Archive for October, 2020

October 25, 2020

My best restaurants in Florida!!!

To complement the shopping in Florida, will give out my best selection of restaurants in the areas that I lived, 18 years in Florida USA. The restaurants have usually  hours that start with lunch around 11am and continue straight to dinners open until about 23h. You have cafes, and restaurant that do the same thing, and then bars, the tipping is not included. Some restaurant come up to me already figuring the tip at 15%;18%;and 20% on the bill. The pay is low, so tipping is expected, but not obligatory. I tip if the service warranted it, and if I am a regular client I tip a bit more than just a casual passer-by. Again the choice is yours, but folks there are used to so they tip.

I am updating this post done first in 2011! and of course, things change indeed, my last time there was 2016. Some of my favorites were/are:

Columbia restaurant, the oldest Spanish restaurant in the USA. I have visited the properties in Saint Augustine and the original from 1907 in Tampa. 98 St. George Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084 . And , the original in the Ybor city area of Tampa at 2117 East 7th Avenue ,Tampa, FL 33605.. Fantastic Spanish cuisine with flamenco performers at nights in a quaint Spanish hacienda setting, very romantic and cozy. The best of Spain. webpage  https://www.columbiarestaurant.com/Menus-By-Location

TGIFriday’s chain of restaurant is fabolous for its spared ribs a la jack daniels, simply great and couple with great cocktails. The setting is Americana with lots of objects hanging out and frame to its wall of yesteryear. I have taste the ones in Ormond Beach (ocean shore blvd) , Sunrise (13350 w sunrise blvd) , Orlando( international drive) , Miami (s dixie and dolphin mall) , and Tampa (fowler ) the webpage is  https://locations.tgifridays.com/fl.html

Applebee’s, a chain where the the ambiance is more towards sports decorated walls, location been to Sunrise and Miami. I have gone for the trios and seafood platters with plenty of beers. webpage  as now part of a group Dine Brands Global that cannot be access from France! https://www.dinebrands.com/en

Quiznos, a great sandwich chain, with succulent big sizes and great prices ,wonderful for lunch and on the go eating. the taste is definitively great and fast service; to eat on site or take home.  Its a chain and even with international locations, my favorite location is near old home at Pembroke Pines, Miramar, and Sunrise; even if these branches are now closed. webpage  https://restaurants.quiznos.com/

Barnacles’ seafood at Ormond Beach, a great place with fresh product perfectly made all the time and right on the Atlantic Ocean. One of my all time favorite, and keep coming back when in the State. Fish and Chips, Schooner sampler or just a nicely made fish, great ambiance like a fisherman village.  This has closed here for the memories.

Julian’s, for the best steaks in the area, many times recognise by the leading ranking houses. You just come for those juicy steaks in a upscale ambiance of old New York. In Ormond Beach since 1967, now with new owners since 2005 but still all is good I am told.  Well eventually they closed for good, just for the memories.

Aunt’s Catfish, on the river intracoastal at Port Orange, just south of Daytona Beach, an institution in the area, you can have a better fish resto with southern hospitality. Try the blue crabs!!! webpage  http://www.auntcatfishontheriver.com/

The Oyster Pub, a tradition of mine since college days!, still going strong, the IN place to be in Daytona Beach. oysters of course and plenty of good beer and good cheers, with great sports TV screen , the place to be and to be seen. Families ok for lunch. webpage http://www.oysterpub.com/

Razzles, if you want to party late and have fun while a block from the Atlantic ocean in Daytona Beach came here, another area institution visited since my college days!. Great ambiance to please until late hours.  Dance, Drink, and be happy here. webpage http://www.razzlesnightclub.com/

Maison & Jardin is no longer a restaurant but it was French back in my days in the State, and now its an event planning place for all your business or weddings, etc needs, worth checking it out, you never know if you need a place like this and its sentimental neighborhood for me (same owners thus). At Altamonte Springs, alond I4 goings towards Disney and before reaching Orlando. webpage tells you more , http://www.maisonjardin.com/

La Crepe en Haut, Ormond Beach, the ultimate French restaurant in my old town, a place to practice my French while dreaming of visiting France again, you will be in France, French owners; unfortunately closed, here just for the memories.

Mr Wich deli, is without a web still but confirm still there!, tuck away in a tree laden place in Ormond Beach, the best place for lunch in the area, and the best pastrami south of 45 st NYC ! sandwiches are huge, try the combo with chips and drink. 21 N Nova Rd Ste A,  Ormond Beach, FL 32174; just go from I95 direction Ormond Beach on the SR40 or Granada Blvd, same road, when reaching Nova Rd turn left and the deli is right on your right hand side.

New York pizza, the ultimate NY pizza in my times done ably by wonderful Marie of NY. Still going strong after so many years for good cause. You wont eat a better pizza in the area. Now at new location than on my days but taste it good in 2009,637 N. Grandview avenue , Daytona Beach, FL 32118.  https://www.newyorkpizzasubs.com/

Alfies restaurant in Ormond by the Sea next to the ocean, an institution near one of my old hangouts, indeed the best breakfast in the area, and a great opportunity to catch the latest in the world with the regular customers of many years. webpage  https://alfiesrestaurant.com/story-of-alfies/

Mr Dunderbaks, the German sausages and beer place, an institution still going strong after so many years and again for good cause in 2009. Inside the Volusia Mall, 1700 W. International Speeway Blvd. unfortunately this has closed, here just for the memories.

Inlet Harbor Restaurant and Marina, an institution in the south Peninsula, south of Daytona Beach, at Ponce inlet .  Now the resto is separate from the marina and call Off the Hook at Inlet Harbor. just great catch of the day straight from the fishing boats.   https://offthehookatinletharbor.com/

Hemingways inside the Hyatt Grand Cypress hotel, a wonderful time past of old Florida conch ambiance and great raffine seafood cuisine by the best in Orlando. Even if now closed due to the virus. https://www.hemingwaysorlando.com/

Bill Wongs Super Buffet,Chinese perfection at great prices in Orlando, 5668 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819. tel +001 407 352 5373.  No web near Disney off I4. This is now closed, here just for the memories.

Wolfgang Pub  Cafe, now just a bit further at 1518  East Buena Vista Drive, Downtown Disney, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830. Great exotic cuisine with an American/Japanese twist. A renown chef in a wonderful ambiance. webpage  https://wolfgangpuck.com/dining/orlando-bar-grill/

Bongos Cuban Cafe, 1498 East Buena Vista Drive,Downtown Disney,Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830. tel +001 407-828-0999. the best Cuban resto in the central Florida area, a resto own by Gloria Estefan ,famous American singer of Cuban origins(Miami sound machine). The latest in mojitos and daiquiris with modern succulent cuisine avant garde. This was the original location now at South Beach Miami and others too.  This one is closed, here for the memories.

Pacino’s Italian Ristorante, a great Italian with wonderful decorations and ambiance, mamma mia in Kissimmee, near Disney . 5795 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Highway 192, Kissimmee, FL 34746 tel +001 407-239-4141.  webpage  https://www.pacinos.com/

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament , an event to have dinner without utensils as in middle times with horse shows of lancers. A great family time, always remember well.  4510 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, FL 34746. Now at 4510 W. Vine St.  webpage  https://www.medievaltimes.com/plan-your-trip/orlando-fl/index.html

Shells seafood ,in Tampa, seafood with hollywood history, it has been reorganised lately so need to verify the decoration, but it was a great family time there. 202 S Dale Mabry Hwy. Tampa, FL 33609.  webpage https://www.shellsseafood.com/locations

Bennigan’s, an Irish resto experience, popular locations my initial contact was in Tampa around the Univ of South Florida and then continues to Miami locations.  The monte cristo sandwich is huge and yummy with a nice beer alongside, Guinness blue bacon hamburger is awesome. At Miami it was near the airport on Le Jeune Rd. Now all closed except at Melbourne Florida! webpage: https://bennigans.com/bennigans-locations/locations-domestic/

Croissan’time, a French institution in Ft lauderdale area, and our little piece of FRance there, the owners are from Avignon, France. You can have a bistro type setting next door and a delicatessen store next with all the goodies to take home from France or made by French in America. Sunrise Square, 1201 North Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale,  Florida 33304, Tel +001 954-565-8555    webpage  http://www.croissantime.com/

Joe’s Stone Crab, a miami institution of greater culinary sensation. One of my favorites and should be yours too…. 11 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139 . tel +001 305-673-0365. You guess it stone crabs and lobster the finest,  Now closed, here just for the memories.

Joe Allen, was in Miami and we met again in Paris (still open diff owner), great American steaks, burgers,and Americana deco. In Miami Beach at 1787 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach FL 33139. Now closed here just for the memories.

News Cafe, the ultimate gathering place for talk coffee and know it all be seen and see in Miami Beach.Open 24 hrs !!!  800 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139. tel +001 305-538-6397. webpage http://www.newscafe.com/

Restaurant St Michel, yes refine and French, excellent cuisine in a old world ambiance. In hotel St Michel same refinements. 162 Alcazar Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134. tel + 001 305-444-1666. webpage  https://www.hotelstmichel.com/zucca-dining

Los Ranchos, for Miami best steaks Latin style, come here its an institution with several locations. My favorite was at Sweetwater(Miami) the original. webpage  https://www.beststeaksinmiami.com/

La Carreta, the best Cuban original and typical, the real thing if you are looking for that. A family tradition try again in 2009 on my visit back home. the Platters combinations are sublime. My best is at 106633 NW 12 street, next to International Mall, webpage  http://lacarreta.com/locations/

Hooters, in Coconut Grove at CocoWalk, the Americana sexy in you, for an American bar with burgers and nice girls.  3015 Grand Avenue,Suite 330
Miami, FL 33133. No longer at this address but in others around the area. https://hootersflorida.com/locations/

The Rusty Pelican,steaks but best seafood on Key Biscayne overlooking the bay of Miami, best views in Miami. Lovely evenings with locals, and the fishterman,yatchmens of the area and beyond. 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149. tel +001 305-361-3818.   webpage   https://www.therustypelican.com/

Latin American Cuban Cuisine, at Bayside Marketplace downtown city center Miami by the port of Miami, Great sandwiches and vaca frita, the Cuban staples. 401 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132. tel +001 305-381-7774. webpage  https://www.baysidemarketplace.com/directory/restaurants/item/latin-american-cuban-cuisine-2

P.F. Changs, Mary Brickell Village, 901 S Miami Ave., Suite 104, Downtown Miami, FL 33131. In the former fire dept house and previous Fire House four cigar bistro, there is the chinese cuisine par excellence. This is a chain, and the setting and ambiance here is special at least here. webpage  https://www.pfchangs.com/locations/us/fl/miami/901-s-miami-ave/9931-brickell.html

Little Havana Restaurant, 12727 Biscayne Boulevard, North Miami, FL 33161.  The best Cuban in the north of the county, really nice setting with fish tanks and inner patio. The food is well done and authentic. Try the stuffed fish dishes or the ropa vieja dish. webpage  http://www.littlehavanarestaurant.com/n-miami

Red Lobster, a chain of seafood restaurants but very good, my favorite in the area was at 1750 West 49th Street (Palm Springs Mile shopping road that is NW 103 St for Miami), Hialeah, FL 33012.  webpage  https://www.redlobster.com/?locationSelect=1&rlid=10246

