Archive for ‘Florida’

October 7, 2021

My old stumping grounds in the USA!

I am kind of becoming nostalgic and try to remember places I have been in the USA but not lived. Well , if read my blog ,you know I lived in New Jersey and Florida for a total of 31 years…. Yes. Now let me update this old post with links especially as it brings a lot of memories of a time never forgotten, Sit back and enjoy my old stumping ground in the USA !

I was able to went out to other areas and can’t believe very little pictures or memories that can be recall now. These areas were Boston, Washington DC ,Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Richmond/Midlothian, New York, and Omaha ,Lancaster,and Chicago. Then, from France, I did visit San Francisco for a week and again little pictures. These were older times before blogging and love of pictures. I used to collect post cards and have still over 1000 of them (from a high of 4K) from a high of 79 countries. Once, began to like photos ,and getting in online travel forums, stop collecting postcards. In the switch something got lost… Maybe the kind readers of my blog can help me remember some of these places. Just let it all out !!! I still kept some pictures…

I will start with Boston,MA ; I remember going to Brighton. It must have been many many years back, as one of my cousins was going to marry someone from there, (which eventually did not ,,,) We met the family,stayed in their home, and got a car tour of the city center, even to Harvard and MIT campuses. It is said that it was later had the area change to become Cambridge and the part of old Brighton became part of the city of Boston in 1874 as a neighborhood. Brighton/Allston (aka Brighton, MA and Allston, MA, 2 subdivisions of Boston proper) are known for their large population of students. Boston University and Boston College booked the Brighton/Allston neighborhood. Found out more about Brighton/Allstonhttps://www.bostonusa.com/plan/boston-neighborhoods/brighton-allston/

Then, it was Pittsburgh,PA; I remember staying in the Hilton by the water point across from Three Rivers stadium (now gone) as 3 rivers do meet at the point (Allegheny,Monongahela,and Ohio). We went up in a group of friends up to Liberty avenue and had a good time indeed…The hotel was tops first time staying in a fancy hotel it was an experience. There was the Three Rivers Park and then the Point Park with lush looks over the rivers. I believe the hotel name has been change from 1984, now is the Distrikt collection by Curio a Hilton brand: https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/pitktqq-distrikt-hotel-pittsburgh/

I like to tell you about Omaha ,Nebraska. This was way back to around 1984/85 and believe me the city was pretty serious not much to do then watch an American football game, and of course go Cornhuskers! I remember was there on a sales seminar by  Mutual of Omaha insurance company !! but did not stayed with them lol! We stayed in a nice hotel ,can’t remember the name, and ate in fancy restaurant taken a taxi with a group of us but do not remember the restaurant name ,only was Italian cuisine lol!  Ok got one picture of the training class, hope somebody remembers me sorry. I should have taken the info for later use but in those days life was crazy lol !  I am front row 3rd from right!

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Chicago,IL, went part of the same training class as Omaha, it was the first test and we were put in an hotel by the waterfront can’t even remember the name; I believe it was the Hilton magnificent mile but not sure. We were just in the hotel for about 3 days with all day work, but again I can say I was there ! The Hilton webpage: https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/ordmdhf-hilton-chicago-magnificent-mile-suites/

Washington DC was even older, it was a high school trip to see the Smithsonian Institute complex of museums, very nice air museum there is all I can remember. It was a bus tour for a day, and all I know we had a great time on the bus !!! I came back later with my mother to do some paperwork but also a roundtrip in one day. just can say, I was here !  The Smithsonian museum webpage : https://www.si.edu/visit

Going from high school in NJ to university in FL did it by bar cheapest and awesome ride along the I-95. Well my car a Chevrolet Monte Carlo 1977 had break problem from the factory, and I was left without breaks near Richmond VA. The tow truck from the highway took me to Martin Chevrolet in downtown Richmond and there was taken care by Sales Manager Ray Palmer. The part needed to be ordered from Petersburg down south a bit so needed an overnight stay. The gracious Mr Palmer took me to his house!! his older son was hunting in the VA mountain and slept in his room! played Atari games with the younger son , got dinner and breakfast with the family, got my car fix at no cost, not even for the tow truck; and went on my way. Amazing good Samaritan gesture, and I kept in touch with uncle Ray for many years. Even from France, he was 81 and retired, now handling his farm of 100 cows near Midlothian west of Richmond. I lost touch so sadly no news but he must be almost 95 if alive. Anyway I did not see much of Richmond other than the dealer. It was at Cowardin ave US301, and now I read is the Richmond Christian Center lol !!!

Back in around 1980, while in university got a tour of the Delta airlines facilities at Atlanta  Hartfield international airport and stayed at a Days Inn in Atlanta GA. The fun part was the bus and me waking up everybody at 6h when we needed to get out at 8h, I just fake the school guide voice over the phone and got everyone up earlier ,terrible feeling lol!! The Delta L-1011 airplane tour was cool. indeed. The hotel is shown with Wyndham webpage but I believe it was this one: https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/days-inn/college-park-georgia/days-inn-and-suite-college-park-atlanta-airport-west/overview

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I went several times with my father to Philadelphia, PA by 1975-76 as he had business there and I accompany him. We were on the road selling to grocery stores, discount,convenience stores and went in the city along Broad and Market Street that I can remember. I was still a teenager and later took my first car ride getting lost into the city, a State trooper police help me out get out lol! terrible times I know !!! We never stayed in hotels ,these were just in and out same day trips for a couple of years.

Then, it was New York, NY well this was across the street I mean the Hudson river, and my first going trip just fresh from my driver’s license was to see Yankee Stadium in the Bronx! well on the way back read above the end in Philadelphia along the Garden State Parkway!! Here went also by bus to Shea Stadium in the Queens borough and had a train ride on the old World Trade Center to see the Yankees again (there is a new one after the old one was destroyed by terrorists 9-11). Then, went several time for dance clubs and just plain ride even by car on those crazy young days always lots of fun . Went to Madison Square Garden to see the NY Knicks basketball and NY Rangers ice hockey lol! great times. And waited New Year’s in Time Square and skated in Rockefeller center , and did my walks in Central Park. I again help my father go into the meat market area around 14 street, and the Bronx Terminal Market for groceries for our store in NJ. This was tough wakeup at 4h (4 am) all day work…but it help my future face to reality in the real world.

Also, spent my high school senior class trip at the Rocky Horse Ranch Highland, NY in the mountains of New York State, with horse rides and wild pool activities which cannot mention here lol! Which I see now is an all inclusive resort of world renown wow!! Totally different from the country ambiance I remember back then, Picture I am the first from the right. The webpage: https://www.rockinghorseranch.com/

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Of course, if I drove to college (University) along I -95 I passed by many states, and several times stop for a night sleep at South Carolina or Georgia or Virginia. I passed from New Jersey to Delaware, Maryland, Washingon, DC, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The trip took from 17-20 hrs depending on the driving ::) did that twice in the summer and twice at Christmas every year for 4 years! In Virginia I stopped around Emporia, South Carolina around Santee, and Georgia around Savannah or Brunswick.

While coming and going from college, I did rode with a college buddy to drop him off at Lancaster, PA on the I-83 to York and then the US30 to Lancaster. I continue on the D30 to Downingtown to connect with the I-95 home north of Philadelphia. Those were the roaring days on the road. Or put your pedal to the metal and rock !!!

I even did a post here in my blog on the trip to San Francisco , from France, but no photos as well yikes !. I spent a week there at the Hotel Nikko and got around to Pier 39, the Golden Gate bridge, and Union square area, several places;road the tramway trolley cars, and ate at Café Bastille, and John’s Grill where the Maltese Falcon movie was filmed part of it. My hotel Nikko: https://www.hotelnikkosf.com/

So sad,could not kept pictures of those days, when my taste was more to postcards, Nowadays we keep things better with better technology, back them paper photos were shuffle in moves, and I do average one every 5.7 years ! so things gets lost or trip where a camera was not necessary as was thinking more postcards. Well you get the picture, any heads up on the places is appreciated for my memories of the good old days.

Hope you enjoy this recap of my stumping grounds in the USA ! I had a great time writing it again for you and me, Thanks for reading me since November 2010 in my blog ! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all !!!

October 6, 2021

My memorable restaurants of Florida !!

I believe have written on them on general posts of places to see, however, feel obligated to keep them firmly in my blog with a post of their own, This time will take you to a cherish place of mine where I lived for 18 years, that is Florida to remember my favorite restaurants! Of course these are not all, but the best with pictures that I have, Hope you enjoy the memorable moments and can come and visit them one day. Thanks for reading me since November 2010 !!!

