Archive for ‘Cuba’

August 24, 2022

My tunnels of Havana !!!

It’s not easy to find pictures that are in several modes from paper to usb , vhs videos to cd roms but finally got to these ones. I like to have it in my blog and hope you enjoy it as much as I. This is going back deep back in my life when as a boy lived in Havana or La Habana or San Cristobal de la Habana! I remembered walking a lot around the main points there and was able to visit again as recently as 2012 to see it more dilipated than ever ; like if I really was born here ? I like to tell you my story from old books and brochures of my Havana on the Tunnels of Havana. Memories forever ! Hope you enjoy it as I.

For years, communications between the urban center of Havana and the west of the city were established by crossing the Almendares River through the existing bridges: Puentes Grandes, built by the French engineer La Carriere de la Tour at the beginning of the 19C on the Almendares river in the neighborhood of ​​the Cerro. The Calle 23rd Bridge, in the first decade of the 20C; the iron one in the second decade, and the old Pote bridge, built in 1919 for the Miramar residential development, which was demolished to replace it with the Tunel de Calzada tunnel, also known as the Tunel de la Quinta tunnel, which crosses the Almendares River near the Torreón de la Chorrera through the place occupied by the old Pote Bridge, connecting 5ta Avenida (Fifth Avenue) in Miramar with Calle Calzada street and the Malecón in Havana.

The Tunel de Calzada or Quinta Avenida (5th avenue) has two caissons with a total length of 200 meters and a longitudinal slope of 6% on each side. It has 4 tracks (two in each direction) of 3.35 meters wide each, and a free height of 4.25 meters in the center. Like the other tunnels, 3 levels of lighting were planned in the entrance areas and in the central area to adjust them to the external light. The problem of evacuating rainwater was solved by means of a drainage system towards the sea by a main pumping installation with two self-starting pumps of 600 m3/h each. Four cisterns with a total capacity of 300 m3 ensured the water tank during heavy rains and would be used in case of fire. It is done below the Almendares river near its mouth.  The work, inaugurated on June 12, 1959, was carried out by the construction company Societé des Grands Travaux de Marseille (France).

Havana tunnel quinta avenida apr12

The Tunel de Linea tunnel aka Almendares (my tunnel when a child taken to the city center) in the Vedado neighborhood built by Cuban engineers and builders with construction work starting in 1951 and ending in 1953. This one done with architect and construction company from Cuba. All the electromechanical equipment of the tunnel could be activated from the boards in the control booths. According to the original project, the 6 installed pumps could evacuate the flow of water coming from heavy rains. The Tunel de Linea or Almendares was the first, inaugurated in the middle of 1953. It is equipped with a lighting system that uses 880 cold cathode tubes of 8 feet each, and the lighting is graduated by means of a photoelectric cell according to the brightness of the day. The tunnel light is more intense at the entrance than at the exit, which prevents sudden changes in vision. The ventilation system is served by four air extractors of 75,000 cubic feet each, and all four work automatically through a carbon monoxide analyzer that acts according to the accumulation of this gas inside the tunnel. Three cisterns collect rainwater from the tunnel approaches, water that is drained by six bilge pumps, two for each cistern, capable of discharging 3,000 gallons per minute. The tunnel has a total width of 16.85 meters, with two drainage ways. 6.57 meters each one and two paths each way, divided by a resounding separator that indicates to the driver when the vehicle is diverted. The ventilation gallery, 1.70 meters wide, in the center, separates the two tracks and divides the tunnel into two equal halves. The height is 4.30 meters. The thickness of the floor plate measures 3.35 meters, and the river runs 1.50 meters above the roof level. The length of the tunnel in its covered part is 216 meters, and the two ramps that give access to the tunnel on both sides measure 306.40, thus, the work has a total of 522.40 meters.

The Tunel de la Bahía (bay tunnel) with entrance also through the Ave. del Puerto. the preliminary works of the future tunnel to the North American firm Raymon Concrete Pile Company, which is associated with the designers Palmer and Baker, Inc., and with Coverdale and Colpitt that would be in charge of carrying out the traffic census , Then, came a French company, which not only presents a project, but also offers the financing and the budget for the works. The project was awarded to the French company, the Societé des Grands Travaux de Marseille (France); the on-site inspection was carried out by the Frederick Snare Corporation and the higher management by the National Development Commission of Cuba, According to the approved project, the central zone of the tunnel is made up of five sections or prefabricated concrete boxes, four of which which have a length of 107.50 meters and a central box of 90 meters. The layout of this tunnel runs under the bottom of the Bay of Havana, between 12 and 14 meters. The drainage system was made taking advantage of the topographical characteristics where drains collect rainwater and take it to the sea. In addition to this, two tanks with a capacity of 500 m3 each were built for the accumulation of rainwater. Water is extracted from the cisterns with six pumping equipment of 2,200 g/m each, two on the Havana city side and four on the Cabaña fortress side. The tunnel allows the passage of four traffic lanes, each 3.35 meters wide. and it is 733 meters long and a total length of the connection work of more than 1,600 meters, which also includes the West (Havana) and East (Toll Zone) accesses. A telephone line with an automatic exchange of 28 pairs linked different places in the tunnel with 7 telephones installed in series within it.

havana tunnel de la bahia under the bay aug98

There is no specific webpage for the Tunnels of Havana, but the info above taken from my old books/brochures of my Tunnels of Havana. The pictures taken from paper pictures that I took in my last trip there in 2012. Again, hope you enjoy the post and see my other posts on Havana in my blog.