Chili’s Grill & Bar, tex mex at its best with a great selection of cocktails, my gathering place at lunch whle at work in the area. Still meet old friends there when visiting like in 2009. 8696 NW 13th Terrace, Miami, FL 33126. The Beacon Center park, webpage  https://www.chilis.com/locations/us/florida/miami/beacon-center/

Flanagan’s Seafood Bar & Grill, another hangout about a block from the above place at NW 12 street, Miami (Doral). This is seafood, and buffalo wings, Spare ribs with great beers and sports screen all over. Best at nights, when the action is hot and fast.  webpage  https://www.flanigans.net/location/doral/

94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, the old hangout for Eastern airlines employees and locals, now the best view of the airport landing fields at MIA/while listening on earphone of the air traffic control tower . You have great drinks and burgers, steaks, and the ambiance is aviation. 1395 NW 57th Avenue Miami, FL 33126. webpage  https://www.94miami.com/location/94th-aero-squadron/

Le Bouchon du Grove, real French guy from Lyon will transport you to the bouchons of Lyon France. Exquisite cuisine in a wonderful village like setting. 3430 Main Highway – Coconut Grove FL (Miami). https://www.lebouchondugrove.com/

Cafe la Bonne Crepe, another wonderful French ,this one in Las Olas blvd of Ft Lauderdale, fine expert cuisine from the best in the area; 815 E. Las Olas Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.  You missed those crêpes from France well here they do it as identical as can be. webpage  https://www.labonnecrepe.com/

Olive Garden, italian and greatly made dishes , it was near us so we took many partakes here and never disappointed. In the Pembroke Lakes Mall property outside, but locations everywhere in FL.  11425 Pines Boulevard
Pembroke Pines, FL 33026. webpage  https://www.olivegarden.com/locations/fl/pembroke-pines/pembroke-lakes-mall/1409#restaurant-hours-reload

The Hurricane, at St Pete’s beach on the west coast just west of Tampa. A wonderful laidback Florida lifestyle ambiance with great seafood sandwiches and beer to go along your trip on the west coast. 807 Gulf  Way, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706. webpage http://www.thehurricane.com/
Quarterdeck Seafood Bar & Grill, an exquisite extention of great seafood fingers, drinks, sports bar, and great local ambiance you will love in your stay in Florida. This one was after an indoor soccer/football match,and it was great memories indeed. 12370 West Sunrise Blvd, Plantation 33323. Now only one left at 1035 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale.  webpage  https://quarterdeckrestaurants.com/

The Globe, great bar and ambiance, sophisticated,business casual , evening dress to kill. The IN place in Coral Gables and sooo many years at the top. Cant missed it if in the area. 377 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables Fl 33134. The mojitos, daiquiris and classic Champagne cocktails are wonderful to go with Spanish chorizos and manchego quesadillas. webpage  https://theglobecafe.com/

Churchill’s, the British in south Florida, great drinks and great sports venue. My favorite soccer/football matches were always here to go alone with a great pint ::) 5501 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137. webpage https://www.churchillspub.com/

Piccolo Pizza, a great pizza place and more run by folks from Nice,France. On your way to North Miami Beach,   2104 Northeast 123rd Street, North Miami, FL 33180. the webpage mentioned closed but cannot tell if it is just now or for good, https://www.piccolo-pizza.com/

Versailles, THE Cuban resto in Miami Little Havana neighborhood, the in and out of the city and all the political, economic ,arts discussions you can handle. You know it first here. The food is authentic and the ambiance very latin.  Name in all travel guides to the city as a must stop. 3555  SW 8th St Miami, FL 33135. webpage: https://www.versaillesrestaurant.com/

The Royal French Bakery, was run by Christian from Lyon, so it was heavens, not verify if still there but if they are, you need to go right away. We had our buche de Nôel always done here. 7370 SW 57th Ave, South Miami, FL 33143. Just off Sunset Ave or nw 72 st.  It is now closed, just here for the memories.

Le Provençal, French and from Aix-en-Provence, you cant go wrong here, exquisite refine cuisine with a mediterranean flair. One of our stops while living there, and keeping in touch with France. 266 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134. This is now closed, here just for the memories.

Casa Juancho, when my tastebugs switch to Spain ,this is as genuine as it can get over the ocean. Great Spanish cuisines in a fabulous deco and ambiance.  Codfish, shrimps, and tapas with great Spanish wine as well, all originally done by Spaniards. 2436 S.W. 8th Street, Miami, FL 33135. webpage http://www.casajuancho.com/

Well these are the ones that comes to mind, of course they are not all, just what brings back my most memorable moments eating in Florida.  Not prone to take photos at restaurants but have written on some of these properties elsewhere in my blog. Hope you enjoy them too when in the Sunshine State.

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

October 24, 2020

My shopping in Florida!!!

I like to share and update this post on my shopping in Florida coming from my 18 years of living in Central and South Florida USA. An experience that I would never forget ,and last visited in 2016.

Shopping is a ritual, especially around the malls or shopping center. Its a way of life, social, dating, just having a good time all takes place while shopping under the Sunshine State of Florida. Some of the shopping is so near a beach a combination is sublime. Hours are usually from 10h to 21h some open at 9h and others closed at 20h. The hours are continuosly no closing for lunch as in Europe. All properties have heating and air conditioned housing. The only drawback is that public transportation is limited and the automobile is the way to go; however, that is no problem for me ::)

These are some of my favorites places, starting with malls aka shopping centers. The photos are in some of them individual posts in my blog.

Aventura Mall, north of Miami. 19501 Biscayne Boulevard, Aventura, FL 33180 . An upscale wonderlust of stores and restaurants, over 250 stores and 24 cinema screens, with favorites like Barney, Bakers,fossil, gap, and Macy’s, JC Penney, Johnny Rockets burgers, and the Cheesecake Factory resto. This has been improved and enlarged since my time there webpage http://www.aventuramall.com/

Bayside MarketPlace, on downtown city center Miami by the port of Miami. 401 Biscayne Boulevard Miami, FL 33132. A wonderful tropical escape with boating cruises on Miami harbor and passing by the home of the famous. Souvenirs stores and great Latin American Cafe. webpage  https://www.baysidemarketplace.com/

Cocowalk Shopping Center, in the small chic community of Coconut Grove right in the middle of Miami by the bay. 3015 Grand Avenue Miami, FL 33133 .  The cinema, the walks in a quaint village, Hooters’ on a nice breeze Florida night is sublime.  This one has been torn down to re do a complete new complex . More on Facebook for the new Cocowalk: https://www.facebook.com/CocoWalk1/ 

Broward Mall, right in the middle of Plantation a city near Ft. Lauderdale and close to the beaches. A huge place with wonderful stores to browse and eat. 8000 West Broward Boulevard ,Plantation, FL 33388 tel +001 954 473 8100. You have my favorites stores Dillard’s and Macy’s plus eating at Cajun Grill. webpage  http://westfield.com/broward/

Dadeland Mall, a huge shopping center south Miami and you can get there on the monorail public transport from city center Miami. 7535 N Kendall Drive, Miami, FL 33156 Tel +001 305 665 6343. You have here the Disney store, and Sephora, plus eating at Cafe con Leche, and Tango Grill. webpage:  https://www.simon.com/mall/dadeland-mall 

Dolphin Mall, an excellent place west of the airport, you can get there by the Dolphin expressway from Miami Beach to NW 107 ave the mall is right up the street to NW 114 ave .11401 N.W. 12 Street, Miami, FL 33172, tel +001 305 365 7446 . My favorites here were the old JC PEnney store, plus the cinema, the outdoor live music events under the Florida sky, just sublime. come to shop or come to party is all here. Gap, Banana Republic, the Borders Book store,  TGIFridays, for food eating, a great place for the whole family. webpage http://www.shopdolphinmall.com/

International Mall, another dandy right next to the Dolphin Expressway coming from Miami Beach at NW 107 ave. you see it from the Expressway. One of my favorite restaurant is here La Carreta, Cuban Cuisine at its best. 1455 NW 107th Avenue, Miami, FL 33172, now with 9 properties! They had a friendly former  JC Penney store here, a former Toys R Us on the parking property, former Dillard’s (still clothing from here!), and former Mayors Jewerlers. webpage https://www.simon.com/mall/miami-international-mall

You will find great bargain and more city life shopping at downtown or city center Miami away from the port of Miami (cruise capital) and Bayside MarketPlace by going on Flagler street and meandering the little side streets around it, loads of stores there at bargain bazaar prices.  They have an association at Downtown Miami , Biscayne Boulevard to 3rd Avenue, SE 1st Street to NE 3rd Street, Miami, FL 33131 Tel +001 305 379 7070. webpage telling you all about shopping eating and nightlife plus hotels around this area is https://www.downtownmiami.com/ 

Way down on Miami southern tip going towards Key West but still Miami you will find the Falls shopping center, an open air mall of great chic stores right off US 1 main road, they claim to be the biggest in the USA. Here you would see old names wow!! do not see these there now Bloomindales,Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, as my favorites stores with eating places like Los Ranchos, PF Changs China Bistro, are still there but TGIFridays is not!. A wonderful shopping experience under the sun, but nice AC in the stores ::) webpage  https://www.simon.com/mall/the-falls

Lincold Road, this is right on Miami Beach , a very nice shopping place right off the beach for about 10 blocks of stores, restos, art galeries ,nice. Go for the upscale YUCA restaurant now gone!. The News Cafe was a place to talk and mingle with the locals and visitors alike and start your day fresh with all the news!!! Not to forget Joe’s Stone Crabs restaurant, and the beautiful Art Deco hotels lining up Ocean ave. webpage: http://www.lincolnroadmiamibeach.org/ 

Sawgrass Mills shopping center is huge, I mean huge  ,one of the biggest if not the biggest mall in the USA, and Florida’s largest. It is in my home county of Broward, north of Miami and west of Ft Lauderdale. In the city of Sunrise, 12801 West Sunrise Blvd, Sunrise, FL 33323. It is an outlet mall per excellence, with many visitors and locals alike filling its magnificent array of stores.  Some of the former were Saks Fifth Avenue outlet was my favorite, as well as Book-a-Million bookstore (still there!) , Burlington Coat, Bed- Bath & Beyond, Dockers, Levi’s, and K-Bee toys, they have a wonderful role playing games complex center in Wannado City , The Regal 23 theaters cinema (still there!)  is excellent, Gameworks arcade for children (still there under Gamebox arcade) , and the TGIFridays restos,(still there)  around it, the Walmart store just outside (still there!) , Rainforest Cafe inside (still there!) , plus many additional shops and centers around it make it one of the biggest one stop shopping in all of Florida. webpage  https://www.simon.com/mall/sawgrass-mills

Pembroke Lakes Mall, the closest to my house in Miramar , this is a nice family mall, very nicely done in a  belle epoque art deco style inside. 11401 Pines Blvd., Suite 546, Pembroke Pines, Florida 33026, Tel +001 954 436 35 20. The great Toys R Us store, the former JC Penney, American Eagle, Bakers, Bath & Body Works,Macy’s,  former Sears, former  Radio Shack, GNC, Churromania resto with Spanish churros pastries!(still there!) An excellent food court with Nathan’s famous hot dogs, and Godiva Chocolatier. Come on in and relax. Webpage: https://www.pembrokelakesmall.com/en/directory/ 

