Archive for February 4th, 2021

February 4, 2021

Oporto, Lisbon, Portugal 1-2 punch!!!

And as said many times, the road warrior goes into Europe and this time Portugal. This was a memorable trip done by friends and by car!! Lovely one two punch of Portugal, that is Porto and Lisbon! Hope you enjoy it as I ,and thanks for reading me over the years! I will do this one on my black and white series of posts!

Another short but wonderful trip to a very nice country still a lot to find out about it, this is Portugal. I know it well as I speak fluent Portuguese and grew up in their communities, my oldest son’s godfather is from Faro. In all ,I have written a bit on it in previous trips, see posts.

This time, I took my flight from Nantes to Porto on Easyjet, first time using it , ok but still will go for the bigger name airlines thereafter ,just me. I landed a bit late, and went out easy taking a taxi for 17,25 euros to my hotel in the center in Boavista.  The ride was nice and even if there are cheaper ways to reach the center, if you can, take the taxi. Nice guy on the ride very talkative, and I was complemented on my Portuguese !!!

The hotel was right by Boavista, nice area, the Fénix hotel , bear in mine there is another Fenix next door call Tuela ,3 stars. I was on the Fénix Porto which is 4 stars ::) webpage: https://www.hfhotels.com/en/hotels-en/oporto/

All they said is true, big rooms and bathroom, nice views over the city, and centrally located to see many. I went by the Casa da Mùsica, a nice center. Here it is home to the  Orquestra Nacional do Porto, Orquestra Barroca ,and the Remix Ensemble. Many musical events for all tastes (see post with picture).

As I wandered around the Rotunda da Boavista, you can see the Casa da Mùsica and the wonderful Obelisk of the Portuguese fight vs the French imperial invaders ::) It is ,also call by locals the square or Praça de Mouzinho de Albuquerque.  It is 45 meters or 148 feet high and highly decorated on four sides with events in the history of Portugal. (see post)

The shopping Cidade do Porto , is just around the corner from the hotel, and you have several high end stores here. It has been preserved by modifiying several aspects of it after its construction in the 1990’s. You have now several stores and restaurants such as Pizza Hut ,McDonald’s etc and four floor all name as Piso Lazer (-1), Bom Sucesso (0), Gonçalo Sampaio (1), and Mouzinho de Alburquerque(2). It’s an alternative to kill some time in the city, but I won’t make it into a shopping center per se, that I am used to. (see post)

In the back of the shopping center , there is a nice small Chapel, Capela de Nossa Senhora do Bom Sucesso, it dates from  1748, last renovated in 2005. It is done in a rectangular shape with two story façade. Stone staircase that give access to the balcony. Neo Classical in the façade with a portal with tympanum curved interrupted by windows. (see post)

The hightligh of my stayed in this area, was the Mercado de Bom Sucesso market. This is just turning right from hotel on about 100 meters, excellent ambiance, great food, and friendly staffs with full of locals. (see post). I went here for a tour walk around one night as had friends picking me up, and then came back to eat a wonderful seafood rice and scallops on shell with a good local red wine for less than 14€ , this was at the Mariscaria Bom Sucesso.  webpage of  mercado on restaurant in portuguese: https://www.mercadobomsucesso.pt/lojas/mariscaria-bom-sucesso/

Of course, the market is more than just restaurant, bars and seafood stands, there is also some shopping stores and souvenirs of local craft inside. Worth a visit on any given night. Yes!!!

Then, took the road a bit, and stop by the vinyards of Bairrada in near Murtede, while having lunch at the wonderful local restaurant Cabana do Pastor ( priest’s cabin).  Had a great pourco preto with chorizos here and more local red wine to kill for. This is the black feet pigs famous in the region.  Being so local , there is no webpage but addresse : Rua Estaçao 5, 3060-407, Murtede, and their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cabana.dopastor/

Coming back to Lisbon ,even for a day was great. I was able to stayed in one of my favorite hotels in the city, for the food ,service, and location. The hotel was the Radisson Blu at Campo Grande; just wonderful facilities, great service, excellent food (try that pourco preto and chorizo again with red wine sublime).  webpage: https://www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/radisson-blu-lisbon

I actually left Lisbon for Nantes on Transavia the next day with a free navette bus from hotel to airport! Then, at Nantes airport  got into my car for the final drive home (1h30). 

