Archive for ‘Americas’

October 25, 2020

Florida,the Sunshine State!!

I am changing? do not know, but have some lately posts without photos. Well, you need to search because they are here in other posts. I am just updating very old posts that I feel the text is good to refresh , update for the history of my blog and me! Hope you enjoy them as I do!

A wonderful 18 years in the State of Florida, my biggest chunk of life! In one region/area.  Memories that will not go away easy. The State is sunshine, family, friendly, and happy; so many things to do it will take an entire blog history to tell. Florida is University studies, work life, marriage, fatherhood, joys and tears , the human struggle! I will hit the highlights of my favorites.

Starting with the Daytona Beach area, NASCAR ,the 500, the Pepsi 400 ,the moto 200, the 24 hrs of Daytona, and the Spring Break, the beach season from Memorial day but all year for our snowbirds from the North. You see the Daytona International Speedway, you are now waiting for the Daytona 500 ,in my time I used to sneak in to see the races for free (inside the car trunk!); those were the good old university days.  You have my University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University the best in the air, Eagles Soar. Go Eagles. That I visit as much as possible now far away. I was for a while until moving to Bretagne, the mentor for my alumni assoc in France, about 3 high schoolers from France who went there got the complete rundown from me. ERAU, the founding chairman of American Airlines (1934) , trained in civilian disguise the British pilots in four Florida airfields to be able to defend Great Britain in WWII; and lately about 50% of US pilots graduates with college degrees from there! Awesome experience!

I have my memories with the  Aquatic park (now call Daytona Lagoon) and an unlimited amount of water activities, not to mention the Angel & Phelps Chocolate factory and store tour, the Bulow plantation ruins, Sugar Mills Botanical Gardens, Ponce Inlet lighthouse, Jackie Robinson memorial park, the Casements (old Rockefeller house now museum), and Tomoka Indian Mound. The hotels are plenty in which either have stayed later visiting or had school or business conferences in them such as Treasure Island Hotel, Daytona Hilton, Daytona Inn, Acapulco Hotel, etc, Glorious eating establishements like Barnacles (now gone); Alfie Restaurant, Aunts Catfish, Oyster Pub, etc, and a wonderful Daytona Beach International Airport,for the ins and outs.

Out west along the SR 40 you reach Ocala, old home of Tarzan and Silver Spring park where the first movie was film with Johnny Weissmuller. Cousin lives there!

Up in historical Saint Augustine, you have the oldest city in the USA founded by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565! Here you have Lightner Museum, Ripley’s Believe or Not, Fountain of Youth ,where the great Pedro landed; Fort Matanzas , trolley tours, horse wagon tours, the oldest House in America, and the Bridge of Lions,old world setting. The Spanish Columbia restaurant ,like you were in Spain.  So many weekends spent in this town, I can walk it again blindfolded. See the beautiful Cathedral, with its Spanish mudejar construction.

Moving to the west along the I4 expressway, you reach the Orlando magical area, what can I say here, Disney, Universal, Medieval Times, International Drive, Lake Buena Vista drive, the Florida Gator Bowl, the lake at Eola, so much that is impossible to list all.  You have the more affordable area of Kissimmee just by the Disney entrance with many hotels, and restaurants  to choose from; my favorites were the Santa Fe Disney hotel, and the Caribbean Hotel too. The restos were the Hemingway at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress hotel, Bongos Cafe (now closed), Rainforest Cafe, Wolfgang Puck, Red Lobster, etc. The best location for staying other than inside Disney property or Universal official hotels is to find a property by Lake Buena Vista.

A bit further in Kissimmee you have restos Applebee’s, Chili’s, Dennys’s Friendlys , the choices are endless here.  You have shopping at Florida Mall, Pointe Orlando, and The Mall at Millenia, and International Premium Outlets, in addition to those in the theme parks areas. The area is very well serve by the Orlando International Airport which have used. Cousin lives in Orlando now!

Moving further west still on the expressway I4 you will reach the Tampa area, more wonders, like Busch Gardens,the aquarium at St Petersburg (now closed) ,wonderful beaches like Fort De Soto National Park, Clearwater Beach, Treasure Island,St Pete Beach, and Ybor City in Tampa, Florida Aquarium, Lowry Park Zoo, etc etc . You get nice hotels like the Grand Hyatt, Marriotts, Intercontinental,Embassy Suites, and Holiday Inn Busch Gardens locations.  The Tampa international airport never got to use it. I have several cousins living here!

At Ybor City you will find the oldest Spanish restaurant in the USA ,est, 1905. Columbia our home away from home wherever they were in Florida.  Also Shells, and shopping at Channelside, Hyde Park Village, Westshore Plaza,and Ybor City own stores.

Going even further west , you have the wonderful Saint Petersburg greater area, the Sirata Beach Resort is marvelous to stay in, and restos like Sloppy Joe’s, and PJ’s Oyster Bar are great.

Coming down on the I75 you will reach the Cape Coral area, where I spent many times because my parents used to owned land there. However this area is best known for the Sun Splash Family Park, great rides in water and else Hotels the Holiday Inn Express at the entrance to the city is great, as well as the Casa Loma Motel (now management and new name OYO reviews are not good).  Shopping best is by the Coralwood Shopping Center or the outlet mall by the I75 road at Miromar Outlet. I have cousin living here now!

You will head down on the I-75 and east on the Alligator Alley to Miami area ,and the wild Miami Beach. You can see the Miami Seaquarium, Miami MetroZoo, Barnacle historical Park, ancient Spanish monastery (North Miami Beach), Vizcaya castle and gardens, Fairchild Tropical park, Everglades Alligator Farm, Island Queen Cruises, Miccosukee Indian Village,Wings over Miami museum (aviation museum) , etc.  there is more the above are just my favorites.

The beaches the nightlife is awesome , so much to tell, Lincoln Road is great down to South Beach at Miami Beach, then up north Bal Harbour is nice and trendy. Coconuts Grove is quaint and chic, as is Miracle Mile.  Shopping /resto is wonderful in the places above as well as  Bayside Marketplace and  Miami downtown or city center area offers plenty, by the port of Miami . Plenty of Restaurants, from La Carreta, Joe Allen’s (gone), TGIFridays, Puerto Sagua, Smith &  Wollensky, Joe’s Stone Crab,  Bongos Cuban Cafe (now Estefan Kitchen I am told),Versailles,News Cafe, so many good ones over the years,but I can narrow them down further see post. Shopping you have International Mall, Dolphin Mall, Aventura Mall, Dadeland Mall, Bayside Marketplace as my favorites

For transportation best is get in by Miami International Airport, so many times by here even if it has change quite a bit in the last few years. You can see a great basketball game of the  Miami Heat at the American Airlines Arena in city center. I have aunt and cousins living here!

My last footprint here was moving a bit north to Miramar in Broward county, main city and near was Ft Lauderdale. In this area, you have for shopping the very best Sawgrass Mills, then Broward Mall (part of group Westfield now) , Pembroke Lakes Mall, and Galleria Mall as best known over the years. The Las Olas blvd area is fantastic,

You should pay a visit to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Visit the Bass Pro Shops (Dania Beach) for fishing gear par excellence. More such as the Bonnet House Museum and Gardens, Boomers (closed), Butterfly World (Coconut Creek), CB Smith Park, Seminole Indians Casino, Billie Swamp Safari, Flamingo Gardens, International Game Fish Association museum (Dania Beach), Jungle Queen Riverboat, and Anne Koln Nature Center as some of the best sights.  The sports enthusiast can watch a game of ice hockey at the Florida Panthers BB&T Center  in Sunrise.  Plenty of restos such as TGIFridays, Cheesecake Factory, China Grill (closed), le Bistro (Lighthouse Point), le Cafe de Paris (closed after 50 yrs!!) , Quarterdeck Bar and Grill with great munchies and beers always No hotels as this was my last home before leaving for France. Great times in the Ft lauderdale/Miramar area of Broward County. Ins and out on Ft Lauderdale airport!

But Florida goes deeper into the keys , wonderful heaven off the Caribbean and closer to old home! The Florida Keys, my fondness for Key Largo, Marathon (fam kept boats here), and Key West. Plenty of water sports, fishing, and good laidback eating. The best is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park the first underwater park. Everglades National State Park,and the Biscayne Park, all great nature lovers heavens.  Have a bite and great beer at Coconuts Restaurant (now closed), you could have rented fishing accessories and boat out of here too. Marathon is better for scuba diving, and has the keys Airport as well as the nicest beach at Sombrero Beach, a huge popular conservation program of turtles and dolphins, a city marina with 224 berth. For that leisure back Florida conch living and nice meal try the Porky’s Bayside BBQ, and still open!!!

And then we have Key West, the southernmost city in the USA, only 90 miles (145 kms ) from Cuba . Try the Dolphin encounter charters to chase and see them in the wild, get a seaplane adventure and head out for Tortugas isle even further from the mainland USA, at the Dry Tortugas National  Park, and see Fort Jefferson, get on the Trolley or Conch train for a ride thru the streets of Key West, and of course don’t leave without seeing Ernest Hemingway house and museum, Key West Aquarium, San Carlos Institute (a Cuban heritage center founded in 1871 by Cuban exiles who came to Key West to plan the campaign for Cuba’s independence),  the Mel Fisher Maritime museum, and Mallory Square  amongst the best.

For eating, we are regulars of Kelly Caribbean Bar & Grill, the old actress of TV and movie fame (Kelly McGillis) no longer owns it , and there is a new name as well First Flight , the site is the founding hangar of Pan Am airline. Then head for the El Meson de Pepe, and Sloppy’s Joes.

Hope you have enjoyed this overview of the great State of Florida with lots of memories for me. Some of the places are gone, others change names, and others still there. And of course, the faces do change and landscape. Do not know when our feet will cross again but the memories will stay for the rest of my life. Again, hope you enjoy this nostalgic post and do visit the Sunshine State!

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

October 25, 2020

My best restaurants in Florida!!!

