Archive for ‘Florida’

June 1, 2020

Gander, Canada!!

Another one out of the old cabinet, vault whatever, this is way from the beginning of visiting France with my now dear lafe wife Martine from Florida. Always looking for a inexpensive way to travel with the whole family and do so every year since 1990 to 2002 when finally came to live permanently in France in 2003 as already French citizens. Memories forever!! Hope you like the story as we do.

We were registered at the French consulate in Miami as French citizens and partipated in its activities thru Miami Accueil. One of the niceties of belonging is that French families living there (about 8K in all of Florida) looking for ways to visit the country the least expensive possible as the goings and comings were frequent. One of the ideas was to charter a flight by the group and passed on the good prices to us. So therefore we got on Rich International airlines (now gone) and took a charter flight to Paris Orly airport at less than 400 dollars per person!!! The trick it landed for refueling at Gander, Canada. Sot here is the story of this spot on earth, I can call it I WAS HERE!

By the way for any French reader of this post, the Miami Accueil is still there! Here is the webpage: Miami Accueil Miami Florida

Gander is a town located in the northeast of the island of Newfoundland in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador,Canada; about 40 km south of Gander Bay.  The territory of the city is home to the Gander International Airport, a former major stopover for the refueling of transatlantic flights and still houses a military air base, as well as an air control center, attached to the Gander Oceanic Control Center. The activity of the city is very linked to this airport which was created in the 1930s .

Some titbits of information gathered from the town’s webpage which I like as history is good to know are

Nearly all of Gander’s streets are named for famous aviators, from the Wright brothers, Alcock and Brown, Lindbergh and Earhart, to more modern pioneers like Canadian astronauts Marc Garneau, Roberta Bondar and Chris Hadfield. It hosted early experiments in aerial refuelling in the late 1930s. The decidedly low-tech system of the day required some brave soul to lean out of the target plane with a large hook and try to snag a fuel line dangling from a tanker flying in close formation overhead. In the early years of the supersonic transport Concorde, while most nations still refused to allow the futuristic craft into their airspace, Gander successfully lobbied to host cold-weather avionics testing. Two prototypes were based at Gander International two years before Concorde’s first commercial flight!.  The runways at Gander International Airport routinely handle the world’s largest, fastest and heaviest aircraft, up to and including the Russian Antonov An-225. Due to its strategic location and runway capacity, Gander was a designated alternate landing site for NASA’s Space Shuttle program! At the time of its completion in 1938, the then ‘Newfoundland Airport’ was the largest airfield on the planet, with four huge paved runways covering a combined area of one square mile.

Gander is the site of North America’s only Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery as well as a nice museum would love to visit the North Atlantic Aviation Museum: where you learn all about Gander’s strategic role in the world of aviation and its important role in WWII and beyond. More here: North Atlantic Aviation Museum

The Gander International Airport Authority Inc. is the official authority of the airport main office at 1000 James Boulevard P.O. Box 400 Gander, NL, Canada.  According to their site there are only four airlines such as Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing Airlines and Pal Airlines. More info here: Gander International Airport

GAnder

Gander International Airport (IATA: YQX, ICAO: CYQX) is the official name of the airport, and is operated by the Gander International Airport Authority. Canadian Forces Base Gander shares the airfield but is a separate entity from the airport. Construction of the airport began in 1936 and it was opened in 1938. Within a few years it had four runways and was the largest airport in the world. Its official name until 1949 was Newfoundland Airport.

Gander

The Canadian federal government changed the name to Gander Airport after Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. It opened the current passenger terminal in 1959. On 16 September 1945 the first transatlantic proving flight, a Pan Am (I worked for them in Miami!) DC-4, departed Gander for Shannon in western Ireland On 24 October 1945, the first scheduled commercial flight, an American (my school chairman was co founder in 1934) Overseas Airlines DC-4, passed through Gander. Gander is near the great circle route between North America and Europe. Starting in the 1940s it was a refueling stop for transatlantic flights and continued in this role through the early 1960s and in some cases into the 1990s.

Gander

With the advent of jets with longer range in the 1960s, most flights no longer needed to refuel. Gander has decreased in importance, but it remains the home of Gander Control, one of the two air traffic control centrers (the other being Shanwick Oceanic Control in western Ireland) which direct the high-level airways of the North Atlantic. Most aircraft travelling to and from Europe or North America must talk to at least one of these air traffic controls.

Gander

During the Cold War, Gander was notable for the number of persons from the former Warsaw Pact (I was part of it young boy) nations who defected there including Soviet chess player and pianist Igor Vasilyevich Ivanov, Cuban Olympic swimmer Rafael Polinario and the Vietnamese woman famously photographed as a naked girl fleeing a napalmed village, Phan Thi Kim Phuc. It was one of the few refueling points where airplanes could stop en route from Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union to Cuba.

On September 11, 2001, with United States airspace closed because of the terrorist attacks, Gander International played host to 38 airliners, as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. Gander International received more flights than any other Canadian airport involved in the operation apart from Halifax.

Officials at Gander International Airport have stated that the future for the airport is grim unless the Canadian Federal government provides funding to cover costs. Over 50% of all aircraft operating from the air field are military, and do not pay landing fees The terminal building built in the 1950s and noted for its modernist design and heritage architecture still includes many of its original furnishings and fixtures. In 2017, the airport announced the existing terminal would instead be renovated and downsized .

A BBC Video showing Gander passed world leaders and celebraties of our world interesting me think: BBC video on people faces at Gander

The city of Gander on its history here: City of Gander on its history

And there you go folks ,another corner of the world yours truly has partake; never amazes me our wonderful world. We find ways where there is none and continue to enjoy travel as a free men, Gander is an example of it thru the years and hosting a family wishing to reach France inexpensively and together. Gander is for the memories, never forgotten. The pictures are old from paper photos maybe blurry but worth a million showing my family in flight. Hope you enjoy the post on Gander, Newfoundland, Canada!

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

June 1, 2020

The Virgin Islands, US and UK!