Miami’s original Cuban kitchen , La Carreta (the wagon) was born out of the growing demand for an authentic cultural Cuban hub.  A Cuban family-owned establishment, it continues to be a staple of  old Cuba’s family dining traditions of “grandmother style” food and famous Cuban espresso. To characterize Cuban food in terms of other cuisines, it’s basically a fusion of Spanish, French, African and Caribbean cuisines, drawing many distinctive flavors from each of these, with heavy influences of garlic, citrus, and sugar cane. As a restaurant, you don’t stick around for more than 40 years and expand into a local chain if you’re not doing something right. And for La Carreta, that something is food. Lots of it. Though you’ll find some Spanish-inspired dishes, you can’t go wrong by sticking to Cuban classics like ropa vieja (shredded beef cooked with onions and Cuban mojo sauce (coming from Tenerife, and the word use later to describe the mojito drink or little mojo !) , served with rice and sweet plantains) and boliche (pot roast stuffed with chorizo). Even when the restaurant is packed, the waiters are great at making you feel like you have all the time in the world to figure out what it is you want to eat. They’ll help you figure that out, too, if you want, they’re full of suggestions, and recommendations. But mainly they’re super-friendly and fast. Each day, the restaurant offers a selection of three or four specials, and weekday lunch deals ! Expect large portions on the plates and a backroom café for strong Cuban coffee, sweet pastries and sugarcane juice. Though most of the ordering happens at the walk-up coffee window, serving up flaky pastelitos and espressos until the wee hours. We came to them many times and our favorite family location were at the International Mall parking lot outside the mall right next to the Dolphin Expressway (State road 836) coming from Miami Beach at NW 107 ave. you see it from the Expressway. Another location we went is the original restaurant at SW 8th street Miami. And by now, they even have branches closer to my old home in Miramar, Pembroke Pines!!!

La Carreta webpage: http://lacarreta.com/locations/

miami-front-la-carreta PF-aug09

Another dandy is TGI Fridays reputation as the best corner bar in town started in Manhattan in 1965 and my fav location was near Sawgrass Mill Mall in SunriseBroward County,  just north of my old home.  Located near W Sunrise Blvd & Yellow Toucan Rd, proudly bringing you the best local mix of food, fun, and handcrafted cocktails. Many times here with the family! Sawgrass Mills shopping center is huge, I mean huge  ,one of the biggest if not the biggest mall in the USA, and Florida’s largest.  Also, tried them while visiting the USA at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport near Gate B19.  They were in Paris, France at 8, Rue Du Faubourg Montmartre 9éme,  but departed by 2013 and not back yet. Also, tried them near one of my old homes in Ormond Beach, FL!  However, they are in Spain and have tried their Madrid branch (calle Virgen de los Peligros)  as well as Prague,(Nádražní 110) Czech Republic!! The TGIF Florida locations webpage: https://locations.tgifridays.com/fl.html

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Another twist on the above is Applebees!  They are  your go-to restaurant for burgers, chicken, steaks, and the infamous riblets all served in a relaxed family-friendly environment. And don’t forget to checkout  their Neighborhood Drink of the Month special. Applebee was Established in 1980 originally base at Kansas City Missouri, later in 2015 relocated to Glendale, California. The first restaurant opened in November 1980 in Decatur, Georgia. Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar offers a lively casual dining experience combining simple, craveable American fare, classic drinks and local drafts. Now that’s Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood. a chain where the the ambiance is more towards sports decorated walls, location been to Sunrise and Doral by Miami (both now closed here for the memories). I have gone for the trios and seafood platters with plenty of beers.  They now have a new location closer to my old last home there in Pembroke Pines! 

The Applebees’ restaurant webpage on locations in Flhttps://restaurants.applebees.com/en-us/fl/

Miami Applebee by doral aug09

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Another family souvenir is the  Latin American Bayside Cuban Café at 401 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, in the Bayside Marketplace right at the entrance to the Port of Miami.  Awesome food and the Cuban sandwich & coffee are to die for. Great service n friendly staff. Made us go back again everyday while we were there.  For the big eaters this cantine type restaurant is a go and the possibility of choosing from a large selection of salads, meat grills all you can eat. There is a wine cellar and drinks but small selection. However, the location is superb in downtown/city center Miami. The Latin American Bayside Cuban Café  has a nice location, with a small indoor seating area and bar, and a much larger outdoor patio, so you can overlooki Bayside’s harbor a wonderful tropical escape with boating cruises on Miami harbor by the port of Miami and passing by the home of the famous.  This restaurant has closed due to covid they say, unfortunately; here for the memories! They still have a webpage on here: https://latin-american-bayside-cafe.business.site/

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Another hugely favorite of ours is the Columbia Restaurant; we have been to the original in Tampa and also, St Augustine.  Founded in 1905 by Cuban-Spanish immigrant Casimiro Hernandez, Sr., the Columbia Restaurant is Florida’s oldest restaurant, and the largest Spanish restaurant in the world. It began in Tampa’s Ybor City, (from city area founder Vicente Ybor of tobacco fame) as a small 60-seat corner cafe known for its Cuban coffee and authentic Cuban sandwiches, frequented by the local cigar workers. To this day, more than 116 years since it first openedthe Columbia remains in the same family. Over the years, Columbia Restaurant has attracted some of the most well known athletes and entertainers from yesteryear to today. From Babe Ruth to Derek Jeter, Lou Piniella, Ken Griffey Jr. and Barry Larkin, from Liberace to Bruce Springsteen, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith and Brian Johnson of ACDC, from Jack Dempsey and Rocky Marciano to Evander Holyfield, from Marilyn Monroe and Liza Minelli to Bo Derek, everyone enjoys the Columbia.  Other recent visitors include George Clooney, Stephen King, Bryant Gumbel, Brooke Shields, and Lauren Hutton. The restaurant’s wine list contains more than 1,056 wines with an inventory exceeding 50,000 bottles, and Columbia has won several awards for their Spanish wines. The restaurant features performances of flamenco, one of Spain’s traditional dances. another wonderful Florida combination of shopping, food, and games for the whole family! The other exquisite Columbia Restaurant we have been sits in the heart of St. Augustine in the historic district of the nation’s oldest city, which was founded in 1565. Located in the heart of the historic district at the corner of Hypolita and St. George Streets. We used to lived 45 min from it and visited often!!  Ybor City is a district comprised of cobblestone streets and brick buildings that are an architectural fusion with strong Cuban/Spanish influences. The area reeks with history, for example President Teddy Roosevelt stayed there during the Spanish American War as did Sr. Winston Churchill who was reporting on the war for the London Daily Graphic.

The Columbia restaurant webpage on locations bottom page: https://www.columbiarestaurant.com/

The Ybor City webpage on the Columbiahttps://yborcityonline.com/columbia-restaurant/

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And now two of my favorite French hangouts while living in Florida USA.

The Royal French Bakery, was run by Christian from Lyon, so it was heavens, now closed ,but post for the memories.  We had our Büche de Nôel always done here as was not sold to the public for lack of knowledge of it;  ordered by my dear late wife Martine. The Royal French Bakery was South Miami’s go-to boulangerie/patisserie, with all that you’d expect from a French bakery (tarts, macarons, croissants galore), plus salads, sammies and cafe au laits. You can score the flaky, buttery treats in flavors like guava, ham & cheese and almond, to name a few of the goodies we got here over the years. The location was at  7370 SW 57th Ave, South Miami, FL 33143.Just off Sunset Ave or NW 72 St. 

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Pleasant to verify the Croissan’Time Bakery at 1201 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, FL is still there! This bistro, bakery, and grocery store opened in 1986 by Bernard Casse, from  Port-Sainte-Marie in the region of Lot & Garonne France and very nice guy!! We came here for everything French even paying more for import taxes. He had started as a bakery in the southwest of France in the 1960’s and arrived in the USA in 1978. He began working in several establishments such as the prestigious La Grenouille, New York, before starting his own business.  In his team there was also Matthieu Cartron, that had worked in France, Saint-Martin, and New York, that came to lent a hand as well as the baker Garry Petigny. All the breads of Croissan’Time  are done on site from scratch à la Française bien sûr!!! 

The official Croissan’Time Bakery webpage: http://www.croissantime.com/

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And to show how the French community of Florida mingles and get to know each other as we had for many years there from 1990 to 2003; Miami Accueil is managed by the Consulat de France de Miami (very helpful understanding group who helped us immensily the transition from USA to France! merci!) and put together all the French residents in its jurisdiction. The group was done to share activities with French families of all sorts. Here for information for those French there and those thinking of coming to live in France, very helpful.

The Miami Accueil webpage: https://www.miami-accueil.org/lassociation/

There you go folks,  try to be as brief as possible for all these souvenirs of my life ,never to be forgotten and thanks WordPress for allowing me to share it here for my memories and the enjoyment of others. Hope it helps.

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

October 6, 2021

Wonderful Key Biscayne!!!

And again, this is a find from my vault! After trying to update several posts realised not written fully about this memorable spot in my previous life in Florida USA. It’s a must to visit while in the Miami area. Let me tell you a bit about the wonderful Key Biscayne!!!