Another great stop in Portugal, and always enjoyable. You know the other country in the Iberian peninsula, land of conquistadores, and great food/wine as well as the Fado music genre,and nice beaches. Hope you enjoy the brief tour of Lisbon and Porto!

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

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February 4, 2021

Magical Porto, of course, Portugal!

And here I am updating this memorable visit to Porto, Portugal of course! However, had the chance to see some of Porto but was on the road warrior trails outside into wine country and between Porto and Coimbra. Will just update with links and text; hope you enjoy it as I

Travel is such as wonderful feelings that I cannot describe it , sorry not a writer nor a poet, but just feeling good. Finding good places will make you always attach to these places. The good life is always important to enjoy it now, because regardless of what the medical profession tells you, it is very short.

Let me bring you up to speed on Porto, of Portugal. A very nice city with a even better reputation for one of the World’s best wines.(see post). Porto is in the north of Portugal facing the Atlantic ocean on the Douro river. The capital of the North region , sub region of Grand Porto ,district of Grande Aire Metropolaine de Porto or GAM. On this post, will give you an introduction to the city, see my other many posts.

For reference, it is a very well connected city and plenty of public transports. You have six metro lines in where the lines A B and C runs from west to east; the line D from north to south towards Vila Nova de Gaia, the line E goes to the airport Francisco Sá Carneiro and other points and the line F or Gondomar line connects the towns of the GAM to city center. There is a tramway line call Electrico I running the side of the Douro river to the city center as well there is cable car, all run by SCTP. The airport Francisco Sà Carniero is about 11 km from the city and have taken it many times on business trips. The train station is very nice for a visit although never taken trains there, it is call the Estacao Porto-Sao Bento and it has very nice ceramic tile walls in the main hall dating from the 19C.

The road is intense but well done. Very nice to drive here, which I have done on my runs from Lisbon several times. Coming into the city is easy on the A1 ,or auto estrada do norte, and there are two beltways one call the interne or via de cintura interna or VCI takes from city center Porto to Vila Nova de Gaia for about 21 km and it is connected to the A20 on the north, and the IC23 in the south as well as the auto estradas roads A1 and A28 to the west. The A41 or the exterior beltway or CREP goes around the north ,east and south for about 62 km; to the west the A41 is completed with sections of the A1, A28 and A29. The auto estrada network in Portuguese: http://www.estradas.pt/noticias

Let me tell you a bit of history I like

The Romans name it Portus because of the port in the 1C BC. The city took in many invasions afterward such as from the Suaves, Visigoths, Normans, Moors and in 858 was pillage by the Vikings under their leader Hasting. Porto was part of the kingdom of Castile (Spain) from the early 11C. In 1096 king Alfonso VI of Castile gave it to his daughter Teresa, married with Henri of Burgundy. Their son Alfonso Henri is the first Portuguese monarch From the 14C the city is fitted with a fortified wall and ramparts in massive stones, the historic center was also protected from these walls called Fernandinas in honor of Dom Fernando under which reign they were finished in 1376 . In 1580 the Spanish army led by Sancho of Avila takes the city from Antonio de Crato   a pretender to the throne of Portugal during the crisis of the Portuguese succession that ended with the coming to the throne of king Felipe II of Spain

The invasion of the Napoleonic troops in Portugal under Marshal Soult also brought war to the city of Porto. In 1809, as the population fled from the advancing French troops and tried to cross the Douro river over the pontoon bridge the bridge collapsed under the weight. This event is still remembered by a plaque at the  Dom Luis Bridge.. The French arlmy was rooted out of Porto by the Anglo Portuguese troops crossing the Douro river from the Mosteiro da Serra do Pilar (a former convent) in a brilliant daylight charge using wine barges to transport the troops, so outflanking the French Army.

In 1820, a Liberal revolution occurred, quickly spreading without resistance to the rest of the country.  In 1822, a liberal constitution was accepted, partly through the efforts of the liberal assembly of Porto . When  Miguel I of Portugal took the Portuguese throne in 1828, he rejected this constitution and reigned as an absolutist monarch. A Civil War was then fought from 1828 to 1834 between those supporting Constitutionalism, and those opposed to this change, keen on near-absolutism and led by Dom Miguel. Porto rebelled again and had to undergo a siege of 18 months between 1832 and 1833 by the Absolutis army. Porto is also called “Cidade Invicta” or undefeated city, after successfully resisting the Miguelist siege. After the abdication of King Miguel, the liberal constitution was re-established.

