Archive for July 20th, 2018

July 20, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXIIII

So here I am earlier than ever or most as I had the day off from work. It was special because it was my Father’s 83rd birthday and he lives with us. The day was sunny but not too hot around 24C or 75F.

We had as usual many errands to do usually done on Saturdays lately, but as we had the day off we did them today,and tomorrow is work around the house, painting and fixing for the Summer break ahead. My vacation is in mid August onwards.

In my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of Brittany we set out to do the routines of an every day family in France without the glitzy ribbons of the famous and fake news tribal groups.

We started our day going to by now famous liquor store, V&B in Auray to load up on German beers (my favorite is the Krombacher pilsner) here at 2,10€ with deposit refund for the bottle,  and Rosé wines from Gascogne of all places but a reputable name for years you won’t go wrong at 5,20€ it can’t be beat. The Rosé de Presse 2017, Domaine du Tariquet.

We then, move on to our bank as we needed to make some moves in our finances to have a soft landing in my retirement so the bank in Auray BNP Paribas is great with excellent service by our able advisor Madame ….

We stop by at Micromania in the Shopping center Carrefour in Vannes for my sons to pick up a cable to connect to their new game machine, another one !!! It looks as I have a TV studio at home.. oh well. My sons in front!


We then move on to Electro Depot to buy a big 127 cm or 50 inches TV for their better reading of the video games, something with the word 4K in it go figure too high tech for me.  Well they got a good price and of course Dad help with the price ::)


We got back home to deliver the TV and beers/wines but needed to come back to celebrate my father’s 83. So here we go again back to our now almost home Vannes to have lunch with Dad at Hippopotamus steakhouse chain, that has been renovated and upgraded for their menus. The service was impeccable, even with no WiFi the manager provided his own code so we had connection! The server was very nice and prompt, and the food all agree was better than we ever had at this chain . Which it has been at least 8 years we did not go to them.


not often on photos my Dad is 83 today!


Anyway, my father was happy to do so and had his couple of beers 1664 French with us so more to celebrate what has been a sad year for us.  We had different things but I had my usual Burger Hippo and fries, crème brulée or sort of custard crème vanilla, and a couple of pints of the 1664 French beer. We share the foie gras platter with cassis jelly and breads. All very well done, surprise return.

We finally ,came to our beloved E Leclerc hypermarket for our groceries, again a day in advance. This is a huge place in a multi shopping center with other stores and restos, very popular and convenient covered parking.  We did our bags and Dad did his as usual he does during the week with his grandson (my oldest son) but as we were in a special weekend we all did it together and it was fun to chase my Dad all over the hypermarket on his rounds lol!!

Then we finally came home at last. A time to organize all we did and put away what was done. ALso, the list oh yes the list we got from their mother, the list to do things. We already wrote down tomorrow is painting the laundry room, and cutting some trees and if time, get to Vannes again to sell our old TV to an Easy Cash outlet.  To be continue…. And of course, we took care of our 8 month old dog Rex, enjoying life very much with us and we with him !!


You all have a great weekend, and fun loving family time. And, remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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July 20, 2018

This is Germany:Düsseldorf

So here I found one from my vault. The idea of going to Germany was always in our minds and we eventually got there on several times. However, the start was slow; after Trier, I had a business trip to Düsseldorf and it became and still is the only time needed an airplane to get there!

Düsseldorf has been buried in my blog for a long time and I like to give it a new fresh air to this wonderful city of many nice funny memories.

The funny part I remember well was that in our group someone got the idea for dinner out in the city and reserved a restaurant Brauerie Schumacher was it. We of course, speak no German ,so we figure we can go out and find the place. We walked a lot followed other groups thinking they knew where was the restaurant ,when in fact, they were lost too!!! lol! We try several places that the name looks close until we finally arrived at the restaurant above and dinner was half way going, of course we stayed for the rest !! yeah!

