrario, ok not a famous one ,but I lived around the corner as a young boy with my mother at Alcala St 331 corner with Virgen del Sagrario street, metro Quintana line 5 was just outside the front door. If you go into this street, you reach the wonderful Parque El Calero in those days, and the best patatas bravas of Madrid since 1963 across the street in the Plaza de Quintana, Docamar, still there! Further down you have Victor’s Calzados (shoes) store at 278 Alcala St, where my mother bought me my shoes as a boy and I came back to buy them for my sons, traditions of my Madrid and Spain.  My old school Colegio Obispo Perello here since 1955 the first stone was laid, right along this street and near the park. Right there is a parish Church of Our Lady of Lluc (Mallorca)  my mother went with me Parroquia Nuestra Señora De Lluc; even thus later we went to one closer to Retiro Park, San Manuel and San Benito Church at Alcala st 83 near metro Retiro, line 2. Wonderful memories all very well guarded in my heart.

Madrid

Madrid

Paseo del Prado, from Plaza de Cibeles, you’ll catch one of Madrid’s best-known boulevards – Paseo del Prado, which shares the same name as the world-famous art museum. Other than the prominent Prado, the boulevard stretches past Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, almost reaching Museo Reina Sofia in an area known as “The Golden Triangle of Art”. Other notable highlights along the way include the vertical garden at the Caixa Forum, the Royal Botanical Garden and the Fountain of Neptune, and Cibeles. Paseo del Prado ends at the Atocha Railway Station, which is famous for its interior rainforest. a few of Madrid’s most famous hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton Madrid and Westin Palace Madrid.  When walking, make sure to stay in the green area in the middle, where you’ll spot plenty of monuments, statues, fountains and people walking their dogs or enjoying an afternoon stroll. The Paseo del Prado is the oldest historical urban street in Madrid  It runs north-south between the Plaza de Cibeles and the Plaza del Emperador Carlos V (also known as Plaza de Atocha), with the Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo (the location of the Fuente de Neptuno, and of the Ritz and Palace five-star hotels) lying approximately in the middle. The Paseo del Prado forms the southern end of the city’s central axis (which continues to the north of Cibeles as the Paseo de Recoletos, and further north as the Paseo de la Castellana).

Calle de las Huertas, this calm street runs through the literary neighbourhood of Huertas, also commonly known as Las Letras (“The Letters”). Here you can literally follow the quotes of famous writers, looking down at golden letters on the pavement. Calle Huertas is most atmospheric at night when its many tapas bars come to life and beckon you inside.

Calle Bailén, this street offers the most spectacular views of downtown Madrid. Starting from Plaza de España, it takes you past the idyllic Sabatini Gardens to the stunning Plaza de Oriente, situated between the Royal Palace and the National Opera. It’s a romantic backdrop for a picnic, and you might be lucky enough to catch some excellent street musicians. Take a look inside the colourful and modern Almudena Cathedral, cross the viaduct and end your walk at the often overlooked Real Basílica de San Francisco el Grande.

Madrid

Calle de Serrano, often called La Milla de Oro (the golden mile), the street is one of the most exclusive in Madrid, thanks to the high-end boutiques and shops that line it. Here you’ll find the typical fancy stores like Prada and Gucci as well as many expensive Spanish shops too. It’s also home to the newly renovated Museo Arqueológico Nacional, featuring many permanent exhibits related to Prehistory, Medieval Times, ancient Greece and more.

Calle Cava Baja, If you’re hoping for a quaint, authentic Spanish street, this is it. The small, curved pathway (part cobblestone too) of Cava Baja is lined with some of Madrid’s most typical Spanish restaurants and bars. The street was once a jumping off point for postmen to take the mail from Madrid to the smaller villages outside the city back in the 17C. Today, it does retain a certain old-city charm, where you’ll find plenty of tapas bars, some with caves down below where you can eat and drink.

Calle Mayor, lined with some of Madrid’s most beautiful monuments, the street is home to Plaza Mayor, starting at the Puerta del Sol and ending up next to Madrid’s Almudena Cathedral. You’ll also stroll by several plazas, such as the lovely Plaza de la Villa, a few churches,  and souvenir shops. Plus, you’re right near the famous Mercado de San Miguel, where you can stop by for some tapas and a glass of wine mid-walk.

Puerta del Sol,  more commonly known as just Sol, is the square in the heart of Madrid (and indeed, the whole of Spain). The distances of Spain are measure from here in km zero. Famous features include the Royal Post Office that serves as the president of Madrid’s office. It’s also where locals gather every New Year’s Eve to ring in the new year.

Madrid

Plaza de Oriente, this pretty plaza is in front of the Royal Palace of Madrid. Also nearby are Teatro Real, the city’s opera house originally built in 1818, and the Royal Monastery of the Incarnation, a women’s convent.

Madrid

Plaza San Andrés,  at this grandiose Romanesque ,Church of San Andrés and especially the dome of the Chapel of San Isidro. To one side is also conserved the building of the old Palace of the Counts of Paredes (walls), rehabilitated since 2000 as Museum of the Origins and House of San Isidro . The children play outside while their parents drink in the vibrant cafe around the corner.

Plaza Santa Ana, designed in 1810, the square  became a favorite of intellectuals, poets, artists and writers, including American writer Ernest Hemingway. It features many cafes and Teatro Español, Madrid’s oldest theater, which opened in 1583.

Plaza de la Paja, which means “straw square,” is said to be the oldest plaza in Madrid. At the bottom of this sloping square is a garden called Jardín del Príncipe Anglona.

Plaza de Espana, if you reach Plaza España from Gran Via, your first impressions of Plaza España may not be so great. However, the plaza is bigger than it first appears. You’ll find some of Madrid’s tallest skyscrapers here. As as the statue to Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra, writer of Don Quijote.

Madrid

Calle de Segovia, This meandering street in the historic Palacio (Royal) neighborhood passes by the best paella restaurant in Madrid. It also goes under the city’s famous viaduct, which is pedestrian friendly.

Paseo de la Castellana , commonly known as La Castellana, is one of the longest and widest avenues of Madrid. It is named after an old fountain that used to exist in Plaza de Castilla. It starts at Plaza de Colón, passes through the Nuevos Ministerios, Plaza de Lima, Plaza de Cuzco, Plaza de Castilla, and ends near the Nudo Norte (North Junction), connecting with the M-30 and the road to Colmenar Viejo. The Paseo de la Castellana is the continuation of Paseo de Recoletos and Paseo del Prado, and these three avenues vertebrate the north-south axis of the city.

Madrid

Paseo de Recoletos is a wide boulevard leading from Plaza de Cibeles to Plaza de Colón. The center part of the boulevard is a pedestrian walk, lined with gardens, trees, statues, fountains and varied street furniture. The first and largest stretch of the boulevard (from Plaza Cibeles to Calle de Prim) has a row of eight ponds lined with white double doric columns; an Equatorial Sundial are nearby. The second and shortest stretch (from Calle Prim to Calle Almirante/Recoletos) contains the Café Gijón (number 21), an historic literary café founded in 1888 with an outdoor terraza on the boulevard.  On the fourth and last stretch (from Calle Bárbara de Braganza/Villanueva to Plaza de Colón) is the Café El Espejo (number 31), another quaint café with an impressive glass pavilion influenced by Art Nouveau.

Calle Carretas , it is said that, in order to defend the watchtower of Puerta del Sol, the rebels built a barricade with carts. This street (along with Montera), were the first streets in Madrid that had sidewalks in 1834.

Other streets scenes of Madrid

Madrid Madrid MAdrid

You get an idea of the wonders behind these streets, just walking them and history, architecture, and just good things will show up upon you.  Madrid, a living museum above ground, and free. Enjoy it in your future walks as I do.

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

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July 30, 2018

My Florida!

As I am on a nostalgic run, and we are still sunny and cool at 21C or about the 70F mark, in my new neck of the woods, the Morbihan Breton, let me tell you about another dear spot on Earth for me. After doing the trajects America ,Europe, and back to America, I first settled in New Jersey (see previous blog post), and then came to live in the Sunshine State of Florida.

It was a spade of luck that searching for an University to go to, saw one of my liking and trade in Daytona Beach, Florida and went there for 4 years Bachelor of Sciences degree.  This was ERAU or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, simply the best in its field. Liking it so much or rather liking Daytona Beach so much, once back in NJ could not remain there so decided to moved back to DB to live to the surprise of my parents. The independant boy was a determine young men and the beaches and bikinis was it lol!!!  This was the beginning of a beautiful story.

Daytona Beach

Living just north of DB in Ormond by the Sea OB area working and having fun (my parents follow me within a year yikes!) welcome, really we were very close and are with my Dad still with me. Growing up there made me visit other lands and one of them was France, as Daytona Beach at the time was the spring training site for the baseball team of the Montreal Expos (French Canadians). French taken as a language in High School stay with me and friendly with French students at the University.  For a shorter story, time went on and while traveling met a young French girl (Martine) working in Paris living in Meaux Seine-et-Marne dept 77 ïle de France region in 1989.  This was quickly followed by visits to her family and hers to mine and before I knew it, this independent young men was married on December 26, 1990 at City Island municipal courthouse in Daytona Beach, deciding to live there. We went all over together, visiting France every year and moving in the State from DB to OB (together) in Volusia County, then North Miami, then Hialeah,in Miami-Dade county, then Miramar in Broward county (while here became French at the French consulate in Miami in 2000) before moving permanently to France in August 23, 2003.  We had 3 wonderful boys, one older (born in DB) and then identical twins,(born in Hialeah); the trip ended with my dear late wife Martine passsing due to cancer here in the Morbihan Breton on April 30 2018, sad and still sad and will always be sad, there is no words. My blog posts sweeting the pain a bit.Thanks.

Daytona Beach

married at city island Daytona Beach 26 dec 1990

I like to tell you briefly, really short as too many towns and places in dear Florida, a State will never forget the experiences and which have many family members still living all over.  So not to bother with the tourist sites will give a historical and local view on the State, counties ,and cities we lived there for me 18 years!!! Warning: It will be a long post!

I am used by now on Europe to use kilometers ,but below anything in km to miles is equal to 1km = 0,621371 miles.

Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Florida is a peninsula of 700 km and a narrow part in the form of a narrow “stove tail” (Panhandle). Its geography is marked by an extensive coastline, by the ubiquitous water and by the threat of hurricanes. Climate change from North to South and has such iconic animals as the manatee and the alligator, especially in the Everglades, one of the world’s best-known national parks.

The coast of Florida extends for some 1 930 km. Considering the bays and capes, the cumulative length reaches about 13 600 km. No other U.S. state, except Alaska, has a longer coastline then Florida with as well more than 4 500 islands. The largest island is Key Largo (47 km long). It is just 105 meters above sea level, Britton Hill is the highest point in Florida ; with almost 18% of its area under waters , Florida is marked by the ubiquitous aquatic environment , it has nearly 1 700 courses of water, 7 800 sweet water lakes, 700 springs, 44 500 km2 of wetlands;  Florida has the largest concentration of  springs/water sources in the World. Okeechobee is the most extensive with more than 1 800 km2; It is shallow ,between 4.5 and 6 meters, like most Floridian lakes.

Florida has five geographical areas such as the East Coast, West Coast, Central Florida, Panhandle (North), Southern Tip (Keys), and 12 National Park Service parks. More here: https://www.nps.gov/state/fl/index.htm

The main highways are Interstate 4, Interstate 10, Interstate 75 and Interstate 95. The U. S. Route 1 connects Key West to the Canadian border. This section of the US Route 1, in the Keys, called Overseas Highway, is about 150 km long and has 42 bridges including the Seven Mile Bridge, the longest in Florida with 10.8 km . The TRI-Rail is a regional line of trains stretching for 118 km and which has 18 Stations along the southern coast of the Atlantic and serving the three international airports in this region. The main airports, by number of passengers, are Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa.

A bit of history I like.  Since its discovery, in 1513, by the Spaniard Juan Ponce de León who baptized it “La Pascua Florida” (“Easter Flowers” in reference to Palm Sunday), Florida is an issue for the European colonial powers before integrating  it into the United States in 1845. The Spaniard Juan Ponce de León would have discovered Florida by looking for the fountain of youth. He landed on the eastern coast of the peninsula between in 1513,  near the present city of Saint Augustine. He then made his way to the south where he was wounded in a clash against the Calusa’s Indians. He returned to Florida in 1521 to find gold and evangelize the Amerindians.

The Pánfilo de Narváez expedition discovered the West coast of Florida, but he is killed in an Amerindian attack in 1528.In 1539, Hernando de Soto landed near the present day Bradenton near Tampa Bay and explored the interior of the land. An attempt to settle in Pensacola led by Tristán de Luna in 1559 was finally abandoned in 1561.  The French Huguenot Jean Ribault approached the eastern coast of Florida in 1562 and took possession of Florida in the name of the king of France. He built the Charlesfort fortress to defend the new colony of French Florida. In 1564, René de Laudonnière founded a second fort in French Florida, Fort Caroline (Jacksonville). In 1565, after a great battle with the French at Fort Matanzas (massacre of the French…) the Spanish colony of San Augustin was founded by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés: It thus became the oldest colony of the United States occupied continuously by Europeans.

