Archive for December 23rd, 2020

December 23, 2020

The State of Sao Paulo Brazil!

And I got to update this one too, is a big long as took me thru a few towns in the State of Sao Paulo where the main same name city is located in Brazil. I had the opportunity over the years to visit many many times the country and once even lived there in the State of Paranà, learning the language. I would love to tell you about these towns in the State of Sao Paulo, Brazil!

I am back here , as by now every year since 1994! This is inland Brazil, a place hardly ever visited by visitors, and really come on , this is the real Brazil. I am lucky to be back in the State of Sao Paulo.

I told you my travel woes in previous post, so here just tell you that landed at Guarulhos Sao Paulo airport and headed to the hotel in back country Descalvado!  Many natural wonders here to go deep into the forest I stay in town across from the Church Nossa Senhora do Belem (c 1883)  and the restaurant that feeds me always Churrasqueria Cabana.

The hotel Descalvado dates from 1888 and the only one in town; simply the best lol!  A bit of history on the mayor’s office tells us that the town came to be by 1809, and the name come from the Morro de Descalvado or hill of Descalvado, more in Portuguese here: http://www.descalvado.sp.gov.br/novoportal/prefeitura/index.php/portal/historia_desc

The Hotel Descalvado is very basic but clean and great family service with a good breakfast right in the park city center:downtown; webpage: http://www.descalvadoonline.com.br/hoteldescalvado/apartamentos.htm

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Across the street from the hotel you have the Church Nossa Senhora do Belem: a nice Church with a double tower front and nice decoration but simple inside. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/senhoradobelem/

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I eat at the usual and very good Churrasqueria Cabana right across from the Church and Hotel.  You take your food and weighted at the counter ,than go to eat and pay on way out. All kinds of meats and fish, entrées, and dessert wash down with good brahma local beers.  Here is their page in Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cabanachurrascaria/

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Another day we visit a new place just started by a young couple to serve home made beers in a steakhouse , this is Baro steakhouse and brewery right in city center Descalvado. The food , service and of course homemade beers were great, to be revisit and good luck with the business: more in Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/barosteakhouse/

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In other opportunities visiting this area I had my dinner with friends at choperia Caneçao in Descalvado, cuts thin slices of beef and breaded seafood with nice chopes or beers in the terrace right next to the road, nice ambiance, relax, and friendly service.  The Chopperia Ze  Rissi, amongst others all were good. The food was good, nice prices, and great local company and service in all.

On the way by car from Descalvado to Paulinia we passed by a secondary road where we saw a replica of a Spanish castle of Almansa very nicely done see photo. More on their Facebook page here : https://www.facebook.com/casteloalmansa/

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The first time in Paulinia I stayed at the Ibis hotel in city center. My hotel was under renovation but the French chain is very good. Webpage: https://all.accor.com/hotel/3054/index.pt.shtml

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I went again over to Paulinia and this time stayed at a different hotel than last time here.  The town is name after farmer and farm owner Paulino Nogueira, one of the owners of the farm or  Fazenda do Funil, that was in the current cities of Paulinia and Cosmopolis.  The town mayor’s office is here in Portuguese of course; tells you a bit on its history. webpage: http://www.paulinia.sp.gov.br/historia

There is big nature trails here and an ecological park. As doing trips back and forth ,on the way back late at night stay on the rodovia 332 in the now Hotel Victoria Convention. This is a very nice spacious hotel and rooms with a very good restaurant where I ate dinner of meats cuts and beers with coffee rather nice. More on the hotel here: https://www.vitoriahoteis.com.br/hotel-convention-paulinia/

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We criss cross the state of Sao Paulo amongst these cities and one more town where I ate was at Ribeirao Preto on the resto Moinhos Grill , a churrasqueria where the meats are pile up on you without stop unless you ask ,and the drink of a cold beer was heavens on the road.  The town has many theaters including a nice one Teatro Pedro II opera house and natural parks as well. The main road we took by here is the sweeping nice road Anhanguera Highway (SP-330).  Very much make a stop on your way around here at Moinhos you will be delighted real food real people in country Sao Paulo. More on Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jpsteakhouseribeirao/?rf=261080490656777