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

August 24, 2022

Havana , a step back in time !

Again was looking in my vault of photos, and I came up with some older photos of a time gone by ,of memories not to be forgotten, and family roots. I have written several posts on this native experience of mine very translucent as the times goes by and memory starts to flicker. Let me update this older post and tell you a bit more of my dear Havana or La Habana or San Cristobal de La Habana.

It was the ultimate Caribbean destination, the “Paris of the Americas” (Hemingway ), the “key to the gulf (of Mexico) the bulkward of the West Indies (Caribbean ; King Philip II of Spain), to the whole of Cuba. 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. It was once the Pearl of the Antilles, the most chic city of Latin America until the revolution destroyed everything; streets names were changed, city names were change, province names were change, people left in hordes (over 2M), and more poverty than ever sets in all under the betraying revolution still there. I need to say this.

We spent many times by the Malecon and going in by the Paseo del Prado going into the Capitol (see post) last trip we were on a Ford 1954 lol!! things indeed change. All the Malecon area now is half and half some renovated with the help of Unesco and other crumbling.

havana-ent-paseo-del-prado-c1998

We just saw the inner soul of the buildings like the fabled Riviera hotel, by the Malecon, and tried to remember what they were before…

havana-malecon-riviera-hotel-c1998

And we passed by the University of Havana, where my Mom did studies before transfering to the Catholic Univ ,sister univ of Villanova in Philadelphia , PA USA at the time.

havana-univ-stairs-c1998

We passed by another favorite of my family that took me there still very early in my life. This is the Cinema Trianon!  It is at Linea (orLline because old tramway passed by here) beween A & B streets. It was built in 1920 ,and completely re-modeled in 1955 and became the release theatre for 20th Century Fox films. My picture is from when it was renovated back in 1998.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

And we move on to the Morro Castle (Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro) where they had remodeled the castle , and ate at the nice restaurant call the 12 Apostoles or apostles; which my Martine really enjoyed already with a few extra pounds.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The official Cuba tourist board on Havana today : https://www.cuba.travel/en/destinations/havana-cuba

The official Infotur tourist guide to Cuba on Havana todayhttps://infotur.cu/en/destinos/havana

I found, bear in mind these are paper photos that I took a picture from. The pictures all date from 1998 when I made a family trip to introduce to my family there to my French wife.  One more post down memory lane, many moments spent with the family now almost all gone from there. I was the first one out 51 years ago !! Hope you enjoy the post as I. Havana is a city to fall in love for no matter what period of time in history you may choose to visit.  Enjoy the ride into nostalgia land. My dear late wife Martine enjoyed the trip down to my roots.

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

July 17, 2022

La Trocha of Havana !

Well digging deep into my vault found another beauty that needs to be in my blog. As I an amateur of history and architecture if you have been reading me, this fix perfect into my domain . The trocha of Havana or at least one of them were setup during Spanish colonial rule in Cuba to tried to stop the liberators called Mambises or men of the jungle! There was one near my native town so will tell you a bit about it. Hope you enjoy it as I.

It is always a shot to go by them as they are still or at least were as of 2012. We drove by the Mariel Majana trocha in the family (no longer in Cuba)  Ford 1954 convertion !!

The trochas or “trails” or « military surveillance lines », were an important element in the Spanish strategy to annihilate the mambises liberating forces. The Mariel-Majana Trocha of General Arolas, was in 1896 for the Spanish, a military line of strategic, tactical and observation entrenchments, with intervals very well equipped with blockhouses, forts and redoubts with artillery.

havana La trocha 1998
This trocha was divided into sections such as the larger Mariel -Artemisa trocha done to operate against General Maceo (Cuban independence hero) in Pinar del Rio province after he have taken the fight from one end to the other of the island, It was reinforced with a second line whose main bases were Alquizar, San Antonio de los Baños, Punta Brava (my native town) and Hoyo Colorado (later Bauta). The main HQ was located in Artemisa, The first 12 km journey was between Mariel and Guanajay, the second 10 km journey between Artemisa and Guanajay, and the third journey between Artemisa and Majana formed by between 10K+ and 16K+ Spanish soldiers.

It is a wonderful thing to see along the road by car or a bus passing on the old Central Highway or Carretera Central between Artemisa and Guanajay. As a child many times passed by them with my parents.

