Archive for December 31st, 2019

December 31, 2019

Retirement time in France! opinions!!!

And the beat goes on in my belle France into 2020. Expect strikes to continue especially on the retirement issue. I had written before on it so I am just tagging update information here. Hope it helps you understand us ::)
France is still the champion of early retirement with an average posted at 60.8 years, according to the overview of pensions from the OECD,(Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) published Wednesday, November 27, 2019. Today, the age required to obtain a full retirement rate is 64 years on average in OECD countries for those who retired in 2018. It is 63 years in France due to the penalty imposed by Agirc-Arrco, (Agirc= L’Agirc est l’Association générale des institutions de retraite des cadres) (Arrco= l’Association pour le régime de retraite complémentaire des salaries) complementary scheme for private sector employees, since 2019. Info in French here : https://www.agirc-arrco.fr/particuliers/

Thus, in the OECD, the retirement age at full rate will be 66 years, as in France due to the lengthening of the contribution period provided for by the Touraine reform, combined with the application of the penalty of the AGIRC ARRCO. So much for the theory, but in practice, that is to say if we look at the real age at which active people retire, the picture is different. According to the OECD, the average age for leaving the labor market in France is 60.8 years, the lowest, and 4 years lower than the OECD average. The replacement rate, the difference between the last salary and the pension level after a full career with an average salary in the private sector, it stands at 74%, a figure well above the OECD average of 58%.

The international organization concludes that France offers very good social protection for retirees with one of the lowest poverty rates. But the problem is the complexity of the system. It is for this reason that the OECD gives a favorable opinion on the establishment of a universal system. And the reason the French government is trying and the unions are opposed as seen by the so far 26 days of strikes in France!

This analysis refers to a flow equilibrium but do not forget all the accumulated deficits which represent debt for future generations. The pension system needs to be balanced on average over the long term. An observation that could attract the ear of the government at a time when the question is what measures the executive could take to restore balance to the pension system by 2025. The OECD also criticizes the structure complex of the system with the concomitance of 42 different pension schemes, which would in particular have the effect of preventing workers from anticipating their future rights (indeed confusing). A remark which, contrary to the postponement of the retirement age, goes in the direction of the future pension reform carried by current administration in France, aiming to unify all these plans. The union response is the system is not broke and this idea will bring more people into the poverty level and making them work longer which they already got this benefit to work less than in the rest of the developed countries such as in the OECD.

The 2020 pension reform does not plan to raise the minimum retirement age, which will therefore remain fixed at 62 years. However, the reform introduce an equilibrium age in order to encourage active workers to leave later, via a system of discounts and premiums on pension amounts. This age was intended to be 64. This is a key point in the strikes as the unions are totally against this pivot age. They like to have the choice to retire at 62 period.

Some of the strikes going on or announce in the near future are
Strike of CTS buses and trams in Strasbourg from 24 December 2019 to 5 January 2020. Unlimited national strike at SNCF from December 5, 2019. Unlimited strike at RATP from December 5, 2019. National strike by lawyers from 6 to 12 January 2020
National strike in the refineries from 7 to 10 January 2020. General and national strike on January 9, 2020. National strike of doctors, lawyers and pilots on February 3, 2020. National strike in air transport from December 5, 2019.
Plan ahead if coming over and enjoy the trip. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

Paris1972-Versailles2003

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…

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December 31, 2019

My year 2019!!! thank you all!!!!!!

So here we are , another year went by today is December 31 2019 in most parts of the world. I like to first tell you thank you for all your likes and comments during this year, it is appreciated. I write about my travels, likes and fun things to keep a history of my life for my future generations and hopefully encourage others to do the same and do travel.

Let me say a few words on the New Year’s Eve and New Year Day.

In the Gregorian calendar , New Year’s Eve (also known as Old Year’s Day or Saint Sylvester’s Day in many countries), the last day of the year, is on 31 December. In many countries, New Year’s Eve is celebrated at evening social gatherings, where many people dance, eat, drink, and watch or light fireworks. Some Christians attend a watchnight service. The celebrations generally go on past midnight into New Year’s Day  January 1.

We do have a late night meal with friends after drinking all day (we just began with Porto red lol!) and do see out the fireworks to await the New Year in my current country of France.

