Archive for June 21st, 2021

June 21, 2021

Introducing, Amiens, Albert, and Péronne!!!

And getting back to my belle France, there is so much to see and do! I have as said, taken advantage of having family in the Nord dept 59 of the Hauts de France region to visit some nice towns far from me. This has been the case of these 3 which I am given life to an older post on the cities of Amiens, Albert, and Péronne. Of course on the monuments ,they have their separate posts in my blog. This will be on the now usual from me black and white series ,no pictures.

This is the case for me on the North of France, old Picardie, Somme, Pas-de-Calais, Nord departments old regions now all under the Hauts de France region.   Well, the oldest brother of my dear late wife Martine, lived around here, and much of the family on his wife’s side are all spread around. We have come visiting since 1990, and never stop,just happened the outings have been sporadic when it comes to tourism…. As often, I am reminder and now know, living and visiting are two different things. This is a vast area full of history and sadly some of WWI reminders.  I have written before on Amiens, Albert ,and Péronne as well as mentioned some of the WWI grounds and memorials around here.   

Let’s go with Amiens in the Somme dept 80 , only 115 km from Paris and easy accessable. The city is surrounded by great highways such as the A16 and A29 and very near the A1, A2, A26, and A28. An excellent train station Gare d’Amiens and 38 km from Amiens you have TGV connection with the TGV Haute Picardie station. Closest airport is Roissy CDG at only 98 km. The town gets its name from the Gaul’s of the North current Belgium name Ambiens.

A bit of history I like on Amiens:

It was an important location between the region of île de France and the Counties of Flandres and finally reunited to the French crown by king Philippe Auguste in 1185.  In January of 1264, in the Cathedral still under construction Saint Louis gives an arbitration in favor of the King of England Henri III known as the Dit d’Amiens.  In 1279 the king of France Philippe III le Hardi and king of England Edward I wrote the Treaty of Amiens that puts an end to the conflict between the Capetians and the Plantagenêt . In 1329, in the Cathedral the king of England Edward III rends hommage to the king of France Philippe de VI de Valois .  By 1358 the supporters of Charles II of Navarre including the rich of Amiens opposed the supporters of Charles V of France, son of king John II the Good prisioner of the English , not far the battles of Crécy (1346) and Azincourt (1415) were held . In 1385, Charles VI marries Isabeau de Bavaria. In 1423 the Treaty of Amiens creates the triple alliance between the Duke of Bedfort, Philippe III of Burgundy, and John V (Jean V) of Brittany to fight against king Charles VII. In 1435 by the Treaty of Arras the city of Amiens is given to Burgundy before returning it to the French crown in 1477 by way of king Louis XI.

The French revolution is relatively calm in Amiens and during the first consulat of Napoléon as well. In March 25 1802, the United Kingdom and France signed at the city/town hall the Peace of Amiens putting an end to the coalition against France.  In 1872, writer Jules Verne comes to live in Amiens, the native town of his wife, and becomes involved in the local political and public life, been elected to the municipal council on the Republican line in 1888.

Between 1914 and 1918, Amiens welcome the soldiers of the world, French, British, Australians, Newzelanders Canadians, South African, Indians etc etc. By 1916 to the east of Amiens is the site of the Battle of the Somme, one of the most bloody periods of the war with about 1,2 million victims. The collective memory preserves a deep souvenir of what is still the bloodiest event in British history. Here it is commemorated and I have participated as a thank you the places of memory of the Commonwealth in the Somme every July 1st. The ANZAC  (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps)  day is celebrated every April 25 (and I have been to a couple) here and in other towns of the department Somme 80.  In 1940, the Battle of Amiens begins and by May 20 the Ier panzer division nazis entered the city. The British army liberates the city on August 31 1944; the city comes out 60% destroyed.

