Archive for July, 2018

July 31, 2018

La Liga, Real Madrid, and football is on 2018-2019 season!

This is something would like to write more, but for some reason let it lagged behind. My passion for football/soccer/calcio is huge. I am the one who yelled screamed and sing/dance even in bars when the games of my beloved team is on. Therefore, on a sunny day in my Morbihan Breton, let me tell you more about one of my passions.

I have written before several blog posts on the sport and my team, and La Liga (the league as its call in Spain).  I think you will have plenty to read on the history ,the passion, and the game as well as Madrid above.

Let me tell you a bit more about the League or Liga for this coming season 2018-2019. And why not start with the official webpage for it in English: La Liga

Just saying,the Liga starts officially August 19th 2018 with teams matches/games.  However, before on August 15th will be the first official match for championships as the UEFA Champions league Real Madrid, will face the Europa League Champions Atletico de Madrid at Lillekûla Stadium , Tallinn, Estonia

Our first Liga game will be against our neighbors to the south Getafe schedule tentatively for August 18-19th.

Before,all this, there will be Summer games in the FIFA International Champions Cup, in the heat with players just not even ready as they came from playing in the World Cup but FIFA imposed for money in my opinion. This tournament many times is played with mixed teams sometimes the C third string players! This is the case already with some of the teams starting their ICC like the PSG of Paris(losing to Bayern Munich).

The games for Real Madrid will be August 1st vs Manchester United at Hard Rock Stadium , Miami FL USA ,August 5th vs Juventus of Turin, Fedex Field, Landover, MD USA, August 8th vs AS Roma at Met Life Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ USA.

The Spanish championship of the First division  between 1928 and 2008,  then Liga BBVA from 2008 to 2016 and La Liga Santander since 2016 . The antechamber of this division is the Spanish Second Division Championship.  According to the UEFA coefficient for classifying the European National Championships, the Spanish First Division or Liga Santander  is the best national Football League in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

At the end of the season, the first four in the standings qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the fourth first  go through the preliminary round of this competition. The fifth and sixth are qualified for the Europa League. Another qualifying place for the Europa League will be guaranteed to the winner of the King’s Cup (Copa del Rey).

Madrid

For the season 2018-2019 in Europe the Liga will have in the Champions league competition,the Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Atletico de Madrid. In the Europa League it will have Betis, Sevilla,and Villarreal.

The latest  UEFA coeffficient ranking of Spanish clubs has the Real Madrid 158, Atletico de Madrid 135, Barcelona 132, Sevilla 113, Villarreal 52, Atletico Bilbao 46, and Real Sociedad 15,5.

A bit of history I like.

Before 1928, the only Spanish event of national character was the Copa del Rey (Kings Cup or Spain Cup). The idea of a national championship is set out as early as April 1927, this competition finally received the approval of the Spanish Federation on 23 November 1928. In order to constitute the first First Division (Primera División) in history, some formations are automatic inserted because of their past results: Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Real Unión de Irun, Espanyol Barcelona, CD Europe Barcelona and Atlético de Madrid.  A playoff tournament involving ten clubs is set up to designate the tenth and last member of the First Division. Real Racing Santander wins  the final on the occasion of this tournament against Sevilla FC. The first day of the First Division championship takes place on February 10, 1929. The First Division remained at ten clubs until 1934, and then passed to 12 clubs. The Spanish Civil War puts football on the back burner between 1936 and 1939, the date of the championship resumption, which starts with 12 clubs. 14 clubs in 1941, 16 in 1950, 18 in 1971 and 20 from 1987. The 1995-1996 and 1996-1997 seasons compete exceptionally at 22 clubs due to the recourse of clubs not wanting to be administratively relegated to 2 ª B division.

63 clubs have played in the First Division of the Spanish Championship but only 3 have remained in the first division since the start of the competition: Athletic Bilbao, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. These three clubs and the Osasuna are the only ones , which continue to be sports entities owned by their subscribers (Socios) and not anonymous companies whose owners are the shareholders.

The oldest stadium in which a First division team plays is El Molinón inaugurated in 1908 in which the Sporting of Gijón plays.  The most titled player is the Spanish Francisco Gento with 12 championships. The most titled Coach is Miguel Muñoz (9), both of Real Madrid.

The teams with the most titles in La Liga historically are: Real Madrid (my team forever) 33 titles, Barcelona 25, Atletico de Madrid 10, Athletic Bilbao 8, Valencia 6, Real Sociedad (San Sebastian), 2, Real Betis(Sevilla) 1, Sevilla 1, Deportivo La Coruna 1.

The titles in Europe are :

Champions league, Real Madrid 13, Barcelona  5. Super Cup UEFA (Europe) Barcelona 5, Real Madrid 4, Valencia 2, Atletico de Madrid 2, Sevilla 1

Europa League (UEFA)  Sevilla 5, Atletico de Madrid 3, Real Madrid 2, Valencia 1.

Intercontinental Cup/ World Cup Clubs:  Real Madrid 6, Barcelona 3, Atletico de Madrid 1.

The Season 2018-2019 will be the 88th edition of the Spanish Football Championship. It will have the best 20 clubs of Spain playing in 38 games more or less weekly. Real Madrid goes in with an estimated budget of 900M€ tops new Coach Julen Lopetegui(former National team of Spain coach), playing since 1947 at the famous historical Santiago Bernabéu stadium with official capacity of  81 044 persons.

MAdrid

And I ,of course, can’t wait for it to start. The highlight of the year and the talk of the house. The team this year is a question mark with a new controversial hiring coach, the lost of key players that should remain nameless as no longer with us (thank you for the past services), and not much hiring of importance yet. Wait and see situation,which hopefully will peak by the time Champions league begins ::)

Stay tune plenty of choices to watch it on many channels on many networks and plenty of different languages. Enjoy La Liga !!!