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Closer to Sao Paulo city but on the outskirts I did some shopping in the Atacadao  hypermarket (part of Carrefour France) ,near the airport at Guarulhos; here is more on the shopping hypermarket: https://www.atacadao.com.br/lojas/

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Driving around for more shopping we went to another  Makro  Hypermarket (part of a Dutch group)  around the same area and here we had lunch at its good restaurant Comandaia; these are always found attach to one of the hypermarkets;  all real people real Brazil experiences.  The hypermarket webpage: https://www.makro.com.br/quemsomos

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We even got close to the Guarulhos airport but no time to leave yet ::)! In between on the road, the wonderful rest area with restaurant like Frango Assado (roast chicken) are great. Again you weight the food you take and pay on way out. Great buffet and clean bathrooms. webpage: http://: http://www.redefrangoassado.com.br/endereco

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I am putting here the tourist site for the Sao Paulo State but do not think these smaller cities will be there ::)    http://www.visitbrasil.com/en/estados/sao-paulo/

Brazil as well been there so many times and including periods of 3 months at a time so always enjoyable to be back and this time meeting again a friend that ocean and distance has kept us with little communication. However, what are friends for, it proves the real one, stays with you forever no matter where you are. Hope you like the post and do visit!

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

December 23, 2020

Plougastel-Daoulas, remember the name!

Again, updating an older post of a surprise town for us. So much that later on when my twins were celebrating their birthday , they asked to come here to do it! Plougastel-Daoulas, remember the name! And we do!!!

Plougastel-Daoulas is full of tradition, and the only town in Bretagne where stepping into a bistro you can hear Breton language been spoken! The location of the Bistro de Plougastel restaurant is 1 Place du Calvaire  29470 Plougastel-Daoulas, this is at city center next to the Church of Saint Pierre, cant missed it. This town has magic!!!

For desserts we just walk around the Church to the Boulangerie/Pâtesserie/Salon de Thé Mulliner on 5 Rue de l’Église. Here we had several sweets and sodas, such as belle hélene, trois chocolates, etc all for 2€ each and serve on the table! Recognise as the best in Plougastel-Daoulas.

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You come in on the N165 expressway and take exit 33A to centre or city center/downtown. there is parking in there easy to find always around the Church/Calvary unless service is going on. We wanted to see the area well took a night at a local hotel. We stayed for a night cheaply and convenient off the N165 at the Ibis budget hotel ( these were the old Etap hotels of same group) off the Ti ar Menez artisanal zone and just outside Plougastel-Daoulas. Webpage: https://all.accor.com/hotel/5042/index.en.shtml

In town by the above restaurant, you have a nice convenient small supermarket , Cocci Market , 9 Pl du Calvaire, very popular here that we take advantage in small towns for convenience to buy groceries. However, just off the expressway N165 you have a bigger E Leclerc hypermarket , closer to the hotel zac ty Ar Menez. We ,also, went in the evening.

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The first that you see is the Church of Saint Peter or Saint Pierre rising above the place de l’église, monumental front and great belltower. The Church was built in 1870 amazingly new for French timelines and was destroyed during the bombings of 1944. It was rebuilt as it is today in 1950. The current Church was rebuilt in cross–shaped, style with a recessed Spire, a nave of five bays with aisles, a crossroad with lantern and wing at the center of which there is a choir, then another nave with three bays with aisles terminated by a right chevet. The Church of the 19Ct has retained a beautiful retable of the Rosary (dated 1654-1656) and topped by an altar the tomb of 16C . The modern altar, made with marble of Mayenne dedicated in 1957. There is a path of modern cross and the baptismal fonts from the 12C. The church houses a statue of St. Peter and a Pietà. (see post).