Things to see in Amiens

Cathedral of  Notre-Dame d’Amiens , the biggest medieval and religious building in France (twice the size of Notre Dame of Paris) . The bell tower or Beffroi  is ,also, one of the symbols of the city mentioned for the first time in 1244 and rebuilt in 1406 on a base of white stone when before was in wood. The biggest Circus in France ,Circus Jules Verne here since the middle of the 19C exactly opened on June 23 1889 by Jules Verne replacing a circus in wood dated from 1874. The museum and house of Jules Verne (see post)  is at the angle of the rue Charles Dubois and blvd Jules Verne on a house where Jules Verne and his wife lived between 1882 and 1900. . A symbol of the reconstruction of Amiens is the Tower or Tour Perret near the train station , of which area was totally destroyed by bombings of 1944. It has a height of 110 meters and for a long time was the highest building in Western Europe, visible from several km around the city.

In the heart of Amiens you find in 300 hectares the wonderful Hortillonnages , a mosaique of floating gardens surrounded by canals, vegetables gardens of water making it the green lung of the city. Cultivated for over 2000 years it is a must to see,worth the detour just for it. The city has other parks I like such as the Parc Saint Pierre in the district of Saint Leu and not far from the above; also, the Parc du Grand Marais along the Canal of the Somme with over 25 hectares and many park sporting facilities , and the Jardin des Plantes or before the Jardin du Roy created in 1751 oldest garden in Amiens by the blvd du Jardin des Plantes street.  As far as museums well come the Musée de Picardie the first building done for housing a museum in France.  It is considered the French museum model of the 19C and aka the Petit Louvre de la Province or the little Louvre of the provinces with a rich collection in four departments Archeology, basement; Medieval arts  at street level, Fine Arts at street level and first floor (US 2nd) and Modern contemporary arts in the first floor (US 2nd).  It, also, has room for temporary expositions. The Berny  museum or Musée de l’Hôtel de Berny, dedicated to local regional history with a style architecture of Louis XIII and built in 1634 first to serve as treasury building. The native house and museum of Jules Verne where he lived from 1882 to 1900 and wrote part of this works. It allows you to come into the creative and personal life of the writer and the place is preserve with the original decoration and most of the original furniture from the street level to the attic.  A must, to see we love it.

The Amiens tourist office on things to see in English:  http://www.visit-amiens.com/tourinsoft/recherche/en_patrimoineculturel

And I take you into Albert also in the Somme Dept 80 of Hauts de France. Albert as well in dept Somme 80 of Hauts de France.130 km from Paris but only 45 km from family base. Albert is close to the autoroute A1 connecting Paris to Lille on exit 13 and 14 as well as a train station TER on the line Rouen to Lille.

A bit of history on Albert I like

The lordship of Encre belongs to the Counts of Saint Pol and later to the House of Clermont -Nesle in the 15C finally to the family of Humiéres in the 16C; being subjects in part to the abbey of Corbie until the 13C from which it is subject to the king of France. Nevertheless there is a charter from 1090 showing in favor of the abbey of Mont Saint Quentin and subject to the Castle of Péronne. The war against  Spain continues after the treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the Grand Condé passed on the services of the king of Spain Felipe IV and attack Albert  and later burned it in 1653. The peace treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659 puts an end to 24 years of war that gives the Artois to France and Albert stop being a frontier town even if totally ruined.

During the French revolution the town is in arms and took part in the Great Fear of  1793  or the reign of terror where the heads of Duke of Chartres, Duke of Orleans, citizen Philippe Egalité, and the last lord of Albert took its toll. During this period of terror, the mayor of Albert hides the statue of Notre Dame de Brebiéres in a barrel of salt and hide it in his store. The six bells in the Church and statues were transfered to a food storage in the city hall, while the archives of the hospital and Church were burned. By the WWI of 1914-1918 Albert was the theater of great battles ; in September 1914 the Battle of Albert in the run to the sea ; 1915 was heavily bombed  that destroyed almost all the belltower of the Church was hit but the golden Virgin stayed hanging; during the battle of the Somme in july-november 1916; during the battle of Kaiser spring 1918, the city was in ruins and occupied by German troops, in 1918, General Douglas Haig launch a counter offensive in Albert by August 21st; main trust of the offensive was carried forward by the British 3rd army and joined by the 2nd corps of the United States. Albert finally felled and liberated August 22nd.  In WWII Albert is occupied again by May 20 1940 and finally liberated September 1st 1944 with the help of the local police and national police who joint the Resistance against the SS nazi; by 22h the tanks and canons of the 2nd British army entered the town to finally liberated it.