Well going back deep into my vault, times require me to put in my blog my life’s history and so I am doing just that. Many posts many spots on our wonderful Earth over the years and still keep going strong like duracell commercial lol! Well here I am going down to my roots, the Caribbean , that wonderful sea. After all nothing comes close for a water, beach activity. And I have been to plenty everywhere.

I have mentioned in a previous post about my sailing adventures in the Caribbean area last done in my blog was March 2019. However, the islands are more than sailings so here is a bit more on the US and British Virgin Islands, the one for the thousand virgins!

Saint-Thomas is an island which constitutes with those of Saint John and Sainte-Croix the Virgin Islands of the United States, it is also one of the three districts of this territory. The island has an area of 81 km2. The main city is Charlotte-Amélie, capital of the archipelago. Saint-Thomas was once one of the haunts of privateers, pirates and buccaneers and it is a customs and tax free zone which makes it one of the tax havens of the United States

The Dutch West India Company established a post on St. Thomas in 1657. The Danes conquered the island in 1666, and in 1672 established their control over the whole island through the Danish West India Company and Guinea. In 1685, the Brandenburg African company took control of the slave trade to St. Thomas, and rented the island to the Danes, and for some time the island became the largest slave market in the world. The island was finally bought in 1917 by the Americans from Denmark. A great deal again.

The capital city is Charlotte Amalie founded in 1666 as Taphus (meaning “beer house”]). In 1691, the town was renamed to Charlotte Amalie after Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel queen consort to King Christian V of Denmark-Norway.  When American tourists were barred from Cuba in 1960, some began visiting Charlotte Amalie instead. As an unincorporated territory of the United States, it’s been a haven for mainland United States citizens seeking luxury vacations or a second home in the Caribbean.

St Thomas

I happened to spent time here on my crossing between the US and UK Virgin Islands and connecting flights to the USA. Still many memories and recall the name very well of the Galleon House Hotel very high overlooking the harbor and Main Street. It has a sweet water pool with a terrace! . You are within 5 minutes on foot of the market. The hotel house was built in 1852. It has AC rooms with all the trimming and a wonderful breakfast on the veranda . The sights of the Fort Christian is only about 500 meters and the airport  Cyril E. King is only about 10 minutes by car. Love the experience still. More info here. Galleon House Hotel

St Thomas

Another nice sides to see here are the Blackbeard castle, the wonderful beach area of Magens Bay, and the Coral World Ocean Park.

The tourist office to the US Virgin Islands :Visit US Virgin Islands at St Thomas

Saint Thomas things to do and seeVisit US Virgin Island St Thomas things to do

Now always my final destination were the British Virgin Islands and their wonderful beaches and sailing ambiance.

Tortola

The British Virgin Islands are an archipelago of the Caribbean and an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The British Virgin Islands are a tax haven. The Virgin Islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second trip in 1493, who would have named the islands in honor of Saint Ursula, known in the legend of the eleven thousand virgins. Abandoned by the Spaniards who preferred the wealthier regions, the archipelago became the ideal haunt of the pirates English, French and Dutch buccaneers who plied the Caribbean Sea to carry out their raids against the Spanish Armada. Colonized in 1648 by the Dutch and annexed by the English in 1672,

The British Virgin Islands are a group of around fifty islands that are part of the West Indies, of which only 16 are inhabited. The main island, Tortola, is separated from Saint John, in the Virgin Islands of the United States, by only 2.3 km. The main inhabited islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Peter Island and Salt Island . Road Town, the territorial capital is located on Tortola. Glad to write I have been to all the previously name islands.!

Tortola  largest and most populated of the four main Islands, is a lush mountainous Island which was formed by volcanic activity. Crowning Tortola is the tallest peak, Sage Mountain National Park, at 1716 feet (great views over the bay it can be climbed!), which exhibits the characteristics of a tropical rain forest. Beef Island, an island in the British Virgin Island, is located to the east of Tortola, and the two islands are connected by the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Beef Island is the site of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport the main commercial airport that serves Tortola and the rest of the British Virgin Islands. Adjacent to it is sailboat-filled Trellis Bay, a unique cultural village with craft shops and restaurants, awesome indeed at least from I remember.

Tortola

Tortola

Virgin Gorda is the third largest island of the four main islands The capital of Virgin Gorda is Spanish Town.  The Baths  (heavens for me) is located on the southern end of Virgin Gorda. This tourist attraction shows evidence of the island’s volcanic origins as huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea (and you can swim inside of them and between them!)  The Baths, a geological wonder comprised of awe-inspiring granite boulders, which form sheltered sea pools on the beach’s edge. The protected area also includes Devil’s Bay, which can be reached from The Baths by a series of ladders scaling the boulders ,yes indeed a wonderful thing to do!. Just north of The Baths, Spring Bay is reached by a separate road and includes a lovely white sand beach but smallish.

tortola

Named Anegada or the “Drowned Land” by the Spanish, Anegada is the only coral island in the Virgin Islands’ volcanic chain. Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 29 km (18 miles) long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, and the fourth largest on earth.  Indeed this is awesome and a must visit.

tortola

Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four main islands of the British Virgin Islands. Jost Van Dyke, named after a famous Dutch pirate, has been a sailor’s mecca for years. Like many of the neighbouring islands, it is volcanic in origin and mountainous. Captain ‘Joost van Dyk’ was a 17C Dutch pirate who used its harbours as a safe hideout and to attack ships passing North of the island on way to Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Cuba. Great Harbour, the main port of entry, is always bobbing with sailboats and sailors coming ashore to the charming West Indian village that lines the beach with gift shops and restaurants. Since the late 1960s, Foxy’s Bar in Great Harbor has been a popular stop for Caribbean boaters. Indeed Foxy’s is the talk of the islands and a must for a cold beer and great storytelling for all.

tortola

And one not mention in tourist brochures because it is private but you can go as part of a group cruising trip as I was, singles and it was party time galore! Peter Island is a 720 hectare (1,779 acre)  private island located in the British Virgin Islands. It is about 5 miles (8 km) south-west  from Road Town, Tortola.  The island was named after Pieter Adriensen nicknamed The Commander who was the brother of  Abraham Adriensen  Patron of Tortola under the Dutch West India Company in the early 17C. Pieter Adriensen and Joos van Dyk built a fort and slave pens at Great Harbour on Peter Island to facilitate privateering and the nascent trade in slaves from Angola. Right now there is a coconut trees shaded semicircular beach which is heavens on earth.  A world  famoust resort is right on it, more here fyi ; Peter Island Resort

Tortola

Hope you enjoy the tour with me in my memory lane of younger wild days, and still fond of  a lot. Never the youth out of me; hope you too can enjoy this heavens on earth, the US and UK Virgin Islands. All pictures copies of paper photos.