In 1919, forces favorable to the restoration of the Monarchy launched in Porto a  counter revolution known as the Monarchy of the North.  During this time, Porto was the capital of the restored kingdom, as the movement was contained to the north. The monarchy was deposed less than a month later and no other monarchist revolution in Portugal happened again.

Things to see, well more my favorites because they are many ok.

The Arràbida bridge , the Dom Luis Bridge, the stock exchange of Porto., the Clerigos tower , the contemporary Art museum of the Foundation Serralves, the house of music or Casa de la Musica, the Cathedral a fortress Church from the 12C with renovations in the 17C and 18C; Maria Pia bridge built in 1877 by Gustave Eiffel ! The wonderful old town in the historic center;, the Ribeira the banks of the Douro river , the Palacio de Cristal or Crystal palace,, Palace of Queijo along the ocean, The Bolhao Market, and the biggest square the Praça Mouzinho de Alburquerque, the streets of Rua Santa Catarina and Rua do Almada very nice shops and restos here, the Norte Shopping center mall , the Bom Sucesso market , the Dragao Stadium home of Porto FC and Bessa XXI stadium home of Boavista FC , Sao Francisco Church and Santa Clara Church.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and you must come are here:

The Porto tourist office in English: https://visitporto.travel/en-GB/home#/

The Portugal tourist board on Porto in English: https://www.visitportugal.com/en/destinos/porto-e-norte/73735

A very good private webpage on Porto and Portugal in English: https://porto-north-portugal.com/index.html

There you go , i hope you like it and encourage you to visit this very nice city of Porto in Portugal

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

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February 4, 2021

The wines of the Saar and Konz-Oberemmel !

So here I am in memory lane going back updating these older posts and finding so many nice family time spent together. I have been to Germany on business trips but finally went with the family tracing my road warrior trails and new areas. This one was a new area into wine country, we rented a house in a winegrower in town! Let me tell you a bit on Konz-Oberemmel!

This is really the last of the Saar State of Germany.  It is time to tell you about a little town in the Saar of Germany we rented a house on a winegrowers home. The family love it and we had a lot of fun trying our German, which is zero! Well my dear late wife Martine, knew some words and numbers from school days in France so that was it. Anyway, it was great fun and the people were very friendly laughing with us lol!  We talked to the owner by her daughter who was in Frankfurt lol!

Konz is a city in the Trier-Saarburg district in the State of Rhineland Palatinate and on the confluence of the Saar and Moselle rivers at about 8 km south of Trier. The main metro area is Konz and several villages are part of it such as Oberemmel , which is where we were staying.

One place to see which we did not is the “Roscheider Hof” estate is used today as an open-air museum. It consists of several buildings, with the core of the site formed by buildings around a rectangular courtyard. The Roscheider Hof was first mentioned in a record dating from 1330. The Roscheider Hof Open Air Museum is the open air museum and Folklore Museum of the Greater Saar Lorraine Luxembourg Region. The museum is situated in Konz, on the Saar and Mosel rivers, 8 km west of Trier and 30 km east of Luxembourg. It is a museum for rural cultural history in northwest  State of Rhineland Palatinate.

We were lucky to arrive at the time of the Wine Festival in town, with live music until the wee hours, and plenty of white/red local wines and Bitburg beers as well as sausages of all types and friendly service. The town is full of private wineries so on every street there is one to taste lol! And of course, in the wine festival there were all!!!

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OF course, we concentrated to have it as a base and participated in the Festival of Bitburg beers and local white wines , dances , traditional music groups etc with a winery on practically every block of the small town of Oberemmel

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As for directions well the best is to come from Trier on the B51 direction Saarburg, and then take it to Kazem, and then Wiltingen on the L138 to Konz-Oberemmel. We coming from France took it from Luxembourg city beltway A1 to No 2 direction Remich and American Cementaries, once at Remich take the B407 up to Saarburg and then theh L138 to Wiltingen and then Oberemmel. Narrow and hilly roads full of winegrown grapes but lovely along the river Saar.

