Archive for July 21st, 2018

July 21, 2018

Another dandy in the East,Manila!

Another surprise visit to a far away land, business many times provides unexpected visits to some exotic far away lands, and I am lucky to be part of the business travel loop. I came here and repeat several times and the experiences have been gratifying indeed. I am talking now of the capital, Manila ,in the Philippines.

The city of Manila is the capital of the Philippines, and one of the 16 cities of the metropolitan area of Manila, one of the most populous in the world. The latter, located on the west coast of Luzon Island, is the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila), and is not part of any province in the country. It is located on the east bank of Manila Bay.  The city is divided into six legislative districts and sixteen geographic districts: Binondo , Ermita, Intramuros, Malate , Paco, Pandacan , Manila Port, Quiapo , Sampaloc , San Andres, San Miguel, San Nicolas , Santa Ana, Santa Cruz , Santa Mesa , and Mowo.

Some of the key dates in history I like are

1571, founding of the city by Miguel López de Legazpi. The Spaniards settled there, and occupied the premises until 1898. 1762-1764: British occupation of Manila and Cavite during the war of seven years. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, American troops destroyed Spain’s fleet (Battle of Manila Bay), and take over the Philippines.

On December 26, 1941, following the bombardment of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into  WWII, the Americans abandoned the city and withdrew all their military facilities. The Japanese Air force bombarded Manila, before the Imperial Army entered the city on January 2, 1942. In February 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy refused to evacuate the perimeter, the Allies continue the advance to the city, at the cost of intense fighting that destroyed the town and resulted in the death of many civilians. Manila was one of the most devastated cities during  WWII. In 1948, Quezon City became the new capital of the Republic of the Philippines. Manila becomes the capital of the country on May 29th, 1976.

Some of the interesting areas to visit are on the south bank of the Pasig River where the ancient colonial district of Intramuros, founded in 1571 by the Spaniards, which in a peaceful atmosphere has preserved surprising examples of 17C architecture, and Rizal Park, Manila’s Central Park . Further south, the districts of Ermita and Malate, around its Baroque church, host many bars and restaurants. This is also where you can watch the sunset over Manila Bay.  On the North of the Pasig River, the district of Quiapo is famous for its steel church, the Basilica of San Sebastian, its market and its Basilica of the Black Nazarene, where the procession of the Black Nazarene is held every 9th January and brings together millions of devotees. A little further away the Binondo district is home to the city’s very authentic Chinatown. A fascinating Chinese cemetery is located in the north of the city.

Other popular sites include the Spanish colonial buildings in Intramuros, the World Heritage Site of San Agustin Church, and a few Art Deco and Revival style buildings like Manila Metropolitan Theater and the National Museum of Fine Arts. There are also modern attractions such as the Manila Ocean Park, the integrated resort complex of resorts World Manila, and the City of Dreams Manila and Okada Manila in Entertainment City.

Tourist attractions located inside the Intramuros old town include Fort Santiago, a Spanish citadel located at the mouth of the Pasig River, Manila Cathedral, a 19C ecclesiastical Cathedral which is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila, San Agustin Church. At the Rizal park the Rizal Monument, located in the center of the park, is the memorial to the Philippine national hero, José Rizal. Museums within Manila include the National Museum of Fine Arts, formerly the National Art Gallery, the National Museum of Anthropology, an anthropology and archaeology museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, a premier museum of modern and contemporary visual arts.

The Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium with a marine-themed mall and hotel, it is located behind Quirino Grandstand, which fronts Rizal Park. Malate, the tourism center of Manila, is famous for the Baywalk and the Remedios nightlife district. Manila Zoo, the oldest zoo and botanical garden in the Philippines, is also located in that district. Binondo, an old district of Manila that is home to Manila’s Chinatown, is established since 1521. Its main attractions are Binondo Church, Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch, Seng Guan Buddhist temple and Chinese restaurants. Quiapo is the location of Plaza Miranda and Quiapo Church, which is home to the Black Nazarene. The San Sebastian Church, which is also located in Quiapo, is the only all-steel Gothic basilica in Asia.

I was briefly on a ride above places but was base in the business district of Makati CBD, one of Southeast Asia’s biggest financial hubs, and noted for its cosmopolitan cultural and entertainment ambiance around the huge complex of the Ayala Center, and  the Ayala Triangle Gardens.