Volusia Mall, by the international speedway in Daytona Beach, 1700 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, Florida 32114. My old reliable place while in my college and post college days in the area. former JC Penneys my old nice clothing place (purchase my wedding ring here lol!) , former Sears for all those tools, American Eagles, the Applebee’s resto with succulent ribs, Radio Shack, and eat at Wetzel’s pretzels, Mr Dunderbaks german eatery, and Sbarro’s pizzeria. Great memories here, Webpage  https://www.volusiamall.net/shop/volusia.nsf/index

Altamonte Mall, Altamonte Springs, just before reaching Orlando coming from Daytona Beach on the I4 inter state highway on your way to Disney. Better prices ,great surrounding, nice place. 451 East Altamonte Drive
Altamonte Springs, Florida 32701, Tel +001 407  215 51 00.  Former Barnes & Nobles bookstore, Bahamas Cruise resto, Barnie Coffee & Tea, Perfumania, and nice surrounding. webpage https://www.altamontemall.com/en/directory/

The Shops at Pembroke Gardens, another distinctive location of fine shops and eateries near my old home and a family favorite. Here you will find the great burgers Fuddruckers, DSW shoe warehouse, Barnes & Nobles bookstore,and old Navy store.  527 SW 145th Terrace, Pembroke Pines, FL 33027 , tel +001 954  450 15 80.  webpage http://www.pembrokegardens.com/

A great area to do shopping,eating, drinking ,partying ,and all family fun in Ft Lauderdale is at Las Olas blvd area, in a quaint village atmosphere.  Gourment farmers market, galleo belgian chocolates, are two of my all time favorites there. Former Mango’s , Cafe la Bonne Crepe (still there) ,and the former Café de Paris are fine eating habits of the family when in the area. You will find in the link info on hotels ,art galleries ,and many other tidbits of the area, if need more let me know, dont want to write a book ,its just a blog Lol!! https://lasolasboulevard.com/

Centro YBOR in Tampa is another wonderful Florida combination of shopping, Food, and games for the whole family. Another favorite when visiting relatives or Busch Gardens. An escape when coming to play soccer at the Univ level Div 2,and summer leagues semipro Lol!!!  One of the oldest and the oldest Cuban enclave in the USA.  1600 East 8th Avenue, Tampa, Fl 33605. Get on Gametown, (still there) the Muvico theater for great movies, tried former Hamburger”s Mary for the real beefeater in you, try a homemade beer at the former Tampa Brewing. See a Cuban cigar being roll in front of your eyes ,and many more. Webpage  https://www.centroybor.com/directory

St Augustine Premium Outlet, its an outlet stores mall in the historical city north of Daytona Beach, was a family hangout for lunches many weekends. The city of Saint Augustine is the oldest city in the USA, founded by Spaniards in 1565. Jockey, banana republic,levi’s are all great here, as well as Van Heusen shirts, Carters  and Oshkosh B’ gosh were our daily routine for our kids growing up , former Bass shoes were my favorites, and the Book Warehouse (still there). 2700 State Road 16, St. Augustine, FL 32092, tel +001 904 825-1555.  webpage https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/st-augustine/stores    

A similar outfit was visited too in International Drive, Orlando near Disney, at the Orlando Premium Outlet mall, 4951 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819 . tel +001 407 352 9600 . Favorites here were façonnable, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Samsonite (where I bought my first luggage for Europe!) , and the usual Sbarro pizzeria chain. webpage:  https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/orlando-international

Town Center at Boca Raton, to go up and get some French goodies we usually stop at this shopping center, great stores in a very nice setting. For Sephora and Godiva Chocolates indeed !!! 6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431. tel +001 561  368 60 01. You go there from Miami on best by I95 north to Glades Rd exit and follow to mall at town center drive left. webpage  https://www.simon.com/mall/town-center-at-boca-raton

My regular all time wine stores were ABC or Crowns in Florida, I became a wine aficionado while working at an ABC store in Ormond Beach while my college years, and was in charge of stock and ordering the wine section. 725 South Yonge Street, Ormond Beach ,that is the US 1 highway near the intersection with Granada Blvd going to the beach about 6 miles.  The store is here , still there!!! wow!!https://www.abcfws.com/product/23

I did shop in their Aventura, Fl store at 16355 Biscayne blvd.. ,now this store has move a bit south to North Miami Beach so their webpage:https://www.abcfws.com/product/51

I later on, as I moved south, my interest turn to Crown Wines & Liquors a more French look and friendly folks which I entertain for years there, guided by able senior wine purchaser Chip Cassidy. My favorites stores were in the North Miami area at 12555 Biscayne blvd, North Miami ,33181 where I came to lived nearby initially in the area,this store seems closed,   and the most frequented for wine tastings and shopping was at 1590 South Dixie highway, Coral Gables, 33146.  https://www.crownwineandspirits.com/store-locations/

Well the list is endless if I get to it, but I think these will give you a pretty clear picture of shopping in Florida from central to south of the State. And I am surprise what so many years from the day to day shopping can do with so many property changes, webpages and especially stores. Hope you have enjoy the tour and find it helpful for your future visits.

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

October 24, 2020

My memorable restaurants in France!!!

Well I would like to talk about dining in the rest of France ,outside my current living area of Morbihan Bretagne. This is an updated old post done when I started blogging but many moons have passed and need to update. My initial post was in 2011!

I need to do some catch up so will list the ones that have remained memorable for me and my family and some repeat. It is a difficult task as there are so many good ones here, food is king or queen, and choices are endless. However, I will again dare to give my choices; hoping they will become yours in the years to come.

A bit of the ways that never change. The French follow a light breakfast, continental style , and lately some yogourt, are thrown in there. Sometimes you see heavier placing but this is only in tourist places or buffet style. Lunch is the main meal of the day, heavy and hearty, usually between 12h-15h where you need to be there on time or be square, place is closed or chef is out having lunch! Then dinner starts by 19h in most cases onwards to about 23h generally speaking. I know in some places nice folks have stay open for me until 01h00 when gathering with a group, but most like to leave by 23h and in some chains they stay until midnite 00h00, this is a lighter meal than lunch, but sometime hard to distinguish the two. Sundays lunch is our big gastronomic time, and we either go out or cook a big meal at home. More and more places are opening with Brunch , with one price all you can eat.

There are many places where you can eat in France, these are call auberge, hostellerie, relais (all a coaching inn or alternative to restaurant); a bar, a bistro,a cabaret or boite de nuit, brasserie, cafe, buffet , restaurant,hotels, pizzerias,libre-service (cafeteria style self service usually in hypermarkets and autoroutes/expressways), rôtisserie,salon de thé, and restaurants. The hours again, varied a bit as to more tourist big city areas to provincial inland towns, but normally are open from 11h to 23h or later in brasseries, cafes:bars are from 06h-07h until midnite 00h00, but they can be license to be open as late as 02h00. Restaurants are open for lunch between 12-15h but usually stop seating by 14h30, dinner is between 19h and 22h with some staying as late as 00h00.

The menus are displayed outside every restaurant or eating place, sometimes the meal of the day or plat du jour is posted in a board inside main lobby of the place, call the ardoise. You can have a set menu call menu prix fixe where for one standard price you can get a combination of entree and main dish or main dish and dessert or other combinations.  Some places will have a menu conseillé or advice menu which is often the cheapest combination available or you can have the other side of the most expensive with a menu gastronomique. The idea  of tipping is often raise by visitors, here there is something call service compris , meaning the total price including the tip and tax (VAT) is included. If it is not mentioned you can assume it is or ask. If the mention is only prix nets it means nothing extra has been added so you should tip. The tip is not obligatory, and it should be given with several variables in mind; like, what type of place you are in, if you will be a regular customer or just passing visitor,and the amount of services offered, as well as of course the excellence of the service. Its a personal choice. My take is ,if the service is good beyond reproach at a passing establishement, I tip a bit a few coins, if indeed is one of my regular joints where I am treated like a family then I tip as much as 10% of the bill. Again ,its up to you, and your habits.

Some of my favorite places over the years in France were/are:

le Lotus d’Or, 7 rue Bac, 92150, Suresnes; (this one is closed unfortunately here for the memories many times for lunch while working nearby) tramway suresnes-longchamps. tel +33 01 40 99 07 10. Just before mounting the highest hill in the Paris area at 162 meters in Mont Valerien, surrounded by the beautiful sight of the river Seine overlooking the bois de bolougne on the other side. Oriental chinese, vietnamese, thai food serve by an entire family with great service and prices,menus from 10€.

Donatello, 24 Esplanade Courtieux, 92150, Suresnes. tramway Suresnes-Longchamps, no web tel +33 01 42 04 41 67. An oasis of good inexpensive Italian food just over the bridge pont de Suresnes other side of bois de boulogne and on a courtyard where the market of Suresnes is held. Pizzas from 9€, and real Italian products and chef! More here:  https://www.suresnes-tourisme.com/donatello.html

Chez Clement, 15bis quai Requenequin Sualem, 78380, Bourgival. a chain that have gone thru bad times due to owner personal problems and now closed too here for the memories even my oldest had his birthdays there.  French cuisines in a painter’s old house cant be more romantic, and overlooking the river Seine,really French. You can take RER A to le Vésinet-le Pech and walk here.

Le Duc de Guise, 13-15  place Louis XII, 41000, Blois. Now closed, here for the memories.  traditional pizzeria and huge salads that wont break your bank and serve very good food. Near the Houdin magician museum,and castle.

Le Triboulet, 18 place du Chateau, 41000, Blois. French traditional in a house warming cozy setting with wood stove and fireplace. Just across from castle with a great view. Enjoy it, the family love it. More here:  http://www.letriboulet.com/

Cafe des Arts, 138 cours Victor Hugo, 33000, Bordeaux,tramway musée d’Aquitaine gets you there. tel +33 05 57 95 94 51. Traditional French cafe of old, nicely decorated, good food, if a bit slow at lunch times. More here:  https://www.lecafedesarts.fr/

Le Kayoc, 2 allée Pierre Ortal, 33680, Lacanau-Océan. great view right on the beach, and seafood galores ! an oasis our family trek practically every summer. More here:  http://www.restaurant-lacanau.com/

Le Colibri, 12 rue Chanzy, 51100, Reims.  Closed here for the memories. Great piano bar restaurant right by the Cathedral. Very cozy French traditional, and elegant. Our family love it.

La Scala, (now la Scaleta same owners) 1 Place Planchat, 18000, Bourges. Great food, ambiance, decorations like you were in Italy, the servers are Italian and you cant eat any better listening to Eroz Ramazzotti! and the waittress singing alone!!!! The reason for the name maybe .We have it mark. More here:  https://la-scaleta.fr/restaurant-bourges/

Le Palerme, 8 place de l’Eglise, 11990, Hourtin. The medoc again, central plaza overlooking the marché on your way to the beach. Nice setting ,simple but great pizzas good food, great service even in busy summers, you wont be disappointed.  tel +33 05 56 09 18 46. more here:  https://www.facebook.com/Lepalermehourtin/

Le Meridional, 27 ave Pierre Curie, 78210, St Cyr l’Ecole. Recently open and it was a surprise, great Italian dishes at good prices, and family fun, the owners are on board daily. Real Italians for that home cooking we seek always. no web, tel +33 01 39 42 02 95. right on road D10 coming into the city from Versailles. Cannot confirm if open or not but here for the memories anyway.