The Cuban base Ecured source has more on the trocha: https://www.ecured.cu/Trocha_Mariel-Majana

There you go folks, a dandy historical fact about the wars of independence in Cuba, seldom mention today with the new/older regime. Hope you enjoy the post and seek it out if going there some day. For me, its a historical trivia.

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

Tags: , ,
July 17, 2022

Varadero of Cuba !!!

This again a find in my vault of older pictures and a spot that needs to be in my blog. Many memories of going here as a child and my parents before me. It was a family tradition until the revolution put an end to it. Today the Varadero of old is gone and a new face is turning into new tourists unaware of its history. I like to tell you a bit more of Varadero of Cuba !!!

Varadero beach horse wagon NF 1998

Another favorite beach of my family were Guanabo ,Santa Maria del Mar ,and Salado (see post). Of course Varadero was the prime spot. As a child do not have pictures of it but did took in my last family visit in 1998. My parents of course had one from pre 1959. 

Varadero, is in the province of Matanzas, and part of the town of Cárdenas. Located on the northern coast of Cuba, Varadero is a popular beach resort, one of the largest in the Caribbean, It is precisely in the Hicacos Peninsula, 140 km of Havana, at the eastern end of the Via Blanca highway. The peninsula is only 1,200 meters at its widest point and is separated from the island of Cuba by the Kawama Channel. It is connected to the island by a drawbridge. Punta Hicacos, is the northernmost point of the island of Cuba and the closest to the United States. At the northern end of the peninsula is a nature reserve with pristine forests and beaches.

Varadero beach, also known as Playa Azul, stretches along the narrow peninsula between 700 and 1,200 meters wide. Its 22 km of white sand beach are characterized by a strip of fine white sand and a gentle descent of its platform towards the sea. Varadero, which is a free port, has conditions for diving, fishing, yachting, all kinds of nautical activities, skydiving and a congress center.

varadero-beach-c1998
The first tourists began to frequent Varadero as early as the 1870s and for years it was considered an elite destination. Tourism flourished in the 1930s when Irénée Dupont de Nemours, an American billionaire, built an estate there. Irene Dupont own the land between the current 54th street to the popular Cueva del Pirata, that is, some 512 hectares, We have as December 15, 1887 as the date of the official foundation of Varadero.

One day Enrique Torres built a kiosk to sell all kinds of items, and in 1926 he built the hotel identified with his last name in 1926, The Torres Hotel was demolished in the 1960s to the surprise, frustration and embarrassment of architects and historians. Total demolition occurred in 1971. Meanwhile, in 1931, La Mansión Xanadú was built, a four-story mansion, numerous rooms and bathrooms, a library and even a superbly stocked cellar. It is located on the rock of San Bernardino

The Spaniard who was the director of the famous Arechabala rum factory, bought a plot of land around a lagoon and built his house in 1938, near which in 1945 the company would build a social club for its employees. residence located in Parque Josone (initials of the owners , José and Onelia). The tunnel built by José Arechabala S.A. is still active. below the first avenue that led to the beach, and which leads to the International Diving Center of the resort, which has the second largest coral reef on the planet. Between the current streets 42 and 48, the first hotel on the peninsula called “Varadero” and later “Club Nautico” was also built in 1915, for the participants of the rowing regatta which was held annually since 1910.

Varadero beach chinese resto fam 1998

The modest Torres Hotel was joined, in 1931, by the Kawama, and during this and the following decade, the Imperial (1936), Dos Mares, Casa La Rosa, Vista Alegre, Casa Portilla Inn, Miramar, Chez Roig, Playa Azul, Varadero, etc., as well as many other buildings outside the jurisdiction of Irene Dupont, In 1950, and with the aim of equipping the spa with a casino, an American company inaugurated the Hotel Varadero Internacional, which during the following years would become an emblem of the place and very exclusive gaming mecca. In addition, thanks to its good location, it has become an excellent base to explore nearby enclaves, since excursions to well-known places such as Cayo Blanco, the Bellamar Caves, Cueva Ambrosio, the Zapatata Peninsula, Bahía Cochinos depart from here; Boca de Guamá, with its Taíno Village and the Laguna del Tesoro, or even nearby cities such as Trinidad, Cienfuegos or Santa Clara.

varadero beach pipo y mima de vacaciones en cuba

The current Cuba tourist site on Varadero: https://www.tripcuba.org/varadero

There you go folks, another dandy of my old Cuba , memories forever, even if today they are becoming blurred and far away in my mind. Varadero still an attracting place even if the crowds are different and the conditions worse; life goes on in this sad forgotten island of the powers to be . Hope you enjoy the post on Varadero and see if for yourselves eventually.

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

Tags: , ,
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 !!!

May 30, 2022

Take a look at St Augustine, Florida !

So looking back into my blog I sadly realised have not written much on the city of St Augustine, Florida! It is a shock to me as used to lived for many years just 55 minutes from it and went there even for lunch/dinner, played soccer/football, and just plain sightseeing first with my parents and later with wife and kids. Well ,found me some old pictures in my vault and decided to do justice with another post on wonderful St Augustine, Florida !

