Archive for June 20th, 2022

June 20, 2022

Curiosities of the Americas !!

Looking at my vault, found some older pictures on paper and took my electronic camera to take picture of the pictures and use them in my blog. This allows me to show in my blog places not shown or pics with new angles of places shown in the blog. Nostalgia sets in and here I go on the curiosities of the Americas !!

The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception  of Havana is an 18C Baroque-style cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary, located in the Plaza de la Catedral on Calle Empedrado, between San Ignacio y Mercaderes streets in Old Havana.

Havana cathedral

The Church of San Francisco de Paula is located at the intersection of the streets Desamparados (Avenida del Puerto), San Ignacio and Paula (Leonor Pérez), just where the Alameda de Paula ends. This church is an example of Cuban Baroque from the first half of the 18C. In the year 2000 the church was restored, and since then it hosts concerts of ancient music and functions as an exhibition hall for the best works of outstanding contemporary Cuban artists, In the place that occupied the church that existed since 1664, a hospital for women and a hermitage under the invocation of St Francis of Paola.

Havana ch of paula

The Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro or simply Morro castle was built between 1589 and 1630 to protect the entrance to the port of Havana, The Morro castle protected the mouth of the port with the help of a hanging chain connecting it to the San Salvador de la Punta fortress placed on the other side of the bay. The fort has walls almost 3 meters thick. Inside the fortress is an exhibit on Cuba’s lighthouses,Also, restaurants. Pic is from Morro to old Havana and harbor. Far left is Casablanca old arsenal.

Havana Morro castle to old havana

The Monumento de los Niños Heroes or the Monument of the Children Heroes serves as a tribute to the cadets of the Military College who gave their lives to defend Chapultepec Castle from the North American invasion on September 13, 1847. It is a mausoleum located in the Chapultepec Forest, right at the beginning of the road that leads to the Castle of Chapultepec.

Mexico mon ninos and chapultepec castle

Holy city located about 50 km from Mexico City, built between the 1C and 7C, Teotihuacan, the place where the gods are created, is characterized by the very large dimensions of its monuments, the most famous of which are the temple of Quetzalcoatl and the pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, and by their geometric and symbolic arrangement.

Mexico Teotihuacan pyramids calzada de los muertos

Xochimilco ,Mexico;  this simple working-class neighborhood features the famous Xochimilco Canals, which are the last remnants of a vast maritime transportation network built by the Aztecs. Colorful boats reminiscent of gondolas take visitors on cruises past food vendors, artisans and mariachi bands. The atmosphere is festive, especially on weekends. Go there by heading to Tasqueña metro station, which is at the very end of Blue Line 2. From Tasqueña, there is a special train called Tren Ligero that departs from Tasqueña and arrives at Xochimilco.

Mexico Xochimilco

The Palacio de la Moneda, or simply La Moneda, in Santiago de Chile, is one of the most remarkable buildings ever built by the Spaniards in their colonies in Latin America. The palace stands in the center of Santiago, in Plaza de la Constitucion or Constitution square and Avenida del Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins. Currently, Moneda is the seat of the Presidency of the Republic and of three ministries, including that of the Interior, as well as the General Secretariat of the Presidency and that of the Government.

santiago de chile palace of the moneda

The Plaza Sotomayor is a square in Valparaíso, It is named after Rafael Sotomayor. The Plaza Sotomayor originally called Plaza de la Aduana (Customs Square), then Plaza del Palacio (Palace Square) and later Plaza Intendencia (Intendancy Square), is the most important civic square in Valparaíso , The square is lined by buildings occupying full block-fronts of the streets that flank it. The focus of the square is the monument that honors the Chilean sailors who fell during the Battle of Iquique and the Battle of Punta Gruesa, In 2004, the design of the square extends to the Prat Wharf, turning it into a touristic walkway from which was possible to embark in order to cross the roadstead of Valparaíso from the sea. At the Prat wharf is possible to see a replica of the Santiaguillo, (little Santiago) a small sailing boat which was the first Spaniard vessel to dock in this bay called Quintil ,The first wharf completed in 1883 corresponds to the passengers’ wharf, made of wood and metal with hexagonal shape.

valparaiso plaza sotomayor

The Port of Valparaiso is the maritime terminal, It is the port with the highest passenger arrivals in the country and the second one with the highest container movement,  The Port of Valparaiso can be divided into the commercial port (mainly containerized cargo), the passenger port (cruises). Each of these activities has its own space, separated from the others, with facilities and specialized personnel. Most cruises depart and visit Valparaiso from fall to spring when the weather is typically very mild, Like most modern cruise ship terminals, Valparaiso Terminal de Pasajeros also serves as a public events venue during no-ship days / times. The passenger terminal is adjacent to a container dock, and features a convenient railway station.