Right behind it or to the side as you wish ;lies the Calvary or Closed Parish. This is a tremendous beautiful gorgeous magnificent calvary that is a must see even passing just for it is good. My best in the region simple yet detailing of such love and history of Christ. It was first built in 1602-1604 and restored in 1860. It was originally done to bear thanks for the eradication of the black death épidémies of the region; the original date is Under the statue of Christ. It has 171 statuettes giving life to the calvary. the frieze is decorated with a multitude of bas-reliefs depicting the life of Jesus Christ. There is the Nativity, the flight to Egypt, the Last Supper, and the washing of the feet. The great drama of the passion then unfolds in an army of actors among different groups of statuettes. One is the one depicting the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ in Jérusalem. It is old done in kersanton granite stone dominated by three large crosses in the center.  Destroyed during the period of the terror (French revolution), it was restored again after the liberation after been damaged during the siege of Brest(WWII). (see post)

There is a story here that, I like to tell .  John Davis SKILTON, was an American Lieutenant that help rebuilt the calvary after WWII. He was part of the office of civil affairs of the US Army that was based at nearby Plabennec, and the war brought him to Plougastel by the end of August 1944 . He was an Arts adviser back in the USA, and sensitive of the damage caused by the war of these magnificent monuments. He helps in its restoration.  His first act was to collect all the pieces of Arts of this work, and guard them . He went on to served at  Vittel, then Germany, where he helps return to France 18  wagons full of art work stolen during the war . Promise to come back and help rebuilt the Calvary, which he did. Go Yanks!

Right in the place de l’église and to the side of the Church you see the fountain of the imagery or Fontaine de l’Imageur. This fountain is indeed rich in symbols, evocative of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela(St James/St Jacques).  However, beyond the symbols carved in granite and bronze for any other reason, the story of this fountain tells of Saint James in several ways rendering honor to those artists, painters, sculpteurs who built these calvaries, retables etc.

And of course, as in all these trips , we need to eat. We came back to our favorite where we have held our twin boys birthdays and the folks are really friendly; even setting up a table for us in the middle of the square or place de l’église overlooking the wonderful Church Saint Peter/église St Pierre. Le Bistrot de Plougastel resto we had our mussels and fries and fish and chips with tall glasses of Royal Beer (pints) for 18€ per person.

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And we came back the next day. This is the place where the chef prepare for us their favorite dish, Poulet Yassa, its chicken in a macerated sauce with spices,lemon,and small hot peppers from Senegal, Africa, that the Breton chef brings in himself. The food is fantastic for my sons all love it. We the adults had fish and chips and salmon, with scoops of ice cream strawberry, vanilla, and caramel salé with whipped cream, coffees and teas. Of course , we began with an aperitifs of Kir of cassis, cerise that is blackcurrants and cherries flavors with white wine, I had my usual porto rouge or red porto. We dined with a bottle of cider from the local Manoir du Kinkiz, superb natural local product. All for 21 euros per person.

And as all I am told the Le Bistrot de Plougastel has closed down early this year!!! and is now there the La P’tite Ardoise. I guess good things don’t last as they should. Here just for the wonderful memories.

Un official webpage on the history of Plougastel-Daoulas by native son very well explain in French: https://www.plougastel.com/histoire.php

The Brest metropole tourist office on Plougastel-Daoulashttps://www.brest-metropole-tourisme.fr/decouvrir/actualites/plougastel-daoulas-45120

The tourist office of Bretagne on Plougastel-Daoulas et al. :https://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/brest-terres-oceanes/presquile-de-plougastel-and-daoulas-abbey/

There you go folks a memorable spot on our lovely Bretagne. We wanted to be back when the virus struck so looking forward to come back and see the changes in Plougastel-Daoulas in neighboring Finistére dept 29. Hope you enjoy the story as I did.

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

December 23, 2020

London ,a cosmopolitan city!

This is again my black and white series of updates on older posts. I have several with pictures in my blog already. I have heard of the city from neons ago, but only was able to visit once living in France. My first trip was a business conference and then many more and family trips. Hope you enjoy London as I did

Its one of the World’s glamour cities,home of the British so British, expensive said some, but all darn worth it. I have been coming to London for 8 years straight on business trips, and finally made it with the family last July. And then more business trips and another family trip.