St. Augustine is on the Atlantic coast of Florida. This is the county seat of Saint Johns. about 60 km (37 mi) from Jacksonville and 90 km ( 56mi) from Daytona Beach. Today, Saint Augustine is one of Florida’s most popular destinations. It is ,also, the oldest city in the United States ,founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles for Spain!

The Bridge of Lions completed in 1927 was constructed during the extravagant land boom times in Florida. It was designed as a work of art as much as a transport for cars, connecting downtown St. Augustine with Anastasia Island (great beach!),across Matanzas Bay. A double-leaf bascule bridge, or drawbridge, it opens for boat traffic several times throughout the day. The bridge gets its name from two white marble lion statues guarding the bridge on the west side name Fiel and Firme,or Faithful and Firm, In 2015, two new granite lions were added to the east side of the bridge ,name Pax and Peli, or Peace and Happiness.  A walk across the bridge and back to see all four lions is about a mile (about 1,6 km), and worth every step. From its earliest days, it was hailed as “The Most Beautiful Bridge in Dixie.” (south US), It has long been a symbol of the US oldest city.  Renovation work was completed on March 17, 2010 when it reopened for use. The restored Lion statues were returned after a 6-year absence, early in the morning of March 15, 2011. The current bridge’s west entrance features manicured gazebos, landscaped palm trees and a new publicly accessible dock extending partially into the bay.

Saint Augustine bridge of lions into town from beach side

The city of Saint Augustine tourist office on the Bridge of Lions:https://www.visitstaugustine.com/thing-to-do/bridge-lions

One of my best memories of the town is the Flagler College (univ) a wonderful place where I came to play soccer/football against them and usually won! I came later to show it off to parents, wife and boys for many more years.  Flagler College 74 King St.: is a unique combination of the past and present, and an architectural icon of the city of St. AugustineThe college, founded in 1968, is centered on a former luxury hotel, the Ponce de Leon hotel, built in 1888 at the request of the industrialist Henry Morrison Flagler. Originally for women only, the college became coeducational in 1971.

Saint Augustine

In 1887, Thomas Edison and the Edison Electric Company installed the world’s largest incandescent lighting plant at Hotel Ponce de Leon, also making it the first building in the country to be designed with electric wiring throughout. Upon opening in January 1888, the structure was considered an engineering and architectural marvel due to it being the largest structure made of poured concrete at the time, plus modern amenities like electricity, running water, game rooms, private parlors , and of course all of the Gilded Age splendor inside and out. The hotel notable guests include Presidents Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, and John F Kennedy, Vice President Lyndon B Johnson, writers Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Ernest Hemingway, Edna Ferber, star athlete Babe Ruth, and so many more. The Ponce de Leon saw major success which prompted Mr Flagler to build Hotel Alcazar across the street, now the Lightner Museum and City Hall. The hotel was taken over by the federal government during WWII. It was primarily used as a Coast Guard Training Centre; the hotel was permanently closed in 1967. In 1968, it was reopened as the Flagler college.

The city of St Augustine tourist office on Flagler college :https://www.visitstaugustine.com/thing-to-do/flagler-college

The Lightner Museum 75 King Street . Enjoy the atmosphere and artwork of another age at this elegant Museum, formerly the Alcazar Hotel. The Lightner Museum is a museum of antiques, mostly American Gilded Age pieces .The Hotel Alcazar was commissioned by Henry Flagler, to appeal to wealthy tourists who traveled south for the winter on his railroad, the Florida East Coast Railway.  The hotel had a steam room, massage parlor, sulfur baths, gymnasium, a three-story ballroom, and the world’s largest indoor swimming pool; however, after years as an elegant winter resort for wealthy patrons, the hotel closed in 1932. On August 20, 1947 Chicago publisher Otto C. Lightner purchased the building to convert the old hotel into a hobbies museum. He used the space to house several collections, including his own extensive collection of Victorian era art . He then turned it over to the city of St. Augustine and the museum opened to the public in 1948.  The museum occupies three floors of the former Hotel Alcazar and is housed in the former health facilities of the hotel, including the spa and the Turkish bath, in addition to its three-story ballroom.

Saint Augustine

The official Lightner Museumhttps://lightnermuseum.org/

The Castillo de San Marcos  1 South Castillo Drive: The oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S., the castle fortress is the focal point of historical St. Augustine. The Castillo de San Marcos built by the Spanish, is the oldest fort built between 1672-1695. It changed its name several times: it was called Fort St. Mark during the British period (1763-1784) then Fort Marion between 1821 and 1942.