Anyway these were the restaurants for record’s sake. The bars were full, we had a great time at the Intercontinental Hotel lobby bar, and then went on to check out the two next ones that are a must for everyone visiting the city. For the best steaks western style and wines galore head for the The Classic Western Steakhouse, Tubmannstrr 12 , Tel +49 (0211) 20031507. top US beef with sound of country music and old western photos all over the walls,huge and delicious. The next evening we went for old German chow, of beef and potatoes and green beens at a place where the beer never stop coming, I had ten glasses, and it was delicious, we walk home lol! This was at Brauerie Schumacher, Oststr 123, Tel +49 (0211) 828 9020. A brewery there since 1838, pub with beautiful wood carvings. The airport was great too, very clean, and friendly even without speaking German. I try the resto on the travel gallery on the E3 level , Das Gasthaus , more chow, this time flaky meaty fish, mashed potatoes, and the same nutty walnut cake type with a large Becks beer lol!

Another funny sequence for me was that I had a travel forum now gone call Virtual Tourist, and I asked in the forum how to get to the hotel from the airport as I was reaching the city by airplane (first and only time because afterward been with my car ::)) . Of course, in this forum , you know, reason not on any now; the gang suggested for me to take the S-Bahn or something like that. Well for this road warrior first time in a city that was a bit too much. I remember walking out of the airport thinking on what I was told on public transport ,and instinctly just walk out to get a taxi lol! This was about 21€ but it was the most talkative funny guy ever in English! Of course, the way back took a taxi too, sublime.

You get some of the tourist tips in the post above, but I like to give you a bit of the history I like.

Düsseldorf is the capital and the second largest city in the Lande of North Rhine-Westphalia, located mainly on the right bank of the Rhine river, it lies at the western limits of the vast agglomeration of Rhine-Ruhr.  The town is located on the Rhine, at the confluence of the Düssel, a small river in the valley of which was discovered in 1856 in a cave the skeleton of what is now called the man of Neanderthal and is located in the neighboring town of Erkrath. Düsseldorf  also is meant as the  “village of Düssel”.

Düsseldorf International Airport is located 8 km north of the city center and is very nice and easy to navigate,  the airport is connected directly to the central train station of the city by the S-Bahn Rhine Ruhr (Metro/Regional train) in about 12 minutes. There is a  suspended monorail, the Skytrain, connecting the 3 terminals to Düsseldorf Flughafen station, where many ICE trains stops. The largest station of the city is however the Central station right in the city center.  The roads I find out in later trip are very good and fast just like I like them ,to the west, the A57 highway, which connects Cologne to Nijmegen in the Netherlands, to the east, the A3, one of Germany’s longest highways, since it extends from the Dutch border (Arnhem) to the Austrian border (Passau) on nearly 750 km. To the north and south, respectively the A44 direction Liège in Belgium and the A46 join the A57 to the north and south of Neuss, the great neighbouring city of Düsseldorf and the A3. The Taxis are strictly regulated, and very good deal, I took them for this trip and they were superb.

Now, a bit of history I like

Erected in town in 1288, Düsseldorf was a long time the capital of the Duchy of Juliers-Berg; with this, the city passed under the domination of the Palatine counts, which, by inheritance, became the 17C and 18C of Latin and Bavaria voters. The first written mention of Düsseldorf (then called Dusseldorp in the local Low Rhenish dialect) dates back to 1135. Under Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa , the small town of Kaiserswerth to the north of Düsseldorf became a well-fortified outpost, where soldiers kept a watchful eye on every movement on the Rhine river . Kaiserswerth eventually became a suburb of Düsseldorf in 1929.

Bombarded by the French in 1795, which razed the fortifications, transformed today into parks and avenues, the city became the capital of the Grand Duchy of Berg, which had Murat and Napoleon Bonaparte as sovereigns. It was returned to Bavaria by the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801, and passed with the Grand Duchy of Berg to Prussia in 1815. Some of the key dates I was able to find from wikipedia are

1773, the oldest academy of Fine Arts in Europe is founded.
1795, the French Revolutionary army bombarded the city and razed its fortifications, which were then transformed into parks and avenues.
1797 ,birth in Düsseldorf of the poet Heinrich Heine who writes in 1827 “The city of Düsseldorf is very beautiful, and when in the distance we think of it and that by chance we were born, we feel all funny. I was born there, and in those cases I think I have to go home right now. And when I say go home, I mean the Bolkerstrasse and the house where I was born… »

1805, Napoleon created the Grand Duchy of Berg within the framework of the Confederation of the Rhine and designated as capital Düsseldorf. The Dukes of Berg housed in a castle town where he hosted Joachim Murat and Jérôme Bonaparte.