We made this family trip by car from Versailles, drove up the A16  exit/sortie 42 to terminal de Calais, get on the big Eurostar train car loader under the bay and reach London Earl’s Court in 7 hrs total time door to door. The return was just as easy coming from London and getting on the Eurostar in Folkestone, M20 road exit 11A. The usual road guides are helpful but today we have the GPS for planning from any location. It is best to pay the crossing ahead of time online, this secures best placing on the trains,easy out,and no delays.

The Eurostar webpage: https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/

Once in London Earl’s Court area the site of our apartment the entry on the A4 road is very easy and well marked. You are just outside the congestion zone so no need to pay this outrageous fee  which has gone up from my time 8 pounds to now 15!! just for giving you right to use your car in central London!! Anyway you only needed to get to London,as once there the Tube or underground or metro or subway is the best way to travel and on foot, of course. You are smart to secure parking online ahead of arrival as onsite it can be as much as 36£ while if done reserve online is only 16£ !

More info on the congestion zonehttps://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/congestion-charge?intcmp=2053

Underground/metro as well as other types of transportation is the official city site here: https://tfl.gov.uk/plan-a-journey/

If staying for a few days, more than a week, or intend to visit the city in the near future a few times, you can opt for the Oyster cards, they are good reusable, rechargeable, and very convenient. I still have mine. More info here: https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/entry.do

For auto parking garages, there are several but with the family using the car I stay at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Center parking  (now call Olympia)   Once here its very easy to get on the metro/tube/subway at Earl’s Court as they have the District Line and the Piccadilly line into all areas of London easily done. !Update: Difficult to keep up with changes but the exhibition centre is close, all activities move to Olympia but the parking off the area is still possible; just follow this link on the webpage to follow “If you need to secure a space for your van, lorry or car please click the book parking LINK. https://olympia.london/visiting/getting-here

For accommodations you can look into the city of London tourist office for guidance the choices are endless. For families I suggest the by owner apartment flats as the one in Earls Court Studios was excellent, the owner and family lives just above us, and was there for help and chat all the time, a great way to inmerse yourselves into the British lifestyle! Webpage: http://www.earlscourtstudios.com/index.php

The choices for food and sightseeing are endless, and as I said, the people are very friendly all over. After trying some English grout at Courtfield Pub,187 Earls Court Road;  we head to our tex mex par excellence Chiquitos, Leicester Square;  some good old fashion burgers at Gourmet Burger Kitchen behind St Paul’s Cathedral ,in addition to our own shopping at Tesco supermarket Kensignton West Cromwell store for in house eating and the time was well spent by all. These shown in other posts.

As for things to see, well again its a city to walk and be marvel in history. I have been to so many but with the family we visited the St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, London Bridge, Victoria & Albert museum, Imperial War Museum, Kensington Palace (L Diana memorial), Hyde Park,  Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square , Piccadilly, Big Ben and saw Buckingham Palace as it was closed for a private event, Ripley’s Believe or Not, and Harrod’s store.

Other stores my teen kids enjoy the most were the Forbidden Planet for mangas and video games etc, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue just off Leicester square.

The city of London tourist office has plenty more of additional information to help you plan your trip. Webpage: https://www.visitlondon.com/

All in all it is always comforting to come here, now the kids like it too so more plans are in order for next year.Hoping for better travel times in our current world. Have a jolly good time in so British London!

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

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December 23, 2020

My visit to Napoleonville or Pontivy!!!

Again, need to update this one close by and many family visits. There is so much around here to tell and Pontivy is one of them. And yes it used to be call briefly Napoleonville for you know who! Let me tell you about my earlier visit to it.

I have my day off as bridge or pont here due to the Holiday of Ascension so enjoy the ride into inland Morbihan. Pontivy for a while was called Napoleonville due to Napoleon I affinity for the town. It is just up the alley from our house on road D768.  One of my sons worked here for a while so we were in the area driving around and decided to pay a visit.

We walk around the town reminicent of the places we have been, doing some shopping in bakery  Inside Intermarché supermarket , and apéro drink in Le Rivoli bar cafe on Rue Nationale.