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

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).

Madrid

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 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.

Saint Augustine

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.

New Brunswick

Municipal courthouse of New Brunswick ,after US Citizen swearing in

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 29, 2018

Guérande at Loire Atlantique!!!

It was that time again to go visit one of my favs places in my well west coast of France. The place is not far from me about 1h30 in a free toll road to heaven. It was yesterday Saturday, and we had to do many things.

I am was in need to take my sons to their Easycash , Vannes, place to exchange their games dvd cd etc for cash. Then, purchase my gallon of paint at Castorama Vannes, and on way back do my groceries at E Leclerc Vannes. Finally home by 13H we sat to have our goodie lunch. And finally done by 14h we set out on our way.

I had contacted a local friend to meet us there ,and set out to see Guérande again, in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 (old Brittany) now part of the region of Pays de la Loire. There was the 2nd edition of Village Vignerons festivities for local Loire muscadet wine tastings.

Guerande

The city of Guérande is in our back yard so we have been several times there and even collect my Loire wines there at the parent’s home of the winemaker.  This time we set out for another quick look at the town and take part in the festival. Easy on the road N165 to exit 15 and onwards on the D774 to the Porte or gate Vannetaise just by the ramparts walls of Guérande. Here , we always get a nice metered parking and this time was no exception parking right in front of the gate! The rest is on foot!

So a bit on the transports:

The transport here is mainly roads and car is king. The D213 road , nicknamed the Route Bleue (Blue Road) , is a tourist road, which, from the start of the route, leads to Moutier-en-Retz; It connects to Nantes-Saint-Nazaire are to the city center, several departmentals roads cross the Blue Road; D 233 leads to Saint-Molf, north of the road; D 51 heads towards Saint-Lyphard. The D 247 joins Saint-André-des-Eaux to the east; D 774a reached the peninsula of the Saillé after crossing the salt marshes to the south; Finally the D 99 leads to the Turballe, after being passed through Clis to the north-west. The D 774, via Herbignac, joins the dept 56 of Morbihan by connecting on the National road N165 which leads from Nantes to Vannes. (my road usually) . The bus network is Lila, never used it. There are many bicycle paths and one created for the region connecting to the European network here call Vélocéan, which follows the Atlantic coastline in the Loire-Atlantique department. And is served by 4 routes of the network, me never used it.

The city urban part occupies the top of a hillside that dominates a territory almost entirely surrounded by water, salty or sweet, called the Guérande Peninsula. The history of the town itself is strongly marked by the presence of salt marshes that have made its richness.  It is located in the west of the Loire-Atlantique department, at 17 km west of Saint-Nazaire, It is also at 44 km (about 27 mi) southeast of Vannes and 67 km west of Nantes.

A bit of history I like (done more in previous blog posts)

The first known signs of the existence of the present locality date from the second half of the 4C. The High Middle Ages is a period disturbed by the differences between francs and Bretons. it is then Breton  under Merovingian domination, then by the Norman invasions. The first known written reference of the town is from  1206. In the 14C, the city was drawn into the war of the Succession of Brittany, which pitted Jean de Montfort with Charles de Blois. It ends with the signature of a treaty  in 1365. At the end of the 15C, the city was the refuge for almost a month of  Anne of Brittany and her court fleeing the plague which then raged in Nantes. The Duchess will maintain privileged ties with Guérande throughout her reign.

An ancient construction having been reused as the first place of worship during the evangelization of the region , and was not discovered during the archaeological explorations of the site. But his presence is possible. A first building is located on the present site along the centuries, according to tradition, under the aegis of the king of Vannes, Waroc’h II. This religious building, probably modest, would be at the origin of the current urban settlement. After the transferred of the relics of Saint-Aubin of Angers, a second larger building was built in the late 9C or 10C ,and it was the Church of Saint Aubin. This building will be very quickly surrounded by a cemetery between the 10C and 12C. One of the sarcophagus found under the present choir, at the bedside level, in the 19C was deposited in the lower chapel or crypt of the Collegiate Church. The incursions of the Normans, with significant consequences in the region, needed the reconstruction of the buildings, in Late Roman style or the demography of the city and the assertion of its commercial power can also be at the origin of this reconstruction as a prestige event. This phase began after the middle of the 12C and ended with the construction of the main façade in the 13C. After the sack of Guérande by the troops of Louis de La Cerda in 1342 in the context of the War of Succession of Brittany, the ruined collegiate Church is rebuilt from 1380 in Gothic style; with the south transept and the Crypt done in the 14C , the north transept is then resumed and the choir and bedside are rebuilt in the 15C. A new Gothic façade finishes the building, the frame on the transepts is laid in 1541. The cemetery extends from this time to the north of the Collegiate Church, until its displacement to place Sainte-Anne in the 19C, at the site of the present place John XXIII, thus creating the present place Saint-Aubin in 1705, a hurricane destroyed the campanile of Renaissance style at the top of the façade. A new arrow is built, it will be destroyed by a storm in 1785. In 1789-1790,during the French revolution, the Church is dilapidated, the pipes of the organ are melted, the bells also. The Church will temporarily serve the worship of the temporay supreme being. The Church was returned to Catholic worship in 1802 under the Concordat. An always beautiful Church to visit.

Guerande

Guerande

Some beautiful stained glass do not believe had photographed them before.