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

May 13, 2020

Aventura, Florida!

Well this one is for the memories, long gone probably never encountered again, but always in our hearts. Our world in the USA combine living 31 years with 13 in NJ and 18 in FL our last home. I have written several posts on this period of my life in my blog.

I am coming back because looking in my old vault found these pictures of a nice place we went with the family a lot. Weekends off beach time was made for the shopping malls and Aventura Mall is tops. Let me tell you a bit about it ok.

Aventura is conveniently located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, just east of I-95 in Florida USA. The northern boundary of the City is the Miami-Dade/Broward County line, the western boundary is the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC), the eastern boundary is the intracoastal waterway and the southern boundary is NE 176th Street. To visit the city, take I-95 to Ives Dairy Road and head East on Ives Dairy to Biscayne Boulevard. As one of my favorites we came from west Broward county on Pembroke road SR 824 into the US 1 Biscayne Blvd south toward Miami but at NE 199 street turn left to NE 29th court turn right to Abigail Rd left and then you see the signs for Aventura Mall as one direction. I never really needed to go into the town center.

Aventura takes its name from the Spanish word for “adventure”, and was named “Aventura” after the developers of the original group of condominiums in the area, remarked “What an adventure this is going to be”. Being initially referred to as Turnberry, Aventura began to be developed during the early 1970s and became an incorporated city in 1995. Aventura is also home to the Aventura Mall.

And this is the reason we came here , so a bit more on Aventura Mall

The most famous shopping attraction is Aventura Mall, a 2,400,000 sq ft (222,967 m2) indoor shopping center . The Aventura Mall is located at 19501 Biscayne Boulevard (US 1), Aventura, FL 33180. in the northern suburbs of Miami. It was opened in 1983 and is the sixth largest shopping center in the United States and the second in Florida. The mall has 4 floors; and its owned by Simon Property Group.

aventura

The Aventura Mall as said was opened in 1983 and became the largest shopping center in Florida. The first four department stores were JC Penney, Macy’s (actually Burdines our favorite FL store,   absorbed by Macy’s), Sears, and Lord & Taylor. The major construction phase of the center was completed in 1998 and new department stores such as Bloomingdales , as well as several cinemas (AMC Theaters), restaurants and a Rainforest Cafe. The Lord & Taylor store closed for financial reasons and Burdines was renamed Macy’s in March 2005 (after we left FL and USA). In 2008, a new Nordstrom store opened, and the Aventura Mall l became the largest shopping center in Florida and the fifth largest in the United States.

aventura

Anchored by Macy’s, JCPenney, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s, the center is highlighted by a mix of over 300 stores including Apple, Adidas, Anthropologie, Burberry, Cartier, Disney, Givenchy, Gucci, H&M, Louis Vuitton, MCM, Microsoft, Sephora, Topshop Topman and Zara. Aventura Mall also features more than 50 eateries and restaurants, including Treats Food Hall, and the experiential Arts Aventura Mall program showcasing 20 museum-quality pieces in a range of mediums. In 2015, Sears Holdings spun of 235 of its properties, including the Sears at Aventura Mall, into Seritage Growth Properties; the store closed in 2017 and plan on opening the Esplanade at Aventura.

aventura

In November 2017, Aventura Mall opened a three-level, 241,000-square-foot (22,400 m2) expansion wing that features two-story Zara and Topshop Topman stores, new restaurants, such as Serafina, Pubbelly Sushi, and Le Pain Quotidien, Treats Food Hall, including Shake Shack and Chipotle, and interactive art pieces, including the 93-foot-tall Aventura Slide Tower by Carsten Holler and Gorillas in the Mist by The Haas Brothers. I see the Cheesecake Factory still there and it was our favorite restaurant here. It was a family pastime to visit ,shop,eat and just plain weekend fun.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here and for shopping is a must are

Official Aventura Mall: Aventura Mall

The city of Aventura on key facts on the town.  City of Aventura

The tourist office of Miami and the beaches on Aventura : Tourist office Miami and the beaches on Aventura

The tourist office of Florida on AventuraTourist office of Florida on Aventura

And there you I figure need to have this in my blog, always a nice souvenirs of my time in Florida where my 3 boys were born. Hope you enjoy the shopping and Aventura Mall.

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

April 1, 2020

Copacabana!!! yes Brazil!!!

So here I am picking up some oldies from my vault to tell you about a wonderful country and a great city of our world, more precisely one of the best known spots on Earth. I have written pieces before but fell a post should be merited. Let me tell you a bit more on Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

A bit on the name first shall we

There are several hypotheses for the name Copacabana. The first alleges that the term came from the Quechua language spoken in the ancient Inca Empire, meaning “luminous place”, “blue beach or” viewpoint of blue”. Other sources point to the term as originating from the Aymara language spoken in Bolivia, meaning “view of the lake. “. In that country, Copacabana is the name given to a city located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, founded on an ancient Inca place of worship. There are reports that, in this place, before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, there was the cult of a deity called Kopakawana, who would protect the marriage and the fertility of women.

The beach and the entire region around it had the Tupi name of “Sacopenapã”, which means “the noise and the flapping of the wings of the socós”. In the 18C, with the opening of a chapel in honor of Nossa Senhora de Copacabana, or Our Lady of Copacabana on a rock at the end of the beach, the name of the beach and the region was changed to Copacabana.

And the beach at Copacabana!