The Treaty of Paris (1763) ended the seven Years ‘ War and altered Considerably the map of the North American colonies: Spain must cede Florida to the English in exchange for Cuba. Florida is an issue of the American War of Independence (1775-1783). Unlike the Thirteen colonies, it remains loyal to the English crown and even accommodates Royalists refugees. The Spaniards took over Pensacola in 1781 and much of western Florida. The Treaty of Paris (1783) gave Florida back to Spain, without specifying its borders. The United States wants the old pre-1767 limit to be resumed. The Treaty of San Lorenzo ratified this choice in 1795. Florida was ceded to the United States by the Adams-Onís Treaty, signed in1819, and formed a territory in 1822. The capital is located in Tallahassee, halfway between Saint Augustine and Pensacola.

After the First Seminole War (1814-1819), they tried for the Americans to move the Amerindians. In 1832, they signed the Treaty of Payne Landing with some of the Seminole chiefs, promising them land west of the Mississippi if they agreed to leave Florida.  In 1835 the US Army arrives to enforce the treaty signed earlier, which triggers the Second Seminole War led by Chief Osceola. After his arrest, cease-fire negotiations were launched in 1837. He died in captivity less than a year later. The war was drag on  until 1842 and became the most costly of the Indian Wars of the 19C. After the conflict, the Seminoles were mostly deported to the west of the Mississippi; only 300 of them were allowed to remain in the Everglades. On March 3, 1845, Florida became the 27th state of the United States. The Third Seminole War (1855-1858) was waged to defeat the resistance of the last Amerindians. At the end of the conflict, there are only a hundred Seminoles left in Florida. Following an insurrection in 1859, 75 of them were deported to the west. The others, including Chief Apopka,( Sam Jones), remain in the Everglades, refusing to leave the land of their ancestors. Today, their descendants are still present in the region.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida , which is headquartered in Hollywood, Broward County , and control the Big Cypress Indian Reservation, Brighton Reservation, Fort Pierce Reservation, Hollywood Reservation, Immokalee Reservation, and Tampa Reservation. The Miccosukee branch of the Seminoles held to a more traditional lifestyle in the Everglades region, simultaneously seeking privacy and serving as a tourist attraction, wrestling alligators, selling crafts, and giving eco-tours of their land. They received federal recognition as a separate nation in 1962 and received their own reservation lands, collectively known as the Miccosukee Indian Reservation, including a 333-acre (1.35 km2) reservation on the northern border of Everglades National Park, about 45 miles (72 km) west of Miami. This one we have been many times for the Festival as they divide their overall reservation in three sections, the one for operations, festival ,and our visits was the Tamiami Trail Reservation. More on them here. Miccosukee Arts Festival and more

During the US presidential election of 1860, Florida refused to vote for Abraham Lincoln and eventually separated from the Union by signing the order of January 10, 1861. Florida joined the Confederate States of America a few weeks later and became involved in the civil war. In May 1865, Northern General Edward M. McCook was charged with regaining control of Florida. He challenged Colonel George Washington Scott, hoisted the flag of the United States on the state Capitol in Tallahassee, and read the proclamation of emancipation of the slaves on 12 May. The American Civil War is over in Florida, which is officially reinstated in the Union on 25 July 1868.

The Cold War (1947-1991) intensified the development of the military-industrial complex; Florida is becoming a major issue because of its proximity to the communist island of Cuba. It accommodates thousands of Cuban refugees. Due to this immigration, Miami gradually became one of the major economic centers of Latin America. During the Missile crisis of 1962, the region could be directly threatened by Soviet nuclear missiles. As part of the competition with the USSR and because of its geographical location, Florida hosts the Patrick Air Force base and the launch base of Cape Canaveral (NASA).

State of Florida Tourism https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html

Volusia County stretches between the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean. Volusia County was named after its largest community, Volusia, when the Florida legislature created it by dividing Orange County on December 29, 1854. The county is geographically divided into East Volusia,  also known as the Greater Daytona Beach Area, or the Halifax Area;  Southeast Volusia,  also known as the Greater New Smyrna Beach Area, and  West Volusia,  also called Saint John’s River Country (named for the Saint John’s River which lies nearby),  Adjacent counties are on the north ,Flagler , on the south Brevard, also south is Orange, and southwest is Seminole, west is Lake ,and northwest is Marion and Putnam counties.

Daytona Beach

Halifax Hospital

Volusia County Public Transit System (VOTRAN) is the local Volusia County bus service. Passenger Train service to Volusia County is provided by Amtrak on the Silver Meteor and Silver Star routes. Service between Volusia County and Orlando is provided by SunRail, a commuter rail line running from Volusia to Orange County. Interstate 95 is the main south-to-north interstate highway along the east coast of the state (an up to Canada)  as well as in Volusia County it has eight interchanges  or exits, three of them in Daytona Beach.  Interstate I-4 is the main west-to-east interstate highway through Central Florida (going from DB to Orlando to Tampa), however it also serves as the westernmost interstate highway in the county. It has  seven interchanges and becomes State Road 400 east of I-95. US 1.is the main local road through eastern Volusia County, running south to north. This one is more city central and slower traffic. US 17  is the main local road through western Volusia County, running south to north. US 92 (can go to Deland and Orlando)  west-to-east route shares a concurrency with US 17 further south in Polk County until branching off onto the International Speedway Boulevard in DB. Florida A1A.is the scenic coastal alternate route to US 1, which also includes some county road spurs and extensions. It goes parallel to the Atlantic Ocean.  SR 40, a west-to-east road in northern Volusia County enters the county from the Astor Bridge over the St. Johns River and heads east towards Ormond Beach or towards Ocala and west Florida on the other direction.

Volusia county on visitors: https://www.volusia.org/visitors/

Ormond-by-the-Sea is an unincorporated town in Volusia County,the boundaries of Ormond-by-the-Sea include the Volusia/Flagler county line on the north, the city of Ormond Beach on the south, the Atlantic Ocean on the east, and the Halifax River on the west. The area has traditionally been called the North Peninsula, although other nicknames such as OBC or OBTS are sometimes used.  My oldest boy was born in Halifax Hospital in nearby Daytona Beach.

Ormond by the Sea

Ormond by the Sea paperwork

Ormond by the Sea

Ormond by the Sea house

There are two principal roads, State Road A1A (also known as Ocean Shore Boulevard), which runs along the Atlantic Ocean, and John Anderson Drive, which runs along the Halifax River.

A bit of history I like . The Timucuan Indians, who in the 16C occupied a large village called Nocoroco, located at the site of Tomoka State Park. Another nice area which I used a lot is the North Peninsula State Park, comprising approximately 800 acres (3.2 km2) along the A1A Atlantic Ocean road facing the sea! This is where I lived most. The wonderful Bicentennial park facing the ocean we love is at the city of Ormond Beach webpage here: Bicentennial Park Ormond by the Sea

The city we live is not a city but an incorporated area of the county of Volusia, however, our services and leisure activities like the park most were done out of the city of Ormond Beach. More here: City of Ormond Beach

 Miami Dade County . Dade County was created on January 18, 1836, under the Territorial Act of the United States. The county was named after Major Francis L. Dade, a soldier killed in 1835 in the Second Seminole War, at what has since been named the Dade Battlefield. On November 13, 1997, voters changed the name of the county from Dade to Miami-Dade to acknowledge the international name recognition of Miami. Adjacent counties are north, Broward, southwest Monroe, and northwest Collier. It has great wonderful National Park Service such as the Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, and Everglades National Park.

Miami

Zoo of Miami

Key Biscayne

Key biscayne bill boggs beach

Miami International Airport, located in an unincorporated area in the county, serves as the primary international airport of the Miami Area. One of the busiest international airports in the world . Public transit in Miami-Dade County is served by Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works, and is the largest public transit in Florida. Miami-Dade Transportation and Public Works operates a heavy rail metro system Metrorail, an elevated people mover in Downtown Miami, Metromover and the bus system, Metrobus.  Tri-Rail also services the county. Miami-Dade County has 10 major expressways such as  I-75,(to go home!) ,  I-95, I-195 / SR 112,  I-395 / SR 836,  US 1,  US 27,  US 41,  US 441, and  SR A1A(ocean).

Tourist office of Miami dade county http://www.miamiandbeaches.fr/

Cultural affairs of Miami Dade county: http://www.miamidadearts.org/calendar/month

North Miami, The city lies on Biscayne Bay.  Originally the town of “Arch Creek”, the area was incorporated as the “Town of Miami Shores”, which was renamed the “Town of North Miami” in 1931. It was reincorporated as a city in 1953.

The city is also home to the Oleta River State Park, which is the state’s largest urban park. The park contains one of the largest concentrations of Australian pine trees found in a Florida state park. The Arch Creek Park  opened in 1982. Today, Arch Creek is an 8-acre (32,000 m2) site at the junction of N.E. 135th Street (right where our apt was!!!) and Biscayne Boulevard, and offers many opportunities for botanical, historical and archaeological study. It has a museum/nature center modeled after an early Florida pioneer home, displaying Indian artifacts dug from the grounds, and live animals from the nearby hammock. Remains of the original coontie mill are still visible across the creek, and the park exists as the only preserved archaeological site in the County. There is, also, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) a museum located in the heart of downtown North Miami, and the Miami Auto Museum displays a large collection of classic cars, Hollywood cars, mini cars, scooters, motorcycles and bicycles from the collection of Michael Dezer.

More on the city of North Miami: City of North Miami on parks

Hialeah the sixth-largest city in Florida and is the only place in the county, other than Homestead, Florida, to have its own street grid numbered separately from the rest of the county (which is otherwise based on Miami Avenue at Flagler Street in downtown Miami, the county seat).  Hialeah has the highest percentage of Cuban and Cuban American residents of any city in the United States, at 73.37% of the population(2016), making them a distinctive and prominent feature of the city’s culture. My twin boys were born in Hialeah Hospital!

Hialeah

Chuckee Cheese Hialeah

Hialeah is served by the Miami Metrorail at Okeechobee, Hialeah, and Tri-Rail/Metrorail Transfer stations. The Okeechobee and Hialeah stations serve primarily as park-and-ride commuter stations to commuters and residents going into Downtown Miami, and Tri-Rail station to Miami International Airport and north to West Palm Beach. The best here was the old Hialeah racecourse full of flamingo birds. Now some horse races are done and there is a casino: more here: Hialeah race track and Casino

The city’s name is most commonly attributed to Muskogee origin, “Haiyakpo” (prairie) and “hili” (pretty) combining in “Hialeah” to mean “pretty prairie”. Alternatively, the word is of Seminole origin meaning “Upland Prairie”. The city is located upon a large prairie between Biscayne Bay and the Everglades.

City of Hialeah on history: http://www.hialeahfl.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6&Itemid=385&lang=en

Broward County Its county seat is Fort Lauderdale. It was founded on April 30, 1915. It was intended to be named Everglades County, but then-Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Ion Farris amended the bill that established the county to be named in honor of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, Governor of Florida from 1905 to 1909. In 1915, Palm Beach County and Dade County contributed nearly equal portions of land to create Broward County.  Adjacent counties are north Palm Beach, south Miami Dade, west Collier, and northwest Hendry.

Fort Lauderdale

las olas beach FLL

Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport serves as the primary airport of the Broward County area. The airport is bounded by the cities Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Dania Beach;  three miles (5 km) southwest of downtown Fort Lauderdale  and 21 miles (34 km) north of Miami. The airport is near cruise line terminals at Port Everglades and is popular among tourists bound for the Caribbean. Public transportation available are the Broward County Transit, Tri-Rail, Sun Trolley, and the major roads passing by it are the Interstate 95, I-75 ,I-595 (Port Everglades Expressway), Florida’s Turnpike (SR 91) Florida’s Turnpike Homestead Extension (SR 821) ,and Toll State Road 869 (Sawgrass Expressway).

Broward county tourist office : https://www.sunny.org/

Cities of Broward county: http://www.broward.org/Publications/ResidentsGuide/Pages/BrowardCountyMunicipalities.aspx

Miramar  is in Broward county, my last town in the USA, and it was name after the city of Miramar in Havana, Cuba (also near where I was born). The city has adjacent towns such as Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, West Park ,and  Miami Gardens. To the extreme west you find the Everglades!.

Miramar (en. seaview) was founded by A.L. Mailman to serve as a “bedroom community” for nearby Miami and Fort Lauderdale. He bought the original property he was to develop from H.D. Perry, Sr. in 1953.  The city was incorporated on May 26, 1955 bordered by the following cities,Pembroke Pines to the northwest and north,Hollywood to the  northeast, east West Park, and south Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, and a bit of Miami Lakes. My sons went to school here at Silver Lakes Elementary School, memorable last school in the USA and they fondly remember it as well as their teachers! We lived at Silver Lakes Division west of I-75 interstate road on Sapphire Bay sub division our last spot in the USA and very fondly remembered it.

Miramar

home in Miramar

Miramar

visiting school silver lakes miramar

City of Miramar on history: https://www.miramarfl.gov/257/Miramars-History

There , now you got all you need on Florida,and heck even me lol!!! Love the Sunshine State. We made a decision to move to France and we do not regretted either as it has been a roller coaster of fun and memories. Now ,the French reason is gone, but we still very much attach to France thanks to her courage and determination. Never to be forgotten. Enjoy the State of Florida.

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

July 30, 2018

My New Jersey!

Well, here I am sitting in my desk and thinking. Looking at my blog, I realized not done much writing on my first encounter with freedom, a pity. I will make that up rather quickly by writing in this post about New Jersey. Yes, you got it that State in the United States of America.

I spent my teenagers years there, (total of 13 years) going thru middle school,high school, driving license, and US Citizen as well as my first steps in working life. All many memories to really forget ,never have, a Panther forever!