Things to see in Albert

The wonderful Basilica of Notre Dame de Brébiéres built from 1885 to 1895 in neo byzantine style, and connects to the museum of WWI;  the city hall or Hôtel de ville d’Albert in the art deco style inspired from the flemish with vast dimentions in the square or Place Émile Leturcq.  The train station or Gare d’Albert built after WWI opened in 1925, in brick on top a bell tower. In the room of lost steps there is a suspended airplane Potez 36/14 built in the factory of Méaulte near Albert. The wonderful museum of the Somme 1916 or musée Somme 1916, (see post) an old underground museum that connects to the basilica, civil defense and life in the trenches during WWI. There is a nice museum of aeronatics and industry or the musée de l’Épopée de l’Industrie et de l’Aéronautique d’Albert , located in the business park of parc d’activités André-Liné, rue de l’Industrie leaving the city in direction Amiens facing the factory of  Bétrancourt. 

The Pays du Coquelicot tourist office on the Albert Cathedral and other things to see: https://www.tourisme-paysducoquelicot.com/la-basilique/

And last but not least I end my line at Péronne.  The train line was closed and the TGV too far so the best way is to come by car at Peronne. The city is close to the autoroute A1 Paris-Lille, A29 –Amiens-Saint Guentin and it is on the N17. It is about 145 km from Paris taking the A1.

A bit of history I like on Péronne.

There was heavy conflict here between the king of France, Louis XI and the Duke of Burgundy Charles the Fearless head of the Burgundian State. The Péronne area was a territory that belong to the duke of Burgundy since 1418 and was part of the lands disputed between the duchy and the kingdom from 1463 to 1477.  By the treaty of Péronne in 1641, the principality of Monaco gets out of the Spanish protectorate and becomes part of the crown of France, for a month the king Louis XIII stayed in Péronne as well as Cardinal Richelieu to formalize the agreement with Honoré II Grimaldi of Monaco. By the time of the French revolution, the people elect deputies that are against the French revolution. In June 1815 after some resistance the Napoleonic troops in Péronne surrendered to  General Wellington, and a few days later king Louis XVIII and the Tzar Alexander I passes by the town on their way to Paris.   By August 28 1914, the Germans come to Péronne and the city is abandoned by September 15 after the first Battle of the Marne. They come back to occupied in September 23 and hold on until March 1917 after the German retreat on the Hindenburg line. The city is again occupied by the Germans in August 1918 and practically destroyed the city. During WWII the city is occupied for most and finally liberated in September 1 1944 by the US Army; while the city is destroyed in 36% of its buildings.

Things to see in Péronne

The wonderful gate or Porte de Bretagne with interior and exterior building done in brick and stone linking the two rectangular buildings and a bridge still there today. This gate is an extention of those built between 1647 and 1652. You can still see the Royal bastion and a serie of defenses of the 17C; in the castle you still have the ruins of three towers.  By the end of the 12C king Philippe Auguste ordered built the four towers that you see today. It is inside the Castle that house King Louis XI for the meeting with Duke Charles the Fearless of Burgundy in 1468. The Donjon was destroyed during a siege in 1536; the castle was partially destroyed during WWI and then rebuilt.

St John the Baptist Church almost totally destroyed between 1914-1918 conflict and then partially during 1944 with a flamboyant gothic façade stay up during these periods. It has a portrait of the 17C entitled La bonne mort or the good death.  The city hall dates from 1293 with an original today bell tower; rebuilt in 1509 and repaired in 1536, the façade is decorated with salamanders sculpture with the symbol of the king François I dating from 1583. It has been renovated in the 18C.  The bailiff was on the side of the city hall on the Grand Place with a Renaissance façade. The main building has a gallery on the upper level that today houses the municipal library. The façade felled in 1701 and king Louis XIV had it renovated in 1704. In his honor there is a plaque announcing Nec pluribus impar in latin meaning not unequal to many, this is in the roof, destroyed during WWI and the building rebuilt to the identical details afterward. There are cemeteries for the British and Indians soldiers of WWI.