Copacabana is a district of Rio de Janeiro. It is located south of the city. The district includes the beach of the same name, one of the most famous beaches on the planet. The area is lively and full of good restaurants, cinemas, banks. Many football fans come to spend time there.. The beach is a half-moon extending for 4.5 km, from Leme to the Arpoador, along Avenue Atlântica. It is nicknamed in Portuguese the Princesinha do Mar, or the little princess of the seas as heard on the song by Tom Jobim. Copacabana is one of the tourist emblems of Rio de Janeiro. On August 13, 1923, the Copacabana Palace Hotel was opened, in front of the beach. Since then, the hotel has become a symbol of the city

Leme is usually a less crowded corner of the beach. It is the left end for those looking towards the sea, close to the rock of the same name and those who have a view of the shore almost as spectacular as that of Arpoador, in neighboring Ipanema. Although the strip of sand is the same, it is considered another neighborhood, and has two favelas (Babilônia and Chapéu-Mangueira) that can scare the unsuspecting a little. But, in general, everything is quiet on the boardwalk, in the sand and in the nearby streets, without major problems.

Then, Posto (station) 2 is almost in front of the trendy Copacabana Palace Hotel. There is the most crowded spot on the waterfront at any time, as it is the first drop off by bus or metro/subway at Cardeal Arcoverde station from city center/downtown or from the north of Rio. During New Year’s Eve, you can hardly walk. But few things compare to the grandeur of the Copa (the hotel’s nickname) facing the sea.

Posto (station) 3, 4 and 5 are right in the middle of the beach, a little less crowded, but no less beautiful. At Posto 3 there is the Siqueira Campos metro/subway station, while Posto 4 receives the third and last one in the neighborhood, Cantagalo metro/subway station. Both are further into the beach at about 300 meters.

Finally, the stretch of sand ends at Posto 6, with the famous statue of Carlos Drummond de Andrade and at the Copacabana Fort, which has the Army Historical Museum and the delicious café Confeitaria Colombo, where it is it is possible to have a breakfast or afternoon snack with a view of the entire length of the beach. During Sundays and holidays, Avenida Atlântica is closed in its closest part to the boardwalk, and it is possible to ride a bike, rollerblade, skateboard or just walk / run with ease.

Rio de Janeiro

The district of Copacabana has four metro/subway stations such as Cardeal Arcoverde, Siqueira Campos, Cantagalo and General Osório; and more than eighty municipal and intercity bus lines. Which, of course, did not took any as had a car   lol!

This is the skyline webcam on Copacabana beach, beautiful even from a distance: Skyline webcam on Copacabana beach

A bit on the anecdote and main reason of writing this post.  Hotéis Othon is one of the largest network of hotels in Brazil. The first Othon hotel was launched in Rio de Janeiro in 1943, former “Hotel Aeroporto” close to the city airport, today known as Aeroporto Othon Travel. Until the seventies it was built and launched seven more hotels at the famous Copacabana beach. From the year 2000 on, the Othon group of hotels started to operate third parties units abroad with 11 units in countries such as France, Portugal, United States of America, Argentina and Peru. In 2003, Othon decided to invest in a new market, creating the brand “Othon Pousadas”, starting to manage tourist class hotels or “Bed & Breakfast”.  In the same year, there was the start-up of the managing of condos with the launch of the Othon Brand “Othon Flats” ,today “Othon Suítes” , with five units. At the moment, they currently operate 12 hotels, four of which are wholly owned by the Company and eight of them owned by third parties, which are managed units. The Rio Othon Palace unit, situated at the famous Copacabana beach, is one of the most famous national luxury hotel, Seven floor are now, after the modernization, included in the luxury category, focusing on business executives guests.

However, I have a story here. While visiting Rio for the first time back in the 80’s we were booked by my company a trip here and apparently by mistake they booked us on the Copacabana Palace which of course at the time was like 500 US Dollars per night. This was too much, and they cancelled the reservation. I came to know this while at Guarulhos airport! When asked to booked me in another hotel before I got to the city, the company booked me at the Othon Palace Hotel which was at that time at 150 US dollars per night. The good deed for me, they ,also, make a mistake and instead of booking for two night they did it for three so an extra day of enjoying Copacabana beach!!! The Rio Othon Palace Hotel is a highrise hotel with 98 meters high , 30-stories which opened in 1977 and had 585 guest rooms.

Rio de Janeiro

The official Othon Palace webpage in English: Othon Hotels on the Othon Palace Copacabana Hotel

And there you, been back and have enjoyed always. A wonderful souvenir for me and still many friends from those times . Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana beach, Brazil, nice! Hope you have enjoy the tour

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

 

March 25, 2020

The Gentlemen from Paris, Havana!

And here is a nice story of my lointime Cuba. This was very popular and all our grandparents told us stories of him. One of the souvenirs is that I actually saw him in Havana before leaving long ago. It’s about time I write about him in my blog.

Therefore, this is story of the Gentlemen from Paris or El Caballero de Paris.

The story goes that José María López Lledín was an elegant vagabond known as El Caballero de París (The Gentleman From Paris) who wandered the streets of  La Habana (Havana) and was a well-known cult figure in the city. According to the birth certificate issued by the district court of Fonsagrada  in Lugo, province of Galicia, in Spain , López Lledín was born in the village of Vilaseca, located near the Asturian border and the Eo river.  The fourth of eleven children, was born on 30 December, 1899 in Vilaseca, in the Municipality of Fonsagrada, Province of Lugo, Galicia. As many in Cuba came from this region of Spain.

Traveling in the German passenger ship S.S. Cheminitz, he arrived in Havana at twelve years of age on 12 December, 1913. His mother was Josefa Lledín Mendes and his father was Manuel Lopez Rodriguez; the owners of a small vineyard, they produced and sold wine and Sherry. He was baptized in the Parish of Salvador de Negueira.

According to his sister Inocencia, he worked as a tailor and in a bookshop. Later he worked as a waiter in the hotels Inglaterra, Telegrafo, Sevilla, Manhattan, Royal Palm and Saratoga. There are many stories as to why he lost his mental sanity but all of them converge on the fact that he was imprisoned in the Castillo del Principe ( Prince’s castle, used many times as a prison) in 1920 for a crime he did not commit.

