Archive for April, 2021

April 11, 2021

The Grand Palais of Paris!

Ok time to update this jewel of my eternal Paris. Granted for the record the petit for me is more romantic than the giant grand but nevertheless a wonderful monument of Paris indeed. Let me update for you and me this wonderful monument, the Grand Palais of Paris!

Let me tell you about another wonder of my beloved Paris. This is a huge building and sometimes on the spot that it is it goes unnotice somehow. In addition to the wonderful architecture it hosts a variety of events second to none in Paris. I like to tell you a bit on the history of the Grand Palais de Paris.

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The Grand Palais is located on the edge of the Champs-Elysées, facing the Petit Palais, which is separated by the Avenue Winston Churchill in the 8éme arrondissement or district of Paris. The Grand Palais des Beaux-Arts was built  from 1897, for the Universal exhibition scheduled from April 15 to November 12, 1900, instead of the vast but uncomfortable Palais de l’Industrie of 1855. It was a monument consecrated by the French Republic to the glory of French art. As the pediment of the West Wing (Palais d’Antin) indicates, its original vocation is to welcome the major official artistic events of the capital. The ceremony was held on May 1, 1900 for the grand opening. The Grand Palais is served nearby by the Metro lines 1 and 13  at the Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau station, and Metro lines 1 and 9 at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Station, as well as the RATP  bus lines 42 and  73.

The main building, with a length of nearly 240 meters, consists of an imposing space surmounted by a large canopy. The slightly lowered cradle vault of the North and South Naves and the transverse nave (paddock), the dome on pendants weigh about 8 500 tons of steel, iron and glass. The total weight of metal used reaches 9 057 tons. The summit of this set culminates at an altitude of 45 meters. The colonnade of Deglane, inspired by the one in the Louvre, but without the grace, conceals cautiously the splendid innovation of the metal structure. The Grand Palais is, on its own, a summary of the tastes of the Belle Epoque, but at the same time marks the end of a certain conception of architecture where the masterpiece, both an artist and a technician, occupies a prominent role.  The communication between the large nave and the other parts of the palace (Salon d’honneur, central wing and  Palais dAntin) is done by a wide iron staircase of classic inspiration tinted with Art nouveau.

The sculptures the copper Quadrigas crown the two entrances and their pediment, to the new avenue. These allegorical works, imposing on the passerbys at an altitude of 40 meters, represent,  on the side of the Champs-Elysées,  Immortality ahead of time and on the side of the Seine river  the triumphant harmony of discord.  The mosaics inside, the pavements of the elliptical hall are mosaic of ceramic sandstone. There is a large floral motif in a central symmetry, consisting of tesserae with poorly supported colors (beige, brown and green), but detaching well on a white background. The outer friezes, located under the Peristyle de Deglane (facade on Avenue Winston Churchill ), consist of a long band with brightly enhanced gold colors using the traditional mosaic technique.

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The game of the tesserae is animated by very regular opuses and underlined by marked contours as well as subtle gradients. It includes representations of the great civilizations of history as perceived at the end of the 19C, including Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Rome of Augustus to the Greece of the century of Pericles, the Italian and French Renaissance in the Middle Ages, Europe Industrious to that of the classical and Baroque arts. The more distant civilizations are not forgotten, glorifying in passing the period then at its apogee of the great colonizing nations in the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa, the East and the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Indochina With the Khmers and temples of Angkor, the Cochinchina and the Vietnamese landscapes around the city of Hue, the Far East with representations of mysterious China and Japan , and  evocations of the two Americas.

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From 1947, the building loses its function as a palace of fine Arts, for which it was built.  Several events are held on the artistic side such as French and independent artists, painting and sculptures etc. etc. from the years 1960 the technical shows are done here such as automobiles, agricultural and horticultural machines, etc. etc. Commercial events such as living and decorations, etc. and various makes such stamps, concerts etc. etc. All too numerous to mention in a simple blog post.

During the 20C, the Grand Palais is sometimes a witness of the tragedies of history, sometimes an object of unexpected uses. At the beginning of  WWI, the Grand Palais was used as barracks for colonial troops preparing to go to the front. It quickly became a makeshift hospital for the wounded in the Navy who could not find a place in the crowded hospitals of the capital.  During , WWII and the Nazi occupation, the palace was commandeered by the Nazis to house military vehicles there. In August 1944, the nave was bombarded and a fire was declared, without major consequences, in part of the building; the firefighters are however hampered in their work by rescuing animals from a circus that has elected home under the large canopy. They must also protect the works sent for an exhibition by working artists or prisoners.

In 1964, part of the north wing of the Grand Palais, at the request of André Malraux then Minister of Cultural Affairs, became a National Gallery destined to receive large temporary exhibitions. Presented in 1966, a retrospective of the painter Pablo Picasso and an important presentation of African art.  Numerous exhibitions of classical painters, impressionistic (Renoir), and modern (Zao Wou-Ki, Prassinos, Mušič, Manesser) are organized thereafter. and other uses followed of diverse splendor and magnitude. And this has continue today. Since 2009, hives have been installed on the roof of the Grand Palais to promote biodiversity and make the life of bees in urban areas known.

Since January 2011, the public establishment of the Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées has merged with the National Museums . On February 12  2018, it was  announced the forthcoming closure of the Grand Palais, from December 2020 to the spring of 2023, in order to carry out a larger renovation by 2024, the date on which the games of Fencing are to take place during the  2024 Olympic Games. The Grand Palais will reopen to the public in 2025.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is a must while in Paris are:

The Official Grand Palais of Paris:  https://www.grandpalais.fr/en

The Paris tourist office on the Grand Palais: https://en.parisinfo.com/paris-museum-monument/71080/Grand-Palais

There you go another grand piece of architecture and history in my beloved Paris. Did i tell you I can keep writing on Paris and will never finish? YES! Hope you enjoy the Grand Palais of course!

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

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April 10, 2021

My travels in the Morbihan XC

And back again to my latest escapades in my beautiful Morbihan, dept 56 of my lovely Bretagne and in my belle France! Under current conditions, hard to move about but we are timing the 10 km right and going out, amazing finding new places!!!yes!!! We took a ride yesterday with the family just to get some air and it was nice again. Sit back and enjoy the story;hoping you like as we did.

I have told you about the town of Baud, very near me, just making the 10 km mark, and we went there again !

Baud has a bit more than 6K inhabitants very near me up the road D768 direction Pontivy. We have come here often as one of my son’s job was routed by here to go/come to/from work. Also, we shop in city center for essentials like the baguette. I have several posts on Baud in my blog so will be brief on this one. One of my latest road warrior side trips.