The Alfred Danicourt museum was initially located in the city hall founded in 1872 by the mayor Alfred Danicourt that had one of the best collection of gaulles moneys, antique jewelry, merovigian funeral furniture, weapons accessories and pre historic arms as well as beautiful paintings of the region from the 19C and 20C. It was the only museum destroyed and looted during the Wars,which lost 95% of its collection. The museum was reconstituted in 1955.  The Historial de la Grande Guerre (see post) or the historical of the First World War is located next to the old medieval castle, and even taken some parts of it. It is dedicated to the story of WWI, the new extentions were built in 1992 with a nice museographic display of the war from three points of view German, French ,and British. There are white stone on the building with arrows representing the military tombs. One room is dedicated to the strong waters or eaux-fortes of painter Otto Dix. Very much a must to visit, we love it.

The Haute Somme tourist office on things to see around and in Péronnehttp://www.hautesomme-tourisme.com/en/plan-your-trip/what-to-do-/discover.html

An overall webpage to see the impact of WWI in Picardie 14-18, both in Albert and Péronne: http://www.picardie1418.com/

And there you go , a bit long ,but all worth it for these wonderful towns of history, architecture, and beauty, pleasant trip by car is best me think but you know I am the road warrior lol! Hope you enjoy the tour of Amiens, Albert and Pérone, worth the detour indeed!

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

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June 21, 2021

The unique history and architecture of Koblenz!

So let me take you back to Germany and the wonderful city of Koblenz. As said , I took the family to Germany and we had a blast in our road warrior campaign on its western part. Let me update for you and me, an introductory post on this nice city. I have several posts on the city in my blog, worth taking a look at them too. Hope you enjoy it as I.

Ok so, I am all nostalgic about my wonderful trips with my dear late wife , Martine. I do runs to Germany several times in the past, but business trips.  Then, once on a trip to Luxembourg city we went into Trier , great that is Germany. Then , we came back again to do the same trip. And finally, the family decided that we should go just to Germany and see more of it. So off we went renting a house in a little wine town just south of Trier. We use this as a base to visit several towns there. One that took us by surprise and we like it a lot (other than Trier) was Koblenz. And this town has so much history even combining both France and Germany we were pleasantly surprise and love it.

Koblenz or Coblence ( in French) is a town in the state of Rhineland Palatine , the name come from the confluence of two rivers the Rhine and the Moselle in the German corner or Deutsches Eck, the closest big city are Bonn at 60 km and Mayence at 90 km.  My visit here has been by car from Trier so the 602 ,then A1, B48 and finally the 9 roads or about 3 hrs.were the roads chosen. There is a train station of course,and close airports at Frankfort and Koln; as well as easy navigation by river. However, to us ,car is king and queen!

A bit of history I like (or rather lots of history I like).

The Mérovingian period after the end of the Western Roman Empire in the 5C, the city is taken by the Franks (same guys as France) that established a kingdom. Here comes the Carolingian period  When in 806 Charlemagne divides the empire between his sons and Koblenz is taken by Charles but he died soon after and by 814 is share by the sons of Louis the Fair. A dispute amongst his sons come to be that Charles the Bold inherits the city in 837By 1018, emperor Henry II offers the kingdom to the archbishop of Trier and so Koblenz is part of the Prince States one of the seven that founded the Holy Roman Empire.  The maternal Uncle of king Louis XVI and his brothers host the Count of Artois and the city becomes the center of counter revolution to the French , they sent troops here and the coalition of Prince Wencelas is force to run and leave the territory ,two weeks later the city is taken by the French revolutionaries. The fortress of Ehrenbreitstein held longer until 1799 before surrendering. This event meant the end of the Prince States of Trier.