Saint Augustine castle San Marcos

In 1670, the establishment of Charles Town (current Charleston in South Carolina) located only two days of navigation by the English made the construction of the fort all the more necessary. Work on the Castillo de San Marcos began in October 1672 , done with Anastasia Island coquina  used for the walls; this is a limestone sedimentary rock formed mainly from incompletely consolidated shells found on the coasts of Florida . The manpower that is lacking on site comes partly from Havana (Cuba), as does the military engineer in charge of the work, Ignacio Daza. Native Americans are also involved.  The Castillo de San Marcos site covers 8.3 hectares. The fort is surrounded by water ditches whose height is regulated by a gate according to the tides. Several bastions and turrets are there to avoid blind spots. The fort has a square plan, each vertex of which is extended by a diamond-shaped bastion. Each bastion has at least one cannon. In the center of the building is the plaza de armas around which the different rooms are distributed.

The National Parks Service on the Castillo San Marcoshttps://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm

The city of St Augustine tourist office on the Castillo San Marcoshttps://www.visitstaugustine.com/thing-to-do/castillo-de-san-marcos

The Basilica Cathedral of St. Augustine 38 Cathedral Place.  America’s first parish and the oldest Catholic Church in the city. Explore this exquisite building and view the Spanish-inspired architecture. The Basilica Cathedral of Saint Augustine, was built over five years between 1793–1797. It’s congregation, founded in 1565, is the oldest in the United States. This pic is a repeat and newer but I like it ::)

St Augustine cathedral panel PF 1990s

The first church of Saint Augustine was only a frame construction, decorated with disparate materials. The original parish had only an ephemeral existence, since it was sacked and burned in 1586 by the English privateer Francis Drake.  The church raised an extraordinary tithe in Spain, which made it possible to build a permanent church in 1605, with the participation of masons and carpenters already familiar with the materials available in the New World. This new building lasted 95 years this time despite visible dilapidation, before being burnt down in 1702 during a failed raid on the city, led by James Moore. When Spain recovered these lands in 1784, a civic and patriotic revival pushed the fortunes of the country to undertake the construction of a cathedral, between 1793 and 1797. Florida had been a U.S. state since 1845; on April 12, 1887, the cathedral was again engulfed in fire but this time the coquina masonry was repairable.  Thanks to donations from Henry Flagler and a nationwide campaign to expand the building to give it a Latin cross basilica plan, and a European-style transept.

Saint Augustine Cathedral main altar

The facade of the Basilica Cathedral of St Augustine, marries the neoclassical style with the architecture of the Spanish missions characterized by their scrolled gable , austere interior lighting, a roof in tiles in terracotta, a semi-circular tympanum, abundant niche statuary and bare walls.  At Saint Augustine, neoclassical elements frame the portal: the entablature decorated with triglyphs is enhanced by a pediment and rests on two Doric columns. Nice

The Diocese of St Augutine virtual tour of the Cathedralhttps://thefirstparish.org/virtual-tour/

The city of St Augustine tourist office on the Cathedralhttps://www.visitstaugustine.com/thing-to-do/cathedral-basilica-st-augustine

For more on Saint Augustine, the area tourist office of Saint Augustine and Ponte Vedrahttps://www.floridashistoriccoast.com/things-to-do/

There you go folks, ths is a must when visiting FLorida . Enjoy St Augustine, as I always had, and looking forward one day eventually to revisit. Hope you enjoy this retrospective with older photos as I

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

May 25, 2022

My Punta Brava!!!

Ok so this is pull from my vault and realise not in my blog yet so here are new pictures to the blog, older of my Punta Brava!!! This is a post from faded memories but still in my heart as if you have read my blog which is my life’s history,you would know this is where I was born a looong time ago. Let me tell you a bit more of the town and especially more pictures that I can show you.

Punta Brava is a town part of the new agglomeration of La Lisa under the new administrative arrangement after the Cuban revolution. Before , it was alone just inside the city limits of Havana. It is about 21 km (about 13 mi) of city center/downtown Havana. The town has about 1500 inhabitants, many of them new as the old have left !

While in my last visit in 2012, I asked my assigned driver to take me to my native town of Punta Brava, visiting family aunt and cousins (which by now left Cuba too). Now, only memories lingered, and some places of share family values and love. Far far away, it seems difficult to even write that upon my latest visit in 2012, the area where I grew up seems different….well unrecognizable…. well poorer. It seems to me like I was not from there. It required some days of adjustment for things to come back again.

This post is to me as a reminder of what it was, a lingering space in time of a once upon a time place call Punta Brava, city of Havana metropolitan area, Republic of Cuba. 

I remember again passing in 2012 by Cangrejeras a town just over 3 km where my maternal grandfather had his farms, taken lost to the revolution or stolen dream of many. Nearby, I went to a special intern school in a village call Machurucutu; now buildings gone.

Further away at Santa Fé, about 6 km was my nearest beach, and now has a huge tourist complex there call Marina Hemingway. Further away from Havana but only less than 2 km is Guatao, this is where I played youth baseball and the area cemetery is located where my grandparents are in peace. Also, nearby, at farm San Pedro is the mauseleum of General Antonio Maceo y Grajales, the greatest hero of our war of independence from Spain who died in battle here on December 7, 1896. This was always a festival until the revolution abolished it as everything else. Below me coming from Guatao on my Czech bike!

guatao me 10 yrs old road from baseball guatao to punta brava

On our way to Havana, we always passed by Arroyo Arenas and the nice church there (see post) this was about less than 5 km from my Punta Brava. On the other way still in Cuba’s old Carretera Central or main central highway (going from tip to tip of the island) the first town is Bauta at about 6 km. This was my last school in Cuba!