Guerande Guerande Guerande

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Guérande tourism : http://en.ot-guerande.fr/heritage-and-the-salt-marshes.html

The area la Baule – Guérande tourist info : http://en.labaule-guerande.com/cites-remarquables.html

Loire Atlantique dept 44 tourism in French: https://tourisme-loireatlantique.com/selection/quoi-faire-a-guerande/

Right around the Church of Saint Aubin and the wonderful Halles (covered market)  you have a wonderful market and especially fish and seafood , and other local products on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturday morning . The building is a nice covered market and the morning markets overflow into the place Saint Aubin, Place de la Psalette areas. More here: City of Guérande on markets

Now the main reason to come this day was the 2nd Edition of the Village Vignerons; or the independent winemakers of the Nantes region. We come here and get our house wines all the way from here to Amboise in Touraine. These are wonderful wines not yet too known ,very affordable and good winemaking with lots of history behind.  For France, this is still small ,regional fanfare but its gaining nicely thanks to folks like me an

The official name of the organizers are the Association de Vignerons Indépendants Nantais. If want to know more about them and the wines here see their webpage in French: http://www.vignerons-independants-pays-de-la-loire.fr/

The event took place Saturday July 28 2018 from 9h to 20h at the Place du Vieux Marché. You buy a glass with the icon of the independent vignerons for 3€ and this allows you to taste up to 3 different wines per winery. Therefore, there were 10 wineries and we tasted 33 wines!!! Not all drank mind you, there is a proper way of spitting most of it. It was done with plenty of children games that my friend’s son really enjoyed and got us into it! there were troubadours singing trios parading the place and goodies from oysters, to foie gras, pate  ,and jellies/honeys from the area.  More on the event poster here: City of Guérande on the Village Vignerons

However, the main thing was the wine and mostly Muscadet Sévre et Marne sur lie, but also, chardonnays, malvoises, gamay, glolleau, melon de Bourgogne,  old berligou red (Breton Ducal wine), 4754 a extinct grape from the 1800’s still kept a parcel here, and of course cabernet franc and apple juice and crémant bubbly wines, sauvignon gris, grape juice,  you name all done on site by families of many generations; my real France. All was set up in a circular motion around the square of the old market (Place du Vieux Marché).  The welcome or Accueil center where you purchase your glass and get a map of the presenters and a coupon to play on the nose senses challenge to win bottles of wines.  Some of the other producers on site were Servanne Bigot of the Conserverie Les Bocaux Locos with lots of canned, jar goodies, Les Chévres du Cougou with good goat cheese from the best area, Nicolas Josso with its oysters, and mussels etc all yummy!

We started of course with No 1 on the list Château de Fromenteau, and owners Anne and Christian Braud.  We continue with Domaine du Champ Chapron, of Carmen Suteau, Domaine Ménard Gaborit of Philippe Ménard, Château du Coing of Véronique Gunther Chéreau. Vignobles Jaumouillé of Gaêtan Jaumouillé, Domaine Le Jardin d’Edouard , with  Edouard Massart, Domaine le Moulin de la Touche of Vincent Hérissé. Vignoble Marchais of Philippe Marchais. Domaine Poiron Dabin of Jean-Michel Poiron. Domaine de la Coche with Laurent Guitteny, and Domaine Pierre-Luc Bouchaud with Pierre-Luc Bouchaud.

Guerande Guerande Guerande Guerande

And of course we load up as usual, the idea of coming to these things is not just to taste but to encounter the owners, learn more on wine (always time for that even for old pross like me) , and buy some of the better ones on a foursome panel (me and my 3 boys, sadly my dear late wife Martine was here and would have love it).

We purchased our favorites from domaine poiron dabin, domaine de la coche, vignobles marchais , and domaine le moulin de la touché. And we pickup some ideas to come back!

First, the Vignobles Marchais have a lodging in barrels made into a cabin you can stay and rent it, the tariffs are 95€ for two persons and 120€ for four person ,one night, aperitif drink to start, a basket of breakfast, and a tour tasting of the property. You take a look only in French of course, you see the pictures and they can speak English: A night in a wine barrel at Marchais

The other we are thinking of going is by Domaine Poiron Dabin , they have a bigger selection of wines including the ones we purchase too, the Berligou Red 2015. This is a grape  ordered planted here by the Dukes of Brittany from 1460 after a gift made by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Reckless (téméraire)  cousin of Duke François II of Brittany! here you have a walk escape in the vineyards in early morning to find bottles hidden in their grape plot, middle of the enigma you will have a picnic meal, encounters with members of the wine making team that will take you to the cellar for tastings. Reservation from 2 persons and up, with prior reservation, cost is 30€ per adult. More info here: Picnic on Poiron Dabin

Another possibility with Poiron Dabin, and Philippe is very talkative guy!!! just my type lol!! jointly with the La Toue de Nantes will give you a boat ride call Régal vigneron, on the boat Libellule a replica of the traditional boats of the region navigating by the Sévre and later the Maine rivers with beautiful natural views and fairy tell lights, you will meet a winemaker  like him very passionate about his trade and will taste several bottles.  This is done leaving from Chaussée des Moines de Vertou and cost 50€ per person. A minimum of 8 persons needs to be wait to take off; more information at domaine Poiron Dabin, tel +33 (0) 2 40 06 56 42 or the La Toue de Nantes +33 (0) 6 81 87 64 49 cell/mob number. More at boat tour here:  boat ride Libellule by Poiron Dabin

Also, for these boats you can go on their tours apart by contacting them La Toue de Nantes in French here.  La Toue de Nantes boat rides

There you go a wonderful one day trip as many able to do here in my belle France, wonderful west of France off the coast and rivers of my beloved Brittany (and some parts that were::)). Enjoy the rides.

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

July 29, 2018

The Puertas or Gates of Toledo!

Moving right along in my wonderful Spain, I come back to a memorable town of my beloved Spain, Toledo. Never enough of it, as have been coming here since youthful days and still family/friends nearby on the road to Madrid. 