Many immigrants from France comes here running from the French revolution such as the Count of Artois (Charles X) and Count of Provence (Louis XVIII) , brothers of king Louis XVI . They planned from here a counter revolution with the help of neighboring kingdoms. A war starts and the French invade over the Rhine river in 1794. By 1795 Frederick William II of Prussia signed the treaty of Basel where he recognized the occupation of the left bank of the Rhine by the French, and name an administrator of the city into the French department of Rhin et Moselle. The treaty of Luneville in 1801 Koblenz is incorporating into the French Republic and becomes capital fo the department

The city received the visit of Napoleon I and his wife Josephine de Beauharnais in September 1804. The French becomes the language of the administration and the name of the town is Coblentz. The commander of the Russian army that took Koblenz in December 31 1813 was non other than Emmanuel Louis Marie Guignard de Saint Priest ,he had joined the Prince de Condé in 1792 and from 1793 was an officer in the Russian army; (opposing Napoleon) it is at this time that the name Schângel that means even today the persons born in Koblenz. According to the terms of the Congress of Vienna of 1815 the lands of the Prince State of Trier are integrated into the Province of the Rhine in the kingdom of Prussia.

At the end of the WWI in November 1918 the workers council and the soldiers come together at Koblenz but a month later the American troops conquered the town and  puts an end to the government of the Soviets . In 1923, the American military turn over the town to the French that on their turn leave the city in 1929.  In 1945 the Americans again occupied the city. Upon the accords of the Potsdam conference the occupation is transferred from the Americans to the French and in 1946 the new State of Rhineland Palatine is created. It is at the conference of Rittersturz held at Koblenz in 1948 that it was founded the Federal Republic of Germany or West Germany by decision of the three occupying forces, USA, UK, and France.

Walking the town is magical and we love it; the walks around the German Corner or Deutschez Eck are superb and well recommended at least do this.  Things to see in Koblenz are many ,my favorites are:

Museums of Koblenz, history and civilization and navigation, castle of Stolzenfels, and Louis. The castles of Electors Princes, Stolzenfels and old castle. Municipal theatre of Koblenz; Saint Castor Basilica, Notre Dame Church, Saint Joseph Church, Saint Florin Church , and the convent of Capuchins of Koblenz Also, the Fort Constantine, Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein, and the  Deutschez Eck confluence of the Moselle and Rhine river (very nice), the bridge Baudouin and the Fountain of Schângel located in the courtyard of the city hall and place on top a child smashing the water.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

From the 13C there is a festival on the initiative of monk Caesarius on a carnival scale by the German corner or Deutsches Eck ; the costume was lost during the war of 30 years ; later after the retaking of the city from Napoleon I by the Prussians in 1815 the carnival was reborn in 1823 a new beginning and most important help by the influence of the one in Koln . To our days the principal organizer of the festival is the association  AKK.  The program now includes plays in rooms and promenade parade of Fat Monday, covering the entire city as well as the election of a Prince and his lady Confluentia, the occupation of the city hall and the police barrack of Falkenstein  by mask folks under the direction of the council of eleven and the regents of the crazy days groups  More on it at Koblenz tourist office in English: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/events/events-in-koblenz/carnival-monday-procession.html

Some webpages to help plan your trip here are:

The City of Koblenz on its history/heritage in German: https://www.koblenz.de/leben-in-koblenz/kultur/region-um-koblenz/

The Koblenz tourist office in English: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/

The Rhineland Palatine tourist office on the Koblenz ludwig museum as picture above: https://www.tourenplaner-rheinland-pfalz.de/en/point/museum/ludwig-museum/2955355/

The Rhineland Palatine tourist office on the Koblenz Schaengel fountain as picture above: https://www.tourenplaner-rheinland-pfalz.de/en/point/well/schaengelbrunnen/41498518/

The Germany tourist board on Koblenz in English: https://www.germany.travel/en/cities-culture/koblenz.html

There you go folks, something to expand our horizons and lucky to be at the crossroad of Europe and all these wonderful places to see easy. Enjoy the introduction post on Koblenz.  And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!

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June 21, 2021

A bit of Uganda for you!!

Another African experience, and there were several over the last 10 years in my travels around the world. This was another surprise This was taken when some Brazilians friends asked me to joined them there to secure business, and I was ready and willing to see this country of many contacts over the years ,and lucky to be able to catch up with one while there! Memories forever, the thrill of travel , and the joy of the world. Let me bring you a bit of Uganda for you!!

My blog as I have said is a way to keep up with the past and tell of the future. So on my last journey ,and my 80th country visited, I came to Uganda. A wonderful place of many friendly people all eager to improve themselves.