I will give some history I like, especially, and of course the stories above are from the late 1970’s to early 1980’s. ok

Looking afar and long, now nostalgia sets in. I cannot believe not written more on this dear place of my world’s travel.  This was my introduction to the American way of life, the American dream, and my first touch of Democracy. After running away from left and right wing dictatorships I finally made it with my parents arriving in wonderful New Jersey, USA, the Garden State! As a teenager boy. I think I owe it, Jersey, at least one more blog post here.

As briefly as I can make it ok.  New Jersey  State borders on the west by  Pennsylvania and Delaware, on the north by New York State, and on the south east by the Atlantic Ocean. It’s capital city is the historic Trenton and its biggest city is metropolitan Newark. It is one of the smallest State but one of the most densely populated one as well. Sitting in what we call, the Tri-State area of NJ, NY, and CT(Connecticut) was my area or Central NJ. And I have been all over the State, from playing football/soccer to helping out in my parents small businesses.

The name for the State was given in reference to the Isle of Jersey given in honor of Sir George Carteret, a native of the island and on which these land was given in the 17C. He, is also, name for the city of Carteret near my old home in Middlesex County.  New Jersey is divided into three geographical regions, such as North Jersey, under the influence of New York city ; Central Jersey, my area and we can call it neutral. Then, South Jersey in the valley of the Delaware and near the city of Philadelphia as influences. The State is divided into 21 Counties and 566 towns, last count.

A bit of history I like. In  1630, the territory of New Jersey was populated by the Amerindians Lenape or Delawares. The Dutch settled on the site of present-day city of Jersey City (on the west coast of the Hudson, opposite the tip of the island of Manhattan). These establishments were an integral part of the colony of New Netherland, which also included New Amsterdam, which would become New York after the region was controlled by the British from 1664.

King Charles II of England gave part of the region to his brother (the future James II. The latter distributed the lands between the Hudson and Delaware Rivers to two friends who had remained loyal to him during the Civil War: Sir George de Carteret and Lord John Berkeley of Stratton.  In 1673, Berkeley sold half of New Jersey to the Quakers who made their colony. The province of New jersey was itself divided into two provinces: West Jersey and East jersey (see below on the city of Perth Amboy) , between 1674 and 1702.

In December 1776, the Continental Army led by George Washington crossed the Delaware River and engaged in the Battle of Trenton. On January 3, 1777, the Battle of Princeton was an American victory over the troops of  Lord Charles Cornwallis. During the summer of 1783, the Continental Congress met at Princeton University, which became the country’s capital for four months. It was in this place that the news of the signing of the Treaty of Paris, in 1783 (at Versailles), came to the political leaders. On November 20, 1789, New Jersey was the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights. Finally, slavery was abolished on 15 February 1804.

The State of New Jersey has Indians even if not recognized as such upon my last readings on it; these are the Nanticoke Lenni of Lenape  and the  Nanticokes and Ramapough of Mount Ramapo.   The National Park Service managed 12 parks in New Jersey, of course the Washington-Rochambeau historic trail is dear to me; the Pinelands, Ellis Island,and Crossroads of the American Revolution are good ones too. This webpage tells you: National Parks in New Jersey

More on the history of the State of New Jersey here: Official State of New Jersey on history

And further brief, I lived in Middlesex County, yeah right there. Part of Central Jersey but stuck up near North Jersey and across from New York City.  The capital of the county is New Brunswick, on which, the municipal courthouse I became US Citizen in 1980!. The surrounding counties are Union on the north, Monmouth, on the southeast, Mercer on the southwest, and Somerset on the northwest.

More on the history of the county of Middlesex here: Official Middlesex County on history

And now on the city I lived the first 13 years of my life in the USA.  Perth Amboy  on the mouth of the Raritan river  and goes into the Raritan Bay later joining the Arthur Kill (kill=bay ,old Dutch as first settlers of the area), strait separating  Staten Island NY from the coast of New jersey.  Perth Amboy is known as the “City by the Bay,” referring to Raritan Bay.

A bit of history I like.  Perth Amboy was settled in 1683 by Scottish colonists. It was called “New Perth” after James Drummond, 4th Earl of Perth, and the Lenape Native Americans called the point on which the city lies “Ompoge”; the native name was eventually corrupted and the two names were merged. Perth Amboy was formed by Royal charter in 1718, and the New Jersey Legislature reaffirmed its status in 1784, after independence. The city was a capital of the Province of New Jersey from 1686 to 1776 (see breakdown below).

Perth Amboy borders the Arthur Kill, (and my house was by there looking at NYC Staten Island), and features a historic waterfront. The Perth Amboy Ferry Slip was once an important ferry slip in the area, The Raritan Yacht Club, one of the oldest yacht clubs in the United States, is located in the city.  Perth Amboy is connected to the Staten Island borough of New York City via the Outerbridge Crossing (and I played football/soccer underneath at Rudyk park!!).

In 1684, Perth Amboy became the capital of East Jersey and remained the capital until the union of East and West Jersey in 1702, and became an alternate colonial capital with Burlington until 1776. A few of the buildings from this early period can still be seen today. Most notably, the Proprietary House, the home of William Franklin, the last Royal Governor of New Jersey and estranged son (and traitor of US independence) of Benjamin Franklin (him a patriot of US independence), still stands in the waterfront area of the city. St. Peter’s Church was founded in 1718 by the first Episcopal congregation in the state. Its current building, dating from 1875, is surrounded by a graveyard of early inhabitants and displays a collection of stained-glass windows with religious scenes as well as early depictions of New Jersey receiving her charter and a meeting between William Franklin and his father, Benjamin.  Perth Amboy City Hall, first built as a courthouse in 1714, survived major fires in 1731 and 1764 and is the oldest city hall in continuous use in the United States (yes since 1789). The Kearny Cottage, moved from its original location, is a remaining example of 18C vernacular architecture. Perth Amboy was an important train station for travelers between New York City and Philadelphia, as it was the site of a ferry that crossed the Arthur Kill to Tottenville, Staten Island. Regular service began in 1709. This ferry became less important when the Outerbridge Crossing opened in 1928, but continued to operate until 1963. In 1998, the Perth Amboy Ferry Slip was restored to its 1904 appearance. A replica of the ticket office has been constructed and is used as a small museum.

Local attractions include the Perth Amboy Ferry Slip, two small museums, an art gallery, a yacht club, and a marina. Near the marina lies a park with a small bandshell. On Sunday afternoons in the summertime, Perth Amboy hosts the Concerts by the Bay in the park’s bandshell.

The Outerbridge Crossing, which opened to traffic in 1928, is a cantilever bridge over the Arthur Kill that connects Perth Amboy with Staten Island, NYC. Known locally as the “Outerbridge”, it is part of a popular route on NY-440 / NJ-440 from the south and west to New York City and Long Island. Despite the assumption that the name is derived from its location as the southernmost bridge in New York State and Staten Island, the Outerbridge Crossing was named in honor of Eugenius H. Outerbridge, first Chairman of the Port Authority. The bridge clears the channel by 143 ft (44 m), providing passage for some of the largest ships entering the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The Victory Bridge carries Route 35 over the Raritan River, connecting Perth Amboy on the north with the borough of Sayreville to the south, and onwards to the Jersey Shore beaches.  Now renovated twin bridges, each carrying two lanes of traffic, an outside shoulder and a bike lane. The city has NJ Transit train service at Perth Amboy station. The station provides service on the North Jersey Coast Line to Newark Penn Station, Hoboken Terminal, Secaucus Junction, New York Penn Station and the Jersey Shore.  NJ Transit buses serve the Port Authority Bus Terminal on the 116 route, Elizabeth on the 48 line, with local service available on the 813, 815, and 817 bus routes on last reading.

Perth Amboy High School (or PAHS)( the Panthers!!!)  is a four-year comprehensive community public high school which serves students in ninth through twelfth grades.  The current Perth Amboy High School was built in 1971, to replace an earlier building that opened in 1881.  And this older building that opened in 1881 was my Middle School name William C McGinnis before going into the High School! The PAHS webpage: Perth Amboy Public Schools on the High School

More on the history of Perth Amboy here: Official city of Perth Amboy on history

Now, there you go, a brief to the point talk about a wonderful State of New Jersey, Middlesex County, and city of Perth Amboy. Humble beginnings from scratch, the best immigrant way, and proud of it. More proud of my parents who show me the way, the good way. Theses places will always remain in my heart and soul no matter the years gone by,and wherever in the hole of the Earth I will be living. Now living in France as French by the way ::)

And , as always I tell you, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

July 27, 2018

Some news from Spain LXIIII

So its time for my beloved Spain and the latest finds and news. There is always a happening there ,especially in Summer time when all of Europe goes south (well most of it).  Spain is everything under the Sun!

We are cloudy cool fresh air in my neck of the woods at 25C but in Paris it is 36C lol! My beloved Madrid is sunny at 90F or about 32C.

How to travel the cities without a car?  Very big indeed and Spain is great for it. The getaways are part of the essence of the summer, but what about the car? If this year you go from picking it up the best thing is that you choose an easy to walk in many destination. In Spain many cities have invested in the last few years in improving their pedestrian connections, something that benefits their neighbors but what can also take advantage of tourists.  In addition to having the opportunity to immerse yourselves  in the heart of cities without unnecessary hassles or noise, walking through urban centers on foot helps reduce pollution in cities by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and improving Air quality.

According to a study conducted by Holidu in which we analyze the kilometers of pedestrian roads that have each Spanish city, the best city in Spain to visit on foot is Granada, which has 91 kilometers, but in the ranking also enter Vitoria-Gasteiz, or Valencia.  Besides the Alhambra and all its treasures Granada also keeps the largest pedestrian area in the country in proportion to its size. This Andalusian city has 21% of its pedestrian-only use streets. In fact, in the center of the city is restricted the road traffic, so you visit on foot the area where the cathedral is located, the royal chapel or the monastery of San Jerónimo is very comfortable.

With 70 km  of pedestrian streets, the capital of Alava, Vitoria-Gasteiz, has 19% of its urban fabric pedestrianized. Thus, the city represents a favorable environment for the pedestrian . In the old town, where you will find most of the converted into pedestrian area, you can walk around enjoying the abundant samples of architecture of the 15th century, squares such as the Virgen Blanca or visit the Renaissance palaces of Bendaña and Escoriaza-Esquivel.

The count goes on to  Valencia, where there are 136 pedestrian km  19 % of the total urban fabric. There have increased considerably the pedestrian streets in recent years, as the city opted for reducing pollution by applying measures such as the restriction of road traffic in some areas. In Valencia you can enjoy strolling in the neighborhoods like El Carmen, one of the largest medieval neighborhoods in Europe as well as historic buildings of the city such as the silk market, the colorful Central markets of Valencia, or the squares of the Reina (Queen) and the Virgin(Virgen).

The Bizkaia capital is in it too,  Bilbao has 44 km pedestrian  that translate into 18% of its urban fabric. There you can visit on foot the old town, where to enjoy the mixture of the most traditional places of the city with the most innovative and make a stop at the Teatro Arriaga, the Plaza Nueva or the Church of San Antón.

Salamanca is surprising there too . The most University City in Spain has 17% of its urban fabric pedestrianized. There visitors can not miss the square of the town hall, considered one of the most beautiful in the country, the cathedral and the university, which this year celebrates its 800 anniversary and where it is obliged to look for the frog.

Cuenca (indeed we did a lot of walking), the city of the hanging houses has 23 km. This means that 15% of its streets only allow pedestrians. There, in addition to the famous houses you can also visit the main square, the cathedral or the ruins of your castle. There, in addition to the famous houses you can also visit the main square, the cathedral or the ruins of your castle. Cuenca (Castilla-La Mancha, Spain), the famous houses hung, UNESCO World Heritage Site Cuenca (Castilla-La Mancha, Spain), the famous houses hung, UNESCO World Heritage Site

Sevilla the Andalusian capital has 102 pedestrian km, 15% of the total urban fabric. There you can find pedestrian areas in the well-known neighborhoods of Triana, Los Remedios and in the center of the city. Besides the Giralda and the Plaza de España, in Seville it is also essential to visit  Calle Sierpes, full of traditional shops or Calle Feria, where a large number of artisans are concentrated.

Without leaving Andalusia we encountered Huelva. There the pedestrian area is 13% of the urban area where you can enjoy a visit to the Plaza de las Monjas, in the center of the city, a walk through the Gran via or the Herrera style architecture of its city/town hall or the Cathedral of the Mercy.

The city  with 13% of its pedestrian urban fabric. With 110 km of pedestrian roads, including those on Calle de Petritxol, in the Gothic quarter, the first pedestrian street in Barcelona, where traffic was banned in 1959 or the well-known streets of Enric Granados, full of shops and bars or workshops , where the medieval charm goes from the command of the most original shops. Can’t wait to be back in October on foot!

In Toledo there are 37 km. This implies that the Castilian-manchego capital has 13% of its network of Pedestrian  streets. Most of it is in the old town, where visitors can feel like medieval times. In Toledo it is essential to visit the Cathedral of the city, the Alcazar, the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes or the Church of Santa Maria La Blanca.

The main entrances to the national park are by Cantabria through Potes  and Fuente Dé; In Asturias by Cangas de Onís and Arenas de Cabrales, and in the case of León, by Valdeón. The Picos de Europa National Park celebrates its one hundred years as the first natural protected area of Spain. You will want to go up to one of the most spectacular landscapes in Spain. The road  from  June 1st  and until the September  30, the route closes to the private vehicles. For environmental reasons you can only hop on the regular bus.