Toledo should need no introduction to anyone, one of the jewels of the Western world and an example for todays’ societies. I rather concentrate on one particular aspect of their architecture, that is the Gates or Puertas of Toledo. This is my story from family books of old.

Puerta de Bisagra (Hinge gate) . Of Muslim origin it is formed by two bodies between which sandwiched a square of arms of Charles V . Its function was more monumental than defensive since the tower is beautifully decorated with embossed ashlars and the billiard are flush with the ground. It is known as “new” because there is another gate in the vicinity ,smaller size, called the old Gate of Bisagra or gate of Alfonso VI. Its Muslim name was Bab Al Shaqa   The external side is formed by a half point arch with cushioned ashlars, on which stands a great shield of the “Imperial City”, with its unmistakable doubleheaded Eagle. In addition to a pediment with a sculpture of a guardian angel,  flanking this entrance two large circular towers. The body that gives towards the city has another half-point arch gate, flanked by two square towers topped by pyramidal roofs. Currently is one of the emblems of the city, both for its beauty and for its access from the north of the city to The Old town.

Toledo

Puerta de Alfonso VI  or Puerta Antigua de Bisagra ( old hinge gate) one of the curiosities of this gate is that in the exterior facade has a curious horseshoe arch surrounded by alfiz and crossed by a lintel. It was built in the 9C and was the main access to the city. Its original name was Bib-Sacra , according to texts from the 12C, who’s meaning is “Puerta de la Sagra”. In addition to serving as access to the city, it was also a defensive resource and was an extension of the walled enclosure.  Architecturally speaking is a rectangular plant. On the exterior facade we see a large central arch of horseshoe framed in an alfiz and traversed by a lintel that makes it a very unique arch. For the construction of this gate  were used Visigoths remains. If you look at the top we can see Mudejar elements that were added after their original construction. We can see a defence gallery with windows to the outside and an adarve with battlements.

Puerta de Alarcones (falcons gate) One of the gates that defended access to the city in the Moorish era. This gate, unlike the previous one, is not decorated because its function was only defensive. This gate of Visigoth origin in the Islamic era was of great importance for the city. One of the best-defended accesses in Toledo was considered by the Puerta del Sol. It was considered as the gate through which the most illustrious personages visited the city. The first references we have of it are dated in 1216, calling it the Mohaguía gate. This mention is made in a Mozarabic document. Later it is known as the high gate of the blacksmith, to situate in that area the workshops of the blacksmiths.  From the 14C it loses its importance and becomes a secondary gate of access to Toledo. In this century it suffers a series of modifications. Losing its importance by rebuilding the Puerta del Sol gate. The original horseshoe arch became a half-point arch so that the carriages could be accessed. In the 17C  the upper body was reformed due to the enlargement of the Convent of Our Lady of the Assumption, owned by the nuns Bernardas Recoletas.

Toledo

Puerta de Alcántara.  Located in the area of the eastern wall is one of the most important of the military precinct. Formerly between the space between this gate and the bridge was a closed arms square that had two other side gates. It is in front of the Alcantara Bridge, which crosses the Tajo River, which in turn is protected by two fortified gates at its ends. Of Moorish origin, dating back approximately to the 10C, although important modifications were made during the Christian era. The gate constitutes an entrance in bend, typical of the Moorish military engineering, and its main span consists of a horseshoe arch located between two square towers and battlements with arches on its sides.

Toledo

Puerta de Valmardón o Bab-al-Mardum.  For quite some time this gate was walled because the Puerta del Sol was used that was much more accessible and less slope. This defensive tower was losing value over the years losing part of its structure as its two towers or the upper room. One of the gates of access to the Medina Toledo, this gate is that of Bab-Al-Mardum that it comes to mean  walled gate or condemned . It is also known as Valmardón, but we can also hear it with other names. Christ Gate of the Light(Cristo de la Luz), Balmardón, of Aquilina, Agilana, Mayordomo (Butler), of the Cross, these are some names as this door is known. This gate was built between the 9C and 10C, it is one of the oldest gates in the city. This Valmardón gate has had several uses over time. In its beginnings was the gateway to the medina of the city. The medina is, in the Muslim cities, the area of the city where the main buildings of the city were. Within this medina were the major mosque, the souk, the Alcazaba, etc… After the reconquest of the city it was to be court prison and also was execution of moors. Likewise was the residence of the Corregidor of the city, it is at that time when it was known like Gate of the Butler (Puerta del Mayordomo). Over time the height of the gate was lowered, losing the upper body, because it was no longer a defensive element of the city. The Catholic monarchs ceded the gate to Pedro Lasso de Castilla of the Mendoza family. It belonged to this family until the 18C. One of his last civil uses was as a Hospital of San Lázaro.

Toledo

 

Puerta de los Doce Cantos. It is the most modest; its function was to give way to the district of  Alficén to the bridge of Alcántara. Have pointed to that is derived from   “Twelve pipes ” in reference to the possibility that there was a source in this place with that number of mouths.  It is located in the eastern part of the walled enclosure, in a defensive complex that would correspond to the crouches of the Alficén that protected the primitive citadel Alcazar around the Moorish period. To its small dimensions, it caused that the adjacent wall was demolished in the 18C to open the current ascent to the Calle Cervantes, leaving the gate of twelve chants (Doce Cantos)  relegated to ostracism, walled loads of rubble. It ran from this point of the Gate of Doce Cantos the new way round, that surrounded the city from there to the convent of Gilitos (then prison), which constituted a landmark for the communications of the city and that was the antecedent of the current round corneas, executed towards 1983. An Islamic gate built in the 10C that, has come to our days very deteriorated.