As with the virus still going around and only now allow to go 10 km from home, we took it nice and easy at Baud. The town is part of the Centre Morbihan Communauté sort of a metro area which combine about 18 towns. I try to give you some history and explanation on this phenomenon below

France has a very large number of towns, over 36,000 of which 10,000 have fewer than 200 inhabitants and 32,000 have fewer than 2,000 inhabitants. From the end of the 19C, the first forms of intermunicipal co-operation were created in the form of inter-municipal unions to enable towns to meet the equipment needs of the territory (electrification, water supply, sanitation, roads, etc.). As of January 1, 2014, there were 12,159 public inter-municipal cooperation establishments (EPCIs) (including 2,145 with their own tax system and 10,014 municipal unions) and 3,182 mixed unions (including 2,216 open mixed unions and 966 closed mixed unions) and 9 metropolitan centers. Promulgated on August 7, 2015, the law on the New Territorial Organization of the French Republic (NOTRe) confers new powers on the regions and clearly redefines the powers attributed to each local authority. This law strengthens intermunicipal co-operation by setting the new demographic threshold at 15,000 inhabitants, forcing certain communities to merge.

The Centre Morbihan Communauté or the Central Morbihan Community towns are Baud, Guénin, Melrand, Pluméliau-Bieuzy, Saint Barthélémy. Locminé Community of the villages of Evellys, La Chapelle Neuve, Plumelin, Locminé, Moustoir-Ac and Saint-Jean Community of the towns of Saint Jean Brévelay, Billio, Bignan, Buléon, Guéhenno, Moréac, Plumelec, and Saint Allouestre.

The Centre Morbihan Communauté tourist board on Baudhttps://www.centre-morbihan-tourisme.bzh/decouvrir/centre-morbihan-communaute/baud/

I have feature in another post but took a shot from the hill of the below castle for a nice shot of the town of Baud and the belltower of its Church St Peter’s (St Pierre) from the 14C renovated in the 20C.

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The city of Baud on culture and heritage: https://www.mairie-baud.fr/culture-et-patrimoine/

And one that caught my attention and never had taken pictures here as it is a private property, I dare take some from outside today is the Château de la Villeneuve or new town. I will tell you its history from a panel outside and the Bretagne heritage site.

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The Château de la Villeneuve (17C), restored in the 20C. The Lordship of Villeneuve belonged successively to several families. The castle was built on the site of an old building attested in 1448. A first reconstruction probably dates from the 17C. The current castle would have been rebuilt or restored around 1930 by the Le Crom family.

The origins of the Château de la Villeneuve go back to the 15C however, with the Guido family. From this time there are no remains. The castle was rebuilt in the 18C, perhaps under the La Coudrais family, then dismantled in 1930 to be rebuilt set back from the road. A building with a sequenced elevation on the raised ground floor was accessible by a central right outside staircase. Two forward side pavilions framed this central body. The well located to the south of the current castle dates from 1723. In 1907, and for only a few years, this castle was the seat of a beekeeping school which produced melcao, a product made from honey and cocoa.

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The Château de la Villeneuve has a double plan in depth and two elevations arranged in five spans: to the north the two lateral spans are protruding and covered with a pavilion roof; to the south, the projection is on the ground floor on the terrace. On each facade, straight exterior stairs lead to the raised ground floor. An in-work staircase turning back, located in the eastern part of the castle, serves the square floor and the attic floor. The pleasure garden to the north is doubled by a vegetable garden to the south arranged in the axis of the castle, extended by an orchard. A retaining wall with stairs and a well mark the boundary between the latter two. A farm attached to the castle is to the east.

It is currently a private property, cannot be visited, visible from the outside, located at the exit of Baud on the edge of the road D724 towards Locminé and Josselin.

Lastly, I leave with the news that the French Republic (France) has voted to allow regional languages as per the constitution a great victory for Brittany and its Breton language. Earlier, I have told you in my Some news from France series, the permission in the Nantes city/town hall to fly the Breton flag, black and white with the hermine symbol of Anne de Bretagne. The flag is raised. And this is former Brittany in what is now since 1961 loire-atlantique dept 44 in pays de la loire region. The decision is known as the Loi Morlac for the congressman of the Morbihan!!! More in French here from France Ouest journal: https://www.ouest-france.fr/education/enseignement/langues-regionales-la-proposition-de-loi-molac-definitivement-adoptee-9ae0f46c-9875-11eb-ba1d-f4b880206b36

And my twin boys have cut the front garden in our house trim all the shrubs and trees and cut the bad grass from the brick trail path to the house. Nice job, appreciated and to worth showing it here with a picture!

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And all, hope you enjoy the post , a rather personal one with private property and all. This is my beautiful Morbihan at its best.. Enjoy as we do!!

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

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April 10, 2021

Wine news of France XII !!!

Well here coming back to my a bit regular posts on wines! of France, of course. The very best and again had tasted and/or visit all the major producing countries in our world ! I like to tell you the latest buzz on my favorite subject chosen by yours truly from various French wine pro publications that I received online or on paper.

We do not really know if Christmas was on the balcony, but Easter was indeed in the fire. Since last Monday, temperatures have fallen below zero in several northern wine regions. The nocturnal efforts of winegrowers to limit frost damage were not enough: crops are severely affected in several regions of France. According to the Interprofessional Council for Bordeaux Wines (CIVB), it is “already certain that this spring frost will severely impact the volume of the 2021 harvest”: the frost has “hit hard” on large areas of the Bordeaux vineyard. In the Rhone Valley, the first land rise in temp let fear the worst. Last Friday, according to Météo France, it will still be cold in the early morning in the lands north of the Loire, over a large north-eastern quarter, in the Massif Central and in the interior of Provence, with frequent frosts reaching locally – 4 to -2 degrees on the Grand Est.

Last Monday evening, on the Champagne side, there was still hope to pass between the drops. The Champagne Salon said “we experience disasters every day, at all levels. It is important to stay positive.” Overall, Champagne is doing quite well. A calm behind which hides cellars much less empty than in previous years, the health crisis having led to a significant drop in sales in France and abroad. At Drouhin-Laroze, in Burgundy, the candles have nevertheless succeeded in limiting breakage. But the Burgundy vineyard will undoubtedly be one of the most impacted. There is talk about black jelly, with buds literally roasted by the cold. However, some estates are reluctant to use candles, which are very expensive, preferring the traditional straw fires prohibited in Burgundy such as at the Breton estates, in Touraine, whose plots of Vouvray have been protected, to the detriment of those located in Bourgueil. At Château Coutet, 43 hectares in the town of Barsac, in the Bordeaux region, it was a disaster, with temperatures dropping to -3.9 ° C. Despite straw fires lit every 80 meters, it is estimated that more than 90% of the vineyard has been affected. Even if since 2017, they have been used to this kind of events. April 2021 has a strong chance of staying in the memories of many.

SJB, the Bollinger family holding company, acquires Ponzi Vineyards, a historic estate in the Willamette Valley, in the United States. Domaine Ponzi Vineyards, was created in the late 1970s by Dick and Nancy Ponzi. For its part, the Ponzi family remains the owner of 40 hectares under a supply contract with the estate. The total needs of the winery represent in all and for all 140 hectares of vines. Production hovers around 480,000 bottles, at prices ranging from 25 to 120 US Dollars. SJB which brings together the brands Bollinger, Ayala, Chanson, Langlois-Chateau and Delamain.