It was encouraged to do this park by Pedro Begl, Marquis of Villaviciosa, an advance  men of the time that, worried by the disappearance of the favorite sites  of hunting that lived there, but also in love to the head of its landscapes, undertook  a crusade that culminated in 1918 with the declaration of the National Park of the mountain of Covadonga, later, of the Picos de Europa.  A century ago, the peaks were very different. Apart from the locals, I only knew these mountains a handful of madmen. Tourists and pilgrims who today crowd on the stairs that access the Holy Grotto are oblivious to that.

The route of the Reconquista recalls the flight of the Saracens defeated by Rodrigo (El Cid) . Three  days of walking along the northern facade of Picos to Sotres. There begins another of the most famous paths, which goes up to the Naranjo de Bulnes. On the outskirts of Potes, the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana has concluded a couple of months ago its particular Holy Year. Thousands of people have passed through the Lignum Crucis, the largest preserved piece of the Cross where Christ died. Liébana is another access to Picos. Thanks to Fuente de Dé cable car, you go  in the heart of this mineral world on a flight of just a few minutes .  More info here : Parque Nacional Picos de Europa

Life in Santander walks the opening of the Centro Botin  has placed it  better on the map. Because it has always been there, bragging about Bahia, although many times  has lived with his back to sea, and wanting to show the  best face. The private art Center  is located on the Albareda pier in the gardens of Pereda. Imposing and light on par, it is articulated in two volumes connected to each other by a structure of squares and footbridges. The building does not touch Earth, is suspended on pillars and columns at the height of the treetops. The light fills every instance and offers unbeatable views of the bay. Until September 2, you can visit the exhibition Joan Miró: Sculptures 1928-1982. Do not stop browsing  while shopping,  and if you fancy a coffee, sit in the cafeteria, it is very nice.

There is a boat service that makes panoramic visits of one hour in the bay. Heading to the beach of El Sardinero, next to the maritime Club, is the monument to the Raqueros, some statues by the sea reminiscent of children with few resources that, in the late 19C  and early  20C, were looking for life by the port. With small thefts and recovering from the water the coins that were thrown by the crew and the people, they survived in the area. The Magdalena Peninsula, which you can walk on foot or in a Trenecillo (carriage train). From its beach you can see the islands of the tower (Islas de la Torre), where there is a sailing school, and the Horadada, a rocky arch that emerges from the waters. The summer residence of  king Alfonso XIII has even a free public minizoo in which seals, sea lions and penguins inhabit. Once upstairs, take two minutes to sit on the bench that looks out over the island of Mouro.  We reached the beach of the Biquinis (bikinis) , they count by the loudspeaker of the boat, which owes its name to the foreign students who wore this garment in the 60’s. They were the first bikinis that were seen in Spain! The most beloved of the beaches of the city may be that of the Sardinero-in fact it is two beaches-, of fine sand and with a promenade that is enjoyed at any time of the year. Your casino will remind you at the time of Biarritz. If the water is too cold, enjoy contemplating the skill of the surfers who come here.

Also animated area to find table and resto service  are the streets Of Hernán Cortés, Peña Grassy or the taverns of Paseo de Pereda. The bar of the restaurant El Puerto is a bustle at the time of the appetizer. The tour can be accompanied by an artisan gelato; Regma-There are locals all over the city-and Capri is an institution. Wondering will discover Pombo’s Square, where the café of the same name invites you to enter and take a break, and the Plaza arcaded (Porticada) . If you have see if around in the great bookstore Gil, maybe it’s time to start a good novel.  The Renfe Alvia connects Santander with Madrid from 30 euros. In the tourism web of Cantabria find more info: Tourism Santander

In this small town of Empordà you can play everything to blackjack. Or dine in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Or wield the golf clubs. The visitor also comes for a four-handed massage with grape pips. You can even walk among vineyards, take refuge in the tranquility of a medieval cloister or contemplate one of the oldest editions of Don Quixote.  Peralada, 15 minutes from Figueras ‘ AVE station, is a place with many  edges. And with a long history at the Castell, installed in a Carmelite convent from the 14C. A castle that from 1923 belongs to the family Suqué-Mateu and in whose gardens is celebrated for more than three decades the music festival with the most glamour of the Costa Brava. For this scenario have paraded many of the great voices of  music : From Plácido Domingo to Ermonela Jaho and Javier Camarena to Jonas Kaufmann.

The guided tour begins in the cloister and church of the 14C. We see cannons of the 15C of the defense of the castle of Púbol and rare ossuaries; Rubens tapestries and Romanesque capitals of the master of Cabestany. Among the 2,500 pieces of glass-one of the best private collections in the world-we find an Egyptian piece from the time of Tutankhamun.   A whole cabinet of wonders. During the Civil War, the museum housed hundreds of works of the Prado that were here before continuing on its way to Geneva. At  this point, under the library, thework of Goya’s Mamalukes was restored. He had to mend a scratch and used a piece of a butler’s grandmother’s nightwear.   The family wanted to recover the wine tradition of the castle from the moment Miguel Mateu acquired it in 1923. Today it has 150 hectares of vineyards. And is already underway the construction of the new winery in charge of the architecture studio RCR, which last year won  the prize Pritzker. It will be a sustainable winery (with 40 percent of geothermal energy) and fully integrated into the environment . The fast train  AVE (www. renfe . com) connects Madrid and Barcelona to Figueras, 15 minutes by car from Peralada.  More info here: Tourism Empordà

The trip or the Xacobea route of the Arousa  Sea is the way by sea. From the Ría de Arousa to the Plaza del Obradoio, passing through Rianxo and the Church of Santiago de Padrón  .Already in the 1960’s, the foundation route Xacobea of the Sea of Arousa-Río Ulla rescued the tradition of this fluvial sea crossing , has only been in recent years when it has become popular, to the enormous interest that produces the way and the desire of many pilgrims to do so again in a different way.

The sources of this tradition are found in the Codex Calixtinus, this unusual travel book written in the 12C that has inspired countless generations of pilgrims to follow the Milky Way of Finis Terrae.  We are told that the body of the Apostle Santiago was moved by sea from the Palestinian coast to Galicia in a stone boat, to finally be buried in Mount Libredón, in the current Compostela. To this end, the maritime itinerary followed by its disciples, Teodoro and Athanasius, brings us closer to the sepulcher through the Ría de Arousa, taking land in the Roman river port of Iria Flavia the ideal would be to find a friend, even a friend of a friend , with a boat in the area that is willing to join the adventure. or to hire the services of a specialized company like Bluscus that adapts to any requirement. The starting point, if you want to be rigorous, should be located either in San Vicente de o Grove, or in the port of Aguiño in Ribeira. From there and following the coast to the north is mandatory to make a series of stops in places as charismatic as a Pobra do Caramiñal, one of the best preserved villas with a rich historical-artistic heritage. Not forgetting Boiro, or the port shellfish of Cabo de Cruz and then approaching Rianxo.  You can also take advantage of visiting Sálvora, one of the two islands of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands with which  will meet on this route.

Another of the highlights of the sea route is Cambados, without doubt one of the most beautiful towns of the Rias Baixas where you can take advantage to try a good Alvariño  (white wine) after touring its old town. Following the route through the heart of the Rias Baixas is reached the Illa de Arousa that for centuries belonged to the Episcopate Compostela before ending together with the mainland, at the height of Vilanova, where ends the second stage of the spiritual variant of the  Camino Portugués or Portuguese way.   On the way you can Cortegada the island, another of the jewels of the National Park of the Atlantic Islands, is passed in front of the romantic towers of West, remains of the old fortress of Catoira, before entering, already at the mouth of the river Ulla , in the Brañas of Laiño, a protected humid area, the boats now cannot get there, ending their voyage in Puentecesures. After visiting  Rosalía’s house museum but also the Camilo José Cela Foundation, it is time to gain  momentum  when approaching the Church of Santiago de Padrón where the Pedrón is located, under its main altar where, it is said, docked the stone boat that brought  Santiago (St James).

For those who follow the spiritual variant and want to reach  Compostela, there is still a stage to Santiago that allows you to know Faramello, one of the most moving  pazos in Galicia. It is open to the public and if you are lucky, you can agree with one of the guided tours that makes the magnificent property and its surroundings, from there, in just two and a half hours you can walk to the Plaza del Obradoiro and enjoy the restored  gate of The glory (Puerta de la Gloria). Bluscus is specialized in personalized itineraries.   Alvarnnaútica and the Pilgrim’s Boat have regular services. More information: Tourism Galicia way of Santiago

Some ideas for the Summer in my beloved Spain, so many really. It can take a lifetime, I know lived there since a young child and continuesly visit throughout my life ,still lots to see and do in my beloved Spain. And all thanks to wonderful grandparents from Tenerife!

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

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July 26, 2018

Ok, it’s Summer and wine is in the…..!

And we are still hot folks , temps in Paris to 36C (97F) and by neck of the woods closer to the ocean it was 31C (88F). Sunny no rain in sight, and we are thirsty!!! So refreshing wines and wines tastings are in order.

First let me tell you if around, I will be in Guérande, Loire-Atlantique dept 44 this coming Saturday for a nice tasting of local wines. The Place du Vieux Marché is very quaint nice but small so we already have figure out how to park our car lol! this is the city featuring the event in French, of course. Fête Vignerons Guérande

And of course, planning on visiting some local friends ex coworkers that now live there. So, now for the tastings and trivia and good points on wine in my belle France.

The Foires or festival of wines for 2018  in the supermarkets, this is an annual event and sometimes twice a year.  I will give all and highlight in black my favorites.

Auchan hypermarchés : Sept 25 to Oct 9
Auchan supermarchés : Sept 21 to Oct 7
Badie : Sept 7 to Sept 30
Biocoop :  Sept 4 to Oct 15

Carrefour hypermarchés : Sept 12 to Sept 24
Carrefour Market : Sept 21 to Sept 30
Casino supermarchés: Aug 31 to Sept 16
Casino hypermarchés: Sept 4 to Sept 16
Franprix : Sept 19 to Sept 30
Intérmarché : Sept 11 to SEpt 30
Lafayette Gourmet : Sept 7 to Sept 30
Lavinia : Sept 17 to Oct 15
Leader Price : Sept 4 to Sept 16
Leclerc : Oct 2 to Oct 13
Lidl : From SEpt 5th
Monoprix : Sept 12 to Oct 27
Naturalia :  Sept 12 to Sept 30
Netto : Sept 4 to Sept 16
Nicolas : Sept 12 to Oct 16
Repaire de Bacchus : Sept 6 to Oct 16

And ,if you are into internet purchases of wines, not me mind you, here are some of the popular ones here

20 sur Vin, Sept 14 to Sept 30; Cavissima, Sept 3 to Sept 23, C Discount, from Sept 6th, Chateaunet, Sept 7 to Sept 30, Ideal Wine Sept 6 to Sept 25, La Grande Cave, Sept 3 to Sept 30, Millésimes, Sept 5 to Sept 28, Netvin Sept 6 to Oct 11, Vente-Privée from Sept 4th, and Vinatis, from Sept 4th

Also, let me tell you about some nice getaways on wine country here. All compliments of my favorite newspaper and magazine Le Figaro.

Leaving from the cellars, picnic basket 48€ for 2 persons electric ATV bike half day 35€ Chateau Malherbe,  1 Route du Bout du Monde 83230 Bormes-les-Mimosas . The cellars open every day from 10h – 20h. Reservations at +33 (0) 4 94 64 80 11 . Chateau Malherbe

The cooperative cellars of Rauzan in the Entre-deux-Mers region of Bordeaux will give some get to know on the biodiversity. 1 km from the cellars a country walk of about 5.5 km with 13 different ecosystems. All along the circuit there will be explanation panels on the natural environment encounter. Caves de Rauzan ,1 l’Aiguilley 33420 Rauzan www.cavederauzan.comTel. +33 (0) 5 57 84 13 22

The cellars of the Château La Dominique welcomes you until August 26th with the exposition « Le rouge des villes et des forêts », something like the red of towns and forests.  About 30 works of art with photos, installations, sculptures, designs, lithographies, and paintings created by the international artists on the theme of nature culture and all phases of color. This will go on from 10h to 18h every day with reservation a must. Château La DominiqueExpo and tasting of two wines 15€. Tél. +33 ( 0) 5 57 55 20 73 or email:visite@chateau-ladominique.com

In the plains of the Maures, the Château Saint-Roux  serves a traditional cuisine done with vegetables of its garden of  3800 m2  to the table of their farm auberge. They have a many goats from which they do their own cheese , a producers market, a store, where you can taste a glass of wine with some cold cuts. Staying here goes from 150€ per night.Château Saint-Roux, Route de la Garde Freinet 83340 Le Cannet-des-Maures Tél. +33+ (0) 4 98 10 02 61

The Château le Crock, Cru Bourgeois in Saint Emilion has started this Summer with a escape game around wines  call  “Escape Ô Crock” ! During one hour the players divided in 4 teams try to figure out the enigmas .  The objective is to find the code that will free a bottle enclosed in a coffret.  All this goes on in the cellars of the Château Le Crock. You go August 8th for the next round, 30€ with reservation a must, includes wine tastings and a local products sample tasting too  at Tel +33 (0) 5 56 59 73 05 or email:  visitecrock@orange.fr More at   Chateau le Crock

Down by the appellation Bandol, facing Sainte-Baume and Mont Caume you have a farm auberge  of the wine domaine of La Font des Péres just opening its doors.  At the heart of a wonderful property of  15 hectares of vines, and the best products in your plate . A vegetable garden , fruit trees, and chickens all around you all the chef needs. Other local products available are goat cheese of  Cadière, fish from Sanary or mussels from Tamaris. Open lunch and dinner with reservations except Sunday evenings and Mondays.Lunch menu (entrée-plat or plat-dessert  from tuesdays to Fridays, from 19€, full menu evening 29€. Chemin de la Font des Pères 83330 Le Beausset. Tél. 04 94 15 21 21 more atDomaine la Font des Péres

