Archive for March 27th, 2020

March 27, 2020

Echternach, oldest in Luxembourg!

And here I am back into one of my favorites countries of Europe. And one of its most smaller, as well as coming to its oldest city of Echternach! It was a lovely ride and would like to expand a bit on the town.

On one of my days from home in Germany near the Luxembourg border we decided to come to Echternach, I have been by here briefly before , but this time the whole family was in. Echternach is the basilica of Saint Willibrock ,really see my other post.  It was easy for us as we just came from our village up the B51 up to Konz and then to Wasserbillig Luxembourg on the road N10 straight to Echternach. nice ride.

Echternach

Here we came across the old justice palace or now city hall done in the 13-14C and still in great condition very nice in the place du Marché or Moartplaatz. And the best place for wine tasting is at one of the many terraces of the Market Square where you’ll enjoy local delicacies surrounded by centuries-old buildings. The Market Square or Place du Marché or Moartplaatz is also the best place to meet the locals from Echternach.  Whereas Nightlife is rather quiet during the week, the bars can get crowded during weekends.

Echternach

Echternach

Echternach

Enjoy Echternach a medieval looking complex right in the center of town, easy parking. The tourist office is here in English: TOurist office of Echternach

A bit more on the town indeed very quant nice, we like it and will be back.

Echternach is a city in Luxembourg along the Sûre valley marking the border with the German Rhineland-Palatinate State. It is best known for its abbey and its Pentecostal dancing procession (see post). It is the oldest town of Luxembourg. The Echternach Abbey which has become today the town of Echternach had a Roman past. To be more precise, Echternach’s past is said to have a Gallo-Roman origin.  The Roman villa of Echternach was discovered through the installation of the artificial lake that we know today. These archaeological works made it possible to date the villa from the 70s AD!

It was later part of the Electorate of Trier in present-day Germany, and was presented to Willibrord by Irmina , daughter of Dagobert II, king of the Franks (France). Other parts of the Merovingians’ Roman inheritance were presented to the Abbey by king of the Franks Pepin the Short.  Echternach continued to have royal patronage from the house of Charlemagne. In the wake of the French revolution, the monks were dispersed and the abbey’s contents and its famous library were auctioned off. Some of the library’s early manuscripts, such as the famous Echternach Gospels, are now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

During the concluding months of WWII in Europe, on December 16, 1944, Echternach served as the southernmost point on the battlefront for the attempt of the Nazis  Wehrmacht forces attacking the Allies to retake Antwerp, during the Battle of the Bulge. The town was badly damaged in WWII as a conséquence, but was thoroughly restored.

Today, the Portuguese culture has a long tradition in Luxembourg. Portuguese immigration started in the 1960’s and nowadays the Portuguese community represents 16.2% of the Grand-Duchy’s population. As many Luxembourgish towns, Echternach has Portuguese shops, Portuguese bars, and Portuguese traditions are firmly integrated in the local event calendar. Portuguese festival is celebrated in June, and it lasts for 2 days.

More on Echternach on the tourist office of LuxembourgTourist office of Luxembourg on Echternach

And there you folks, I have many posts on Luxembourg and its many towns:cities and of course on the abbey in Echternach. Hope you enjoy the tour.

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

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March 27, 2020

Amazing South Africa, Sandton and East London!

Loong ago back in 1998 I came here and then a long pause until 2012 , after several trips, the last was in 2015. Just touching base on my waterholes around the world and the friends gathered that are still on board! This is my hommage to these folks and my visits there. Of course, I have other posts on specific areas over the years too. South Africa is a vast land but my interaction have been in East London area a working class but also, has some nice neighbourhoods, then the Sandton area as Fourways are just superb it seems very nice architecture and lively.

The country has gone thru a metamorphosis and its looking very bright with growth potential even if as every where else there are economic problems. I was there always on business trips , so not much touristic side trips. Once in the country, the car was the main mode as I was driven around, so it look easy, and as I am a road warrior this was heavens.

I did spent several periods running from a few days to a couple of weeks at a time, and many new friends who treated me as if known for years. I was able to go into the country to meet customers right in their homes out in the country, very good roads, and gorgeous scenery. My early photos were taken with my blackberry phone, so not uptimum but ease of use when on business trips.