My journey as usual took me from Nantes Atlantique airport after getting there with my car. From Nantes I flew again to Paris CDG T2F and then change to Terminal 1 for a fly with Qatar Airways to first Doha (my first trip here too! ) and then Entebbe, Uganda. The return was easier on KLM from Entebbe to Amsterdam Schiphol airport and then again on KLM to Nantes Atlantique airport where my car was waiting for the return home. All done well except needed to change from AF to Qatar Airways which made me arrive five hours later to Entebbe.

Doha airport is very nice as usual in this part of the world, the airport is the highlight … huge super modern place with all the trimmings and easy to connect flights. The formal name of the airport is Hamad International,and the webpage: https://dohahamadairport.com/

From Doha I continue to Entebbe and here you are worlds apart; small, a bit rundown, and dirty and you need to get out of your car so they check on it , walk by and the driver will pick you up on the other side after you going thru a security check point. Once at the airport no sense in getting earlier as they put you on the side waiting room until your flight is call for departure; then you go outside again and come back thru the security check point to get back into the terminal… At least the people are very friendly. The webpage: https://caa.go.ug/entebbe-international-airport/

An unofficial Entebbe airport webpage on the airport with more useful information me think. https://entebbe-airport.com/tofromairport/

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Once there, had a friendly transportation ride as it was a business trip to Kampala the capital even if has no airport.  Here I stayed first at the bit expensive but just to impressed me Le Petit Village actually of Belgian style and the price to match Europe. It is actually a village with accommodations ,pool, an inside bank, souvenir store, bar and light restaurant as well as a fancy one call le Chateau with again prices to match for visiting businesspeople like me. The overall place is very nice of course, worth it of its name. The webpage: https://lepetitvillage.net/

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While passing by Entebbe saw a bit of the local street scene, and several malls such as Imperial Mall and Victoria Mall, very interesting and some crowded traffic jams as well as rain. The imperial Mall is a recent development for Uganda standards. The Victoria Mall is the largest in the country and looks very nice. I did not go into them. There is a nice multiple store with a shopping mall call Oasis in Kampala. It has several stores and even saw a KFC restaurant! I did stop here for coffee on the run between Kampala and going for Jinya.

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I continue on the African road warrior tour from Kampala and doing some street scenes rides and tasting the local Nile Special beer, just yummy! I went on to Jinja another important city in Uganda,and right by the mouth of the mighty Nile river! In Jinja , I stayed at the nice and friendlyTwo Friends guest house, worth it good value location and services. Here we had dinner at the next doorAll Friends Restaurant. The webpage : http://2friends.info/

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It is on a street bordered with tourist accommodation as Jinja is a popular place for tours of the Nile river which starts here around Lake Victoria. I got a personal ride but there are many rentals here such as this Speedway Safaris webpage with a bit more info on the Nile river mouth and cruises :https://www.speedwaysafaris.com/source-of-river-nile/

And of course , a bit more on Lake Victoria, simply amazing! More on a local recommended outfit,  Lake Victoria net webpage: https://www.lake-victoria.net/victoria/

While in Jinja, I did my baptism on the Nile river , a big lake ,and I was here!!! Well having a jet ski waverunner and driver helps a lot but the views were spectacular and of course on the way back to harbor I fell in the water trying to go from the jet ski to a fishing boat; no big deal it was shallow and had floating jacket on, quickly out, just my clothes were soaked. An experience to remember for life. Wonderful place thought. And of course, saw no Nile crocodiles!!

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As my time there covered a week and traveling back and forth from Kampala to Jinya ,I got me a different hotel for the last day and a half in Kampala, this was the MacKinnon Suites, very centrally located, rather nice building, impressive courtyad only the bedding was a bit well yellow.  The rest was fine with good friendly service and excellent facilities. webpage: https://www.mackinnonsuites.com/

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Coming thru Schiphol Amsterdam allow me for a quicker return and to did some shopping for Gouda cheese, and pepermint candies. The airport is an usual one for me with just one big boulevard Holland to walk by and shop and eat and drink.  I spent most of my time there at the Internet Centre and eating at the Oven pizzeria upper level.