Puerta de Cambrón. Its curious name comes from the Cambroneras, thorny shrubs that grew in that place. It is a gate of Moorish origin that has undergone many changes over the years. A Gate of the Cambron, also known as Gate of the Jews and the gate of Santa Leocadia. The gate is of square floor with a central courtyard, its current aspect is due to the reconstruction carried out between the years 1572 and 1577. In a Renaissance style, it has two facades. The exterior façade faces the Vega del Tajo. On this façade we can see in the central body the balconies of the House of the warden of the gate. It is topped by two towers covered with spires of slate. We can also see the municipal shield of Toledo from the time of king Felipe II  and two seated Goths kings. In the interior facade we can see the Royal Shield of King Felipe II and below an image of Santa Leocadia, patron of the city.  We can also see two towers as well as on the exterior façade. A rectangular-shaped central patio is where people, carriages and others who wanted to access the city from this gate passed. This is where the “Portazgo” of access was charged, tax exempt to the residents of Toledo and its mountains and its jurisdiction, as a plaque in this courtyard reads. It is the only historic gate of Toledo by which you can pass by vehicle inside it.

Puerta del Sol. Its name is due to a relief with the emblem of the Cathedral under a moon and the sun. It is of Moorish origin but has undergone several modifications over the years. It is a gate of Islamic origin in which we can find Roman remains, although the general aspect of Mudejar style is due to a reform ordered in the 14C by Cardinal Pedro Tenorio. This reform was the result of a civil conflict that occurred in Toledo because of the struggle that was caused by the succession of John I of Castile. The name of Puerta del Sol was not his original name. Calling it Gate of the blacksmith or the low gate of the blacksmith, in 1575. The city Corregidor, tried to change the name to Puerta de San Ildefonso. This attempt to change the name is due to the replacement of an old crucifix by the medallion, which we can now contemplate, which depicts the miracle of the imposition of the chasuble of St. Ildelfonso by the Virgin Mary. But this attempt at change did not went well with the residents for what it followed with its name.

It was not until 1752 where it appears in the cadastre of Ensenada as Torre del Sol (sun tower). This name is given by a representation of some stars that appears in the medallion that we mentioned before. From that moment the name is popularised and it stays as the Puerta del Sol or Sun’s gate. The gate went from being an indispensable access to the city, but after the time and with the extension of the street parallel to this entrance, building a wall in 1785 and demarcating the ascent to the square of Zocodover. At this moment it becomes an ornamental door rather than passing through or access. It’s Mudejar style. It’s built on a stone base of ashlars and masonry. The entrance arch is a horseshoe that is embraced by a pointed horseshoe top arch. Both the battlements and the frieze are built in brick. In the frieze we can see interwoven blind arches, like lobed arches, typical of the Mudejar style of Toledo. These bows are decorative. We will also see in the battlements these types of decorative arcs. In the middle of the first row of blind arches we find the remains of a Roman sarcophagus. We also found in the center of the horseshoe arch pointed a medallion. We also see the representation of the Moon and the sun, giving this the name to the gate. The sarcophagus would tell us about the “Legend of beautiful children”, is a representation of the Roman period . The other legend or miracle is the representation that we have already commented that there is in the medallion. That miracle or legend will tell you when we talk about the Chapel of the Ascension of the Cathedral of Santa Maria de Toledo.

Toledo

There you go hope it helps you understand a bit more the wonders of Toledo, the city of the world. Castilla La Mancha region of the kingdom of Spain.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are!

Tourist office of Spain on Toledo: Spain on Toledo

Tourist office of Toledo; Tourist office of Toledo

UNESCO on Toledo: Toledo by UNESCO

Tourist info in Spanish from city of Toledo: City of Toledo on tourism

Region of Castilla La Mancha on Toledo: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha

Wines of Toledo : Wines of Toledo and Castilla La Mancha

Toledo

There you go, you are all set to go, just lets your fingers do the walking and pack. Toledo awaits you, the world is welcome.

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

 

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July 28, 2018

Does looking down matters!

Ok so here I am thinking, ok done. It is hot very hot and of course no AC lol!!! As the years go by , we talk of getting used to it but no way, can’t,one drawback. The rest is heavens of course. In my neck of the woods

Now, what about looking down? Folks go up in buildings and take pictures of far away buildings sort of funny ways. Well I have some looking down from buildings in Ciudad Mexico or CDMX or Mexico DF, in Mexico. Ok my head is spinning…..

Here are the pictures looking down!

Mexico DF

Mexico DF

And we go higher or is it looking down deeper?

Mexico DF

 

And I left you in the middle !!!

Mexico DF

Ok , I just landed oops. Enjoy the heights but don’t get too high ok. Cheers

And remember, no matter what you do ,high or low , be happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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July 28, 2018

And I go inland again, to Elven!

Ok so I set out near me again, this time to the inland town of Elven. I was with a group of friends ,and we had lunch at a nice place that I had already visited with my dear late wife Martine.

I have written before on it together with other nearby towns; these are Elven, Trédion, and Saint Avé.  I have some touristic stuff, and will add some with history, and then my last lunch trip to Elven.

The town of Elven is located about 15 km of Vannes on the axis Vannes-Rennes, road N166. Of course, there are other roads like the D766 that I take to get there.

In around Elven, you will find numerous megaliths such as by the Loge-au-Loup on the road to Trédion, the tabular stone of the battle in the Forest of Coeby, the twin menhirs of babouin and babouine who were adorned with faces engraved in an indefinite period.

Elven was reportedly founded by immigrant religious leaders from across the channel in the 5C. Around 900, a castle was built to fight the Norman invasions. The current Château de Largoët is built from the 14C, 2 km from the village in the midst of a vast expanse of wood. Henri Tudor, Duke of Richmond, future king Henry VII of England, was retained here  between 1474 and 1476.

