Archive for August 3rd, 2018

August 3, 2018

And quaint small Morretes!

Well on a nostalgic run of my trips in Latin America several years back to 2008! this time . I still have a couple of photos to share from those days on a wonderful quaint small town in Brazil.

My trip here was two folds, once they told me about a nice little train ride, and took it. Seeing the great rides and the roads not far, and with a Chevy Prisma car , decided to come back by car. Both events were fantastic. Let me tell you a bit about Morretes.

Morretes   is a town in the State of Paraná,south west Brazil. The name “Morretes ” is a geographical reference to the Morros (Portuguese for “Hills”) that surround the city. Founded in 1721 on the banks of the Nhundiaquara river , this calm and collected colonial town rests on an emerald-green plain at the foot of the Serra do Mar.  The city is known for its restaurants in which one sells the Barreado , at typical dish of rib-sticking meat stew cooked in a clay pot. Also,since colonial times, Morretes has been a traditional producer of cachaça. The distilleries still use the original alembics, and age the liquor in special wooden barrels for at least seven years, for flavors that are unique to the area. Most of the distilleries can be found on Estrada do Anhaia (Anhaia Street). Also produced in the area is a special type of banana liquor (pinga de banana).

Things to see here in addition to your walks along the Nhundiaquara river are

Saint Benedict’s Church (Igreja de São Benedito), the Saint Benedict’s Church whike in in 1760, the Brotherhood of Saint Benedict was founded in Morretes.

Old Bridge (Ponte Velha)  Its structure of steel brings an old and glamorous aspect making it even more attractive. The bridge is used to pass over the Nhundiaquara river and gives access to restaurants, that I will tell you below. Pedestrians share the space with cars, considering that there is just one street band. Therefore, one way car or person lol!


Marumbi Peak (Pico do Marumbi): Located in Paraná’s sea mountain, the state park of Marumbi remains with natural wealth of the Brazilian Atlantic forest. For those who enjoy outdoor activities, it’s the perfect spot, because there are waterfalls baths, trails or even climbing.

Flower Street (Rua das Flores): The main street of Morretes, a boardwalk on the banks of the Nhundiaquara river with its historic mansions such as the house where Dom Pedro II slept, Marco Zero, fountain, restaurants and the city’s first telegraph. The loveliest colonial buildings are clustered around Praça Lamenha Lins (square) as well as the Flower st, mentioned above, the cobblestone walkway that runs along the river.

Touristic Train (Serra Verde Express): Leaving from Curitiba, the train goes to Paranaguá’s direction, passing through, and stopping, in Morretes. The train, which goes about 74 km between both Paraná’s cities, is compound by 18 wagons divided in three classes: economic, touristic and executive.this train offers fantastic scenery as it meanders its way down in elevation through the Mata Atlântica. The ride from Curitiba (from where I took way back in time) From  Paranaguà, there is service on weekends and holidays Need to check the site for the latest schedules and pricing. This is a great train ride and a must. I have taken the initiative to put a youtube video here hope is ok to do this. Let me give you the official webpage of Serra Verde Express train here: Serra Verde Express train

In addition to the walks and the train ride I came here to try the Barreado dish as above.  This dish is credited to the Portuguese more than 300 years ago that came here.  The dish consists of one or more types of second and lean beef, such as the palette,maminha and duckling, seasoned with onions, garlic, pork rinds, peppers, laurels and cumin and cooked until discolored. The preparation is mixed with manioc flour , and served with rice and sliced banana . The secret in the preparation is the cooking time in the crock pot-about 20 hours-enough to shred all the meat and keep it hot always. After cooked, the fibers of the meat loosen up resulting in a thick and tasty broth and seasoned to taste.

And I try it first in style at Ponte Velha right on the banks of the Nhundiaquara river. The service was memorable , the food enormous quantities and the price to die for… The resto webpage is still there: Ponte Velha restaurant Morretes


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Brazil tourism on Morretes

City of Morretes on heritage

There you go another small spot in the world map for me but always thankful of the welcome and the experience by all locals. Something to remember forever. Enjoy Morretes, Paranà, Brazil.

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

August 3, 2018

The Alcazar of Toledo!

This is an icon of many things in Toledo. Old and modern, it has gone thru all the joys and troubles of the city. It was my first visit to it back in 1972! with my mother, while visiting nearby family. Then over the years I have brought the rest, family , friends, girlfriend, wife, sons, and again repeat. Toledo is an icon of Spain, if you want to know what is Spain everything under the sun, you need to come here and understand.