New Year is the time or day at which a new calendar year begins and the calendar’s year count increments by one. Many cultures celebrate the event in some manner and the 1st day of January is often marked as a National Holiday. In the Gregorian calendar,  the most widely used calendar system today, New Year occurs on January 1 as New Year’s Day. This was also the first day of the year in the original Julian calendar and of the Roman calendar after 153 BC.

During the Middle Ages in western Europe, while the Julian calendar was still in use, authorities moved New Year’s Day, depending upon locale, to one of several other days, including March 1, March 25, Easter, September 1, and December 25. Beginning in 1582, the adoption of the Gregorian calendar has meant that many national or local dates in the Western World and beyond have changed to using one fixed date for New Year’s Day, January 1. During the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire years beginning on the date on which each consul first entered the office. This was probably May 1 before 222 BC, March 15 from 222 BC to 154 BC, and January 1 from 153 BC.

Other cultures observe their traditional or religious New Year’s Day according to their own customs, sometimes in addition to a (Gregorian) civil calendar. Chinese New Year, Islamic New Year, traditional Japanese New Year, and the Jewish New Year are the more well-known examples. India and other countries continue to celebrate New Year on different dates. The official dates in some countries were Holy Roman Empire (Germany) 1544 .Spain, Portugal,   Poland 1556. France (edit of Roussillon) 1564. Great Britain (Ireland, British empire) 1752, Scotland 1600.

In my current adopted country of France, New Year’s Eve (la Saint-Sylvestre) is usually celebrated with a feast, le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre. This feast customarily includes special dishes including foie gras, seafood such as oysters, and Champagne (plenty of it!). The celebration can be a simple, intimate dinner with friends and family or, une soirée dansante, (dancing night away)  a much fancier ball. On New Year’s Day friends and family exchange  New Year’s resolutions, kisses, and wishes.  We are all alone out west so will have my Dad and 3 sons and our dog borador Rex. Some people eat ice cream, actually we do eat logs or Bûches of different flavors. The holiday period ends on 6 January with the celebration of Epiphany (the 3 wise kings brings gift to the child Jesus and we get our gifts on this day).  A traditional type of flat pastry cake, la galette des rois, made of two sheets of puff pastry, filled with frangipane (almond paste) is eaten; nowdays we have in chocolate, raspberries flavors too . The cake contains a fève, a small china doll (can be of different characters) ; whomever finds it becomes king or queen and gets to wear a gold paper crown and choose his or her partner. This tradition starts nowdays practically right after Christmas on December 25 and go on to January 6.

More info on it here by Local news journal in English: The Local news journal on New Year’s Day to do things

In my other dear country of mine in Europe, also citizen as Spain. New Year’s Eve (Nochevieja  or old night) celebrations usually begin with a family dinner, traditionally including shrimp or prawns, and lamb or capon. The actual countdown is primarily followed from the clock on top of the Royal House of the Post Office in Puerta del Sol square in Madrid (many years waiting for it here!) . It is traditional to eat  twelve grapes, one on each chime of the clock (and we in my family had a 13 the last one we threw away making a wish for the new year) . Nowadays, the tradition is followed by almost every Spaniard, and the twelve grapes have become synonymous with the New Year. After the clock has finished striking twelve, people greet each other and toast with sparkling wine such as cava,Champagne or cider. Earlier in the evening at around 20h, there is a 10k run called the San Silvestre Vallecana, which starts on Paseo de la Castellana next to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (Real Madrid!), and ends at the Vallecas stadius (Rayo Vallecano). Professional runners come to Madrid for this 10k. After the family dinner and the grapes, many young people attend cotillones de nochevieja parties (named for the Spanish word cotillón, which refers to party supplies like confetti, party blowers, and party hats) at pubs, clubs, and similar places. Parties usually last until the next morning and range from small, personal celebrations at local bars to huge parties with guests numbering the thousands at hotel convention rooms. Early the next morning, party attendees usually gather to have the traditional winter breakfast of hot chocolate and fried pastry (chocolate con churros). Yes indeed i have to say a more vibrant celebration than in France.