These vines largely dominated by Pinot Noir, but Pozzi also produces Pinot Gris and Chardonnay located in Laurelwood. Last June 2020 they joined the AVI (American Culture Area, equivalent of the French AOC) of the Willamette Valley which brings together the terroirs of Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge, and Yamhill-Carlton. The strategy is to get closer to the American consumer who is especially fond of local wines, as well as to the zone where the consumption of high-end wine is the most important. The acquisition of this property forms the basis of Bollinger’s new US strategy. Bollinger is not, far from it, the first Champagne house to attempt an adventure in Oregon. Four years ago, under the leadership of Gilles de Larouzière, the Maisons & Domaines Henriot group became the majority shareholder of the Beaux Frères estate, owned by Michael Etzel, Robert Parker and Robert Troy, in the historic Willamette Valley. Long before that, at the end of the 1980s, the region had been brought to light by the Burgundians Robert Drouhin and his daughter Véronique, true pioneers. Since then, the Jadots, Meo Camuzets and others have joined them. With success…. Now how the wine will be best if all is from France lol !

Soon the rebirth of a forgotten vineyard? Chef Yannick Alléno and the prestigious Domaine Marquis d´Angerville have just replanted 30 acres of biodynamic vines … about thirty km from Paris. It was on the initiative of chef Yannick Alléno that an astonishing adventure two years ago began, that of replanting vines in the town of Conflans- Ste-Honorine (Yvelines 78) . And decided to plant two thirds of pinot noir and one third of gamay, intended to produce a wine that I like, the passetoutgrain. The vines will be cultivated biodynamically, with the help of the teams from the Domaine de Volnay, present to advise and support Laurent Berrurier in his new role as winegrower. In four years, if all goes well, we will be able to taste the first cuvée of Clos Bellevue, and drink to the health of a still confidential vineyard, which we would be wrong not to keep an eye. To be continue…

While canned wine has enjoyed tremendous success across the world, the French still seem reluctant to taste their national drink in an aluminum container. And I hope they don’t follow this!!! Jean-Pierre Robinot ; the Angevin winegrower is about to launch his 25cl cans (conditioned by the Winestar brand) containing a Cabernet-Franc in red and a Chenin in white. Juices in conversion to organic, vinified in nature, intended to be consumed quickly … as we would a soda lol!!!. However, although the French are large consumers of cans, they remain difficult to associate with wine, as if this traditional product could only tolerate a noble glass case. Of course, the canned wine is already enjoying enormous success in the United States. The research firm WICResearch analyzes the phenomenon from all angles and the figures are striking: the supply of wine in cans has tripled since 2018, with some 900 references available today on the US market. Followers of cans for all kinds of beverage, the United States are much more receptive to wine in a metal ring and favor this product, which has become trendy thanks to its multiplied marketing possibilities. Better stay over there!!!

The film star director Francis Ford Coppola (why can he stay with films) understood this well, he who launched several cuvées of his wines sold in packs of four cans (pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, sauvignon) and even a very glam rosé wine called “Sofia”, named after his daughter, also a famous filmmaker. Among the myriad of brands, we can also mention Bev, Love & Exile or Backpack, which focus on fresh, fruity and light wines, with ultra-graphic packaging (and industrially made). Because if this method of conservation does not lend itself to all grape varieties or all vinifications , it makes it possible to broaden the opportunities for consuming wine (picnics , outdoor events, transport) and to rejuvenate its target by targeting 18-25 year olds as a priority to then bring them to more demanding bottles? What if the can formed the fine tasters of the future? . So anything is possible. The only snag in this beautiful story: Robinot cans are priced at 8 euros for 25cl… A high price that seems to contradict the purchasing power of its target. Of course, innovation has its costs but really better stay with sodas!

In the category of nature wines, it seems that the Drappier family is one step ahead of many Champagne winemakers. Brut Zero, a wine without sugar, filtration and sulfur, was released in 1998. An oenological success. The rosé will follow. The first draw comes from the 2004 and 2005 harvests. This wine is claimed to be unfiltered, not discolored, not dose. It feels like a field of strawberries on a beautiful end of summer day. On the palate, some tangy notes, peppery hints and over-controlled acidity. What sounds I like about Drappier: the total mastery of the wine which remains very balanced even when it comes to the most cutting-edge products. It is recommended to serve this rosé at 8 ° C. At the table, it will be the ideal companion for langoustines, shrimps, crabs and other sushi.

In a context of tension between the various candidates for the takeover, Château Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse, premier grand cru classé B of Saint-Emilion, will be sold for 75 million euros to the cosmetics group Clarins, associated with Joséphine Duffau-Lagarrosse. Cosmetics and wine well I guess that is diversification. To note , Clarins cosmetics were the first gift of my dear late wife Martine to my dear late mother Gladys!

The recent owner of Château Fourcas Dupré, Gérard Gicquel, confirmed his thirst for Médoc by purchasing Château d’Agassac from Groupama. It was after many commas, parentheses and dashes that the sale was finalized with a signature, bottom right. Thus, Groupama, which owned Château d’Agassac since 1996, was promoted to Cru Bourgeois Exceptionnel last year. This project responds to the development of the family group with ambitious investments in business services, around “hospitality” carried by the Beautiful Life Hotels group with already 10 high-end hotel establishments and in the wine sector with the acquisition of Château Fourcas Dupré indicates the press release. Beautiful Life Group thus consolidates its presence in the Médoc vineyards with a volume of 500,000 bottles. One of my favorite wines of the Médoc, track since 1990.

What to drink with … a sea bream? (Daurade, Fr.) Its flesh is tender, its skin tasty and salty; with a lemon juice seasoning, it gains a tangy touch; roasted in the oven with a little fennel, it is enriched with anise-flavored flavors. It will obviously need an aromatic, fruity, young white wine, not too complicated on the palate. The Domaine Meo-Camuzet Hautes côtes de Nuit a fruity and herbaceous nose, a round and charming mouth with a fat that will round off the salty and iodized character of the fish, here is a great label with ease. More unexpected, but just as appropriate, a Roussette de Savoie signed Guy Justin. Still little known until 1993, its wine was only sold in bulk ; this very pretty estate has another particularity, since the vineyard occupies only a small place there, and the rest of the activity is divided between market gardening and breeding. Its Marestel cru will match sea bream exactly, with a blooming bouquet, hints of dill, citrus fruits (orange) and white pepper. The palate has a roundness very softened by the fat, with a lively finish. Its silky side will rebalance the iodized character of the fish, itself underlined by the minerality of the wine. Nice meal to be had we get ours from a traiteur or ready made take out gourmet place in town! The wines webpage are

Domaine Méo-Camuzethttps://www.meo-camuzet.com/fr/les-vins/17/clos-saint-philibert

Domaine Guy Justinhttps://vins-de-savoie-justin.fr/la-roussette-de-savoie/

And there you folks, en vino veritas; with moderation but do enjoy the wonderful wines of France and the world. We drank it every day with meals…and we love it. The only French way!! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

April 10, 2021

Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History ,Brussels!!!

And another dandy in a wonderful area of Brussels, the parc Cinquantenaire we love to walk to. And voilà we find out about two wonderful museums  Autoworld (see post) and this Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History!!! I like to update the post for you and me, and great memories with the family. Oh yes I know about this part of my university studies (see post).  Hope you enjoy it as I!

