Archive for October 12th, 2020

October 12, 2020

Mérida of Mexico!!!

Here I go again with some nostalgia in my blog. Well, the main reason I started my blog back in Nov 2010 was to expose my life and travels in it. This along with some wonderful moments of family and friends over the years since birth. That is paris1972-versailles2003 , saw Paris for the first time in 1972 and came to live in Versailles permanently in 2003, a life story.

I have been to Mexico several times and travel from north to south of it. However, this time was special. I had new family marrying to Mexican in Mérida, Yucatàn, Mexico!!! So therefore, when the opportunity arose to visit Mexico city on one of my business trips, took advantage to take a flight to Mérida and see the family. We still talk about this event!

There now lives my aunt, sister of my dear late mom Gladys and my cousin and husband. So it was a pleasant trip indeed. Memories forever at Mérida , who would have guess it!!!

merida going to Evy house sep18

As I had a nice weekend to do something extra and know that I have family living in Mérida, Yucatàn for several years now took the opportunity for a visit. Online got me a ticket on Interjet airlines of Mexico. Their webpage here: Interjet airlines

The flight took off from terminal 1 at Mexico airport to Merida airport for an easy landing and getting out. The airport webpage is here: Mérida airport Asur main page: Official Merida airport site

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Here the flight was easy and comfortable and had my cousin waiting for me at the airport to take me to her house. I had the inmense pleasure of seeing cousins and aunt that had not seen in person for several years, and we all had a great time. I was able to finally go out to do some shopping and restaurants as well as eating a real meal at a home away from home!!!!

However, let me tell you a bit of the history I like as by now a habit of mine, can’t visit without knowing the place!

Mérida ,call the white city is the capital of the state of Yucatán. It is  located about 30 km from the coast, south of the Gulf of Mexico and north of the Yucatán Peninsula near the epicenter of the Chicxulub crater. The ancient Tiho, or Ichcanziho, which means city of 5 hills was one of the main cities of the Maya province of Chacán. The Spanish conquistador Francisco de Montejo (son) , founded there on January 6, 1542 the city of Mérida.

Mérida is a stopover, even a privileged place to stay, when visiting the Yucatán peninsula. The Dzibilchaltún site is 17 km to the north. In August 1993, Pope John Paul II visited the city on his third trip to Mexico. The city has hosted two bilateral treaty conferences between the United States and Mexico, the first in 1999 (Bill Clinton & Vincente Fox) and the second in 2007 (George W. Bush & Felipe Calderón).

Some of the nice places to walk and see and admit not seen it all, more for a next time. These in my opinion and from local exchanges, the Plaza de la Independencia. This square, also called Zócalo , represents the historic center of Mérida. Very quickly, you will be struck by the imposing San Idelfonso Cathedral built with stones from the ancient Mayan temples of T’ho. The Casa de los Montejo, the oldest building in Mérida built in 1542. It was once the home of the city’s founding father, Francisco de Montejo. This mansion belonged to the Montejo family until the 20C. Today, it houses the Casa de la Cultura, a museum dedicated to exhibiting the objects and furniture of the former owners. The street Paseo de Montejo is lined with luxurious mansions and a number of colonial-era buildings. These are now used as Mérida’s most prestigious hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues. On the Paseo de Montejo stands the largest monument in Mérida,  Palacio de Gobierno is, as its name suggests, a palace that houses the government offices of the state of Yucatán. Know that you can visit part of this palace. For a local museum, head for the Museum of Anthropology and History of Yucatán located in the Palacio Cantón.

This is a private site that can tell you a lot about Yucatàn in general and Mérida in particular , even if thinking of moving to live here! https://yucatanliving.com/destinations/the-neighborhoods-of-merida

In Merida, I visited a couple of big shopping mall. The smaller and older was Plaza Altabrisas, here you have Docker’s, Adolfo Dominguez, Tommy Hilfiger, C&A, Sears, Game Planet, old favorite Radio Shack, and a big hypermarket Soriana, which is very good with huge selections too. They have many old favorites to eat such as Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen ice creams, Chili’s and IHOP as well as Subway and a nice local one El Fogoncito. Great for the whole family; more here: Plaza Altabrisas Merida

merida-altabrisas-shopping-mall-arriving-sep18

merida-altabrisas-shopping-hall-sep18

It was the closest to my family so we headed for breakfast at one of my all times favorites IHOP! I had a wonderful breakfast with my cousin, and it was just like the old days. IHOP is tops and you should try them anywhere! I had the sausage omelette, toasted bread, pancakes nature with strawberry sauce just wonderful. More info here: https://www.ihopmexico.com/sucursales/ihop-merida/

