Archive for February, 2019

February 27, 2019

Some news from France, CCXXII

So back to the latest news from my belle France. All under a wonderful sunshine of 18C lovely in my Breton woods!!! By Paris, is the same!  Let me be a bit different this time as France is a whole country with all kinds of issues like many others but seldom spoken by visitors seeking the glamour of my adopted country.

Ok so can never always tell you the nicest things about Paris, France ,I am aware of it all been citizen/resident of many countries and many large cities. Paris has its down side too, just be aware when visiting.

The number of deaths on the roads of metropolitan France increased by 3.9% in January 2019. 238 people were killed, nine more than in January 2018, Wednesday announced Securité Routiére (official road safety organism). This increase in agglomeration(cities) and on highways, comes after the announcement of a historical decline in  2018, with 3 503 killed (Hexagone and overseas). The results that had led Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, ardent defender of the 80 km/h limitation that it is legitimate to discuss this measure, in the context of the great national debate. Of course, speed is not the main issue, bad road conditions, traffic circles, priority on the right, etc are the issues but they do not gather money like a speeding ticket lol!!!

Looking more closely at the surveys made available by Airparif (the body for Air quality control in île de France region), it was notice that the air has been described as Bad already four days since January 1, 2019 compared to three over the whole of last year ! Of the four days with a bad index in 2019, three have been found since February 12 , two at the top of the pollution peak of  February 21 and 22. The levels of particle concentrations have also justified the establishment of an alternating circulation in Paris from today February 27. Charles Karimi, a forecaster at Airparif, explained that without wind or rain, these discharges of particles, mainly due to road traffic and residential heating, etc., remain in the atmosphere and cannot escape because of the very cold air that creates a kind of bell cover over the Ile-de-France region. This is more like the factories around Paris, the overcrowding with no park and ride parking’s, public transport that is still not enough for the population , and the building heating yes in Paris, all these a lot more than simply road traffic which has been there since day 1.

107 homicides in Ile-de-France region in 2018, twenty less than the previous year! This is one of the positive developments in the numerical balance of delinquency delivered by the Ministry of the Interior in its data state 4001. The number of armed robberies decreases in the capital. A significant decrease of almost 9% over one year and even half -55% over 5 years which reflects a fairly general trend in Ile-de-France, except perhaps in Seine-Saint-Denis 93 where the number of robberies of this type has fallen only 2.62% since 2013. On the other hand, the number of sexual assaults is progressing throughout the Ile-de-France and the Oise. They increased by 25% compared to the previous year in Paris and in the Hauts-de-Seine, in the latter department, they even almost doubled + 90%! over five years, between 2013 and 2018. So even if Paris by major city standards is still a safe city, common sense should prevail at nights by all, but especially women.

In the ligher things of my belle France, there are as always some nice developments to tell you.

In the spring of 2020, this 14 000 m2 operation overlooks the Parc des Expositions (fairgrounds). It will feed the restaurants of the site and the inhabitants of the area. On the heights of a building under construction, to the southeast of the exhibition center of the Porte de Versailles (15éme), a landscape echoes the ephemeral largest farm of France. It is here, at the top of the future Pavilion 6, that the largest urban farm on the roof of the world will be created.  It will be complemented in the spring of 2020, with the delivery of the new hall and the two hotels under construction, a Mama Shelter and a Novotel of 440 rooms in total. More than a thousand fruits and vegetables of about thirty different species will be pampered each day, in season, by some twenty gardeners. The production will feed the restaurants of the exhibition center, starting with the le Perchoir, which already is present on several Parisian rooftops, which is set on the panoramic terrace of the new hall. More on the parc des exposition and the Salon de l ’Agriculture going on now: https://en.parisinfo.com/what-to-do-in-paris/info/guides/salon-international-agriculture-paris

And on the farm press release in French here: http://www.presseagence.fr/lettre-economique-politique-paca/2019/02/22/paris-la-plus-grande-ferme-urbaine-en-toiture-au-monde-bientot-a-paris/?print=print

Le musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux (Seine-et-Marne 77) or The Museum of the Great War of the country of Meaux. Welcomes comics authors (BD) interested in the 14-18 period. The opportunity to meet them and to visit this great museum for free!! Great event indeed and wonderful museum. More here: https://www.museedelagrandeguerre.eu/en/la-grande-guerre-en-bd.html

Ski, snowboard and curling trails give a winter sports air to the One Nation shopping center, in Clayes-sous-Bois (Yvelines 78). You can ski there every day until Sunday, March 10, 2019. And it’s free.The mall info here: https://www.onenation.fr/en/

Indeed, between February 27 and March 3, 1969 took place the legendary move of the halles of Paris to Rungis: 20 000 people, 1 000 wholesale companies, 10 000 m3 of equipment, 5 000 tons of goods left Paris for the south of the capital where a new blazing market , installed on 4.2 km, was waiting for them . This is the Rungis market today one of the biggest in the world, celebrating 50th anniversary!. https://www.rungisinternational.com/rungis-50e-anniversaire/

The two cabins of the Montmartre funicular are as new! After three long years of work, the famous 18C funicular railway was completely renovated. 25 years after its operation in its current form, the new funicular, frequented by more than 4000 people per hour, announces its great comeback! The modern cockpit will undoubtedly appeal to travelers: New benches, new floor, LED lighting, more dynamic information screen and a stroke of paint on the outside. The renovations taking place every ten years, the next is planned for 2027 and 2028. You have time! More in tourist office of Paris: https://en.parisinfo.com/transport/103125/Funiculaire-de-Montmartre

The official tourist office of Montmartre! http://www.montmartre-guide.com/acces-a-la-butte-montmartre/

The Paris Music Festival is back! And with it, three days of celebration, music and love with a ton of concerts at a very sweet price, at all in the craziest places of the capital. A lovable program awaits you for this new edition, with a beautiful headliner, such as one named Bertrand Burgalat, talented musician and patron of the label Tricatel, who will perform at the Musée des Arts et Métiers (Museum of Arts and Crafts). You will also find Zombie Zombies on stage with a choir of teenagers, Bashar Mar-Khalifé in solo piano with Faraj Suleiman in the first part, a tribute to Rachid Taha. But also the wonderful Hugh Coltman, Apple, Sage, Ignatus, Louis Aguilar, Gael Faure, Barbara Carlotti, Silly Boy Blue or even Zaza Fournier. This year you have an appointment in places such as the American Cathedral, the College of the Bernardin, the archaeological crypt of the Ile de la Cité, the Hôtel de Lauzun, the Museum of Arts Deco or the Eugène Delacroix Museum. With a single rate of 10€ per concert, no more, no less. From March 14 to 16 2019. More here:  http://paris-music.com/

The brand new Institut Français de la Mode (French Institute of Fashion) or IFM Paris. This Parisian fashion school was created by the merger of the French Institute of Fashion and the School of the Trade Union Chamber of Haute Couture (ECSCP). The Bachelor’s registration is open for the beginning of the 2019. A Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design, a three-year course, taught in French and English, at 13 000 euros per year for EU nationals, 19 000 euros for all others. It will teach the anatomy, drawing, cutting, patronage, creation of images, staging, but also the industrial and economic reality of fashion. The creation of a collection of 6 to 8 silhouettes accessorized is to be carried out in the last year. More here: https://www.ifmparis.fr/en/