Valparaiso port cruises

The Caminito is a street museum and a traditional alley, located in La Boca, a neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The place acquired cultural significance because it inspired the music for the famous tango “Caminito” of 1926, music by Juan de Dios Filiberto. lyrics by Gabino Coria Peñaloza. Sang by the mayor tango singers of all time including Carlos Gardel, Hugo del Carril, Libertad Lamarque etc.

Buenos aires caminito la boca

There you go folks, a walk of nostalgia from my very earlier trips to Latin America. The wonders of the Americas that still rings a bell to my ears on each stretch of meter I take on this world. Hope you enjoy the post as I reviving these old pictures into the life of my blog.

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

June 20, 2022

Some news from Spain CXXVI

And back at you with my series of some news from Spain !!! thanks to you all. There is lots of things going on in my beloved Spain, and it seems we will have a wonderful hot summer season. I am eagerly looking forward to that!! Let me tell you the latest tidbits of news chosen by yours truly, Enjoy it as Spain is everything under the Sun!

According to an analysis by Rastreator, traveling for a week in August this year is 24% more expensive than the previous summer and 56% more than in 2020. The latest ranking of the online comparator places Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Sevilla as the three cheapest cities in Spain to travel to this summer ! On the other hand, Cádiz, Gijón and Palma de Mallorca are among the most expensive cities, with prices up to 63% above the average !. As explains by the El Mundo Viajes, renting a car in the destination this vacation will be one of the main higher expenses that we face. In fact, the average price in Spain of renting a mid-range vehicle for a week in August costs an approximate average of 422 euros.

Spain is one of the best countries in the world to travel with children. But within our geography there are some cities where it is more comfortable, cheaper and fun to do so. And the first of all is Alicante. Reasons? It has good communications, the average annual temperature is pleasant, it has a good handful of attractions for the little ones, the price of its hotels is the most varied… These are just some of the points analyzed by the company Bounce, specialized in slogans of baggage and author of elaborate rankings linked to international tourism. Alicante is number one, followed by Benidorm, Valencia, Malaga, Granada, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Santiago de Compostela and Toledo.

An hour and a half by car is enough to escape from the bustling city of Madrid and enter Belmonte, a small town located to the southwest of Cuenca, which the vertigo of the passage of time seems not to have affected. There are many ways to marvel at this town, that in 1361 Pedro I of Castilla, El Cruel, made it independent from Alarcón to incorporate it into the crown and create the state of Belmonte, You should get lost in its urban area, admire its stately buildings or walk among its important monumental heritage with the Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé and its castle as banners. Both built in the 15C, The castle in the Gothic-Mudejar style, has even been the setting for the filming of all kinds of film and television productions. Multiple feature films, as well as series and spots, have been filmed within its walls. But this emblematic fortress has made its way into celluloid history thanks to the epic film El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sofía Loren (1961). The Palace of the Infante Don Juan Manuel, which was ordered to be built in the 14C by this famous writer and prince of Villena. The construction was built as a passing fortress for his travels. In the same way, today it intends to welcome travelers who want to discover these lands. It has 39 rooms equipped with all the comforts. In its restaurant, open to the public, you can taste the most varied dishes, prepared with a personal touch, Belmonte tourist office:

In the interior of Tarragona, isolated between gentle hills and surrounded by lush forests, is El Fonoll, an ancient town, whose origins would be between the 10C and 12C, which today is an acclaimed destination in Spain for lovers of naturism. A private farm of 200 hectares, in the town of Pasanant, returns to normality and to receive tourists. The owners of the farm, ittle by little ,turn it into a naturist destination to which those interested would expressly go, since it is not a place of passage and getting to it is not easy either. Currently, in addition to the owners, another 30 people live there all year round. From June to October is when more people congregate in this place and the camping area. Anyone can visit El Fonoll, but to do so it is necessary to meet certain requirements: first, pay the entrance fee , and the second, to live completely naked from the moment you enter until you leave the town. In addition to nudism , other established norms are: be respectful of the political, social, and religious beliefs and ideologies of others; you can only smoke in private spaces; No photographs can be taken without permission from the management or respecting the environment, fauna and flora. Those who visit El Fonoll will find an ecological and sustainable town, where chickens, goats and donkeys roam freely. The electrical cables do not reach them, so the light and everything related to it is obtained through the solar panels.