I will give you a brief description and temptation to come and visit it.

The Alcázar of Toledo is a 16C fortress of rectangular form placed in the highest part of the city of Toledo, Castilla-La Mancha, with a large central esplanade and four towers at four angles, with granite walls, and which apparently was the seat of the Roman protectorate of the city, and later a Visigoth Palace 6C , then an Arab fortress in the 8C.


After the conquest of Toledo from the Moors in 1085, the Arab fortress was restored by the Christians and used as a military bulwark during the reigns of kings Alfonso VI, Alfonso VII, Alfonso VIII and Alfonso X the Wise.  In the 16C, king Charles V converted it into a luxurious royal residence by charging the famous architect Alonso de Covarrubias with a series of modernization works which, by ordered of king Felipe II, culminating with the no less famous Juan de Herrera.  The Alcazar suffered a fire in 1710.  A century later, 1810, the Napoleonic troops burned it again and after its reconstruction carried out between 1867 and 1882, it was still burned for the third time in 1887. Rebuilt so many times, it was used successively as the royal house of Charity, Military Academy, Infantry Academy, General Military Academy, Infantry Academy a second time and lately, between 1931 and 1936, Academy of Infantry, Cavalry and stewardship. …


It is famous for the siege of the Alcázar during the Spanish Civil War. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) it was used by then Colonel Joseph Moscardó (more history here) as defensive and resistance point of the Guardia Civil and was almost totally destroyed by the troops loyal to the Second Republic and the militiamen, during a siege that lasted seventy days, from July 22 to September 27, 1936.  He was rescue and taken off that day by the troops under the command of General José Enrique Varela and visited the following day by General Francisco Franco.  It was used later as a symbol heroism during the Civil War.  In October 1998 it became the headquarters of the Library of Castilla-La Mancha (Biblioteca ) to our days, and from July 2010 is home to the Army Museum moved from the former Kingdom Hall of Madrid. Stray bullets from the Civil war could still be seen embedded in the walls of the Alcázar.

Army Museum on the Alcazar

Library of Castilla La Mancha

Toledo toledo Toledo toledo

A bit on the description.

White Arms Hall (Salon de Armas Blancas) ,It is a room of homage and remembrance to the tradition of swordmanship of Toledo that was continued in the National factory of Arms of Toledo, founded by king Carlos III, where one can observe the evolution that has had the white weapon.

Firearms Hall (Salon de Armas de Fuego), It has all the firearms of the 20C like pistols, machine guns, mortars, rifles, etc. from the Museum of the Army of Madrid and narrates the history of Spain.

Miniature model Room (Salon de Maquetas)n there are two models of the Alcázar, before and after the siege, in the Spanish Civil War with photographs and other significant objects.

Romero Ortiz Hall: It exhibited the collections of the Minister of Grace and Justice, Antonio Romero Ortiz, and bequeathed to the Infantry Academy.

Moscardó ‘s office. (Despacho de Moscardo) This office is the only stay that is preserved as it was on September 28th, 1936.

Hall of Battles (Salon de Batallas). In this place the tactics are represented, the environments and places where were developed the most important acts of weapons of the Spanish armies. On each representation, on the roof, are the shields of Spain at the time of each battle below shown.

Crypt (Cripta) It is the place where the rest of the defenders rest.

Contemporary uniform room(Salon de Uniformes Contemporarios). In this room are exposed the uniforms to the present, as well as rewards and distinctions. It has an informative purpose. The hall is presided over by a bust of King Juan Carlos I.

Military command room.(Salon de Ordenes Militares). The eight military orders from the 8C to the 16C and six current habits are reproduced in this Hall. The oldest order, that of the Holm oak(Encina) ,dates from the year 722. The intention to assemble this room is to pay homage to these orders that contributed very effectively to the Reconquista (reconquest) and were the predecessors of the regular armies.

Documentary Room (Salon Documental) It contains the most varied documents, plans, maps ,instructions, etc. for which the construction and successive reconstructions of the Alcazar have been ruled since the times of the emperor Charles (Carlos V or king Carlos I of Spain).

A nice youtube video I found and like to post it in my blog here.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Toledo on Alcazar

Tourism of Castilla La Mancha on Alcazar

There you go , another nice building to visit in Toledo amongst all that history of Spain, the kingdom of Spain. Enjoy it as I do

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

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