Key Biscayne is located on an island in Miamli-Dade County, and the State of Florida, near Miami. The village of Key Biscayne incorporated in 1991. The northern part of Key Biscayne is home to Crandon Park, a county park. The central section of the island is home to the village of Key Biscayne. The southern part of the island is the Cape Florida.  The island is connected to Miami by the Rickenbacker Causeway (glorious ride !!) which was built in 1947. Alongside the old bridge, now used as a fishing pier, stands a taller and newer arched structure built to serve the population growing area of ​​the island and the many boaters who sail in Biscayne Bay. It cost you $1.50 for entry to Key Biscayne island (provide change !), and $ 5 for entry to the park beaches.

key-biscayne entrance to the key 2009

Key Biscayne is approximately 8 km or about 5 miles long and 1,5 to 3 km or 1 to 2 miles wide. The northern end of the island is separated from another barrier island, Virginia Key, and Bear Passage. The southern end of the island is Cape Florida. The Cape Florida Channel separates the Island from Safety Valve, an expanse of shallow channels cut by tidal channels that run south about 14,5 km or 9 miles to Keys Ragged at the north end of the Florida Key.

key biscayne over to beach bill boggs mia skyline aug09

The wonderful Crandon Park is two-mile stretch of wide sandy beach and calm waters draws locals and visitors from around the world , and yes is very nice I went there as my favorite spot, You also, have the Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne, a championship 18-hole golf course and the former site of the Senior PGA Tour and one of America’s top 75 upscale courses by Golf Digest. The park offers a world class 26 court tennis facility ; The Tennis Center, which was also the former host site of the PGA Open from 1987-2018.

The highlight to eat here and one of my favorite , this brings me lots of memories was the Rusty Pelican restaurant, An iconic restaurant. With its elegant waterfront setting and floor-to-ceiling windows perched above a marina, a meal here is accompanied with dazzling views of Biscayne Bay and Downtown Miami’s skyline. And still going strong!!!  Webpage : http://www.therustypelican.com/

As you continue along the causeway toward the village of Key Biscayne, you’ll cross through Virginia Key , also home to one of the destination’s classic attractions, the Miami Seaquarium (see post) .

And finally ,you reach the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park a natural paradise at the southern tip of Key Biscayne. The beach here was our favorite and I came even as a boy with my parents and local family aunt and cousins, You can climb to the top of the lighthouse for fantastic views, walk along tree-lined trails and soak up the sun on the beach , Built in 1825, Cape Florida Lighthouse offers one-of-a-kind views from its wraparound balcony. Climb the 109 spiral steps and emerge to bird’s-eye views of the Atlantic Ocean, the floating homes of Stiltsville, Cape Florida, Key Biscayne and world-famous Miami Beach. Bill Baggs’ beach has been ranked as one of the country’s top ten beaches and is a great place to relax and soak up the sun. Over a mile of the beach is open for swimming, but note that there are no lifeguards on duty. No problems at all safe for the whole family ! The park is also part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom heritage preservation program, commemorating the journey of escaped slaves to the British Bahamas.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip and is a must are

The Village of Key Biscayne parkshttps://keybiscayne.fl.gov/parks___recreation/parks___beaches/index.php

The Village of Key Biscayne on the history of the village and the islandhttps://keybiscayne.fl.gov/uniquely_kb/about_key_biscayne/index.php

The Miami and beaches tourist office on Key Biscaynehttps://www.miamiandbeaches.com/neighborhoods/key-biscayne

The State of Florida tourist board on Key Biscaynehttps://www.visitflorida.com/places-to-go/southeast/key-biscayne/

There you go folks, now I feel better to have this wonderful piece of my life in my blog. Key Biscayne brings a lot of memories we were there last in 2009. Hope it helps you come and enjoy it as we did.

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

October 6, 2021

West Florida!!!

Ok here trying my creative mind or lack of lol!! hard to come up with titles but just glance at some old pictures and gave me the idea to do this post on three cities of West Florida dear to me. I have several posts on last stronghold in the United States, but not enough on the cities of Tampa, Cape Coral,and Fort Myers. I will try to bring them to life in my blog for memories’s sake. Hope you enjoy it as I.

Let me introduce to you the city of Tampa in the county seat of Hillsborough on the west coast of the State of Florida. It is located about 300 km from Miami, on Tampa Bay. It was discovered in the early 16C by the Spaniards, the town was founded around Fort Brooke.

The conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez was the first European to discover the Tampa region in April 1528. The following year, another Spaniard, Hernando de Soto, rescued the members of the Narvaez expedition. In the 18C, the region of Tampa saw the installation of Cuban fishermen, in the current district of Hyde Park. When Great Britain acquired Florida in 1763, in the treaty of Paris (Spain, GB, Cuba) ,the bay was baptized Hillsborough Bay (which is the name of the river). After a second period of Spanish domination, the Territory of Florida integrated the United States in 1821,finally becoming the 27th State in March 3,1845.

Tampa was a major center of cigar production, when Vicente Martinez Ybor relocated his tobacco factories from Key West to Tampa in 1886 (after coming from Cuba to Key West). Tobacco was imported from Cuba and processed by Cuban and Spanish workers. At its peak, Ybor City had nearly 12,000 tabaqueros (cigar workers) in 200 factories ! There are still a couple left in Ybor City (name after Vicente) , The Ybor City district has many historic buildings, including two former cigar factories, the El Pasaje Hotel, the Ritz Theater and the Ferlita Bakery, which now houses the Ybor City State Museum. It was the center of Cuban revolutionary actions for independence from Spain.

In 1891, Henry B. Plant had the Tampa Bay Hotel built in the then fashionable Moorish style. 400 meters long and with more than 500 rooms, it was equipped with electric lighting and the city’s first elevator. The building is a testament to the tourist boom in Florida in the last years of the 19C. Three years after its closure in 1930, its premises were taken over by the University of Tampa (which I played soccer against them) In 1956 the University of South Florida was created (which I played soccer against them and had my girlfriend from PA,,,).

The city of Tampa on thing to do/see : https://www.tampa.gov/info/things-to-do

The Tampa Bay tourist office : https://www.visittampabay.com/

I have several cousins living here now, and been visited this city since 1985 to 2009 my last coming for a visit from France, The wonderful road I4 reach the Tampa area from Orlando and Daytona Beach areas, I remember fondly visiting Busch Gardens (a zoo and beer park owned by Budweiser), Ybor City , where you will find the oldest Spanish restaurant in the USA ,est, 1905. Columbia our home away from home wherever they were in Florida, several location now.  Also Shells restaurant home of show business,  and shopping at Channelside, Hyde Park Village, Westshore Plaza,and Ybor City own stores. Also, the Florida AquariumLowry Park Zoo, etc ; nice memories here. I ,when not with family stayed in nice hotels like the Grand Hyatt, Marriotts, Intercontinental,Embassy Suites, and Holiday Inn Busch Gardens locations.

tampa busch gardens MF et boys c1998

tampa shells resto MF et PF c1998

The memories of going to Tampa Stadium at 4201 North Dale Mabry Highway are huge this stadium was called Houlihan’s Stadium from 1996-1998 known also as the Big Sombrero (hat), then demolished to built the  Raymond James Stadium. The new Raymond James stadium webpage : https://raymondjamesstadium.com/

And for the historical incline like me info on the old Tampa Stadium where I cam to see the Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) football/soccer team with leyends like Rodney Marsh,  etc!! : http://football.ballparks.com/NFL/TampaBayBucs/oldindex.htm

I have an old picture from the later name Steinbreinner stadium for the spring training of the New York Yankees baseball team, my team since birth, their webpage : https://www.gmsfield.com/directions-and-parking

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The city of Fort Myers is the seat of Lee County. The city is named in honor of military officer Abraham Myers. On May 10, 1904, access to Fort Myers was improved with the arrival of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad from Punta Gorda, Fort Myers stretched along the winding banks of the Caloosahatchee River. While the urban expansion of recent decades has pushed the city limits beyond Interstate 75 or I-75 and into the neighboring towns of North Fort Myers and Cape Coral across the river, the city center, now renovated, with its restaurants and old houses, attracts tourists. The city of Ft Myers on things to do/see : https://cityftmyers.com/1744/Venues-Attractions

As we had and still have cousins nearby we came by here a lot for a long period, One thing that took us in with the boys was the Seminole Gulf Railway trains, This is a short line freight and passenger excursion train base in Fort Myers, The run we took ran from Arcadia south to North Naples via Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, Estero and Bonita Springs ! Memories of parenthood in my dear Florida, They did operated a more adult ride still doing call the Murder Mystery Dinner train running weekday nights year around at the stop in Colonial Boulevard.

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The official Seminole Gulf Railway webpage : https://semgulf.com/

The Florida State tourist board on the train ridehttps://www.visitflorida.com/travel-ideas/articles/seminole-gulf-railway-train-rides-from-fort-myers/

The city of Cape Coral is in Lee County. The town contains one of the largest canal networks in the world (640 km) on the edge of which many houses are built which have direct access to these canals via a pontoon, Most of these canals are navigable and allow access to the Gulf of Mexico. Cape Coral is a large peninsula and is bordered by the Caloosahatchee River. The town of Fort Myers sits on the south shore of the river.  The town’s origins can be traced back to 1957 when developers Leonard and Jack Rosen purchased 270 square kilometers of land in Lee County for $ 678,000. The development of the city began in 1958: canals were dug, streets cobbled, houses and businesses built. The first homes were completed in May 1958 on Riverside Drive and Flamingo Drive. My parents also had two lots to build here but sold them as they left with us to France, we did spent many trips here to see them and check out the development then, cousins still there they follow us for the purchase and built their homes.