The water is obtained from a natural source, which fills the pool, ideal for bathing in summer, and irrigates the many orchards and fruit trees that are planted on the premises. Mobile coverage is minimal, to get it you have to move away from the town, and there is also no Wi-Fi (only available on demand in a small area in the center of the town and a maximum of five minutes). Yes there is a public telephone. A wide range of fresh and packaged goods, including locally produced wines and artisan foods, are available at the store, but the store is open on request. The wonderful natural environment of El Fonoll is also perfect for excursions. The farm has about 20 km of tracks (not marked) between forests and valleys that are worth discovering, Those who want to get to know the region a little more simply have to put on their clothes again, take the car and go to the beautiful and historic neighboring towns, such as Guimerà, a beautiful medieval town just 7 km of El Fonoll, the Vallfogona Spa, built around the river Corb in the 19C with springs of mineral-medicinal water, Forés, on top of a hill crowned by a castle and a viewpoint with panoramic views of the Conca de Barberà, or Vallbona de les Monges and its large monastic complex, a female Cistercian monastery founded in the 12C. Official El Fonoll webpage :

Barcelona, ​​New York, San Sebastián or Brussels were some of the cities in the world that saw the imprint of an artist who stood out greatly in the field of murals: Josep Maria Sert. But, without a doubt, no other defines his excellence better than Vic, given the commitment he made to this town in Barcelona province as a result of a commission from his friend Bishop Josep Torras i Bages in 1900, and which he carried out for a good part of his life. We are referring to the decoration of the neoclassical Cathedral of Sant Pere de Vic, his crowning work, completed in 1945 ,Today, the capital of the Osona comarca, (sort of county) pays tribute to him through the Sert Route, which allows you to delve into the career of this painter who is buried in the same cathedral. The cathedral has undergcone different transformations and additions: the original Romanesque temple dates back to the 11C, and the crypt and the bell tower, seven stories high and 46 meters high, remain from that time. In addition, very close by are other buildings of great historical interest, such as the Episcopal Palace, from the 17C, or the old Notary’s Office, which was rebuilt in the 18C, and, if you want to investigate in this field, the Episcopal Museum, which has a remarkable collection of medieval painting and sculptures, The Roman temple, with free access, built in the 2C, was part of the castle of the Montcada lineage and is made up, among other elements, of a portico with eight columns and Corinthian capitals on an Ionic base. Later on, by the way, Vic would be occupied by the Muslims, in the year 718, and finally repopulated by Guifré el Pilós in the 10C. Also, see the Monastery of Sant Pere de Casserres, erected by a viscountess at the beginning of the 11C, after buying this allodial domain from Count Ramon Borrell of Barcelona. It carefully cares for its customs through other events such as the Ram Market, an agricultural and livestock fair with exhibitions and livestock and machinery competitions, which have been held since 875 !. But also artistic events, with another drawing, painting and sculpture market in the Plaza Mayor, on the second Saturday of each month, and since 1989 , the Mercat de la Música Viva (its 34th edition is held from September 14 to 17 2022), where many bands coincide with the presentation of their new albums, plus the Jazz Festival, which is held in May. Vic tourist office webpage :

One of my favorite neighborhood of Madrid. This is the Barrio de las Letras. There are places that do not lose their essence, although time passes and fashions change. The Barrio de las Letras is one of them. Its streets of buildings with balconies and Fernandino lanterns where great authors lived, from Cervantes to Lope de Vega, are today the lure of modern business ideas. It is conceivable that it is a neighborhood with a captivating spell. Calle de Huertas, is the endless avenue of bronze literary quotes on the cobblestones that articulates the neighborhood and gave it a popular name, (see my post for more).

From the Italian to the Japanese tradition, passing through the ‘made in Spain’, the quintessential summer sweet experiences moments of splendor in Madrid. Ice creams anyone?

Heladeria Los Alpes, a historic house in the city, founded in 1950, dedicated to the manufacture and sale of ice cream (Italian style), sorbets, cakes, horchata with DO Chufa de Valencia… Raw material of national and international quality (pistachios from Bronte, pine nuts from Valladolid, Talavera cheese…) and craftsmanship, from start to finish, are the keys to this family business, In the Moncloa district not far from El Faro, store has 65 flavors, Location: Los Alpes, Calle Arcipreste de Hita, 6 just off Calle de la Princesa, webpage:

Maison Glacée next to the Moulin Chocolat (same owner). Set up, in 2019, this charming place, whose ice creams are a cult object. They are made with organic milk and a slow ice cream process. Smoothies, croissants, biscuits… complete the experience. Locations at Calle Ibiza, 42 and calle de Alcalá, 77. webpage:

Panda Patisserie, this place, close to Gran Vía, dresses up for summer with its delicate kakigori, ice creams that were born in Japan in the 11C for the unique enjoyment of Japanese emperors and nobles, The Japanese cuisine and ideologue Hattori Hanzo , izakaya that houses this pastry shop. This frozen mountain that is the kakigori is the result of an arduous elaboration, whose starting point is ethereal layers of ice soaked with flavors and syrups, “all natural” , Location Calle de Mesoneros Romano, 17. webpage:

La Pecera, In just five years the brand has become a phenomenon and already has eight stores, one in Valencia and seven in Madrid (including a foodtruck). The last one openned near the Royal Palace at Calle de Bailén, 13, and in style The menu changes often The offer is completed with taiyakitos and batiyakis. Webpage:

And , we will have the Galerias de las Colecciones Reales or the Royal Collections Gallery will open in June 2023, 25 years later , A quarter of a century will take the hitherto called the Royal Collections Museum to open to the public. The project was born within the Government of José María Aznar in 1998, during his first legislature. The idea was to show all citizens and tourists the vast heritage that the Spanish monarchs, since the Catholic Monarchs, have treasured throughout history and that now belongs to the citizens. Up to 160,000 works, ranging from painting to sculpture, floats, clocks, photographs or engravings, and consisting of the work of artists such as Goya, Velázquez, Tiziano and Caravaggio, among others. The building, which is located in the Jardines del Moro, between the Almudena Cathedral and the Royal Palace.

The new Royal Collections Gallery will have a chronological layout that will begin on floor -1 with the Catholic Monarchs, the tapestry collections and the Royal Armory will dialogue with works by El Bosco, Tiziano, El Greco, Ribera, Velázquez and Caravaggio, among others. The Royal Monasteries as spaces for women and for power and patronage will also have their leading role. From this floor you can see the 9C wall discovered during the construction of the building, which is also explained through an audiovisual. Floor -2 begins with the plans for the new Royal Palace of Madrid, built by order of Felipe V after the fire in the Alcázar, and will end with the model of the Gallery. Musical instruments, furniture and decorative arts will speak of this first period of the Bourbons along with paintings by Mengs, Goya, Tiepolo, Paret and Maella. In the last section, photography is included and it is explained how the State assumed, through the National Heritage, a body created in the Second Republic, the conservation of the Royal Collections and the opening of the Royal Sites to the public. Finally, on the -3 floor, an immersive cube has been installed where the images of the architectural and natural spaces of the various Royal Sites will be projected in 360 degrees. The temporary exhibition hall will be located on this floor. National Heritage webpage :

And why not tell you about some fine wines from my dear Spain, enjoy them in Summer, and all year long, Salud !

Finca Moncloa Tintilla de Rota Edicion Limitada, González Byass launches the first vintage of this unique and very scarce red wine (just over 2,000 units have been bottled). Produced in Arcos de la Frontera, the winery and vineyard are located there where, after 50 years of research and work, Tintilla de Rota has been recovered, a native grape that has almost disappeared and with which González Byass made wines in the 19C. . Aged for 12 months in eight new American oak barrels, this reference reflects the terroir of Tierra de Cádiz and displays aromas of red and black fruit, oak, cocoa and spices, as well as light floral and balsamic notes. On the palate it is a soft, balanced wine, with body and a slight acidity characteristic of this vinifera, webpage :

Finca Rio Negro Nº 5, The most exclusive reference of this winery that is committed to high-altitude wines (at 1,000 meters, next to the Sierra Norte de Guadalajara Natural Park). Made using artisanal methods with the Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties, it is a wine for aging with a long and careful process of at least five years, destined to continue improving in the bottle for many more years. The result is a red wine with an intense, elegant and complex aroma, where notes of ripe black fruit predominate, combined with notes of new wood, spices and balsamic. On the palate it is fleshy, persistent and balanced. webpage :

Habla Nº 28, From Bodegas Habla, located in Trujillo, comes this Tempranillo grape monovarietal, which last year’s edition (Habla Nª22) was awarded at the London Wine Competition, held in London. Habla Nº28 is the fifth that the brand has launched this variety on the market -after Nº2, Nº15, Nº19 and Nº22- since its ‘Limited Edition’ series began in 2007. It is aged for 13 months in new barrels of French oak and one year of rest in the bottle. It also comes from a 100% organic viticulture. In the mouth it is balanced and fresh and persistent at the end. Webpage :