El Caballero de París was a cult figure in Havana in the 40s and 50s. He was of medium height, disheveled hair with some gray hair and a beard. He always wore black, with a long coat of the same color, even during the summer. He used to carry a folder full of papers. He was a gentle and educated man who roamed the streets and traveled by bus all over the city, greeting people and discussing philosophy, religion and politics. He never asked for alms or said bad words, he only accepted money from people he knew or liked.

He could regularly be found in the Paseo del Prado; the Avenida del Puerto; in a park near the Plaza de Armas; near the Church Iglesia de Paula; in the Parque Central, where he sometimes slept on one of the benches; in Calle Muralla street; near streets Infanta and San Lazaro; and in the corner of 23rd and 12th streets in El Vedado.  It is remembered seeing him walking along the central path of the Fifth Avenue (5th ave) in Miramar, where he usually was in the afternoons. I am not sure but i believe i saw him by the Parque Central.

He was late in life diagnosed as suffering from Paraphrenia, a late-onset mental disorder featuring such symptoms as delusions and hallucinations; it does not have any negative symptoms such as the deterioration of the intellect or of the personality.

You can listen in Spanish a popular song created by a popular singer of the times Barbarito Diez, call El Caballero de Paris, video still available in youtube here

 

There is a statue to perpetuated his presence in bronze, so that his figure will wander forever in the streets of Havana.  Where I have a souvenir photo from 2012 here

havana

This illustrious man was a permanent presence in the city which, from the decade of the 20s of the last century and until 1977, saw him wandering through its streets. He died on July 11, 1985 at Mazorra psychiatric hospital atage of 86. He was initially buried in the cemetery of Santiago de las Vegas in Habana province. His remains were later exhumed by the Historian of the City of La Habana, and transfered to the convent of San Francisco de Asis (now a concert hall and museum), his current resting place.

After the Communist Cuban revolution, the brothers and sisters left Cuba and only El Caballero de Paris was left behind. Three of his brothers had descendants, some now living in Chicago and others in Asturias, Spain. The only surviving sister of El Caballero de Paris, Mercedes, was living in Spain,was last read 91 years old , and in perfect mental and physical health.

No official webpage for him but there are many private efforts on the web; i just will put one here CiberCuba in Spanish; CiberCuba on El Caballero de Paris

Hope you enjoy this unique anecdote of Havana and do look out for him if going there. Hope it helps find him. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

March 25, 2020

A courthouse at Daytona Beach!

So in these times of worries I am home and reminicent of past places in my life that have some personal meaning. Hard to go back as pictures are rare, those were the crazy days where picture taking was not in my mind. Times change and now I am fully especially since starting my blog back in November 2010. And I thank you for following me along all these years.

Let me tell you a bit more on a courthouse, not just any courthouse mind you, but the one I was married in Daytona Beach, Florida, USA. I have mentioned it briefly but feels needs a post of its own, so here it is.

While traveling met a young French girl (Martine) working in Paris living in Meaux Seine-et-Marne dept 77 ïle de France region in 1989. This was quickly followed by visits to her family and hers to mine and before I knew it, this independent young men was married on December 26, 1990 at City Island municipal courthouse in Daytona Beach, deciding to live there. We went all over together, visiting France every year and moving in the State from Daytona Beach to Ormond Beach (together) in Volusia County, then North Miami, then Hialeah,in Miami-Dade county, then Miramar in Broward county (while here became French at the French consulate in Miami in 2000) before moving permanently to France in August 23, 2003. We had 3 wonderful boys, one older (born in Daytona Beach Halifax Hospital) and then identical twins,(born in Hialeah at Hialeah Hospital). The wonderful trip ended with my dear late wife Martine passsing due to cancer here in the Morbihan Breton on April 30 2018, sad and still sad and will always be sad, there is no words. My blog posts sooths the pain a bit.Thanks for sharing.

daytona beach

Daytona beach

That is the happy and sad story. Now for the spot itself City Island is a wonderful place to visit while in the area. Here is more

City Island, Daytona Beach, is an island in the Halifax River ,a section of the Intracoastal Waterway between mainland Florida and the barrier islands/outer banks. Buildings on the island include the Daytona Tortugas’ Jackie Robinson Ballpark, the city’s courthouse annex, and the main branch of the Volusia County Library.

The area is ,also, a great spot to relax there in the wonderful City Island Park which is an island hub in a waterway from the mainland. In its immediate vicinity are facilities such as Jackie Robinson Ballpark, the City Island Tennis Center, City Island Recreation Center, and the Daytona Beach Regional LibraryCity Island. Enjoy this park’s water access by fishing or simply relaxing on shore or in one of the many covered pavilions that extend into the water. It has a fishing pier with a large pavilion at the end, pavilions, grills, playground, ample parking and restrooms.   There is also here the Downtown Farmers’ Market held every Saturday with all kinds of local vegetables, fruits, plants and specialties. Open from 7h to 12h.

The Daytona Beach Regional Library , location at 105 E Magnolia Ave ; official webpage here:  Volusia County Libraries on City Island

The Daytona Tortugas are a minor league baseball team based in Daytona Beach. The team plays in the Florida State League (FSL). They are the Class A-Advanced affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball. The team plays at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Webpage here: https://www.milb.com/daytona

The Jackie Robinson Stadium is a historic baseball field It is located at 105 East Orange Avenue on City Island, in the Halifax River. It opened in 1914!. One reason the stadium is named for Jackie Robinson is the fact that Daytona Beach was the first Florida city to allow Robinson (Black player) to play during the 1946 season’s spring training. Robinson was playing for the Triple-A Montreal Royals, who were in Florida to play an exhibition game against their parent club, the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Bethune–Cookman University (B–CU) is a private historically black university who played its baseball games at the stadium now. The DB webpage on the stadium here: https://www.daytonabeach.com/listings/jackie-robinson-ballpark-and-statue/903/