merida altabrisas shopping IHOP breakfast sep18

merida-altabrisas-shopping-ihop-dining-room-sep18

Another one even bigger than above and recently open is La Isla at Merida. An artificial island that is why the name la isla, the island. It is at  Plaza la Isla Cabo.  For starter one of my old favorite Osh’Kosh children store, Calvin Klein, Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, another big Cinepolis cinema and a games exchange place we enjoyed in Spain and name CEX; old favorite eateries such as Krispy Kreme, a nice irish pub MaCarthy’s with a nice terrace and an upper level bar Distrito Gourmet with sports TV screens, and a lineup of drinks of all sorts. More on the shopping center here: http://www.laislamerida.mx/

merida-la-isla-shopping-arriving-sep18

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While at it, we started actually at street level of La Isla shopping center and try some pints at McCarthy’s Irish Pub with some fries on cheddar cheese delicious, only we needed to go as the electricity went out lol! More here: http://www.laislamerida.mx/directorio-act/mccarthys-irish-pub

Go down of page on official site, and find the McCarthy’s Irish Pub at La Isla: http://www.mccarthyspub.com.mx/find-us.php

merida la isla shopping macarthys irish pub entrance sep18

merida-la-isla-macarthys-irish-pub-lights-out-sep18

We had wonderful drinks on another day, with nice modelo negra beer at Distrito Gourmet Bar upper level of La Isla shopping in Merida. Cold ones and relaxed ambiance while watching American football, and baseball at the same time on separate screens TV’s. Here is more on it! http://www.laislamerida.mx/directorio-act/distrito-gourmet

And their official webpage for Distrito Gourmet Bar is here: https://www.distritogourmet.mx//distritos/plaza-la-isla

merida-la-isla-district-bar-beers-counter-sep18

While indulging on the nice beers of the District Gourmet above, we ordered paella from the Tasca Brava just across and it was rather nice dish with good portions and wonderful views and company of my cousins. So new not yet in the directory but is there alright. This one did not make it,no longer there but keep it for the memories , always nice to remember! There are actually a brand name of Distrito Gourmet, here is more on the Tasca Brava: https://www.distritogourmet.mx//locales/la-tasca-brava

merida-la-isla-shopping-tasca-brava-paella-sep18-e1562502836640

As usual on these encounters, the trip back was sad but life goes on, my family is all over even if all came from the same little town in Havana. The trip back was on Interjet as well landing at Terminal 1 in Mexico city airport. Here was just a transfer to my international flight back to France on same terminal with Air France.  And of course, same routine of landing in Nantes, this time my car was waiting to get me home!

merida-depart-airport-b2-sep18

Hope you enjoy the story , and share the moment with me. Family is family no matter where we are. Mérida is nice and now family there too !!!  And ,remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

October 12, 2020

Brazil, and Fortaleza!!!

Ok so going over my posts realised many were done in a general way with few details of things to see. I am revising the text with some new and some old photos in my blog. I like to tell you a bit more of my passing by Fortaleza in the north east of Brazil.

I went to the North East area covering a vast terrain of over 600 kms from Natal to Fortaleza and surrounding areas. I went thru Sao Paulo Guarulhos airport connecting to Natal and then by car on the road!!! wonderful all the way to Fortaleza and a bit more. I will post something on Natal and then Fortaleza.

Fortaleza is the capital of the state of Ceará, in the North East region of Brazil.  Its name derives from Fort Schoonenborch, built by the Dutch during their second control of the region between 1649 and 1654. It is located along of the Atlantic coast, with a total of 15 beaches and 34 km long including Iracema beach and Meireles beach.

Iracema Beach is one of the most frequented places with its bars and some historic buildings such as St. Peter’s Church, Estoril and the English Bridge, as well as art galleries and the Dragão do Mar of Arts and Culture. It is also here that fishermen and surfers meet. In the square of Meireles is the avenue Beira Mar, which ends in Mucuripe. It has the largest concentration of hotels in the city as well as the city’s most important craft fair.

This is ok now to tell you a bit about the history of Fortaleza ,that I like

The Potiguaras, indigenous people  that come from Fortaleza. They probably populated part of the coast, with probably other tribes belonging to the Tupis group.  Before the colonization of Ceará, there were two passages of European fleets in Fortaleza. Spanish navigators Vicente Yáñez Pinzón and Diego de Lepe landed on the coast before Pedro Alvares Cabral’s voyage to Brazil. Pinzón reached a place believed to be Mucuripe, and Lepe landed at the mouth of the Ceará river in Fortaleza. These discoveries could not be formalized due to the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 (separated lands between Portugal and Spain ).