Another trip to one of my favorite cities in Europe. This is Brussels at its best and we love the museums especially those dealing with history. Brussels has a beauty that should be seen by all history buffs.  I was there with the family and they love it, especially my boys!  The Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History or the Musée Royal de l’Armée et d’Histoire Militaire,is a military museum that occupies the two northernmost halls of the historic complex in Cinquantenaire park. And it is wonderful, highly recommended for the history and military buffs.

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We actually got there on the tram 25 stop at Montgomery and came into it from outside into the park on a glorious walk in town which we love to do once in a city. We got to Brussels by car from France on the N2 and in Belgium on the N6 coming in the RO or rocade(beltway) road to our hotel (see post) and then on foot all over, great I am telling you!

The museum has a peculiar time schedule that it closes at noon, and speaks out on public announcement that you can stay in the Aviation hall or the restaurant (very convenient). We didn’t want it cafeteria style food in the resto,and don’t like to wait an hour doing nothing. So decided to come out, boy that took some times, there are no signs to let you out and all door into the museum were closed!!! When we finally asked at the resto they told us there is an exit hallway by the WC lol!! this is the rest room! Never would figure in my life the exit door was by going thru a bathroom /rest room first, but here it is. Oh well we got out,and lesson learned not to get caught at lunch time here. The rest was nice historical ,wonderful ,full of great airplanes, tanks, military heavy equipment, uniforms, and swords, rifles etc from the Napoleonics times to the present. There are presentation of historical events with the equipment use all the time.

The idea came in the Brussels exhibition of 1910 when a section on military history was presented to the public and met with great success. The museum was originally installed on the site of the Abbaye de la Cambre and moved to the Cinquantenaire Park in 1923. The park is set on the continuation of the Rue de la Loi which starts at the end of the  Brussels Park before the Royal Palace .(see posts).

All is house by the parc du cinquentanaire, monumental building, first pushed by King Leopold II idea of bringing Belgium to the forefront of nations. For the 1910 World Exhibition, Louis Leconte collected about nine hundred objects and called his compilation Musée de l’Armée / Museum van het Leger (Museum of the Army). These objects were to give the visitor an idea of the history of Belgian armed forces in the 19C. The exhibition was a big success.

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After WWI, things moved very quickly. The collection grew considerably because of numerous contributions by private persons and through the support of several foreign governments. After 1919, the building bulged with so many items that new housing was necessary. A new home for these items was found in the northern wing of the Jubilee site. On June 28, 1923, King Albert I officially opened the Military Museum. Louis Leconte had been dismissed from active military service and was appointed head curator. During World War II, the occupying forces closed the Museum down. After the war, the collections once again opened to the public. Where it continue today to marvel the world of its wonderful displays.

You have theme spaces coming from main entrance,going thru a Dutch gallery, then the Belgian war of 1830, a technical area of weaponry and armaments, medieval, Napoleonic era, 1914-1918 WWI era, the Russian gallery , the Tanks (many American tanks here) display in a patio open area in the middle of the building, you have a huge Aviation dept with planes from many countries including Mig soviet era, Navy gallery area, upper level hall Bordieu with light machine guns,a contemporary European conflicts gallery and Belgium during occupation.

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in addition, the museum offers a trace of most if not all airplanes lost over Belgium in WWII. Today this record includes 4281 losses from Air Forces of the following nations: Belgium 98, France 100, Britain and Commonwealth 1515, United States 732, Italy 17 and Germany 1819. Research is conducted on over 1000 aircraft losses for which detailed information is still missing.

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There is a museum boutique shop open every day exept Mondays 9h to 12h and then 13h to 16h45. The Skycafé resto is open from Tuesday through Sunday between 10h30 to 16h20 ,kitchen is open Kitchen 11h30 to 14h ADMISSION IS FREE Closed On Mondays, January 1, May 1, November 1, December 25, and election days . The north wing, has been occupied by the aviation hall since 1972 when the Air and Space gallery was inaugurated.  The collection includes various types of aircraft, both military and civilian, some dating back to the early 20C.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military Historyhttps://www.klm-mra.be/D7t/

The Brussels tourist office on the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military Historyhttps://visit.brussels/en/place/Royal-Military-Museum-War-Heritage-Institute

The museums of Brussels webpage on the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History: https://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museums/war-heritage-institute-royal-museum-of-the-armed-forces-and-of-military-history

Hope you enjoy it, it is history of all phases of our events over the years. Very well set up , and good welcome. For me is going back to my old dreams and still in touch with the world of aviation, the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History is a must in Brussels!

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

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April 10, 2021

A nice look at Autoworld, Brussels!!!

And I take you my closest neighbor and a city we have come since the early 90’s many times. Of course one of our favorites in Europe. I am like to update this older post on Autoworld in Brussels, Belgium.  Of course, these are my favorite pictures, we took a bunch lol!! Hope you enjoy it as I.

This is a magical place, if you like automobiles and been around them ,then it is a must. I spent my University days and into fatherhood surrounded by NASCAR in Daytona Beach Florida USA, and became addicted to them. The thrill of speed and just avoid that bear or grey uniform of the South, = police. After years, it became clear that the affection was not just speed but the beauty of the craftmanship ,the men who rode it, and the stories behind building them. Awesome ! I ,in a way, lucky to be in France where they are several nice auto museum like the one in Le Mans 24 hrs!

However, going on many trips to Belgium , business and personal, and stopping several times in Brussels, never imagine to me that there was an auto museum there. Until 2013; then I saw it fully with the family and it was unbelievable seeing the eyes of my boys and explaining these cars to them, even my dear late wife Martine got on it. It was a memorable trip and one we look forward to repeating and did. One spot to return when possible.

I am talking about the AutoWorld of Brussels. You get here from city by metro line 1A and 1B Station Mérode, and by bus /tram 81 / 82 22 / 27 / 61 / 80. OF course, we walked all over and came here walking from the botanical garden (see post)! Autoworld  is an automobile museum house in the Halle Sud or south hall of the Palais du Cinquantenaire (parc du Cinquantenaire) in glass and steel that was built for the universal exposition of 1897. 

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I have been to auto museums but this one is the best for sure. You have more than 250 cars, that includes motocycles, jeeps, fire truck, etc, you have a nice restaurant and neat complete boutique store. All the vehicles are arranged by motives and era on two floors of exhibits. The temporary expositions are there all year with newer and spectacular vehicles to see, even garages, and road racing competition areas, check the webpage. You have an educational space by Autoworld that shows the ins and outs of the automobile. On Sundays there is a restoration workshop to show how to keep these marvels.

 A brief historical lines, tell us that the main force behind this was king Leopold II idea to making Belgium keep up with the joneses,,,, and the Universal Expo of 1897 was it. In order to connect the museum of Colonial history at Tevueren to the Cinquantenaire Park where the rest of the exhibition was taking place, the avenue de Tervuren was built. The large halls that now house the Army and Air Force Museum (see post) and Autoworld date from that period.  All these development thru the years led to the formation of the Autoworld museum in 1986

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The story goes on this spot,  that from 1880 when Belgium celebrated its 50th anniversary of their independence it was decided to host a National Exhibition. Before, the king Leopold II ordered to have traced the outlines of a huge park on an abandoned military training camp outside the city of Brussels, on the plains of Linthout covering 12 hectares (parc du Cinquantenaire). The building was designed in two sections linked by a semi circular colonnade with an Arc of Triumph built in the extension of the Rue de la Loi.