More info from the Local news journal in English: The Local news journal on New Year’s things to do

Now to follow the groupies, some of the towns I have been in 2019 (and can remember lol!!) have been in no chronological order

Pays de la Loire: Nantes, Clisson, Le Mans, Angers, Guérande, Piriac sur Mer, Brissac-Quincé, Montreuil-Bellay,

Bretagne: Josselin, Guidel, Larmor-Plage, Baden, Gourin, Vannes, Auray, Concarneau, Quimper, Saint Armel, Guidel plage, Quiberon, Carnac, Sainte Anne d’Auray, Saint Nolff, Questembert, Rochefort en Terre, Locronan, Châteauneuf-du-Faou, Sarzeau,

ïle de France: Paris, Versailles, Saint Denis

Hauts de France: Chantilly

Normandie: Alençon

Spain: Madrid

Just doing this count realise, not much foreign visits in 2019 due to a reduce family and lack of envy, will see if 2020 can improve on it. Again thanks for following me in my travels, and always hoping you enjoy it as much as I

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!! As well as Happy New Year 2020, Bonne Année, Feliz Año Nuevo and Feliz Ano Novo!!!

 

 

 

December 31, 2019

Tower Bridge of London!

On our trips in Europe lucky we have been able to visit several countries and of course England would have been on the list and it was. I have visited many times on business trips but had one visit with the family.

One of the nice things to see there is the Tower Bridge, and like to give you a glimpse.

The Tower Bridge is a bascule bridge, located in London and in particular allowing the passage of the Thames river to motorized vehicles. It belongs to the class of suspension bridges and is composed of granite for its facade, steel for its structure and concrete for its foundations. It is located between the boroughs of Southwark and Tower Hamlets, near the Tower of London from which it takes its name. At the time of its construction, the Tower Bridge is the largest with 246 meters in length and 65 meters in height ; and the most sophisticated of the bascule bridges ever built.

London

The bridge was officially opened on June 30, 1894 by the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII and his wife, the Princess of Wales, Alexandra of Denmark.

The Tower Bridge is nearly entirely decoration! Bright blues and gray colors the Bridge is topped with two neo-gothic towers with a covered walkway suspended between the two. This bridge is actually built to look even older than it is – the huge gray stones were selected to give the bridge a medieval feeling – which partially contributes to the fact that most people believe this is the centuries-old London Bridge.

London

The Tower Hill Station is the closest tube/metro /subway station to the Tower Bridge.

Official Tower Bridge of London

Tourist office of London on the Tower Bridge

Enjoy it while you can , the Tower Bridge. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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December 31, 2019

St Paul’s Cathedral, London!!

On our trips in Europe lucky we have been able to visit several countries and of course England would have been on the list and it was. I have visited many times on business trips but had one visit with the family.

One of the nice things to see there is the St Paul’s Cathedral, and like to give you a glimpse. Also, one of my favorite areas of London to hang out business or pleasure.

St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is the cathedral of the Diocese of London of the Church of England. It was built after the destruction of the old church during the Great Fire of London in 1666. It crowns Ludgate Hill, a site which housed four shrines before the current cathedral and is located in the City of London, the historic heart of the city that has become today the main business district in London. It is considered to be the masterpiece of the famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren. The Dean of Saint Paul is the head of the chapter of Saint Paul Cathedral. He is an important dignitary of the Anglican Church.

London

The first known,church incorporated in the Roman enclosure, was built out of wood, under the reign of Æthelbert, king of Kent. It is this first church which will know in the year 604 the consecration of Mellitus, first bishop of London, by Augustin of Canterbury. It was destroyed by the Vikings in the 9C and rebuilt in 962. The Saxon church was destroyed by fire a second time in 1087 and the construction of a fourth cathedral began almost immediately under the aegis of William the Red (or le Roux French name), son of William the Conqueror (king of England and Duke of Normandy France)  to whom he had just succeeded. The “old Saint Paul” as it was called this 4th church was, with its 586 feet (179 m), the third longest cathedral in Europe and its spire reached 164 meters!. It stood on a large area surrounded by walls that followed Creed Lane and Ave Maria Lane to the west, Paternoster Row to the north, Old Change to the east and Carter Lane to the south. This enclosure was then pierced with six gates.

The fifth cathedral was done following the fire of 1666, the reconstruction of an equally impressive cathedral was therefore essential. This task was entrusted to Sir Christopher Wren on July 30, 1669. The first stone was laid on June 21, 1675, the choir opened to the public on December 2, 1697, the last stone crowned the building in 1710. The cathedral of Wren is a mixture of Classical and Baroque architecture

The study of the dome began in 1685. Wren was inspired by the dome of Michelangelo, designed for the Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome, and also that of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, designed for the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris.