This Martín Códax Arousa 2019 is made at the emblematic Martín Códax. The particularity of this label is that it comes from Albariño vineyards located at the foot of the sea in Cambados (Pontevedra), in the San Tomé area. They are vineyards that grow at the mouth of the Umia, under the influence of the Arousa estuary and on granite soil. Conditions that give it a clear saline, iodized, marine character. After 18 months in stainless steel tanks , the result is a balsamic wine, with aromas of citrus, stone fruit, iodized and hints of seaweed. Great liveliness in the mouth, with a juicy citric acidity and a finish in which the saline note encourages you to continue drinking. A different albariño. Webpage :

And last but never least, something from my grandparents and descendant (see posts), Walking through prehistoric forests, discovering endless beaches or contemplating an infinite sky of stars are just some of the innumerable experiences for those who want to embark on enjoying Tenerife from a different perspective this summer. In the north, the traveler can go deep to discover prehistoric forests, endless beaches of golden or black sand and picturesque towns with small pastel houses and church steeples scattered amidst green hillsides where the locals still greet you with a welcoming smile. . Tenerife’s cookbook stands out for its traditional dishes rich in vegetables, fish and meat. Recipes such as wrinkled potatoes, gofio or mojo picón (later the Cuban mojito! To accompany it) have become popular on the peninsula and internationalized in recent years. Special mention deserves the Tenerife wines. The island has five denominations of origin for wines made with different autochthonous varieties of pre-phylloxera vine, among which the malvasia stands out, with which white wines of exceptional quality are made. A private webpage on tourist info on Tenerife :

The official Tenerife tourist office :

There you go folks, another dandy tour of my beloved Spain ! Summer is practically here with all that heat wave, even if officially is June 21st. Time to enjoy sunny Spain once again, and we are gear up for it! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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June 20, 2022

The Seminole Gulf Railway of Ft Myers!!

And again in nostalgia lane of my beloved Florida. I had the opportunity while living there to criss cross the entire State, and keep wonderful memories of my 18 years there. I had the great opportunity to visit it with the family in 2009 and again on a business trip in 2015. All beautiful wonderful memories of my Sunshine State of Florida. Pulling from my vault , got me a picture of a ride took with the boys in Fort Myers and the Seminole Gulf Railway train ride at the time back in about 1997. Let me tell you about it now, and hope you enjoy it as I.

Ft Myers seminole gulf train ride NF

A bit of history I like to start

The Seminole Gulf Railway is a short line freight and passenger excursion railroad headquartered in Fort Myers, Florida, that operates two former CSX Transportation railroad lines in Southwest Florida. The company’s Fort Myers Division, which was previously the southernmost segment of CSX’s Fort Myers Subdivision, runs from Arcadia south to North Naples via Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, Estero, and Bonita Springs. 

And the concept we love as done both the day ride and the murder mystery ride! And they still do the runs!!

Ft Myers seminole gulf train ride

Seminole Gulf Railway also operates a popular Murder Mystery Dinner Train from Fort Myers. The dinner train runs five nights a week, year-round from a station at Colonial Boulevard north to a point just south of Punta Gorda before returning. The dinner train uses a fleet of 1930s-era vintage rail cars named after nearby barrier islands (some of which were previously Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus rail cars). The dinner train includes a five-course dinner and has featured over 80 different murder mystery productions throughout its history.

The official Seminole Gulf Railway 

The Ft Myers tourist office on the train ride

We passed by but never inside, however, I will post here as it is related in Fort Myers and a good idea combination with the above ride. So here is the Railroad Museum of South Florida.

The Railroad Museum of South Florida operates a 3,200-square foot museum located in Lakes Regional Park. The museum is open 7 days a week, although ,do have a shorter summer schedule in August and September. Located in the museum are “S” and “N” scale model train layouts, as well as an overhead “G” scale train, a “live steam” scale locomotive, and artifacts including an authentic brass bell from a steam locomotive, rail tracks, lanterns, ticket punches, spikes, tools, and baggage carts on display. There is an interactive locomotive simulator, featuring the actual control console from a decommissioned diesel locomotive. The museum also houses a movie theater where you can sit and watch a video giving some history of the park and railroad. 

The Railroad Museum of South Florida in Ft Myers

There you go folks, another nostalgic look back of my beloved Florida, the one that needs to be seen to appreciate the boundaries of this Sunshine State! Fort Myers has many other things to see and just south is my family at Cape Coral, and north more family in Tampa ;well all over the State of Florida. Hope you enjoy the ride or visit as I

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

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