1815, after the fall of the French Empire of Napoleon, the Congress of Vienna established that the whole duchy should be part of Prussia.
1921-1925, in the context of the occupation of the Rhineland after WWI,  French troops stayed in the city.

The Allied ground advance into Germany reached Düsseldorf in mid-April 1945. The United states 97th Infantry Division easily captured the city on 18 April 1945,  after the local German resistance group launched Aktion Rheinland.  At the end of the war 50%  of the buildings were destroyed, 90% damaged.  1946, the British military government raised the city to the rank of capital of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.  The city is then rebuilt and becomes the administrative center of the region.

Some of the things to see and do here are

In the 19C, the Academy of Fine Arts, under the impetus of Wilhelm von Schadow, made Düsseldorf both one of the major artistic centers of Germany and a pole of European romantic and realistic art. We are talking about a school in Düsseldorf.  At the same time, Düsseldorf is also associated with an essential artist of Romanticism in another field, music. The city appointed Robert Schumann Generalmusikdirektor (something like Music Director). He lived there with his wife Clara Wieck, a composer and pianist, from 1850 to 1854. It was in Düsseldorf that he created his last symphony, Symphony No. 3, called “Rhine”.

The highly visited Museum Kunstpalast and the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, which brings together the K20 and the K21 are some of the notable museums in town. By the city center you have the Church of Saint Andrews built in 1667; the  Düsseldorf racecourse for horses, the  Basilica of St. Margaret, the Church-Bunker, and the Church of St. Cecilia.

Düsseldorf is a very active city with good ambiance and old world town area vibrant with restos and beer pubs.  It is also of course known for beer. The local one is known as the Altbier , a hoppy beer which translates as old style beer , a reference to the pre-lager brewing method of using a warm top-fermenting yeast like British pale ales.  Over time the  yeast adjusted to lower temperatures, and the Alt brewers would store lager the beer after fermentation, leading to a cleaner, crisper beer. The name “altbier” first appeared in the 19C  to differentiate the beers of Düsseldorf from the new pale lager that was gaining a hold on Germany . In the city ,there are five pub-breweries which brew Altbier on the premises, these are  Füchschen, Schumacher, Schlüssel, Uerige and Brauerei Kürzer. Four of the five are in the historic centre of Düsseldorf (Altstadt); the other (Schumacher), between the Altstadt and Düsseldorf Central railway station (Hauptbahnhof), also maintains an establishment in the Altstadt, Im Goldenen Kessel, across the street from Schlüssel.



One of the biggest cultural events in Düsseldorf is the  Karneval or Carnival which starts every year on 11 November in the morning., and reaches its climax on Rosenmontag or Rose Monday, featuring a huge parade through the streets of Düsseldorf.  The Carnival ends on aschermittwoch or Ash Wednesday.

The locat tradition of the Radschläger or Cartwheelers is said to be the city’s oldest tradition This tradition was honored in 1954 by the erection of a fountain, called Cartwheeler’s Fountain, on the Burgplatz square.  Every Christmas, the city of Düsseldorf uses the city center to host one of the largest Christmas gatherings in Germany. The Christmas festival occurs every year from 17 November until 23 December. OF course all these dates are to be check on your trip here.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Dusseldorf tourim :

Franco German circle in French:

Tourist office of Dusseldorf:

Good unofficial info tourist site for Dusseldorf :

It was a memorable trip and nostalgia says I should go back, will see. However, recommended for all visiting Germany.

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

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July 20, 2018

This is Brussels: Church of St Nicolas

In our continuing trips thru Brussels we discovered many things, many are very popular, after all Brussels is a popular tourist destination. However, some are less popular but the impact is bigger , unique, historical, and I like history.