Since already 10 years, the Château Le Bouïs, located in the Massif de La Clape, developped their oenotouristism center. A new cellar for tastings of  300 m2 just open in the historic vaulted cellars of the castle.  ALl with natural materials and sobre lines you see 15 cuvées of the property.  You have initiation to tasting wine as well as soon tasting from amphoras will be offered.  You will get the apps La Légende du Bouïs that accompanies you in 5 steps of the parcours to understand the visit of a multimedia expo gallery Route Bleue 11430 Gruissan Tél. +33 (0) 4 68 75 25 25. More here:Chateau le Bouis

Until Sept 30th the Chateau Sainte-Roseline , cru classé  from the AOP of Côtes de Provence presents the 18th exposition of monumental sculptures and contemporary arts in collaboration with the galerie Catherine Issert in Saint-Paul de Vence.  The works by artists such as Vincent Mauger, David Nash, Vincent Barré, Benjamin Sabatier ,and Vladimir Skoda will be displayed around the property. Free admission every day of the week. Château Sainte-Roseline, Route de Sainte-Roseline 83460 Les Arcs sur Argens Tél. +33 (0) 4 94 99 50 30 email:  contact@sainte-roseline.com. More here: Chateau Sainte Roseline

The grand site of France of Aven d’Orgnac, will provide a wine visit hors norm starting every thursday in Summer. You will be guided by an expert trained by  Néovinum-Vignerons Ardéchois,The amateurs of wines will reach a platform of tastings located 50 meters below ground.  There are preserved  10 000 bottles of the best years from the Vignerons Ardéchois.  You will be tasting 3 cuvées.  The visit continues at  121 meters underground for a wonderful show of lights and sound. All reservations is a must until August 30th at 18h30 and also Saturday September 22dn at 18h 19€ with tastings included. More atOrgnac site

The Château du Palanquey  has just been renovated with the opening of five rooms and suites in an authentic vineyard château of the Gironde. It has a spa, host tables and cuisine courses in the middle of 11 hectares of vines.  IF you ask they can give you a tour around the property. The night from 280€ per night, at 2 Lieu dit Palanquey 33350 Sainte-Colombe. Tél. +33 (0) 5 47 84 99 83; email:  contact@palanquey.com .more here: Chateau de Palanquey

And if thats not all, the Food truck festival of the Château de Berne ; a wine property and 5 star hotel ,spa, gastronomic restaurant, bistrot, cooking school, and back for a new edition !  There will be about 15 food trucks on October 14  facing the cellars of the château. World food, street food or country cooking; there will be for all tastes matching the wines of the property.  Live Music and election of the best food trucks of the event. All from 10h to 19h free admission at the property, Chemin des Imbert, 83480 Flayosc-Lorgues. More info here.Chateau de Berne

There you go , enjoy the wines is good for you with moderation. I just had my glasses with red from the Béarn area of the cave de Jurançon in Gan, we are direct with them.

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

 

July 26, 2018

Simply other Passages of Paris!

As I sit in my window looking out a hot breezy summer day in the Morbihan breton, I can’t help thinking of my walks in Paris. As said, Paris is an outdoor living museum, like no other, and by far the most beautiful city in the World. I did and do a lot of walking in Paris, if need to take the bus above ground Paris is glorious.

Some of these walks made me realize further the beauty of the city, in its history, architectures and facts. One of these pleasant walks took me to see two passages or covered walkways of Paris seldom seen and full of charm. I like to tell you about them now.

The Passage du Bourg-l’Abbé  with a length of 43 meters allows to pass from 120, rue Saint-Denis to 3, Rue de  Palestro, originally  extended until the passage de l’Ancre, but it was notched by the piercing of the boulevard de Sébastopol.  It was built in 1828 ,and the mezzanine retains original ornaments, the entrance to the side of the Rue de Palestro, designed by the architect Henri Blondel in 1863,, also architect of the Bourse de Commerce (trade exchange house) . Henri Blondel will come back in 1889 on the Rue de Palestro for a house built  at 15 rue du Louvre , but will give more scope to its composition by doubling the entrance arcade and accompanying the opening of powerful figures of Atlantis’s.   The Cariatides, sculpted by Aimé Millet, in 1863 author of the Grand Apollon of the Opéra Garnier are allegories of trade and industry, symbolized respectively by the anchor, attribute of the Merchant Navy, and by Machines parts.  The nooks of it is filled with a beehive, emblem of economic activity.

Paris Paris

It is located at 120, rue Saint-Denis – 3, Rue Palestro, with access on Metro: Etienne Marcel ,line 4 and Bus 29 arrêt/stop Etienne Marcel.  Open from Monday to Saturday from 7h30 to 19h30. It bears the name of a village called “Le Bourg l’abbé”, which bore this name because it depended on the abbot of St. Martin.

It has little activity today and hardly ever notice not even in the Paris tourist office lineup, however, it is very nice historical piece of covered passageways in Paris and will do good to stop by passing by here.

In 1825, the House of the Taxi of the Grand Cerf, which was the terminus of the Royal Couriers, was demolished. The opening date of the passage remains unclear. It was probably opened in 1835. The style of the canopy is however of a later period. The history of the Passage du Grand Cerf is closely linked to the history of the neighborhood ( quartier)  Saint-Denis which was in 1830 the most popular and industrious of Paris where there were small factories and workshops.  Its height, 11.80 meters, the highest in Paris, and a lenght of 113 meters was the most important of all the Parisian passages. It’s partially metallic structure allowed building two levels of fully glass facade. The house only starts from the third floor. Thus, it was said that this Passage was more intended for production and handicrafts than for the luxury and sale of its products. In 1862, it was bequeathed to Public Assistance. A gradual disaffection interfered with its maintenance. Abandoned for many years, the Passage of the Grand Cerf was rehabilitated in 1990. It is today one of the most attractive passages in Paris. The “fleas” market of contemporary furniture are held twice a year.

The passage of the Grand Cerf, connects the 145, rue de Saint Denis to 8, rue Dussoubs, in the 2éme arrondissement of Paris, in the neighborhood or quartier of Bonne-Nouvelle. The name of the passage refers to the old sign of a hotel. The passage is open in 1825 on the site of the Grand Cerf Hotel. This hotel, which belonged to the Hospices administration, is also across the passage of the Bourg-l’Abbé which faces it, in rue Saint-Denis, was inaugurated in April 1828 and ,however, a guide dated 1831 indicates that the passage of the Grand-Cerf is still under construction…  The current architecture of the passage makes it rather go back to the year 1845 than 1825. This is actually the year where this passage was covered by a large canopy. The use of metal structures made it possible to situate it at a high height and thus to raised large glass surfaces in height, at the level of the interior facades of the shops.

The passage was built on the location of the Terminus house of the Grand Cerf where the Royal stagecoaches brought the courier destined for the east of France. The decoration is in neoclassical style, the metal walkways and the woodwork showcases bring a chic and sober side, two floors of skylights illuminate the passage. The shops of the passage of the Grand Cerf are mainly those of designers and creators (jewelers, furniture.etc..). It was necessary to invest to maintain it and finally the Public Assistance plans to sell it. After failure to sell it , it was finally sold in 1985. This allowed to restore it and rebuild it identically.

Paris Paris

A sequence of the film by Louis Malle ,Zazie  dans le Métro (in the metro/subway/tube ) was shot in 1960 in the passage.  Anne Français (1909-1995), painter, lived at 4, passage du Grand-Cerf. The birthplace of the French politician, Léon Blum is located next to the passage, at number 151, formerly number 243. An episode of the series Les Cinq Derniére Minutes (the last five minutes), with Jacques Debary, was shot in the passage du Grand Cerf.  The TV show Un Coeur sur Mesure ( a custom-made heart), is first broadcast  on 25 July 1981. The crime takes place in a tailor shop located in the gallery.

It is located at  145, rue Saint-Denis – 8, rue Dussoubs with access on Metro Etienne Marcel line 4 or Bus  29, arrêt/stop Etienne Marcel.

A more popular and active passage, with a reference in the Paris tourist office. Info here: Passage du Grand Cerf

And there it goes folks, another trivia walking tour of Paris. And some interesting nice building passageways as well. Not far from the Palais Brongniart, post written earlier in my blog.

Hope it helps your curiosity. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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July 25, 2018

Captain General Residence and Museum of Havana!

And I am coming back to my Havana of childhood, never to be the same again. Well I have written pieces on it in my blog just do search; however, never a post alone and so deservingly. I am coming right at you on La Habana, Cuba. Oh yes I meant , the Captain General Residence of the governor of Cuba under colonial period of Spain.  This one was done way way back when a boy of around 10, so memories are loose.

The place is very nice, historical and architecturally and a must to visit while in Cuba. In addition, the museum of which is, give you an overall look of Cuban history from zero. Again, if one building to visit in Cuba, this is it, in my opinion.  Ahh yes I am talking about the residence of the Captain General of Cuba (this was the governor of Spain in Cuba), over the years use for many things and now a wonderful museum of Havana, Cuba.

Considered the most important example of baroque architecture in the city, this grand building on the west side of the plaza was built in 1792, on the sight of the former parish church, as the imposing Palacio de los Capitanes Generales. It served as Spanish colonial government headquarters until 1898 and housed 65 Capitanes Generales (governors), after which it served as the center of U.S. military administration (1898-1902), then as the Cuban President’s resident, and finally (1920-67) as the City Hall.  The two-story limestone building was not completed in its final form until 1835; the façade is adorned with the shield of the city and features a deep loggia supported on thick columns. Peacocks roam the tree-filled courtyard, where a Carrara marble statue of Christopher Columbis presides.  It is today the Museo de la Ciudad—the fabulous City Museum telling the tale of the city’s history. The Captain General’s apartments are furnished in the sumptuous style of their epoch, as is the Salón del Trono (Throne Room) with its throne prepared for a visit (which never happened individually) by the King of Spain but it did finally when King Juan Carlos I visited in 1999 during the Ibero American conference.  The his and hers Carrara marble nautilus shell baths are particularly wonderful.

Now let me give you the translation because in Cuba they have more information than anywhere else on the building and museum. Here it goes, excuse me if the lenght of it is long and my typing sloppy.

The building/museum is in front of the Plaza de Armas, occupying part of the space of the Parish Mayor’s demolition, the palace was erected between 1776 and 1791 . From its beginnings, it also sheltered, in the West Wing, the public prison until 1834.  This provoked subsequent remodeling to achieve the harmony that is enjoyed today. The city hall of Havana met uninterruptedly 176 years in the palace halls.  Since 1938, the Office of the city historian was based in the building, under the direction of Dr. Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring . In 1967 the municipal government moved to a new headquarters, so that the building began to be restored in order to allocate it to the Museum of the City of Havana, whose first showrooms were inaugurated from 1968.  The city Museum has 40 permanent exhibition halls, dedicated to preserving the memory of Cuban independence and the need of the search for national identity, until the definitive revolutionary victory in January 1959.

The different halls or rooms:

Sala Parriocal or Parish Hall: The passage through this room proposes the remembrance of the Parish Mayor or Parroquia Mayor, a primitive Church that opened its doors to the Catholic cult in the Villa San Cristóbal de la Habana in 1577, and that in 1741 was devastated as a result of the explosion of the invincible ship. Archaeological remains of its existence, jewels of the oldest churches of Havana, of the first religious orders that were established in this city between those that appear of Santo Domingo and San Francisco, as well as pieces of convents and portraits of the first Bishops, are memories of the Catholic Church in Cuba exhibited in this space.

Sala Giraldilla  (lady symbol of Havana like Sevilla) symbol of Havana has become the first molten sculpture in the city, Wind vane, done for  the tower of homage of the Castle of the royal force (Castillo de la Real Fuerza)  between 1630 and 1634.

Heraldic room  (or Sala Héraldica) small room designed for exhibiting objects and documents that testify to the importance that the Cuban nobility attributed to heraldic symbology.  Certifications of weapons, cleanings of blood, facsimiles of nobility titles, military orders, as well as banners or confectioners that displaying especially in the balconies on the day of Kings, allow us to catalogue the heraldic imprint of the Cuban family, on All of the 19C.
Room set B (or Sala Ambientada B) (19C) in the mid 19C, after the great sugar boom of the Creole Sacarocracy,  luxury is gala with its presence in the great palaces, and grows the importation of furniture and objects of art from the most diverse styles. Coupled with this, it increases the national productions in which beauty and good taste almost always prevail. From then on, the so-called eclecticism appears in the interior environments, as shown in the room, which also occupies the space of the first room in the museum.

Carriages room (Sala Cochera)  in the area occupied by the garage and Palace stables are exposed various models of cars: The Quitrin, introduced in Cuba at the beginning of the 19C; The well-known Break of English origin, from the late 19C, with capacity for a greater number of people; Finally, the Phaeton, convertible carriage and quite light. In the showcases are shown costumes calesero, objects related to daily life and caricatures in customs of the Basque painter Víctor Patricio Landaluze. Another of the relevant pieces is the locomotive, a remembrance of the first that circulated on November 19, 1837 by the station of Villanueva. This Cagney 15-type piece, manufactured in 1905 in the United States, is a jewel of Cuban railway heritage.