Moving about I was with a local driver because the streets of Manila suffers from a lot of chronic traffic jams. The jeepneys are the main public transport. These are old American army jeeps, left behind after WWII, which were turned into very colorful but also very polluting mini buses, and was told can be dangerous for visitors. Manila has an aerial light rail network, the LRT, which often follows the main axes of the city. It is one of the first urban railway collective transport systems in Southeast Asia. About 29 km Long it has 29 stations, on two lines: the LRT-1 (Yellow Line), and the LRT-2 (Violet line). The city also has a predominantly aerial metro line, the MRT-3 (Blue Line), and a ferry service on the Pasig River, which has 17 stations. The city comprises 10 bridges over the Pasig river of whirch, 2 railway bridges and 8 road bridges (The bridges of Roxas, Jones, McArthur, Quezon, Ayala, Mabini, Padre Zamora and Lambingan).  I always arrived by the Ninoy Aquino International Airport located 8 km southeast of the city center.


Hope it helps your planning for a nice visit to Manila. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Philippines tourist office :

Unofficial useful info on Manila and al:

Enjoy the exotic East and the islands of Philippines. I am looking forward to be back by next Fall.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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July 21, 2018

My travels in the Morbihan, LXV

And as had a longer weekend this time, here I am again to tell about our daily lives in our belle France! And even better our gorgeous Morbihan Breton. Today was hot sunny 25C or 77K and just bright perfect, even if we got up with a light rain at 8h. By noon it was just perfect day indeed.

As told in my previous blog post on my travels in the Morbihan , we were today to do some heavy work which was needed.  First , painted the laundry room in our basement , now just perfect. But still more work in my vacation in the basement, as the ultimate goal is to do two bedrooms for family and guests in the future.


I went out and did my gardener’s  best as usually it was my dear late wife Martine who took care of it. We have 1000 square meters of land including the house, the garden is about 750 square meters and the house about 255 sm. So its a lot of land, and hopefully my boys still here helps me a lot.


As my boys were changing TV from the one they got yesterday at Eletro Depot as in my previous post, the old one needed to be discarded.  We have been flooded now with pawn shops or cash outlets in our area and the new one was Easy Cash, (very nice French name ::)).  They were not only able to sell the old TV there but ,also some manga books and now they know. The store takes in almost anything so video games, cd’s, dvd’s etc. They will be back to clean up some of their older stuff which is hardly seen nowadays.


We came back home and already did some work on the items we plan to sell including mines. Have very old CD especially which hardly listen to nowadays no need to have clutter in the house. Next time. This is the time of family vacation but as we are here far (min 6 hrs car drive) still do not think if going to visit some family members or just take off somewhere. We are always last minutes travelers. Only thing fix is Honfleur in late August but not really vacation, will be there to drop the ashes of my wife to sea with the SNSM volunteer lifeguards Notre Dame boat.

Oh yes we did eat of course. This time at home we had lunch with our great Krombacher German beer ,our wonderful local terrine of pork with 5 peppers, brie cheese from the market of Vannes, and the local Pluvigner baguette bread here call Breizh (which is Brittany in Breton language).  Also, top it off with wonderful saucisson sec home style with 3 peppers and Corréze area one a bit spicy call the Correzo.

The day still long and time to catch up on my previous travels and update my posts. It will keep me occupied and nothing better than going over memories at home on a hot day out.  Best weekend for most or finishing some.

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



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July 21, 2018

Some wine news from France!

I let this subject slip by often, even if it is dear to me. Read my blog on wines and you will see my credentials. Maybe wine is so personal I dare not write much about it, but it is there with me always with me, wine is in me. Ever since my maternal grandmother let me taste some when 8 ,it has not stop. It’s part of our culture regardless on what the cro magnons will say.

Let me bring you some news on the wine trade in France, my belle cher France!

As we are getting into Summer, and barbecue is here as I write lol!  On the meat side, almost all combinations are possible , really stop been bigots all works. You have mastered barbecue cooking so that the taste of “burnt” is not too marked and does not eclipse that of the wine. On the other hand, vine branches used as fuels develop very subtle smoky flavors in meat. This gives relief to the food-wine chords.