The city of Cape Coral on things to do /seehttps://www.capecoral.gov/department/parks_and_recreationhome/beaches.php

You can reach it from the I4 to the I75 south or the Tamiami Trail I75 all the way to Cape Coral  , When visiting we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express  at the entrance to the city nice property, as well as the Casa Loma Motel (now management and new name here for the memories).  Shopping best is by the Coralwood Shopping Center or the Miromar Outlet mall other land side of the I-75.

cape coral casa loma hotel MF boys c1997

I am doing the post as found couple pictures from the bridge crossing into the Cape Coral Gulf side, The Cape Coral Bridge spans the Caloosahatchee River connecting McGregor and Cape Coral. It is made up of two parallel fixed spans, each 3,400 feet (1,000 m) long. The original span opened for traffic on March 14, 1964, with one lane in each direction , The Cape Coral Bridge was the only link between Fort Myers and Cape Coral until 1997, when the Midpoint Memorial Bridge opened just north of the Cape Coral Bridge on the Caloosahatchee River now allows Colonial Boulevard to extend, connecting to Veterans Parkway on the other side of the river. The Lee County webpage on the bridges :https://www.leegov.com/dot/tolls/lw_facilities/cc

cape coral intracoastal bridge jun2002

cape coral intracoastal bridge crossing jun2002

For reference, the Florida State tourist board on the Central West and Southwest areas: https://www.visitflorida.com/places-to-go/

There you go folks, a short but very memorable post to have on West Florida in my blog for us. Hopefully, it will help your planning too visiting a wonderful part of my dear Florida. I lived first 13 yrs in Central NJ and the last there 18 yrs in Central and South Florida before coming for good to France already 18 yrs here!!! (8 Yvelines 78 and 10 Morbihan 56)!!!  A lovely life only cut short for losses to dear mom and wife. Enjoy the post as I doing it for you and me.

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

August 25, 2021

Memories of Chile and Colombia!!

Ok so feeling nostalgic again and so sorry could not find any pictures! These were the times I traveled from Florida USA to the Americas, and pictures are very few if any as in those times I was into post cards collection (4K+ 76 countries). Once I stop the collection, pictures took over on popular travel forums and then explosion over to my blog.

Therefore, just for memories’s sake on my black and white series,no pictures let me tell you a bit about Bogotà, Colombia, and Santiago, Chile Hope you enjoy it as I did bringing back these memorable moments of my early travels in our world.

Bogotà is the capital of Colombia and also that of the department of Cundinamarca. It was founded on August 6, 1538 by the Spaniard Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada , The city is composed of 20 districts, Bogota became the capital of Greater (Gran) Colombia until 1830, when the dissolution of that state gave birth to what are today Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia, as well later Panama proclaimed independence in 1903.

The presence of numerous museums, theaters and libraries contributes to offering the city a situation of great cultural interest. The city is nicknamed “South American Athens” , Bogotà is located at an altitude of 2,640 meters above sea level, in the Cordillera Oriental of the northern Andes mountains. Guadalupe and Monserrate cerros or hills border the Bogotà savannah to the east. On the Cerro de Guadalupe is erected a small chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe and a statue 15 meters high. On the Cerro de Monserrate is built a basilica, the Basílica del Señor de Monserrate.

Thanks for fellow blogger comments it remind me did went to the Catedral de Sal or salt cathedral in Zipaquirà just outside Bogotà; I was taken there taking a train from Bogotà and then taxi if I recall.  Now there is a bus I am told that takes you here. Memories fading but great ones to share and add to this memorable post. official webpage in Spanish: https://www.catedraldesal.gov.co/ParquedelaSal/Paginas/Mapa.aspx

Ah there you go I went by train de la Sabana at the time and still running!! more in their official webpage: https://www.turistren.com.co/?page_id=147

I always came here by air landing/and out at the El Dorado International Airport, located in Fontibón, webpage: https://eldorado.aero/

I stayed always at the Travelers Suite Obelisco (it was called Gold then) located at Calle 115 ,no 11 A-27 , and always there by car pickup by the attorney for the orphanage financed by singer Shakira ! Webpage : https://www.travelers.com.co/es/obelisco

I of course, ate out a lot but unfortunately do not recall the names as this was from the 90’s until 2001. This is the sad part of not keeping pictures in those days, memories are fading. Hopefully, this post will keep the remainder for me one day to be back and seek them out. Bogotà is one pin in my world map. I ,also, took side business trips to Cali and Medellin, staying in same hotel chain as above.

The Colombia tourist board on Bogotàhttps://colombia.travel/en/blog/tourism-bogota-city-experiencing-culture

The city of Bogotà on its historyhttps://bogota.gov.co/mi-ciudad/historia-de-bogota

And now let me tell you about a lointime country I used to visit regularly almost every month as well as above sometimes in combination trips. This is Santiago de Chile, let me tell you a bit on my memories there.

Santiago de Chile is the capital of Chile, It is located in the Central Valley, It has been the Chilean capital since colonial times. The city boasts of a city center with neoclassical architecture and winding streets, notably dotted with Art Deco and Neo-Gothic styles. Santiago’s urban landscape is formed by independent hills and the city is crossed by the Mapocho River, dotted by elegant parks such as Parque Forestal. The imposing Andes mountain range is visible from many places in the city. Urban activity has caused the development of pollution clouds, especially during the winter months. The city is surrounded by vineyards , such as the Concha y Toro winery that I visited with local friends and nice tastings and a shirt on Sunrise brand which I kept for several years! and Santiago remains a few hours from the mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

The city of Santiago encompasses its agglomeration which forms the Gran Santiago and which is made up of 34 towns such as the 32 towns of the province of Santiago, plus the towns of Puente Alto and San Bernardo, belonging respectively to the provinces of Cordillera and Maipo. The city is dominated by the Andes cordillera and is located at the foot of Aconcagua , nice thermal baths here that was taken to, I remember! (highest peak of the Andes marking the border with Argentina) and to the west, it gradually approaches the cordillera de la Costa which separates Santiago from the Pacific Ocean and the region of Valparaíso. Santiago is located 102 km from Valparaiso, the transport system is called Transantiago, I always came by air and pickup at the airport Arturo Merino Benitez,webpage: https://www.nuevopudahuel.cl/

A bit of history I like tells us that Santiago was founded on February 12, 1541 by the Spaniard Pedro de Valdivia, who gave it the name of Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura in memory of the Spanish apostle Saint James and Extremadura. The founding ceremony of Santiago was held on Huelén Hill (later renamed Santa Lucia de Santiago Hill). One item I like and visit is that Santiago is the birthplace of Chile’s greatest football/soccer teams. And my favorite there was founded on April 19, 1925, the Club Social y Deportivo Colo-Colo has a long tradition and has played regularly among the elite since the creation of the Primera División (first division) in 1933.

On the other hand, only a few historic buildings from the Spanish colonial period remain, because in Santiago, as in the rest of the country, earthquakes regularly strike the country. The existing buildings include the Colorada House (1769), the San Francisco Church (1586), the Santo Domingo Church (1747-1771) and the Posada del Corregidor in (1750). The cathedral in Plaza de Armas has a view to the Palacio de La Moneda, the presidential palace. Also, the colonial Colorada house (1769), which houses the Santiago Museum. There is also the Municipal Theater , built in 1857, Not far from the theater are the manor of Subercaseaux and the National Library of Chile, one of the largest libraries in South America. the National Museum of Fine Arts of Santiago ;and National Museum of Natural History of Chile are fine places to visit.

My favorite hangouts that I can remember were at the Plaza de Armas It is located in the quadrant surrounded by the Catedral and Calle Monjitas , Calle 21 de Mayo and Calle Estado, Calle Compañía and Calle Merced, as well as Paseo Ahumada and Paseo Puente . Under the square is the metro Plaza de Armas for lines 3 and 5.

Another popular walk that I remember now was the Paseo de Ahumada. The Paseo Ahumada is of pedestrian use located between the Plaza de Armas and Avenida del Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins (Alameda), it is the road with the highest pedestrian flow in Chile! Since the founding of the city of Santiago, the alley that connected the Plaza Mayor with the San Francisco gorge was known as the block of the Ahumada family, because the councilor Juan de Ahumada had his residence there. In this way, it is the only street that has kept the name of one of the Spanish conquerors since its origin. A pleasant moving spot in Santiago to this day.

My apartment was at Avenida Providencia corner with Avenida Ricardo Lyon no 100, below was /is the Paris dept Store branch, at Ave Providencia 2221, right by metro Los Leones line 6, and my office was at Calle San Diego, which I took the metro couple times but mostly went there by car; this is closed long time ago almost after my last visit in 2001.

I remember visiting the shopping mall of Alto Las Condes in Avenida Presidente Kennedy and shop in the Falabella dept store (our client!) ,webpage featuring the store : https://www.altolascondes.cl/tiendas/falabella-0

I have great long distance memories of the Mercado Central visiting and eating in it, This is a wonderful place even if now I am told has become very touristic, still for the ambiance is worth a visit me think, The market is a large metal structure in galvanized iron, the elements of which were melted in England. Completed in 1868, the building was inaugurated on the occasion of the National Exhibition of 1872. Today, the ensemble includes a large number of small premises where you can taste Chilean specialties, or buy handicrafts. See the Chile tourist office video on the Mercado Central : https://santiagochile.com/mercado-central/

Also, the restaurant Ocean Pacific Calle Ricardo Cummings 97 with a glass floor and great seafood, glad remembered it and still there! Watch the video and see what I mean! webpage : https://www.oceanpacifics.cl/

From Santiago I took bus rides into Viña del Mar (passing by the building of the music festival!) and Valparaiso as well as a friend took to eat at his restaurant in the hill by Artilleria o museo naval of Valparaiso by car ! The view to the port was awesome, I was able to visit on brief business trips to Puerto Montt, Arica, Iquique, and Temuco.