The beginning of the occupation of the territory where Fortaleza is located today dates from 1597-1598, when a branch of the Potiguara ethnic group that inhabited the region around the Fort of the Kings migrated and settled between the banks of the Coco and the Ceará rivers, in the Pacatuba and Maranguape valley. From 1603, the Portuguese began to colonize Ceara. The Portuguese Pero Coelho de Sousa arrives at the mouth of the Ceará river. In 1631, the Dutch tried to take Fort Saint-Sébastien, but this joint action with the Potiguara Indians failed. In 1637, they finally managed to take the fort, always with the help of the native populations. In 1644, Fort Saint-Sébastien was destroyed by the Indians. The Dutch are killed or expelled. In 1649, a new Dutch expedition, commanded by Matias Beck and negotiated beforehand with the Indians, allowed the construction of Fort Schoonenborch on the banks of the Riacho Pajeú. This is the event that triggers the beginning of the history of Fortaleza. In 1654, with the withdrawal of the Dutch, the fort was renamed Fort de Notre-Dame de l’Assomption. In 1812, the fortress of Our Lady of the Assumption, was rebuilt, replacing the remains of the old fortress of the same name. (see my post on the fortress).

A bit more on the fortress here: http://www.visitfortaleza.com/travel/fort-nossa-senhora-assuncao.html

Between 1943 and 1945, the WWII affected Fortaleza, which hosted the Special Service for the Mobilization of Workers for the Amazon (SEMTA) and two American bases at a base in Pici and the base in Cocorote.

I hit on Fortaleza on my road warrior ways in the northeast. A big city meaning Fortress, and there is one nice with canons looking at the sea,and now a military fort (see post). Right around it you have the Passeio Publico or public park nice , and across the great Mercado Central or market with multi layered floors almost like a shopping center/Mall!! with the best prices in town, get some cashews the local favorites or Cajù. Next you have the wonderful Cathedral Metropolitana, (see post).

These are mentioned in my blog so just give you their webpages for reminders of things to see here:

The Passeio Publicohttp://www.abcdeferias.com.br/passeio-publico-a-praca-mais-bonita-de-fortaleza/

fortaleza parque public statue may16

The Mercado Central market: http://www.mercadocentraldefortaleza.com.br/index_en.html

forta mercado central side may16

The Metropolitan Cathedral: https://www.visitbrasil.com/attractions/metropolitan-cathedral-of-fortaleza.html

forta cathedral left side may16

Its airport is Pinto Martins International Airport. It is located 6 km from the city center. Fortaleza is Brazil’s closest state capital to Europe, with 5,467 km separating it from Sagres in Portugal. During World War II, the airport was used by Allied forces. It was at this time that a second airstrip was built. The official webpage here; https://fortaleza-airport.com.br/en

forta airport departures may16

You have Le Cirque Amar circus that comes every year, nice event indeed, love them, can’t help putting it here: right next to great mall shopping Center Iguatemi.  Not far from here I stayed at the nice Comfort Hotel, central to all!!! Nice room and great views as well at Meireles beach. More info here: https://www.choicehotels.com/en-uk/ceara/fortaleza/comfort-inn-hotels/br010

forta iguatemi shopping ctr entr may16

forta comfort hotel arriv blvd may16

And we had a great lunch at Coco Bambù, another great seafood restaurant I love it. shrimp and fish cobia dishes were sublime indeed recommended by locals and now to you must eat here: https://restaurantecocobambu.com.br/

forta coco bambu resto parking may16

forta coco bambu resto shrimps may16

At Iracema beach, we were part of the celebration on the ousting of a President (Lula) ! peaceful and very democratic an example to follow for many countries. Here we had our dinner with beers and fish dishes at Boteco Prai right next to the beach in the center of it all, great place must be there. More info here: http://www.botecofortaleza.com.br/

forta iracema beach bar boteco entr may16

forta iracema beach bar boteco to beach may16

My last resting place lol!! can move here too, was at Praia de Langoinha (see post) or langoinha beach, a town by the beach, lovely. I stayed at the Vivamar Hotel right on the beach. We ate here too a combi of shrimp and fish cobia that was sublime while looking at the wonderful beach below us. The rooms face the sea too. More info on the hotel here: https://www.vivamarhotel.com.br/

Praia da Lagoinha vivamar hotel may16

Praia da Lagoinha beach front vivamar hotel may16

The tourist office of Brazil on Fortalezahttps://www.visitbrasil.com/destinations/fortaleza.html

And I ended this wonderful trip flying out of Fortaleza airport  to Sao Paulo airport and then to Paris CDG. Took the RER B train to gare du Nord and then Metro line 4 to Montparnasse for the TGV train  home to Auray. A bit long but used by now to get out of Bretagne!.