The museum now has about 400 vehicules from automobile collections retracing the histoy of it from 1886 to 1960 and carriages, motocycles etc. By visiting, you see the history of automobiles from the Belle Epoque to the Great War (WWI), the Crazy years, 1930’s, WWII, 1950’s ,and the Golden years in Europe.. Most of the cars in this museum came from private collections making most of the brands and models in it   including some animal drawn carriages, electric, steam, and gas cars. Some work on pedals and others by turning a crank. The collections are mostly from Gantois Ghislain Mahy, the motos from Marcel Thiry, the pieces from the Royal Art and History Museum in the Salle Pierre d’Ieteren, and the cars of Charlie De Pauw.

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The first exhibit on the main floor (street level) is divided into two. Start your tour by walking up the center aisle and look to your left side, walk around in an anti-clockwise circle. When you have completed the full circle walk up the center aisle again and work your way clockwise on the right side of the floor. This is a chronological tour of cars from different makes. At the very rear of the first floor( 2nd US) on the right corner is a small room that you may miss but is worth a look. Inside, away from roaring engines and gas guzzlers are horse carriages, including the one used in 1853 for Napoleon III wedding.

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The mezzanine floor has an evolutionary timeline of cars from the late 1800s to the 2000s and a blank spot for “the future”. This brief tour will highlight the makes and models most popular in Europe in each decade. A great chance to admire the first models of Ferrari and Jaguars which look nothing like they do today. On the right as you exit is a shop where you can buy some souvenir keychains and postcards,  but most importantly thousands of miniature model cars for every make you can imagine.

 Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official Autoworld museum: https://www.autoworld.be/home

The museums of Brussels on the Autoworld: https://www.brusselsmuseums.be/en/museums/autoworld-museum-brussels

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did. An awesome Autoworld to hold onto it, and nice walks afterward from here in pretty Brussels. And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!

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April 9, 2021

The Royal Galleries of St Hubert, Brussels!

And of course, with the family and especially wife tagging along we needed to do some shopping and why not at the chic beautiful Royal Galleries of St Hubert in Brussels!! This is a must visit me think , very nice. I am updating this older post for you and me, with lots of memories of our ramblings in the city which we are looking forward to be back when possible. Hope you enjoy the shopping meaning the post !!!

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In our trips to Belgium, Brussels play a big part of it. As said, we like big cities even if lately the smaller town are beginning to appeal and maybe the reason we live in a 7K folks town now. However, the big cities are still attractive and shopping is our past time!  I am used to the passages or thru ways found in Paris; so coming to other cities always love these. Brussels has an exceptional one that all should visit. This is the Royal Galleries of Saint Hubert. We love the Camper shoes, Corné Port Royale chocolates, Longchamp bags, le Pain Quotidien resto, Leonidas chocolats, Mokafé coffee shop, and Häagen Dazs stores!!

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The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert is a complex of three covered passages all along glass in arcades decoration. These galleries are the Galerie de la Reine (queen’s  gallery) on the rue du Marché aux Herbes to the rue des Bouchers; the Galerie du Roi (king’s gallery) on the rue des Bouchers to the rue d’Arenberg; and the Galerie des Princes (princes gallery) from the Galerie du Roi to the rue des Dominicains.

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These galleries opened in 1847 and are amongst the oldest in Europe; they maintain an ambiance of greatness that still exist today, whether it be through the special shops or notable chocolatiers, been the first one Neuhaus chocolate store that was opened here where they are still today.

In the Galerie du Roi houses the Royal Theater of the Galleries or Théatre Royal des Galeries  while the Galerie de la Reine house the theater of Vaudeville opening in 1884 with the name of Casino Saint-Hubert.  The Galerie des Princes was previously called the Passage du Prince. It has the name on the stone above the entrance. This Galerie des Princes houses the library Tropismes, at no 5 there is lodging chambre d’hôte ,and the restaurant L’Ogenblik. There are apartments in the first floor (2nd US) above the stores and extend throughout the whole building.

The Vaudeville theater used to be a flower market but eventually transitioned into a theater in 1872 and hosted several prominent entertainment figures. While both theaters are open to the public, it is mainly the Théâtre des Galeries that continues to showcase performances, concerts and plays.  Brussels was also the first city that the Lumières brothers (the founders of cinematography) visited after debuting their first films in the Grand Café in Paris. These ten short movies  called moving pictures at the time were screened in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in March 1st, 1896.  The Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert contains several letters and manuscripts by renowned scientists, artists and cultural figures. The Museum of Letters and Manuscripts houses an extensive collection showcasing the correspondence and personal thoughts of some of the world’s most historic figures in the arts and sciences including Einstein, Van Gogh and Brussels’ own Jacques Brel.

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However, the most important here is the shopping to kill for, the best  of Brussels in my opinion and we love to visit each time in town, which was often. The Galeries Royales St Hubert are on the tentative list of Unesco World Heritage Sites. Again, looking forward to be back when possible.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The official site of Galeries Royale de St Huberthttps://www.grsh.be/en/home/

The Brussels tourist office on the Galeries Royales: https://visit.brussels/en/place/Galeries-Royales-Saint-Hubert

Hope it helps you decide to come to the Galeries Royales St Hubert , it is really beautiful. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

April 9, 2021

My travels in the Morbihan LXXXVIIII

And here I am again taken advantage of the freedom in Bretagne to go out, and had to revist my beautiful capital city of Vannes in my Morbihan dept 56. I was out with the whole gang except the dog and it was a memorable if short trip to the city. Let me tell you again about my latest road warrior and walks in my neck of the woods.

I have to start with the temperature, wonderful sunny day with a start at 23C and finish going home at 26C! And plenty of folks out of course wearing the mask. This is the last few days when we will be penalised for the rest of France and all going back to confinement! The sad part they will allow only 10 km radius which is nothing won’t be able to come to Vannes or even Auray because will need a needed almost emergency motive to do so. Some but not all , of these motives are it could be the death of a loved one or the visit of a family member whose prognosis is threatened. Custody of a child, a judicial or administrative summons Students studying abroad are also authorized to travel. In the medical field, it must be a life-threatening emergency. The patient has the right to be accompanied by a person if his presence is essential. In the professional field, level athletes, health professionals participating in the fight against Covid-19 or taking part in cooperation operations of major interest in the field of health. Finally, exceptions are also possible for “missions essential to the pursuit of an economic activity”.This last means businesses that provide for everyday life such as foods etc.The curfew at  19h (7 p.m.) is maintained . The schools will close for 3 weeks, but the curfew will last for 4 weeks. There in a nutshell we never seen the end of this while those who started it all are quiet and enjoying themselves with bs from the WHO as usual.