The Santiago de Chile tourist office : http://www.santiagocapital.cl/categorias/home/lugares-tipicos/

The city of Santiago de Chile on its history/heritage; https://www.munistgo.cl/historia-2/

The Chile tourist board on Santiago de Chile : https://chile.travel/en/where-to-go/central-area-santiago-and-valparaiso/santiago

There you go folks, nice memories for me and maybe for you. Share your stories on these two countries and be glad you remember. Maybe help me remember more of them. Bogotà and Santiago de Chile are two spot in our world dear to me, part of my travel history, which now glad firmly in my blog.

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

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August 23, 2021

Windjammers Barefoot Cruises, Fantome!

This is a memorable experience that have been kept in my heart for many years when as a young men cruise the Caribbean sea from island to island! Those were the seafaring days of youth and single in Florida! I like to bring back this memorable moment of mine and hope you enjoy it too. Let me tell you a bit more of the Windjammers Barefoot Cruises, Fantome!

I had in my earlier life enjoy cruisings especially the singles kind… This was wonderful cruises to the Caribbean and it was awesome (see post on my sailings). Even now the memories are vivid and nice even in the sadness of it all.  I came many many years back into the Windjammers Barefoot Cruises and was booked a cruise to the Caribbean British Virgin Islands I believe was like in 1987-1988 but can’t recall exactly. I went on to two more cruises into the Roatan , Honduras and Costa Rica areas but the Virgin Islands was tops. 

As I came up with articles to write in my blog; I read the book, and I decided to rend hommage to the folks who took these cruises and especially those that perished at sea on the SV Fantome! Here is a bit of their story.

fantome-cruiseboat-front-saililng

The Windjammer Barefoot Cruises was a leisure cruise line based in Miami Beach, Florida.  Founded in 1947 by Michael Burke, the company scheduled one and two week cruises in the Caribbean and Central America, using a fleet of sailing ships. The ships were former yachts and commercial vessels that were refurbished as cruise vessels, accommodating 60–100 paying passengers and 20–40 officers and crewmembers. The ships were refitted to resemble 19C sailing vessels called windjammers. Caribbean itineraries included the British Virgin Islands, French West Indies, Grenadines, the ABC islands, and the Bahamas. Recent and former Central American itineraries included Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, and Belize.

fantome-cruiseboat-back-sailing

In September 2007, Windjammer’s entire fleet was suspended from operating any further cruises. All remaining parts of the company that were still operating were shut down in April 2008. Later that year, the company’s assets were auctioned off. The four ships they operated are all laid up and were left in a neglected state of condition. It was a sad ending to a tragic event.

My boat, the Fantome was a 679-ton staysail schooner. Completed in 1927 for the Duke of Westminster,  it was purchased by Windjammer in 1969, and became flagship of the fleet. During its twenty-nine years of service in this regard, Fantome offered cruises in the Caribbean and the Bay of Honduras. She was lost in October 1998, during Hurricane Mitch.

tortola BVI going ashore from fantome 1988

A bit of the story of the Fantome I like

Originally ordered for the Italian navy but before completion was purchased by the Duke of Westminster, who finished her as a yacht  in 1927.  The Duke of Westminster used the Fantome only a few years before it changed hands twice in short order. Ultimately, it was acquired by Irishman A. E. Guinness, heir to the brewing fortune that bore his family’s name.  Guinness had taken her into the Pacific in the late 1930s and when war broke out in Europe in 1939, the Fantome was in Alaskan waters. Reluctant to cruise further or return to Ireland, he elected to lay her up in Seattle (Washington State USA) for the duration of hostilities. At the end of the war she was stranded in Portage Bay for 14 years, barred by  King County from sailing pending the payment of back taxes. In 1969, Windjammer owner and founder Michael Burke flew to Greece to purchase the schooner directly from Aristotle Onassis. He bought it, sight unseen, in exchange for a freighter. Windjammer then set about refurbishing Fantome, which became the flagship of their fleet of six vessels.

On 24 October 1998, Fantome departed the harbor of Omoa in Honduras for a planned 6 day cruise. Hurricane Mitch, then over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) away in the Caribbean Sea, was expected to pose a risk to Jamaica and possibly the Yucatán Peninsula. By dawn on the following day, however, Mitch seemed to change course. Fantome immediately changed course for Belize City, where it disembarked all of its passengers and non-essential crew members. The schooner then departed Belize City, first heading north towards the Gulf of Mexico, in order to outrun the storm!

The plan was to make for the lee side of the island of Roatan (Honduras). In case Mitch made landfall in the Yucatán or Belize, by being on the southern side of the island, it would provide her with enough protection to keep it from getting damaged by large swells and high winds. However, Mitch, now a Category 5 hurricane with winds up to 180 mph (285 km/h), took a jog towards the south, directly towards Roatan. The Fantome made one desperate attempt to flee to safety, now heading east towards the Caribbean. Mitch’s forward motion picked up, though, and Fantome was unable to outrun the storm.  It has been recorded that around 16h30 (4:30 pm) on 27 October 1998, with Mitch having weakened but still at Category 5 intensity, Fantome reported that it was fighting 100-mile-per-hour (160 km/h) winds in 40-foot (12 meters) seas. They were just 40 miles (64 km) south of Mitch’s eyewall. Radio contact was lost with Fantome shortly after that.

On 2 November, 1998 a helicopter dispatched by the British destroyer HMS Sheffield discovered life rafts and vests, labeled “S/V Fantome,” off the eastern coast of Guanaja, Honduras. It was all that was found of the Fantome!  Sadly, all 31 crew members aboard perished, and a memorial service was held for them on December 12, 1998. RIP many of them I have come to know and were good hard working humble folks from many Caribbean islands trying to make a living. They were happy and proud to serve on such a wonderful ship ,the Fantome will be remembered forever so will they. Thanks for the memories; this is my humble tribute to them all.

The story was recorded in the book The Ship and The Storm by Jim Carrier (ISBN 0-07-135526-X). Of course, I have the book, see pic.

book-fantome

There is the webpage Caribbean Compass on the Fantome tragic end: https://www.caribbeancompass.com/fantome.htm

There is a youtube video short and nice on life aboard the Fantome:

This one is for you and me ,friends, for the memories and for those who sailed with me ,before and after on the wonderful Fantome; memories to last a lifetime. If anyone is reading from this experience feel free to leave your comments. Much appreciated. Thank you.

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

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August 11, 2021

Baseball in my Morbihan!!!

To my pleasant surprise , driving my routine passing by the town of Grand Champ or Gregam in the Breton language, I passed a sign that says Baseball….Well I used to play the sport a lot in my youth, and curiosity took me to follow the signs. And voilà I found the baseball grounds of the Gregam Griffons a baseball/softball both sexes team!!!! I like to update this post for you and me of a old favorite pastime!

Before, I go into the new find, let me assure there is baseball in France. I had encounter a similar team in Montigny-le-Bretonneux (Yvelines 78) and the Rouen Huskies (Seine Maritime 76), where I have watched games. At Rouen even met the founding President and one of the main figures of baseball in France Xavier Rolland who was an French television 3 Normandie journalist.

For info the Rouen Huskies webpage: http://www.rouenbaseball76.com/

The French baseball and Softball federation webpage: https://ffbs.fr/accueil/#baseball

I search a bit more and found the webpage for the Brittany league or Ligue de Bretagne, I was surprise to hear that there are 20 teams in Brittany. More about it here in French: https://baseballsoftball-bretagne.fr/

And surprise there is a team in Grand Champ ,which is only about 11 kms (about 7 miles) from me,and I passed by it everyday to work! Now less often, but I was by there yesterday so the inspiration to update the post. I initially contacted the team went to the field and spoked with players, coaches, and organiser trying to find a hole in my schedule to help out; unfortunately it was not to be. This is the Gregam Griffons. Gregam Breton language in French is Grand Champ or big field or campo grande in Spanish.

grand champ baseball 1

So, we went by the field next to the water tower or chateau d’eau , this is Queneach Guen field. There was a practice day between the team of Grand Champ and Quimper, that as Quimper has no field at the time they were joining together to hold as one team for now. Now they do have a field at Fouesnant.  There were quite a few enough to make two teams and more, with one referee. They went thru their exercise and warm-ups and then some batting and fielding session, before getting to play a game on both sides. Quite interesting to see folks here play the sport even in rudimentary fashion….

grand champ baseball 3

I was surprise to see Italian and even Cuban here on the team , who ,also serves as coach. Quite an interesting afternoon , and I did went a few times afterward in intervals until my foreign business trips did not allow for more involvement. Something to think about now to do …! I had some of my kids old gloves, balls,and bats that I donated to them as they also have an U12 (under 12 yrs old) and U15 (under 15 yrs old) teams and a softball team too.

grand champ baseball 2

The Gregam Griffons team webpage in French: https://www.gregam-baseball.com/

The city of Grand Champ on the Gregam Griffons baseball: https://www.grandchamp.fr/index.php/les-griffons-de-gregam-baseball

You never know what you can find in Brittany, and Baseball is certainly one big nice surprise. Something to get involved with in the future… Enjoy baseball in the Morbihan Breton !!!