Bauta escula nyen van throi ultima escuela en Cuba de Pedro

All memorable places even if by now would not recognise them and no pictures. I do have of my first school in Punta Brava, this was the Sisters of the Catholic Church school that of course is also gone.

Punta Brava, escuela de las monjas, una escuelita mia

Also, my second school on the Central Highway on your way to Havana, this one was told still there with a name change.

Punta Brava escuela secon fructuoso rodriguez mi escuela

I could not take a picture but someone took it for me of my old home, now in dismal conditions but positivitely looking at it as a memorable picture and fonds memories of my childhood before 10. This was Avenida 247 no 5006. Perhaps someone can tell me how it looks today as the picture is from 2012. Next door to the right was my paternal grandparents’ home !

Punta Brava mi ultima casa ave 247 No 5006 dec 30 1971 sept10

Looking from my maternal grandparents’ home is the road to Santa Fe beach town, and just ahead my paternal grandparents’ home on the left side further on.

Punta Brava calle 50 fr abuela amparo tia Ondina house apr12

Punta Brava calzada to santa fe Feb12

And some souvenir pictures taken in 2012, most now gone sold or given away to other family members or close friends in town. These were objects collected by my maternal grandparents over the years since 1920! My boys are below third from right.

Punta Brava living room granma amparo house photos feb12

Punta Brava grandma amparo old glasses Feb12

Again, this is a memorable lane post and no webpages. Hope you enjoy with me these wonderful places of our lives always remembered as much as possible as it is 51 years that I left it! Last brief visit 2012.  As said , the time passes by and all we have is blurred memories of always. A time, a place, a dot in my world map, that is in another world. Hope you enjoy this personal post on my Punta Brava will always be there in my heart, and many memorable moments to share with family and close old friends still in FB.

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

March 26, 2022

Curiosities of my wines in the world!!!

Well now that I got a bit of sprite in the wine posts, let me tell you about something unique and very memorable for all my family.  As said, I love wines since an early age, and everywhere I go I search for them often visiting the winemakers themselves or trying exotic wines of far away lands. This is the case of this post in my curiosities of my wines in the world!!!

These are two areas not known for wine but then again as I said, I tried them all!!! Let me tell you a bit about the wines of Florida USA and Cuba!! Hope you enjoy the post as I. Of course, the pictures are wine labels from the bottles I used to collect, and the tasting album I had.

In the early 1900’s, attempts to grow wine grapes in Florida failed due to a bacterial disease.  Hybrids were developed by researchers to produce a plant that would be immune to the disease and yet make fine wines.  No one dared such a risky venture until the Kiser family bought some of the hybrid cuttings in the 1970’s from the University of Florida.  It took them until 1985 to produce a wine fine enough to sell, and in 1986 Eden Vineyards and Winery became official.

The southernmost winery in the continental United States this is just outside Ft. Myers. You traveled down Little Lane, in the town of Alva, and you are transported to Old Florida, and the beauty of the area is so peaceful. This is right off of Route 80. It had a nice winery’s wine and gift shop.

They sold  7 wines which were the : Lake Emerald – Very Dry – A complex and elegant fine wine, fermented in French oak barrels at cold temperatures, has an underbody of ripe fruit. Alva Rouge –  Medium Dry – Beaujolais Nouveau style, perfect with pasta dishes and roast chicken, fresh and fruity. Alva White – Medium Dry – A sipping wine; great with pork, seafood, and poultry; crisp and fruity. Coral Bell – Lightly Sweet – Similar to California Blush wines but less sweet, with full-bodied grape flavors, ending bright and clean. Edelweiss – Hint of Sweetness – Velvety American and Spicy European varietals, honeysuckle flavors. Eden Stars – Lightly Sweet – Serve chilled, similar to California Blush, excellent with light meals, salads, seafood, poultry; flavor from Carambola, the star fruit. Eden Spice – Sweet – People love this popular wine with it’s exotic flavors.

We tried several do not recall which ,but did purchase the Coral Bell which was ok.  Earl and Mildred Kiser decided to retire and closed Eden’s doors for the last time on December 5, 2013. and they are no longer in business. Sadly, nothing to come back to in my former home of Florida!

Eden vineyards Coral belle wine 1994

My reliable YELP review webpage on the former Eden Vineyards and Winery :https://www.yelp.com/biz/eden-vineyards-winery-alva-2

While visiting Cuba on a business trip, was taken to the Marina Hemingway by Santa Fe, and got into the marina store there. To my surprise there wines made in Cuba lol!!  There is a story of this, and selling under the brand name Soroa with vineyard with the red grape varieties Tempranillo, Negro Amaro and Cabernet and white varieties: Malvasía Histriana. 