Sala Emilio Roig:  retains pieces belonging to the personal collection of Dr. Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring, whose arduous work bequeathed fruit as the founding of the Office of the historian of the City of Havana in 1938 and the Museum of the city of Havana in 1942, located in the Lombillo Palace, in the Cathedral Square(Plaza de la Catedral). Promoter and founder of these institutions, Roig played the position of the historian of the city until his death. The room exhibits around the important work table pieces of the collection of Emilio Roig, among them an excellent caricature made by Conrad Walter Massaguer which recreates the members of the retail group, composed of transcendental figures of the Cuban culture that represented the most progressive wing of intellectuality in the first half of the 20C.

Pinacoteca : shows a series of important works of key artists within the Cuban plastic, covering different periods within the history of this artistic manifestation. In it, is possible to admire creations of figures of the 19C art, governed by canons of the academy, like Leopoldo Romañach and Armando Menocal; of representatives of the avant-garde of modernism in the Cuban plastic, among them its initiator, Víctor Manuel, and other prominent artists such as Amelia Peláez, Mariano Rodríguez, René Portocarrero and Wifredo Lam, who were interested in recreating the  Cuban reality, its cities, traditions and symbols, and a sample of the most recent work of our contemporary creators, who are launching to renew the universe of expressive resources, each one with its language and its way of seeing and reflecting the world.

Cuban copper room (Sala de los Cobres Cubanos) within the vital offices of the old City is the blacksmith, which, by its application in construction works, in shipyards, agricultural, industrial and defensive work, occupied a significant place in the development of the city; However, in the 16C there was an insufficient number of artisans to practise it, and it is not until the last decade of that century when by Royal Order the foundation of blacksmiths in the city began. In the room dedicated to the exponents of this noble trade, a great diversity of objects of domestic and military use can be appreciated, result of the tenacity and mastery of the craftsmen of the metal.

Sword Cemetery (Cementerio de Espadas) Bishop Juan José Díaz de Espada and Fernández de Landa distinguished himself during the first three decades of the 19C for his progressive and enlightened work. Among his many works is the creation of the first Necropolis, which took its name and was inaugurated in 1806. Sculptors and Quarriers performed beautiful marble works for niches and tombstones of this cemetery, where the homage is perpetuated in crowns with capricious shapes, biscuit flowers, metal sheets and glass beads, while the desire for preservation forged coffins of Iron. These works of funerary art, a reflection of the customs of an epoch and of the economic power of its high classes, were transferred, as the old cemetery closed, to the new Christopher Columbus Necropolis (cementerio Cristobal Colon), of which by donation of the families arrived at this museum.

Statuary and stoning room ( Sala Estatuaria y Lapidaria) the economic and cultural development of the island in the 19C enabled the abundant entrance of marble and the visit of Italian artists of more or less relief. In the main cities, elegant Marbre were introduced, which were given by private individuals and the town hall for Courtyards, avenues and public places. Many of the sculptures that are shown today in this room witnessed the life of Havana along with the stone tombstones of Jaimanitas or quarry that in former times beautified streets and precincts.

Spanish uniforms Room (Sala de Uniformes). The costumes used by the different bodies of the Spanish army and their attributes, including decorations, canes, sabres and others, are exhibited. Among the uniforms is the one of Ramón Herrera Sancibrián, colonel of the Corps of Volunteers who encouraged his troops to request the death penalty for the 8 medical students who would be shot in 1871.

Public office (Despacho publico) .This room shows one of the two offices with which was used by the captain Generals of the island of Cuba, where were attended the matters related to the political and military situation of the country, fundamentally. Among the personalities received in this office was the German sage Alexander  Humboldt, in 1800. Likewise, in 1890, the general of the Libertador Army, Antonio Maceo Grajales, was sent by this space, received by the general Captain Camilo Polavieja y del Castillo. In its showcases stands the first telegraph equipement that entered Cuba in 1865. In addition, several documents issued by the Crown and the general captains of the island of Cuba, including the concentration camp dictated by Captain General Valeriano Weyler and Nicolau, on October 21, 1896.

Spanish banners, flags and pennants room (Sala de Estandartes, Banderas y Banderines Españoles) flags, pennants and banners of different bodies of the Spanish colonial army are exposed. In the showcase are retained flag spears used to prevent the passage of Cubans on the enemy formations and thus avoid the machete, the main weapon of the independence fighters aka Mambises. Outside the showcase appears a shield representing the Bourbon dynasty and three Spanish flags used in combat.

Spanish armaments Room (Sala de Armamento Español) It gathers a small but varied sample of the weapons and allied equipment used by the Spanish forces in Cuba. They appear here from the primitive flint-key rifles to the modern mauzers, employed in many countries until well into the 20C. There are also regulatory white weapons, a valuable piece of artillery occupied by colonial forces, bugles of orders, and a handkerchief of military instruction.

Anteroom and Hall of the Cabildo (Antesala o sala del Cabildo) .The Cabildo was one of the forms of local government existing in Spain later applied in its Hispanic colonies. Once the palace of the general captains has been built, the Capitulars are moved to this room, which prioritized each step to promote the socio-economic and cultural development of the city. As representatives of the Creole class that held economic power, they introduced fundamental advances such as the application of the steam engine in the sugar mills and the construction of the first section of the Havana-Bejucal railway, in addition to creating Important institutions such as the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the country, the Royal Consulate of Agriculture and commerce and the first public library. In this room, Leonor Pérez, mother of José Martí, was veiled in ardent Chapel in May 1907.

Room of thought (Sala del Pensamiento)  It addresses the ideological currents that were manifested in Cuba at the beginning of the 19C, which constituted a sample of the discontent of the slave bourgeoisie with the regime imposed by Spain on the Antillean island, characterized by the iron control over its Products. The movement known as Reformism had among its most representative figures Francisco Arango and Parreño and José Antonio Saco. The Anexionismo,(Annexionists)  a trend that enlisted in its ranks to those Creoles who saw the United States as the only country able to procure the island the necessary economic support, had Narciso Lopez among its main representatives. To these tendencies was counterbalanced by the independentists,  initially supported by a group of students and members of the illustrated sectors, among which was highlighted the priest Félix Varela and Morales; But these ideas did not take force until the second half of the 19C, and their maximum expression was the first  cry of independence of October 10, 1868. The portraits made by the painter Santiaguero Federico Martínez, located on the wall , allow to visualize some of the most outstanding figures of 19C Cuban thought.

Heroic Cuba (Cuba Heroica) , After the failure of all the actions of the Cubans, either by the reformist way or by the annexationist, it will be shown that the contradictions metropolis-colony were insurmountable and the impossible annexation. And this is demonstrated by the independent outbreak of October 10, 1868, in front of which was located the radical and patriotic wing of the Cuban landowners, headed by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes.  In a short time the war spread to Las Villas and Camagüey, but because of regionalism, caudillismo, divisions within the liberating army and lack of logistical support from outside, the belligerent did not reach the west, region of greater economic potential of the island and which supported the Spanish army. Therefore, after two decades of heroic battle for the independence of Cuba and the abolition of slavery, Yara’s revolution ended with the signing of the Pact of the Zanjón, which meant the maintenance of the Spanish dominion.

Hall of the flags (Sala de las Banderas) The halls of the flags are the most relevant of the City museum due to the national treasures they expose: The original flag that flew for the first time in 1850 and that, once the war of the ten years began , became national insignia; It teaches that it began this emancipatory feat, and others that put the ideals of the liberation very high. It also shows personal objects of the highest leaders of the wars of independence, among them belongings of Jose Martí, political chief of the Epic of 1895 and unifier of its forces in the Cuban Revolutionary Party.  Portrait on the fall in combat of major General Antonio Maceo (outside my native town of Punta Brava) , reflects a crucial stage of the last battle against Spanish colonialism, when it materialized one of the most important aspirations of the leaders of the Cuban wars of the 19C: the Invasion of east to west, to put to the island of Cuba on war footing for the fight for the independence.

American Intervention Room  (Sala Intervencion Americana) On February 15, 1898, the explosion of the American-flagged battleship cruiser Maine  was produced in Havana Bay, in which 266 members of its crew, including 2 officers, were killed. The funerals were held in the Hall of the Palace Council. The event was the pretext used by the United States to intervene in the conflict between Cuba and Spain. This war, called Hispano-Cuban-American, (but only Spanish-American in the USA still today)  concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, on December 10, 1898.  In compliance with this Treaty, in which no Cuban representation was involved, the Spanish authorities handed over power to John Brooke, the American military Governor designated for Cuba, on 10 January 1899. In 1901 the Constituent Assembly was convened to draft the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, a document establishing the constraints (Platt Amendement) that defined the future Cuban dependence.

Wicker Salon (Salon del Mimbre) .The wicker boudoir reflects the atmosphere that dominated the palace during the last two decades of the 19C. It highlights the art Nouveau furniture, artistic style that erupted in the late 19C and became fashionable in countries such as Belgium, France, Spain and the United States.  It also has pieces made by the jeweler and French modernist glassmaker René Lalique, as well as Émile Galle, Master in all the techniques that existed in the production of Glass with the company Daum Frères, founded in 1889 in France.  It also shows exponents of Art deco, French Gobelins, toys and a work by Cuban painter Guillermo Collazo.

Dining Room  (Salon del Comedor) Set in the style of the colonial palaces of the 19C, it is located in the same space that occupied during the colonial period and the first decades of the 20C, and where they offered great banquets to commemorate or to celebrate political events or Simply for celebrations sponsored by the Captain General himself.
The silver-plated copper trays that belonged to the General captain of the island of Cuba are integrated as original pieces. In the walls there are interesting Flemish tapestries from the 17C and 18C, hunting trophies and a collection of special attractive tableware that belonged to more than a hundred Cuban families.

Trinchante, Small hall that exhibits luxurious tableware and pieces destined for the service of table, between portraits that the American painter Elias Metcalf made for the wealthy family Ximeno.

Coffee Room (Sala del Cafe) It denotes one of those spaces destined to the receipt of the General captain. It highlights a set of room of knob of the 19C. A collection of pieces from the Millenary Oriental Art integrates the permanent exhibition with fans that use Cuban ladies during the colonial era. Works by foreign painters of the 19C such as Landaluze, Mejasky, Valentin Sanz Carta and Henry Cleenewerck, among others, can be appreciated there.

Infanta’s Room( Habitacion de la Infanta) ; In 1893 the Infanta Eulalia of Bourbon visited Havana, and during her seven-day stay she occupied this room that served as a bedroom for Captain General. The Habanera aristocracy hosted with parties and gifts, some exhibited in this room. Among the most important pieces are two portraits, one of the Spanish painter José María Romero and another of Esteban Chartrand, the main exponent of Cuban romanticism. Also significant is a set of furniture designed by John Henry Belter and two vases made with the technique of cloisonné.

Bath room (Sala del Baño) .Despite the fact that the Cuban tropical climate imposes a daily need for the bath, it is not until the middle of the 19C that the act begins to be integrated into the life of the inhabitants of the city of Havana. Until then, most of the hotels and private houses did not have a bath room, although the establishments of public baths, especially those destined for the male sex, were very crowded, and some became very comfortable. At that time the medicinal water spas were also very visited.
However, the most usual was the weekly washing with the Aguamanil and jofaina basin, with the complement of a touch of perfumes and flavourings. Many objects were brought by the aristocracy of Europe or the Orient.. The room displays French glassware, Czech crystal decorated by Mary Gregory, Chinese porcelain of exquisite firing, as well as pieces of Cuban silversmiths , and Italian marble baths in the form of snails or gondolas that constitute real treasures.

Room set A (19C) (Sala Ambientada A. The splendid way of life reached by the Cuban aristocracy in the mid-19C reveledan elitist interior environments characterized by the mixture of various foreign influences. Elizabethan period medallion furniture, French porcelains, English and Italian pottery contributed to distinguish these spaces. This piece that was available in the private part of the palace was used as a dormitory by the wife of the Captain General. In the room two portraits of landscapes were done by Esteban Chartrand.

White Room (Salon Blanco) . The Spanish and Creole elites selected recreational places among the halls of their elegant residences. The anteroom of the main hall of the palace was used as a complement to receive guests on holidays and space for musical auditions.
Decorated with Louis XV and Louis XVI furnishings, oil portraits and European porcelains, it preserves among its most valuable pieces two beautiful 18C Meissen porcelain vases.

Hall of Mirrors (Salon de los Espejos). It was the space of greatest political and social importance of the Palace of the Captain General. Photographs and documents of the archives reveal some important events that took place in this Hall: transfer of powers of the Spanish colonial administration to the American government, on January 10, 1899; Birth of the Republic on May 20, 1902; Funerals of Máximo Gómez and Salvador Cisneros, in the first two decades of the 20C, among others. Illustrious personages who visited the island in the 19C received in this enclosure, also known as Hall of the Besamanos (hands kissing), the homage of the Havana high society.

The webpage in Spanish on the above was Ecured, a Cuban site. Ecured on Museo de la Habana

Hope you enjoy, a bit long, but worth it me think. A must visiting Cuba and for sure if Havana is your destination, cannot missed it.

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

July 24, 2018

Presidential palace of Havana!

Let’s get back to the deep roots and come up with something written before briefly in my blog, it deserve a single post. Therefore, I have decided to tell you a bit more on the Presidential Palace of Havana, Cuba.

There are so many buildings in Havana, once the Unesco did a report that I lost track of it but mentioned 144 buildings of the 14C, 15C, 16C, and 17C in Havana ;more than on any other city in the Americas. The multitude of beauty is enormous even if the history is sad. Hemingway once call it the Paris of the Americas, and he should know some.