I arrive and was pick up by the transport folks of the hotel where I was staying, the Sitatunga Transfers folks were always very dependable, and the lodging was done at their property near Sandton at Sitatunga Guest Lodge. Webpage here: Sitatunga villas and transfer

sandton

The airport at Johannesbourg  OR Tambo is very nice with all conveniences and had easy in and out there all the time.   Official OR Tambo airport

Johannesburg

The nice terrace bar there at OR Tambo was Mandys now it is gone!!!and on a resto Vasllis Mediterranean that seems now closed in Sandton.

When we did go out we had fun at Fornos Bakery in Fourways near Sandton, great burgers, sausages, and drinks while looking out in the terrace over a shopping mall and passerbyers. Official Fournos Fourways

Sandton

I ,also was able to try the Gautrain underground station in Sandton, and direct to OR Tambo international airport, very easy magnetic card depends on your usage you buy from machine using bank cards or cash, very easy indeed,and modern, clean, fast and on time. webpage  https://www.gautrain.co.za/

Sandton

The airport at East London is smaller but then easy to manoeuvre and I was told the most expensive place to visit by plane as not too many connections available. It has an interesting zulu type shape roof. The great bar there was Mile High Bar but do not seems to find it now so probably closed as well. Official East London airport

You will be in an oasis and well treated. When I needed to move to East London,  I stayed at Thrity Six on Bonza ,another nice   boutique lodge ,gorgeously done, and great friendly service. Bonza Collection Thirty Six

east london

We had dinner on request at Thirty Six on Bonza as per above.

east london

I was even close to a beach at East London, very nice beaches in the area, especially Buffalo Beach , that just saw, ,and sure a promise to come back. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be back again, until then thanks for the memories and the friendships.

The tourist office of South AFrica on cities here: Official South Africa tourism

The tourist office of Gauteng, the region of Sandton, and Foursways: Tourist office of Gauteng on Johannesburg

The tourist office for East London is the metro area Buffalo City here: Official Buffalo City tourism

And there you go , a brief tour of a wonderful section of South AFrica. There is a lot more with a lot more time, I have done some see my other posts. Hope it helps you enjoy them as well. And me to be back, I will be back… Enjoy Sandton, Fourways, East London and South Africa.

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

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March 27, 2020

Shopping in the Philippines!

So have been here done that, not an expert in shopping but it seems that every time I go to a country, the locals take you shopping lol! weird but true oh well. This time was making trips to the Philippines and its cities and did went to some shopping centers. Therefore, here is my take on them, sit back and do some virtual shopping in the Philippines or rather better go there!!

Let me start you off with Ayala in Makati, Manila. I stayed mostly in Makati district and was able to go the wonderful Ayala Malls and especifically in the Greenbelt malls 1 thru 5.  This is really a shopper’s paradise with about five malls all interconnected with stores, restos ,cinema, chapel and others all wonderfully modern and clean; a place to spent a whole day and night. I was there having a few beers at my old hangout TGIFriday’s and great chat with bartenders Grace and Manny! I know the TGIF’s and always fun to seek them anywhere.

A bit on the shopping mall complex.

Greenbelt is a shopping mall located at the Ayala Center, Makati, metro Manila, It opened in the 1988 and the mall offers a mix of high-end retail shops, restaurants, amenities, leisure and entertainment. Currently, the mall has five sections: two enclosed areas, two buildings with open-air shopping areas.  Built around a 250,000-square-meters (2,700,000 sq ft) retail complex, the mall, which merged the previous small arcades and shops, was first opened to the public in 1990. It was renovated in 2001, and as the complex grew, Greenbelt 2 and 3 were opened in 2002, with 4 and 5 opening in 2004 and 2007.

manila

Greenbelt 1 features Automatic Centre as the anchor appliance store, along with other lifestyle, food, and supply stores. Greenbelt 3 features a mix of international brands.  Greenbelt 4 features high-end boutiques.  Greenbelt 5 has boutiques of Filipino designers, high-end department store Adora and boutiques. Restaurants can be found in Greenbelt 1, 2, 3, and 5, with Greenbelt 1 being concentrated more on fast-food, while Greenbelt 2, 3, and 5 feature sit-down restaurants. There is even the Santo Niño de Paz Chapel a Catholic place of worship in the park.

manila

manila

The official webpage for Ayala Malls and specific on the Greenbelt complex is here in English: Official Ayala Malls Greenbelt Makati