This is the region Saar Obermosel page on its wineries in German: https://www.saar-obermosel.de/wein/weingueter

Just saying our house winery was Weingut Willems and listed above.  There is a site on the churches of Konz-Oberemmel in German here: http://www.dekanat-konz-saarburg.de/html/konz-oberemmel.html

The overall tourist office of Saar Obermosel in French or Germain : https://www.saar-obermosel.de/

It is a very small town less than 2K folks , but very quant and friendly and central to going out in Germany western parts and Luxembourg. See my other posts on the region. Hope you enjoy it as we did.

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

February 4, 2021

The quant town of Ettelbruck and Gen Patton!

So I pick this entry to update my post on this quiet quant town of Ettelbruck in Luxembourg. Actually, the biggest noise around here is the museum dedicated to Gen George Patton US 3rd Army in WWII. However, the town is nice for a day visit and we enjoy our road warrior trips in Luxembourg.

We have come to Luxembourg several times over the years and is our favorite little country. It is so nice quant, clean, efficient, and just gave a good feeling from the first visit in 1991 and it has remained strong ever since. I have many nice memories of my dear late wife Martine here.

As time went on, we felled comfortable to venture out into other towns in Luxembourg. Finally ,reaching Ettelbruck because of the Patton name to it in 1992. It is not really a tourist city unless you count the museum as a must; it is nice if you like history like me to come once. The town is very nice in city center. Memories of a lifetime.

Ettelbruck  is a town in the  canton/region  of Diekirch city of which is only 6 km, and 36 km from Luxembourg city, and 365 km from Paris.  There is a train station on the line 1 connecting Luxembourg to  Troisvierges-frontière, and  No 10 to Diekirch, as well as a road network that is the one I used on the superb A7 (Autoroute du Nord, connecting Luxembourg to Diekirch).  The scenic route we have taken too but longer time is the  N7.

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A bit of history I like

Carved out in 1850 with the districts of  Birtrange, Erpeldange, Ingeldorf, Niederschieren, and Oberschieren to create the towns of Erpeldange and Schieren. During WWII in 1940 the invasion of Luxembourg by the Nazis the city was taken by the 1rs panzer division that was going to cross the Meuse river in direction to Sedan.

US forces first liberated the town on 11 September 1944 but Germany retook the town on 16 December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. US General George S. Patton on Christmas Day, 25 December 1944, led US troops in the final liberation of Ettelbruck from Nazi occupation. One of Ettelbruck’s main squares is named Patton Square, and is located at the exact spot where the German offensive into Luxembourg’s Alzette Valley was stopped, ending its attempt to reoccupy the country as a whole. Since 1954, the town has held a Remembrance Day celebration each July honoring General Patton and the US, British, French, Belgian and Luxembourgish troops who fought with him there.

Things to see me think are

The General George S. Patton Memorial Museum (see post) in Ettelbruck honors the general who liberated the town. The museum exhibits photographs, uniforms (both military and prison camp), weapons and documents from the period of Nazi occupation of Luxembourg (May 1940 to September 1944). The museum was opened on 7 July 1995 and represents a main tourist attraction in the town. 

The Ettelbruck parish Church D’ Kierch Ettelbréck is a decagonal structure. Restored in 1849, the church contains tombstones dating as far back to the 15C.

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You have the statues of 3 figures meaning the strength of Ettelbruck such as Agriculture, Business circles, and Educational system. The farmer is pointing to the desire height the wheat should grow; the retail dealer points his finger into the hollow of his hand to emphasize that money dealings must be correct; and the teacher points his two fingers at the other figures to stress that money and riches are not the be all and end all of life. Nice!

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Some webpages to help you come to enjoy Ettelbruck to follow:

The city of Ettelbruck on things to see: https://ettelbruck.lu/visiteur/hebergements/carte-interactive/

The Luxembourg tourist board on Ettelbruck: https://www.visitluxembourg.com/en/ardennes/ettelbruck

There you go a short ans sassy introduction to Ettelbruck in lovely Luxembourg. Another spot on the world map , and a nice quant experience to remember for years to come. Hope you enjoy the post folks.

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

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