Brasserie Paul, 1 place de la Cathédrale, 76000, Rouen, a local gourmand place of French traditions. Open in 1898 and the quality continues, friendly fast service even at lunch. Great food and ambiance at the side of the Cathedral of Rouen. tel +33 02 35 71 86 07. More info here: https://www.brasserie-paul.com/

Ty Breiz, 59 Quai Henri IV, 76200, Dieppe, a great creperie in the best area traditon all done on order by mama and son themselves ,right by the harbor. Cant make it any better than like home. tel +33 02 35 82 86 56. Cannot confirm if open or not, here just for the memories.

Le Crystal, 3 Rue Haute, 14600, Honfleur, a beauty try the second floor inside a house on the pedestrian street out of the harbor to your right, left hand side. great seafood place. tel +33 02 31 89 12 02. No web but confirm still open!

Le Bistro du Port, 14 Quai de la Quarantaine,14600, Honfleur. whether its a seafood pizza or a plat from the ocean this is to be seen and be seen with great ambiance, friendly service always for many years. tel +33 02 31 89 21 84. More here:  http://www.bistro-la-grenouille.fr/le-bistro.php

Le Queen, 3 Place Gambetta, 80000, Amiens (closed now but here for the memories) ;it had a very nice terrace near hotel de ville, to be seen and be seen in town, great views, and ambiance. Come for a pint or a nice steak and fries, good prices,great service, a stop a must.

Le Bistrot des Brasseurs (3 brasseurs) , 18-20 place de la Gare, 59000,Lille,  a place to taste the beer made next door at the 3 Brasseurs and use here with some moules and frites, great people , come enjoy it.tel +33  03 20 06 37 27. More here:  https://restaurants.3brasseurs.com/fr/3-brasseurs-lille

Le Vieux Comptoir, 10 rue de la Rôtisserie, 37000, Tours, great family place, in an old street of Tours, very nicely decorated. French traditional of great estime locally, and wines of the Loire valley. very sympa. More here:  http://levieuxcomptoir.free.fr/index.html

Taverne de Bois de Maitre Kanter, Rue Georges Méliés, 41350, St Gervais la Forêt. on the road D174 towards the A10 or Blois. Great setting in the middle of the forest to sample Alsacien cuisine. A great tour to continue your journey with a great ambiance. More here:  https://www.la-taverne-blois.fr/

La Fontana, 2 Rue de la Croix de Fer, 78100, Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Great traditional Italian resto with Italian natives at the kitchen and serving. You will taste like mamma mia and just with the junction of the N186 to the A15 and Paris or the train at Saint Germain en Laye bel air-Fourqueux.  We love but now closed, just for the memories. I put what they put out in their Facebook page: “Despite the announcement of the reopening of restaurants on June 2, we are announcing the definitive closure of La Fontana.
After 25 years of good and loyal service, unforgettable memories, loyal customers in each decade of this great adventure … it is time to give back our apron!” Another sad story!

J’Go, 16 Place Victor Hugo, 31000, Toulouse. they have it now in Paris rue Drouot 9éme. The best of the southwest with an unique local flavor, my favorite in the city of roses. Good times ever roll. http://lejgo.com/toulouse

Le Louchebem, the butcher of Toulouse in the covered market of place Victor Hugo, great cassoulet toulosain, ambiance, service and great views on the second floor over the place.Cant beat it. 21 different meats to choose from but keep at the cassoulet ::) More here: http://www.lelouchebem-toulouse.fr/

Bar Les Clip’s , 1 place de la Trebaille, 81000, Albi . Great prices good view underneath the cathedral by the parking below its back. Cassoulet was good,and the service very family friendly. Good to go; no web but still open.

Les Berceaux,  13 rue de Berceaux, 51200, Epernay. Sublime Champagne resto gastronomic French cuisine at its best, cozy, ambiance sublime, regal, one of the best in the area. right in central town off  rue Eugéne Mercier, More here: http://www.lesberceaux.com/

La Cave d’Artagnan, 4 rue de la republique, 32000, Auch. Great tapas selection and ambiance, friendly service. The products comes right from the owners farm, great foie gras tapas. Cannot confirm if open or closed, here just for the memories.

La Vieille Auberge, at Mont Saint Michel. Lovely architecture overlooking the bay, good food friendly service in an area loaded with tourist is to recommend. More here: https://www.lavieilleauberge-montsaintmichel.com/fr/restaurant.html

Le Phare in the island or Ïle de Ré, wonderful quaint seafaring town of St Martin de Ré, and the place was just great: also, lodging available. More here:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/French-Restaurant/Le-Phare-Bar-Lounge-Restaurant-%C3%AEle-de-r%C3%A9-222568304547053/

La Brasserie Royal at Pau. Grand of Pau; historical chic good ambiance right on the square Place Royale. More here: http://brasserie-royale.com/

Le Suisse, at St Jean de Luz right in the pays Basque, great location near all at place Louis XIV , and good times in family.  Cannot confirm if open or not so here for the memories.

Pizzeria Nota Bene at Nantes.  3 Rue Saint Denis near Cathedrale; excellent location , nice architecture, good food and soft prices. more here:  https://www.notabene-restaurant.fr/

Crêperie Le Blé Noir at Noirmoustier en L’ïle. A wonderful location by the place Saint Louis and good galettes! More here:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Cr%C3%AAperie/Le-Bl%C3%A9-Noir-II-328855830658053/

Le Pub du Ralliement at Angers. nice central location good food and nice ambience; nice. They went thru a fire back in June 2020 but under control and back on. More here:   https://www.facebook.com/PubRalliement/

Crëperie La Flambée at Guérande. In the old town just next to the ramparts walls; good old fashion ambiance good service good food nice; more here:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Cr%C3%AAperie/La-Flambee-373563996161994/

Le Café de la Plage, Batz-sur-Mer. Overlooking the sea cith by the harbor at the beach or plage Saint Michel.Very good family ambiance good food good prices nice. More here:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/French-Restaurant/Le-Caf%C3%A9-de-La-Plage-162010783975192/

I have try to update as many. As usual some were already out of business, a very common thing here where competition and the tourist season are fierce, and of course, there are those still open that I like. Of course, you must verify before hand at the time of your travel if they are still open. hope it helps and bon appétit!

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

October 23, 2020

Wines of France, simply the best!!!

I will update this post initially done in 2011! in my blog. I have written several wine posts ever since as it is my other passion but this general entry would like to update for you and me! Hope you enjoy it.

It is a passionate subject for me as I am a wine enthusiast. It is ,also, a very diverse and subjective issue as wine is today the center piece of many individuals and countries tastes and habits. Even if most if not all take their modern beginnings from France…I would like to concentrate on my personal experiences and share them with my readers.

My first recollection of drinking wine was when I was 8 years old and my maternal grandmother (Amparo from Tenerife) had me taste a couple of fingers of Spanish wine. I recall it tasted very bad, but she insist it was Spanish wine!!! I took it again on and off for several years until already a young adult in Florida and wanting to be once again part of the beach bums in Daytona Beach moved to the area to get whatever job I could lay my hands on.

The first job was as a store clerk at the ABC wine and liquor store in South  Yonge St almost to the corner of Granada Blvd in Ormond Beach, Florida (store still there!)under the watchful eye of store manager JD Brandy!  This was about January 1985. Once in a while I had to serve as bartender in the adjoining bar which didn’t like too much. In the store, most were gear to heavy drinkers and wines were put at a disadvantage; so much that I end up in charge of orders and inventory keeping of the wine section in the store. This allows me to mingled with other wine lovers, and go to wine pool parties as server, gaining valuable knowledge in the world of wines.

It was the beginning of something magical that has continue to my now life in France. I was instrumental in working with SOPEXA ,Food and Wines from France (now in NYC) organisation in helping French wine sellers introduce themselves to the south Florida market. At the same time passing a rigorous test on French wines from the organisation. I worked with the Commercial Office (ICEX) of Spain in NYC under director Julio Becquer to bring about Spanish wines bodegas and restaurant under the beautiful Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables for an evening of wines and tapas as an introduction to Spanish wines. I participated tireless into many wine tastings events done by the stores like ABC, Crown,and Gourmet Spain (no longer there) in South Miami under Alberto Mueller writer for the newspaper El Diario de las Americas (still going on!).https://www.diariolasamericas.com/contenidos/cultura.html

ICEXhttps://www.icex.es/icex/es/index.html

SOPEXAhttps://sopexa.com/en/

Many French , Spanish, Italian,American, Chilean, Argentinian wine growers would come to showcase their wines there in Miami. I was able to meet many of them, the most popular and biggest players in their respective countries. This contacts later materialise into visits to their wine operations in their respective countries. One memorable was meeting Pierre-Henry Gagey of Maison Jadot , Beaune, Burgundy in Miami on a Crown wine tasting evening. This was followed same year with a visit to his company in Beaune, France, and even thus he was not in house, I was treated like royalty and taken by able Commercial Manager-Europe Marc Dupin on a family personal tour of the installations and tasting 5 reds and 5 whites of great international renown. A pleasant encounter that has lasted thru time.  I was able to visit Concha y Toro in Santiago ,Chile and realised the original owners were French immigrants, the tour was personal only me and my Chilean wine salesman friend, I still have souvenirs wine glass and t-shirt from this trip in 2002!! and of course, the river has overflown since then on many visits including Michele Chiarlo in Piemonte Italy! and Ramos Pinto in Portugal and others in the Americas and Europe!! Too numerous the beforehand were the firsts!

By 2011, I was subscribe to the leading magazines of wine in the world,keep a healthy wine cellars in my house, and especially, travel and visit the very best wineries in France and Spain, and realised that after tasting wines from the rest of the world including even brand Viñales from Cuba !!! the very best are indeed the French ::) My concentration in the last years have been exclusively French with some bottles tasted of Spanish, and Portuguese wines. And like I notice, all of these wines are made with French wines mostly, the ageing barrels in most are purchased used in France, the method of production and winemaking are French, and many use French advisors to help them improve their wines, like Michel Rolland of St Emilion in California. Yet some dare to say their wines are better lol!