Well as our trip to Vannes, my boys wanted to take me to Columbus Café a wonderful place we have come to love and come often. Of course, the food was take out but how about enjoying this wonderful place than eating on the lawn in the Garenne garden next to the old ramparts overlooking the old towers! Awesome. Of course, I had my bagel mozzarella cheese tomatoes , a choco filled cookie, and peach ice tea;nice summer combination. Webpage even in English: https://www.columbuscafe.com/en/boutique/vannes-rue-du-mene-2/

I was able to park on the ramparts next to the garden of the Préfecture du Morbihan which have written before as in all. Here is a new picture. vannes prefecture from ramparts apr21

From there, it was nice shot at the belltower over the Préfecture of the Church Saint Patern.

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Right across you can see towering over the houses the Cathédrale Saint Pierre which is awesome even from a distance.

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The boys had the wonderful lunch in the lawn at the Garenne garden alongside the ramparts while I stay with my Dad as he could not sit down there; the garden with the Tour Connétable in back is awesome always!!

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And of course while there why not marvel of the Tour Connétable (constable’s tower) itself, an icon of the city of Vannes on its ramparts!

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And the nice tower to the right of the above, Tour Poudrière or powder tower closer to the end of the ramparts; always a nice sight and beautiful monument well preserved by the city of Vannes and al.

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And there you go folks, on the way home our always ready baguette tradition and some pastries to help out with the day. Another nice day in my capital city of Vannes! Hope you enjoy the walk and do come when possible again.

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

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April 9, 2021

Quant, nice, small Morretes!!

And here I am updating this older post in my blog from beautiful Brazil. This one was going way south into natural heavens often missed by visitors to the country so can be say an off the beaten path to Morretes in the State of Parana! Let me tell you a bit more about and see my other post on it.

Well on a nostalgic run of my trips in Latin America several years back to 2008! this time . I was living / working in Brazil at Curitiba (see posts) and had a car so drove all over Parana State.  My trip here was two folds, once they told me about a nice little train ride, and took it. Seeing the great rides and the roads not far, and with a Chevy Prisma car , decided to come back by car. Both events were fantastic. Let me tell you a bit about Morretes.

The name “Morretes ” is a geographical reference to the Morros (Portuguese for “Hills”) that surround the city. Founded in 1721 on the banks of the Nhundiaquara river , this calm and collected colonial town rests on an emerald-green plain at the foot of the Serra do Mar.  The city is known for its restaurants in which one sells the Barreado , at typical dish of rib-sticking meat stew cooked in a clay pot. Also,since colonial times, Morretes has been a traditional producer of cachaça. The distilleries still use the original alembics, and age the liquor in special wooden barrels for at least seven years, for flavors that are unique to the area. Most of the distilleries can be found on Estrada do Anhaia (Anhaia Street). Also produced in the area is a special type of banana liquor (pinga de banana).

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Things to see here in addition to your walks along the Nhundiaquara river are

Saint Benedict’s Church (Igreja de São Benedito), (see post) the Saint Benedict’s Church whike in in 1760, the Brotherhood of Saint Benedict was founded in Morretes.

Old Bridge (Ponte Velha)  Its structure of steel brings an old and glamorous aspect making it even more attractive. The bridge is used to pass over the Nhundiaquara river and gives access to restaurants, that I will tell you below. Pedestrians share the space with cars, considering that there is just one street band. Therefore, one way car or person lol

Marumbi Peak (Pico do Marumbi): Located in Paraná’s sea mountain, the state park of Marumbi remains with natural wealth of the Brazilian Atlantic forest. For those who enjoy outdoor activities, it’s the perfect spot, because there are waterfalls baths, trails or even climbing.

Flower Street (Rua das Flores): The main street of Morretes, a boardwalk on the banks of the Nhundiaquara river with its historic mansions such as the house where Dom Pedro II slept, Marco Zero, fountain, restaurants and the city’s first telegraph. The loveliest colonial buildings are clustered around Praça Lamenha Lins (square) as well as the Flower st, mentioned above, the cobblestone walkway that runs along the river.

Touristic Train (Serra Verde Express): Leaving from Curitiba, the train goes to Paranaguá’s direction, passing through, and stopping, in Morretes. The train, which goes about 74 km between both Paraná’s cities, is compound by 18 wagons divided in three classes: economic, touristic and executive.this train offers fantastic scenery as it meanders its way down in elevation through the Mata Atlântica. The ride from Curitiba (from where I took way back in time) From Paranaguà, there is service on weekends and holidays Need to check the site for the latest schedules and pricing. This is a great train ride and a must. Let me give you the official webpage of Serra Verde Express train : https://serraverdeexpress.com.br/

In addition to the walks and the train ride I came here to try the Barreado dish as above.  This dish is credited to the Portuguese more than 300 years ago that came here.  The dish consists of one or more types of second and lean beef, such as the palette,maminha and duckling, seasoned with onions, garlic, pork rinds, peppers, laurels and cumin and cooked until discolored. The preparation is mixed with manioc flour , and served with rice and sliced banana . The secret in the preparation is the cooking time in the crock pot-about 20 hours-enough to shred all the meat and keep it hot always. After cooked, the fibers of the meat loosen up resulting in a thick and tasty broth and seasoned to taste. And I try it first in style at Ponte Velha right on the banks of the Nhundiaquara river. The service was memorable , the food enormous quantities and the price to die for…webpage: http://www.morretespontevelha.com.br/

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The City of Morretes contact info to get there better: http://www.morretes.pr.gov.br/localizacao/

An unofficial tourist page on Morretes in Portuguese: http://www.guiageo-parana.com/morretes/morretes.htm

The Brazil tourist office on Morreteshttps://visitbrasil.com/en/destinos/morretes.html

There you go another small spot in the world map for me but always thankful of the welcome and the experience by all locals. Something to remember forever. Enjoy Morretes, Paranà, Brazil.

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

April 9, 2021

Oh Toledo, the essence of Spain!!!

Oh yes a wonderful city visiting since teen years ; happy to have brought my wife and boys to it and continue to visit again when possible, never tired of Toledo, the essence of Spain!!! This is an introductory older post I like to update for you and me, on a black and white series with pictures on individual sights. Hope you enjoy it as I.

When I lived in Madrid in the 1970’s, my trip to Toledo were often as family living nearby took me there for long afternoon walks.  The trips were done by car on the old N401 road (now A42). On each trip to Madrid , a stop at Toledo was a must. When in 1990 I took my girlfriend (later wife) to Madrid , a stop in Toledo was a must. We have come back many times with the boys, my dear late wife Martine, love the city, especially the good prices she found on decoration on swords and the lunches ! It will stay in our memories forever. Toledo is a forever memory !!!