However, for me as above, the most important building there is the Daytona Beach Volusia County Courthouse annex, City Island located at 125 E. Orange Ave. This is where I was married with my dear Frenchie Martine on December 26 1990. A wonderful date always to be remembered .. As this is an annex alternative location to serve the citizens of the beachside, the main building is mainland in Deland here: https://www.volusia.org/services/community-services/parks-recreation-and-culture/art-and-culture/aipp/county-courthouse.stml

Daytona Beach

Credit:Volusia County Courthouse City Island Daytona Beach

A bit of history I like

The Halifax River is part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, passing by Daytona Beach, and around City Island; but ,also, Ormond Beach, Ormond by the Sea, Holly Hill, Port Orange, South Daytona, Daytona Beach Shores, and Ponce Inlet. All memorable towns for me too.. The waterway was originally known as the North Mosquito River, but was renamed after George Montagu-Dunk, 2nd Earl of Halifax (for whom Halifax, Canada is also named), during the British occupation of Florida (1763–1784). The Halifax River originates at Tomoka Bay, at the confluence of the Tomoka River, Bulow Creek, and Halifax Creek, adjoining Tomoka State Park. All very nice places of my younger life always fondly remember. This river Halifax or the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway ( a defense perimeter done by US Defense) has several bridges passing it. These are north to south, Granada Bridge, Seabreeze, Main Street, Broadway, Veterans Memorial (passing city island); and Port Orange Causeway. Webpage of Tomoka State Park as the picture below: Florida State parks on Tomoka park

Ormond Beach

City Island is an urbanized area, resembling any small Florida city. The animal life on the island are typical of such an environment: squirrels, rabbits, abundant green and brown anole lizards, occasional raccoons and skunk, as well as a large population of doves and pigeons. The real diversity of wildlife on and around City Island are birds, especially aquatic species. There are many varieties of duck; mallards, clue-winged teal, and cormorants. American white ibis are common, as are brown pelicans, snowy egrets, great blue herons, great white egrets, and several types of gull. An occasional bald eagle or red-shouldered hawk can be seen overhead. Indeed a wonderful place to spent some time while in the Daytona Beach area, recommended!

The city of Daytona Beach on facilities, chose maps and zoom in on City Island: City of Daytona Beach on Facilities parks

Tourist office of Daytona Beach on things to do : Tourist office of Daytona Beach on things to do

The  Volusia County on tourism boards : Volusia county on tourist boards

The State of Florida tourist board on Daytona Beach: Tourist office of Florida on Daytona Beach

There you go a nice memorable dot on my world map, City Island Daytona Beach, never forgotten always remember. Thank you very much for reading and sharing with me.

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

March 24, 2020

Walt Disney, Orlando!!!

Wow, I just notice!!! Have not written a post on the Walt Disney parks in Orlando Florida!! Hear all about it, lived not far from there, visit even from my college days for rides and concerts, took my family as a tour guide!!! and later my wife and boys!! We did it and just briefly mentioned in previous posts where  I mostly wrote about our experience in Disneyland Paris. 

Well even if photos are few and between by now, I need to have this in my blog. Hope it helps and you too can visit the best Disney park, period. Photos are from early 1990’s.

The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is the largest leisure complex of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company. It is located about 30 km from Orlando, actually by the Lake Buena Vista city area but commonly call Orlando. The area covers more than 27,400 acres (111 km2), a little more than the city of Paris (105 km2) or twice the island of Manhattan (50 km2). Walt Disney negotiated with the State of Florida so that the domain could have a jurisdiction comparable to a city. It was the signing of the Reedy Creek Act which in 1965 created the equivalent of a municipality run by a private company, the first of its kind.

Between the end of 1963 and 1964, Walt Disney under the guise of agents and shell companies, proposed to buy from many small owners their orange grove or their marshland about 30 km from Orlando, between the Bay Lake, the intersection of Interstate I-4 highway, then under construction and the federal road US 192 for a total of 27,400 acres (11,088 ha) (111 km2). The secret was kept from the press so as not to cause inflation in the price of land.

Walt Disney decides to create a whole world and settles in Orlando. The Walt Disney World amusement park is being born. In 1971, it opened Magic Kingdom, the first of 4 major Walt Disney parks. Followed the opening of Epcot Park in 1982, Disney MGM Studios Park in 1984 and finally Animal Kingdom Park in 1997. When you enter the world of Walt Disney World parks in Orlando as elsewhere, you switch to another world led by the famous mouse with big ears. All done before we left Florida, after many trips here with my boys! And even before concerts by me!!!

orlando

In each of the Walt Disney World parks in Orlando, you will find a dedicated universe. In the Magic Kingdom park: Disney princes and princesses and the famous Cinderella Castle, In the Epcot park: a World Show Case. At Disney Hollywood Studios: the Star Wars world. In the Animal Kingdom park: a safari. In the parks of Blizzards Beach and Typhoon Lagoon: aquatic activities. And finally the new Downtown Disney: Disney Springs.

The traditional first park, meet Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Jasmine and all the Disney princesses at Magic Kingdom! Embark on the Caribbean pirate ship, sing in Fantasyland and enjoy the magic of Disney.

orlando

Go on to Epcot and its world of the future imagined by the Disney team in 1970. Go to Epcot Park to discover 11 countries thanks to the World Show Case! Taste Chinese, German, French, English, Japanese and Mexican specialties on the same day!

Orlando

Welcome to the magic of Disney-style cinema! Face the ghosts of the Hollywood Tower of Terror! Use force to survive the Star Wars, watch a live Jedi combat show! In Disney Hollywood Studios Park, you will feel like you have passed to the other side of the screen.

Welcome to the Walt Disney World Wildlife Park. In the Animal Kingdom park, take a safari in Africa! Watch the gorillas and tigers! Escape the clutches of a Trex! And embark on an unforgettable journey on the planet Pandora to meet the Na’vi.

Fancy a day of shopping in the world of Mickey? Go to Disney Springs! An entire village dedicated to shopping and restaurants! All like the mouse with big ears.   Disney Springs is a commercial area divided into 4 parts by the lake

Pleasure Island party on an island with night clubs (we love it and I have many memorable nights here from college days lol!) More forest-based marketplace with many Disney boutiques, a Rainforest Cafe (we love it) and a huge McDonald’s. West Side part closer to Las Vegas with restaurants and attractions such as DisneyQuest and a permanent Cirque du Soleil theater.