Next,  I have been to Bacolod and of course tried their shopping mall too. The nice shopping mall SM City really nice modern and many nice stores, we had our coffees here at Starbucks inside the mall. The stores were all very clean, nice displays and many popular names notice.   A bit on the shopping malls SM city.

bacolod

SM Supermalls, is a chain of shopping malls in the Philippines that is growing and last had 74 malls located across the country . SM Supermalls has become one of the biggest mall operators in Southeast Asia.  The company that operates the malls was started in 1958 as Shoemart, with a store in Manila. In the 1960s, Shoemart expanded its shoe store chain. By the 1970s, Shoemart was a full-line department store, shifting its name from Shoemart to SM. In the 1980s, the company diversified and ventured into the supermarket and home appliance store business. It opened the first Supermall store in 1985 in Quezon City.

My experience was in the  SM City Bacolod  located along Rizal Street, Reclamation Area, Bacolod City , region of Negros Occidental, an island,  It opened on March 1, 2007 and currently has a total floor area of 133,894 square metres (1,441,220 sq ft). The SM City Bacolod was composed of two one story wings; North and South.

bacolod

The North Wing section of SM City Bacolod includes restaurants and cafes, such as Krispy Kreme, Breadtalk, and Giligan’s, for customers to dine in. The second floor of the North Wing includes many clothing and technology companies. The third floor is mostly fashion salons and stores. There are some cafes and small restaurants scattered throughout as well. The South Wing has more restaurants found on the outer section of the wing , like Jollibee, KFC, and many more. Many home goods are bought in this wing due to stores such as Ace Hardware and The SM Appliance Store.

The SM Cinemas movie theatre is located on the South Wing. The SM Supermarket  entrance is found in the south sector of the wing. There are two indoor bridges that allow for customers to explore the North and South Wings without being affected by weather conditions.

The webpage for SM City Bacolod is here in English: SM Supermalls on Bacolod

I flew to Cebu, really my center base there and of course did went into the shopping malls including the other SM City there. The SM city mall  in Cebu, great shopping and food here too; here had a great pizza pepperoni with San Miguel beer call Veneto Pizzeria Ristorante.

cebu

The SM City Cebu shopping mall is the 7th largest shopping mall in the Philippines. It has a land area of 11.8 hectares and a gross floor area of 268,611 m2 (2,891,300 sq ft). The mall opened in November 1993. SM City Cebu is a seven-level complex namely lower ground floor, upper ground floor, second floor, third floor, fourth floor, fifth floor, and roof deck featuring a total of eight cinemas with seven regular cinemas and one IMAX theater with a total seating capacity of 5,812, a food court, a fully computerized bowling center, 8,000-square meter amusement center, and a 2,000-square meter trade hall. This is one huge one stop mall folks!

cebu

 

The SM City Cebu webpage is here in English: SM Supermalls on Cebu

Another one was briefly the Parkmall, one of the newest ones there. The Parkmall opened its doors in 2008, located in the heart of Mandaue City, a next door city to Cebu. The parkmall has a two-level mall at its centerpiece a sprawling property of lush, landscaped parks.  Along the facade of the mall is the longest stretch of outdoor dining in Cebu. Parkmall’s wide variety of cuisines from around the world nestled right beside the gardens makes it Cebu’s al fresco dining destination.

The Parkmall webpage is here: Parkmall Cebu

And yet another one in Cebu. It was the J Centre ,also in town great malls too easy town shopping and eating. The newest mall there and tried by yours truly first! It is located at 165 A.S. Fortuna Street, Bakilid, Mandaue City, Cebu. One of the few malls in the area that has a movie theater and sm supetmarket. Not as big as sm cebu or ayala but its ok for the area. It opened on November 11, 2011, along with several of its anchor stores.

Cebu

It has over 200 boutique stores and restaurants that provide ample options for the avid shopper and meticulous diner. One of its anchor stores is SM Hypermart, which is a business entity operating under the SM Group of Companies brand as seeing above.  A pleasant experience indeed plenty of choices.

The official webpage for JCentre mall Cebu in English; JCentre Cebu

There you go plenty of shopping choices, plus great cinemas, and plenty of food choices as well. It seems this is a prime time thing to do there as most major activities happened in these malls. Hope you enjoy the brief shopping ride to the Philippines!

The official tourist office of the Philippines here: Tourist office of the Philippines

Enjoy it as I did , great company too; and remember, happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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