Toledo is about 71 km from Madrid. From Toledo part the N-400, which connects this city with Cuenca by Ocaña and Tarancón.  There is now an excellent  A-40 highway of Castilla-La Mancha, that unites Avila with Maqueda (where it links with the Extremadura highway), Toledo, Ocaña (where it joins the highway of Andalusia), Tarancón (where it connects with the highway of Valencia), Cuenca and Teruel. A former national road 401 Madrid-Toledo-Ciudad Real was transformed at the end of the decade of 1980 in the current A-42 .  The mid 19C Toledo was one of the first Spanish cities to have a railway, being joined to Madrid by Aranjuez and inaugurated the line by Queen Isabel II on June 12, 1858. The current Toledo train station, in the Neomudejar style, was inaugurated on the 24th of April of 1919 and is a building of remarkable beauty, especially the coffered ceilings of the main room. (see post)

Toledo is a municipality and city of Spain, capital of the homonymous province and the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. It is known as “the Imperial City” because it was the main seat of the Court of  Carlos V and also as “the city of the three cultures”, for having been populated for centuries by Christians, Jews and Muslims. The old town is located on the right bank of the Tagus river, on a hill hundred meters high above the river, which surrounds it by its base, forming a pronounced meander known as “Torna del Tajo”.

I would tell you a bit about the history of Toledo and some things to see of my favorites.

 The history of the city dates back to the Bronze Age. It was an important center Carpetania until its Roman conquest in 193 BC and there are several remains of the Roman activity in the city, like the aqueduct or the circus. After the Germanic invasions, the city would become with Leovigildo in capital and, later, in the principal ecclesiastical seat of the Visigoth kingdom. In the year 711, after a moderate resistance, Toledo was conquered by the Moors led by Tariq ibn Ziyad. During the Moslem domination, the old Visigoth capital was characterized by its opposition and individualism, concretised in the Taifa of Toledo. king Alfonso VI reconquered the city in 1085. During the modern age the city stood out as the seat of the Catholic monarchs and for their participation in the war of the communities of Castile. When the court moved to Madrid in 1561 the city went into decline, accentuated by the economic crisis of the moment. Already in contemporary times, its Alcazar (see post) became a symbol of the Spanish Civil War because of its siege and defense. In 1983 it became the capital of Castilla-La Mancha, maintaining the capital of the province in Toledo.

In 1162 the city was conquered by King Fernando II of León, during the convulsed period of the age minority of Alfonso VIII of Castilla. King Leonese named Fernando Rodríguez de Castro “El Castellano “, a member of the House of Castro, governor of the city. The city of Toledo remained in the power of the Leon until the year 1166, when it was recovered by the Castilians.  Queen  Isabel (I) the Catholic commanded to build in Toledo the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes to commemorate the Battle of Toro and be buried there with her husband, but after the reconquest of Granada the Kings decided to be bury in this last city, where their remained today .

After the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, the city remained in the Republican zone. However, in the Alcazar of the city, seat of the Academy of Infantry, a group of loyalists to the Rebels (Nationalists) took refuge, in command by the Colonel Moscardó, who resisted the government since July 21, 1936 until the arrival of the troops of the General Varela on September 27  1936. The Alcazar, almost completely destroyed in the siege, was rebuilt in its entirety later.

The manufacture of swords in the city of Toledo goes back to Roman times, more specifically at the time of the Republic, when they were famous their swords and knives, but it was under Arab/Moors domination and during the Reconquista when Toledo and its guilds of swords played a key role. Between the 15C and 17C the industry related to the manufacture of swords had a great boom in Toledo to the point that the industry of swords became considered the best in Europe in late 16C. In early 18C began the decline of production, which motivated the creation of one of the royal factories, the arms factory of Toledo, in 1761 by the command of King Carlos III. In the Royal Factory all the swordmakers guilds of the city were gathered and it was located in the old house of the Coins. During the 20C, the production of white weapons for the troop was reduced exclusively to the arms of cavalry and, after the Spanish Civil War, to the supply of Sabres to officers and noncommissioners of the different bodies. After the closing of the factory, in 1996, this place was rehabilitated to house the school of Architecture of the Campus of Toledo.

Things to see in a general view as more in my blog postings:

The Puerta del Sol (Mudejar), the new Puerta Nueva de Bisagra, the old Puerta de Bisagra, the Puerta del Vado and the Puerta del Cambron. The wall has the so-called Torre de la Alsneera. Among the various bridges that cross the waters of the Tagus are the Alcantara and San Martín. The Cathedral of Santa Maria (Gothic), the Church of San Ildefonso (Baroque), the Church of San Román (Mozarabic), the Church of Santiago del Arrabal (Mudejar), the Church of Santo Tomé (Mudejar). Other Catholic buildings are the monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, a prominent representative of the Gothic Elizabethan; The convents of the Mother of God, Santo Domingo el Antiguo and San Pedro the Martyr, the Hermitage of Cristo de la Vega (Mudejar), or the Church San Sebastián (Mudejar), built on a mosque.

Properties associated with other creeds are the synagogues of Santa Maria La Blanca (in synagogue origin, although later it was transformed into a Church) and the Synagogue of the Transit (present Sephardic Museum), in addition to the mosques of Bab al-Mardum, or of the Christ of the light (Cristo de la Luz), in origin a Muslim temple and enlarged for conversion into Church, and the ancient Mosque. Others like the Palace of Galiana, the Palace of Fuensalida, the Palace of Amusco, the House of the Temple, the House of the Nuncio, and the archiepiscopal Palace of Toledo, as well as the Posada de la Hermandad. One of the nerve points of the city is the square of Zocodover. In the streets of Toledo there are other buildings such as the museum-Hospital of Santa Cruz (Renaissance), the Hospital de Tavera (Renaissance), the Teatro Rojas and a Roman circus.

The castle of San Servando, a medieval castle next to the banks of the Tagus River and the Infantry Academy, as well as the Alcázar de Toledo, a fortification on rocks located in the highest part of the city. It’s from the 16C-20C. From 2010 It houses the Army Museum.   Among the finished works are the escalator of the farm (or «of Recaredo»); Museum of Santa Cruz and the so-called Museum of El Greco, a house-museum conceived as recreation of the home of the artist, as this was lost centuries ago. This House contains several relevant paintings, although the famous painting of the burial of the Count of Orgaz is located in the Church of Santo Tomé, also in Toledo.

The Museum of the Councils and the Visigoth culture, located in the Church of San Román, has Romanesque paintings from the 13C and an important collection, original and replicas, of Goldsmith Visigoth, along with other archaeological finds dated between the 6C to 8C. The Sephardic Museum is located in the Transit synagogue, located in the Jewish quarter. In the hermitage of Cristo de la Vega, the image that presides the altar was popularized in the work to good judge, better witness of Jose Zorrilla.

Some of the activities of great interest here and worth to be here at the time are the Easter celebration declared a festival of international tourist interest since March 14, 2014, is celebrated in spring with various processions, highlighting those that take place on Good Friday, and religious and cultural events. Due to the Spanish Civil War, most of the steps were burned or destroyed, so they have had to create new steps or use other images from churches and convents of Toledo. As Toledo is a Castilian city, its Holy Week is characterized by being austere and introspective, as well as great beauty, due in part to the beautiful frame in which it takes place: Toledo. Many people take advantage of Easter to visit the Conventual churches that are only open to the general public at this time of year.  Also, the Corpus Christi ,a festival declared of international tourist interest, the origins of which date back to the 13C. The procession goes through 2 km of  decorated streets. In recent years, after the transfer of the festivity of the traditional Thursday to the current Sunday, has chosen to make two processions, one each of those days, there are certain differences in terms of members and protocol between them.