Coming back landing at Roissy CDG Terminal 1 been there but is my worse terminal, been the oldest nothing like T2. You walk into the CDGVAL train connection to get you to Terminal 2 and the connections to Paris.

Finally, reach Nantes Atlantique is my favorite airport as it is so easy to use and very convenienent with a covered attach parking garage. The hotels are just across the street for a stayover about 300 meters.  Overall, a very pleasant trip and a new dot in my world map. Uganda know from many years before doing business there but never visit until now, as the saying goes better late than never. And I will be back….

I took many pictures but mostly personal ones; I have contacted the friends there to be on the lookout for this post. I like to take this opportunity to thanks them for their nice friendly welcome and great understanding. The beer, the coffee were great, and the people very friendly and safe place to be. Enjoy  the post on a bit about Uganda and Kampala/Jinya!!

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

June 21, 2021

A wondeful experience in Lagos,Nigeria!!

I am thrill to update this older post on a wonderful experience in Lagos ,Nigeria. I have long done business with the country and encounter many friends from there , some still in touch. However, to my wonderful surprise I was asked to do an expat mission from France in Lagos Nigeria and it was a thrill to see these friends again in their country! This is the story I love to tell you ,and hope you enjoy it as I. For info , there are other posts.

A few years back, I had the opportunity to try a job experience that have been wonderful and several friends later and a blog post, would like to update.  While working for a French Oil support outfit, I was asked to trained the personnel on the Oracle accounting system set you there,and reports back to home office in France. I needed to move to Lagos, Nigeria for about 3 months!

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The security was tight, I had a driver/car 24 hrs 7/7 and lived in a secure compound Somerset Court. More here in come to Nigeria webpage: https://www.cometonigeria.com/where-to-stay/somerset-court/

We had great shopping at Mega Plaza, Shoprite in the Palms Spring shopping center, and could go out a lot to restaurants and bars, especially the Federal Palace , Sofitel (now a mercure), and Eko hotel complexes.  The favorite links are here:

old Sofitel hotel (now a mercure!): https://all.accor.com/hotel/2770/index.fr.shtml
Federal Palace Hotel and Casino: https://www.suninternational.com/federal-palace/

Eko Hotel: https://www.ekohotels.com/eko-hotel.php

Shoprite supermarket: https://www.shoprite.com.ng/

Palms Shopping Mall, home of Shoprite Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ThePalmsMall/

Some of the favorite restaurants visited were!

Lagoon Indian cuisine restaurant: https://ofadaa.com/lagos/restaurants/lagoon

Golden Gate Restaurant (Chinese) going down since I was there but for the memories: https://hotels.ng/places/restaurant/193-golden-gate-restaurant

Orchid House Thai local cuisine: https://hotels.ng/places/restaurant/1175-orchid-house

Sherlaton Indian restaurant: https://hotels.ng/places/restaurant/3123-sherlaton-indian-restaurant

Local Cuisine and very friendly one of my favorites there was Manuela (it had a  Cuban chef!) and a nice place to stay too if needed: http://www.manuelaresidence.net/

The experience was fulfilling and several friends still in touch, and the feeling that I trained them right and are still on post. On these spots in our world, it is not recommended to go with a family but for short periods I recommend the experience to anyone. The company has a revolving visa system where those on the dock worked 12 weeks and get 4 weeks off on rotation.

Now let me tell you a bit about the history of Lagos ,and Nigeria just a bit that I like.

Lagos or Èkó in the local language of Yoruba, the biggest city of Nigeria and Africa. Lagos is located in a group of several islands in a large lagoon protected from the Atlantic ocean and on the Gulf of Benin. The Portuguese were here in the 15C and named the city in reference to the Port of Lagos from which expeditions to Africa were done back in southern Portugal. It was conquered by the kingdom of Benin in the 15-16C and governed by kings and become a major center of the slave trade during the 18C. An anecdote ,here, the slaves brought to Cuba by Spain were from this area and the Yoruba language was carried with them there, now there are some traces of this and the few words I could remember served me well while in Lagos to the surprise of the locals. In 1861, the British founded a colony and name it Capital of the Protectorate of South Nigeria established in 1914. Lagos stayed as Capital at the moment of Independence of Nigeria in 1960. By 1967, it became a Federal State equal standing with the other 11 States of Nigeria. Later, for political reasons the capital was taken to a new city of Abuya but Lagos remains the economic heartbeat of the nation.