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We had a wonderful lunch at resto Le Martray, pl du Martray on 32 rue du Pont, just so good we book for next weekend again. Fish in crustacean sauce, bavette or steak in poivre sauce, half bottle of muscadet white wine, ile flottante dessert, coffees, and apero like porto red all for about 21 euros per person, and the service like at home. Webpage: https://www.restaurant-le-martray-pontivy.fr/

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We walked along the Blavet river on the quai d’Arcole especially and came into city on the back of the Imperial Church of St Joseph (église Impériale de Saint Joseph); (see post) néo gothic from 1860, It was built while visiting by Napoléon III under an imperial subvention, the crowning arrow was not finished so square top on the belltower seen today. In our timing it was closed but it is open  every day from 14h to 19h except Tuesdays and dates of events.

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We, then, walked over to the other one, Church or Basilica (since 1959)  of Our Lady of Joy (église  Basilique Notre Dame de la Joie) , (see post) this is a nice one and again was open at Place Bourdonnay-du-Clézio . Built in the style neo gothic flamboyant,the statues of  Notre-Dame de la Joie, sculpture in a trunk of oak wood and of  Notre-Dame de la Délivrance, revered by the pregnant women are two wonderful sights to see inside.

Nearby the latter one, you find a small Chapelle of Saint Ivy or congrégation of the chapel of St Ivy ;member artisians were many here since 1734; chapel rebuilt in 1776 and place at Place du Marché au Blé.  Completely restored from 1984-1989.

There is a very interesting monument by the Basilica ND de la Joie,on the small park with a fountain. This is Le Monument de la Fédération Bretonne Angevin setup in 1896 here in honor of the volunteers of 1790 who fought for the French Republic  with the motto, « Ni Bretons, ni Angevins, mais Français. » or Not Breton, Not Angevins, but French.

A bit of history I like

Well our famous Napoléon Ier wanted to give this time more notoriety in central Brittany, at the time with only 3000 inhabitants . The idea during peace a center of great commerce and during war a military important stronghold.  From the year brumaire XII or November 9, 1804 it received the name of Napoléonville.  All is arranged to make this a model city with new architecture whereby the first stone was put on August 12 1807 in his presence.  It had large avenues and beautiful gardens,and many streets were name on imperial figures . An imperial high school or secondary school was created in 1808 , the the 3rd high school in Brittany after those of Rennes and Nantes This school recruits from the area of Morbihan and  Finistére .  The district of the cavalry was finished in 1811, the house of detention in 1813,the mayor’s office in 1834, the department government building in  1839 , and the justice building in 1846.  With the monumental buildings which responds to the huge bourgeoises mansions.

It is in his speech to the nation of 1806 Napoléon Ier, written upon his order talks about Pontivy/Napoleonville here translated:

“In Morbihan, Napoléonville (Pontivy. It is in Pontivy, in a green and rural site that Bonaparte would have liked to install the administrative heart of Brittany. The beginning of the XIXth century thus saw being built, to the south of the small medieval city. remained intact, a modern city, tertiary and military which was to take as name Napoleonville. The fall of the empire was going to muddy the waters by reducing the project, but there remains a large rectangular place, wide rectilinear avenues intersecting at right angles, huge buildings, beautiful barracks, and … the Nantes-Brest canal)”

The source is the official History of the Consulate and Empire, the entire text to the Nation is here: http://www.histoire-empire.org/correspondance_de_napoleon/1806/etat_de_l_empire_1806.htm

The town asked to be called Bourbonville after the first Restauration  1814-1815, and takes the name of Pontivy after the return of king Louis XVIII ,later it comes back to be called Napoléonville under Napoléon III. From  1870 the town regained the current name of Pontivy. Which of course in Breton is Pondi.

The tourist office of Pontivy community or agglo area on its heritage: https://en.tourisme-pontivycommunaute.com/Discover/Visit-Pontivy

The tourist office of Bretagne on Pontivyhttps://www.brittanytourism.com/destinations/the-10-destinations/heart-of-brittany-kalon-breizh/pontivy/

The city of Pontivy on its heritage: https://ville-pontivy.bzh/decouvrir/histoire-patrimoine/

We came back home to relax as tomorrow is another weekend, and Sunday I am leaving for Brazil for a week of work. Stay tune. Enjoy your weekend !!!

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

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