Tasting wines is an art form with over 900 identifiable smells and nuances available,you need years of top level tasting to arrive at this level of proficiency, is an ongoing learning experience even for me. Usual lenght of guarding these wines depends on the year and the producer as well as the grape varieties. Usually Champagne,Alsace, Beaujolais, Loire Touraine are between 1-5 yrs, up to 10 years are the village appelation of Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone valley, Loire Chinon etc, then,  up to 20 years you can cellared Burgundy premiers and grand crus, Rhone valley Cornas, Châteauneuf du Pape, Côte Rotié, etc Bordeaux  crus bourgeois ,and Medoc etc, Loire sweet wines like Bonnezeaux, and finally those over 20 yrs are  the Jura wines, L-R Banyouls, south west sweets like Monbazillac, Jurançon, and the Bordeaux grands as well as Sauternes sweets. The grape varieties are many indeed from the well known Cab Sauvignon/Franc, Chardonnay, Merlot, Gamay, Pinot Noir, to the the less known Tannat,Malbec,Sauvignon blanc,Semillon,and the rare Duras (consider the oldest grape variety southwest France), Carignan, Cinsaut,Grenache, Grolleau,Mourvérdre, the list is endless it seems ::)

I will give you the wine official sites for the regions I like best, lots of official information can be found there. If you have any question on a particular wine don’t hesitate to contact me ok. In English when available,but  in French it has more information.

wines from the Loire region: https://www.vinsvaldeloire.fr/en

wines from the South West (Sud Ouest): https://www.vignobles-sudouest.fr/#

wines from Bordeaux region: https://www.bordeaux.com/us

wines of Champagne region: https://www.champagne.fr/en/homepage

For sentimental reasons my first and still drink from there, the Spanish site Apoloybaco , also a link on my blog roll bottom of main page on Spanish bodegas , which I collaborated many years ago at the start of the site on wines/vinos. In Spanish: http://www.apoloybaco.com/vinos/

The best magazine in France is La Revue du Vins de France as here in my blog roll : https://www.larvf.com/

My favorite online shop is Vinatishttps://www.vinatis.com/

And have visited the mains châteaux but now usually buy online the wines of Château Mouton-Rothschild and family under la Baronnie : https://www.labaronnie.fr/fr/

For wine stores here everywhere ; I look and member of  Nicolas stores.   https://www.nicolas.com/

While in the Paris area I, also, shopped at Lavinia , a Spanish chain but wines from all over and tasting bar as well at 3 boulevard de la Madeleine. https://www.lavinia.fr/fr

Or passing by going home made the effort several times to stop and shop at the  La Cave de Passy, 1 rue de Passy,16éme arrondissement. not far from the Pont Bir-Hakeim. No webpage. tel +33 01 46 47 77 12, metro Passy line 6. Over 2600 bottles to choose from.

And of course, many others over the years that we buy online usually after we visit the property far away like the Cave de Gan of the Jurançon etc. The choices like I said are endless. En Vino Veritas!

Hope you have enjoy my entry into the world of Wines, French wines continue to be a reference point for all others to follow, with French advisors, grapes, methods, and investments all over the World. China is the next frontier and already the French are there even the magazine La Revue du Vins de France has an office.  The potential for wine is great and if carefully chosen a good enjoyable investment ::)

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

October 23, 2020

France: Christmas and New Year’s!!!

Ok so this is a nice subject and the best part of the year for many including us.  I have several posts on the festivities over the years, but in some older years I like to condense them in this post. Anyway, today everything starts earlier lol! And of course, the text has been modified and update with current information.

This was 2012, Happy New Year to all my readers and friends. Walking Versailles is always glorious and seeing its vibrant streets again is super, now at Christmas time,the lights, the ambiance is great. The ice skating ring at the Hôtel de Ville for the kids is nice too. The city seems full, lots of folks to catch the last days hours of the wonderful castle museum. It was a wonderful visit back to our old home!!

Well just arrived from a wonderful trip to Brussels and its almost 21H or 9pm here in Brec’h Morbihan Bretagne France!!! rainy all way and all week but we didn’t feel it lol!!! Just want to write a post without a picture to say thank you all for following my humble blog and wishing you the best for 2013 to you and yours. And wait until i get those photos loaded for more posts from Brussels.

This is a wonderful period anywhere we were. Mine for the last 9.5 years have been held in the Paris/Versailles region with exception years in Madrid, Brussels, Trier(Germany), and now Pluvigner in the Morbihan breton. The Christmas dinner or the menu de Noêl is a wonderful family dinner that many can recreate in many restaurant all over France just with a special menu for the occassion.  Here we eat oysters, salmon, rooster, leg of ham, roast pork as the main dish, depending on the region; with the famous Bûche de Noêl dessert , or Christmas yule log as best translation can find in English.

Some of the places to be part of it in Paris that we have particularly enjoyed were:

Chez Françoise, Esplanade des Invalides  Aérogare Air France,  rue Robert-Esnault-Pelterie if you come on foot or rue Paul et Jean Lerolle if you come by automobile, 75007. webpage: https://chezfrancoise.com/

Cuba Compagnie Cafe,48 blvd Beaumarchais ,75011. Webpage: https://www.cubacompagnie.com/

Restaurant La Gare,19 Chaussée de la Muette  75016 .webpage: http://www.lagare-paris.com/

For a New Year’s meal and party I love the memories on these ones:

The Revéillon at New Morning club is fantastic, 7-9, Rue des Petites Ecuries, 75010. webpage: https://www.newmorning.com/

In addition to those above, I had like the Blue Elephant thai food par excellent in Paris. at 43-45 Rue de la Roquette Paris 75011. webpage: https://www.blueelephant.com/

I love this one and in the news for the sad events of terrorism in Paris, it has come back. The best events in my opinion, was held at the Bataclan, 50 bd Voltaire, 75011. All starts from 21h45 until 06H, several packs available. DJ sexy show, dancers, lights, confettis,dance floor of 1000 sq meters, with giant screens all over. Wonderful place for many years .webpage: https://www.bataclan.fr/

Le Ciel de Paris, 33 Avenue du Maine, 75015.  at the 56th floor  Tour Montparnasse with wonderful views of Paris! webpage: http://www.cieldeparis.com/fr/infos-pratiques.html

If you prefer the compounds of a hotel surrounded by history of France, then I suggest the Westin Paris Hotel, 3 Rue de Castiglione, 75001. metro Concorde or Tuileries lines 1,8,12. Here servers were dressed in grand Siécle or century style with dresses from the times of the 17C and 18C accompanying each dish, and music of the times. This was the old Intercontinental hotel I was based there to cover all of France for IHG. It is now name the Westin Paris Vendôme part of the Marriott chain. webpage here: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/parvw-the-westin-paris-vendome

At the other property , we had the Le Grand Intercontinental and the Café de la Paix, unique, wonderful, still is. For the New Year’s Day or January , the Cafe de la Paix (decorated by Charles Garnier... ) offer an exceptionally great buffet brunch from 11h to 17h call brunch gargantuesque. Rose champagne and small dishes tapas style created by the Chef. For the kids a special place will be reserved with accordingly portions. Of course, read it is under renovation and open early 2021. webpage: https://www.cafedelapaix.fr/fr/

Another memorable spot was the Les Pavillons des étangs, 50 rue de l’Etoile, 75016. From 20h to 05h. Les deux étangs will open the door exceptionally  in a monument historic of Paris with a majestic park,  400 m² of dancefloor, 300m² of winter garden, 600m² of green garden heated area,a decorated chalet, 2 bars, space VIP  ,and a vast free parking. webpage: https://www.pavillonsdesetangs.fr/

And of course why not talk about my beloved Versailles, where the great ice skating ring was always an event and still does. Next to the Hôtel de Ville , it was opened  from November 23 to January 6 2013 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays,and Fridays from 14H to 19H and on wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10h-12h and 14h- 19h. During school vacation it was opened every day from  10h-12h and 14h-20h.

There were many events from chocolate making to theater playing at Monpensier theater, and the town is fully light up for the season, magical indeed. The district or neighborhoods will be the events of Noël aux Carrés Saint-Louis (Cathedral St Louis side) usually from  December 15 and 16 from  10h to 19h,  the merchants will have a real Christmas market or marché de Noël  with oysters, food and entertainement.

And yes! my district had the Noël  in  Notre-Dame (my old home!!) events at  place Charost , December 15 and 22, musical entertainment outdoors by the rue de la Paroisse on Dec  22 and 24 .  Noël in the district of  Montreuil : music of Noêl by rue de Montreuil with customs dresses and snow man as well as Noêl arriving in carriage on the 22 December.

For the serious side of Christmas there were a Christmas Mass held at Eglise Notre-Dame (the collegiale) Dec 24 at 18h, 20h, 22h. Dec 25 at  10h30, 18h30. Inside the chateau at the Chapelle Royale, Dec 24 at 22h ,and at the Cathédrale Saint-Louis, Dec 24 at 19h, 22h15  awaiting and mass at  23h, and December 25 at 11h.

My favorites restaurants such as Au chien qui fume, 72 Rue de la Paroisse 78000; always had  a special menu . Webpage: https://www.lechienquifume.com/

And our all time favorite Christmas, New Year’s or otherwise was the Le Boeuf à la Mode ,4 rue au Pain 78000; webpage: https://www.leboeufalamode-versailles.com/

For the comfort of visitors and Parisiens alikethe public transport system was always opened for extended hours and FREE!! this was usually from Friday December 31 at 17h to Saturday january 1 at 12h (12 midday).  This includes all bus, trains, trams, or RER in all of the Ile de France region not just the city of Paris but all its region.  Most metro stations will remain open until 02h15 (2:15 am), and some like the lines 1,2,4,6,9,and 14  will remain open all night until 05h30 (5:30am) . The Noctilien night transport service will be adapted to go in extra renforcement of needed areas of the SNCF/RATP system all night from 0h30 (12:30 am) to 05h30 (5:30am). Check for this year, schedules at official webpage: https://www.ratp.fr/en/visite-paris/english/visiting-paris-and-its-surrounding-areas

In my new area the festivities are less, at Auray , at the historical Chapelle St Esprit ,Place du Four Mollet,  they had a Christmas market or Marché de Noêl , for several years. Usually, Friday December 14 from  10h -19h, Saturday December 15 and Sunday December 16 from  10h -19h. Many artisans artist will show their work with gourmet ,food,and gifts displays for the season. Webpage: http://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/auray/chapelle-du-saint-esprit/tabid/8474/offreid/7e87038d-cd73-49e0-a688-32991827b894

And there you go a sampler, historical but repetitive, looking forward to 2020, and hope things will be better than now with the virus. The period is special and hope it continues to be this year. Best wishes for all

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

October 23, 2020

San Sebastian/Donostia, Basque country!

Ok this is an oldie from when started blogging and would like to give it fresh text as photos are already in my blog. Must be my new look, writing a book and no pictures lol! Anyway, hope you bear with me and enjoy the post on San Sebastian Spain or Donostia Euskadi.

One of the most lively cities in Spain, rich in Basque tradition and close to the French border;you can’t ask for more. The city is well connected to Madrid and Barcelona as well as Paris. Capital city of the province of Gipuzkoa. From the 1914 it was built up following Haussmanian architecture as in Paris. That is why is so beautiful…!

How to get there is best from major cities by air to the San Sebastian airport, about 20 kms from the city. bus network Lurraldebus E21 Hondarribia – Airport – San Sebastián (Plaza Gipuzkoa) takes you there and back regularly from Plaza de Gipuzkoa. By train from the Estacion del Norte at Paseo de  Francia, and for local transport use the local basque system Euskotrain from train station de Amara at Plaza Easo. By road, take the N-1 from Madrid dir Irun or from Paris take the A10/ A63 direction Irun. Parkings in the city best at Zurriola beach, Parking Txofre at Segundo Izpizua,26 underground and safe close to all on foot.

The railroad station was done in 1864 inspired by Gustave Eiffel, and the city grew out into the neighborhood of Zurriola, now a nice beach area. You have the old section or casco Viejo wedge between the harbor and the river Urumea ,the area was rebuilt from 1813 after a fire previously devasted it. Here you find the center of the city and people watching in the Plaza de la Constitucion, the Church of Santa Maria del Coro , and the Monte Urgull or hill with a Christ on top plus the ruins of the castle Castillo de Santa Cruz de la Mota.

On the beaches side you start from Monte Igueldo to the beach or playa de Ondarreta, very fashionable , to the more popular Playa de la Concha, and between them the palace or Palacio Miramar built in 1889 ,the summer residence of queen Maria Cristina. Finally reaching the aforemention beach or Playa de la Zurriola looking up the third hill in the city that of Monte Ulia.