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

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October 12, 2020

Brazil, this is Natal!

Ok so going over my posts realised many were done in a general way with few details of things to see. I am revising the text with some new and some old photos in my blog. I like to tell you a bit more of my passing by Natal in the north east of Brazil.

I went to the North East area covering a vast terrain of over 600 kms from Natal to Fortaleza and surrounding areas. I went thru Sao Paulo Guarulhos airport connecting to Natal and then by car on the road!!! wonderful all the way to Fortaleza and a bit more. I will post something on Natal and then Fortaleza.

Natal is the capital of the State of Rio Grande do Norte, situated at the edge of the Atlantic ocean in the Nord-Est region. The airport I landed here is the Greater Natal International Airport in São Gonçalo do Amarante about 30 km or 19 mi from Natal. This I came on Lantam airlines ;the airport site is here: http://www.natal.aero/en/voos-online/domestico/

natal airport going out may16

I proceeded to the hotel, the Holiday Express hotel by Ponta Negra beach area, very nice the beach across and great views! the hotel is here: https://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/gb/en/natal/natar/hoteldetail

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While moving around in the area by car, we ate at the wonderful Camaroés restaurant in Natal, recomm always of locals. shrimp is the name of the restaurant and you know why when you eat them here. Simply awesome in a bed of rice and cheese. More info here: http://www.camaroes.com.br/en/

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I like to inject a bit of history I like on Natal.

The first Portuguese expedition took place in 1535 with the aim of colonizing the lands. Before that, the French had already arrived here to smuggle brazilwood. And that was the main reason for the failure of the first attempt at colonization. The Potiguares Indians helped the French to fight the colonizers, preventing the Portuguese from settling on Potiguares lands. On December 25, 1597, a new Portuguese expedition, this time led by Mascarenhas Homem and Jerânimo de Albuquerque, arrived to expel the French and regain the captaincy. Finally, the town of Natal was founded on December 25 1599, Christmas Day which is why it takes the name from the Latin Natale (birth).

Many attacks later and even the Dutch domination, in 1633, the routine of the village that is beginning to evolve was totally changed. For 21 years, the fort was renamed Fort Kenlen and Natal Nova Amsterdam. With the departure of the Dutch, the city returns to normal. Due to its privileged geographical position, it is the point of the Americas closest to Europe, in WWII, served as a military base for North Americans, gaining airs of international metropolis, definitively transforming Natal and the city had its name known to millions of citizens around the world.

The tourist office for Natal is here: http://turismo.natal.rn.gov.br/simb.php

Some of the nice things to see here which even to castle lack pictures but worth coming back for them in my opinion are the Natal Dunes State Park considered the second largest urban park in Brazil. The Cashew of Pirangi the biggest cashew tree in the world. In 1994, it entered the Guinness book as the tree which covers the largest area, 8,400 square meters! The above mentioned fortress or Forte dos Reis Magos or Fortaleza dos Reis Magos is a medieval fortress that was the first milestone of the city, founded on 25 December 1599 on the right side of the bar of the river Potenji; which today near the Newton Navarro Bridge. The Newton Navarro bridge is one of the highest bridges in Brazil and has over a gorgeous sunset seen from Potengi River.

We then took a long road trip by car up towards the north, passing wonderful towns like Parapaiva, Aracati, Mossoro, etc. One nice highlight of this trip is going to Canoa Quebrada, here we stayed at the Long Beach Hotel , great villa type place very quaint in a back road off the beach, this was tops for a rest right next to the beach as well! More on this superbe hotel here: http://www.longbeachcanoa.com/en/?page_id=11

canoa quebrada long beach hotel front may16

canoa quebrada long beach hotel patio to rooms may16

And while, in town, why not sample some of the local foodies! Walking down Broadway towards the beach it is full of shops and restaurants, we stop of course at Café Habana bohemia, nice quaint and great shrimp cafe habana house dish! This is a local site but believe closed by now, so check. Just here for the memories!!! More here: http://www.portalcanoaquebrada.com.br/canoa_quebrada_restaurante_cafe_habana.html

canoa quebrada cafe habana dining may16

The Brazil tourist board on Natalhttps://www.visitbrasil.com/destinations/natal.html

And there you go , nice to have Natal better explain in my blog. Wonderful road warrior experience on the roads of the North East of Brazil! Memories forever!! Hope you enjoy the post on Natal.

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

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