Disney’s BoardWalk ; it is a commercial area integrated into a hotel, representing a pediment of a New England seaside resort around 1930.

Looking for freshness? Visit the Blizzard Beach water park where you will feel like swimming in the middle of an icy pool! Obviously, this is an illusion and the rendering is absolutely stunning and original. A water park that immerses visitors in the middle of the Caribbean islands. Welcome to Typhoon Lagoon. Relax in wave lagoons or hit the water slides at top speed!

Then, you have others such as the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex: Sports training and events center open to the public.   Five world-class 18-hole golf courses, a sixth of 9 holes, 2 miniature golf courses. The lakes with their hiking or horse riding routes, their marinas and many other activities: Bay lake; Crescent Lake; Lake Buena Vista; and Seven Seas Lagoon.

orlando

A whole world of entertainment awaiting you with lots of lodgings and eating places of all prices all over in addition to many other attractions nearby. This makes the area around Walt Disney a complete one stop family and fun place to be. Absolutely cannot miss it at least once.  A must in Florida, and it gets visitors from all over the world as well. As said, I have many memories there from going to concerts to going to rides and taken other friends or family as guide and eventually taking my wife and boys. We left the area in 2003 ,and I bet it has grown even more since then. On our subsequent visits to  Florida we had not stopped by.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Walt Disney webpage: Official Walt Disney

Tourist office of Orlando on Disney: Tourist office of Orlando on Disney

Tourist office of Florida on Disney: Tourist office of Florida on Disney

Tourist office of the USA on Disney Orlando: Tourist office USA on Disney Orlando

For out of park entertainment shopping, eating and just night fun see the Disney Springs: Official Disney Springs

There you go now you are well armed to visit this wonderful park and area of Lake Buena Vista, Orlando and not forget Kissimmee to enjoy it fully with the family. Hope you like the post and have the opportunity to see this marvel.

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

 

 

 

March 24, 2020

Villa Vizcaya at Miami!

Ok so here I am telling you of another jewel of my years in Florida, 18 to be exact and still searching for photos! Memories are forever ,they tell me and it is true. This property was many summers pastime for me and my family with great views of Biscayne Bay. Ok I am cheating a bit on the title as Miami is the better known name, but actually it is in Coconut Grove ok. Just a street over from Miami!

Let me tell you a bit on the other brother Deering and his Villa Vizcaya!

Villa Vizcaya or the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, built by James Deering, is a villa built in the style of a 16C North Italian villa. It is located in Coconut Grove ,next to Miami The villa was built as a winter residence for businessman James Deering .It is precisely located at 3251 South Miami Avenue, Coconut Grove.

The name Vizcaya derives from the Spanish Basque province of Biscay. In fact, the villa dominates the Biscayne Bay while Vizcaya dominates the Bay of Biscay . This name would mean in Basque an elevated place.

The land covers 72.8 hectares. The main house was built in between while the construction of the gardens continued. The villa thus combines European marble and Florida limestone. The plants in the Italian garden were chosen to be able to withstand the tropical climatic conditions of the region. The accommodation thus resembles the Villa Rezzonico located in Bassano del Grappa, Italy.

James Deering lived in the Villa Vizcaya from 1916 until his death in 1925. In 1945, the descendants of Deering donated part of the land to the Archdiocese of St. Augustine and to a hospital. The land, however, still included the main house, part of the gardens and the village. These were sold to Miami-Dade County.

Villa Vizcaya was opened to the public in 1953 as the Dade County Art Museum. It was later renamed to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. The land now covers 20 hectares and hosts a botanical garden. The museum contains 70 rooms decorated with objects dating from the 15C to the 19C.

All the furnishings at Villa Vizcaya are just as they were in Deering’s time, including early versions of such amenities as a telephone switchboard, a central vacuum-cleaning system, elevators and fire sprinklers. The East Loggia looks out on to the bay, the exit guarded by a vast telescope. Off to the south stretch Vizcaya’s idyllic gardens, with fountains, pools, greenery, a casino and a maze. Strolling here on a quiet summer’s day can be magical indeed. Another bonus is the café, which offers above-average lunches and, on Sundays, tea for two from 13h to 16h. This is wonderful!

Miami

memories of my dear late wife Martine at Vizcaya and the gondolas

Villa Vizcaya was chosen to host the meeting between President Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II during his visit in September 1987. Villa Vizcaya was chosen as the setting for the filming of many films. Some of these were Ace Ventura, detective for dogs and cats. Any Given Sunday, Bad Boys 2, Airport ’77 and The Money Pit.

The official webpage of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens here: Official Vizcaya

The tourist office of Miami and the Beaches on VizcayaTourist office of Miami on Vizcaya

This is a wonderful property to visit blending European finesse and natural beauty of Florida in a tropical setting. Easy to get to it taking from Miami Beach 5th street the McArthur Causeway I395 to exit 2 into Biscayne Blvd (US 1) turning left southbound on this street; then continue on US1 Biscayne blvd and this will become Brickell Avenue passing Rickenbacker causeway stay on the left unto South Miami Avenue and follow to entrance to Villa Vizcaya on your left hand side. A beautiful ride thru beautiful residential neighborhoods, you might see a star!!! Enjoy it

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

March 24, 2020

Deering Estate at Miami FL!

Well and here I continue in memory lane of my Florida. Harder to find photos each time but need to have it in my blog. These are historical sites and full of Florida nature living like no other. It was fun while it lasted. Nice looking at you kid

Let me tell you about the Deering Estate of Miami.

Charles Deering Estate ;also known as Deering Estate at Cutler Ridge Road was the Florida home of Charles Deering until 1927 when he died at the estate. Deering lived on the 444 acres (1.80 km2)[property for five years, from 1922 to 1927. No, not the same Deering who built Vizcaya castle, but close. The Deering Estate was, in fact, set up and built by James’s similarly well-off brother Charles, who erected his own winter retreat at about the same time that Vizcaya was constructed.

miami

The property consists of a three-story wooden house built in 1900, known as the Richmond Cottage and a three-story stone mansion. Other buildings were also built on the property to serve as auxiliary buildings to the estate. Charles Deering Estate is located in the Cutler neighborhood of Palmetto Bay, Miami. The grounds include what is thought to be the largest virgin coastal tropical hardwood hammock in the continental United States. The estate was acquired by the state of Florida in 1985.

In 1900 the wooden house was built and soon after S.H. Richmond’s wife, Edith, opened the house as an Inn called the Richmond Cottage. The Richmond Cottage was named the most southern hostelry in the continental United States by The Miami Metropolis newspaper (gone) in 1901. Charles Deering became secretary of his father’s company, which merged with McCormick Harvesting Machine Company  and became International Harvester in 1902. After the merger, Deering became the chairman of the board for International Harvester; (now history continue as part of CNH Industrial).

The Cutler Burial Mound is a prehistoric mound on the Charles Deering Estate. It is one of the few surviving prehistoric mounds in Miami-Dade County. The mound is about 38 feet by 20 feet at the base, and about five feet high. Artifacts from the mound are from the Glades II and III periods. The mound is believed to contain 12 to 18 burials of Native Americans. The mound is accessible via a boardwalk. In 1979 a sinkhole on the Deering Estate was found to contain bones of Pleistocene animals associated with bones and artifacts of early humans.

On August 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew ravaged and damaged the property of Deering Estate. The water front property was devastated by waves that reached as high as the second floor of the buildings. Water rose more than 16 feet (4.9 m) from sea level and caused major flooding on the property. The Richmond Cottage was taken off its foundation and splintered by the hurricane. It took seven years to restore the cottage. Deering Estate at Cutler reopened to the public in 1999 and officially opened in 2000

The house and grounds were featured several times in the 1980s TV series Miami Vice (yes!), and the estate was the starting location for The Amazing Race All Stars in 2007.

The official webpage for Deering EstateOfficial Deering Estate

The Miami and the Beaches tourist office on the Deering EstateTourist office of Miami on the Deering

Miami-Dade county webpage on the parks, Deering EstateMiami Dade county on Deering Estate

You have good directions on the above webpage go to Plan Your Visit. This is a wonderful historical and architecturally stunning house and property, we love to come here with the family indeed, memories are forever. Enjoy Deering Estate at Cutler , Miami.

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

 

March 23, 2020

Seaquarium at Miami USA!

And again going back to memories and early posts in my blog. Just when I started my blog back in Nov 2010 had many posts that now seems lost in the web of posts done afterward. These I will try to renew or even expand on them now.

This is the case of my old Seaquarium of Miami. I even visited friends nearby and of course took my kids there. Then we left for France and done with it. However, if in the area is a must to visit. Let me tell you a bit more ok

The park was founded by Fred D. Coppock and Captain W.B. Gray and was the second marine-life attraction in Florida. When it opened in 1955, it was the largest marine-life attraction in the world. From 1963 through 1967, eighty-eight episodes of the 1960s TV show Flipper (yes!!) and two movies starring Flipper were filmed at the Miami Seaquarium. From 1963 to 1991, the Seaquarium also had the Miami Seaquarium Spacerail, which was the first hanging monorail in the United States.

The Miami Seaquarium is an oceanarium in Miami ,county of Miami-Dade, State of Florida on the island of  Key Biscayne. Opened in 1955, it is the main aquatic oceanarium of this type in the metropolitan area of Miami. The Miami Seaquarium has a dolphinarium with bottlenose dolphins, white-sided dolphins from the Pacific and an orca, named Lolita. It also displays fish, sharks, sea turtles, birds, reptiles and manatees. Since 2014, it has been owned by the Spanish multinational Parques Reunidos.

Miami

You can see the following areas

The Shark Channel one of the most popular attractions in the aquarium when the it opened in 1955; and still going strong.

The Tropical Reef holds captive corals and colorful fish, with views of the beautiful beaches of Key Biscayne

At the manatee pool even if shows can be short due to the nature of the shy animals it presents several manatees of the rivers of Florida!

The Top Deck Dolphin and the Flipper Dolphin are shows that feature dolphins. The park has two pools dedicated to bottlenose dolphin shows, the Top Deck Dolphin Show and the Flipper Dolphin Show, as well as a third pool, Dolphin Harbor, dedicated to public interactions with dolphins.

Miami

 The Golden Dome presents a spectacle of sea lions and seals.

The basin hosting the Killer Whale Show, presents Lolita the orca of last count 48 yrs old and four white-sided dolphins from the Pacific

Miami

The Dolphin Odissey allows the most stubborn to swim for half an hour flat with the dolphins, for a fee.

miami

Precious memories

And as you are aware of the type of football played in the USA, the super super event Super Bowl LIV (last one) feature guessing the winner contest by the Seaquariume Nurse sharks . However, they failed as went over the SF 49ers and the winners were the KC Chiefs!!

The Miami Seaquarium is at 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway,on Key Biscayne, Miami. Again the best way to get there is the car. Again to start you off at popular Miami Beach get on 5th street to the McArthur Causeway (I395 road) to   I 95 highway southbound exit 1A. Stay on I95 to SW 26 road exit direction Key Biscayne paid toll at Rickenbacker Causeway into Key Biscayne, will see seaquarium on your right.

Miami

The Miami Dade bus network taking Route 102 B provides bus service from Brickell Station to Miami Seaquarium. PDF route map here: https://www.miamidade.gov/transit/library/routes/102.pdf

Some webpages to help you enjoy your trip here and worth it

Official Miami SeaquariumOfficial Miami Seaquarium

The tourist office of Miami and the Beaches on the SeaquariumMiami tourist office on the Seaquarium

And my luck will have , been here more than on the other parks yet have much fewer photos! (well update found some pics even if blurry as taken from a paper photo shot!)  Memorable ones as they are when my boys were growing up in Florida. We enjoy a lot as a family the Miami Seaquarium. Hope you too can one day enjoy it.

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

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