Some of the sights to see here are, the Museo de San Telmo at plaza Zuloaga, a large museum in a former monastery underneath Monte Urgull. It has many basques tombstones from as far as the 15C with items typical of the area including paintings by famous basques from old to the newer Ignacio Zuloaga.  Palacio del Mar, paseo del muelle, 34, basque architectural design to house the aquarium opening in 1828 as the headquarters of the Guipuzcoa Oceanographic Society. It has an unique collection of marine life from the local waters.

Monte Igualdo, has an attraction park at the top built in 1912,with all rides and sights. There is a cable car. Monte Urgull ,has a lot more such as the aforemention aquarium, the Bateria de las Damas as it was an old fort with cannons, Bateria Gobernador with a children section in its old cannons grounds, the aforementioned Castillo de la Mota built in the 12C now in ruins but still parts of it visible. The English cementary or Cementerio de los Ingleses in honor of these soldiers who died helping Spain in 1813 from Napoleon’s troops. Church of San Vicente, one of the oldest in town, Club Nautico, or Yacht club, the Museo Naval or Navy museum,. You have the Plaza de la Constitucion, as built in 1722 it was a former bullfight arena, city/town hall, and library, now its the center of it all. Plaza de la Trinidad, where the famous international film festival takes center stage.

Casino Kursaal, yes a real casino by the main artery Boulevard, at the old section of town for a bit of luck and some relaxing time. Really for adults only Kutxa espacio de la ciencia, a Science museum just outside the city, with a planetarium, you get there from city center bus 35 which took once. The famous International Film Festival is a happening needs reservation well in advance but once to it you will be back, its a happening in the city, I yearned to go back again.

Two building that is worth mentioning to step inside at least is the Hotel Maria Cristina ,the regent queen of Alfonso XII, And the other being the Theater Victoria Eugenia, from 1912 it has carried the artistic expression of the city and its beautiful inside as outside. The people seeing is best off Boulevard the grand artery along the bay, this gets you into many side streets of old world treasures and shops, plus great restos and bar, walking is a must here, you will see more.

For shopping you can do some along Boulevard to calle Legazpi left or at Calle Mayor right or a bit before left on Garibai Kalea street. By plaza de Gipuzcoa do not forget to have a mouthful of Basque pastries at the bakery Pasteleria Barrenetxe.  My favorites over the years are , Casa Alcalde in the old section at calle Mayor near pl de la Constitucion .Another good one is Bernardo Etxea, by the sport/fishing club near playa de la Concha, and Juanito Kujoa, sublime cellars type resto, great service,and excellent seafood ,doing it good since 1947 at Calle Puerto,14 toward the fishing port from plaza de la Constitucion,many family memories here!

Hope it helps discover this wonderful city of San Sebastian, that I would love to visit again once the situation allows it. Memories of my beloved Spain! Hope you enjoy the book post like a black and white photo dream on!!

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

October 22, 2020

Some news from France, CCCXVIIII

And things are moving right along with the new trend covid19 and the fears eminating from governments without telling you the real story. I have contracts but will tell you briefly as some information is already surfacing. Oh yes the weather is cloudy, cool in my neck of the woods and looming colder now at 12C or about 54F. In our eternal Paris;;;; it is 16C or about 61F.

On this past Wednesday October 14,2020; the government of France had taken a new step by imposing a curfew in Île-de-France region and in eight metropolitan cities . The measure, implemented since this past Saturday, then concerned the Paris Ïle de France region but also Grenoble, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Montpellier, Lille, Saint-Etienne, Rouen and Toulouse. From Ile-de-France and eight cities since last Saturday, we go to 54 departments this Saturday. The other departments that are on this constraints are the

Seine-Maritime, Hérault, Haute-Garonne, Bouches-du-Rhône, Nord, Rhône, Loire, and Isère. In particular, there are Ain,   Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Ardennes Ariège, Aube, Aveyron, Bas-Rhin Calvados, the Sud Corsica, the Côte d ‘Or., Drôme, Gard, Haute-Corse, Haute-Loire, Haute-Savoie, Haute-Vienne, Hautes-Alpes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Ille-et-Vilaine, Indre- et-Loire, Jura, Loiret, Lozère, Maine-et-Loire, Marne, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Oise, Pas-de-Calais, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrenees -Atlantiques, Pyrénées-Orientales, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vaucluse. Added to this list is an overseas territory, Polynesia.

The rules are the same, all should be close between 21h and 6h for 4 weeks, maybe 6: Only certain reasons are exempt like coming home from work, arriving from a long trip, taking your dog out can be waived, provided that you have a correctly completed derogatory certificate. The “rule of six”, sucha as not to meet with more than six persons for private events (dinner with friends, birthday party, etc.). The news is that across France, the occupancy rate of Covid patients in intensive care is 44%. Nevertheless, 50% of intensive care patients are under 50 yrs old. Regarding screening, there is a rise from 1.1 million tests to 1.6 million tests per week in 15 days,these according to the current government figures.

You know it all started in Wuhan China? yes it seems many has already forgotten this small detail… The first news was that it came from an animal etc, and we /I saw the Chinese army forcing people into their homes there as well as initial doctors who spoked were taken off the radar never to be heard again. Well there is a biological warfare laboratory there P4 maximum security, it is said to be done with French technical help in 2015. There was a leak and the rest is the Wuhan virus oh no it was called coronavirus and then to be more politically correct its the covid19 now. Well one virologist from Qingdao (see my post ) did escape thru Hong Kong and now in the USA. Her name is Li-Meng Yan. More info:  https://www.foxnews.com/world/chinese-virologist-coronavirus-cover-up-flee-hong-kong-whistleblower

I know this is not travel news but the situation is so critical now we need to speak up the truth. Hope it helps you understand.

In more travel related and back to my blog there are some news in France to tell you all.

Where can you find exceptional chocolates, high quality smoked salmon, rare spices, spirits or artisanal aperitif biscuits? Very often, they are sold exclusively in the 4000 or so delicatessens in France (yes indeed!!). To promote these passionate merchants and producers, the professional magazine “Le Monde de l’Épicerie fine” has created the “Epicures”, the equivalent of the César, an event which is in its 7th edition. The winners and picking just some at random are for the grocers, Mademoiselle Amande, in Vincennes (Val-de-Marne 94) was awarded the Epicure of the Year 2020. Another award-winning brand, born from a joke between friends: the “French Federation of the aperitif ». With its points of sale in Paris and Lille and its online store. This federation for laughs offers wines, beers, cold meats, spreads and other chips made in France, everything for a successful aperitif. In terms of artisans, among those who won gold, we can cite Lissip, a Parisian producer of fruit syrups without additives, distinguished for its syrup with ginger, apple and hibiscus; the Saint-Christophe cannery, in the Bay of Somme, for its delicious mackerel rillettes with bitter beer; Café Pfaff, a Parisian roaster, for its “house blend”; or the Biscuiterie du Fort Bloque, Ploemeur , Morbihan, for its buckwheat and spirulina shortbread.

The residents of the avenue de Breteuil go to war against the Wall for Peace memorial. Deconstructed from the Champ-de-Mars to make way for the ephemeral Grand Palais, the controversial monument must be located on avenue de Breteuil 15éme arrondissement. On the spot, petitions, appeals and criticisms fuse to stop this move. Paris of today!

When the city/town hall calls on Parisians to give their idea on the transformation of parking spaces, the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry wants to make the voice of the business world heard. The President of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI), launches an appeal to economic players. He invites on Twitter business leaders, traders, artisans and all those who bring Paris to life “to make concrete proposals on professional mobility in a changing world”. It should not be that only Parisians who do not have a car and represent 50% of the population answer the questionnaire launched by the city/town hall of Paris. Economic actors who need to travel by car must also provide their opinion on the issue. Bien sùr Paris!

Unveiled with great fanfare last week, the new metro line 14 train has not carried passengers since. This new metro only carried passengers once, the time of an inaugural return trip between Olympiades and Saint-Lazare. Since then, its commissioning has been delayed. Oh yes public transport like this and roads are closed !!

And not enough the train users between Oise (dept 60) and Paris are “on edge”.  TER train users deplore a continuous deterioration of the service, in particular on the “Picard Y” line where the regularity of trains is deteriorating. Trains late, canceled … The daily life of train users between Oise and Paris can be painful. It’s been like this for a long time but nothing is done, for public transports!!

In Paris ,the museums, online booking is gaining ground. The success of the exhibitions devoted to Danish painting at the Petit Palais (8éme) and Coco Chanel at the Galliera Palace (16éme) is such that these two institutions – whose capacity is limited to 200 people – now require online reservations.  Currently, the Petit Palais and Galliera are exceptions to the rule in force at Paris-musées (an entity bringing together the 14 museums of the City of Paris: museum of modern art, Balzac house, etc.). In order not to exclude people who do not have Internet access, they do not impose online booking but recommend it. Visitors who do not reserve in advance should expect to queue, possibly not being able to enter if the gauge is full. Of course, you are better off buying ahead to all these places of tourist interest in France.

A giant solar power plant will be built in the visitor parking lot of Disneyland Paris.  It will be one of the largest sites in Europe using solar panels, on 17 hectares above the parking spaces. When complete in 2023, part of the installation will even feature a Mickey Mouse head visible from the sky. By 2023, the project will have 17 hectares of photovoltaic shade houses and 67,500 solar panels. That will look good to the local politicians lol!

The museums no longer let their funds sleep in their basements, they are devoting more and more exhibitions to these previously invisible works. This is good because I can tell plenty is there! The Pont-Aven Museum has during the lockdown, Internet users were able to draw around thirty works online out of the 2,000 stored. This joyfully participatory operation gave rise to the exhibition “Reserve, open up!” , Which opens on October 17. until   January 3, 2021. Indeed a very nice museum see post in my blog.

And this is it for now folks a short one and a hot one. Hope you enjoy your travels whenever and wherever you can. Keep Safe !

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

October 22, 2020

Some news from Spain XCVI

And things are moving right along with the new trend covid19 and the fears eminating from governments without telling you the real story. I have contracts but will tell you briefly as some information is already surfacing. Oh yes the weather is cloudy, cool in my neck of the woods and looming colder now at 12C or about 54F. In my beloved Madrid;;;; it is 13C or about 55F cloudy and raining.

In the Interterritorial Health Council today Thursday, the agreement has been clear: except for Madrid and the Basque Country, which have abstained, all communities want to restrict night mobility to stop the coronavirus, so they are in favor of the curfew, However, it is still necessary to clarify the legal instrument for its application, specifically if a state of alarm is necessary, so before the final approval of this measure (at a future meeting), a legal consultation will be made. In any case, the one who will finally decide whether to resort to the state of alarm will be the Government.  I just heard on Spanish TV, that Valencia community and Castilla y Leon have asked the rules to be enforce immediately. Of course a bit slower here…

You know it all started in Wuhan China? yes it seems many has already forgotten this small detail… The first news was that it came from an animal etc, and we /I saw the Chinese army forcing people into their homes there as well as initial doctors who spoked were taken off the radar never to be heard again. Well there is a biological warfare laboratory there P4 maximum security, it is said to be done with French technical help in 2015. There was a leak and the rest is the Wuhan virus oh no it was called coronavirus and then to be more politically correct its the covid19 now. Well one virologist from Qingdao (see my post ) did escape thru Hong Kong and now in the USA. Her name is Li-Meng Yan. More info:  https://www.foxnews.com/world/chinese-virologist-coronavirus-cover-up-flee-hong-kong-whistleblower

I know this is not travel news but the situation is so critical now we need to speak up the truth. Hope it helps you understand.