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

PS. A bit as to why I like baseball, well born in Cuba, our national sport, play in the under 15 teams even if was 10, all select all stars of Havana province; catcher and cleanup hitter (4th) ,left as Spanish to Spain,and there played for the Real Madrid organization in Elipa park on the Madrid junior league with 8 teams (see post) ; left that for New Jersey USA (see post) and played in freshman Perth Amboy High School team and then, Babe Ruth World Series Chicken Delight team reaching finals; also played softball intramural ar ERAU University (see post)  in Florida. The sport really stop after high school really, playing it, but following my NY Yankees has continue to this day!

July 27, 2021

Simply E R A U ,Eagles Soar! My alma mater!

A thrill and lots of good memories to update this older post to you and me. Relieving wonderful moments of youth! There you go folks!  I have said my blog is about travel and anecdotes, well it’s time to come back to a bit of a story on my past. We write about beautiful interesting places we visit and or live/d and I recount my every day living on my series Some news from …. ,but I have souvenirs never to be forgotten either ,such as my university days. Do you have university days stories to tell? I have plenty but let’s keep it clean lol! I will tell you a bit more on my university ERAU, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA. I was living in New Jersey where I grew up, and college time came in, my dream at those tender ages was to go into aviation and from a friend heard about ERAU= Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. One application form and I was accepted right away,this was back in August 1977 !!! And fully graduated honor roll and dean’s listed on April 24, 1982!! Ceremonies at the Peabody Auditorium of Daytona Beach!

Daytona Beach

Now I want to tell you a bit more on the University per se. As brief as possible, here is my story.

Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is a private university offering associate, bachelor, master’s, and PhD degree programs in arts and sciences, aviation, business, engineering, computer programming, cyber security and security and intelligence,etc. It is the largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, and has campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida and Prescott, Arizona, and about other 22 locations around the world mostly in US military bases.  On December 17, 1925,Talton Higbee Embry and John Paul Riddle founded the Embry-Riddle Company at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati, Ohio. In spring 1926, the company opened the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation. In 1939 Riddle, John Graham McKay and wife Isabel re-established the school in Opa-Locka airport near Miami, Florida. The airport is still there as a general aviation/business airport, webpage: http://www.miami-airport.com/opalocka.asp

John Paul Riddle, I had the pleasure of meeting him! He had admission to both the US Naval Academy and West Point and finally chose the first one. He met later on one of his former flying student now with some wealth Talon Higbee Embry and with a contract from Waco Aircraft both founded the Embry-Riddle Company in 1925! They only had two Jenny airplanes and a dream. They won several air mail routes and eventually Cincinnati got air mail service. By now the service was flawless and by 1927 was the only of two companies that could fly passengers, the other was the Boeing Air Transport Company. On a led by Gen Doolittle the flying school got to be one of the first instrument flight instruction in the USA. The Aeronautic Board of the Dept of Commerce gave the school the endorsement as a safe flight company, only five in the USA in 1929. As the business grew financing was found by W Averell Harriman and Co and Lehman Brothers to create a financial aviation company, Aviation Corporation of Delaware in March 1929. They purchase several smaller companies and this company later became the famous AVCO. By 1930, a new holding company was founded called American Airways (today still goes on as American Airlines)!

In Florida, he came to continue his dreams by purchasing other companies in the aviation industry. In 1939, he founded in association with John G Mckay the Embry-Riddle School of Aviation, leaving the name of the original founder on the name of the school. The school flew even seaplanes on the McArthur Causeway in Miami. The school provided help to Great Britain in WWII, they were exposed directly as continental Europe had surrender to Nazi Germany and needed pilots to defend the island. The British were shipped to Jacksonville (now major naval base at Mayport).  Where I still have Alumni friends who resides there! Webpage: https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrse/installations/nas_jacksonville/about/history.html

From there ,they were transported by bus to the now famous fields of Carlstrom, Clewiston (no 5 British flying training school) , Dorr field, and the seaplane base in Miami. ERAU trainers did all the work on them, and later trained American pilots too! they have lease the Old Fritz hotel in Miami as headquarters located at 3240 NW 27 avenue or SR9 (now a courthouse). They trained pilots up to August 6 1945. By the time of the peace treaty more than 26K men and women had graduated their wings by the school.

In 1944 however, they have created the first flight training school in Brazil under the Escola Tecnica de Aviaçao in the neighborhood of Mooca in Sao Paulo, training 3500 Brazilians on how to flight before turning it over to the government. The School was now called the Embry-Riddle International School of Aviation. It signed contracts for training for advance flight to the Free French Republic pilots. By October 1947, the school finally moved to Opa-Locka. The school contracted with the US Air Force to trained pilots there with more than 1500 graduating. Later, it continue training USAF pilots in the ROTC program ( Reserve Officers’ Training Corps). The school grew internationally training pilots from many countries including Cuba, China, Turkey, Belgium, England, Canada, etc. etc. By 1958 the 1000 students came from 21 countries and 44 US States. By 1963, the facilities at Opa Locka were too small for this growth. While the operations in South Florida the school trained over 40K students!

The new president (with John Paul Riddle on the board) became Jack Reed Hunt, he was famous as been the one piloting the first non stop round trip flight across the Atlantic in a US Navy blimp ZPG-2 in March 1957. The route was Massachusetts to Portugal, Africa, Puerto Rico, Cuba, to Florida. He received his presidential medals.  President Hunt (my school president during my time) did immediately the decision to move to bigger place a location needed to be found, candidates were Sebring, Fort Pierce, Plant City, outside Miami in Dade County ,and Daytona Beach. The city of Daytona Beach got going and did all it could to win the prize, and I am so glad they did!! Operation Bootstrap started moving the school ,setting up new campus there and all help from shoestrings by donations and help from the business community there. All was moved by themselves and on trucks. Ormond Beach (where I later lived!) decided against the move so the decision was to set up by the Daytona Beach Regional Airport (now international airport) ,and also next to the Daytona Beach Speedway (NASCAR auto racing) on 185 acres of land. This indeed proved to be a top notch location! The school arrived at Daytona Beach operational on May 19 1965. Only 239 students including the 168 relocated from Opa Locka.

By 1968, we had Cessna 150s, Piper Cherokee, single engine Aero Commanders, twin engine Beech B-18 and some biplane stearmen; by 1968 the school was accredited to the SACS or Southern Association of Schools and Colleges! By 1968 the first dormitory was built to housed 386 students, this was known as Doolittle Dorm 1 (my first dorm)!! three stories high. By 1970, the school was known as the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute earning approval by the FAA =Federal Aviation Administration. The info on the Dorm 1 Doolittle now see in school webpage: http://daytonabeach.erau.edu/campus-life/housing/residence-halls/doolittle/index.html

Daytona Beach ERAU dorm bridge 1977-1978 year

By 1972, the school is known as we know it today , Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the one I came in on August 23 1977 to start classes! I visited many times President Hunt residence on the beach at Ormond by the Sea (now sold and gone a while back). This house we call it the Battleship (was sold now gone) as it look one from the distance, and we had the University Center where the cafeteria was at ,to eat and mingle you know. By my first year 1977, the school already counted with 2 725 students! me included lol!  By 1979, Times Magazine called us the “Harvard of the sky” And before that in 1978, we purchase Prescott college in Prescott Arizona to serve as our western campus. The International Campus was started ,now call the Extended Campus with over 100 locations many online. Now the Daytona Beach and Prescott campuses have both about 5000 students. President Jack Hunt passed away of cancer in January 7 1984 RIP. He said, ” it may be easy to get in to Embry-Riddle, but it is not easy to get out” Amen.

ob pres home erau battleship

As the new team took over the school continues to grow and influence the world of aviation. In 1986 , the school was awarded the management training of the FAA and a specific center was opened in Palm Coast, Florida.  The school has won several prizes in aviation flight competition; these are call NIFA/SAFECON, and remain the provider of about 50% of US Air Force pilots the best flyboys in the world!!!Following a short illness, on April 6 1989, John Paul Riddle passed away at his home in Coral Gables, near Miami he was 87 yrs. old. RIP Sir. His last airplane ride took place on April 10th when following funeral services and a memorial service at the University, his ashes were sprinkled over Biscayne Bay and in the Oak Ridge cemetery at Arcadia, Florida.