Elven is a place of the Chouannerie ( the locals who fought the French revolution). In fact, chief Chouan Joseph Gambert, the Canton’s company captain, was killed near the village of Panistrel in 1794. A street has its name. In the woods of Saint-Bily were founf underground caches of Chouans. The movie Chouans! was partly shot in Elven.  For a small town, one famous person was born here; Catherine Descartes (1637_1706) a poet and niece of philosopher René Descartes was born in the manoir house of Kerleau. He came here to signed the baptismal registry.

During the Nazi occupation, Elven was the scene of the first airborne operation, called Operation Savanna, on 15 March 1941. On the road to Questembert, a stele commemorates the event.

Some of the things you can see here are: Fortress of Largoët, called Tower of Elven now in ruins), Château de Kerfily (orig built from the 17C to 18C due to fire rebuilt between 1860-1863); Château de Kerlo ( 15C Catherine Descartes was born here in 1637) ; Saint-Clément Chapel, and the main St. Alban’s Church.

Dedicated to Alban de Verulamium, patron of Elven, referring to the martyrdom suffered by him in England in 303AD while the founders of the city come from the other side of the channel. The Normans destroyed by the fire the first wooden church. In 1121, a Romanesque church was rebuilt, again destroyed by a fire in 1525. A church of Gothic style was elevated, of which no longer remains until today the choir in 1536 is built a nave gothic and then in 1642 a steeple. In the 19C, the work suffering from the times was renovated, the nave and the transept were rebuilt. The steeple is completed in 1877 and the Church was consecrated in 1879.

So as said, we went by noonish by car to the Hostellerie Lion d’Or; the building dates from the 16C! It is wonderful country food , as the best in France is. We started with me a leffe blonde beer for the apéro entry and lots of conversation with beets chips, and then we went with the entrée, I had crusty shell with stuffed  Andouille a Breton sausage type and goat cheese, green salad; this was already began to be accompany by a good Saumur-Champigny red Les Longes , and the main dish was skewed canard with mushrooms sauce, I finish with my favorite crème brulée ( a sweet custard cake). And more red wine… In all a great lunch to finish the week.  More of this recommended resto is on the city of Elven, here: http://www.mairie-elven.fr/module-Contenus-viewpub-tid-9-pid-116.html

More in French in the tourist office of the Morbihan: https://www.morbihan.com/elven/restaurant-le-lion-d-or/tabid/12660/offreid/11c85fcf-4c0b-43e0-a166-8c0d3269f603

Elven

In all , I saw the St Alban’s Church been renovated again, and the town nice ,clean, and quiet as country life in France is and we love it.

Elven

Couple new shots of city center, in Elven near the restaurant.

elven Elven

City of Elven on tourism : http://www.mairie-elven.fr/index.php?module=Contenus&tid=2&category=542&filter=pub_category^sub^542

This is the real living in France folks, nothing over price or glamorous like Paris, but the real deal, the reason we are in France, my belle France. Enjoy it

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

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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 27, 2018

Small quaint towns of the Tarn in Occitanie!

As I go around my belle France it never ceased to amaze me the plethora of small towns, villages really that abound in beauty. This is all over on each department or region  on every road; its amazing, glad to be here.

I love to drive a car , for me is freedom, independence, the lure to go into the nooks and crannies of places and no time to come back no hurry just leisure at my best time. It helps visiting these jewels of France. The Occitanie region is dear to us, its the family on father’s side of my dear late wife Martine; she introduce me to it way back in 1990 and it has never stop nor it will ever. First, let me tell you about my previous blog posts on the region, here they are in a general sense for all.

South West Magic of France

And those Cathars region Occitanie of France

Here we go with some of my jewels of the Tarn and Occitanie.

Giroussens as all is in the Department 81 of the Tarn 81 in the region of Occitanie ;this one sits above the Agout valley between Lavaur, Graulhet and Saint-Sulpice –la-Pointe at about 40 km from Toulouse. The village was originally located 1 km from its current location. A bit of history I like to follow.

A Gallo-Roman villa is located on the edge of the Agout river. It was occupied in the 5C by the Visigoths who left a necropolis (currently the Martels). The Lord Amalric de Lautrec erects Giroussens in Bastide, and from then on a city grows and thrives in the shelter of its ramparts. The Church of Saint-Salvi was rebuilt at the end of the 14C. In 1381, the Count of Foix-Béarn, Gaston Fébus, will defeat looters in the plain of Albi. Upon the death of the Count, Giroussens returned to the domain of king Charles VI. Then the city passed to Mathieu de Foix-Graillis by order of king Charles VII in 1425. Under Charles VIII, the estate returns to the Royal crown. But king Louis XIV ceded the lordship to François de Gélas, Viscount of Lautrec and Marquis of Ambers, in 1695. The village will remain in his descendants until the French revolution. The village is known for its production of painted terracotta and glazed lead from 1538. The museum of the neighboring Rabastens maintains a collection of more than a hundred dishes, plates, benitiers and stoves in glazed pottery originating from Giroussens.

Things to see in Giroussens, in addition, are the Jardin des Martels, the original castle, Pech Mascou, built in the 13C. In 1437, the castle was a royal prison but it was set ablaze by the Protestants in 1562. A second castle, the Château de Belbèze, was built in 1640 . It is of square plan with four towers covered with pyramid roofs. It was ceded and sold eventually in the French revolution. The Church of Saint-Salvi dates from the 14C. It consists of a four-span nave with arched warheads and a polygonal five-part choir. Three chapels are present in the spans. The façade is surmounted by a steeple-wall. The Church has furniture of altarpieces and paintings from the 17C and 18C. The chapel in the north is dedicated to Sainte Rufine, patron saint of potters and has a altarpiece of 1637. The walls of the nave are covered with wall painting by Fernand Augé (1896) and Paul Prouho (1900).