In 1909 the governor of Havana decided to build a new headquarters to host the Provincial government. The project was carried out by the architects Rodolfo Maruri (Cuban) and Paul Belau (Belgian), while the construction phase was assumed by the General Contracting Company.  Meanwhile the interior decoration was under the responsibility of Tiffany Studios of New York.  The Salon de Espejos or Hall of Mirrors, which was conceived in the image and likeness of the homonymous Galerie des Glaces or Gallery of Mirrors of the Palace of  Versailles, France. Its floors and staircases are made from the famous Carrara marble of Italy. The building, built on the basis of the canons of eclecticism.

In 1917 the history of the building had a transcendent turn that marked its subsequent destiny. At the end of that year, the first Lady of the Republic visited the works, and was captivated by the magnificence of the building and the privileged of its location. No more needed to be said, she turns to her husband , Mario Garcia Menocal, President of the Republic, and took over the necessary legal quibbles and dispossessed the Provincial government of the property of the palace. In the beginning of 1918 everything was arranged so that the building located in Calle Refugio No. 1 between Monserrate and Zulueta became the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Cuba.

The construction work followed its course and on January 31, 1920 the official inauguration of the Executive Mansion took place. The work, in all its details, was not completed until the 12th of March of 1920.

The palace building  has four floors: the ground floor served to accommodate the dependencies that secured the main functions; Telephone exchange, auxiliary offices, power plant and even the stable for police horses. The first floor welcomed the most important spaces of the palace: presidential office, Gallery of Mirrors, Chapel, Golden Hall and the place where the Council of Ministers made decisions. On the second floor was installed the Presidential residence and in the last of the floor was placed the garrison responsible with the custody of the Presidential mansion. The building is crowned by a dome clad in the exterior of glazed ceramic pieces that, at the time, was one of the highest in the city. In all, there are 38 rooms that speak of more than a century of struggles and heroic epics of Cuba.

In the building are present paintings and sculptures of representatives of the artistic avant-garde of the moment: Leopoldo Romañach, Emilio Hernández Giro, Enrique Cabrera, Esteban Valderrama, Esteban Betancourt and Armando Menocal.

At the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959 ,not much was decided on what to do with it and came some periods of neglect.  The first revolutionary Provisional Government was established in the former presidential palace. From there the commander in chief, Fidel Castro Ruz, assumed the position of Prime Minister and carried out the great process of nationalization of all the private companies that existed in Cuba until that moment; including the American companies that gave rise later to the US Embargo due to non payment.  Later, the former Presidential palace houses since 1976 the Museum of the Cuban revolution with  holes  in the wall of historical shots as if they were the bones of a saint, as well as weapons, tanks or boats (the mythical Granma that brought the revolutionaries from Mexico) that led to the eventual drastic changes in the country for the worse.

Among the most visited areas of the museum is the Granma Memorial, founded on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the landing of the Granma yacht. It occupies the grounds of the old Parque Zayas, which President Alfredo Zayas had commanded to build during the last years of his term, in honor of himself, in front of the South Gate that divides the Memorial from the Palace.

You read up more about in English here: Visit Cuba on the Presidential Palace, Revolution museum

And see some of the beauty of it on the inside on this youtube video.

Hope you have enjoy this brief description of an icon of Havana for different points of views and reasons, divided as Cuba has been for the last 60+ years.  A must visit to understand the tumultous history of Cuba….

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

July 24, 2018

Well Havana does have other Churches!

Sitting back and looking over my photos, I realised that I as many like to write about the big ones, the Cathedrals etc, and famous Churches. Well , there are many wonderful temples that are not yet discovered or not enough and are just as beautiful and full of history and architecture that I like. This is especially the case with La Habana, or Havana, Cuba. The island nation has plenty of wonderful Churches and with loads of history and beautiful architecture.

I have decided to write about them even if long post, I just took the ones that I remember from childhood and got some old books at home out and even pictures;hope you like it. These are my favorites Churches of Havana.

As you can see from the list below, there are differences between the terms of Cathedral, Parish, Church and Chapel.  Religious temples in the Catholic Church differ by their territorial hierarchy.  The archdiocese is an area with several temples under the jurisdiction of an archbishop and the main church that is its headquarters is named Cathedral.  The parish is still in importance and has under its authority one or several nearby churches and chapels, the latter of a simpler structure. The hermitages are small temples usually far away from the towns.  The sanctuaries are temples to which many faithful pilgrims, where an image or relic is venerated or where a miracle took place.

For addresses and contact this unofficial site has plenty of info on Cuba and in this case the Churches: http://www.cuba-junky.com/cuba/help-churches-comunities-havana.htm

The official archidiocèse of Havana site is here: Havana Archdiocese webpage

Official Catholic Church in Cuba: Catholic Church in Cuba

And here we go!

Church San Francisco de Assisi located at Calle Cuba, Old Havana (Habana Vieja). Its construction began in the year 1548 and lasted until 1591, although it was inaugurated in 1575, it was completely finished almost 200 years later, with a series of structural reforms occurring from 1731 to 1738. The facade is located on the Calle Oficios where you can see three stone statues representing the Immaculate Conception, San Francisco de Assisi and Santo Domingo de Guzmán. It is composed of three large naves, which are held by twelve columns representing the Twelve Apostles, of the Catholic Church. It has a tower of 48 meters of height, which in the colonial era was the highest structure of the city for several centuries. The tower was crowned by an image of Saint Francis of Assisi, in stone, whose head was torn by the wind during the hurricane of 1846. A garden in honor of Mother Teresa of Calcutta has recently been built in the back.  The Franciscans monks used it as a high school for centuries; they taught grammar, philosophy, theology and mathematics. The Spanish colonial government takes in 1841 the property of the religious communities and the friars moved to the Church of St. Augustine, relatively close to the convent.  After this the convent is destined as warehouse and office of the General Archive and the Customs of Havana. After independence, in 1907, it is destined to the General Directorate of Post and Telegraph. In 1916 it was transformed again to host the General Directorate of Communications, which would later become a ministry. In 1941 and in 1944 it had restorations done.  In 1957 it moved the Ministry of Communications , and the Cuban revolution, it is given the category of Museum of Colonial History and one that  incorporates many historical objects of religious character to its collection. It was located in the lower basilica of the convent, after restorations, a room of sacred music and chamber.

Havana

Church of Our Lady of Mercy ( Nuestra Senora de la Merced) also located at Calle Cuba , corner of Merced, Old Havana (Habana Vieja), aka as the Church of the Mercedes. You will have the privilege of knowing one of the most emblematic religious temples of the greater of the Antilles, of singular beauty. In its interiors it is an imitation of the Italian churches erected in the likeness of the one of Saint Peter, in Rome. It consists of three naves separated by monumental arches of half a point. They call attention to the abundant and beautiful decorations of shades of gold and gleaming yellow, which contrast with the chestnut of the benches and the magnificent frescoes of the ceilings. The luxurious murals, the images of the vaults and the rest of the works of plastic arts, make up a collection of paintings from the last quarter of the 19C thanks to renowned Cuban artists of the time, including Manuel Lorenzo, responsible for the lofty main section, and Juan Crossa, who decorated the dome and the upper edges of the vaults of the greater Altar. The mural of the lower part of the Chapel, which refers to a pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Lourdes, is the work of Didier Petit, while the landscaper Esteban Chartrand painted the background of the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, located at the end of one of the two side aisles of the temple. They complete the constructive space the beautiful altars and the convent  annex, which maintains its original functions and is defined by a beautiful cloister patio. Father Geronimo Viladás asked that his remains be buried in La Merced after his death. Thirty years after he died, his desires were finally fulfilled and from 1913 he rests in the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes within the aforementioned church.

The construction of the temple began in the year 1630 at the hands of the faithful of the Lady of Mercy. The process, however, required more time and effort than expected. More than a century later, in 1742, the section between the facade and the pulpits had barely been completed, as well as a poor adjacent convent house. For 1834, the government employed the building as a warehouse, housing customs goods, until in 1863 it was handed over to the Vincentian fathers. The occasion was celebrated with a big popular festival and with the revival of the construction by Geronimo Viladás, Superior of the Missionary Friars now responsible for the enclosure. In the new task the established community poor and rich again intervened. Finally, on January 31, 1867, the renovated temple was inaugurated.

Parroquia de Sagrado Corazón de Jesús y San Ignacio de Loyola (Sacred Heart Parish of Jesus and St. Ignatius of Loyola) ,located at Calle Reina # 463, Centro Habana, district;  known in the city as the Church of Reina (Queen), is the highest church in Havana and one of the most majestic. Built in neo-Gothic style, is the highest church in Cuba and one of the most beautiful, its elevated tower of 50 meters can be seen from various points of the city.  It began approximately in 1907 due to needs that had the Jesuit fathers to have a place dedicated to their trades, the area chosen was that of Reina and Belsacoaín streets, the first stone was put on August 7, 1914 and on May 2, 1923 was consecrated , inaugurated the following day. It has the fundamental elements of this neo gothic style with pointed arch, high pointed vaults, reduced walls, large windows and luminous stained glass windows.  The altarpiece was made in Madrid, made of alabaster, wood and bronze, was brought in pieces and mounted on site. From the Calle Reina, you can see the great image of the Sacred Heart, carved in wood, whose base is the central capital that represents the parable of the Prodigal Son and the two saints who make guard; San Ignacio de Loyola and San Francisco Javier . Within the Temple, there are beautiful windows with stained glass, representing the life of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, passages of the Life of Ignatius of Loyola and some Jesuit saints. The Church has a central nave, supported by six lateral columns topped by ornate capitals, those that end at the main altar, which highlights a gigantic image of the Sacred Heart in an attitude to bless the faithful. To the right and left they are accompanied by two lively groups of Jesuit saints, as well as other saints and church doctors. A set of five angels, formed with their wings deployed a docility there is a bronze plaque on the altar of the Mass, where Jesus Christ is depicted as the slaughtered lamb and standing, symbol of his death and his subsequent resurrection, accompanied by a multitude that He sings praises to. The parish count also, with one of the most elegant organs of Cuba. The floor of the central nave is made by elaborate mosaics of stone and Crystal tesserae, it has in its entry the Greek letters Alpha and Omega, which signify Christ, and Ji and Ro, C and R initials of the Son of God in Greek.  In the end, there is an ancient anagram of Jesus in Latin: JHS Jesus Homo Salvator (Jesus Man Savior).  The two aisles form a Latin cross, one is dedicated to San José (St Joseph), where there is also an image of the Virgin of Charity of Copper (Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre), patron of Cuba, along with the Cuban flag. The altar of the other nave is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and is where the tabernacle that holds the consecrated hosts is located. At the bottom of the temple is carved an image of the Virgin of Fatima.

 Parish of Santa María del Rosario, located at Calle 24  between 31 and 33 avenues, Cotorro district, built in Baroque style was inaugurated in 1776 was built between 1760 and 1766 and is known with the title given by the Bishop : The Cathedral of the fields of Cuba (Catedral de los campos de Cuba)  has a baroque altar of great beauty.  The gigantic altar still looks like its gold-covered spiral columns. It also presents four beautiful pendentives painted by the first Cuban painter of which it is mentioned, José Nicolás de Escalera. The first Cuban scientist graduated in medicine, Dr. Tomás Romay y Chacón, was baptized in the parish Church of Santa Maria del Rosario in 1764. Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier married in this Church in 1940 something. José María Chacón y Calvo, a prominent  Hispanic historian and sixth Earl of Casa Bayona, was baptized in this Church. In addition, the Church was visited by Queen Sofia of Spain in 1999.

Iglesia Jesús de Miramar Church, 5ª Ave y 82 street, Miramar, Playa, Centro Habana district, the second largest church in Cuba. Built in a Roman-Byzantine style surmounted by a giant dome. Built between 1948 and 1953, it houses one of the largest tube organs in the world. The church murals, representing the 14 stations of the Via Crucis, were painted between 1952 and 1959 by the Spanish artist Cesareo Marciano Hombrados y de Onativia. The Roman soldier who stripped Jesus of his garments is a self-portrait of the artist himself.  The artist, also used as models for the murals by his wife Sara Margarita Fernandez and to all the people who contributed to the construction of the temple. The garden there is an imposing sculpture of 1.8 meters high  made in Carrara marble, replica of the Virgin of Lourdes (France).

Parroquia de Nuestra Senora del Rosario y San Luis Rey de Francia , (Our lady of Rosary and St Louis of France Church ) located at Calle 44  between 279 and 279 street, Guatao, Centro Habana district, this is the small town of the cemetery of my native área, and the Church is not far. Just for the memories; my native town Church is the Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Caridad  Church of Our Lady of Charity, also Cuba’s Patron Saint)  located at Ave. 249  betwen  42 and 44 streets, Punta Brava, Lisa, Centro Habana. Again not much on it just for the memories.

Punta Brava

The first church built in Havana was on the grounds where the Plaza de Armas of Old Havana is today, its construction cost only 32 pesos and was destroyed by the French pirates in 1538. Some of the old ones are here:

Church of Santo Cristo ,at calle Villegas between Lamparillas and Lieutenant Rey streets.Old Havana. Built in 17C, rebuilt in 1755 and renovated and enlarged in 1932. When the Plaza del Cristo was created, in the year 1640, this Church was drawn by the Franciscan Order. Its position was destined to the culmination of the ceremony of the way of the cross that started from the Church of San Francisco of Assisi and was of the preferred ones between the sailors and the Navy that made stay in Havana on their travels from Spain. Originally built as a hermitage and converted in 1693 in auxiliary of the major parish, it elevated to the category of parish in 1703. In the year 1899, after the American occupation, it was handed over to the American Augustinian Fathers. In the possession of these, the residence of the friars, a parochial school and the private School of St. Augustine were built in the surroundings.

Church of the Holy Spirit  (Iglesia del Espiritu Santo ) located at Calle Cuba between Acosta and Jesús María streets in Old Havana. Original Hermitage in 1638. Tower in 1707. Vault of the Presbytery in 1720. General reconstruction and lateral nave in 1760, remodeling in 1847. The oldest Church in Havana.  Although the original building, erected as a hermitage for free blacks, and built  towards 1661 in the second parochial Church of the village, dates approximately 1638, very little remains of it due to the successive works of repair, reconstruction and remodeling that are carried out until the 19C. The tower was built in 1707, the vault of the presbytery towards 1720 and around 1760 an almost total reconstruction was executed that included the erection of new walls and the addition of a lateral nave. Other elements of interest in this temple are the funerary crypts discovered inside in 1953; The tomb of Bishop Gerónimo Valdés, found in 1936; And the fact that it was declared in 1773 as the only church in Havana with the right to grant protection to those persecuted by the authorities.

Convento e Iglesia de Santa Teresa de Jesus (Convent and Church of Saint Theresa of Jesus) located at Calle Compostela corner of  Calle Lieutenant Rey. Old Havana.  Built on 1707, the Church and the Convent in the second half of the 18C.  This Church is one of the three jewels of the Colonial Baroque of Havana of the 18C, as far as religious buildings are concerned, in the times of greatest splendor, the convent occupied a plot of 6,900 square meters which was more than half of the block contained in the Calle Teniente Rey and, between Calle Aguacate and Calle Compostela. By Royal Certificate of the King Charles III of Spain, dated in Madrid on March 14, 1700, the foundation of the convent was authorized, which was originally destined to the religious order of the Barefoot Carmelites. On January 28, 1702 was dictated by Bishop Diego Avelino de Compostela, the decree authorizing the founding of the monastery in the building that then occupied the Church of Our Lady of Bethlehem (Nuestra Sra de Belén), with the houses and plots that he donated for the foundation of the east. The convent was called for many years monastery of the Barefoot Carmelites of Our Lady of Bethlehem of the Carmelitas Descalzas de Nuestra Senora de Belén). In 1753, the restoration of the Church that needed proper maintenance in the face of the deterioration of its ceilings. A few years later, the old walls of earth were replaced by stone walls. In 1928, the Carmelite mothers leave the residence because they were deprived of the closure that provides the order, as the height of the buildings that were built surrounding the monastery, specifically a building of the famous pharmacy Sarrá that It consisted of seven plants. After the nuns left the building that occupied the church and convent  was very much changed. In what was the Church of Our Lady of Bethlehem, another Church was founded with the name of María Auxiliadora, which remains its name today. Their gardens were abandoned and gradually lost the charm of other eras until they came to disappear. What once was orchard became a social dining room, in the part that gives to the Calle Compostela and in which it gives to the Calle Aguacate, in a child care center. The curb of the well and the cross that embellished the courtyard of the monastery, disappeared from the place many years ago.

Again ,these are some of my memories that are still there, and a beacon of hope for many of Havana. Plenty of history and architecture too, and if you are by there feel free to stop by, there are looking great after all these years.

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

July 23, 2018

Some news from France CXCVI

On a nice sunny breezy Monday I come back to you for the latest news gossips and whatnots of my belle France and especially gorgeous Paris.  The temp in my neck of the woods is 26C or about 78F and in Paris hotter at 87F no rain in sight !

It is becoming hotter and when you still need to work sad; folks asked me aren’t you at the beach, well I live here work here and not on vacation yet ok. It seems to me friends and family thinks that by living here we are on an eternal vacation time lol!

Anyway ,enough of my ramblings; here are the news.

Update:  More beautiful. Bigger. Enthroned in the heart of a garden facing the Museum of Modern Art, the Palais Galliera, which houses the Fashion Museum of the city of Paris, closed its doors last week. Objective: To make a new metamorphosis by doubling the area of its exhibition spaces thanks to the exploitation of the reserves. To develop new spaces in vaulted cellars in red bricks with a total area of nearly 700 m2. The new galleries will bear the name of Gabrielle-Chanel. Parisians and tourists will have to wait until December 2019 to discover the new face of the Galliera Palace which will become the only permanent Museum of fashion in France. More here: Palais Galliera

Just read in our nice little Parisian newspaper appropiatly call Le Parisien, that we will be for a long haul in parkings in Paris. At least as long as we have the immigrant from Cadiz in the Mayor’s office of Paris lol!  This is their reporting:  So far they were only used to park your good old car gas/petrol or diesel. Tomorrow, they will also be used to recharge your electric vehicle, to borrow or rent other cars, to park bikes or scooters, or even to… harvest mushrooms , this is in the underground parkings of Paris! The idea is  to equip with charging stations thousands of parking spaces. The objective of the city is to reach about 30% of the places equipped with terminals. A considerable upheaval when we know that Indigo(system)  currently has only 113 terminals on more than 57 000 spaces or… 0.2%;  diesel cars will indeed be banned in the capital in 2024 and it will take alternatives , well mine is due to be change in 2020 lol!!!.  The city of Paris plans to promote the parking of the two wheels underground (that is motos, scooters, bikes). According to our information, a “Multipark” pass will be proposed by the end of 2018. It will allow scooters and motorcycles to go down to park in any underground parking, from different operators, for about 70€  per month (50€ subscription for parking, plus 20€ to enjoy 4 hours of parking per day in other parks , without reservation). For secure car parks for bicycles, with offers of subscriptions around 10€ per month. In addition, with the failure of Autolib (car system similar to velib for bikes), new car-parting services are being deployed, and the underground parking lots will also have to be reserved for some places. The Saemes (parking group) thinks, for one of its next car parks, to create an urban farm on a level. The underground car park has little light and a constant temperature, which is an advantage for growing mushrooms or endive!! With all these new services, how to park your car “normal” like today? The city/town  hall of Paris is not worried. They claim the number of cars is dropping, and at the same time, the number of road places increases with the parking reform. they are at 12% of the “vacuum rate” in open spaces, the city is being assured. Source: Le Parisien

And more work… During the work, the trains circulate and the station is open! The RER A station has, at Vincennes, major restructuring work which will take place there for three years, until 2021 ,of course for the comfort of the passengers, namely the creation of a public bathroom, a bicycle set-up Véligo along the passenger building, rue Aubert, the improvement of accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities and the creation of an opening on the place Pierre-Sémard. The press kiosk will disappeared in the works, the city plans to install a newsstand on the place Sémard.  The extension of the passenger building on the place Pierre-Sémard, but also the expansion of the two secondary accesses located on Rue de la République, the complete renovation of the quays and, in the end, the main access will be by place Pierre-Sémard, facing the Rue du aprés-midi and not by Rue Aubert. As far as the pedestrian pathway is concerned, the signs have just been laid. A crosswalk, marked in yellow, was created to reach the north sidewalk of rue Aubert, so as to avoid walking on the roadway and to cross safely across the entrance to the station. More in French here: city of Vincennes on RER A works

The Butte aux Cailles, an authentic little village hidden behind the Place d’Italie(13C). In the enclosure of the butte by an open passage on the Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui. First, the inescapable historical reminders, like the worker’s past of the small enclave built on quarries. Here were turning factories and small shops of old trades thanks to the water of the river Bièvre (now buried ,you can walk on top at rue de Biévre near St Germain-des-Prés). It was in 1860 that the former Hill of 62 m in height, once attached to the nearby town of Gentilly, incorporates  into the City of Paris,  before playing an important role in the battle of the Commune of Paris, in 1871. In the previous century, it was also there that landed in 1783 the famous first balloon flight of Pilâtre de Rozier. Street art artists love to express themselves on the walls of these places. We pass the famous Rue des Cinq-diamants, or the cute place Paul-Verlaine has us the facades of the charming little Alsace, this set of half-timbered houses that once housed workers.  Next  photo Stroll call the  “quails and scoundrels” of Atypic’Photo will be July 29. Price:39€ (and 16€ for accompanying persons without a camera). Registration at A Typic Photo

Goodbye, Marks & Spencer. Long live the Galeries Lafayette. The department store will set up in the Beaugrenelle Shopping Centre (15éme) in the second half of 2019 in lieu of the British store specializing in ready-to-wear and food . While waiting for the opening of the future store, Parisians and visitors can discover the new store of 52 Avenue des Champs-Elysées (8éme) which should open its doors in March 2019.  Stay tune here: Galeries Lafayette

And my nostalgic beautiful Yvelines dept 78 , we have good news.    The mansion in which Georges Bizet composed and orchestrated “Carmen” was awarded the “heritage of regional interest” label. A new step in relaunching the site. This heritage of regional interest label is a label that covers the unprotected regional heritage of which “heritage value is a regional interest”. 30 sites in Île-de-France region  received this label: the house where Georges Bizet is the only one in the Yvelines. This boost allows the city of Bougival to advance on its great project of European Music Center on this site. It will be distributed in several places. First of all, Bizet’s house, which will host an artist’s residence, and the “Espace Carmen”, in which excerpts from the opera are broadcast in conference rooms. Also located in Bougival, Villa Viardot, which belonged to the soprano Pauline Viardot, will be part of the project. In ruins, it must, above all, benefit from important restoration work. This is a great effort and here are the other sites as well in French: Heritage sites of regional interest Ile de France

The Promenade des petits ponts,(walks of small bridges) in Chevreuse, is certainly the most romantic place in the Yvelines, Ile-de-France region. Imagine a trail along a canal that spans about twenty flowering walkways, not two alike. Beautiful stone houses and antiques. More vivid testimony of this story: The Château de la Madeleine, and its 12C dungeon, perched on a mound of land offering an incomparable view of the city. Chevreuse, it is also a city very quickly turned on water, with the Yvette river crossing it, and its canal not far from the beautiful Church of Saint Martin, the Place des Halles recalls the large wheat market, one of the largest in Ile-de-France which stood there until the French Revolution. The city has also seen many personalities: the beautiful Marie de Rohan, Duchess of Chevreuse to the many lovers, the sulphurous poet and revolutionaries Fabre of Eglantine, or the playwright Jean Racine. Chevreuse,  guided visits contact  email:  charonmi@wanadoo.fr.  More information on  Memories of the Chevreuse

Since the death in 1975 of Baron Guy-François de Roig, the last owner of the premises, the Château de Jossigny had only opened its doors on rare occasions. It is therefore an exceptional visit of this 18C castle that the Heritage Festival of Seine-et-Marne (dept 77) proposed in recent days the 35th Heritage Days scheduled on 15 and 16 September 2018. For this reopening to the public, several rooms on the ground floor of the building were refurnished the “bean” sofas, closed to the public due to the collapse of the floors, thus took place in the alcoves of the Grand Salon, under the portraits of the castle’s sponsors, Augustin Leconte des Gravels and his wife Marie-Anne de Bragelongne. The vestibule, the gentleman’s Lounge, the dining room and the kitchen are also filled with precious testimonies of the life of a pleasure house, partly destroyed by the Prussian occupation in 1870. More here: Official site of the Chateau de Jossigny

Another great event at Chantilly is back!   On track. Warm lights, Oriental music… The horses and their riders follow each other in the great stables which will propose from this Wednesday the show “On the steps of Marco Polo”. Rehearsal started. For an hour, we witnessed the travels and meetings of the Italian merchant, first embodied by Moroccan rider Ibrahim Chihi. Eight riders accompany him from Wednesday to August 26th, at 14h30 (2:30pm), at the grand stables or Grandes Ecuries de Chantilly. admission 21€ adults. Information at tel +33 (0) 3.44.27.31.80. More here: Domaine de Chantilly events

A dandy with new chef, admit been here on business lunch ,but the mounting of the top is great with wonderful views of Paris. Set on the roof of the Théatre des Champs-Elysées Theater in the 8th arrondissement, with its dining room and two terraces, each offering a sumptuous view of the capital, the Maison Blanche (white house) is one of the mythical places. The new chef is Fabrice Giraud, has nothing to envy  the previous ones. The light for lunch niçoise salad that has blown me away by the freshness of its ingredients and the tart-fruity balance of the seasoning. See it at the La Maison Blanche,15, avenue Montaigne, 8éme. Tél.+33 ( 0) 1 47 23 55 99. Formules lunch two dishes at 49€, three dishes at 59€.  Menu carte about 100-120€ with a half bottle of wine per person. More info here: Restaurant La Maison Blanche

Summer in Paris is without concession. Pushing us to look for the trenches. And we find this small square lined with roses with eternal flowers, protected by the Hotel du Grand Veneur, historical building reminiscent of the petticoats and corsets before the take of the Bastille. Great for a late afternoon picnic and escape the heat of Paris.  square Saint-Gilles du Grand Veneur 9, rue du Grand-Veneur, 3éme. Bring your baguette et voilà. More info here: Tourist office of Paris

And last but not least, we have away from Paris in beautiful historical stunning Rouen.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), the Museum of Fine Arts of Rouen in partnership with the Centre Pompidou and the  Metropolitan Museums,  presents an important exhibition devoted to his work, Until September 24th, 2018. Entitled “ABCDuchamp: the Expo to understand Marcel Duchamp”. It proposes a course in the form of an ABC to better understand the magnitude of his work, its impact on the artistic scene of the time and its influence on the different currents of Contemporary art and current creation.  Such work as the ready made and iconic fountain that created a veritable shockwave in 1917 in the art community. Nice.  More in French here: Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rouen

There you go for now folks, that’s is all … Stay tune as France is a movable feast ::)

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

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