Cannes and its Croisette is in fashion! again!   It is offering itself a big facelift. The old bathing establishments are going to be demolished to give way to harmonized dismantling structures. The mayor, David Lisnard, decided to launch an international competition in 2019 to entrust architects and landscapers with the requalification of public spaces. The main asset of the Croisette is their village sides, where you can do everything on foot, go from hotel to beach, shopping, join the Palais des Festivals. Nowhere else in France, even in Paris, we find on less than 3 km such a concentration of luxury shops with some sixty brands which, since 2016, can open on Sundays or in the evening with a golden square registered in the perimeter of the International tourist area. Since 2009, the Groupe Barriére has dedicated 120 million euros to its two flagships, the Majestic and the Gray of Albion hotels, including the construction of a new wing for the Majestic housing 42 suites and 2 penthouses. The Martinez completed in 2018 a construction site of 150 million euros. The Intercontinental Carlton, (owned by Qatari Katara Hospitality Fund now under my management accounting wise once!), has undertaken extension work (more than 13,000 m2) and modernization that should be completed in 2021 with an estimated investment of more than 250 million euros. Finally, the JW Marriott Hotel (own by groupe Jesta), by 2020, will offer 2,500 m2 of new commercial areas and a renewed hotel offer on 7,800 m2. Amount of expenditure, about 32 million euros. Indeed a total facelift of an already glorious boulevard de la Croisette of Cannes!! More on it here: https://www.cannes-destination.com/must-see/la-croisette-cannes

There you go, many things still to do and common sense will prevail, I never had any problems whatsoever here nor my family. Other than some speeding tickets lol!! but now down to 11 points out of maximum 12, okeerokee!

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

 

February 22, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXV

So coming back at you at my beloved Spain , everything under the sun. Well it is sunny now with temps of 64F or about 18C, just fine , I have similar in my neck of the woods !!!

It is time tell you the latest and traditions of my Spain, this time with an emphasis on gastronomy and wines, what else, the country is loaded; I say the best component. And enough conversation topics to heal the troubles of my today’s Spain.

Do we say Pizzas? yes the cuisine of the world, and Spain is nothing to be left behind. My lovely Madrid has plenty, and will give you some good ones of my own.

Grosso Napoletano. The Neapolitan pizzas in this house are already spread over five sites in Madrid. In the menu, classic creations such as the Margherita or the piquant Diavola share protagonism with the Borghese (with truffle and speck) or the Cantabrian (with anchovies and sauce with San Marzano, cherry, olive oil and garlic).  My take was at Paseo de La Habana, 27, the original: more here: Grosso Napoletano Madrid

Luna Rossa , visited at Calle San Bernardo 24. Opened a quarter of a century ago, it has been in the hands of Ana Zucchini (daughter of the founder) for two decades. Its raison d’être is Neapolitan cuisine, especially pizzas made in a wood-fired oven (such as Arrabiata, with hot sobrasada and fennel seeds, or Tonno, with tuna, olives, basil and onions). The space, recently restored, preserves the rustic charm of yesteryear. More here: Luna Rossa MadridLuna Rossa Madrid

Of course, if you want your regular eat in take out delivery place then no one better in Madrid than TelePizza, doing it for years!!! Several locations all over the city, I have in my old neighborhood of Quintana (Ciudad Lineal): Telepizza Quintana Madrid

And why not alone,no way, we need to have a good beer with them and Madrid has plenty of this too. My favorites amongt many are

Cervecería Santa Bárbara .Although it has several branches in Madrid, the one that occupies us in these lines is the original (opened in the year 1815). It is a reference to the time of the appetizer: for its beautiful bar of marble rods fly  and the doubles, with cream instead of foam, of soft bitter taste and uniform. Do not leave without tasting the prawns of Huelva, the canned cockle and the anchovies in vinegar with french fries of Churrería . The original at Plaza de Santa Barbara 8:More here: Cerveceria Santa Barbara

La Ardosa. Although it started as a wine tavern where it was sold in the region of Toledo from which it takes the name, when Gregorio Monge (father of Angel, current owner) was made with the business transformed it into a brewery, a pioneer in outside brands such as Guinness or Pilsner. Now, this passion is preserved (European labels are always served in double glass) and is complemented by a good vermouth of Reus. To accompany, salmorejo, potato tortilla, salted and pickled. As a curiosity to add that in this address you will find the first tap of Guinness of Madrid . Calle  Colon 13.More here; La Ardosa Madrid

Bar Martín. Martín Jiménez is the third generation that directs this bar devoted to the appetizer first opened in 1940. Besides calluses, Banderillas and Russian steaks, to drink the rods triumph, pulled with a lot of grace from Madrid (not in vain, our host is Master marksman of Mahou, the beer that is very local ). At Avenida de Menendez Pelayo 17. No webpage but a reference in my favorite YELP: Yelp on Bar Martin Madrid

La Dolores. Inaugurated in 1908, this centennial house is one of the most traditional bars in Madrid. Easily recognizable by its beautiful tile façade, inside an army of duly uniformed waiters is struggling to serve the reeds, doubles and muds (earthenware jars) of beer served as ordered by the canons of Madrid: Up to half, blow to up and up. They always go with a snack of bucket, but if you want something more it has an incredible collection of canapés and rations to match (boquerones and anchovies) served with olives, piparra and french fries .At Plaza de Jesus 4. A wonderful bar and great area for walks before or after: no webpage but my favorite YELP here: Yelp on La Dolores Madrid

Cerveceria Cruz Blanca, Calle Doctor Esquerdo, 157  or Ave Menendez Pelayo, 47 both locations are great and my hangout in Madrid for the last few years. Great service, good food, prices to match and great cold beers, the terraces are superb! These are setup as franchises so are you up for it? try them you will love them. More here: Cerveceria Cruz Blanca Madrid

Then I take you to something typical of Galicia and Madrid, hard to tell I like them both even if grew up eating the Madrid style; talking about the stews or Cocidos. Here are some where to eat them well in both places. No carnival without stew. At least in Galicia. With just similarities with the Spaniard (coincide in being a mix of meat, vegetables and carbohydrate and to have the soup as an entrée), the Galician is a hearty recipe that is enjoyed in Galicia, but also in cities like Madrid. In Madrid, Casa Gallega, where it is served with cabbage (instead of grelos or Nabizas), and Sanxenxo.  Meanwhile, Sal Negra dispatches both Madrid and Galician stew styles

At Coruña or Puxigo (as Pontes), which incorporates Grelos de Villalba, and Cabana (Bergondo), classic overlooking the estuary that prefers cured and non-smoked pieces. Sarria is Roma, restaurant-hotel of the Fontal family with 44 years where they serve the stew or also only the horn. And the recipe includes that piece almost wild as a star: the head of the pig (Cacheira, or hat), tasty and cartilaginous that, if you like, derives in a real enjoyment and can be of Celtic pork (salted and cured before their cooking, they sell it in Carnicas and Teijeiro) or Galician pork without this marking. More on hotel restaurant Roma here: Hotel Restaurant Rome in Sarrià

Time for Carnivals in Orense province,Galicia and more celebrations!!

The carnivals (from March 1 to 6), many of the municipalities of the province of Orense have been celebrating one of the most festive and expected moments of the year for several days. The Entroidos, popular name for which in Galician lands are known the carnivals, of the oldest in Spain, are characterized by the presence of picturesque masked characters of ancestral origin, denominated in different way according to the locality ( cigars, barbers, screens…), which take over the streets forming part of lively and colorful parades and troupes. This tradition is a special claim for the towns of Laza, Manzaneda, Verín, Viana do Bolo and Ginzo de Limia,  which lasts up to five weeks in some cases. Putting Orense capital as a starting point, I propose a route to live three of these most popular carnivals in Galicia: Ginzo de Limia, Verín and Laza, to the south of the province, make up the “magic triangle” of the Entroidos.