Ok not all is goody goody, the Administration announced in July 2014 that Embry-Riddle has been accepted into the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II membership. Embry-Riddle began intercollegiate athletics competition on its Daytona Beach Campus in 1988. Well not really, from the photos you will see that I participated in the NCAA Div 2 soccer program already in 1978-1980 playing against much bigger schools like FIU, Univ of Florida, Univ Central Florida, South Florida Tampa, etc with good results, winning records. However, the school decided to leave sports in 1981 and even with petitions by students the decision remained until starting again in 1988. The unfortunate thingy here is that those who participated before are not been recognized in school records!!! We had , also, baseball, tennis, and golf teams.  And of course, we had intramural sports and I did volleyball and softball ,where I was also the captain. The special school webpage for athletics now: http://erauathletics.com/index.aspx

db ERAU management club softball team pedro in green in front seated 1981

de pedro ERAU soccer unif daytona beach 1980

There is an ERAU alumni network, that has tattled with lack of support for a long time. I was on the first meeting to do an alumni network at the Harley Hotel in Atlanta, GA back in 1984; then another try from Florida at the city hall of Hollywood Fl back in 1994, and finally was the Director of Alumni relations in France until 2017, where we have over 60 French students graduated from my university now working in French aviation/Aerospace industry, some of them quite well designing the wings for the A 380 to test pilot on maiden mission Toulouse-Hamburg, to working on the Arianne rocket etc. I helped organized the Paris Air Show of several years back believe it was 2009 with a dinner organized by me at the prestigious  Aero Club de France ; 6 rue Galilée, Paris 16éme ,but nothing of support so I decided to leave the organizing back in early 2017. The position still vacant!! More on the alumni ERAU : https://alumni.erau.edu/s/867/bp20/home.aspx

Atlanta Hartfield airport people mover ERAU visit 1981

Another organization that does not exist no more and I was very active was the Management Club; I was the Treasurer 1981-82 and helped created the club as a non profit organization with the help of Accounting professor Mr Campbell and created the first scholarship fund to helped students pay for their book with the help of my Finance professor Mr De la Rosa back in 1980.  Both with the help of my/club councilor professor Mr Knabe. Memories forever, and thank you profs!

db pedro speaking mgmt club ERAU daytona inn 1981

I, even kept some pictures from class trips, this one visiting the Hartfield Atlanta International Airport on a thrill bus ride and fun antics in the Days Inn hotel we stayed, location forgotten but the actions did not ::) The planes are Lockheed 1011 from Delta!

Atlanta apt pedro at control Delta L1011 plane atlanta airport 1980 ERAU

Some more facts on Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University :

Embry-Riddle’s aerospace engineering program is the largest in the nation. Embry-Riddle’s engineering physics program is one of the largest of all such ABET-accredited programs in the nation. Aeronautical science (professional pilot) program is the largest in the nation. Student flight teams have won numerous national championships in NIFA SAFECON competitions, more than any other institution in the last decade, and are top performers in the women’s Air Race Classic. The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, and others rank Embry-Riddle highly in the categories of best undergraduate aerospace engineering programs, best undergraduate engineering programs, best bachelor’s degrees in engineering, best colleges in Arizona and Florida, best regional universities (South), and best college astronomy observatories. U.S. News & World Report, Military Times, Military Advanced Education, U.S. Veterans, and G.I. Jobs publications consistently name Embry-Riddle in the categories of best for veterans, top military-friendly school, top veteran-friendly school, best online bachelor’s programs for veterans, best regional universities (South) for military and veterans, best online MBA programs for veterans, and best online non-MBA graduate business programs for veterans. U.S. News & World Report and College Choice list Embry-Riddle’s Worldwide Campus in the categories of best online bachelor’s programs, best online graduate MBA programs, best online graduate non-MBA programs, and best online engineering degree programs.  Embry-Riddle is ranked highly among private colleges for best value, best starting salary, and best return on investment by Forbes, Best Value Colleges, PayScale, SmartAsset, College Choice, and Affordable Colleges Online.   Embry-Riddle’s two Air Force ROTC detachments form the largest university-based Air Force commissioning source in the nation. Embry-Riddle’s Air Force ROTC detachments also produce more commissioned officers and more pilots and other rated officers for the Air Force than any other institution in the nation except the Air Force Academy. Embry-Riddle is the nation’s largest supplier of air traffic controllers with bachelor degrees to the FAA. Seven Embry-Riddle alumni are current or former astronauts. Embry-Riddle was named by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 1 provider of online bachelor’s degrees programs and undergraduate programs for veterans in 2021. ERAU has provided so far 7 astronauts to the Space program over the years.

Some of the reading I did while attending or as an alumni were: The LIFT magazine webpage: https://lift.erau.edu/

And the still call Avion campus newspaper webpage: http://theavion.com/

The text above the information was gathered from memories, yearbook Phoenix from graduation 1982,  and the book “The Sky is Home”, (by former prof John McCollister) and the Alumni directory of 1998 all jealousy guarded by yours truly.

My last visit to ERAU campus in Daytona Beach Fl was back in August, 2009, I visited Florida with the family and did pay a visit to ERAU as to show my boys the thrill of college non existent in France. We got a nice ride from the Alumni office to all of us, memories of young at heart. Memories forever, thanks Chris.

Daytona beach Chris cart tour ERAU 20aug09

There you go folks, an adventure recommended to all, college life is awesome. Those that tried should tell you, a thrill and an experience never to be forgotten. And more when you are an Eagle, of ERAU Daytona Beach FL Campus, Eagles forever!! Hope you enjoy the post as I and if an Eagle do stop by anytime.

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

July 26, 2021

A bit of nostalgia of Florida!!!

Well in these days of pandemic and little travel, I have been looking back updating some older posts. This has brought lots of memories and thrills to relook these family trips that by then were buried in my blog. To my surprise, there were some new opportunities for posts with pictures that I had overlook posting, and this is the time as good as any to do so. Therefore, here are some of my nostalgic moments of our time in Florida, several years, college graduation, marriage, sons to show for it. Hope you enjoy the post as I, and thanks again for reading me since November 2010!!

Let me tell you about some dear towns that were buried in my blog or not mentioned at all on my bit of nostalgia of Florida!!!

Let’s start with Davie in my Broward County,of my nostalgic Florida, situated approximately 24 miles north of Miami.

A bit of history tell us  that prior to European colonization, the Tequesta indians were the native people of what is now Davie. A few campsites and graves have been found in Davie, the oldest dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years in Pine Island Ridge. After Spanish colonization, many of the Tequesta died and the remaining few escaped to Havana with the Spanish when Florida became a British colony (1763 for a few months) or they assimilated into the newly arrived Seminoles indians in the late 18C.

Davie had always a reputation as a “Western” town, with many earlier buildings having “Wild West” architecture. It boasts a significant horse-owning population and once was home to many herds of cattle. One of the nice attractions here is Flamingo Gardens  a 60-acre (24 ha), Tropical Botanic Garden and Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary, aviary and zoo, located at 3750 South Flamingo Road.

The city of Davie on activitieshttps://www.davie-fl.gov/235/Parks-Recreation-Cultural-Arts

However, the main thing my family came here was the Egyptian deco cinema which was and is awesome. I love this Cinemark. It was close to our last home in Miramar Silver Lakes and even visited and saw film while visiting from France in 2009. The popcorn and the frosty coke is awesome. Love it. Also you can hide here in case of a hurricane. This place is very secure. The seats are big and very comfortable. awesome theater… definitely worth coming here over other places. Indeed. Their webpage: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/45730

davie cinemark paradiso front feb02

Davie inside cinemark for HP movie 22aug09

Next , I take you to Sunrise, an interesting town we were here a lot. Sunrise is of course, also, in Broward County, A bit of history tell us that in 1960, Iowa-born developer Norman Johnson paid $9 million USD for 2,650 acres of land in southwestern Broward County. By 1961, this community of 1.75 square miles ,which Johnson named Sunrise Golf Village . In 1971, the City, by referendum, changed its name to the City of Sunrise. The City is situated approximately six miles west of Fort Lauderdale, and is adjoined by the towns of Weston, Davie, Tamarac, Lauderhill, and Plantation.

The National Car Rental Center ,now the BB&T Center opened its doors in 1998. The arena is the home of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers, and hosts top entertainers and events.

The city of Sunrise on things to do/seehttps://www.sunrisefl.gov/visitors

However, the one we came almost every weekend while living in Miramar Silver Lakes was Sawgrass Mills shopping center. This huge  2.7-million-square-foot shopping mecca welcomes approximately 25 million visitors each year, making it the state’s second-biggest tourist attraction after Walt Disney World!! Its 400+ name brand retail stores include Off 5th/Saks Fifth Avenue, Last Call! Neiman Marcus, Kenneth Cole and Nordstrom Rack, etc. This is a huge shopping/eating/entertainment city in a mall! One of our favorite store was Books A Million ,well they were several and some have closed but this one have a picture! The Sawgrass Mills webpage: https://www.simon.com/mall/sawgrass-mills

sunrise books a million sawgrass mills mall my boys Aug09

Our favorite eating place was the family restaurant my dear late wife Martine love was TGIFridays in Sunrise, many memories here,and sadly it has closed.

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And last but not least, will tell you of the closest town to my last in Florida. Pembroke Pines is of course in Broward County, and only 22 miles north of Miami. The surrounding towns to Pembroke Pines are Southwest Ranches, Davie, Cooper City, Hollywood ,Miramar, and the Everglades natural reserve.