The result of a mixed partnership of cooperation between Italy and Cuba that emerged in 1996, the planting of 30 hectares of vines from the farms of Gianfranco Fantinel in northern Italy, the firm Fantinel currently produces white, red and rosé table wines, with its lines Castillo del Morro, Soroa, San Cristóbal and the famous Cortes, These wines are distributed now under the Cuba Ron entreprise.

Soroa red wine Cuba 1998

Havana was an important port for merchandise at the beginning of the 16C between America and Spain, the galleons arrive with excellent wines from Catalonia, Jerez and Malaga in barrels that, after being emptied, will have other uses such as storing water, grains, gunpowder, etc. At the end of the 19C, the sale of wines and spirits in Cuba was reduced, the phylloxera crisis that began to appear in the middle of the century in France reached Spain spread throughout Europe and destroyed almost all of the vineyards. Cuba never had a wine industry as all was imported and mostly from Spain.

The Cuba Ron webpage on Vinos Soroa :https://www.cubaron.com/es/productos/espirituosos-menu/vinos/lineas-vinos/316-vinos-soroa

For reference the official Fantinel in Italy : https://fantinel.com/fantinel/en/

Wine Enthusiast mag label album

There you go folks, wines all over even in impossible places; I have tried them all!! In the search for tasting wines I have gone to all corners of the world, and have the priviledge to visit some world famous wineries. And of course, some not so famous as the ones above of Florida USA and Cuba. Hope you enjoy the post and do search and try and discover the world of wines!

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

January 22, 2022

Miramar, my Havana, mi Habana !!

This is another time lapse for me going back many years 51 in fact! One has travel the world from a small spot on earth and gather many moments and souvenirs but there is always home. I am a native of Havana, and to come from my district to the old Havana needed to passed each day by Miramar. The name might seems familiar to those in Florida as there is a city there name after the one in Havana, and gosh I lived there many years later!!

Let me give you a bit of off the beaten path trip that would be wonderful to see again if possible. I am talking about the neighborhood of Miramar one of the main residential areas of the city of Havana, Cuba. Today , they put it in the county of Playa in Havana.

The Cuban upper class lived here before 1959 in sumptuous mansions and houses with pools, large patios, and other amenities. Being located in front of the coast, it made possible the existence of numerous spas, yacht clubs and social clubs in the wealthiest sectors. The stores were the best known in Cuba. Its busiest and most fundamental street, Fifth Avenue, with the same name as the famous one in New York, is considered by many to be the most beautiful street in all of Cuba.

The urban project for the construction of Miramar was conceived and signed in 1910 or 1911. The Miramar project was carried out on the grounds of the “La Miranda” family estate, making it a 100% Cuban urban project. This project is approved by the Marianao (another city just next to Havana ,and part of Marianao at the time) city council on February 6, 1911. On July 19, 1913 the contract to execute the urbanization of the Miramar neighborhood is signed.

The metal drawbridge over the Almendares river was popularly called the Pote bridge, an iron bridge over the Almendares river, in the extension of Calzada del Vedado ,a boulevard (going into another modern neighborhood Vedado)   towards Miramar. In 1920, when the 5th avenue to 42nd street section was completely designed and built, the Torre del Reloj or Clock Tower on 5th avenue and 10th street was made between 1921 and 1924 and is a 22-meter-high tower with its old carillon, a replica of London’s Big Ben, according to what it says as there is no written proof. The machinery of the clock has a mechanism by which music and time are synchronized, also chimes that sound every 15, 30 and 60 minutes, as well as every nine hours. After a period of deterioration in the 1960’s and onward, it was decided to do work on it which took three months, and finally the quarter of an hour and the melody of the bells were heard again. The four spheres, located on each side of the tower, give the exact time as they did in a distant 1924. The tower keeper need to climb the tower ladder every 72 hours and wind the machine, using the same mechanism as the manufacturers did. And the tradition is thankfully kept. Great for me as really when you passed this clock tower you really finally were in Miramar for us, memories. I have the first picture from my last visit in 2012.

havana miramar 5ta avenida clock tower feb12

You will see the Fountain of the Americas located at the beginning of 5th Avenue and the sculptures were made in 1920. The Fountain is integrated into one of the parks on both sides of 5th Avenue, like the 2 large street parks at 24 and 26th streets. It is next to one of these two park blocks that the Church of Santa Rita was built in 1941. In Miramar  numerous artificial beaches were built, the so-called Playas del Oeste or west beaches, formerly private clubs. The Miramar Yacht Club founded in 1926 with a nautical, sporty and social atmosphere, began in 1927 with a classic wooden construction on Avenida 96 and the sea. It was in 1952 that it was replaced by one in modern architecture. The 1950s was the year of the real estate explosion in Miramar, the Almendares tunnel and the Linea tunnel date from this time, to substantially improve access to the neighborhood. The most luxurious buildings in Cuba are built in the Miramar at that time, true mansions and palaces, with swimming pools, large gardens and patios decorated with statues and fountains, which alternated with yacht and social clubs such as the Havana Yacht Club, in addition to others truly colossal churches such as that of Jesús de Miramar Church on 5th avenue and 82 street, in addition to the San Antonio de Padua Church on 5th avenue and 60 street. The picture below on the fountain is from my first visit back ,in 1998.