With a rib of beef, tender and fond, this piece of noble red meat does not have its equal to magnify the Grands crus. It’s time to get out of the cellar a beautiful Hermitage, a Côte Rotie, a grand cru of Pauillac or a great Burgundy wine of which one is particularly proud. There is no possible error; on the other hand, treat the seasoning of this meat with peppers sorted on the shutter, few sauces and fireworks.

With skewers of poultry; the ideal, is the red wines of the Loire Valley type Sancerre or Saumur-Champigny  (love it) which give the response to poultry with their fruity, their vegetable tip but also a characteristic sour freshness. But the Burgundy red wines such as the Mercurey or the Beaujolais wines also lend themselves to the game of concordance with this type of food.  Lovers of white wines and skewers that mix poultry, lemon and vegetables will turn to a little fleshy cuvées; Meursault, Pouilly-Fuissé, white wines from the Massif de La Clape.

With grilled fish, try the rosés Provencal, the white wines of Cassis, those of the range of Ballet or Corsica enjoy the company of a bar or a grilled sea bream. And with sardines? Prefer the rosés of Roussillon, like those of Collioure powerful, with aromas of red fruits. The rosé, color of summer, is also the wine of the Grill par excellence! Prefer those who possess matter and density such as the rosés of Tavel, a rosé Bourgueil or a Marsannay.  There you go from 45 years of wine drinker, collecting, selling, and diploma guy from France and Spain.

A wonderful  event always looking forward to it if not always attending like this year. This will the 71st anniversary,of  the Wine Fair of Alsace inviting you from Friday 27 July to Sunday 5 August 2018 in Colmar.  Since 1948 the Wine Fair of Alsace has been vibrating in the summer thanks to numerous animations and a daily concert program in its open-air theater of 10,000 places!

It is around a good glass that professionals and wine lovers exchange opinions and wine knowledge. For others it will be an opportunity to discover good vintages at the stand of the vine leaf and share their impressions. The Fair is an opportunity to participate in commented tastings, lectures and initiations animated by passionate professionals. As each year you will also be able to attend the enthronement of the Queen of Vines. This year’s program will include Cooking classes provided by great chefs, Cabaret Colmarien that promises laughter and wonder, Children’s entertainment, -Stage OFF with regional artists, burlesque dance shows with Alsatian pinups.

Practical information shows the dates from Friday 27 July to Sunday 5 August at the Fairgrounds and Congress of Colmar. Monday to Saturday from 11h30 to 01h00. Sunday from 11h to 01h00. Rates: from 4.50 euros to 55 euros. More info here: Colmar Wine Fair

Some of my favorite bottles is the Les Folatières the largest Premier Cru vineyard in the Côte de Beaune commune of Puligny-Montrachet. It is located on the same line of the slope as the Le Montrachet and Chevalier-Montrachet Grand Cru vineyards, although its higher end reaches further up the slope of the Côte d’Or.  Les Folatières Premier Cru wines, made from Chardonnay, are typically Puligny  focused and minerally, but with nutty, rich overtones of fruit.

The vineyard covers 17 hectares (42 acres) Les Folatieres is right in the middle of the slope and is surrounded by other Premier Cru vineyards like Clavaillon and Champ Gain, with village-level vineyards visible in the distance at the bottom of the hill. Unlike many Burgundy Premier Cru climats, which are mostly named for the state of the soil or the vegetation there, Les Folatières’ name has a rather colorful origin. It refers to lights seen in the vineyard from a distance, although whether the word signifies fairies or the weather phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s fire is a cause of some debate.

The leading estates making wine from this vineyard include the Domaine Leflaive (my favorite) , Lalou Bize-Leroy’s Domaine d’Auvenay, and Domaine Etienne Sauzet. Their webpages to follow.

Domaine Leflaive

Domaine Etienne Sauzet

Domaine Leroy_ Auvenay

A bit on mother nature.  After the violent hail storms that destroyed more than 7,000 hectares of Bordeaux vineyards last May, a new stormy episode hit the Gironde last Sunday 07/15/18)  evening and touched some 2,000 hectares of the most affected areas of Bordeaux . During this last episode of Hail are most affected the  Médoc, Graves, Bourgeais and the Sauternes, according to the president of the CIVB (interprofessional Wine Council of Bordeaux) Allan Sichel, at the General Assembly of this forum on Monday 16 July. More on the wines ,grapes, history , all you need to know of Bordeaux here:  Bordeaux wines



And you got some news, the latest from the world of wines, or Bordeaux or well France, what else is there. Always trying to be imitated, but never surpassed.  My opinion of course.

Enjoy the wines ,it’s good for you, and helps keep a long long tradition of human existence alive. Drink in moderation, always with a meal and good friends. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

July 21, 2018

A Palace in the forests of Castilla!

Since my youth ,I have been coming to this area of Spain first with my mother, than friends, then girlfriend, and my dear late wife Martine, and last with the boys. A lifetime of memories all floating now in the forest of Castilla. This is the fairy tail dream of a man native of Versailles, France.

The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso is an 18C palace, summer residence of the kings of Spain since Felipe V of Spain. It is located in the village of San Ildefonso, in the province of Segovia, 80 km from Madrid. In Baroque style, it is surrounded by French gardens and 26 sculptured fountains. It is now open to the public as a museum.

I have written a blog entry on it a while back ,here it is for reference: Palace of San Ildefonso

The Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, located in the Sierra du Guadarrama, is an example of European palatial architecture, dream over by Felipe grandson of king Louis XIV of France born at Versailles, baptised at Notre Dame Church of Versailles and move over as bourbon king of Spain under Felipe V. Current king of Spain Felipe VI is a descendant.

Of course, been born at the Palace of Versailles and coming over, the need to try to recreate the splendor of the old place was imminent. So he decided to ordered built the palace in the forest around the village of San Ildenfonso. This he succeeded in a smaller scale but just as beautiful.

The story goes that in 1450, king Henry IV built a hunting lodge at the site of the present palace. Later, the Catholic monarchs gave the property to the monks of the Order of St. Jerome of Parral. In 1720, Felipe V, the first Spanish king of the Bourbon dynasty, bought the land and ordered built the royal Palace of San Ildefonso. In 1724, the wings were added to house the courtyard.  A new facade on the garden ends the building in 1735. We owe king Carlos III the beautiful portal that marks the main access of the ensemble. The palace has 40 rooms with Flemish paintings from the 17C and a collection of tapestries. In the Royal Chapel, a tomb contains the bodies of Felipe V and Isabel de Farnesio. The French gardens are inspired by Marly’s and the 26 monumental fountains are part of splendid water games. A real Versailles lost in the forest

It is a splendid example of the European palatial architecture and has gardens and fountains inspired by Versailles, with constant references to legends and mythology. The palace’s rooms are adorned with Carrara marble, Japanese lacquers and crystal lamps. Its name is due to an old farm of the monks of the Order of Saint Jerome of Parral. Felipe V  is buried here.

San Ildefonso San Idefonso San Idefonso San Idefonso San Idefonso

king Felipe V wanted a garden that reminds him of  his childhood in Versailles. To develop these 145 ha, the landscapers of the Grama and the gardeners were inspired by Versailles and gave a unique identity to their realization. Forest perspectives and French country aisles connect well-independent garden parts in the Arabic style. The water games of the Neptune Basin, the new waterfall and the Fountain of water jet and the chestnut trees imported directly from France are superb.

A wonderful side trip from Segovia or even Madrid. Easy to get to the shortest cheapest way is by the Puerta de Moncloa under the Tunnel from Madrid and continues on the A-6 highway passing the town of Las Rosas (famous for the outlet mall) get on the road M601 exit/salida 39 direction Puerto de Navacerrada and continue on this direction and road passing the town of Navacerrada, Cercedilla, with hilly roads until you reach the town of San Idefonso.The palace will be on your right hand side. There is train and bus  « La Sepulvedana »  but only took the bus as a boy with my mother afterward all has been by car.

Some of the webpages to help you plan your trip here are

National Heritage Royal sites of Spain on the Palace

Tourist office of Madrid on the Palace of San Ildefonso

Tourist office of Castilla y Léon on the palace

Tourist office of San Ildefonso

A really nice place to visit and one I would have no problems in a repeat. Hope it helps

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

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