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are the general Tarn department 81 tourist office, which is valid for all the towns in this post here: Tourist office of the Tarn dept 81

The ceramic center for pottery traditions and sales to the public here: Ceramics center of Giroussens

The gardens of Martels just lovely. Jardins des Martels Giroussens

A nice little train that goes from Giroussens to Saint-Lieux de Lavaur very nice for the family and helping preserve a beautiful tradition. Little train ride Giroussens

Some heritage info on nice Girousssens in French : Heritage cultural info on Giroussens

There is a tiny town nearby we like because we took the little train above with the boys, it is magical, kept by old railroad workers and trying to preserve a tradition that merits a visit by all.  Saint-Lieux lés Lavaur is located at 2 km east of Saint-Sulpice-la-Pointe.  A bit of history I like says that in 1240, Raymond VII was Count of Toulouse, son of Raymond VI, count of  Toulouse, Saint-Gilles, Marquis of Gothie and Provence, Duke of Narbonne and  Jeanne of England. He is then Lord of Saint-Lieux-lès-Lavar.  By 1655, the town is given to the bishop of Lavaur. At the end of the 17C, Saint-Lieux was part of the township of Lavaur circa 1802-1803. The village of Saint-Lieux is located on the edge of the Agout river.  And the little train is the major and only attraction here More of it in French here: City of Saint Lieux lés Lavaur on monuments

Another wonderful small town is Saint Paul Cap de Joux , which before 1891, was commonly known as Saint-Paul-de-Damiatte. By 1585: Passage to Saint-Paul of Henri of Navarre. The future King Henry IV will sign the manifesto of St. Paul with the Vice Languedoc, Henri I, duke of Montmorency. In 1622, St. Paul served as the rear base for the Protestant leader of the region, Henri de Bourbon, marquis de Malauze, during the siege of Briatexte during the rebellion of the Huguenots. The wonderful thing to visit here is the Parish Church, from the 19C, of Neo-Romanesque style, it contains murals (1878) by Bernard Benezet, a renowned Toulouse painter. The altar could be the work of Viollet le Duc.  More on the Church here: https://www.saintpaulcapdejoux.com/notre-glise

St Paul Cap du Joux

We move on to Rabastens as well in the Tarn ,located between  Lisle sur Tarn and Saint Sulpice la Pointe.

A little bit on the history I like:  The vestiges of a Gallo-Roman city in Las Peiras about 1 km outside town proved of the ancient times here. In the early 12C, the city was run by a co-lordship. The family of Rabastens is close to the Counts of Toulouse: Raymond de Rabastens is Bishop of Toulouse from 1200 to 1205 and Pierre Raymond is part of the Council of Raymond VI. In 1210 the co-lords gave up their rights of justice to the Earl of Toulouse, who protected the inhabitants. They attributes them freedoms and privileges. Rabastens’s loyalty to the counts of Toulouse, especially Pandian de Rabastens, is going to cost him a lot. Under the Treaty of Paris (1229), the city was forced to destroy its fortifications. The city becomes a consulate during this period. Peace returned, Rabastens knows at the end of the 13C prosperous thanks to its vineyard, then the most extensive of the Gaillac. The quality of Rabastens wine is recognized. The gabares, flat-bottomed boats, descend the Tarn with barrels of Rabastens to Bordeaux. The Notre-Dame de Bourg ‘Church was built between 1230 and 1260 on the initiative of the Benedictine monks of Moissac, present at the priory in the 12C. It has a large, rectangular nave, with four arched spans of warheads and entirely in bricks, according to the model of the Saint-Étienne cathedral in Toulouse. In the 14C, prior Bernard Latour decided to add a polygonal chorus to the nave.  Being located on the pilgrimage route of Puy-en-Velay to Santiago de Compostela, the Church will be embellished with frescoes illustrating different episodes of the real or legendary life of St James the Mayor or Santiago el Mayor de Compostela.The town of Rabastens was a stopover town for pilgrims as evidenced by the Saint-Jacques Hospital and the Jacquaire heritage of the city.

In 1561, during the first religious war, the Protestants took over Rabastens and killed several Franciscans. The Massacre of Saint Bartholomew (24 August 1572 in Paris) was repeated in Rabastens well after 24 August as Protestants were massacred on October 5th. Early in the 19C ; Rabastens took its present appearance: the ditches were gradually filled to form the promenade of Lices, a suspension bridge is built on the Tarn in 1835 and the façade of Notre-Dame du Bourg is completed with the addition of a second tower. The artisan tradition remains with the weavers and shoemakers of the Middle Ages. They give way to cabinetmakers and furniture manufacturers. The cooperative cellar created in 1953 energizes the economy of Rabastens. Other things to see are the City/ own hall, Old Priory. 16C turret. Museum of the country Rabastinois: Installed in the 17C mansion of the family La Fite de Pelleporc de Gourdas. The dovecote, located at the exit of the city, along the road to Saurs, surrounded by a park, the place is usually called the Pigo. The Hotel de la Castagnate (current Puységur free school) a former mansion of the Count Louis Pierre de Chastenet de Puységur.