Ginzo de Limia. The most durable, since it takes place over five weekends, in which charangas, parades and musical acts do not cease. The main protagonists are the screens, some characters in white suit, a peculiar mask and red cloak with colorful ribbons and bells chasing, cow bladder in hand, to those who are not disguised. Once reached, they take them in twinkling to a bar, where they will have to pay glass of white wine and gather in the Plaza Mayor and then start their characteristic dances and jumps through the streets of the town. See program here: https://www.paxinasgalegas.es/fiestas/entroido-2019-xinzo-de-limia-0686.html

Verín.  At 35 km, this town next to the Portuguese border, protected from the top by the castle of Monterrey ,a fortress of the 10C perfectly preserved. It starts its carnival on February 21 with the traditional Thursday of Compadres, a parade predominantly Male that runs through the streets of the village to the Plaza Mayor. Sunday 24 February by 11h is the day for the cigars, which flood the streets with their characteristic wooden masks, their colorful costumes, which hang the legendary clashes of cowbells and a crop called Zamarra, the rhythm of brass bands and the clink of their bells. On Saturday and Sunday March 2-3 are the big days of the carnival, in which the whole city turns over. Plaza de la Merced welcomes the baptism of the Cigarrón on Saturday,16h30, while at Av. de Castilla is the place for the Grand Parade ,Sunday at 12h, with the participation of cigars, floats and troupes that parody politicians and society in general. More info here: http://www.visitchavesverin.com/es

Laza. It is obligatory to move to the central Plaza de la Picota and to the adjoining bars of this town  60 km from Orense. Although it will officially begin on February 28th, with the thursday of Comadres, the carnival has already several weeks of celebration, with the four Fridays of Folión ,street party from 23h. The main protagonists of this celebration are the Peliqueiros, characters armed with their officer sheepskin coats, their clashes at the waist and their demonic animal masks that roam the streets imposing their law. These accompany the leaflets, groups of 30 to 40 people with different instruments, whose mission is to scare away evil spirits. This ancestral celebration continues until Tuesday of Carnival ,March 5, the farewell day with the Peliqueiros, the parade of floats, the will of the donkey and the Queima do Arangaño. More here: http://www.entroidodelaza.com/dias-de-entroido/

Orense. It is also worth the festivities that mainly fill the historic center of Orense, the city bathed by the Miño river. The celebrations in the capital start on Thursday of Comadres ,February 28, a night traditionally reserved for women. From there, there are five days of uninterrupted festivities in which everyone goes out into the street in disguise or with a mask. More information and program in  http://turismodeourense.gal/

Let’s talk about wine stores; sure we like to go to the source, but sometimes little time so what to do to grab the beauty of Spanish wines? Well heads for these wonderful wine stores of my trail.  You know the best known ones are all based in Madrid and Barcelona, where abound, and those reference addresses that are for offer and service. Asking in Madrid, there are many that I will recommend Lavinia, Santa Cecilia, Viuda de Cuenllas, or Mantequerías Bravo come to mind.  And there, in Barcelona, as many others as Celler de Gelida, Lafuente,  La Carta de Vinos, or Enoteca Divins. But the wine stores continues beyond these big cities and it is in those other wine stores in which today I will take you with my favorites over the years.

La Vinatería Yáñez ,calle Padre Sacramento 11. Zaragoza. They have since 1953 focused on the sale of wines apart from those dedicated to the diffusion of their culture. It gathers several thousand references among which the representation of foreign labels stands out. Good offer of malts, Armagnacs, brandies… Conditioned rooms for tastings and conferences, and good library of consultation. More here: La Vinateria Yanez Zaragoza

Vinoteca El Lagar, Calle San Lesmes 14 bajo. Burgos . A small space that houses labels of very different nationalities, since they have great relevance the foreign, especially those of French origin. It has a part destined to distillates and various gadgets useful for wine. More here: Vinoteca El Lagar Burgos

Vino Cutanda La Bolsa de los Licores, Avenida Ramón y Cajal 14, Albacete. Family business located in the center of the city, opened since 1982, and with more than 2,500 references; Wines from all the processing areas of the world as they gather a thousand foreign labels. They complete the wine offer, with spirits, accessories, gourmet foods, and various activities.   More here: Vinos Cutanda Albacete

Valentín Moreno e Hijos ,Calle Méjico 8, Guadalajara. Dedicated to wine since it opened in the mid-sixties, it responds to the name of its founder. Now the third generation owns it and among its more than 700 references there are wines from all over the world, although the protagonists have the patriotic, with special attention to the Manchegos. They include distillates and miscellaneous wine accessories.  More here: Valentin Moreno e Hijos Guadalajara

The Palacio de los Licores, Calle Correhuela 24, Salamanca. A neighbor of the Plaza Mayor of Salamanca, this large wine market brings together more than 1,500 selected wines, liquors that surpass the five hundred brands, specialized publications and accessories. More here: Palacio de los Licores Salamanca

Casa Claudio , Rúa San Andrés,  A Coruña. With two points of sale in the city, this was the first, inaugurated in 1889 and therefore emblematic store in terms of the sale of oenological and gastronomic products: wines (on 3,500 references), liquors, distillates, canned, sausages, spices, etc. They also schedule tastings.   More here: Casa Claudio A Coruna

La Licoreria De Cuenca,  Avenida de la cruz roja Española, S/N,warehouse and store open to the public where we purchased last in Spain, at Cuenca of course. This last address is off the A-40 ,Autovia de Castilla La Mancha. A place to visit. They have a store in city center at Calle Doctor Alonso Chirino, 9-Bajo ,where you can make your purchases as well. In it you can find a great variety of wines, liquors and delicatessen products. They have 21 years of experience. The webpage is here: http://www.lalicoreria.es/

Hope you enjoy the ride in my beloved Spain, the second most visited country in the world by UN WTO standards.

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

 

February 21, 2019

Some news from France, CCXXI

And here I am with the latest handn picked news of my belle France. Always something going on in the World’s most visited country!!!  The temps here is lovely sunny nice no rain, and just wonderful.  Right now is 52F or about 11C in my neck of the woods, with Paris at 62F ,about 17C and sunny.

So therefore, some of my latest tidbits on my belle France!

Final clapping for the Beverley, lol! Just news never been here , really honest. Forbidden to minors, the last cinema X of Paris  will definitely close its doors this Saturday February 23rd . At 75 years old, Maurice Laroche, owner since 1993 of this discreet establishment located 14, rue de la Ville Neuve, 2éme arrondissement, a few steps from the Grand Rex, decided to take a well-deserved retirement. Will console ourselves with the Beverley box which contains, for 60€, a DVD telling the story of the establishment, photos and a CD with the song of the house! According to the National Film Centre (CNC), after the closure of the Beverley, there will be only one X-cinema in France: the Vox in Grenoble! More here in French: https://salles-cinema.com/paris/cinema-beverley-a-paris

The martial arts enthusiast had an institution on the 15éme. A space whose tatamis have seen the training of several generations of Judokas, Aikidoka, yogis and practitioners of various martial arts: the Shiseikan Dojo,(been here as my French family are all enthusiasts of these arts)  nestled for over 70 years in the courtyard of a private building on Rue Lecourbe, will have to move or closed by September 2020. More on this nice place in Paris here:  https://dojoshiseikan.wordpress.com/

The Vincennes Racecourse, (a wonderful place to be anytime) has a date on Sunday February 24 2019. It is called the festival at the Hippodrome and puts in the spotlight this year ,Brazil. Between a capoeira dance, Batucada (Brazilian music and percussion), traditional dancers, pastries and a Portuguese-speaking carnival, families can attend the ten afternoon trotting races. Because this racecourse is the French temple of the Trotters and that it runs this Sunday the Grand Prix de Paris. A marathon, for horses, 4.1 km.  At the Hippodrome de Vincennes, 2 route de la Ferme , 12éme arrondissement. More here : https://www.vincennes-hippodrome.com/fr/

This Sunday, February 24th, 2019, your children are invited to the Château de Fontainebleau (one of my favorite castles of all of France!)  for a carnival punctuated by the reviving dance and duels with the sword. They are expected to be welcome disguised in front of the golden gate and then be trained in the arts of fencing and dance as they were practiced then. The program includes weapons courses and demonstrations of duels. The swords are of course of wood, suitable for children during animations. On the other hand, demonstrations are made in the period of time, when the weapons were actually used to injure in the duels and they were not wearing protections. The only safety of the actors is their technical mastery and their synchronization in these millimeters fencing shows. Sunday, February 24th, from 14H to 17h.  Château de Fontainebleau (Seine et Marne dept 77), Place du Général-de-Gaulle.  Admission 9€ In addition to the entrance fee to the castle (10-12€, free for under-25). On Reservation because places are limited! More here:  https://www.chateaudefontainebleau.fr/CARNAVAL-AU-CHATEAU,1505

Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 February 2019, the Ferme du Buisson in Noisiel (Seine-et-Marne dept 77) hosts a large medieval festival and heavy-metal concerts name Cernunnos Pagan Fest (noisy but good my sons are into both). The program: Scenes of reconstruction of life in medieval Scotland, initiations to traditional Celtic dances, but also ancient games, demonstrations of combat and spectacles of fires. There are even smaller ones, with make-up workshops, calligraphy, young audience shows. More info here: http://www.lafermedubuisson.com/programme/cernunnos-pagan-fest

Vintage game consoles await the nostalgic of the first emotions to the controllers. Well my sons are into it but on the modern side, this should be interesting in my wife native town) They will be at the Retrogaming play on 23 and 24 February 2019 in Meaux (Seine-et-Marne dept 77). RGC (Retro-gaming Connexion), Replay and Chezmoa associations return on February 23rd (Friday) and 24th(Saturday)  for retro gaming Play 2019. The retro and alternative video game festival will launch its 2nd edition at the Meaux Coliseum to promote the videogame heritage and the history of the video game, always in the same desire for sharing and conviviality.  https://www.rom-game.fr/agenda/3227-Retro+Gaming+Play+2019.html

Michael Bunel is a photo-reporter born in Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines dept 78). For several years he has been walking the world’s roads to trace the path of exiles fleeing conflict zones. His work is exposed at the La Cle. Interesting to see the other side on the people’s side. More here:   https://www.saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/111-1269/fiche/la-clef-exposition-michael-bunel-exil.htm

New metro lines, new stations, 200 km new tracks. The Grand Paris Express is the urban project that will change the landscape of Paris in 2030 (they needed too overcrowded but do not think this will help much ). Seven teams of architects responsible for building the 68 new stations have been associated with artists who must design original creations. Each metro station will have its own works of art! To create a large collection of works, such as a museum of the twenty-first century open to all audiences. More here :  https://www.societedugrandparis.fr/gpe/le-grand-paris-express-en-resume

It happens that the city of Paris has decided to put a clean coup on the Regional Express network of Île-de-France region, with these new RER  “New Generation”. The RER project  “NG ” could well change the lives of the RER D and E passengers, who were seriously starting to rust rails (this will help these lines often overlook for the more glamorous ones such as A and B). These new trains will accommodate up to 1860 people, with 600 seats spread over two floors. These new RER, without separation between cars to optimize the space, will show an exceptional comfort, because this is where the whole issue lies for the manufacturers. So air conditioning and USB ports will be available to you. Spaces with and without seats for short trips, as well as more comfortable spaces including only seats for longer trips. As for the ends of the train, they will be reserved for strollers, wheelchair users and travelers with suitcases. More info here:   https://www.iledefrance-mobilites.fr/actualites/le-futur-rer-dile-de-france-se-devoile/

There you short and sassy as they said. Hope you enjoy it the runs of my news entries ,and thank you for your support.

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

 

 

 

February 15, 2019

Some news from France, CCXX

So this is a special edition of my Some news from France episodes which is now to its 220th edition with Roman numerals. I have said many times the beauty of my belle France and the attraction it has in the world. Yes there are many wonderful beautiful places in our World.

However, when it comes to numbers and favorites, France and Paris is at the top with Versailles right behind ok. No wonders some of the visitors here claim of overcrowded and long lines etc, well we are the best in the world of showing you the beauty of our landscape, architecture, history and struggles of mankind. Nobody does it better.

We have some new figures from the tourists authorities coming out yesterday and I wanted to share them here fresh and hot off the press. France is a movable feast!!! And just step out a bit from Paris and you will see what I mean.

In my beloved Yvelines dept 78 west of Paris, and another state/province/department sits the Royal Mansion…………

The Royal mansion has made a place in the sun. The Château de Versailles surpassed for the first time the bar of 8 million visitors in 2018, in the line of a record tourist year for the Ile de France region monuments, which saw the passing of 50 million visitors last year. It is the third most visited monument in the region, behind the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Louvre Museum in Paris. Now you know why crowded, the world wants to come here!!!!

Even if it remains the second most visited monument of the Yvelines dept 78 with its 105K visitors, the National Bergerie of Rambouillet loses 10 000 visitors. In its aftermath, the Museum of National Archaeology of Saint-Germain-en-Laye holds its course, surpassing just the 100K visitors. The Château de Rambouillet also gives off good figures with more than 43K visitors, for its first full year since its reopening in September 2017 after two and a half years of work. The Villa Savoye, in Poissy, which accounts for more than 38K visitors, hopes to inflate its attendance quickly. At the 6th place in the Yvelines department 78, the Château de Maisons-Laffitte welcomed 25K visitors, 15% more than the previous year. 2017 had been marked by heavy work on the facade of the castle, until the beginning of  2018.

 

Regional wise as in Ile de France, (Paris, Versailles Fontainebleau, Vaux-le-Vicomte etc etc) we have 50 million tourists welcomed in 2018, the Ile-de-France beat, for the second consecutive year, a record of attendance. The Ile-de-France is the locomotive of tourism in our country which attracted a total of 90 million people last year (2018). For the first time in 2018, hotels welcomed more foreigners (17.6 million, + 8.7%) than, French from other regions (17.5 million,-1.1%). In the Nationalities, the Americans arrived in the lead with 2.8 million, followed by the British with 2 million, the Germans with 1,220,000, almost equal with the Chinese at 1,190,000 ,and the Spaniards at 1,140,000. To welcome visitors, the region is deploying this year 700 tourism volunteers, students in BTS or languages in 75 places (train stations..etc.).

A famous international travel forum which won’t mention has shown the favorite past time of its users is the promenade on the pedestrian banks of the Seine river  in the Top 10 favorite activities of tourists in Paris!

And the ongoing improvements are continuing all over and the Eiffel tower is definitively not behind to anyone ! For the Eiffel Tower and its 6 million annual visitors, as many potential mouths to feed from a simple sandwich or gourmet meal, a lollipop or a brownie, the producer’s Guild (Guilde des Artisans) will therefore be a guarantee of quality whatever the product. The entry “contest” will be renewed twice a year, and 5 categories of products are open to selection: Bakery (bread, pastries, sandwiches…), Sweets (chocolate, cakes, jams and other confectionery), Savoury tastes ( Charcuterie, cheese, cannery etc), Beverages, and unprocessing plant products, i.e. fruit, vegetables and cereals. Season, always in season. Applications are now accepted for registration on the website: https://www.restaurants-toureiffel.com/fr/guilde-artisans.html

And last news but not least, a wonderful royal place that needs to be seen more. The national Domaine of Saint-Cloud (Hauts de Seine dept 92) records an annual increase of 2-3% of its attendance. The fifth most visited site in Île-de-France in 2018 outside Paris and Disney, the estate welcomes walkers, joggers and festival-goers throughout the year. With 148K visitors last year, the national domaine of Saint-Cloud does not have to blush at its attendance. This figure allows it to position itself in the fifteenth position of the ranking of the most visited sites in Île-de-France, and fifth position outside Paris and Disney, according to the regional figures of tourism unveiled this Thursday. More on it here: http://www.domaine-saint-cloud.fr/en/

There you go just a bit of news on some attendance records on tourism in my belle France. Allez les Bleus et Vive la France!!!

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

February 14, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXIIII

Ok so need to get back to my beloved Spain, it has been a while on news of my Spain. Weather-wise we are in heaven here at 53F same as Madrid and sunny; this is about 11C.

There is lots of things always going on in Spain ,everything under the sun. However, I will pick some with historical values and great off the beaten paths ways to discovered the beautiful country.

This is a wonderful trip by car . Perched on the Sierra de Ayllón, these Segovian villages of black architecture, by the abundance of slate, and red, by the use of clay, trace a perfect route for a weekend in nature, mountain flavors and absolute disconnection. Everything, an hour from Madrid.

The medieval village of Riaza is one of the most beautiful villages in Segovia province. Its arcaded square which also exerts the bullring, its ancestral houses with emblazoned facades and the Church of Nuestra Senora del Manto (Our Lady of the mantle) are the main traveler’s claim. The construction of the houses has given Villacorta that characteristic reddish color. In addition to the Church of Our Lady of the Mantle, we can visit the hermitages of San Roque and the Eternal Father, whose pilgrimage, which is celebrated the Sunday following Pentecost, constitutes one of the most popular festivities in the region. Of blacks, the blackest, this is the Muyo, a hamlet where time seems to have stopped. The most characteristic is that the walls and roofs of all their houses are built with black slate. Also the pavement of the streets. The only touch of color is provided by his church, with red tiles. Becerril, we now come to a town that has built its brownstone houses with slate roofs. Its most emblematic building is the Romanesque Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Asunción or Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, renovated in the 16C. In the visit you cannot miss a walk through its magnificent Acebeda where there are also yew, rowans and Ash. At Martin Munoz de Ayllon; its slate quarries served to make the roofs of the Palacio de La Granja and for the floor of the Cathedral of Segovia. Also to cover their roofs that contrast with the reddish of the land of the place and the gilding of quartzite. Thus colorful is this small and picturesque village located in the foothills of the Sierra de Ayllón whose parish church, San Martín de Tours, is the most outstanding building. At Ayllon proper, this villa hides important jewels in its medieval lattice. From the Contreras Palace to the lively Plaza Mayor arcaded, passing through the Church of San Miguel or the Convent of San Francisco. Everything can be discovered through dramatised visits. A wonderful ride by car is a must to see deep Castilla y Léon autonomous region!

And fantasy in Spain can be real, as said everything under the sun. Well there is more! see Astroland, the newly created Spanish interplanetary agency, has chosen a cave in Cantabria to develop the technology needed to inhabit the red planet. It is a cave of Arredondo with similarities to the Martian environment: low temperatures, strong winds and high stellar radiation that make it very hostile. If the forecasts are fulfilled, this innovative project will begin with a mission of ten expedition members on June 15th 2019. And all of this, of course, with a view to making the arrival of manned missions to Mars a reality, a feat that, at least, is expected for the year 2030. Of course, each of the ten crew members will have to demonstrate a number of skills to know the role assigned to them: leadership, expeditionary, biologist, psychologist… And they will receive a previous training program of about 90 days, which includes knowledge of coaching and leadership, climbing and caving, skill in emergency plans or hydroponic crops. These are the methodologies that space agencies follow to train their astronauts. At the moment, emulating this experience in Cantabria is a possible proposal at a reasonable price of about 10,000 euros. For those who want to sign up, the registration process is already open through the Astroland website.: www.astrolandagency.com

February is the month of lovers, of the Saint Valentine and it is no coincidence that it is also the time when Teruel, the true city of Spanish love, revive its most beautiful story ever told, occurred eight centuries ago. A romantic getaway to the walled Aragonese village is worthwhile to admire one of the most important and best preserved mudejar constructions in the world, but also to participate in the weddings of Isabel de Segura, the celebration that commemorates the annual legendary tragedy of lovers of Teruel. This goes back to 1217, when Diego de Marcilla, after five years in the war, returns to marry his beloved, Isabel de Segura, not knowing that this, pressured by her father, has not waited as promised and committed to another. Diego dies of grief, like Isabel, after learning the news.

For four days (from Thursday February 14th to Sunday February 17th ), the city immerses its inhabitants and visitors in the 13C: In the streets the medieval atmosphere is recreated, the locals are dressed in the period, the camps and artisan markets are held, dances are celebrated , tournaments, parades… and concerts, exhibitions, entertainment and many activities are held for all ages. But the real tourist attraction is that, in addition, some 400 actors recreate the drama of the lovers with many theatrical performances. The majority takes place in the Plaza de la Catedral, where the temple of Santa Maria de Mediavilla was erected, of Mudejar construction, with the tower, the dome and the roof as more important elements, and in the Plaza del Torico, surrounded by modernist buildings On whose porches there are shops, bars and restaurants with terrace. More info here:   http://www.bodasdeisabel.com/W3/Bodas/Index_Bodas.aspx

Those interested in learning more about this tragic love story cannot fail to visit the Mausoleum of Lovers, where rest their remains under magnificent sculptures with the hands clasped by Juan de Avalos. The Pantheon, attached to the Church of San Pedro (14C, its belfry, the Torre de San Pedro, is the oldest example of Mudejar), has different exhibition halls that seek to bring to the visitor everything related to these characters, from the social, political and cultural characteristics that surrounded the events in the Teruel of the beginning of the 13C until the influence of the lovers in the world of the Arts (literature, theatre, music, painting, sculpture…) Throughout the history and how It carried out the finding of the mummies (it was in 1555 in the subsoil of one of the side chapels of the mentioned Church of San Pedro), as well as its location for years: The Mudejar cloister of San Pedro, next to the temple of the same name, built in the second half of the 14C, Gothic-Mudejar style (entrance to the mausoleum: 4 euros; Mudejar and mausoleum: 8 euros). More info here: http://www.amantesdeteruel.es/

Literature lovers have another original option to learn more about this medieval story, thanks to the initiative Leer Aragón (read Aragon by the regional government), which proposes 11 literary routes (one or two days and with the option of including meals and accommodation) to know first hand of Aragonese writers and visit with them the scenarios that inspired some of their novels, set in Aragon. The tour will include a walk along the Calle Amantes (lovers), which goes from the Plaza del Torico to the Plaza de Pérez Prado, where stands the tower of San Martín (Mudejar style of 1316), and where they spent their childhood Diego and Isabel, as it is near the house where she grew up, next to the city/town wall. You will also visit the Plaza del Mercado (place of furtive encounters of the lovers), the Monasterio de los Hospitalarios ,and the corner in which begins the slope that leads to the Church of San Pedro, where this love drama ends. More info here: https://www.leeraragon.es/

And yes Paris and Madrid has a lot in common going back way back; intellectually too.

Paris, at the end of World War II, became the largest artists ‘ refuge town in the world. Painters, sculptors and writers of half the world (also Spaniards) settled there willing to soak up the bohemian atmosphere, the artistic independence and the freedom that many denied them in their countries. In Paris, Kandinsky became master of abstraction, Picasso turned to the conventions of painting, Chillida met his friend Pablo Palazuelo… All are protagonists of the show Paris despite everything. Foreign artists, 1944-1968, with whom the Reina Sofía Museum reveals the importance of foreign creators in that city during the postwar period. It is a sample that gathers works of more than 100 artists, among which are, in addition to those mentioned, Herrera, Kelly, Tinguely, Tamayo, Asger Jorn, Arroyo or Alfred Manessier.  More at the Reina Sofia museum webpage:   https://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/exhibitions/paris-without-regret

There enjoy my Spain, and remember ,happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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February 13, 2019

Some news from France, CCXVIIII

So a bit late on my writings of my belle France, but so much to do, what to do, n’est pas la vie est belle dans ma belle France! So catching up on the latest tidbits here they are. Oh nice weather in my Breton woods sunny no rain not cold just wonderful weather at 10C or about 50F.

The 27th edition of the Paris Manga Sci-fi show awaits you at Porte de Versailles ,15éme on February 16 and 17, 2019. The 27th Paris Manga & Sci-Fi Show celebrates the 80 years of Batman by inviting comedians (Cory Michael Smith, aka The Mystery Man, and Robin Lord Taylor says the Penguin), costumed cosplayers and superhero designers, like Tyler Kirkham. Two actors from the Buffy Slayer series are also highly anticipated, Anthony Head and James Marsters. Saturday, February 16 from 9h30 to 19h, Sunday, February 17 from 9h30 to 18h. Exhibition Park, Porte de Versailles , Hall 7.2.  More here: https://www.parismanga.fr/

The 39th exhibition, Book Fair renamed “Livre Paris”, will celebrate the writers of the old Continent from 15 to 18 March at the Porte de Versailles. Have delivered the outlines of a show that will host 1 200 exhibitors, about as many journalists from around the world, and the Sultanate of Oman and the city of Bratislava, Slovakia, are the guests of honor. More here:  https://www.livreparis.com/

The world championships of tattooing will be held from 15 to 17 February 2019 at the Grande Halle de la Villette ,19éme. This is the time if you wish to pass under the needle of one of the 400 tattooists present, among the best in the world. Grande Halle de la Villette, 211 av. Jean-Jaurès . Friday, 15 and Saturday, February 16 from 12h30 to Midnight, Sunday, February 17, 2019 from 11h30 to 19h. More here:    http://www.mondialdutatouage.com/2019/index.php

The biggest parade in Europe will cross the 13éme arrondissement of Paris Sunday, February 17, 2019 to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It is in the 13éme arrondissement of Paris that the largest Chinese community in Europe lives, with its approximately 170 000 inhabitants. No wonder that in this area of the capital, we see things in XXL to celebrate the New Year that coincides with the Spring Festival. The festivities of the Year of the pig of Earth have started for a week in Ile-de-France, but this weekend of 15, 16 and 17 February 209 is the real apotheosis. Saturday, in the same place, do not miss “13th feast”. This evening, scheduled at 20h, will make the general public discover all the Chinese cultural news and its flagship disciplines. There will be jazz, current, urban and pop rock music, but also stand up or magic. On the physical side, K-pop dance (coming from Korea) and hip-hop are on display, as well as demonstrations of martial arts. The famous awakening of the Lion and the Dragon will take place at 14h30. Thousands of participants form the procession, whose course starts at 44, Avenue d’Ivry, before taking the Avenue de Choisy and Boulevard Masséna before returning to the starting point. More here:https://chine.in/actualite/nouvel-paris-programme-defiles_114925.html

At the end of December, Marie-Laure and Ollivia launched their charming ensign Fruttini by MO in the 6éme arrondissement of Paris. They offer frosted fruit to take away or to enjoy on the spot. Open since December 22nd, you can taste “Fruttini”. Sorbets with water, fruit and sugar. “We use the pulp and put it back inside the skin,” the owners explained. Fruttini by MO, 24, rue Saint-Placide , 6éme. From 10h30 to 19h. from Monday to Saturday. From 4 to 49€. Tel +33 (0) 1-43-20-47-31. More here : https://fruttinibymo.fr/

The Escape games invades Paris, here are some i think should be very good darn interesting, must see:

The mission entrusted by the Palais Garnier is of the utmost importance: to end the Curse of the Phantom of the Opera. The famous ghost that regularly haunts the places stole a few notes of the score that must be played the same evening. Without your help, the performance will be cancelled. By visiting the emblematic places of the building (the foyer, the Grand Staircase, the gallery and the Glacier Lounge…), you solve the puzzles that will reveal the missing notes. Throughout the course of the actors in period attire you silently help to navigate between false tracks and illusions to fill the musical reach. Palais Garnier. Place de l’opéra , 2éme.  Rates: Adult 28€, Child (ages 4 to 14) 22€. Reservation and info here : www.inside-infos.fr

During WWII, some of the works that were hidden did not regain their place in the halls of the Louvre. We whisper that we have to go to the gate of time to get them back. By exploring the Richelieu wing and especially the Flemish and Dutch painting rooms of the 17C and then the Department of Oriental Antiquities, you have to collect the clues to advance in the puzzles. Documents are given to you at the beginning of the game and a comedian remains at your side to refer you if necessary. Louvre Museum. Rue de Rivoli ,1éme.  From 2 to 6 players. Price: 110€ from 3 to 6 participants, duo package at 80€. More here:     www.anima-agentludique.com

The dungeon of the Bastille. A few steps from the pl de la République, a dive into a oblivion of royalty. The principle. At the beginning of the 18C, it is not good to rise up against the absolute monarch at the risk of being charged with a crime of damage to the majesty, sent over and sentenced to death. In sixty minutes, you will swing at the end of a rope. Unless… Gamescape. 17, rue de la Pierre-Levée , 11éme. From 19 to 29€ per person.More info here :  www.gamescape.fr

One old dandy, have stayed is coming back better than ever!

The Hotel du Louvre will reopen in the spring of 2019, after two years of renovation, and will welcome the first Parisian address of the Paul Bocuse house. Closed for renovations for two years, the five-star style Second Empire operated by the Hyatt Group is expected to reopen in April 2019. The Brasserie du Louvre. Place André Malraux , 1éme. Tel. +33 (0) 1 44 58 37 21. Open every day. More here :  https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/france/hotel-du-louvre/paraz

Old traditions never die out they just fade away !

Closed for a month for a full renovation, the wax establishment of the Grands boulevards reveals itself to visitors from February 9th. The Grévin Museum undertook a major restructuring operation of its building. In all these are almost 3000 m² of visiting spaces that have been redesigned, rearranged and refreshed with a musical scenography and immersive decorations. The museum now has 10 different worlds. The literature is rediscovered with a space filled with open books where children immerse themselves. Of the 250 wax statues, 30 new personalities integrate the museum; among them, Marcel Proust. Musée Grévin . 10, Boulevard Montmartre 9éme. Open daily from 9h30 to 19h. Rates: from 17€. More info here: https://www.grevin-paris.com/

After restaurants, hotels, cooking school, cookbook publishing or chocolate making, the world’s most star chef launches into a new field: coffee. Alain Ducasse (from Monaco) has sniffed out the potential of quality artisanal coffee. Last week, opened a coffee factory in the Bastille 11éme, not far from the one it has already dedicated to chocolate. A beautiful space in the look of New York loft (glazed windows, apparent pipes, scratched stone), where Veda Viraswami, double French roasting champion (2017 and 2018), is responsible for roasting in the back-shop (visible to the public) of the coffee served on the spot by Award-winning baristas, but also in all the group’s restaurants in France, and soon abroad-where another coffee factory could be born. La Manufacture de café. 12, rue Saint-Sabin 11éme. Tel. +33 (0) 1 40 02 76 90. Daily except Mondays. From  Tuesdays to Fridays 8h30 to 19h, Saturdays from 9h to 19h30 and Sundays 9h to 18h. Espresso: 2.50 to 4.50€. Filter: From 3.50 to 15€. Cappuccinos: from 5 to 7.50€. More here :  https://www.ducasse-paris.com/fr/les-adresses/cafe-alain-ducasse-manufacture-paris

it’s magic, it’s Paris!

The Grande Surface – Galerie Festive will take its quarters near Opéra as early as March. In the program, a new concept all indoors, 1500 m2 on three floors, several atmospheres. This “uninhibited art gallery” announces the entry color, since it will last less than a year with a planned closure at the beginning of 2020. Expect to discover incredible works of art in a sumptuous gallery, all sprinkled with several bars to party until the end of the night, a stage to host concerts, animations. Grande Surface – Galerie Festive, Boulevard des Italiens 9 opening March 2019. More info here:  https://www.sortiraparis.com/actualites/a-paris/articles/185154-ouverture-de-la-grande-surface-galerie-festive-a-paris-en-mars-2019

Are we really, the city of Love, you betcha!!! Happy Valentine to those celebrating,not me unfortunately.

The artist Joana Vasconcélos decided to materialize a heart beating at the Porte de Clignancourt, between Paris and the Saint-Ouen flea market. The monumental creation the heart of Paris is already installed but will be inaugurated by the artist in person this February 14th, Valentine’s Day, starting at 18h30 inauguration of the “Heart of Paris” and Grand Bal Populaire. Porte de Clignancourt ,tramway line T3 .Free entrance. More in French at the city of Paris webpage : https://www.paris.fr/actualites/un-gigantesque-c-ur-palpitera-porte-de-clignancourt-6456

And there you go some of the latest from my vault of goodies to you all. Enjoy it

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

 

February 12, 2019

Retirement time in France! opinions!!!

Ok so today I come to you on a non travel related subject ,really; it could be too lol! Well , my dear readers and travel buddies, I am getting to that age, yes the golden egg or whatever, and its time to think about retirement!!

I am in in what could could be my last full year of my working life per se. Not that I would not continue to dabble in consulting work later on, but to finally get my retirement benefits and start enjoing time and travel even better or at least I hope.

So let me give some light into the subject in my belle France. As the minimum retirement age is 62 years, it is important to anticipate and wonder which French cities are the most accessible or offer the most enjoyable living environment. The cities of the west of France and especially of the southwest have achieved better scores than their eastern municipalities, in particular thanks to air quality, safety and overall lower fixed expenditure. Limoges exceeds with one head all its sisters thanks in particular to its security and its pleasant living environment. It has therefore distinguished itself as the ideal destination to retire. Le Mans and Nice close the podium .

Some of the most mention areas of my France for retiremet heavens are the Var department as one of the most adored places of the elderly who wish to enjoy the Mediterranean climate that bathes this department of the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’azur. The Charente-Maritime is also a destination that pleases seniors, interested in its vast seaside and the beauty of its landscapes. New retirees who don’t like big cities will enjoy it. This department is appreciated for the quality of its living environment and for the dynamism of its cities (Montpellier, Agde, Béziers, etc.), but also for the charm of its small communes located on the periphery. The Hérault is endowed with many infrastructures specially set up for the elderly. The Alpes-Maritimes is the ideal place to spend a peaceful retreat in the sun. This department houses large cities like Nice, Cannes, Antibes and Menton,

And of course, my own neck of the woods is showing up right up there, hint hint!! The Morbihan (Brittany) is also interested in a large number of retirees who appreciate the authenticity and beauty of its typically armoricaines landscapes. With vibrant, human-sized cities such as Lorient and Vannes, this is the ideal destination for those who no longer want to live in the big cities. Its rich history and cultural life are suitable for many seniors. The map below show in red the most wanted places to retire and in blue places people are leaving elsewhere!

Security, access to care, Estimation of the cost of living;  Estimated from 4 weighted sub-criteria: The average price of m², the housing tax, the water price, the garbage disposal fee.  The quality of public transport ,Cultural offer with criterion: The number of museums, the number of theatres and places of culture, the number of active cinema screens, the number of festivals; Potential access to an active social life, the living environment. According to these criteria the best are: Limoges, le Mans, Nice, Bordeaux, Perpignan, Saint-Étienne, Caen, Nancy, Angers, Clermont-Ferrand, Grenoble;  Dijon Marseille Aix-en-Provence; Metz ,Tours, Toulouse, Reims, Brest, Rouen, Lyon, Montpellier, Nîmes, Nantes, and Rennes.

And if even want to spread our wings and go retire at a pleasant place here the scores are high on Portugal, Morocco… and Florida(USA) lol!!! it is retirement USA heavens for sure. But Spain, Malta or Italy can be an interesting options to retire abroad as well of course.

So there, gave you some thoughts now is your turn to give me yours please. I like this post to be more than just glitter photos and travel anecdotes but a working post where you can help me decide. Its your only chance to there take it and go for it. And I thank you.

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

February 9, 2019

The Quirinale square and palace, Rome!

Another nice area of Rome when visiting the city with the family we did a lot of walking and this is the best way to see the city any city. Rome was wonderful this way and we came up with places un schedule but once saw them we felled we needed to write about it. I did in my previous posts in a general way.

I believe the Quirinale square and palace  of Rome, deserves a post on their own so here it is, enjoy it.

The Piazza di Quirinale is a square of the historic center of Rome, located on the top of the Quirinal Hill, the highest in the city center. It is located in the Rioni Monti and Trevi zones.

rome

The Quirinale square is bordered to the northeast by the imposing façade of the Palace of Quirinal, the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic, built in the years 1573-1585 and later (1578) as the summer residence of the Popes. With the capture of Rome in 1870, due to the conflicts in Europe of the French-Prussian war , the building became the seat of the Italian monarchy and, after the institutional referendum in 1946, the seat of the highest Republican judiciary.

rome

In the center of the Qurinale square is the large sculpture group of the Dioscuri Fountain, also known as the Monte-Cavallo fountain, dating back to the imperial era. The statues come from the Baths of Constantine, and represent the twins Castor and Pollux, the Dioscuri, who hold the reins of their horses. Included in the group, an obelisk that was found in the mausoleum of Augustus.

rome

The east side of the Quirinale square is bordered by the Palais de la Consulta, formerly the Pontifical State Court, then the Ministry of Italian African affairs, and has been headquartered, since 1955, by the Constitutional Court.

rome

On the opposite side of the presidential residence are the stables of the Palace of the Quirinale from the 18C. The building, restored in its entirety in the years 1997-1999, is now used as a place for art exhibitions. On the west side of the Quirinale square, there is a balustrade that overlooks the panorama of the capital.

rome

There a wonderful place to walk and relax in Rome, with wonderful architecture all around you ,up and down!   Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and its worth it are

rome

Roma tourist page on the Quirinale square

Official Palace of Quirinale on its history

Again, nice to walk in Rome, do it and enjoy the city has lots to offer and many sights; I am just posting my favorites. Enjoy Rome, and the Quirinale square and palace.

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

 

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February 2, 2019

The squares or Plazas of Aranjuez!

So I am back in my beloved Spain and one of my favorite spots in all the country, province and autonomous region combine. This royal princely Aranjuez, and we like it here.