The best areas are east of city center at Ikoyi (where I lived), and Victoria Island. The district of Lagos Island is the business area with an artificial island named Eko Atlantic City.

The Lagos island is on a huge lagoon that goes into the Ogunau river by the Gulf of Benin. Several of these islands have been linked or attached to the continent as peninsula like Iddo Island or Victoria Island. The lagoon opens up to the Atlantic Ocean by a coastal line that extends to 100 km to the east and west of the mouth located near the city. The government decided to transfer the Capital to a new city call Abuja in 1976; this to slow down the growth of Lagos and for the most part to have a divided country without privileging the three main ethnic groups in the country.

There are several ferry lines between Lagos island and the continent managed by the Lagos State Ferry Services Corporation. webpage: http://ferryservices.lagosstate.gov.ng/

Lagos is served by the international airport Murtala Muhammed, (where I came in and out) one of the biggest in Africa and located in the suburbs of Ikeja. Webpage here:  https://www.lagos-airport.com/

The city of Lagos has one of the largest and most extensive road networks in West Africa with the notables Lagos–Ibadan Expressway and the Lagos–Abeokuta Expressway ,also serving as inter-state roads to Oyo and Ogun States. On the west you have the Lagos–Badagry Expressway serves outlying towns such as Festival Town. There is ,also, the Trans–West African Coastal Highway leaving the city as the Badagry Expressway to Benin and beyond as far as Dakar and Nouakchott, also, the Trans-Sahara Highway to Algers, Algeria leaving the city as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The Lagos State has a bus rapid transit (BRT) system and Lagos Rail Mass Transit .  Bus Rapid Transit system, known publicly as ‘BRT,’ regulated by the Lagos State Government. They are also of two types, Blue and Red. The Red Buses ply major roads in Ajah, Ikeja, Iyana-Ipaja, Alagbado, which are majorly residential areas. The Blue Buses (which are air conditioned and better kept) travel from Ikorodu (a Lagos surburb) through Mile 12, the site of the largest food market in Lagos, through Fadeyi, Stadium (the location of the National Stadium in Surulere) to CMS (the location of the oldest church in Nigeria) and Tafawa Balewa Square (the arcade where Nigeria’s independence celebrations were held in 1960), which is the bus terminus.

The Lagos terminus trains webpage: https://hotels.ng/places/terminal/2122-lagos-terminus-iddo

Three major bridges join the island to the mainland. They are the Carter Bridge which starts from Iddo, the Eko Bridge, and the Third Mainland Bridge, which passes through densely populated mainland suburbs to the Lagos Lagoon.

There are popular markets such as Idumota and Balogun Markets. The Bar and Lekki beaches and on the Atlantic side Elegushi and Alpha Beaches, and the museum of Black Heritage . More info here: https://www.cometonigeria.com/where-to-go/badagry-black-heritage-museum/

Other sites that can be visited are the Central Mosque, Glover Memorial Hall, Christ’s Church Cathedral and the Oba’s Palace (Iga Idunganran). Lagos Island’s Tinubu Square is a site of historical importance; it was here that the Amalgamation Ceremony that unified the North and South protectorate to form Nigeria took place in 1914. Ikoyi is connected to Victoria Island by the Falomo bridge, which carries a main road over Five Cowrie creek. Ikoyi, (where I stayed) also has a number of hotels, night clubs, a recreational park and one of Africa’s largest golf courses. Victoria Island with its annexe is situated to the south of Lagos Island, and it has expensive real estate properties and for that reason, many new luxury condos and apartments. Lagos,also has a number of private beach resorts including Inagbe Grand Beach Resort.

The hightlight of any night out is to have the local Suya (spicy shish kebab or spiced roasted beef) which is consumed in local clubs and bars with a bottle of cold pint beer, Star!! A unique experience to be remembered and always in good company!

Enjoy the momento and the pictures in this post and  see other posts on Lagos for more. An exotic experience that turns out a very nice memorable passing by Lagos,Nigeria.

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

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