The Toledo tourist office : https://turismo.toledo.es/

The city of Toledo on public transports: https://www.toledo.es/servicios-municipales/policia-local-y-movilidad/

The Castilla La Mancha tourist office on Toledo:  http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/lugares-por-descubrir/toledo/

There ,hope it helps your next visit here as I believe history is part of travel and makes it more full.  A wonderful town to spent dayss… really in every little croony street on every temple, history and sharing is evident. Hope you enjoy the introduction to Toledo the essence of Spain.

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

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April 8, 2021

Jaca in the heart of Aragon!

Another wonderful experience in my beloved Spain. Driven by it so many times eventually several years back decided to come in and it has been a stop ever since. Jaca in the heart of Aragon! This is an update and on my black and white series as plenty written and pictures abound on it in my blog. Hope you enjoy this introduction to Jaca!

I like to shift gear into my beloved Spain, and especially the wonderful old kingdom of Aragon now an autonomous region of the kingdom of Spain!  We came actually from France when we were base in Pau, the trip by car is easy over the mountains and Jaca is just there after Somport.  Jaca was wonderful , and we also took advantage to see the wonderful Monastery of San Juan de la Peña nearby.

Jaca is in the province of Huesca in the autonomous region of Aragon, On the axe Pau-Zaragoza passing by the Somport tunnel (or as when I started coming here in 1990  just pushing 2nd gear over the mountain trails with a VW Golf of my dear late wife Martine!). It is in the heart of the Pyrénées in the valley of Aragon, parallel valley to the axis of the Pyrenees, at the foot of Mount Oroel. The city is on a depression of the Canal of Berdùn 818 meters below sea level. It is part of the metro area of the north of Aragon in the Jacetania.

By road as we do, we take it from France under Somport tunnel with the N134 France and then come out with the N330 Spain to direction Huesca, Zaragoza taken the panels for Jaca.   We later tested the new A21 linking all the major towns in Aragon, Navarra, and beyond. There is bus service between main towns such as Castiello, Villanûa , Canfranc, and the ski resorts towns of Candanchu and Astun. The train takes you to Huesca, Zaragoza, and Madrid, as well as the closest airport is Huesca at 80 km, Pau in France at 130 km.

A bit of history I like

Jaca was inhabited by the Jacetani people from pre Roman times, the Roman consul Caton the old conquered it in 196 BC. It was the first capital of the kingdom of Aragon and a point of departure for the Conquering of the New World. The city was from early 11C a fortified military camp as it had an strategic location by the foot of the peak of Somport and on the Aragonese road to St James (Santiago de Compostela). Ramiro I of Aragon , son of king Sancho III the Great of Navarra inherited the county of Jaca and later the counties of Sobrarbe and Ribagorce and takes the title of king of Aragon in 1038. He obtained from the Pope to name Jaca the seat of the bishops of Aragon and gives the city title or fuero of Jaca in 1077 , as well as ordered built the Cathedral of St Peter. Once Huesca is taken from the Moors in 1096 ,Jaca loses its role as capital but stayed a strong commercial center and controlling the road from Zaragoza to France as well as holding resting place of pilgrims on the road to St James.

During the war of successions of Spain ,Jaca takes side with the Bourbons (France) , winners the king Felipe V (born at Versailles) puts a flower of lily on the coat of arms of the city. . During the Napoleonic period in the war of independence of Spain ,Jaca falls to the French in 1809 and will stayed French until 1814. The 1868 revolution (aka La Gloriosa the glorious) against the queen Isabel II the seminary was cancelled, volunteers of Liberty were formed ,civilians organized to protect the public order against the followers of Isabel and against the absolutists in favor of a constitution of 1856, the non nata as it was never put into law.  In December 1930, the Jaca uprising, a mutiny whose leaders demanded abolition of the monarchy, was suppressed with some difficulty. It was an early event that preceded the  Spanish Civil War. At the start of the Spanish Civil War, in August 1936 many of the protagonists in the uprising were executed by firing squad.

Things to see in Jaca

The wonderful St Peter’s Cathedral (Catedral de San Pedro), the superb Citadel aka St Peter’s castle or Castillo de San Pedro until the 19C , ordered built in 1592 by king Felipe II; the San Miguel de Jaca bridge, the museum of military miniatures, Done with lead the material used to make the 32,000 figures, each under 20 mm , in 32 glass enclosures. Recreating periods such as the first great armies, “From the Crusades to the 18th century” “Towards Great War (WW1)”, “The Spanish Civil War and Second World War” and “Towards peace”. The final scale model rises directly from the floor and is the biggest and most attractive of the museum. It recreates the range of tanks and vehicles in the First Brunete Armored Division. The display is made up of nearly 5,500 pieces which commemorate the greatest combat unit in the Spanish army. the Clock tower of Jaca ,gothic style built in 1445 on the same spot as the palace of the Aragonese kings, that was destroyed by fire in 1395. Later uses as king’s representative in the city , prison and since 1986, the HQ of the European Council Pyrenean Work Community.   A cultural heritage kept at the Municipal Archives building, the Libro de la Cadena or the book of chains, a manuscript containing the statues , rights , privileges of the city fuero of Jaca, a copy from the 13C with 101 parchment pages covering the period from 931 to 1324.

I like to mentioned briefly on the Monasterio San Juan de la Peña very near Jaca (see post). Only 23 km in the village of Santa Cruz de la Séros, in the Sierra de la Peña mountain at about 1200 meters altitude and a spectacular view up to it.  From Jaca take the road N240 direction Pamplona, you follow the signs for Santa Cruz de la Seros and a mountain road A1603 takes you to the old monastery and from there 1,5 km to the new monastery. Better as they said park in the new monastery and take the navette bus to the old; the road is really narrow and steep and hard to park along it if impossible.

It was founded in the year 920 in a very secluded site that was previously occupied by the monks that came here hiding from the Moors invasion in 720. In the 11C it took the Clunician reform against the vices that suffered the Church.  In the 16C another monastery was build in the baroque style a bit further up, the road been very narrow and steep parking was very difficult and still is;;;; the cars were park near the newer monastery and a navette bus takes you to the old included in the admission price.

All I can say see it , its a must and a wonderful jewel of my beloved Spain. Do come to Jaca and why not the Monastery!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here, it is a must in the north old Spain:

The city of Jaca on things to see: https://www.jaca.es/turismo/monumentosymuseos.html

A good unofficial tourist site on Jaca and else: http://www.jaca.com/turismo.htm

The metro area Jacetania of Jaca on history/heritage: https://www.turismojacetania.com/lugares.php?idio=en&Id=120

The Aragon region tourist board on Jaca: https://www.turismodearagon.com/ficha/jaca/#.WxzbWu6FPIV

The official monastery of San Juan de la Peñahttp://www.monasteriosanjuan.com/real-monasterio.php

The metro area Jacetania on the Monastery San Juan de la Peñahttps://www.turismojacetania.com/lugares.php?idio=en&Id=139

A wonderful, terrific, no words combination to see something real of  Jaca, and the Monasterio San Juan de la Peña are unreal.  And remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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