We start the low cost route through Spain in Cáceres, which this autumn is positioned as one of the cities where it is cheaper to spend the night according to the ranking prepared by the Rumbo travel portal based on the offers available on its website.

The tour continues in Lugo, where the average cost of a hotel night for a couple is 57 euros. It is time to discover its Roman vestiges such as the wall, the bridge or the hot springs of this Galician city, as well as its Episcopal Pazo, its Cathedral or its Town Hall. We jump to Andalusia and, specifically, to the Cadiz province in  Jerez de la Frontera, where you can find offers like this one: 204 euros for four nights for two people. A perfect getaway to launch into wine tasting in its many wineries and enjoy a show at the Royal School of Equestrian Art. Jerez is known for a reason as ‘the city of the horse’. Of the Spanish cities on the beach where it is cheaper to spend the weekend, one is Cartagena, which offers packages of two nights for two people at a cost of 76 euros. The trip to the Murcian city has to include a visit to the Roman theater, as well as to the Sea Wall ordered by Carlos III or the National Museum of Underwater Archeology ARQUA.

The Castilla-La Mancha capital of Toledo is always a good destination, since in few places you can find the cultural richness it offers, having been the confluence of three religions, the Christian, the Muslim and the Jewish. Also, few people know that the Cathedral of Toledo is considered the second richest church in the world after the Vatican Cathedral. Spending a night in a hotel is around 93 euros. The list continues in Ávila to enjoy its medieval and Romanesque architecture this fall at a bargain price: 105 euros for two nights for two people. It is time to rediscover once again its walls, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, as well as the old town and its churches outside the walls. Aragon is also a good destination for an autumn getaway at a good price. And especially cities like Teruel, the city of famous lovers and Mudejar art par excellence with examples such as the church of San Pedro, which is well worth a visit. Beware of this offer: two hotel nights at 116 euros for three persons.

We follow the route in Valladolid, which was the capital of Spain for five years in the 17C and a stone’s throw away from cities like Madrid by AVE fast train. Anyone who wants to mark a gastronomic tribute based on garlic soup, roast lamb and chorizo omelette paired with the best wines of the land can do so by staying in a hotel at an average price of 240 euros for two nights for three people. The Valencian town of Gandía not only receives countless tourists during the summer, but its pleasant climate also allows you to enjoy it in autumn and winter. If it is also at an affordable price such as two nights at 132 euros for two people, the reasons to visit it multiply. Its beaches, its restaurants, its Doge’s Palace or its Archaeological Museum are waiting.

And affordable desserts not just for the Real Madrid CF team but for you too.  The tarta de queso or cheese cake that has conquered the Real Madrid CF dressing room. It goes that Alejandro González Cordobés always threw pastries, largely due to the influence of his English grandmother, who taught him to appreciate good sweet. Part of the success of his cake is in the ingredients: Pata Negra eggs from Cobardes y Gallinas, excellent butter and cheeses from small suppliers. Many clients repeat and that is always a pride. Among them, there are some Real Madrid players. Lucas Vázquez or Álvaro Arbeloa are some of those who have blown candles with it with their Instagram followers as witnesses. Free publicity for a project that starts. There are more teammembers in the list, but Alex prefers to be discreet. For now, the orders (26 cm of cake for 40 euros) are made by his instagram profil: @alexcordobess. Also from the traditional cheese, it also makes artisanal white chocolate and a mixture of milk and dark chocolate.

The Museo Picasso Málaga exhibits one of the lesser-known facets of Pablo Picasso: that of a ceramist. Until December 31, room XII of the Palacio de Buenavista hosts Dialogues with Picasso. Collection 2020-2023, a sample composed of 19 ceramics that the brilliant painter made between 1931 and 1962. Installed in the south of France, it was between 1946 and the end of the 60s when Picasso delved into the art of ceramics, which later It was a great artistic discovery. Among the exhibits are colorful clay plates illustrated with the heads of goats, human and faun faces, jugs in the shape of owls or insects, plates, tiles or bricks. The exhibition includes three paintings that he carried out during the same period ,and the La Californie Drawing Notebook, a publication with twenty-two drawings in Chinese ink, pencil, graphite, charcoal and gouache on vellum paper, made by Picasso at Cannes in 1956. This is exhibited in digital format and is mostly portraits taken in the La Californie studio or notes from nature. Museo Picasso Málaga; Palacio de Buenavista. Calle San Agustín, 8. More info here: https://www.museopicassomalaga.org/

And about those octopus or pulpos or even better pulpitos! A Galician delight very much in vogue in Madrid. These are some good ones to recommend.

Lùa of Manuel Domínguez, chef from Orense ,the embassy of Galician cuisine in Madrid is from O Carballiño (where the best Galician octopuses are eaten), from a family of pulpeiros and pulpeiro himself. So with these wickers your octopus a Feira is one of the essentials in Madrid. It is made in a traditional way, with extra virgin olive oil, a mixture of spicy and sweet paprika and coarse salt. Price: 20 euros.

La Pulperia de Victoria is only a few meters from Puerta de Sol, in this modern establishment that, despite its urban air, does not lose the atmosphere of a Galician pulpería, the production of the pulpe is quite a spectacle. Following the original tradition of and it is served, on wooden boards, seasoned with La Vera Denomination of Origin paprika and virgin olive oil for16.50 euros. They also prepare it on the grill for 18.50 euros.

Without a doubt, octopus is one of the reference products of this house, known as La Troya, which after almost 55 years of history in Madrid continues with its commitment to traditional cuisine. And there they continue, unalterable to time and fashion, two of their hits: octopus a feira (you know, with oil, paprika and coarse salt) and Galician style. Price: 22 euros the ration.

When strikes out events you find a replacement of equal importance. Dance arrives this season at the Teatro Real by the hand of one of the greatest Spanish creators: Antonio Gades. The coronavirus has prevented the hosts of the Munich Ballet from traveling to Spain to offer their version of “Giselle”, as planned (as told in previus some news from Spain), and the Spanish company, which has been grounded for the same reason had to cancel a performance in Baden -Baden, will take its place with the lesser-known work of that fertile pairing that Antonio Gades and Carlos Saura made: «Fuego». It is a ballet created in 1989 from the film “El amor brujo”, signed by both four years earlier. “Fuego” was commissioned by the Châtelet theater in Paris, where the play premiered on January 26, 1989. Spanish audiences had to wait twenty-five years to see “Fuego.” The premiere took place in July 2014 at the Teatro de la Zarzuela. More on the Teatro Real and Fuego here: https://www.teatroreal.es/es/espectaculo/compania-antonio-gades

The ninth Caixaforum of Spain is progressing as planned within the huge Agora designed by Santiago Calatrava in the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. With its 10,000 square meters, it will be one of the largest, together with Madrid, when it opens to the public in the first quarter of 2022, if the deadlines are met. And, probably, it will also be one of the most spectacular due to the size of the building, which reaches a height of 70 meters in height, and because of its whale skeleton shape. Official webpage waiting for Valencia to be added: https://caixaforum.es/es/home

And there you go folks, short and hot just for your thinking mind. Hope it helps you understand and enjoy the news of Spain. Stay safe and best wishes for all.

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

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October 22, 2020

Madrid,the bulls of San Isidro!!!

Ok so this one is out of the cowwebs of my blog very early on. I decided to give it some fresh update as it is an important event in the life of Madrileños, the folks from Madrid. I love while living there and always try to catch it as much as I came.

I would like to tell you about an event in Madrid that is tops. The Feria de San Isidro, honors the city patron saint, with many activities not the least the corridas at Las Ventas Monumental plaza.

In my early teens, I lived not far from there, at Calle de Alcalà Street, and was a regular to all of them, even did some tries at rajonero, the man in the horse,but was too young and not enough time to pursue it, and my Mom was afraid….Metro lines 2 and 5 runs by it, and it is just next to the M-30 road.  Now I go at least once a year to Madrid, and it is always like the first, awesome! Waiting to be back!!!  The area is full of color, local ones, not too many tourist as they only if at all visit the plaza and leave. So much to soak in the real Madrileño spirit, and Spanish, to know the real Spain. This is my small five cents worth on it,hope you like it.

First of all, the Feria de San Isidro is already named of community interest meaning its part of the culture, and protected by government laws.  The conduit of the Feria and the participation of the bulls have rules established from the 18C very precise to avoid what some today might call animal abuse. However, the animal is the best protected of them all!!!  This is a favorite pastime in Spain dating back to the 15C, and Madrid has the most event of any region. The Madrid area counts with 90 bulls of Lidia race ranches with 14000 hectares or about 34580 acres. The locaties in the community of Madrid with the most activities are  Colmenar Viejo, El Escorial, Guadalix de la Sierra, Aranjuez ,and  Soto del Real.

A bit about San Isidro, he was born in Madrid in 1082 and died there in 1172, tradition tells us that San Isidro made a spring gush out water while ploughing the land, at the same spot, a  chapel was built ordered by Empress Isabel in 1528, after Prince Felipe drank water from the well and was cure. Later , Baltasar de Zúñiga, Marquess of Valero, built the current day hermitage, with a single nave and a dome. San Isidro was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, at the same time as Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Teresa of Avila, and Philip Neri. In 1811 the Sacramental Cemetery San Isidro was built on the apse, the cementary is located at paseo Ermita del Santo, 78 in Carabanchel just across river manzanares from the former Vicente Calderon Stadium, nearest metro is at Marques de Vadillo,line 5.

On May 15 the patron’s day, at the La Pradera de San Isidro (or san isidro meadows) a pilgrimage is done which dates back to shortly after the death of the Saint. By noon, the Royal Collegiate Church of San Isidro host the Grand Mass ,after the Eucharist the bishop of Madrid makes his way to the meadow,and blessed the water from the well.  In the afternoon, the image of San Isidro and his wife, Santa Maria de la Cabeza (also, a Saint) , are paraded through the streets, from Calle del Sacramento to the Plaza de la Villa, via Calle del Cordon. Nowdays the procession is change a bit as from the 19C on many buildings are done by the river Manzanares, and today there is the Madrid Rio promenade. The pilgrims would leave the city via Cuesta de la Vega and Calle de Segovia singing and praying along the way.  On arrival at the chapel, they would attend mass and kiss the remains of the saint, contained in an 18C shrine. They would then drink water from the spring as tradition still holds true today.

You can visit and already posts in my blog on them the favorites of mine

You can then visit the Museum or Museo of San Isidro (see post), popularly known as the Casa de San Isidro or house of San Isidro; located at Plaza de San Andrés, 2;  metro Latina,line 5 or Tirso de Molina ,line 1. Tradition has it that this was the house of the Vargas, gentlemen of San Isidro, and the saint lived and died here. The building was constructed in the 16C, and you can see the original water well there.