The tourist office of the Tarn dept 81 on Rabastens: Tourist office of the Tarn on Rabastens

We go on with this magical ride into Lisle sur Tarn, a 13C Bastide, situated on the banks of the Tarn river , in the heart of the Gaillac vineyard, Lisle-sur-Tarn enjoys a privileged position halfway between Toulouse and Albi. On the site de Montaguet was a fortified village on the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela. His lord is a vassal of the counts of Toulouse. During the Albigeois Crusade, the northern Tarn, faithful to the Earl of Toulouse Raymond VI, and then Raymond VII, was the seat of destructive rides on the part of the Crusaders of Simon de Montfort. During the Treaty of Meaux-Paris which ended the fighting in 1229, order is given to dismantle the ramparts. According to the archives of Lisle, the inhabitants came to settle near a hermitage and a castle known as Castel de Belbézé. With the consent of the Count of Toulouse, a bastide was created to house the former inhabitants of the “Castel” of Montaguet and to respond to an increase in the population. The Bastide is surrounded by walls and ditches. The inhabitants called La Bastide la Yla, the island, because of its location along the river and the presence of streams around it. Upon the death of Alphonse de Poitiers, the Bastide and its dependencies enter the realm of the crown of France.

The true heritage of this city lies in its layout of streets arranged perpendicularly on a regular basis, constituting four districts delimited by four fortified gates. With its 4 425 m², its central square is one of the largest squares in Arcades of Bastide in the southwest of France. The facades are in red or half-timbered bricks. Just amazing indeed!

The Notre-Dame de la Jonquière Church, built in the 13C and 14C, is wonderful. The Castle of Gines. The Tumulus of Saint Salvi of Coutens : mount of land about 10 meters high, made by hand, whose tradition reports that it could be the burial of an English general… It is on the path of the GR walkers trail. The legend that an English general would be buried under a given megalith gives to the story in other places in France. Do not forget to try the chocolate tour and tasting in the Central square or Place Paul Saissac and see there the wonderful Fountain of Griffoul.

The city has tourist info and on the wonderful wines call of Gaillac. This is from where our family gets the wine after generations, see wines of Clements and Saurs: http://www.ville-lisle-sur-tarn.fr/tourisme/patrimoine_25.html

Lisle sur Tarn

Castelnau de Montmiral one of the most beautiful villages of France as some of the others here. A town between Albi and Montauban. This Bastide Albigensian was founded in 1222 by Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, who gave the Bastide the same franchises as Cordes and Gaillac.  Its primitive name is Castellum Novum montis Mirabilis which means something like the new castle of mount admirable. The diminutive of Montmiral was commonly used in official acts, including in the 19C in the civil status of the village. This diminutive is still used today by its inhabitants.

At the end of the 14C, the Bastide was part of the domains of Count Bernard VII of Armagnac in 1470, king Louis XI took the estates of the Count of Armagnac. Georges II de la Trémoille, sire of Craon, Governor of Tours, councillor and first Chamberlain of Louis XI, obtained from the King the lordship of Castelnau-de-Montmiral, Villeneuve and Milhavet. After 1479, Louis I of Amboise, Bishop of Albi, obtained permission from the king to acquire the lordship. Charles I of Armagnac was reinstated in his lordship in 1484. He settled in Castelnau, where he died in 1497. The lordship then enters the realm of the Royal crown

king Louis XIII, returning from the siege of Saint-Antonin, passed in Castelnau-de-Montmiral on June 24, 1622, housed in Tonnac. It is also the place of residence of the famous Privat family. Some other things to see here are the Place des Arcades with his pillory. The Assumption Church (the bell dates from 1554). Fortified  gates such as those of  Garrics,and  Toulze. The numerous stone and half-timbered houses. Ramparts. The Castle of  Guet destroyed in 1819 which is found on the coat of arms of the village. Cross Reliquary called Montmiral, executed in 1341 by a goldsmith of Albi and completed by a goldsmith of Toulouse after various efforts.  Several small castles are located in the village such as those of Corduriès, Fézembat, Mazières, and Meyragues. Several underground refuge. And the   Forest of Grésigne. More on Castelnau de Montmirail  in French here: Castelnau de Montmirail sights

Last but not least is Graulhet ,where we still have family like cousins of my wife living there.  The town needs to be reach by car as there is no train station, and even this it is a bit off the A68 road connecting Toulouse to Albi and really link to Gaillac by the D964 road . Naturally, we come here by car.

There have been archaeological discoveries, dated from about 500 to 100 B.C.  The Roman presence is manifested among other things by the presence of a Gallo-Roman oppidum.   The castrum of Graulhet, first mentioned in 961, in a testament of Raymond I, Count of Rouergue. In 1166, Graulhet, then a lordship, passed under the control of the Counts of Toulouse. In the 16C, faithful to the Catholic Church of Rome, although in Cathar country, the city suffered relatively little damage during the crusade against the Albigeois and during the wars of religion, partly thanks to the policy of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux , Lord and Earl of Graulhet, who is also lieutenant-general. In the 17C, the grandson of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux, François-Jacques amboise was the friend and protector of Molière from 1647 to his death, as the artist began his career and just fled his Parisian creditors. Its Chateau de Crins hosts at the same time troubadours like Chapelle and Cachaumont, on the edge of the Dadou river.

Some of the things to see here are the Château de Lezignac (17C), the old bridge, built in 1244 allowing communication between the old village and the new Saint-Jean neighborhood where tanneries were gradually settled on the right bank of the Dadou river.  The Medieval district of Panessac with rue Panessac  a typical medieval style alley, narrow, lined with wooden-framed buildings and corbelled from the 16C and 17C . The Hostellerie du Lyon d’Or, a superb medieval building; Henri de Navarre, future king Henri IV, made a gourmet stopover here. Note the crosses of St. Andrew, typical of the 15C, on its beautiful facade and the marks of assembly in Roman numerals on the wooden sections. The Notre-Dame-du-Val-d’Amour Church, at the foot of which is the funerary slab of Louis Amboise of Aubijoux. Home of the leather trades: visit of an ancient Mégisserie, the different stages of the transformation of leather, from skin to objects made of leather. More from the town city hall of Graulhet in French here: City of Graulhet on heritage

There you go another wonderful tour me think of my amazing France. Enjoy it.

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

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