I have mentioned it in  my many previous blog posts on Brussels but never a page for itself, which it merits. Therefore, this is it ,the post of the Church of Saint Nicolas of the Stock exchange of Brussels! It is by rue de la Beurre surrounded by wooden old houses in a residential area.

The Church of St. Nicolas of Brussels, built around 1125, is one of the first four Churches of the city of Brussels and best preserved in its successive developments. Being close to the Bourse’s palace (stock exchange), it is commonly called Saint-Nicolas de la Bourse or Saint-Nicolas-au-Marché ,of the Market.


Close to the Senne, Saint-Nicolas was the oratory of the district of the merchants and those whose activities depended on the small river port. (Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myre, is the Patron Saint of the merchants). Built in 1125, the church was still dependent on the Chapel of Saint-Michel parish in 1174.

The interior structure is surprising, with the choir extending obliquely to the central nave. This is a testament to the turbulent history of the Church. From the Romanesque church (12C) there are still some vestiges in the entrance porch, discovered during the reconstruction of the façade in 1956. This Romanesque Church was equipped with a tower-shaped front-body, which is mentioned in 1289. This tower housed the bells of the city and was therefore the belfry of Brussels. Destroyed by a storm in 1367, it was immediately rebuilt. The choir is what remains of the oldest as it dates from 1381.
The Chapel of Our Lady of Peace, in extension of the left aisle of the nave, was added in 1486.



The Church was damaged during the religious troubles of 1579, which led to the separation of the Catholic Southern Netherlands (and under Spanish domination) from the northern United Provinces (Protestant). A century later, new damage was caused by the bombardment of Brussels of 1695. On this occasion, the tower was destroyed for the second time, the bells half-melted by the fire having fallen and having crushed the lower  floors.  The bell tower, unable to withstand the weight of the carillon of thirteen bells that had just been reinstalled, collapsed in 1714. The Church was closed in 1797 and sold in 1799. It was a question of demolishing it, but it was bought by the former Masters of Factory and then returned to worship in 1804.  The main façade was rebuilt in 1956.  The Church was completely restored between 2002 and 2006.

Many paintings of masters adorn the walls of the church such as a Virgin and the Child of a disciple of Rubens.  The confessional, the pulpit of truth in the Louis XVI style of the late 18C, the grille and the choir stalls (18C) are other works of art. The most recent work is a modern-style canopy-the assumption of the Virgin done on the occasion of the restoration of the Church in 1956. It is installed above the entrance gate.  Also, Vladimir Icon of St Nicolas, painted in 1131 by an artist from Constantinople. It was here that the Brabant painter, Michael Sweerts, was baptized in 1618.



The shrine of the Martyrs of Gorcum:  In June 1572 nineteen people, priests, religious-including 11 Franciscans-and lay Catholics, were put to death in Gorcum (Gorinchem) in the Netherlands for their faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and their attachment to the Pontifical authority. The martyrs of Gorcum were beatified in 1675 and canonized in 1867 by Pope Pius IX.  Since the canonization of the Martyrs of Gorcum in July 1867, it was choosen to celebrate the same year of the feasts in their honor in the Church of St. Nicholas, because this Church was near the place where stood until the French Revolution the convent of Recollets, to which several of the martyrs, including the Brussels natives, had belonged. On this occasion, the Cardinal Archbishop of Mechelen offered to the Church of St. Nicholas a skull of a martyr, which was placed in a shrine with other bones of the same martyrs, sent by the convent of the Recollets of Gand. In 1868, a new gilded copper shrine was made , which can still be seen today.


Recently, the  bronze copy of Saint Nicolas, which has just been installed in the Grand Place as the original, completely restored, has found refuge in the Church of St. Nicolas.
The statue of St. Nicolas was dismantled for security reasons. It was agreed to make a copy of bronze and restore the original to ensure a conservation in the best conditions. The statue represents a standing St. Nicolas, leaning with one hand on the stock and blessing three small children at his feet. Saint-Nicolas is considered the Patron of the Haberdashers, a corporation owning the house since 1641.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip to see this beauty are

Tourist ofice Brussels :

Hope it helps find these gems in Brussels it will make your trip a fully enjoyable one surrounded by history and architecture. The area is very nice too.

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

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