To visit the Church or Basilica of San Isidro,(see post) also, known as La Colegiata from its early days as part of a Jesuit college acted as a substitute cathedral from 1885 until the completion of the Almudena. Designed in the style of the Gesu in Rome, and built in the 17C, it shelters the remains of Saint San Isidro and his wife, Saint, Santa María de la Cabeza. Located at Calle Toledo,37, same metro connection as museum Latina or Tirso de Molina.

Then, we move to the bulls, the Monumental at Las Ventas  (see post) is Spain most important bull ring (with some contest from Maestranza in Sevilla), built in 1931  for 25 000 spectator capacity of mudejar moorish architecture. Located at Calle Alcala, 237 metro Ventas line 5; there is a small museum in the back very interesting history of bullfighting. Museo Taurino is the name. The first corrida for the Feria of San Isidro took place on May 15,1947!

Mad plaza de toros monumental aug16

There you go folks, a brief overlook at this wonderful monument and great history of Madrid. Hope you have read my posts on them and do come in for a visit when in my beloved Madrid.

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

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October 22, 2020

My restaurants and bars of Madrid!!!

This is a daunting task as there is so much good choices. However, as in Madrid will love to share my past culinary adventures with you all. Reminder, some of these have already a post in my blog, this is a revision of a much older post.

First,the cheapest and quickest way to eat in Madrid or Spain for that matter, is at the bars and cafés that serve tapas. You have to check that some bars more of the pubs style do not serve food. Family runs places like Ventas, Posadas, Mesones, and Fondas all old words for different types of inn serve inexpensive sit down food so look for their names.

Second, eating habits are way different than anywhere else I have notice in my travels outside , the breakfast is two (desayunos) ,the first is light meal of biscuits toasts,coffee with milk or cafe con leche, butter or jam ; then the second is more substantial between 10h to 11h,there you may have a bocadillo (sandwich) with sausage,ham or chorizo or cheese or a tortilla de patatas (potato omelette),fruit juice, coffee or beer. Then by around 13h some will start to have a drink at a bar then by 14h you sit down for the Almuerzo or lunch which is the main meal of the day. The  Merienda follows by 17h30 to 18h with some pastries ,sandwiches or cakes with coffee,tea,or juice as well as snacks like churros (fried batter sticks). By 19h bars are crowded with folks having tapas with sherry, beer or wine. The dinner or la Cena  begins by 21h ,and sometimes in summer service begins earlier for tourists. Spanish families tend to eat even later, I have had dinner as late as 23h30 start time!

Some bargains can be had by choosing the platos combinados or mix dish or the menu del dia, menu of the day. The platos are given in less expensive places  as the menu of the day is more formal. Some expensier places offered nowdays a menu de degustacion or tasting sampler menu. The menu in Spanish is call the la Carta.  All places welcome children who are the king/queen there,and if ask will offered smaller portions for them. For paying you say La Cuenta por favor or the bill please. Tipping is not obligatory and the service charge is enough included in the bill, however, I always tip a small amount and if one of my regular places as much as 5% extra.

Now let’s get to the details and tell you of my favorites over the years.

La Bola, calle de la Bola 5, the best cocido madrileño in town, stew dish from Madrid. Resto goes back to 1870. http://www.labola.es/

Casa Patas, Calle Canizares 10, tapas bar and flamenco, the best of both worlds. http://www.casapatas.com/

Casa Ciriaco, Calle Mayor 84 tel +34 91 548 0620; near the Royal Palace and known for a great gallina en papitoria (chicken with eggs and saffron). https://www.casaciriaco.es/

Botin, Calle de Cuchilleros 17, oldest restaurant in the world from 1725; traditional Castilian roast lamb and pig.  https://www.botin.es/

La Barraca, Calle de la Reina,29; Valencia style paella, first class one of my family favorites. http://www.labarraca.es/

Casa Paco, plaza Puerta Cerrada,11. great cebon de buey thick juicy steak forever Lol!  https://www.casapaco1933.es/

La Taberna del Pescador, Calle Manuel Pombo Angulo,18, the fish is king here, seafood galore freshly done, the owner is a fisherman lol!  tel +34 917 504 794. metro Las Tablas near autopista M40 beltway of Madrid. No confirmation if still open, to check.

Casa Mingo, Paseo de la Florida,34 near Principe Pio. Asturian ciders and more open started from miners from Asturia, the real thing in Madrid. Many anecdotes here with the family and friends over the years. webpage is at http://www.casamingo.es/

Las Cuevas de Luis Candela, calle Cuchilleros 1, Castilian and roask suckling pig at its very best in wood oven. A family tradition going back to my grandparents that I continue with my wife and boys. http://www.lascuevasdeluiscandelas.es/

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Casa Alberto, calle de las Huertas, 18. Castilian good for years and years since 1827. Another favorite really ! http://www.casaalberto.es/

L’Albufera at Melia Castilla hotel, not often hotel restos but this one was different. Capitan Haya 45, Cuzco. Valencian cuisine and rices galore !  https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/spain/madrid/melia-castilla/albufera.htm

Cafe Gijon, Paseo de Recoletos, 21 ;One of the classic for literary discussions and a light meal over a drink talk with friends, one of my meeting places in Madrid. tel +34 915 215 425; Metro Colon line 4. https://www.cafegijon.com/

Café de la Opera, calle Arrieta 6, in front of Teatro Real or royal theater. Excellent and refine, opera style, they sing lol! https://www.elcafedelaopera.com/

Florida Park, inside the Retiro park, spectacles and fine dining with a show, the very best, and very nostalgic. Way back in my youth this was a community center where dances were held, now if you had a girl you could come here . I did ::) And after some ownership changes it is back strong with several layers of choices in the new Florida Retiro.  https://floridaretiro.com/

Asador de Aranda, castilian at its best and still going strong, at Plaza de Castilla 3 and other locations in the city,and elsewhere in Spain.  My spot here: http://asadordearanda.net/es/content/madrid-plaza-castilla

Cafe de Oriente, one of the traditional and a nice area. Plaza de Oriente 2, near Opera and royal Palace.  http://cafedeoriente.es/

Real Cafe Bernabeu in the magnificent best Real Madrid Santiago Bernabeu stadium, with full view of the field. Metro Santiago Bernabeu line 10, can’t missed it as a long time Madridista, for lunches is tops. And now full renovation of the stadium will be even better!now only catering. https://realcafebernabeu.es/

Posada de la Villa ,from an old posada or inn of 1642. exquisite. Calle de la Cava Baja,9 http://www.posadadelavilla.es/

Taberna del Capitan alastriste.Calle Cava Baja,9  La Latina, try Chuletadas al Capitan or chops of the captain, delicious. http://www.tabernadelcapitanalatriste.com/

Los Galayos, Calle Botonera 5, plaza Mayor, the Madrid of yesteryear ,doing it here since 1894.http://www.losgalayos.net/

Marisqueria Ribeira do Miño, Calle Santa Brigida ,1.Best seafood fresh and daunty, with a great ambiance always until very late. And one of the best meeting places of Madridistas (Real Madrid followers)  Galicia in Madrid.  http://www.marisqueriaribeiradomino.com/es/des-752-inicio

Cañas y Tapas, the best beer place with the locals in mind and modern. Several in town, the Vaguada shopping center ,a great reprive from all those shopping attack by the family. Other locations as well. Always  great ambiance.  https://www.canasytapas.es/restaurante/c-c-la-vaguada/

VIPS, the best cafeterias in Madrid for a quick bite and soft landing on your money, several all over town. I have been coming here since at least 1990. Last was at Calle de Alcalà 200 across from Las Ventas Monumental bullring. More on VIPS here: https://www.vips.es/

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Cafe Restaurante El Espejo, paseo de Recoletos, 31/another institution on a well travel road, my first taste of Madrid with my new wife back in 1990 and one of our sure stops always after that date. You wont go wrong here while watching Madrid walk by you on Recoleto that continues north passing Plaza de Colon towards Castellana and then south to Cibeles fountain and plaza.  http://www.elespejonouveau.com/carta/

Asador de la Esquina, another Real Madrid institution at the stadium by door 44 ,and ave Concha Espina 1. Exquisite Castilian with great cuts of meat.  It is closed due to the virus and renovations in the Santiago Bernabeu stadium but will be back even better! http://asadordelaesquina.es/

Pasteleria Mallorca, has the best pastries in Madrid for years…lately it has gone into restaurant too, the one at Calle Serrano 6 is a dandy not to miss. The store at Puerta del Sol sell its pastries yummy too. https://www.pasteleria-mallorca.com/listado-de-tiendas

La Giralda, calle Claudio Coello, 24, metro Retiro. Andalucia in Madrid. other locations in the city. Great pescaito frito or fry fish. http://www.restauranteslagiralda.com/

Mercado de San Miguel, plaza de San Miguel metro Sol, great for tapas and old ambiance of Madrid. This is a must one time to see a landmark of Madrid, and then evenings is great for tapas and take home.  Events every week for tasting of different tapas and wines. http://www.mercadodesanmiguel.es/

El Pescador, Jose Ortega y Gasset, 75 the great Madrid seafood place always good. Another Galician beauty in Madrid. http://www.marisqueriaelpescador.net/

Pinocchio, Italian at excellent value and great ambiance at Calle de Sànchez Bustillo,5  metro Estacion del Arte (former Atocha) Metro line 1. https://pinocchio.es/

El Rodizio, when I want to go back to Brazil, this is it. great cuts of beef here,and with samba ambiance lol! Calle Medea 4, just cornering Calle Alcala out of city center a bit but easy on metro line 5 Suanzes, my neck of the woods for non tourist area too. Now under a new concept of Guanabara El Rodizio , Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/GuanabaraMadrid/

Taberna Antonio Sanchez, founded in 1830 by a torero of the same name who died in 1964. painter Ignacio Zuloaga had paintings here. Calle Meson de Paredes,13, metro line 1 Tirso de Molina. tel +34 91 539 78 26. no webpage but by now on many press clippings. do not missed the rabo de toro or bulls oxtails stew yummy. http://www.tabernaantoniosanchez.com/?lang=es

TGIFriday’s, the American in Madrid, an old time favorite of mine, and conveniently located at the Esquina del Bernabeu Real Madrid complex first floor. ave Concha Espina,3. This is now gone due to renovation of the Santiago Bernabeu stadium however, there is a nice we have been too at Calle Virgen de los Peligros corner with Calle de Alcalà 21, Metro Sevilla and Sol, near Puerta del Sol:  https://www.tgifridays.es/restaurantes/fridays-peligros

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Cerveceria Los Timbales, Calle Alcala 227.metro Ventas Line 5. a bullfigher delight next to the Monumental, and a hangout of old. very richly decorated and great ambiance in the evenings.  https://www.restaurantelostimbalesmadrid.com/blank

Chocolateria San Gines, Pasadizo de San Gines,5, near Puerta del Sol, a must as it is nostalgic for me, my mom used to take me there when as a kid love those churros dip in hot chocolates ,yummy. An institution if now too much touristic. Metro Sol line 1,2,3, cercanias train. https://chocolateriasangines.com/

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Museo del Jamon, Gran Via 72; metro Plaza de España line 2,3,and 10. And my latest at Atocha and carrera de San Jeronimo, photo . https://museodeljamon.es/en/historia-del-museo/museo-de-atocha/

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Many many others of just passing and stopping, Madrid has more per sq km than any other city in Europe.  Hope you try them and see for ourselves, the good life of Madrid. Buen provecho, vale. Enjoy it.

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

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