To complement the shopping in Florida, will give out my best selection of restaurants in the areas that I lived, 18 years in Florida USA. The restaurants have usually  hours that start with lunch around 11am and continue straight to dinners open until about 23h. You have cafes, and restaurant that do the same thing, and then bars, the tipping is not included. Some restaurant come up to me already figuring the tip at 15%;18%;and 20% on the bill. The pay is low, so tipping is expected, but not obligatory. I tip if the service warranted it, and if I am a regular client I tip a bit more than just a casual passer-by. Again the choice is yours, but folks there are used to so they tip.

I am updating this post done first in 2011! and of course, things change indeed, my last time there was 2016. Some of my favorites were/are:

Columbia restaurant, the oldest Spanish restaurant in the USA. I have visited the properties in Saint Augustine and the original from 1907 in Tampa. 98 St. George Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084 . And , the original in the Ybor city area of Tampa at 2117 East 7th Avenue ,Tampa, FL 33605.. Fantastic Spanish cuisine with flamenco performers at nights in a quaint Spanish hacienda setting, very romantic and cozy. The best of Spain. webpage  https://www.columbiarestaurant.com/Menus-By-Location

TGIFriday’s chain of restaurant is fabolous for its spared ribs a la jack daniels, simply great and couple with great cocktails. The setting is Americana with lots of objects hanging out and frame to its wall of yesteryear. I have taste the ones in Ormond Beach (ocean shore blvd) , Sunrise (13350 w sunrise blvd) , Orlando( international drive) , Miami (s dixie and dolphin mall) , and Tampa (fowler ) the webpage is  https://locations.tgifridays.com/fl.html

Applebee’s, a chain where the the ambiance is more towards sports decorated walls, location been to Sunrise and Miami. I have gone for the trios and seafood platters with plenty of beers. webpage  as now part of a group Dine Brands Global that cannot be access from France! https://www.dinebrands.com/en

Quiznos, a great sandwich chain, with succulent big sizes and great prices ,wonderful for lunch and on the go eating. the taste is definitively great and fast service; to eat on site or take home.  Its a chain and even with international locations, my favorite location is near old home at Pembroke Pines, Miramar, and Sunrise; even if these branches are now closed. webpage  https://restaurants.quiznos.com/

Barnacles’ seafood at Ormond Beach, a great place with fresh product perfectly made all the time and right on the Atlantic Ocean. One of my all time favorite, and keep coming back when in the State. Fish and Chips, Schooner sampler or just a nicely made fish, great ambiance like a fisherman village.  This has closed here for the memories.

Julian’s, for the best steaks in the area, many times recognise by the leading ranking houses. You just come for those juicy steaks in a upscale ambiance of old New York. In Ormond Beach since 1967, now with new owners since 2005 but still all is good I am told.  Well eventually they closed for good, just for the memories.

Aunt’s Catfish, on the river intracoastal at Port Orange, just south of Daytona Beach, an institution in the area, you can have a better fish resto with southern hospitality. Try the blue crabs!!! webpage  http://www.auntcatfishontheriver.com/

The Oyster Pub, a tradition of mine since college days!, still going strong, the IN place to be in Daytona Beach. oysters of course and plenty of good beer and good cheers, with great sports TV screen , the place to be and to be seen. Families ok for lunch. webpage http://www.oysterpub.com/

Razzles, if you want to party late and have fun while a block from the Atlantic ocean in Daytona Beach came here, another area institution visited since my college days!. Great ambiance to please until late hours.  Dance, Drink, and be happy here. webpage http://www.razzlesnightclub.com/

Maison & Jardin is no longer a restaurant but it was French back in my days in the State, and now its an event planning place for all your business or weddings, etc needs, worth checking it out, you never know if you need a place like this and its sentimental neighborhood for me (same owners thus). At Altamonte Springs, alond I4 goings towards Disney and before reaching Orlando. webpage tells you more , http://www.maisonjardin.com/

La Crepe en Haut, Ormond Beach, the ultimate French restaurant in my old town, a place to practice my French while dreaming of visiting France again, you will be in France, French owners; unfortunately closed, here just for the memories.

Mr Wich deli, is without a web still but confirm still there!, tuck away in a tree laden place in Ormond Beach, the best place for lunch in the area, and the best pastrami south of 45 st NYC ! sandwiches are huge, try the combo with chips and drink. 21 N Nova Rd Ste A,  Ormond Beach, FL 32174; just go from I95 direction Ormond Beach on the SR40 or Granada Blvd, same road, when reaching Nova Rd turn left and the deli is right on your right hand side.

New York pizza, the ultimate NY pizza in my times done ably by wonderful Marie of NY. Still going strong after so many years for good cause. You wont eat a better pizza in the area. Now at new location than on my days but taste it good in 2009,637 N. Grandview avenue , Daytona Beach, FL 32118.  https://www.newyorkpizzasubs.com/

Alfies restaurant in Ormond by the Sea next to the ocean, an institution near one of my old hangouts, indeed the best breakfast in the area, and a great opportunity to catch the latest in the world with the regular customers of many years. webpage  https://alfiesrestaurant.com/story-of-alfies/

Mr Dunderbaks, the German sausages and beer place, an institution still going strong after so many years and again for good cause in 2009. Inside the Volusia Mall, 1700 W. International Speeway Blvd. unfortunately this has closed, here just for the memories.

Inlet Harbor Restaurant and Marina, an institution in the south Peninsula, south of Daytona Beach, at Ponce inlet .  Now the resto is separate from the marina and call Off the Hook at Inlet Harbor. just great catch of the day straight from the fishing boats.   https://offthehookatinletharbor.com/

Hemingways inside the Hyatt Grand Cypress hotel, a wonderful time past of old Florida conch ambiance and great raffine seafood cuisine by the best in Orlando. Even if now closed due to the virus. https://www.hemingwaysorlando.com/

Bill Wongs Super Buffet,Chinese perfection at great prices in Orlando, 5668 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819. tel +001 407 352 5373.  No web near Disney off I4. This is now closed, here just for the memories.

Wolfgang Pub  Cafe, now just a bit further at 1518  East Buena Vista Drive, Downtown Disney, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830. Great exotic cuisine with an American/Japanese twist. A renown chef in a wonderful ambiance. webpage  https://wolfgangpuck.com/dining/orlando-bar-grill/

Bongos Cuban Cafe, 1498 East Buena Vista Drive,Downtown Disney,Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830. tel +001 407-828-0999. the best Cuban resto in the central Florida area, a resto own by Gloria Estefan ,famous American singer of Cuban origins(Miami sound machine). The latest in mojitos and daiquiris with modern succulent cuisine avant garde. This was the original location now at South Beach Miami and others too.  This one is closed, here for the memories.

Pacino’s Italian Ristorante, a great Italian with wonderful decorations and ambiance, mamma mia in Kissimmee, near Disney . 5795 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Highway 192, Kissimmee, FL 34746 tel +001 407-239-4141.  webpage  https://www.pacinos.com/

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament , an event to have dinner without utensils as in middle times with horse shows of lancers. A great family time, always remember well.  4510 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, FL 34746. Now at 4510 W. Vine St.  webpage  https://www.medievaltimes.com/plan-your-trip/orlando-fl/index.html

Shells seafood ,in Tampa, seafood with hollywood history, it has been reorganised lately so need to verify the decoration, but it was a great family time there. 202 S Dale Mabry Hwy. Tampa, FL 33609.  webpage https://www.shellsseafood.com/locations

Bennigan’s, an Irish resto experience, popular locations my initial contact was in Tampa around the Univ of South Florida and then continues to Miami locations.  The monte cristo sandwich is huge and yummy with a nice beer alongside, Guinness blue bacon hamburger is awesome. At Miami it was near the airport on Le Jeune Rd. Now all closed except at Melbourne Florida! webpage: https://bennigans.com/bennigans-locations/locations-domestic/

Croissan’time, a French institution in Ft lauderdale area, and our little piece of FRance there, the owners are from Avignon, France. You can have a bistro type setting next door and a delicatessen store next with all the goodies to take home from France or made by French in America. Sunrise Square, 1201 North Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale,  Florida 33304, Tel +001 954-565-8555    webpage  http://www.croissantime.com/

Joe’s Stone Crab, a miami institution of greater culinary sensation. One of my favorites and should be yours too…. 11 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139 . tel +001 305-673-0365. You guess it stone crabs and lobster the finest,  Now closed, here just for the memories.

Joe Allen, was in Miami and we met again in Paris (still open diff owner), great American steaks, burgers,and Americana deco. In Miami Beach at 1787 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach FL 33139. Now closed here just for the memories.

