Archive for April 9th, 2021

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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