Pembroke Pines was officially incorporated on January 16, 1960. The city’s name, Pembroke Pines, is traced back to Sir Edward J. Reed, a member of Britain’s Parliament for the County of Pembroke from 1874 to 1880, who in 1882 formed the Florida Land and Mortgage Company (still the basis of land plots in this part of FL) to purchase from Hamilton Disston a total of 2 million acres of mostly swampland located throughout the southern half of Florida. A road put through one of the tracts came to be known as Pembroke Road. When incorporating the city, Walter Smith Kipnis, who became the city’s first mayor, suggested the name Pembroke Pines because of the pine trees growing near Pembroke Road. (and this road was the diving line in my house between Pembroke Pines and Miramar !).

In 1980, property from Flamingo Road to U.S. 27 was incorporated into Pembroke Pines, doubling the size of the city. This expansion included the property that is currently C.B. Smith Park as well as what was once the Hollywood Sportatorium and the Miami-Hollywood Motorsports Park. Also in 1980, construction began to extend Interstate 75 from U.S. 27 towards Miami, passing through the new western part of the city. By 1984 the expressway reached Pines Boulevard, the main east-west arterial road in the city.

Right at the junction of Pembroke Pines and Miramar my twin boys left the USA to France from Silver Lakes Elementary School , and my oldest left from Silver Trail Middle School.

The roads were by car the king here and we took a lot the Interstate 75 or simply I75 highway as well as the US 27 (along the Everglades) ,Pines Blvd (SR 820) ,Pembroke Rd (SR 824) , and Flamingo Road (SR 823).

The city of Pembroke Pines on activitieshttps://www.ppines.com/279/Arts-Culture

The shopping other than some specific stores were done in Pembroke Pines Mall with some familiar stores such as Dillard’s (my parents favorite and gave me all their gifts from there!) Webpage: https://www.pembrokelakesmall.com/en.html

pembroke pines lakes mall halls aug09

I am sad to see some of our favorite places have closed, so pictures are just for the memories. These were Quiznos sandwiches , Toys R Us, and Blockbuster Videos! However, glad to see WalMart Supercenter still there.

pemborke pines pf quizno aug09

pembroke pines toys r us the boys c2000

pembroke pines blockbuster videos aug09

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There you go folks, a dandy on memory lane. Wonderful times never to be forgotten, Florida is big for us! We must move on and found places just as good or better as now in my belle France; however, the memories of these places will remain in our hearts forever. Hope you enjoy the post as I

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

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February 24, 2021

My Florida, wonderful memories!!!

And why not continue in memory lane and bring back this wonderful experience to remember forever. Let me update text and links on my memorable life in the State of Florida USA, just before my moved to my beloved France. Hope you enjoy as I and thanks again for reading me over the years!

If you search my blog you will see several posts on Florida. I am reminicent of my previous lives. Read and you will notice I lived for 18 years in Florida in addition to four years of University studies!!!while living in NJ (see post).  Florida is the Sunshine State incorporated into the USA in 1845. It has about 1,350 miles (2,170 km) of coastlines so a water lovers paradise as well. The earliest settlers were here before those northern claims…. when in 1513 a Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León landed and named it La Florida ( land of flowers) as it was during the Easter season or Pascua Florida.

You have several sources for tourist info depending on the area you are going. I lived in Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, both in Volusia county, as well as in  North Miami, Hialeah, both in Miami-Dade county; and finally, Miramar in Broward county.

North Miami is a totally different city than Miami in fact there are about 7-8 towns with Miami on the name including the county!!!

Some of the things to see in North Miami are: The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) ,The Miami Auto Museum with large collection of classic cars, Hollywood cars, mini cars, scooters, motorcycles and bicycles from the collection of Michael Dezer, The Oleta River State Park is the largest urban park in the Florida State Park system. The park is located on 1,043 acres (4.22 km2) – 993 acres (4.02 km2) of land and 50 acres (0.20 km2) of inland water – on Biscayne Bay; the park contains one of the largest concentrations of Australian pine trees found in a Florida state park; and The Arch Creek Park is an 8-acre (32,000 m2) site at the junction of N.E. 135th Street and Biscayne Boulevard , just the area I lived! , and offers many opportunities for botanical, historical and archaeological study. It has a museum/nature center modeled after an early Florida pioneer home, displaying Indian artifacts dug from the grounds, and live animals from the nearby hammock. Remains of the original coontie mill are still visible across the creek, and the park exists as the only preserved archaeological site in the County.

The city of North Miami on things to do: https://www.northmiamifl.gov/514/Things-to-Do

Some of the things to see in Daytona Beach, other than the beach itself of about 23 miles or 37 kms are :City Island (married my Frenchie here) , City Island Ball Park, Daytona Beach Bandshell and Oceanfront Park Complex Seabreeze Historic District , South Beach Street Historic District, South Peninsula Historic District, the Tarragona Tower , Daytona 500 Experience, Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach Boardwalk, Daytona Lagoon Water Park, Halifax Historical Museum, Jackie Robinson Ballpark, Main Street Pier , Museum of Arts and Sciences,(best  Cuban museum outside of Cuba), and the Ocean Center.

The city of Daytona Beach on recreation: https://www.codb.us/891/Activities-Recreation

The Daytona Beach tourist officehttps://www.daytonabeach.com/

Some of the things to do in Ormond Beach ,other than the beach are: The Casements is a mansion , famous for being the winter residence of American oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. It is currently owned by the city of Ormond Beach and is used as a cultural center and park, Bulow Creek State Park is a Florida State Park next to the Atlantic Ocean. The park is adjacent to Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, and close to North Peninsula State Park, Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area and Tomoka State Park. Tomoka State Park within the park is the site of the Timucuan village of Nocoroco, located on the Tomoka River. The site was inhabited approximately a thousand years ago.

The city of Ormond Beach on leisure services: https://www.ormondbeach.org/258/Leisure-Services

Some of the things to see in Hialeah are: Great transport hub served by the Miami Metrorail at Okeechobee, Hialeah, and Tri-Rail/Metrorail Transfer stations. The Okeechobee and Hialeah stations serve primarily as park-and-ride commuter stations to commuters and residents going into Downtown Miami, and Tri-Rail station to Miami International Airport and north to West Palm Beach. The Hialeah Park Race Track is a historic racetrack on a site covering 40 square blocks of central-east side from Palm Avenue east to East 4th Avenue, and from East 22nd Street on the south to East 32nd Street on the north.The Hialeah Park Race Track is served by the Miami Metrorail at the Hialeah Station at Palm Avenue and East 21st Street. Originally opened in 1922 by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss and his partner, Missouri cattleman James H. Bright, Hialeah Park opened as a greyhound racing track operated by the Miami Kennel Club. The Miami Jockey Club launched Hialeah’s Thoroughbred horse racing track on January 25, 1925. Even Winston Churchill visited in 1949. There are plans for a redevelopment complex but still going on unfinished.

The city of Hialeah on things to see: https://www.hialeahfl.gov/101/Visit

The Greater Miami and the Beaches tourist office: https://www.miamiandbeaches.fr/

My last town was Miramar, Broward county, before leaping forward to France with after convincing her to live with me in the State of Florida for 13 years she convince me to come to France where we are already 18+ years here ::) as French.

Some things to see in Miramar are : Silver Lakes Sports Complex (where I played softball), Forzano Field (where I played beach volleyball), and SoccerZone Indoor (where I played indoor soccer). The city has over 40 parks, for the entire family.

The city of Miramar on parks and recreation: https://www.miramarfl.gov/1726/Parks-Recreation

The Greater Fort Lauderdale tourist office: https://www.sunny.org/

And things we were fond of while in Florida, was to eat out at a Cuban resto in Altamonte Springs near Orlando with parents; the train ride outside Fort Myers, the alligator sights at Cypress Reserve in the Everglades marshes; the frozen papaya trees in Ormond Beach, yes it can get cold there like down to 25F (minus celsius 0C =32F). The now closed Silver Spring in Ocala where the original Tarzan movie was filmed!

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Go on to watching the Yankees baseball spring training in Tampa, our eating runs into Columbia the oldest Spanish restaurant in the USA since 1905 in Tampa (me and my Frenchie) and then we also visited their branch at Saint Augustine, (me) the oldest city in the USA. The fancy French as always great restaurant La Provence in Miami still going strong!! The visits to Magic Kingdom and Epcot center French Pavilion!(me and oldest son) The visit to the Daytona Beach museum of Arts and Science and the best Cuban arts collection outside of Cuba!!! My university old dorm and apartment house right on Hollywood st off Main St Daytona Beach home of Bike Weeks!!! The Marineland of St Augustine, Miami seaquarium and Zoo as well as Mallory square in Key West, the beaches of Daytona and Ormond (my dear Martine), the birthplace of speed! (world record automobile in 1902). Picking up wines in Coral Gables from Crown wines (me), and up to the concerts at Daytona bandshell on the beach. And our last house in the USA at Miramar. All wonderful memories that I like to share with my readers and keep in my blog for the memories,for history,and for passing on down to generations of my family.

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The State of Florida tourist board! https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html

Cheers y’all, enjoy it as much as I do. Florida, the Sunshine State. Always remembered as if for anything else, where I was married and my sons were born! Hope you enjoy the post and do visit when possible me last time was 2015.

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

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