News Cafe, the ultimate gathering place for talk coffee and know it all be seen and see in Miami Beach.Open 24 hrs !!!  800 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139. tel +001 305-538-6397. webpage http://www.newscafe.com/

Restaurant St Michel, yes refine and French, excellent cuisine in a old world ambiance. In hotel St Michel same refinements. 162 Alcazar Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134. tel + 001 305-444-1666. webpage  https://www.hotelstmichel.com/zucca-dining

Los Ranchos, for Miami best steaks Latin style, come here its an institution with several locations. My favorite was at Sweetwater(Miami) the original. webpage  https://www.beststeaksinmiami.com/

La Carreta, the best Cuban original and typical, the real thing if you are looking for that. A family tradition try again in 2009 on my visit back home. the Platters combinations are sublime. My best is at 106633 NW 12 street, next to International Mall, webpage  http://lacarreta.com/locations/

Hooters, in Coconut Grove at CocoWalk, the Americana sexy in you, for an American bar with burgers and nice girls.  3015 Grand Avenue,Suite 330
Miami, FL 33133. No longer at this address but in others around the area. https://hootersflorida.com/locations/

The Rusty Pelican,steaks but best seafood on Key Biscayne overlooking the bay of Miami, best views in Miami. Lovely evenings with locals, and the fishterman,yatchmens of the area and beyond. 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149. tel +001 305-361-3818.   webpage   https://www.therustypelican.com/

Latin American Cuban Cuisine, at Bayside Marketplace downtown city center Miami by the port of Miami, Great sandwiches and vaca frita, the Cuban staples. 401 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33132. tel +001 305-381-7774. webpage  https://www.baysidemarketplace.com/directory/restaurants/item/latin-american-cuban-cuisine-2

P.F. Changs, Mary Brickell Village, 901 S Miami Ave., Suite 104, Downtown Miami, FL 33131. In the former fire dept house and previous Fire House four cigar bistro, there is the chinese cuisine par excellence. This is a chain, and the setting and ambiance here is special at least here. webpage  https://www.pfchangs.com/locations/us/fl/miami/901-s-miami-ave/9931-brickell.html

Little Havana Restaurant, 12727 Biscayne Boulevard, North Miami, FL 33161.  The best Cuban in the north of the county, really nice setting with fish tanks and inner patio. The food is well done and authentic. Try the stuffed fish dishes or the ropa vieja dish. webpage  http://www.littlehavanarestaurant.com/n-miami

Red Lobster, a chain of seafood restaurants but very good, my favorite in the area was at 1750 West 49th Street (Palm Springs Mile shopping road that is NW 103 St for Miami), Hialeah, FL 33012.  webpage  https://www.redlobster.com/?locationSelect=1&rlid=10246

Chili’s Grill & Bar, tex mex at its best with a great selection of cocktails, my gathering place at lunch whle at work in the area. Still meet old friends there when visiting like in 2009. 8696 NW 13th Terrace, Miami, FL 33126. The Beacon Center park, webpage  https://www.chilis.com/locations/us/florida/miami/beacon-center/

Flanagan’s Seafood Bar & Grill, another hangout about a block from the above place at NW 12 street, Miami (Doral). This is seafood, and buffalo wings, Spare ribs with great beers and sports screen all over. Best at nights, when the action is hot and fast.  webpage  https://www.flanigans.net/location/doral/

94th Aero Squadron Restaurant, the old hangout for Eastern airlines employees and locals, now the best view of the airport landing fields at MIA/while listening on earphone of the air traffic control tower . You have great drinks and burgers, steaks, and the ambiance is aviation. 1395 NW 57th Avenue Miami, FL 33126. webpage  https://www.94miami.com/location/94th-aero-squadron/

Le Bouchon du Grove, real French guy from Lyon will transport you to the bouchons of Lyon France. Exquisite cuisine in a wonderful village like setting. 3430 Main Highway – Coconut Grove FL (Miami). https://www.lebouchondugrove.com/

Cafe la Bonne Crepe, another wonderful French ,this one in Las Olas blvd of Ft Lauderdale, fine expert cuisine from the best in the area; 815 E. Las Olas Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301.  You missed those crêpes from France well here they do it as identical as can be. webpage  https://www.labonnecrepe.com/

Olive Garden, italian and greatly made dishes , it was near us so we took many partakes here and never disappointed. In the Pembroke Lakes Mall property outside, but locations everywhere in FL.  11425 Pines Boulevard
Pembroke Pines, FL 33026. webpage  https://www.olivegarden.com/locations/fl/pembroke-pines/pembroke-lakes-mall/1409#restaurant-hours-reload

The Hurricane, at St Pete’s beach on the west coast just west of Tampa. A wonderful laidback Florida lifestyle ambiance with great seafood sandwiches and beer to go along your trip on the west coast. 807 Gulf  Way, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706. webpage http://www.thehurricane.com/
Quarterdeck Seafood Bar & Grill, an exquisite extention of great seafood fingers, drinks, sports bar, and great local ambiance you will love in your stay in Florida. This one was after an indoor soccer/football match,and it was great memories indeed. 12370 West Sunrise Blvd, Plantation 33323. Now only one left at 1035 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale.  webpage  https://quarterdeckrestaurants.com/

The Globe, great bar and ambiance, sophisticated,business casual , evening dress to kill. The IN place in Coral Gables and sooo many years at the top. Cant missed it if in the area. 377 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables Fl 33134. The mojitos, daiquiris and classic Champagne cocktails are wonderful to go with Spanish chorizos and manchego quesadillas. webpage  https://theglobecafe.com/

Churchill’s, the British in south Florida, great drinks and great sports venue. My favorite soccer/football matches were always here to go alone with a great pint ::) 5501 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137. webpage https://www.churchillspub.com/

Piccolo Pizza, a great pizza place and more run by folks from Nice,France. On your way to North Miami Beach,   2104 Northeast 123rd Street, North Miami, FL 33180. the webpage mentioned closed but cannot tell if it is just now or for good, https://www.piccolo-pizza.com/

Versailles, THE Cuban resto in Miami Little Havana neighborhood, the in and out of the city and all the political, economic ,arts discussions you can handle. You know it first here. The food is authentic and the ambiance very latin.  Name in all travel guides to the city as a must stop. 3555  SW 8th St Miami, FL 33135. webpage: https://www.versaillesrestaurant.com/

The Royal French Bakery, was run by Christian from Lyon, so it was heavens, not verify if still there but if they are, you need to go right away. We had our buche de Nôel always done here. 7370 SW 57th Ave, South Miami, FL 33143. Just off Sunset Ave or nw 72 st.  It is now closed, just here for the memories.

Le Provençal, French and from Aix-en-Provence, you cant go wrong here, exquisite refine cuisine with a mediterranean flair. One of our stops while living there, and keeping in touch with France. 266 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134. This is now closed, here just for the memories.

Casa Juancho, when my tastebugs switch to Spain ,this is as genuine as it can get over the ocean. Great Spanish cuisines in a fabulous deco and ambiance.  Codfish, shrimps, and tapas with great Spanish wine as well, all originally done by Spaniards. 2436 S.W. 8th Street, Miami, FL 33135. webpage http://www.casajuancho.com/

Well these are the ones that comes to mind, of course they are not all, just what brings back my most memorable moments eating in Florida.  Not prone to take photos at restaurants but have written on some of these properties elsewhere in my blog. Hope you enjoy them too when in the Sunshine State.

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

October 24, 2020

My shopping in Florida!!!

I like to share and update this post on my shopping in Florida coming from my 18 years of living in Central and South Florida USA. An experience that I would never forget ,and last visited in 2016.

Shopping is a ritual, especially around the malls or shopping center. Its a way of life, social, dating, just having a good time all takes place while shopping under the Sunshine State of Florida. Some of the shopping is so near a beach a combination is sublime. Hours are usually from 10h to 21h some open at 9h and others closed at 20h. The hours are continuosly no closing for lunch as in Europe. All properties have heating and air conditioned housing. The only drawback is that public transportation is limited and the automobile is the way to go; however, that is no problem for me ::)

These are some of my favorites places, starting with malls aka shopping centers. The photos are in some of them individual posts in my blog.

Aventura Mall, north of Miami. 19501 Biscayne Boulevard, Aventura, FL 33180 . An upscale wonderlust of stores and restaurants, over 250 stores and 24 cinema screens, with favorites like Barney, Bakers,fossil, gap, and Macy’s, JC Penney, Johnny Rockets burgers, and the Cheesecake Factory resto. This has been improved and enlarged since my time there webpage http://www.aventuramall.com/

Bayside MarketPlace, on downtown city center Miami by the port of Miami. 401 Biscayne Boulevard Miami, FL 33132. A wonderful tropical escape with boating cruises on Miami harbor and passing by the home of the famous. Souvenirs stores and great Latin American Cafe. webpage  https://www.baysidemarketplace.com/

Cocowalk Shopping Center, in the small chic community of Coconut Grove right in the middle of Miami by the bay. 3015 Grand Avenue Miami, FL 33133 .  The cinema, the walks in a quaint village, Hooters’ on a nice breeze Florida night is sublime.  This one has been torn down to re do a complete new complex . More on Facebook for the new Cocowalk: https://www.facebook.com/CocoWalk1/ 

Broward Mall, right in the middle of Plantation a city near Ft. Lauderdale and close to the beaches. A huge place with wonderful stores to browse and eat. 8000 West Broward Boulevard ,Plantation, FL 33388 tel +001 954 473 8100. You have my favorites stores Dillard’s and Macy’s plus eating at Cajun Grill. webpage  http://westfield.com/broward/

Dadeland Mall, a huge shopping center south Miami and you can get there on the monorail public transport from city center Miami. 7535 N Kendall Drive, Miami, FL 33156 Tel +001 305 665 6343. You have here the Disney store, and Sephora, plus eating at Cafe con Leche, and Tango Grill. webpage:  https://www.simon.com/mall/dadeland-mall 

Dolphin Mall, an excellent place west of the airport, you can get there by the Dolphin expressway from Miami Beach to NW 107 ave the mall is right up the street to NW 114 ave .11401 N.W. 12 Street, Miami, FL 33172, tel +001 305 365 7446 . My favorites here were the old JC PEnney store, plus the cinema, the outdoor live music events under the Florida sky, just sublime. come to shop or come to party is all here. Gap, Banana Republic, the Borders Book store,  TGIFridays, for food eating, a great place for the whole family. webpage http://www.shopdolphinmall.com/

International Mall, another dandy right next to the Dolphin Expressway coming from Miami Beach at NW 107 ave. you see it from the Expressway. One of my favorite restaurant is here La Carreta, Cuban Cuisine at its best. 1455 NW 107th Avenue, Miami, FL 33172, now with 9 properties! They had a friendly former  JC Penney store here, a former Toys R Us on the parking property, former Dillard’s (still clothing from here!), and former Mayors Jewerlers. webpage https://www.simon.com/mall/miami-international-mall

You will find great bargain and more city life shopping at downtown or city center Miami away from the port of Miami (cruise capital) and Bayside MarketPlace by going on Flagler street and meandering the little side streets around it, loads of stores there at bargain bazaar prices.  They have an association at Downtown Miami , Biscayne Boulevard to 3rd Avenue, SE 1st Street to NE 3rd Street, Miami, FL 33131 Tel +001 305 379 7070. webpage telling you all about shopping eating and nightlife plus hotels around this area is https://www.downtownmiami.com/ 

Way down on Miami southern tip going towards Key West but still Miami you will find the Falls shopping center, an open air mall of great chic stores right off US 1 main road, they claim to be the biggest in the USA. Here you would see old names wow!! do not see these there now Bloomindales,Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, as my favorites stores with eating places like Los Ranchos, PF Changs China Bistro, are still there but TGIFridays is not!. A wonderful shopping experience under the sun, but nice AC in the stores ::) webpage  https://www.simon.com/mall/the-falls

Lincold Road, this is right on Miami Beach , a very nice shopping place right off the beach for about 10 blocks of stores, restos, art galeries ,nice. Go for the upscale YUCA restaurant now gone!. The News Cafe was a place to talk and mingle with the locals and visitors alike and start your day fresh with all the news!!! Not to forget Joe’s Stone Crabs restaurant, and the beautiful Art Deco hotels lining up Ocean ave. webpage: http://www.lincolnroadmiamibeach.org/ 

Sawgrass Mills shopping center is huge, I mean huge  ,one of the biggest if not the biggest mall in the USA, and Florida’s largest. It is in my home county of Broward, north of Miami and west of Ft Lauderdale. In the city of Sunrise, 12801 West Sunrise Blvd, Sunrise, FL 33323. It is an outlet mall per excellence, with many visitors and locals alike filling its magnificent array of stores.  Some of the former were Saks Fifth Avenue outlet was my favorite, as well as Book-a-Million bookstore (still there!) , Burlington Coat, Bed- Bath & Beyond, Dockers, Levi’s, and K-Bee toys, they have a wonderful role playing games complex center in Wannado City , The Regal 23 theaters cinema (still there!)  is excellent, Gameworks arcade for children (still there under Gamebox arcade) , and the TGIFridays restos,(still there)  around it, the Walmart store just outside (still there!) , Rainforest Cafe inside (still there!) , plus many additional shops and centers around it make it one of the biggest one stop shopping in all of Florida. webpage  https://www.simon.com/mall/sawgrass-mills

Pembroke Lakes Mall, the closest to my house in Miramar , this is a nice family mall, very nicely done in a  belle epoque art deco style inside. 11401 Pines Blvd., Suite 546, Pembroke Pines, Florida 33026, Tel +001 954 436 35 20. The great Toys R Us store, the former JC Penney, American Eagle, Bakers, Bath & Body Works,Macy’s,  former Sears, former  Radio Shack, GNC, Churromania resto with Spanish churros pastries!(still there!) An excellent food court with Nathan’s famous hot dogs, and Godiva Chocolatier. Come on in and relax. Webpage: https://www.pembrokelakesmall.com/en/directory/ 

Volusia Mall, by the international speedway in Daytona Beach, 1700 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, Florida 32114. My old reliable place while in my college and post college days in the area. former JC Penneys my old nice clothing place (purchase my wedding ring here lol!) , former Sears for all those tools, American Eagles, the Applebee’s resto with succulent ribs, Radio Shack, and eat at Wetzel’s pretzels, Mr Dunderbaks german eatery, and Sbarro’s pizzeria. Great memories here, Webpage  https://www.volusiamall.net/shop/volusia.nsf/index

Altamonte Mall, Altamonte Springs, just before reaching Orlando coming from Daytona Beach on the I4 inter state highway on your way to Disney. Better prices ,great surrounding, nice place. 451 East Altamonte Drive
Altamonte Springs, Florida 32701, Tel +001 407  215 51 00.  Former Barnes & Nobles bookstore, Bahamas Cruise resto, Barnie Coffee & Tea, Perfumania, and nice surrounding. webpage https://www.altamontemall.com/en/directory/

The Shops at Pembroke Gardens, another distinctive location of fine shops and eateries near my old home and a family favorite. Here you will find the great burgers Fuddruckers, DSW shoe warehouse, Barnes & Nobles bookstore,and old Navy store.  527 SW 145th Terrace, Pembroke Pines, FL 33027 , tel +001 954  450 15 80.  webpage http://www.pembrokegardens.com/

A great area to do shopping,eating, drinking ,partying ,and all family fun in Ft Lauderdale is at Las Olas blvd area, in a quaint village atmosphere.  Gourment farmers market, galleo belgian chocolates, are two of my all time favorites there. Former Mango’s , Cafe la Bonne Crepe (still there) ,and the former Café de Paris are fine eating habits of the family when in the area. You will find in the link info on hotels ,art galleries ,and many other tidbits of the area, if need more let me know, dont want to write a book ,its just a blog Lol!! https://lasolasboulevard.com/

Centro YBOR in Tampa is another wonderful Florida combination of shopping, Food, and games for the whole family. Another favorite when visiting relatives or Busch Gardens. An escape when coming to play soccer at the Univ level Div 2,and summer leagues semipro Lol!!!  One of the oldest and the oldest Cuban enclave in the USA.  1600 East 8th Avenue, Tampa, Fl 33605. Get on Gametown, (still there) the Muvico theater for great movies, tried former Hamburger”s Mary for the real beefeater in you, try a homemade beer at the former Tampa Brewing. See a Cuban cigar being roll in front of your eyes ,and many more. Webpage  https://www.centroybor.com/directory

St Augustine Premium Outlet, its an outlet stores mall in the historical city north of Daytona Beach, was a family hangout for lunches many weekends. The city of Saint Augustine is the oldest city in the USA, founded by Spaniards in 1565. Jockey, banana republic,levi’s are all great here, as well as Van Heusen shirts, Carters  and Oshkosh B’ gosh were our daily routine for our kids growing up , former Bass shoes were my favorites, and the Book Warehouse (still there). 2700 State Road 16, St. Augustine, FL 32092, tel +001 904 825-1555.  webpage https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/st-augustine/stores    

A similar outfit was visited too in International Drive, Orlando near Disney, at the Orlando Premium Outlet mall, 4951 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819 . tel +001 407 352 9600 . Favorites here were façonnable, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Samsonite (where I bought my first luggage for Europe!) , and the usual Sbarro pizzeria chain. webpage:  https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/orlando-international

Town Center at Boca Raton, to go up and get some French goodies we usually stop at this shopping center, great stores in a very nice setting. For Sephora and Godiva Chocolates indeed !!! 6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431. tel +001 561  368 60 01. You go there from Miami on best by I95 north to Glades Rd exit and follow to mall at town center drive left. webpage  https://www.simon.com/mall/town-center-at-boca-raton

My regular all time wine stores were ABC or Crowns in Florida, I became a wine aficionado while working at an ABC store in Ormond Beach while my college years, and was in charge of stock and ordering the wine section. 725 South Yonge Street, Ormond Beach ,that is the US 1 highway near the intersection with Granada Blvd going to the beach about 6 miles.  The store is here , still there!!! wow!!https://www.abcfws.com/product/23

I did shop in their Aventura, Fl store at 16355 Biscayne blvd.. ,now this store has move a bit south to North Miami Beach so their webpage:https://www.abcfws.com/product/51

I later on, as I moved south, my interest turn to Crown Wines & Liquors a more French look and friendly folks which I entertain for years there, guided by able senior wine purchaser Chip Cassidy. My favorites stores were in the North Miami area at 12555 Biscayne blvd, North Miami ,33181 where I came to lived nearby initially in the area,this store seems closed,   and the most frequented for wine tastings and shopping was at 1590 South Dixie highway, Coral Gables, 33146.  https://www.crownwineandspirits.com/store-locations/

Well the list is endless if I get to it, but I think these will give you a pretty clear picture of shopping in Florida from central to south of the State. And I am surprise what so many years from the day to day shopping can do with so many property changes, webpages and especially stores. Hope you have enjoy the tour and find it helpful for your future visits.

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

October 17, 2020

San Cristobal de la Habana, my Havana!!!

So once again back into nostalgia lane, this will be common in our times of covid19, wuhan virus , coronavirus etc ! I am relinquishing viewing some old post in my blog that needs update due to webpages changes routes etc. My last time in Havana was in 2012! After leaving it in 1970! However, always in my heart. Let me tell you a bit of update on San Cristobal de la Habana or simply La Habana or as most outside says Havana/Havane.

It was the ultimate Caribbean destination, the “Paris of the Americas” (by E Hemingway ), the “key to the gulf (of Mexico) the bulkward of the West Indies” (King Felipe II of Spain), to the whole of Cuba. The “most beautiful land human eyes have yet seen” (C Columbus upon arrival 1492) .It brings back memories of childhood, and still vibrates the world from no matter what place on the fence you might be. It is a beautiful city, if only can be kept in one piece.

havana C Oficio y Teniente Rey Feb12

You first arrive most likely by the Jose Marti International Airport in Rancho Boyeros, just outside the city of Havana,and now part of the city administrative speaking; here you ,also find the Havana Zoo. The real name from its founding in 1519 was San Cristobal de la Habana (St Christopher of the Havana), the saint is the name for the genovese navigator Cristobal Colon (Christopher Colombus), Habana is an old indian word meaning a savanah between two rivers the Almendares (also the best Cuban pro baseball team before the revolution) ,and the Cojimar (famous by Hemingway fishing out). The old center is all of a UNESCO heritage site.

If you go by El Templete you will see an old oak tree where the first religious Mass was held on the island on 1519 . There lies a bust to Christopher Colombus and 3 paintings by French painter Jean-Baptiste Vermay (who, also, did the Cathedral!).  It gain notoriety when the Spanish crown decided that the city will hold all shipment coming from the rest of the Americas to be sent in convoy to Spain this in 1561 (to avoid pirates ransacking them) . Finally in 1592 king Felipe II declares it a city!

It fell to British rule in 1762 after a succesful attack by British ships and naval man, it was then exchange for Florida in 1763, and Havana came back to be Spanish for good by the Treaty of Paris. In 1774 the first census of the city is done with 170 000 inhabitants, and on 1796 the remains of Christopher Colombus arrives from Santo Domingo to be put in the Cathedral, later to be transfered to the Cathedral of Sevilla, (where the wood of the tomb complex is from Cuba) as the legend goes. In 1837 the first railroad is born from Havana to the town of Gûines, a first in the Spanish-speaking world.  In 1863 the old city walls were destroyed so the city can enlarge into the suburbs being the first one, the Vedado. It became a free Republic on May 20,1902 under Republica de Cuba under American protectorate by the Platt Amendment until 1934. After some not so good dictators, it fell into the worse in 1959 where still is under a communist dictatorship; second oldest in the world behind North Korea!

The longest river is Almendares for 50 kms (31 mi), and the name for an old baseball team, my family’s favorite. The highest point is at Tetas de Managua at 210 meters (693 ft). The bay of Havana is one of the biggest and best in the world. The average temperature is 25°C or about 77°F. But near the airport it has been recorded as low as 4°C about 36°F in 2010. Today it has about 2,5 million inhabitants or about 20% of the island population.

It was once the Paris of the Americas, the most chic city of Latin America until the revolution destroyed everything; streets names were changed, city names were change, people left in hordes, and more poverty than ever sets in all under the glorious revolution still there. However, it was not always like today.

It quickly grew into the city with Latin America’s biggest middle class, and Hemingway quoted “In terms of beauty only Venice and Paris surpassed Havana”. Gas public lighting came in 1848 and railroad in 1837. Most of the building were inspired by French architect and style such as the Aldama castle build in 1844. See the University of Havana, Capitol (1929 replica of the one in Washington DC USA). Neoclassical like the Convent of Santa Clara, Art deco like the Bacardi building,modern like the Habana Hilton Hotel (today Tryp Habana Libre part of the Spanish group Melia), and wonderful castles like La Fuerza, Morro, Cabañas,Atares,Principe,La Punta. The grand theater also known as Garcia Lorca theater,and the biggest in Latin America, cementerio Colon (Colombus cementary).

Some of the places of interest to see in my opinion are the followings : Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña or simply La Cabaña in the west side of the harbor; Capitolio Nacional, built in 1929 replica of the one in Washington DC USA; Castillo del MorroEl Templete (first Catholic Mass in Cuba), Cemeterio Colon or Colombus Cementary ,the largest in the Americas; Plaza de la Revolucion ,old Plaza Jose Marti; University of Havana, founded in 1728 and one of the oldest in the Americas; Catedral de la Habana or Cathedral, Convento de San Francisco, Convento de Santa Clara, Palacio de Aldama, Estacion Central de Ferrocarril Or the railroad station, Castillo de AtaresCastillo del PrincipeEl Torron de CojimarAcuario or national aquarium of Havana at avenida 3ra; Museo de la Revolucion in the old Presidential palace ; Fabrica Partagàs, cigars of Cuba; go outside towards Cojimar at Vigia to the house /Museum of Ernest Hemingway, his old property; Walk on bulevard PradoManzana de Gomez, a whole city block building of stores, Cinema Yara the old radio city hall, Castillo de la Real FuerzaCastillo San Salvador de la PuntaPalacio del Segundo Cabo, the home of the 2nd in line governor of old Cuba under Spanish rule; Gran TeatroTeatro Amadeo Roldan; old Captain’s General building where the only king’s throne room in the Americas is located, the site of the governor of Cuba in colonial times and today a museum, Chinatown, as the Chinese quarters.

Havana Mon Maceo Malecon apr12

The way for transport is complicated, and very saturated but its the travelers choice to mingle with the locals and feel ,see the way of life as it is. There are metrobuses lines but very unfrequent and best hire a taxi with driver, and get to ride old American cars at least on the outside. There are some long line bus companies like the locals in inter city travel use the Astro buses from the same spot as below , where if pay in foreign currency you can get a preferential seat (not verify but I was told foreigners cannot use it anymore,check). You can also take the more tourist oriented Via Azul , last I heard their hq was at Avenida Independencia No 101 corner with calle 19 de Mayo, Plaza de la Revolucion, but I never taken anything there than a car. The line via azul schedule is from a French side in pdf file here: https://jdsdf.pagesperso-orange.fr/pdf/Bus%20Viazul%20Cuba%20Horaires.pdf

The same webpage above talks about a new service Transtur ,never heard of but apparently It offers transfer between airport and hotels pdf file here: https://jdsdf.pagesperso-orange.fr/pdf/Bus%20Transtur%20Cuba%20Horaires.pdf

Taxis are regulated  under private individuals and agencies, these are best to be hire for all your trips. Again not use them as have someone ride me around there from the family but this site is for real: http://: https://taxincuba.com/es/index.html

Its a very friendly city that will have no problem finding help and very safe. Driving is not recommended for visitors unaware of the laws and bad road signs but if willing to the best is Havanautos company   with official webpage here: https://www.havanautos.com/AboutUs.aspx?lng=2

The gas/petrol is not plentiful and need to know where are they once you hire the car The stations are call Servi-Cupet and need to pay in foreign currency preferably euros. This is a great map application to find them and more I have it on La Rampa Centro Habana: https://cubamaps.travel/es/compras/tiendas/83623-cupet-la-rampa

For hotels or eating places with the locals try the “Casas Particulares” private folks with official approval. These are best to hire for the experience of real Cuba and Havana of course. There are several sites but I put one from there in English and French too: http://www.casas-cuba.org/index.html

The places to eat best are again at the Casas Particulares that also offered restaurant service. There are now many Paladares or private folks restaurant paying a license to operate from the government but are more typical of Cuba and Havana of course. Again several sites but this one is local as I know it Alamesa or to the table! https://www.alamesacuba.com/en/la-habana/search/#places

And a more popular Restaurant guru for Havana here : https://restaurantguru.com/Havana

Then you have the old reliable like La Bodeguita del Medio, and Floridita Bar (the best bar in the world in 1957 by Esquire magazine); El Aljibe in Miramar, La Ferminia also in Miramar,El Conejito in Vedado ,the old family hangout of rabbit dishes; Los Doce Aposteles in the Morro castle; La Divina Pastora overlooking the harbor, La Zaragozana ; El Potin, near prado and Lineaand Coppelia for ice creams are some of my family favorites.

Oh yes to get to Cuba there are many airlines, but for Cuba there is Cubana de Aviacion, webpage in Spanish here https://www.cubana.cu/

There are others foreign companies that do a lot of flights into Cuba such as COPA, AeroMexico, InterJet, Air France, Avianca, Air Europa, LAN, Comviasa, KLM, Iberia etc. Need to check flights due to covid19.

Booking and al. info on Cuba ,see the old reliable junky at http://www.cuba-junky.com/

And another old reliable Netssa at http://www.netssa.com/

The Cuban tourist organisation in Spanish/English is at  https://www.cubatravel.cu/

As the most tourist now arriving and for the last few years are Canadians, here is the Cuba tourist board in Canada in English: https://www.gocuba.ca/en/

And of course ,the tourist board of Cuba in France in French: https://www.voyage-cuba.com/

Its a city to fall in love for no matter what period of time in history you may choose to visit. Just wishing for those there, better times ahead. Enjoy the ride into my nostalgia old land. Havana is for dreamers!

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

October 16, 2020

Mexico and Jorge Negrete!

So I have come to Mexico several times over the term of my life and always nicely welcome. Now I have written several posts on Mexico in my blog, but I need to do justice to one person.

If you are from the Spanish speaking world then you should have heard of Jorge Negrete! Granted you have to be perhaps a mature person as unfortunately Jorge Negrete died in 1953. His music and movies continues on as a legacy of Mexico and Latin America and a special place for him, Cuba. I like to tell you a bit about the Plaza Jorge Negrete and the person.

mex plaza jorge negrete statue sep18

An interesting statue and this one real Mexican charro , and one of the most famous singer and actor of Mexico and well known in all Latin America is of Jorge Negrete and its Plaza de Jorge Negrete square.  Located by Ave de los Insurgentes Sur and calle Capuchinas,not far from Parque del Conde park.  Metro line 7 and 12 are close by or metrobus line 1 stop Teatro de los Insurgentes (see post on the theater).

mex plaza jorge negrete statue far sep18

Briefly, Jorge Alberto Negrete Moreno was born in Silao, Guanajuato, on November 30th, 1911 and died in Los Angeles California on December 5 1953. He studied at the military college at the age of 14 and at 18 came out with the highest qualifications which led him to perform further studies in Paris and Rome. He seemed to have a brilliant military career, because he also studied medicine and manages the military Hospital in Puebla. But at the same time he takes singing lessons, and finds out that he has a privileged voice for opera singing. He starts singing on the radio, and soon asks for his military career to end to devote himself to singing at the XETR broadcaster in Mexico City. The rest as the saying goes is history and good one. Worth a detour for the lovers of good music and films.

However, the idea of the text and new photos is to talk about Jorge Negrete for the lovers of good music and films.

His father worked as a teacher at the Alexander Von Humboldt German School, thanks to which he was able to enroll his children in that institution. There Jorge finished high school and learned German, French, English and Italian, and studied the fundamentals of Nahuatl in a self-taught way.

Later he entered the Héroico Colegio Militar or Heroic Military College, graduating as Lieutenant of Cavalry and Administration  of the Mexican Army with high qualifications. There he learned to ride a horse, a skill that he would show off by playing the Mexican charro in the cinema. Later he worked in the Fábrica de Armas de la Ciudadela or Citadel Arms Factory performing administrative tasks, and partially studied medicine.

He studied singing with José Pierson, director of the Compañía Impulsora de Opera de México, who was a teacher of notable opera singers at the time, such as Fanny Anitúa and José Mojica, and popular interpreters such as Pedro Vargas, Alfonso Ortiz Tirado and Hugo Avendaño.  In 1931, with the rank of second Captain, he applied for a license from the Mexican Army to fully dedicate himself to his singing career, starting at the XETR radio station. At that time, he performed Mexican romances and Neapolitan songs, as well as pieces by authors of the time.

In 1934, he sang for the only time at the Palacio de las Bellas Artes in Mexico City, (see post on the palace of fine arts) with the student choir of maestro José Pierson in the musical La verdad sospechosa , (suspicious truth) by Juan Ruiz de Alarcón. In November 1936 he traveled to the border on their way to the United States. In New York played as the Mexican Caballeros for the NBC network. There in April 1937 Jorge Negrete participated in an audition to be part of the cast of the Metropolitan Opera House, but was unable to do so, as he was offered a substitute role, which he refused. Desperate, he agreed to work as a waiter at “Yumurí” and other restaurants with a Latin atmosphere. He made some money making adaptations of American songs into Spanish. One night in which the singer of the dance orchestra did not appear, Negrete replaced him, and due to the success of that modest presentation he was hired by the Cuban musician Eliseo Grenet to sing with his orchestra.

In 1937 he made his first film appearance, in the Warner Bros. short Cuban Nights characterized as a Cuban troubadour. Back in the United States, in 1939 he got a contract with the 20th Century Fox company, to do films in Spanish in Hollywood, but the project did not come to fruition due to a boycott by the Union of Actors of the United States (American Actors Union) against Latino actors. Around that time, he had the first serious manifestation of the liver disease that had been diagnosed by the doctors of the Heroic Military College and that would lead him to death years later. Due to lack of resources, it could not be properly attended to.

In that same year, 1941, back in Mexico, he played the main role in ¡Ay Jalisco, no te rajes ! ( hey Jalisco do not give up) , a film that would catapult him to international fame and made him one of the greatest artistic figures in Latin America, sharing the main credits of that movie. In 1950 he received the distinction as best actor by critics in Spain, for the film Teatro Apolo. 

The radio station Cadena Azul of Cuba offered the now famous actor to sing live on its radio channels in combination with the National Theater. The affection of the Cuban people was so great that then-president Grau San Martín went to the National Theater to applaud him. After his contract ended, he traveled to Puerto Rico, but returned to Cuba to perform charity concerts, since the island had been hit by a hurricane. During these performances, non-commercial recordings of his voice were made, which would be for the station’s private use and several years later they were digitally rescued.

Jorge Negrete was a great promoter of tourism and investments for the benefit of Guanajuato, of which he always wanted to be governor and where he frequently organized festivals and artistic caravans to support the construction of the central headquarters of the University of Guanajuato, a hospital, a dispensary and the temple of the Calzada de Guadalupe in his hometown. He was married towards the end of his life with the actress María Félix (another great one of Mexico and Latin America). The wedding with María at the Catipoato farm,  featured the most well-known celebrities of the show, as well as intellectual figures, such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, María Teresa Montoya and Octavio Paz, as well as famous bullfighters and athletes of that time, among others. He only had one daughter, Diana Negrete with his first wife Elisa Christy.

Jorge Negrete founded the Union of Cinematographic Production Workers of the Mexican Republic and reorganized, together with a select group of actors, the National Association of Actors (ANDA), of which he was its most prominent leader.

The day of his death was considered national mourning and five minutes of silence were observed in all theaters in the country. At the Mexico City airport alone, about 10,000 people gathered to receive his body. In the theater of the A.N.D.A that today bears his name, his mortal remains remained exposed for the people to pay tribute to him. His admirers walked in front of his coffin in an unbroken line for two days and nights. On the day of his burial, a human fence of hundreds of thousands of admirers skirted the path of the National Actors Association Theater ,today Jorge Negrete Theater  to the Panteón Jardín, south of Mexico City.

A bit more on the life of Jorge Negrete in English: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0624434/

There I feel I made justice to a great person ,singer, and actor of my Latin America. And reminds me of the wonderful welcome always given me in Mexico Lindo y Querido!!! Hope you enjoy the cultural post.

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

October 15, 2020

Mexico’s Teatro de los Insurgentes!

And here I am taking you back to Mexico and one great cultural spot. I happened to stayed near it on several occasions and did enjoy a show inside. A wonderful Teatro de los Insurgentes or the Insurgents theater of Mexico city.

With its 30 km of length (50 if the newest extensions are taken into account), the Avenida de los Insurgentes crosses the city from north to south and is the most important thoroughfare in Mexico City. Originally known as Vía del Centenario in the 1900s and renamed in the late 40s to honour the Ejército de los Insurgentes (Insurgent army – guerrilla army in this case), whose help was crucial for independence, a walk along its pavements is like walking through Mexico’s history and present.

mexico-metrobus-insurgentes-sur-stop-sep18

In it, you find the Teatro de los Insurgentes  located on Av. Insurgentes Sur, 1587, corner with calle Mercaderes, Colonia  San José Insurgentes, Delegación Benito Juárez, Mexico DF.

mexico-teatro-insurgentes-left-side-sep18

It was built in 1953 as part of a program of urban renewal. The muralist Diego Rivera painted La historia del teatro, (history of the theater) a visual history of the theater in Mexico on the building’s façade which is 46 meters by 10 meters and the theater holds 1,141 seats on a single floor. The painting is made with synthetic material, with the dry flattening technique, to be covered with glass mosaic slabs that, were worked in the mosaic workshops of Italy.

mexico-teatro-insurgentes-right-side-sep18

The artist Rivera , placed the character of Cantinflas (one of Mexico and Spanish speaking world best comedian actor) in the center of the mural in the form of a Robin Hood figure, distributing the wealth of the rich to the poor. The first work presented was Yo Colón by Alfredo Robledo and Carlos León, directed by Ernesto Finance and starring Mario Moreno “Cantinflas” whose image is incorporated in the center of the aforementioned mural. In the pre-Hispanic theater representation there are two dancing musicians, a priest dressed in the ritual of sacrifice, of the pastorela: a devil, an angel and perhaps Fernández de Lizardi. Of modern works, two by Rodolfo Usigli stand out: Corona de sombra in the sequence of Maximiliano and Carlota, and El Gesticulador. There is also a scene from Los de Abajo (the lower casts of people).

At the Olympic Games of Mexico City 1968 , the theater was adapted to host Weightlifting competitions. 4 areas were made: the spectator area, an area for competitions, an area for training and an annex for warmups.

In 1993, with the restoration of the Rivera mural as the main motive, it was decided to carry out a total renovation project of the theater to adapt and revitalize it. The transformation involved most of the spaces: the central staircase that formerly received the attendees was removed to achieve greater transparency and space; the bar and candy store were re-located in the mezzanine and the area freed after this change, allowed the creation of a ramp that allows access to people with disabilities. The mechanical, acoustic, lighting and isoptic conditions of the auditorium were also improved to modernize it and adapt it structurally to the new regulations established. The program also included the construction of an additional building to create rehearsal, makeup, wardrobe and storage spaces.

Showing theatre performance and practical information on the Teatro de los Insurgentes : https://carteleradeteatro.mx/teatro/sur/teatro-de-los-insurgentes/

The tourist office of Mexico city  on the Teatro de los Insurgentes: http://cdmxtravel.com/es/lugares/teatro-de-los-insurgentes.html

Some additional tourist sites of  Mexico to help you plan your trip here and you should are

The Tourist office of Mexico on Mexico City: https://www.visitmexico.com/en/mexico-city/mexico-city

The Atlas turistico of Mexico Cityhttps://atlasturistico.sectur.gob.mx/AtlasTuristico/inicio.do

So, there you have it , a wonderful theater, with history, architecture and great shows indeed. Oh mine was Héctor Suárez con Macaria: El show. A great comedy by one of the best of Mexico, Héctor Suàrez.

Hope you enjoy the post and do indulge yourselves in the arts of Mexico and DF or Ciudad de Mexico; the Teatro de los Insurgentes is tops for it.

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

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October 15, 2020

Sights of Mexico City!!

Ok so looking at my pictures in my vault of memories found some that needs to be shown in my blog, for the memories, souvenirs, nice times spent with good friends over the years. This is Mexico City , DF distrito federal and I am glad was here!

While doing my road warrior runs of Mexico City I passed by several nice monuments that with press time could not go in or closer but nevertheless saw them and need to be in my blog. I like to tell you a bit more of the sights of Mexico City!

The Monumento a los Niños Héroes or Monument to the Boy Heroes, officially Altar a la Patria or Altar to the Homeland, is a monument commemorating the Niños Héroes or boys heroes, installed in Chapultepec park.  The six cadets are honored by an imposing monument made of Carrara marble at the entrance to Chapultepec Park. This semicircular monument with six columns, placed at what was the end of the Paseo de la Reforma, a major thoroughfare leading from the central square ,the Zócalo to Chapultepec park. It contains a niche in each of its columns with an urn holding the remains of one of the cadets . In addition, the remains of Colonel Felipe Santiago Xicoténcatl (a colonel in the Mexican Army under president Antonio López de Santa Anna. It is said that Lt. Col. Xicoténcatl in the battle of Chapultepec, refusing the idea of letting the American forces capture the Mexican flag identifying his battalion and severely wounded, wrapped himself with the flag and died beside his men.) were placed in the center of the monument below the main statue. The monument is dedicated to the combatants against the United States invasion with the phrase: “To the Defenders of the Fatherland 1846-1847”. The monument’s official name is Altar a la Patria (Altar to the Homeland), but it is better known as the Monumento a los Niños Héroes (Monument to the Boy Heroes) and many official texts use the popular name instead of the official name.

Mex memorial Ninos passing dic11

The Iglesia Carmelitas Descalzas or Church of Barefooted Carmelites was built by Fray Andrés de San Miguel between 1615 and 1626, who belonged to the order of the barefoot Carmelites, a legion that sought to recover the austerity and devotion that gave rise to the brotherhood. The construction included a college and monastery for men. After the 1858 reform in which the nationalization of the church’s assets was decreed, the college was closed and its custody passed to the city of Mexico. A part of these lands were used as jail, barracks and other functions. As of July 7, 1921, the Ministry of Public Education decreed that the former convent was the Museum of El Carmen, the temple continues to be a church.

More info in Spanish on the barefoot carmelites in Mexico here: https://www.ocd.org.mx/archivo-historico

Mex iglesia carmelitas descalzas oct12

The Palacio de Bellas Artes or Palace of Fine Arts is considered the most important in the manifestation of the arts in Mexico and one of the most renowned opera houses in the world. This has been the scene and witness of shocking artistic, social and political events. Its construction began on the occasion of the celebration of the centenary of the beginning of the Independence of Mexico, however it was concluded and inaugurated until November 29, 1934 due to the Mexican Revolution. It is a multifunctional building, so it houses various stages and artistic spaces such as the Palace of Fine Arts Museum and the National Museum of Architecture. The first permanently exhibits 17 mural works by seven national artists executed from 1928 to 1963, including Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco, being the oldest in the country dedicated to national plastic production. Likewise, it is the headquarters of the National Symphony Orchestra, the National Opera Company or Fine Arts Opera, the National Dance Company and the Folkloric Ballet of Mexico.. As an institution, it depends on the National Institute of Fine Arts (INBA), part of the Ministry of Culture of the federal government of Mexico.

This was the closest to visit as a local friend had ticket to see a performance by Mexican star Thalia here ,but last minute needs did not allow me to come in. Nevertheless, the story stays as an anecdote of my visits to Mexico City.  Metro station Bellas Artes on lines 2 and 8 Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 10h to 17h. It is located at Avenida Juàrez just off Paseo de la Reforma. More info here: http://museopalaciodebellasartes.gob.mx/

Mex palacio de bellas artes dic11

Now I feel better, another nice monuments with nice memories of my visits to wonderful Mexico City. Always looking forward to be back into normal times. Hope you enjoy the post , to seek off the beaten paths sights of Mexico City.

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

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October 14, 2020

Mexico DF, magico!!!

So looking over my older posts since started my blog I notice not enough coverage of beautiful Mexico city. This is a pity , as is a country where i have visited several times over the years and have family there which I have visited too. Therefore, this is a compendium of older posts  put together with updated text using the old photos, some of them not in the blog yet. Hope you enjoy it and do visit Mexico.

It is always gratifying to be able to meet old friends, and make new ones, and walk and drive all over the main points of the city. The due diligence is eminent with common sense, but I walk and drove into industrial warehouses and Polanco and all with ease,nice. The weather was very nice, sunny fresh, nice very nice indeed. I try to walk and drive to areas of nostalgic presence for me as once I came to the city since 2001-2002 when i was visiting every month! Many friends kept that I try to meet every time I am in town, and lucky to find them again today.

For most of my stays there and already can call it my hangout of many years in Zona Rosa, the Best Western Royal Hotel, Amberes 78; a great place to stay with wonderful restaurants including the gourmet Tezka basque cuisine,and a plethora of choices outside all around you from stores, bars, restos, clubs etc. Very central between paseo de la reforma and ave chapultepec,right in the in spot. The hotel new webpage as Hotel Royal Reforma new name is here: https://hotelroyalreforma.com/

Mex Royal hotel ent feb13

There was a wonderful Tezka basque restaurant that you can communicate from the above hotel,no longer there.  From 1994 it grew to when I first met them in 2002 and then 2013 it was rank 75 of the 100 best restaurants of the event  World’s 50 Best Restaurants.  Here again just for the memories.

mex tezka resto medallion dining room feb13

I ate again on my culinary search at Konditori, at Calle Genova, in the Zona Rosa, the food was ok and great prices, with even greater company. I had filete tampeño and the food was well done. I finally grabbed my Negra Modelo beer here lol!!! The resto founded in 1953 by Danish immigrants was great but unfortunately it closed. Another wonderful memory for my blog ok.

mex konditori resto zona rosa jul14

From here you are walking distance to the Bosque de Chapultepec,and its wonderful museums. The official site of the magical forest is in Spanish, you go to and click on Bosque de Chapultepec, I have it in the servicios or practical information page in English: https://chapultepec.org.mx/things-to-do/?lang=en

I came back same year and continue my delights in Mexico city, toppled it all with a very nice evening with good old friends in Zona Rosa,near the Royal hotel, at the corner of Hamburgo and Niza streets, there is El Lugar del Mariachi, its a restaurant with live music pop and mariachis alternatively, and a dance floor !!! This is right smack in tourist central so a bit high price but very good food, secure,and a very good group of musicians playing from pop to bolero to cha cha cha and then a group of mariachi singers playing their songs as well; a very good ambiance with romantic overtones or in family. More here: http://www.ellugardelmariachi.com.mx/zona-rosa.html

mex el lugar del mariachi feb13

My best shopping reminds me of my eternal Paris was at the wonderful Liverpool dept store in the Polanco neighborhood at Mariano Escobedo # 425. Col. Chapultepec Morales. Delegación Miguel Hidalgo. I got my boys gifts and dear wife here for many years of visiting Mexico City! More info here: https://www.liverpool.com.mx/tienda/home

Ahh right by the above in the Polanco neighborhood, I have stayed at a wonderful property too! The hotel Camino Real Polanco is unique, and a most for comfort, service, amenities,location and loaded with 7 restos/bars plus pool at 28°C and exercise room. It is just off gal Mariano Escobendo and Liebnitz behind it, across from bosque de Chapultepec and all its wonderful museums. More of this hotel here: https://www.caminoreal.com/en/caminoreal/camino-real-polanco-mexico

At the above hotel  I ate at the wonderful Centro Castellano restaurant that was inside the Camino Real hotel, for a real Castilian Spain food and Spanish wines.  Wonderful time indeed: their webpage is here: http://grupocastellano.com.mx/camino-real/

For a local twist went for real tacos pastor at Taqueria Senele, great tacos alambre as well at Calle Leibnitz, 51  just at the corner coming out of hotel Camino Real Polanco back door.  More real food here: http://www.taqueria-selene.com/

And during this interlude, went out bit further to have lunch at Cambalache, an Argentine jewel small but all kinds of cuts beef that is, at Insurgentes Sur 1384, in Col. Del Valle.  More info here: http://www.cambalacherestaurantes.com/#insurgentes

mex cambalache arg resto feb13

In another memorable visit tried the hotel Segovia Regency in ave Chapultepec 328 across from Amberes. Actually, the anecdote here is that came with my boss who for some reason did not like the Royal and since he was paying, told him the hotel across the street basically we found the Segovia! This hotel at the time (need to check if still do) closed the front doors for security between midnight and 6h or 6am. So we needed clearance each time to get back in lol! More info here: https://segovia-regency-mexico.hotel-rn.com/

Mex hotel segovia regency at chapultepec oct12

Driving around Mexico City was glorious again, its heavy traffic lends to expert driving manouvers and expert drivers that I was lucky to have. The street level and the bustle and hussle of a city is wonderful to my soul! I continue my swing in a couple of trips same year and ate at Los Panchos in Condesa, Calle Tolstoi 9, Col. Anzures, real local food and very popular, the place was packed.  I tried all different dishes from tacos de carnitas, chicharrones, stuffed peppers , etc etc so much food down with agua de jamaica and agua de leche delicious. Los Panchos since 1945! more in foodie site Chilango: https://www.chilango.com/comida/restaurantes/los-panchos-2/

Mex Los panchos menu condesa oct12

Another culinary delight was at Puerto Lapice, here it was the filete tampiqueño real beef that was the plate with Mexican wine chateau Domecq. Located at Poniente 128 647 , corner of Norte 45 ,Azcapotzalco, Col Industrial Vallejo, more at Chilango here: https://www.chilango.com/restaurantes/vallejo/puerto-lapice

Mex puerto Lapice resto ent oct12

I was lucky to be invited for a drink and dinner at the Torre Mayor, private club that has wonderful views of the city and an impeccable service.  More on the choices there on official webpage: https://www.torremayor.com.mx/index.php/en/the-shops#

I did my usual trips around the place eating and enjoying the company of friends. We first tried El Bajio, another typical local foodie from the Veracruz cuisine. The food was great with panoches,chicharones, and the pork dish with black mole and sauce. More see the Patio Universidad location here: https://www.restauranteelbajio.com.mx/sucursales

mex el bajio resto ent feb13

We ,also, visited El Paisa, a more rustic restaurant in a working class area with a nice second floor terrace, a very nice welcome with lots of Mexicans families there; nice ambiance and great conversation with many. The area is nice around a corner, and serve in the terrace in the back upper level. It is best reach here by car; one of the places to go when you know the area and want to get away from it all. Here we had more goodies of the Mexican cuisine such as the alambre with meat and cheese melted sort like a pizza but chewy and yummy, pacifico beers and coffee expresso, first we had some chicharones and all good. I visited the Calle Claveria 199, , Centro, Azcapotzalco district property. More in their Facebook page with link to private site of resto but long link here: https://www.facebook.com/Taqueria-el-Paisa-Claveria-101592618170678/

This allows me just before go over the Plaza Universidad shopping center. Plenty of shops and good restos for a meetup with friends anytime/ more here: http://plaza-universidad.com/

Later I hook up with another group of friends of older days and went over for some snacks and drinks at Sanborns Universidad. Very familiar as in my other life in US once supplied with electronics, and knew the founding family. More here: https://www.sanborns.com.mx/Directorio_tiendas/

And following my culinary taste of Mexico DF on another night went for TGIFridays hahaha yes very original , I remember this resto from back in USA and love them. Found them here with a nice big burger and try Victoria and Pacifico beers !! This was in the Patio Universidad more of the shopping center in their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PatioUniversidad/

The TGIFridays resto official page for the above location is here: http://fridays.mx/tufridays.php?idres=6

mex tgif entrance resto sep18

And, I had time with another friend to see the Mexico vs El Salvador football.soccer match CONCACAF World Cup qualifying won easily by Mexico 3X0 at Hooters Universidad ,another of my old favorites ::) Great Indio beer and nachos snacks with cheese and the action was good with friendly crowd. More here: http://hooters.com.mx/sucursales/universidad/

mex hooters inside tv mex vs el salvador game nov15

Next day, after doing some walking around safe in DF! lol! I met some old friends at the Olive Garden in the Patio Universidad shopping;  here with ravioli stuff champignon and a great Trapiche malbec Argentinian wine, coffee nice, great memories! Again another memorable resto from my Fl US time and catch up with them in Mexico DF! More here: http://olivegardenmexico.com.mx/ubicaciones.html

mex olive garden terrace patio univ nov15

And I enjoy going with friends outside Mexico city into the State of Mexico at Ecatepec de Morelos. Driving around in Ecatepec , I stop for lunch at Los Bisquets de Obregon avenue 1ro de Mayo , Jardines de Morelos,  local cuisine restaurant with a great cecina steak (salted and dried by means of air, sun or smoke) with mashed potatoes, mexican rice, and mango/papaya juices.  More info here: https://bisquetsobregon.com/sucursales

mex los bisquets resto ecotepec state of mex nov15

For more tourist info see the official webpage for the city of Mexico DF. See in Spanish the link mapas tematicos por zona or themes map per zone that helps you guide you even on foot! https://turismo.cdmx.gob.mx/

The Mexico tourist board on Mexico Cityhttps://www.visitmexico.com/en/mexico-city

For reference a private site on tourist info in Mexico city in English: https://www.mexicocity.com/v/city-info/

There you go folks, loaded Mexico city is a must as one of the great cities of our world. Bear in mind especially to my regular readers, this information has been updated but already written elsewhere in my blog with the old info. Hope you like it as I do and do visit Mexico city (no I have nothing related to tourism org or agencies or govt disclamer for my enthusiasm!). Just fun traveling and Mexico is one of them.