So many nice places to see in addition to the top Palace here (see previous posts) I like to come back to something more urban and walkable with beautiful sights all around you. We love to walk especially once in the city anywhere, and the squares are the main attraction really. So , therefore, I will tell you a bit more on my favorites squares or Plazas of Aranjuez!

The Plaza de San Antonio, also known as the Plaza of the Mariblanca, is located in  Aranjuez, in the community of Madrid. It is also known as  Mariblanca due to the sculptural ensemble known as the source of the Mariblanca (whose real name is Venus) that decorates the north end of the square. In the square you can see the sites of the Casa de los Caballeros y Oficios ( House of Knights and Crafts), the Church of San Antonio, the Casa de Infantes (house of Infantes in line for the throne), and the garden of Isabel II. Towards 1752, the square had another source called the Fuente del Rey (fountain of the king), with an image of the King Fernando VI looking at the bridge, but in 1760 King Carlos III, ordered it removed, and two years later was placed the current fountain of Venus.

A bit of history and construction I like

The Plaza San Antonio square was designed in the year 1750, during the reign of king Fernando VI , to serve as a connection between the Royal Palace of Aranjuez and the urban fabric that had been formed south of it. This nexus function is especially visible in the arcaded gallery on the western side, being the closest to the palatial enclosure. It is a half-point arch, supported on rectangular pillars carved in stone of Colmenar, which unifies and gives continuity to the facades of the Casa de los Caballeros y Oficios, two buildings emerged in different times. The one started in 1584, although its construction lasted until the 17C. The second was conceived in 1613 but was not completed until century and a half later, between 1762 and 1770.

aranjuez

On the southern side the flank is presided by the Church of San Antonio, whose baroque silhouette defines and gives personality to the whole. Conceived as the vanishing point of the square, it replaced the oratory that  king Felipe V had founded as reinforcement of the Chapel of the Royal Palace, too small to fully address the religious needs of the court. It was done in the year 1752. The result is a circular plant structure, which is covered by a spherical vault, topped with a large cylindrical lantern. The main facade is protected by a portico of five semicircular arches and Tuscan pilasters, which gives rise, on the upper part, to a terrace, which is closed by means of a stone balustrade and a triangular pediment, at the coronation of the central arch. All this generates a gimmicky set of curves and counter curves, very scenographic, with which the temple puts the counterpoint to the rectilinear distribution of the other architectural elements of the square. During the reign of Carlos III , the Church was enlarged with a rectangular nave, while the closing of the southern face of the square was undertaken, with the construction of two new arcades on both sides of its façade. This work was carried out in 1767.

On the eastern side of the square is porticoes only in its first stretch, in its contact with the Casa de Infantes, whereas, in the second, it opens to the garden of Isabel II. The Casa de Infantes was done in 1772, for lodging of the infants Gabriel and Antonio, sons of king Carlos III, and of their respective families; It is perfectly integrated in the square, thanks to the aforementioned gallery of arcs, which follows the same bill as the one located on the western flank.

The northern side faces the square lacks arcades, which facilitates a direct connection to the Parterre garden, located next to the west façade of the Royal Palace. The feeling of contact between the two areas is reinforced with the location in this part of the fountain of Venus, whose monumental base constitutes a worthy counterpoint to the Church of San Antonio. (see post) This fountain was made in 1762 .

At first, the fountain was known as the Fuente del Rey or  King’s fountain, by the statue of Fernando VI that it had installed on its upper part. With the change of the sculptural auction, it received the official denomination of Fuente de Venus, although everyone began to call it the Mariblanca, due to the color of the figure of the goddess (white). For this reason, the Plaza de San Antonio is also called the Mariblanca.

Plaza de Mariblanca known as well as Plaza de Sant Antonio (see above). The beautiful statue is the image of a Venus sculpted in white stone by the artist of the time Juan Reina, and because of the very similar thing that turned out to be with the statue of the fountain of Puerta del Sol in Madrid, was given the same name as this , since then one of the greatest symbols of this city that has seen it grow from its beginnings until today. The Fuente de  Venus. In 1830 the fountain was ornamented by a ensemble formed by lizards, snails, cupids riding on newts and three Lions, two of them with a ball between their claws and a third holding a castle.

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The goddess Venus , one of the twelve Olympic divinities. According to Greek mythology, it was born by joining the Sea with the foam formed by the sperm of Uranus (the sky) after Saturn cut his testicles. It’s usually depicted in a shell. Usually Venus has been associated with beauty, love and especially with sexual attraction. Her loves with Mars and Adonis highlight the attraction for physical beauty. The evolution of its cult presents many aspects, the Venus Génitrix flattering of the marriage, the Venus Pandemic which veiled by the prostitution, the Venus Pelagia protective of the sailors… In Sparta, she was venerated as a warrior goddess and in the primitive Rome she was represented the spring, guarding and protecting the fields and gardens, which reaffirms her as a perfect guardian of our orchards.

Some webpages to help you enjoy your visit here are

Official city of Aranjuez on its heritage and history

Tourist office of Aranjuez on the Plaza San Antonio aka Mariblanca

Tourist office of Aranjuez on things to see around the Plaza

Moving along on these wonderful squares of Aranjuez we come to the Plaza de Parejas Reales. The main characteristic of the Plaza de Parejas de Aranjuez is its enormous dimension and its semi-open form.  Its name is due to the game of couples that took place in this square and was a kind of dance on horseback in which forty-eight knights were divided into four rows headed by one of the sons of the king and parading disciplined they crossed and  re-crossed in a a kind of dance, tournament and military parade. This square is perpendicular to the Royal Palace flanked by the Casa de los Fogones (house of the kitchens) that closes on one side and limits it on the other the Casa de Caballeros y Oficios (House of Knights and Trades). It belongs to the area of warehouses and dependencies close to the Royal Palace. Its special location, near the Royal Palace and where their facades facing the Plaza de Parejas and Plaza de San Antonio stand above the rest.

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The Plaza de Toros (see post) was inaugurated in 1797 by king Carlos IV and his wife Luisa of Parma. It is an open space for the practice of bullfighting, as well as place of musical events. It currently has a capacity of 9500 persons. It is celebrated on the 30th of May of each year an important bullfighting celebration, being the festivity of San Fernando and the Toros Goyesca.

In 1851 and 1881, improvement works were carried out. It was designed in smaller proportions, similar to the old bullring near the Puerta de Alcalá. The period of splendor of the square was from the 18C and, above all, at the beginning of the 19C due to the bullfighting hobby of King Fernando VII.

The halls of the Bullfighting Museum (Museo Taurino) guard a large number of garments, utensils and billboards of important bullfighting masters. Together with the Maestranza in Sevilla and the Plaza de Ronda is one of the few bullrings of the 18C that still stand and use for bullfighting. The museum is open on  Sundays and Mondays at 11h30. and 13h, after prior reservation in the tourist office.

The Prince’s garden built by the Prince of Asturias , the future Carlos IV . It houses a myriad of gardens at the entrance, like the Spanish Garden, the Plaza de Pamplona, garden pavilions, Rollercoaster, spectacular Chinese gardens, Hermit Island, etc.

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For the benefit of those in public transports, the best way to reach here is from Madrid Puerta del Sol you can take Cercanias train C3 o C3A to Aranjuez train station, there walk about 15 minutes to the squares above. Of course, I always come here by car and get off street parking for free.

City of Aranjuez on the very nice train station

There you go another nice walkable city full of wonderful monuments and good inexpensive foods than Madrid city lol! I have done other posts on the city monuments that you can search in my blog. For now enjoy Aranjuez and its squares! The Plazas!

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

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