On the west side of the St Paul’s Cathedral are the two clock towers. The northwest tower has space for a clock, which has remained empty. The southwest tower contains four bells. The largest is called “Great Paul”, manufactured in 1881, and was until 2012 the largest bell in Great Britain (16.5 tons). Another bell, called “Great Tom”, rings on time, and also on the announcement of the death of a member of the British royal family, a bishop of London, or a lord mayor of London during his tenure. The last occasion when this bell rang to announce a death was in 2002, for the Queen Mother. The northwest tower contains twelve bells, one of which, called “The Banger”, rings for services at 8h

An anecdote I like: During the bombing of London in 1940 by the Luftwaffe, Saint Paul’s Cathedral was for Nazis aviation one of the hotspots of the English capital and, therefore, a privileged target for the latter. But on the night of the bombing, while most of the city’s buildings were in flames, the cathedral received only one projectile; the latter only damaged the roof only superficially thanks to the mobilization of civilians who were responsible for putting out the fire caused by the bomb. The next morning, while the city was suffocating because of the event of the previous day, Saint-Paul Cathedral rose, with its immaculate whiteness, above the blackish smokes which rose to the sky. It is partly because of this event that the cathedral has become a strong symbol for Londoners. Nice!

Official St Paul’s Cathedral

Tourist office of London on St Paul’s Cathedral

And there you go can’t missed while visiting London and now is the time to see it from Europe. Hope you enjoy it as we did

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

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December 31, 2019

Westminster Abbey, London!!

On our trips in Europe lucky we have been able to visit several countries and of course England would have been on the list and it was. I have visited many times on business trips but had one visit with the family.

One of the nice things to see there is the Westminster Abbey, and like to give you a glimpse.

London

Westminster Abbey is one of the most famous religious buildings in London or the UK for that matter. Its construction dates mainly from the 13C, under king Henry III. It is the burial place of most of the kings and queens of England and also of famous men and women. The Poets’ Corner honors the writers of the kingdom. Almost all of the coronations of English monarchs took place in this abbey.

The abbey’s real name is St Peter’s Collegiate Church. Westminster means West Abbey because it was located west of the City as opposed to Eastminster, a Cistercian monastery which was to the east, beyond the Tower of London, on the site of the current Royal Mint. In ancient French, Westminster Abbey was called Ouestmoustier or Latin, monasterium.(Monastery).

According to legend, the Abbey was founded in 616, on the site of an old islet of the Thames called Thorn Ey   or Thorn Island. A fisherman named Aldrich is said to have witnessed visions of the Apostle Peter there. Then, in the middle of the 11C, the Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor had his palace built on the banks of the Thames near the monastery which he then decided to build with larger dimensions and which he dedicated to Saint Peter.   The abbey was consecrated on December 28, 1065.

In the 13C king Henry III decided to rebuild the church in the Gothic style. Between 1503 and 1519, under the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, the Lady Chapel was built, today called the Henry-VII Chapel. In 1540, the Benedictine monks had to leave the monastery during the Anglican reform. Twenty years later, Queen Elisabeth I re-founded the monastery by giving it a different status. There is no longer an abbot, the chapter is chaired by the dean of Westminster.

Since William the Conqueror, all the kings of England, then of the United Kingdom are crowned in Westminster Abbey, with the exception of Edward V and Edward VIII. The King Edward’s Chair, also known as the Coronation Chair , which has been used for the enthronement of British sovereigns since Edward I, is today stored in the Edward the Confessor Chapel.

More than 3,000 people are also buried in the church, including 16 British monarchs, some of them accompanied by their spouses, and many other notable personalities, including six British Prime Ministers, writers, poets. , scientists, actors or explorers.

The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located near the western gate, buried among kings because he had acted for good, for the cause of God and his home. There are also two French people there: Benjamin de Rohan, Duke of Frontenay and Baron de Soubise , brother of the Duke of Rohan,(Bretagne) he is the last military leader of the Calvinist resistance in France. And François de La Rochefoucauld, Marquis of Montendre (La Rochefoucauld-Doudeauville branch). Huguenot, he had to flee to England where he enlisted in the army and finished Field Marshal of Great Britain and chief of staff of the English armies.

Official Westminster Abbey on visits

Tourist office of London on Westminster Abbey

And there you go can’t missed while visiting London and now is the time to see it from Europe. Hope you enjoy it as we did even if no time to go inside.

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

 

 

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