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

October 14, 2020

Jalisco and me!

This is an updated post with new text and mix of old and new photos in my blog. I have been to Mexico several times north and south but this was my first visit to the State of Jalisco and some off the beaten path areas. Let me bring them to light in my blog now.

The airport I landed for this trip again , first visit was the Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo International named in honor of the hero of the Independence of Mexico. Only 23 km from city center of Guadalajara by the Federal highway 23. It is the third busiest airport in Mexico, after Mexico DF and Cancun. The airport is part of the Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico operator group, which also operates the airports of Tijuana, Hermosillo , León, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, La Paz, Los Mochis, Morelia, Mexicali, Aguascalientes and Manzanillo. It has 12 aircraft access gateways and 27 remote positions. I was then picked up by car for the rest of the trip. The airport site is here: https://www.aeropuertosgap.com.mx/en/guadalajara-3.html

guada manute remus bridge to guada tepa nov15

First, the main town visited, Tepatitlan de Morelos of which name comes from the náhuatl language , Tecpatl, that means stone and titlán, that means a place or in between of which most can tell you means a place between stones  medio de pedernales.

tepatitlan de morelos city center bus depot apr15

A bit of history I like

The Otomi people, a society of hunter-gatherers, lived in the region. Then settle the Tecuexe or stone terrace people, who are Chichimeques. In 1530, the Spaniards Captain Pedro Almíndez Chirinos arrived to explore the region. Around the same time, a group of Franciscan friars moved in, baptized the area, built the first San Francisco de Asís Church, and evangelized the locals. The town receives the name of San Francisco de Tecpatitlán. In 1883, the agglomeration received the title of city, and the name of Tepatitlán de Morelos, in honor of the revolutionary insurgent José María Morelos y Pavó.  During the Cristeros War (1926-1929), the city was the site of one of the great battles with the death of 3,000 soldiers of the federal army.

tepatitlan de morelos view front from hotel apr15

More from the Jalisco government tourist site in Spanish: https://www.jalisco.gob.mx/es/jalisco/municipios/tepatitlan-de-morelos

The local government of Jalisco encyclopedia on the history of Tepatitlàn de Morelos in Spanish: http://www.inafed.gob.mx/work/enciclopedia/EMM14jalisco/municipios/14093a.html

The tourist office of Tepatitlan de Morelos on things to see in Spanish: https://www.tepatitlan.gob.mx/turismo/

The Mexico tourist board on Tepatitlàn de Morelos in English: https://www.visitmexico.com/en/jalisco/tepatitlan-de-morelos

Here I stayed at a wonderful hotel Grand Hotel, in French motifs, but already did a post with plenty on the hotel.

I , also ate as previously told at the Bistro 77, just for reminder put their webpage here: http://www.bistro77.mx/

Also, at the Don Kmaron ,again for reminder the Grupo Donk for Don K here: http://www.grupodonk.com/donkres.html

The other off the beaten path town I visited on my first trip to the State of Jalisco was  Tlajomulco de Zuñiga.  Its name is interpreted as land in the corner, this is where the Guadalajara International Airport is located.   Being part of the metropolitan area of Guadalajara, it has the best shopping malls, Galerias Santa Anita, Plaza Punto Sur Gdl, La Rioja, Las Plazas Outlet.

Zapoten arriv town nov15

A bit of history I like

The area was conquered in 1530 by Nuño de Guzmán at the same time that he conquered the Indians of Tonalá. On March 27, 1939 it obtained the name of Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, in honor of General Eugenio Zúñiga (a native of Tlajomulco), and it became the municipal seat.

Here we drove out of town and had lunch at Birreria Chololo . Again written on this part before in previous post. They are at Carretera  Chapala Km 17.5.  More on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BirrieriaElChololoCarreteraAChapala/

The Jalisco government tourist info on Tlajomulco de Zùñiga in Spanish: https://www.jalisco.gob.mx/es/jalisco/municipios/tlajomulco-de-zuniga

The Jalisco encyclopedia on the history and sites of Tlajomulco de Zùñigahttp://www.inafed.gob.mx/work/enciclopedia/EMM14jalisco/municipios/14097a.html

The local tourist office of Tlajomulco de Zùñiga in Spanish: https://turismo.tlajomulco.gob.mx/

And there you go a bit update on a wonderful off the beaten path of Mexico, in the State of Jalisco and darn near the city of Guadalajara! Hope you enjoy the post and do seek them out.

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

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October 13, 2020

Bacalar and the Cenote Azul!

Here I am back at you at another marvel of nature in peaceful Balacar! Where I came following visits to family just north as you can read in previous posts.

So we go on with some exotic parts of Mexico lindo y querido. Not taking you to the popular areas anyone can do that, I like to take you to seldom and little seen Mexico down in a popular State of a well known region but a bit south of it all towards Belize. I will be talking about Bacalar in Quintana Roo, Yucatàn, Mexico.

And naturally beautiful Cenote Azul. To recap the history I like on this marvelous spot of Mexico!

Bacalar is bordered on the east by the lagoon of Bacalar, which overlooks the Caribbean Sea.  The name Bacalar is believed to have gotten its name from b’ak halal, or ‘surrounded by reeds’ in Mayan, with a lagoon, the Laguna de Bacalar or ‘Lake of the Seven Colors’  to the east of the city. Bacalar lies a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Tulum and around a 40-minute drive from the city of Chetumal (see post) which sits on the border to Belize.

balacar hotel laguna lake jul14

The first inhabitants of the place are the Mayas in pre-Columbian times. In 1543, the city was taken and occupied by the Spanish conquistadors. In 1545, it was  established a Spanish town in the same place and baptized it Salamanca de Bacalar.  In 1848, during the Caste war, the rebel Mayans based in Chan Santa Cruz (the current city of Felipe Carrillo Puerto) took the city. The Mexican army reclaims it in 1902.

Bacalar is a relaxing city. The streets and buildings are simpler than in Tulum, the prices are fairer and the smiles more spontaneous. We have indeed left the Riviera Maya and its hordes of tourists.  The main appeal here other than the fortress (see post) is that it sits on the rim of Cenote Azul, a 90 meters deep by 182 meters in diameter cenote that is crystal clear and good for diving when the Caribbean is too rough. Because the water is so clear you can easily see quite deep. It is the largest and supposedly the deepest Cenote in the Yucatan. Its arguably one of the cleanest. However, get advise from the locals if diving as many spots it is very thick with vegetation and rocks difficult to dive/swim.  The most unexpected are the nuances of colors. The water is intensely clear in places, then very dark a few meters away, depending on the depth of the lagoon.

The Lake Bacalar with many watersports offers with kayaking across the lake one of the favorites. But you can ,also, do jet ski, waterski, swim, fish and sail.

bacalar hotel laguna lake steps jul14

The Bacalar Lagoon includes several cenotes, and this one will be presented to you as the must see of the local attractions. The cenote has a very large diameter, swimming is pleasant, but the color of the water is quite dark compared to other places in the lagoon. Cenote Azul is the darkest of the four cenotes in Bacalar. And for good reason, it sinks abruptly, without warning, to a depth of 90 meters. The cenote itself, the hole, is about 30 yards away, where the water suddenly darkens. You will  discover stromatolites. It looks like blocks of stone, it’s hard as a rock, but it’s alive. Rest assured, they will not bite your toe as their only movement is to grow 0.4 millimeters per year!

bacalar cenote azul entrance park jul14

What is a Cenote? Well, Yucatan is a large riverless peninsula made primarily of limestone. There are thousands of underground caverns, many running with underground rivers. Occasionally these caves will collapse leaving an opening. If the cavern is running with water, it will create a cenote. The Mayans used these for sources of water and would even build cities around them. Cenote Azul is a mature cenote and is documented as the largest in the Yucatan.

bacalar cenote azul inside jul14

The webpage on Zona Turistica on the Cenote Azulhttps://www.zonaturistica.com/en/things-to-do/quintana-roo/bacalar/cenote-azul-blue-sinkhole

The government site in Bacalar on the history of Bacalar: http://www.bacalar.gob.mx/historiabacalar.html#

The Mexico tourist board on the cenotes of Bacalar: https://www.visitmexico.com/en/quintana-roo/bacalar/cenotes

A private site Cenote finder on the best cenotes in Bacalar: https://cenotefinder.com/cenotes-in-mexico/bacalar-cenotes/

Another good site En Yucatan on the Cenote Azul of Bacalar in Spanish: https://en-yucatan.com.mx/costa-maya/cenote-azul/

There now you are loaded with info and I have updated the text , hope you enjoy this beautiful tranquil part of Mexico. Bacalar is awesome!

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

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