havana miramar 5ta avenida aug98

At the end of the construction of the Malecon (big bulkward to the ocean) that extended it to the mouth of the Chorrera (tower bordering the Almendares and Cojimar rivers), the 5th Avenue becomes its natural extension, towards the other side of the Almendares River, with which the new neighborhood and all the territory of the west becomes a new housing seat. The crossing that was made through the Pote drawbridge, represented a great problem for the heavy traffic in the area and was finally replaced by a double track underwater tunnel in 1957. The vast majority of the people who lived here left Cuba as a result of the triumph of the Cuban revolution (or as some said the stolen revolution) in 1959 and went with their families to the United States, and Spain mainly.

The unofficial Havana Guide on Havana: https://www.lahabana.com/guide/havana-guide-home/places-in-havana/

The Cuba travel site on Havana : https://www.cuba.travel/en/destinations/havana-cuba

The Cuba tourist office infotur on Havana: https://infotur.cu/en/destinos/havana

There you go folks, another nostalgic tour of yours truly. Hope you enjoy the post and possibly visit Miramar in better times. The Clock tower or Torre del Reloj is a memory of the past still shining for all to enjoy in Miramar,my Havana, mi La Habana!

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

Tags: , ,
January 22, 2022

Two memorable spots in my nostalgic Havana, La Habana !!!

Of course, when I write/speak about Cuba its all nostalgia from times far away in another world, I am a native son who left the messy dictatorship long ago to into another one before reaching the free world, It has been a long journey indeed. I am remembering my early life and thought about Havana , and search for some pictures , hardly any left but got me one and another on a postcard for the memories still lingered of what it was. My Havana.Mi Habana ! Let me update this older post for you and me and old time’s sake.

When I was just a little boy back in the 60’s I remember my mother Gladys taking me on bus rides the 27, 99, etc into Havana as well as with some friends and family by an Oldsmobile or Chevrolet Bel Air’s mind you.I still have the miniature models of the Bel Air, my maternal grandfather’s cars, One of the essence of Cuba is the cooking, coming from mixtures of races European, African, and in between some Orientals. The choices were big back then, and some scratch for better today.

One of my old time favorites that I have found a picture were the El Conejito (little rabbit) and El Potin (coming from old French Gossips). They are still in my heart today thanks to my dear late mother Gladys or mima as I called her.

The El Conejito was created by 1966 in Vedado district of Havana. On Calle M and 17 . It was a sumptuous restaurant serving many dishes all with the rabbit as main course. I do not recall how many variarities of it they did but it was a full menu carte.  There is not much information online just memories. The below is from a postcard no pictures sadly.

havana-el-conejito-resto c 1971

I remembered we always had to make reservations and it was packed back in the late 60’s. We would be visiting old Havana and on the way home we stopped here; just great souvenirs. Luckily for you,the restaurant is still there and I highly recommend you try it while in Havana. A family hairloom memory ; I believe they are still open.

The El Potin cafeteria restaurant was even closer to home at Linea and Paseo del Prado in Vedado district as well. This is actually a French name meaning gossip, and we really enjoy the cafeteria style sandwiches that are so famous in Paris such as croque monsieur and croque madame as well as French desserts like the Paris Brest! Coffee of course was sublime from the mountains in eastern provinces of Cuba like Oriente; where many French landowner colonists from Haiti settled after the Haiti Revolution of 1805 made them leave there. And maybe this is where my French love affairs really began without noticing it !

havana

I came here with my dear Mom Gladys even more often I recalled, and sat by the terrace looking over Linea street which is a no number street in Vedado. It is one of the modern historical streets there. Linea was for the streetcar (tramway of today ) tracks that ran along this street. It was renamed to Avenida del Presidente Wilson in 1918 and to Doble Vía General Batista in the 50s, but people kept calling it by its original name. One thing that is peculiar about this street is that it has a tunnel across the Almendares River. The picture I have is passing by car as had no will to entered, too many memories.

Again not much information online , just the memoriesI again highly recommend coming here, is not what it was but the feel of Havana and Cuba is still there, and you will mingle with locals. Enjoy i

The unofficial Havana Guidehttps://www.lahabana.com/guide/havana-guide-home/places-in-havana/

The Cuba tourist site on Havanahttps://www.cuba.travel/en/destinations/havana-cuba

The Cuba tourist office on Havanahttps://infotur.cu/en/destinos/havana

There you go folks, another nostalgia spot in my vault. These are or were unique places not back since 2012 and do not know if still open. Nevertheless,El Conejito and Potin are here for the memories of always in my blog!

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

Tags: , ,
%d bloggers like this: