Archive for ‘Florida’

January 17, 2021

My first encounter with Brazil!

This is an old update that love to tell you again with updated links and refreshing text! This was my first encounter with Brazil! Thereafter, I have come several times and have written several blog posts on Brazil and you can do search to find a plethora of information on the country in my blog.

Many years ago, in my working life in Florida USA, my boss asked me to do some business traveling. The year was around 1999 or so, do not recall exactly and did not dated my photos. My boss a CFO was a very busy men and we have even become friends over the years and still in touch. He was doing all the traveling and I stayed behind handling the battleship (office) of a multi billion dollars corp traded in the NYSE.  Finally, one day he sat with me and told me I need to travel. I try to evade it claiming have small children and do not wanted to be away so much from home. However, he insisted and touch a nerve on me when he told me that he trusted my decisions and was sure I would do a good job doing these travels. That was it, confidence and self acknowledgement are men’s best friend , could not refuse anymore.

The trip that I needed to do for two weeks! included Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! Now to most this would be like a dream trip, but at that time I was sad to go leaving my little boys ( ages 7 and 5 ,5) behind for the longest period as of that time in 1999. The rest is history, memories, souvenirs , the best experience of my life up to that point, the trip went beyond my expectations ,the job was done well but what I saw and the friends I met have stayed with me even today. Yes, today, still have friends from that trip from Brazil in touch with me in social media!!! And of course, my travels took off !

Previously to this trip i had played football/soccer with the Portuguese community clubs and was aware of the language to a basic level. This trip push me to learned the language which now I do fluently and improved each time with subsequent trips. A Vida É Bela!!!  What can I say more than to tell you again a bit more on these 3 cities.

I  came first to Porto Alegre with a stop at Sao Paulo airport.  Porto Alegre is the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, located between the Rio Guaíba and its many islands. The city is decorated with parks (nine large urban parks) and tree-lined streets, especially in the ancient districts of the Cidade Baixa (lower town). In addition, the city has a biological reserve, around the beach of the district of Latif, on the river, which it is known to have one of the largest urban concentrations of birds of the country. The city has many hills, the Morros, which can reach up to 311 meters in altitude.

The port of Porto Alegre is the southernmost of Brazil. A river system that unites the regional producer center on streams that flow into the Lagoa dos Patos with the largest seaport of Mercosul, the port of Rio Grande, 300 km south, on the South Atlantic Ocean. Its old entrance portico was built in an iron structure decorated with stained glass, commissioned in Paris in 1919. The latter is a tourist attraction point of the city, from where the cruises on the Rio Guaíba leave.

Here my HQ have been the Ceasar Hotel, since then it has gone thru some changes first to Blue Tree Towers Hotels, and lately Hotel Radisson Porto Alegre located at Coronel Lucas de Oliveira, 995 – Bela Vista. they had a japanese resto there very good, then, Becco churrasquerias, and now Don Pallesi Restaurant-Italian style. It has been with mixed emotion seeing all the changes here, I still sentimental for the Ceasar! The new webpage for reference is at https://www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/radisson-porto-alegre  

In Brazil, it is managed by Atlantica Hotels webpage here: https://www.atlanticahotels.com.br/hotel/radisson-porto-alegre/

The area is known for the gaucho tradition, very horse oriented with great shows for eating and entertainement not to be missed. The Mercado Publico is great now housing many shops of local flavor and tradition centered around the gaucho heritage. Many restos and pubs around Bela Vista and Centro typical of European cities. Galpao Crioulo is an excellent place to see the gauchos in action and eat well very well,its located at Avenida Loureiro da Silva s/n – Centro. I was able to get a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/galpaocrioulochurrascaria/

Porto Alegre friends at gaucho show Churrascaria Galpao Crioulo 1999

For the traditional dish Feijoada, try Panapanà Bistro,Rua Demétrio Ribeiro, 174 – Centro. This has now closed but for the memories a local site that talks of it in Portuguese: http://www.mochilinhagaucha.com.br/2015/06/panapana-bistro-porto-alegre-rs.html

 Another is the great football/soccer team Internacional de Porto Alegre at river banks of  river/Rio Guaíba,in Avenida Padre Cacique, 891, at shopping  Gigante da Beira-Rio. I could not attend a game but did walk by it as consolation. Locally is a giant forever! Webpage:  https://www.internacional.com.br/beira-rio/gigante-para-sempre

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The official tourist office of Porto Alegre has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/portoalegre.travel/

The Rio Grande do Sul tourist office on Porto Alegre: https://www.turismo.rs.gov.br/cidade/1/porto-alegre

Many memories here of a family who would read this having white wine in her restaurant that kept her cellars loaded with wine bottles!! right in old city center. Unfortunately, forgot the name of the restaurant and no pictures just my early travel flops…Always nice memories thus, always remember.

And then I went to São Paulo ,the largest city in Brazil and South America. On the plateau of Piratininga at 760 meters above sea level, the city is crossed by two rivers, the Rio Tietê and the Rio Pinheiros which confluent before crossing the whole State of São Paulo and to throw themselves in the Rio Paraná. Founded in 1554 by Portuguese Jesuits, the city developed thanks to the gold of the surrounding mines until the end of the 18C, and then became prosperous thanks to the cultivation of coffee and sugar. In the last century, it has gradually become the economic heart of Brazil, with its business district around Avenue Paulista , hosting the São Paulo Stock Exchange and seats of large Brazilian and international companies. The city is known for its unpredictable climate, its architecture-and in particular its skyscrapers-, its gastronomy, its gigantic traffic jams and the number of helicopters flying over the city (biggest in Latin America).

As mentioned above, this was my first entry point to Brazil, the airport international at Guarulhos, and the country main airport . However, now I came back to see the city! Now traffic here is big and if you are planning to head out by car, I did; better get your bearing on the traffic before leaving home. Not perfect but better than go out blind. Of course, it helps if speaks Portuguese (I do) .CET Webpage http://www.cetsp.com.br/

And of course , more firepower in Portuguese but the AutoBan of Brazil expressways (rodovias), I take from here the Anhanguera (330) and Bandeirantes (348). More on the webpage: http://www.autoban.com.br/

Of course if scary there is the metro or taxi (i have taken the taxi never the metro) ,for info Metro of Sao Paulo webpage, and here they have an English version: http://www.metro.sp.gov.br/en/your-trip/index.aspx

My old time favorite here for stays has been the Maksoud plaza althought lately family feuds has kept renovations from been done until lately, was and is still a grand hotel, done by the architect owner Maksoud tire of staying on other hotels, the one and only Maksoud plaza. . It has wonderful places to eat inside like the Atrium lobby cafe and the Arlanza Grill. Ibirapuera park is nearby for a nice jogging and conferences were held every year for the business traveler in those times . The close by Ave Paulista is the grand avenue for stores ,shopping in the area. Webpage: https://www.maksoud.com.br/en

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

For eating out do not missed the Famiglia Mancini, a tradition restaurant not to far from the hotel, and of great renown amongst locals who took me there for dinner ,try the all you can eat choice, awesome, and lately totally renovated. Webpage : http://www.famigliamancini.com.br/?page_id=3418

And for a nice bar go to Bar Original ,there since 1996 near the big park  a taxi ride from hotel. Located at Rua Card Arcoverde, 1265 – Ibirapuera. Webpage: https://www.baroriginal.com.br/

Many things to see here, my favorites are:

The city has many monuments, parks and museums such as the Latin American Memorial, the Ibirapuera Park (big park and many business conventions attended there) and its flag monument, the Municipal Theater b. 1911; The Museum of Art of São Paulo (MASP); The Cathedral of the Sé, the Botanical Garden ; the Trianon park, the Zoological Park , Rua 25 de Março ,the largest outdoors market place of Latin America, with over three thousand stores, the wonderful Sao Bento monastery , the Benedictines arrived in São Paulo in 1598, but only in 1634 was created the Abbey and the Chapel was dedicated to St. Benedict. The site, which hosted Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Brazil, home to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and the monastery. Avenida Paulista; the most popular avenue of the city  (yes) concentrates all that is best in São Paulo. It is possible to visit museums and cultural centers, find a park amid great skyscrapers, check book launchings, enjoy the happy hour in one of its many bars, enjoy the evening at nightclubs, watch theatrical performances and movie sessions of the most diverse productions, and go shopping: all in one place!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The Metro area of Sao Paulo tourist office in Portuguese: http://www.capital.sp.gov.br/turista

The tourist office of Sao Paulo in English: http://cidadedesaopaulo.com/v2/?lang=en

And again many memories of good cheers and still good friends, who would read this page. Thank you all for reading me! Sao Paulo is big but lucky to have been afterward.

And as it happened, left Brazil by Rio de Janeiro, last on the trip and again many nice memories. Rio de Janeiro is the capital of the State of Rio de Janeiro.Originally designated the Bay of Guanabara, discovered on 1 January 1502 by Gaspar de Lemos and Gonçalo Coelho, captains of the fleet of the Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral, discoverer of Brazil. On March 1, 1565, marks the foundation of the city of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro (“St. Sebastian of the River of January”) in honor of King Sebastian I of Portugal and the celebrated Saint on the day of his birth. San Sebastian who remains the patron of the city is celebrated every year. The capital of the Portuguese kingdom was thus transferred from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, which became the only European capital located outside the European continent. It was the capital of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves, following the escape of the Portuguese court during the invasion of the Napoleonic troops (1808-1821), then of the Empire of Brazil (1822-1889), of the República Velha (1889-1930), of the Estado Novo (1937-1945) and the beginning of the Second Republic until 1960.

The Bay of Guanabara is 30 km into the landside. Its entrance is guarded by two forts of the 17C and 19C. It is easy to cross the Bay of Guanabara to get to Niterói or the islands, from where you discover a magnificent view of the city of Rio and the lush mountains that crimp it. The most interesting stage is the island of Paquetá, one of the 84 islands of the bay, where the landscape has not changed since the 19C. In this island, cars are not allowed. The largest of the islands is the island of the governor (Ilha do Governador), where is located the international Airport Antônio Carlos Jobim. From where I left this time and have come in later.

Many memories at Rio, the anecdote is that upon ariving at the airport, my buddy call to verify the hotel reservation, the company had cancelled it because he booked the Palace Copacabana!!! very expensive place; in the haze to change the reservation the company made a booking at another hotel in Copacabana beach, the Othon Palace, but booked it for two nights instead of one, so we took advantage lol!! Located at Avenida Atlantica, just marvelous again , the views,the service the food all is sublime,and the Skylab bar fantastic!

Rio de Janeiro Othon Palace Hotel fr Copacabana beach 1988

Rio de Janeiro view from othon palace hotel window over copacabana beach Brazil 1988

Many things to see here me think , my favorites are:

Pao de açucar (Sugar Loaf) is a rocky peak at the altitude of 395 meters and the so singular form that has always been the symbol of Rio. The famous statue of Christ the Redeemer , a cross-arm, stands on the peak of the Corcovado with a height of 710 meters and can be seen from all areas of Rio. Copacabana beach  ; and its extension to the north, the Leme, with its six kilometers of length that describe a perfect curve is certainly the preferred beach of foreigners. The local friend took me to Niteroi for a nice view of the bay and hang gliding!!!

Along Copacabana beach try the bar Boteco da Garrafa, great pints of beers ,Belgians, Germans you name it ;located at Rua Bolívar, 27, Copacabana.  See it on Restaurant Guru: https://restaurantguru.com/Boteco-da-Garrafa-Rio-de-Janeiro-2

Restaurante Quinta da Boa Vista in Sao Cristovao, inside park same name, open from 1822 when it serves the royal Portuguese family. webpage : http://www.restaurantequintaboavista.com.br/

 Ipanema Beach is located in the most exclusive residential area of the city.  Ipanema Beach, less extensive than that of Copacabana, is the venue for the golden youth of Rio and the homosexual community. Less lively and less noisy than Copacabana, Ipanema is arguably the most romantic of the twenty-five beaches in Rio. The São Conrado beach is located in a cove surrounded by mountains covered with dense vegetation. There rises the Pedra da Gávea, a huge block of granite much more impressive in its shape and size, with its 842 meters, the mountain of Pedra da Gávea overlooks the long beaches of fine sand. You can access it after the Botanical garden . Each of the 141 hectares of the Botanical garden hosts specimens of the Brazilian and World Flora.

The fame jewerlers H Stern store in Niteroi or Copacabana is another great place to shop, webpage :https://www.hstern.net/

The Church of Nossa Senhora da Glória do Outeiro ,white and graceful, the Church of Glória dominates from its height the bay of Guanabara. Built in 1739, this Chapel was intimately linked to the life of the imperial family. In his arms, Joao VI carried his granddaughter, Princess Maria da Glória, to present her at the altar, and Don Pedro I made the same with the future Emperor Pedro II. The decoration is made of carved wood and azulejos (colourful ceramic tiles).  National Historical Museum was only converted into a museum in 1922. Its collections, spread over fourteen halls, retrace the history of Imperial Brazil (19C). It has a library of 70 000 volumes. One of the things to see in this city is the museum Carmen Miranda, the great Brazilian actress of Hollywood fame.

Case apart for this beauty and the errors of incapables governments. National Museum, located in the park of Quinta de Boa Vista, the Sunday promenade of the Cariocas (natives of Rio are call) of the suburbs, this former palace was once the home of Joao VI and the imperial family, until the proclamation of the Republic in 1889. It contains the largest scientific collection of zoology, mineralogy, archaeology, ethnology in Brazil. Unfortunately for lack of funds and proper fire system ,on September 2, 2018, the museum is ravaged by a fire that has burned hundreds of rooms and destroys all historical archives!! This museum webpage:http://www.museunacional.ufrj.br/

The tourist office of Rio de Janeiro: http://visit.rio/en/welcome/

And so famous I give you the Carnival of Rio webpage: http://www.rio-carnival.net/

There you go, a nice 1 2 3 punch in Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo,and Rio de Janeiro to enhance all the beauty of Brazil. Hope you enjoy it as I always will.

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

January 14, 2021

Sunshine State, Florida !!!

And I am going deep back in my life to remember dear places of my life’s existance. This is a memorable post I had hidden in my blog and needs update, refresh text and links. I have it in my black and white series as pictures are in individual posts in my blog. Hope you enjoy my life in the Sunshine State, Florida!!!

My first contact with the State of Florida took place in 1974 when I went from New Jersey to visit my father’s side aunt in Miami Lakes; it didnt seem that great, I guess I was already used to the cold weather from Spain and New Jersey lol!

Then in August of 1977,  I went to pursue my university studies there, and settled at Daytona Beach. It was instant love, the city was warm, sunny but also cool in winter, nice folks and the beach and the girls was awesome. Spring Break is an event all American college students need or do go thru in their life,and its not to be missed. At those times Daytona Beach was it, over 500 000 of them collapse the beach all of its 23 sandy miles with a party atmosphere tops in the USA. Dont get me wrong, I did my studies too, and finally graduated in april 24, 1982 with a graduation at the Peabody Auditorium on the beachside and a class of 396 students.

I went back “home” to New Jersey, and began my working life at the Newark International Airport EWR with Butler Aviation the following month May 15 1982. However, my heart was left in Daytona Beach, on my first year vacation in the summer of 1983 ,I came back for a visitor spring break time, and reunited with old friends and students.  Then ,finally it set in ,and made the decision to move to Florida. I did on January 4, 1985 arriving in Ormond by the Sea, North Peninsula, just 150 meters from the Atlantic ocean and 200 meters from the Intracoastal waters of the Halifax River. I had the Oceanside country club to the south and Bicentennial park to the north. Heavens !!!!!!

The pay was less, but the feeling was great. My first job was in the wine department of the ABC wine and liquor store by Yonge st US 1 Ormond Beach, under JD Brandy as store manager; the rest is history as I was able to get back into my accounting career with 5 resorts timeshare condominium builder/manager called Aqua Sun Investments,  with Finance Director  Mike (who crashed his Ferrari on Anderson Drive against a tree !!)  and later collection manager, Arthur ,whose wife was my bank counselor at Barnett bank (today Bank of America) , then the career took off into the Commercial Credit (citibank) with good person assistance manager Marc and Manager Bill; and Equifax AR as Senior Supervisor with the branch in Holly Hill ;  working with a group of people who donated a Bond EE for my son’s birth I never forget the folks like Barbara,Terry, and Angie.  While living in this beautiful Ormond Beach area  where by now its a sweet history for me, I encounter in one of my trips to Paris a nice lady from Meaux, France, we were married  December 26, 1990 at City Island govt building in Daytona Beach. We had our first son at the Halifax Hospital on March 9, 1992.

While working for Equifax, the Credit Bureau office in Daytona Beach, the company decide to close several sites, and was offered a move to North Miami city at the entrance to Williams Island (Elizabeth Taylor owned there ::)). So this cause my move to South Florida, and it was fantastic, job wise and activities wise. Once they decided to close the North Miami office as well! , I took off into computer distribution to Latin America based in Miami with CHS Electronics (at the time the 3rd largest in the world and NYSE), this allow me many travels in Latin America and my future looks bright. We, the family and I eventually moved to the Silver Lakes division, Sapphire Bay subdivision in Miramar, Broward County, to the west of FT Lauderdale while continuing to work in Miami Beacon Center area. Before the move to Broward County, my twin boys were born at Hialeah Hospital , Hialeah city near the fame horse racetrack in 1993.

We have continuosly made trips to France every year since my marriage in Daytona Beach City Island municipal government building on December 26, 1990 with my frenchie , Martine. Our boys went there since been 6 months old at each time.

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

The Miami and the beaches tourist officehttps://www.miamiandbeaches.fr/

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

The State of Florida tourist officehttps://www.visitflorida.com/en-us.html

Florida was very good to us, and we have great memories of our stayed there, all in all, I lived 18 years in the State of Florida. Finally in August of 2003 the family made the decision to move permanently to France, and the saga continues. Never look back, all forward with always keeping the memories of the places and people, especially those no longer with us.

I hope you enjoy reading a bit about me from my blog. It has been a fantastic ride going back to these old posts and bringing to life again, Florida will always be there for us; thanks for reading along.  And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

January 14, 2021

My college days in Florida –ERAU!!!

And I am going deep back in my life to remember dear places of my life’s existance. This is a memorable post I had hidden in my blog and needs update, refresh text and links. I have it in my black and white series as pictures are in individual posts in my blog. Hope you enjoy my life in ERAU – Florida!!!

I was visiting Florida since 1974 from my home state of New Jersey. When it was time to choose my university studies, leaning towards a career in aviation , hopefully with an airline, and by reference from a friend who was going to the US Navy, I heard of ERAU=Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida ,USA.

That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship or love with the state of Florida. I was admitted to the school fairly quickly and arrive at Daytona Beach, ERAU campus by August 24th 1977. In time to get me into dormitory No I (later call Doolittle for the general) and began Freshman or 1st year classes.

I was totally new to the place, the area, the habits, so my first year spent going to the beach, “the worlds most famous beach” almost daily, becoming a beach bum ::) Going to the Daytona Connection, 600 North Club, Mocambo, Big Mamma, Daddy’s, Razzles, and Oyster Pub (the last two still there!) greatly enhance my feeling for the area.  Seeing my first Spring Break in the spring of 1978 was awesome, never seen so many girls in one place !!!! I quickly learn the best way to enjoy the area is to have your own place off campus. The school has limited space on its campus dormitories so changing was easy and the area landlords were nice to us, we had a nice “reputation”.

My second year or sophomore, I was already renting a house by Winchester St, Holly Hill an inland community just to the north of Daytona Beach. This was a 3 bedroom home so I found myself 2 roommates to share the cost, and have a whole bedroom for myself, plus lots of more freedoms… Great place to study too, the school demands were very heavy, focus on learning and little space for entertainment or sports inside of it. I was on the Aviation Management degree curriculum for a BS=bachelor of science degree, fyi I got it!

While hanging around a field that look like a football/soccer field, kicking my soccer ball around, a grey older men approached me and asked me if I had previous experience playing soccer/football. I told him learned with a team call Real Madrid in Spain lower divisions, played with ethnic leagues in New Jersey semipro and with the high school, so he immediately signed me up for the team, he was the purchasing manager, named John C Butler, from Leicester ,England and a former player of that city’s team. From then on we had an interesting relationship, one of which ,was getting together at the end of each year to schedule my classes for the next year so my free time was available for the soccer team.

The school soccer/football team was composed of many international students like England, Holland, Trinidad and Tobago,Iran, Portugal, Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, etc all playing for the love of the game, no scholarships. We played against NCAA div 1 and 2 team on an open schedule, by the end its was club level as the school ERAU refuse to sponsor a team for lack or simply not wanting to offer funds.  Sadly, if you now read the story on the school webpage no mention of this history is shown!! and has the soccer program started in 1986!!! writing to them made no moves so I am completely away from all university activities now as Alumni. We organise the games ourselves with the other schools. I did played in the Central Florida Soccer league out of the Daytona Beach YMCA complex (which was actually in the city of Holly Hill).

My third year began at a new rental house closer to the center at Magnolia Avenue and Charles Street (did not see it seems new construction there now!!)  It had two bedroom and the other was rented to a friend from the soccer team so we both can have same interests. School was taken its toll as the subjects became more complicated and more study time was needed, however , the soccer continues and trips to the beach and other parts of Florida. the Razzle disco was on as well as the country music place Finky’s on Grandview. The weekend trips to the Nickels alley place in Gainesville home of the Univ of Florida was great escapades with lots of fun dont want to go into it ::) I was checking out the same chain Nickels alley in Amelia ave, Orlando too as well as going down to Miami at Tiffany’s in the Sheraton (no longer) at Bal Harbours, Limelight (burn down no longer) by the Hollywood dog track area , and the 747 by Miami Springs. Coming down I stayed at the Don Sebastian motel (no longer there) in North Miami Beach for ease on driving after a long night dancing away, a great souvenir indeed. Participating in spring break activities was great, in addition to our Spring Fling festivities on campus, I visited the Univ of South Florida River riot festivities by the Hillborough river, Tampa. As well visiting my family in the Miami area for the weekends, the Christmas breaks were still spent in New Jersey with my parents, and some summers too.

My last year 4th or senior year, again was the time to try another housing, and closer to the action, so I moved to a two bedroom house in Hollywood ave and Main Street, Daytona Beach surrounded by bikers Lol! My neighbors were the Pagans gang from Vineland NJ and I guess my car plates were from NJ so they were friendly ::) I could use their hoses to clean my car Lol!!! I was by this time very involved in the school with the Management Club, and was its Treasurer my last year there. Under me and with the help of Professors Rudi Knabe , our club advisor, William Chamberlain ,our accounting prof and Peter de la Rosa, our Finance prof; I was able to implement a scholarship doing fund raising events to help pay our members book expenses while investing the proceeds with Merrill Lynch, and did established the club as a non-profit organisation. This is still without recognition by the school who simply just asked for donations!

The soccer/football continues at the club level playing by mutual agreement with other Universities in Florida under our new coach who had played for the Seattle Sounders of the old NASL and was from Liberia, but unfortunately forgot his name; this was our last year as a school team.  Playing with the Daytona Beach team in the amateur league as well. Another popular activity was playing intra mural volleyball and softball where we finish second place on both sports as the Management Club team.

The school had gone thru some transformation and new buildings were erected, the student body reach 5000 on campus and they had purchase another campus in Prescott ,Arizona, (near Phoenix). The city had some lesser crazy spring breaks as the city fathers decided to put more efforts on family vacationing. Of course, the Daytona International Speedway was always a great event to go to, and my 1977 Chevy Monte Carlo was a sight in fire red in and out Lol!!!

Graduation came eventually on April 24 1982 at the Peabody Auditorium ,Daytona Beach, where 396 of us graduated with college degrees. What it seems yesterday, it became a reality we were now going into the “real world”. I went back to New Jersey for work at EWR  Newark International Airport, Newark, with an outfit called Butler Aviation an FBO doing ticketing for charter flights from England and Greece as well as the UPS second day air delivery contract. This only lasted for about a year, as I realised I missed Florida !!!!!

The following summer 1983,  I took myself my spring break visiting the area alone, and then on January 5 1985 arrived for good, this time living at Seaside Drive, Ormond by the Sea (North peninsula) on a house my parents had bought for their retirement ::) Beach bum boy was using it first Lol!!! Living was great as I could use the school library ,and became active in the soccer/football team that was playing in the Daytona Beach YMCA fields. I did obtain sponsorship with Coronado Title Co for a Co-ed indoor soccer team that finish Champion in 1986!! It was easy as my team was made up of women from the Univ Central Florida (rank in top 10 in USA soccer) and resident guys from England , Greece, and Germany!

The ERAU university Daytona Beach campus webpage: https://daytonabeach.erau.edu/

The ERAU Alumni office: https://alumni.erau.edu/s/867/bp20/home.aspx

So even thus I am now far away, I want you all to know, I love you Volusia County, Daytona Beach/Ormond Beach area in Florida. You have been very good to me and my family and we always mentioned you, never forgotten all the folks we encounter there and some still keep in touch, so if you read this; this post is for you.

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

January 10, 2021

Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca !

Ok given on the post title his full name; I have mentioned him briefly in my previous posts but I believe he deserves a post of its own. To me, he is the greatest of Spanish poets/playwrites of all time. You probably know him better by Federico Garcia Lorca or simply Lorca for us. Let me tell you in a black and white series his history and places. Hope you enjoy my another entry into literature.

I like to tell briefly the story of a very famous men and one of my historical favorites of my beloved Spain. The name will tell it to all if into the arts, poetry,theatre, etc one of the giants of the Spanish speaking world. I happened to trace his life on my old visits to Granada, where I am an honorary member of a sport club ,but now the main thing is to tell you about the poet Federico Garcia Lorca. It’s a long history, that I like.

Federico García Lorca (born at Fuente Vaqueros, June 5, 1898- died on the way from Víznar to Alfacar, Granada, August 18, 1936)   was a Spanish poet, playwright and prose writer. Assigned to the generation of 27, he was the most influential and popular poet in 20C Spanish literature. As a playwright, he is considered one of the tops of 20C Spanish theater. He was assassinated by the Nationalists side a month after the coup d’état with which the Spanish Civil War began.

He was born into a family with a comfortable economic position, and was baptized as Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca; his father was the landowner Federico García Rodríguez (1859-1945) and his mother, Vicenta Lorca Romero (1870-1959), second wife of his father.

The term of the Generation 1927 ;starts from the date of December 1927, when several Spanish poets meet in Seville, in an event organized by the Economic Society of Friends of the Country to commemorate the three hundred years since the death of Luis de Góngora. It should be noted that this meeting is the origin of what some call the Generation of ’27, which includes writers such as Jorge Guillén, Pedro Salinas, Rafael Alberti, Dámaso Alonso, Gerardo Diego, Luis Cernuda, Vicente Aleixandre, Manuel Altolaguirre and Emilio Prados. This group is characterized by fusing the forms of traditional poetry (neopopularism) with the avant-garde movements; for treating the same issues in a similar way (death in a tragic sense; love as a force that gives meaning to life; social concerns such as injustice, misery, etc.), for the use of metaphor and image; etc.

Together with Eduardo Ugarte, the writer from Granada, he co-directed La Barraca, a university theater group that represented theatrical works of the Golden Age of Spanish literature such as Calderón de la Barca, Lope de Vega, Miguel de Cervantes, etc;  through cities and towns in Spain. Financed by the Ministry of Education, it had its own project in its hands for the first time. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War would frustrate the effort.

A personal anecdote we all love him for. In March 1930 he left New York to travel to the city of Havana, Cuba as he is invited by the Hispano-Cuban Institution of Culture to give conferences in Havana and other Cuban cities.   He travels by train to Tampa, Florida, where he boards the steamer Cuba, which docks on March 6 in Havana, where his old friend José María Chacón y Calvo, the Cuban poet Juan Marinello and the journalist Rafael Suárez Solís await him. The Instituto de las Españas (Spain’s institute) offers him a tribute, in which he delivers his lecture The Mechanics of Poetry. He friendship with Antonio Quevedo and María Muñoz, a friend of Manuel de Falla. He gives several lectures at the Principal Theater of Comedy in Havana: The Mechanics of Poetry; Closed paradise for many, open gardens for few; Spanish lullabies; The poetic image of Don Luis de Góngora; The architecture of cante jondo. He works in the play The Public. Friendship with the Loynaz brothers, whose home he visits almost daily and whom he reads The Public. In the company of the writer Lydia Cabrera, whom he had met in Madrid, he attends a “ñáñiga” (black Santeria type) ceremony. Conferences in Caibarién, presented by José María Chacón y Calvo, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba. He receives a tribute in Santiago de las Vegas. He writes the “They are of blacks in Cuba”, and the “Ode to Walt Whitman” that will be part of Poeta en Nueva York. His friends García Maroto and Adolfo Salazar arrive in Havana. Friendship with the Guatemalan writer Luis Cardoza Aragón. He knows Nicolás Guillén and José Lezama Lima. He enters a clinic to have warts removed. Farewell meal at the Bristol Hotel organized by the Avance Magazine. On June 12, he embarks on the steamer Manuel Arnús, which, after stopping in New York, arrives in Cádiz on June 30. The Grand theater in Havana has the main room named after him.

A bit of his last steps alive.  He went to the Huerta de San Vicente to meet with his family. He arrived there on July 14, 1936, three days before the military uprising against the Republic broke out in Melilla, leading to the Spanish Civil War. The sequence of his ultimate assassination is related briefly as such:

At Calle Virgen Blanca , then surrounded by fields, linked the García Lorca house with the center of the city. Federico travels through it in a taxi, a Fiat that had been owned by the family, and driven by a former servant. At Plaza de Gracia, headquarters of the Minor Seminary of the city. Lorca passed through the square in the taxi on the evening of August 9 on his way to the Rosales’ house, where he was seeking refuge. Corner of Plaza de Gracia with Calle Jardines, the beginning of the Magdalena neighborhood, where García Lorca passed on the afternoon-night of August 9. By Calle de Gracia, in the Magdalena neighborhood, then bordering the city with the plain. He goes by Plaza de la Trinidad, the square had hosted a convent of Trinitarians Barefooters until the 19C. Nearby was the family home of the Rosales, friends of Federico. The Reina Cristina Hotel is located in the same building as the former Rosales family house, on the corner of Angulo and Tablas streets. Federico was welcomed and hosted. He trusted that the Rosales’ connection with the Falange (Franco’s party) could protect him from the rebels. He doesn’t go outside and spends the day playing the piano. The Reina Cristina Hotel occupies what was the home of the Rosales family, where the poet Federico García Lorca spent his last days. It must be said that the hotel owners have made a great effort to preserve those aspects of the building that go back to the time when the Rosales family lived here. The building, full of Andalusian air, reminds us, between its patios and fountains, the universal figure of the poet in his last days.

The door of the Casa de los Rosales on Calle Angulo, 1. According to a police document drawn up many years after the poet’s death, the building was surrounded with a great apparatus by Militias and Assault Guards who took all the nearby intersections and rooftops. Lorca left through this door on his way to the Civil Government building.   Lorca had taken refuge in the Rosales brothers’ house out of fear. His friends tried to intercede for him to avoid his arrest, without success. Federico is on the second floor of the house at the time of his arrest, on August 16 1936. An illegal detention, “without a written or oral order,” as the poet Luis Rosales declared years later.

His biographer Ian Gibson (Irish-Spanish now living in Madrid) relates the account of a witness: “He wore dark gray pants, a white shirt with a loose tie knot and, on his arm, a blazer.” By the Plaza de Los Lobos, Lorca passed through here when they were taking him prisoner. The square is the central point of the journey, barely 240 meters long, which separated the residence of Los Rosales and the Civil Government of Granada. Despite the short distance, he was stopped and transferred by car. The Puerta del Jardín Botánico, next to the Faculty of Law which, in 1936, was the seat of the Civil Government. The poet remained imprisoned in a dungeon in this building on Calle Duquesa before being taken to Víznar where, according to police documentation, he is “passed over by arms.” (shot dead) Today there is no plaque that recalls what was Federico’s last stay in Granada.

The Puerta or gate of the Faculty of Law was  crossed by Garcia Lorca on the way to Víznar. Some sources believe that the transfer occurred on the same day the 16th, others on the 17th August 1936. Be that as it may, he spent his last hours in a large house on the outskirts of town, La Colonia. At Viznar he spent his last night in a makeshift jail, along with other detainees. It seems definitely established that Federico García Lorca was shot at 4:45 a.m. on August 18, on the road from Víznar to Alfacar. His body, which was never recovered, remains buried in an anonymous mass grave somewhere in those places. One of the most shocking works on the fact of his death is the poem «The crime was in Granada», written by Antonio Machado (another great poet) in 1937. One of the most documented, controversial and popular biographies on Federico García Lorca is the published best-seller in 1989 and entitled Federico García Lorca: A life (Life, passion and death of Federico García Lorca, Spanish edition in 1998), by the Irish-born Spanish Ian Gibson. Calle Duquesa was one of the last images of Granada by Federico Garcia Lorca.

Tracing his places of stayed in a brief description of them to follow:

Fuente Vaqueros located in the western part of the Vega de Granada region of the province of Grenada. In 1767 the colonization of the farm began. In 1777 it returned to the hands of the Crown, then passing to Manuel Godoy (later prime minister). Upon returning to the Crown again, in 1813 the Cortes donated the estate in perpetuity to the Duke of Wellington as a reward for services rendered during the War of Independence against the French. Until 1940, the current town of Fuente Vaqueros belonged to the Duke of Wellington, having its land leased to the settlers and little by little it was sold to them, who populated and gave way to the current town. Internationally it is known for having been the hometown of Federico García Lorca.

Some of the things to see here are: Monument and monoliths to Federico García Lorca Museum , Federico García Lorca’s birthplace. Federico García Lorca Municipal Theater ,and the Royal House of the Duke of Wellington. Hence, in this town there are many references and traces of the universal poet and playwright, with monuments and museums built in the memory of him.

The town of Fuente Vaqueros things to see: http://www.fuente-vaqueros.com/que-visitar.html

An official webpage on the routes and places of Federico Garcia Lorca on Fuente Vaqueros in Spanish : https://www.universolorca.com/lugar/museo-casa-natal-en-fuente-vaqueros/

Valderrubio is located in the western part of the Vega de Granada region, in the province of Granada. The town of Valderrubio is one of the thirty-four entities that make up the Metropolitan Area of Granada.

Federico García Lorca lived in this town, when it was still called Asquerosa. The origin of this name seems to be from Latin in Roman times, its meaning was Agua de Rosas or Acuarosa, in Latin Aqua Rosae. Its current name, which, to avoid the name meaning disgusting in Spanish, officially replaced the name on August 15, 1943, to the new name of Valderrubio ,which refers to “valley of blond tobacco”, since it was a majority crop until the middle of the 20C. So much so that it is said that it was the first town in Europe where the blond tobacco brought from America was planted.

It was in this town where Federico García Lorca, considered one of the most important Spanish poets of the 20C, was inspired to create one of his best dramatic works: La casa de Bernarda Alba. Among the places of Lorca, the house of Bernarda Alba stands out, the house on Calle Iglesia where today the House Museum, the Fuente de la Teja and the Daimuz farm are located, two km from Valderrubio, next to the Cubillas river, near the confluence with the Genil river. Valderrubio brings together a landscape and natural environment that still revives the basis of the great work that the poet left behind.

Some things to see here are  the Federico García Lorca House-Museum; Bernarda Alba House and Monument to the Entrepreneurs and Tobacco Workers.

The town of Valderrubio on things to see in Spanish: http://www.ayuntamientovalderrubio.es/rutas-turisticas-e-hitos-de-interes

An official webpage on the routes and places of Federico Garcia Lorca on Valderrubio: https://www.universolorca.com/lugar/casa-familiar-de-valderrubio/

The old Café Alameda created in 1909 was known as the Gran Café Granada by most of the people of Granada at the beginning of the 20C, as it was the initial name with which the hospitality establishment was inaugurated, nowadays disappeared as such. It was located in the Plaza del Campillo. In that special corner at the beginning of the 1920s, the Bohemian intellectual gathering known as the Rinconcillo ( a little corner or place) was born, cradle of characters, some of them already prominent artists and others who would come to be recognized in disciplines as diverse as poetry, literature, journalism, the arts, politics, music and diplomacy, both nationally and internationally. In 1922, Manuel de Falla, Federico Garcia Lorca, Ignacio Zuloaga and the Granada City Council organized the first national Cante Jondo competition, which took place on June 13 and 14 in the Plaza de los Aljibes in the Alhambra. These modernizing ideas for renovation of Granada society, were supported at the time through periodic visits to the gathering by characters as diverse as H G Wells, Koichi Nakayama, Rudyard Kipling, and the musicians Wanda Landowska and Arthur Rubinstein Among the usual protagonists were Federico García Lorca and his brother Francisco, Manuel de Falla, politician Antonio Gallego Burín, the doctor and politician Manuel Fernández-Montesinos and his brother José, a philologist, the musician Ángel Barrios, the painter Manuel Ángeles Ortiz , José Acosta Medina, Miguel Pizarro Zambrano, the journalists José Mora Guarnido and Constantino Ruiz Carnero, José María García Carrillo, the politician Fernando de los Ríos, who would be Minister of Justice and Public Instruction, the Arabist José Navarro Pardo, the painter Ismael González de la Serna, Hermenegildo Lanz, the sculptor Juan Cristóbal, Ramón Pérez Roda, Luis Mariscal and the guitarist Andrés Segovia, and as conductor and cultural animator, Francisco Soriano Lapresa! Wow a who is who indeed of my beloved Spain!

An official webpage on the routes and places of Federico Garcia Lorca on El Rincocillo or old Alameda café in Spanish: https://www.universolorca.com/lugar/el-rinconcillo/

The Federico García Lorca House-Museum, familiarly known as Huerta de San Vicente, was the summer estate of the García Lorca family from 1926 to 1936, shortly after Federico’s assassination during the first weeks of the Spanish Civil War. The house and the orchards that belonged to him are located in the heart of the Federico García Lorca park, inaugurated in 1995. The farm seems to have its origin in the second half of the 19C and would be known as the Huerta de los Mudos (mute). Later, it became the property of Federico García Rodríguez, father of Federico García Lorca, who signed the purchase on May 27, 1925. The artist’s father, in homage to his wife Vicenta Lorca Romero, changed the name of the farm to Huerta de San Vicente.

Federico García Lorca wrote in this place, in whole or in part, some notable works such as So five years pass (1931), Bodas de Sangre or Blood Wedding (1932), Yerma (1934) or Diván del Tamarit (1931-1936). Among some of the poet’s friends who visited the area are the following personalities: Manuel de Falla, Miguel Pizarro, Antonio Gallego Burín, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz, Eduardo Blanco Amor, Eduardo Rodríguez Valdivieso, etc. In addition, the artist spent the last days before his arrest and subsequent execution of him on the farm, before moving to the house of his friend Luis Rosales.

On April 6, 1985, it was acquired by the Granada City Council from Isabel García Lorca (younger sister) to turn it into a house museum for the poet Federico García Lorca. In 1995, the only reliable documents that existed on the arrangement of this furniture set were a series of photographs taken in the period 1926-1936, among which the series taken in 1935 by the writer Eduardo Blanco Amor stands out, as well as family photographs taken starting in 1918 in other places where the García Lorca family lived and in which some of the furniture, works of art and objects that can be seen today in the Huerta de San Vicente are collected. These photographs make it possible to delimit with precision the qualifier “original”, applied to the furniture that decorates it: in them we see the poet’s desk, the gramophone, the baby grand piano, the divan, the rocking chairs and the Thonet chairs, the reproduction from Botticelli’s Spring, the mirror with an art deco frame , among other minor items. In addition to the photographs, the testimonies of the people who lived in it were very useful, especially Isabel García Lorca (sister) and the nephews Vicenta and Manuel Fernández Montesinos. The rest of the furniture, as well as the belongings (crockery, ceramics, and household objects such as the coat rack, the tablecloth, or peasants such as the cheese maker, etc.) and other documents and works of art that can be seen today in the House-Museum were either part of the furniture in La Huerta in some of its periods between 1926 and 1936, or they belonged at some point to the Lorca family.

The official house museum Huerta de San Vicente: http://www.huertadesanvicente.com/

An official webpage on the routes and places of Federico Garcia Lorca on the Huerta de San Vicente: https://www.universolorca.com/lugar/huerta-de-san-vicente/

Víznar  is located in the foothills of the Sierra de la Alfaguara, in the central part of the Vega de Granada, about 9 km from Granada. In one of the ravines between the towns of Víznar and Alfacar, the Guardia Civil:( Civil Guard) assassinated Federico García Lorca.

An official webpage on the routes and places of Federico Garcia Lorca on the ravins of Viznar in Spanish: https://www.universolorca.com/lugar/barranco-de-viznar/

Additional webpages on the Cervantes virtual library on Federico Garcia Lorcahttp://www.cervantesvirtual.com/portales/federico_garcia_lorca/

There you go folks, I feel better. I did as briefly as possible but long enough to give you the complete story on a great men, one of the greatest, still play, spoken and worship of the Spanish literature giants. Federico Garcia Lorca sits at the top.  Hoping the wounds of the Spanish Civil War can one day be completely healed and we just remember,never to let it happened again.

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

December 26, 2020

And yes there is a Columbus in Havana but is for the dead!

And here I am still going over my older posts which are many I realise ! This one is on a subject I seldom write as always prefer the living but as a monument is one of the most visited as in other big city cementeries! Let me update for you the Columbus cemetary of Havana Cuba! Locally known as the Cementerio de Colon!

Wow, it’s been a long time do not write anything on Cuba, but as not there nowdays the inspiration is minimum. There was a nice site I pick up that mention very good information on it, and it brought my attention to the cemetary of Colon in Havana, the largest in the Americas, many have said. I have I believe one old picture from it that I had , i believe was in the vault of my dear late Mom Gladys, and will include here .

Part of my rich heritage is of several nationalities and one of them is Cuban, where I was born in Punta Brava, near Havana (24 km or 15 mi) . It has been a long time out of it ,but the memories of old always stay with me. Oh yes I am a world resident as living and citizen ,also, of Spain, USA, and France! Lately living in France already for 18 years!

The cemetery or necropolis of Colon is in Havana, the biggest in the Americas and one of the most important of the world. There lies the most important persons in Cuban society since it opened in 1886. From 1854 it was already thought to do a cemetery to replace the Espada, the first in Cuba and Latin America.  The Colon was renovated already in 1934.  It is 140 acre (57 ha) cemetery!!!

entrance-colon-cementary-in-havana-cuba-largest-in-americas

The cemetery is rectangular with four sections and two wide large avenues forming a big Cross. In the center there is the Chapel where the funeral services are held; the tracing is done by cardinal points NW NE, SE, and SW. At each cardinal point there is a grand entrance , the biggest is at Zapata with 12 street known as the Puerta de Triunfo or an Arch de Triomphe. On top there is statues representing faith, hope and charity.  The Latin writing on it Janua sum pacis means I am the gate of peace.

The cemetery has over 56 000 mausoleums chapels, pantheons, galleries etc where they are buried about 2 million persons.  The most majestic monuments are along Avenue de Colon in the north entrance. At the Avenida de Colón to the right of the north entrance you see the monument to the firefighters ,at the center the Central Chapel and on  the left part of the pantheon of  Catalina Lasa. Others here are the monument to the 8 medicine students, the pantheon of the prelates on which bishop Espada lies, the pantheon of the Falla-Bonet family, the chapel of Pedro Baro and Catalina Lasa, the chapel of Conde (count) Rivero, and the pantheon of Marta Abreu. The Central Chapel was built in 1886  in a roman-byzantine style been the only octagonal religious building in Cuba. It has a wonderful mural painting showing the Final Judgment and the stained glass showing different Saints and Bible stories were brought from Cologne, Germany.

There is a humble tomb of the couple of  Amelia Goyri and José Vicente Adot. Amelia Goyri de la Hoz is known as the Miraculous or La Milagrosa, because for many years has given wishes and petitions making miracles to those seeking solutions to their problems. On top of the tomb there is a sculpture of a woman, with a child in one hand and the Cross in the other.

Other famous tomb with a story is that of Catalina Laza and Juan Pedro Baró. When they met she was already married to Luis Estévez Abreu, son of the Vice President of the Republic of Cuba, and who refuse to give her the divorce. Nevertheless, Catalina and Juan continue their relationship for many years until finally the Pope gave the divorce in 1917 confirm by then President of Cuba Mario Menocal. In 1926 they built a luxurious palace at 406 Calle Paseo where they lived and Juan gave her a new Rose flower her favorite colors of rose and yellow. Unfortunately, happiness did not last long as Catalina fell sick and died in 1930. She was beautiful and on her last years hide to no one can see her face. Juan ordered to built a pantheon design in a form that the rays of the sun penetrating through glass will draw a rose similar to the one she carried. She was buried with all her jewelry and under a hard cement dome so nobody could violate her peace. Juan died ten years later and is buried at the foot of the tomb.

nother popular one is of the one of the rests of Jeannette Ford Ryder, and her loyal dog  Rinti . It is known as the Fidelity tomb or the Lady of the dog such as  La Tumba de la Fidelidad, or La Dama del perrito.   Jeannette Ford Ryder an American lady who came to Cuba in  1869 where she found the Piedad or pity Bando a philanthropic organization doing charity work helping domestic animals, invalid women, children, orphans and poor in general. At her death at 65 yrs old, her loyal dog Rinti stayed at the tomb until he died. The employees left food for the dog and the dog refuse until dying of sadness. This tomb is at quadrant S.O.(SW) street or calle 14 between H and  Fray Jacinto.

Other famous tombs are the pantheon of the Basque Navarre association or  Asociación Vasco-Navarra de Beneficencia.  Calle 3 between G and F.  The tomb of World Chess Champion  José Raúl Capablanca; it has a big piece of white king that goes higher than the others and located at  Calle 8 between  A and B. The first person buried in the cemetery was in September 29 1872 of the architect builder of it ,the Spaniard Calixto de Loira. Buried in the gallery or Galería de Tobías, this was a underground gallery of 100 meters long. Intriguing a month later his replacement also died and now a legend is on of malediction to all those who had a hand in building this cemetery.

There is even someone who is buried erected on foot! The last will and testament of the men ask for this and it was done.  His name was Eugenio Casimiro Rodríguez Carta  sentenced in 1918 to life in prison while lucky met in the prison a María Teresa Zayas, the daughter of the then President of Cuba who felled in love with him. He was finally let go and married the lady, took a great political career even a seat in the House of Representative, becoming rich and powerful. He ordered built his pantheon at Quadrant N.E. 22, Campo Común. Vertically!

There was a time that folks thought the famous Cecilia Valdés was just a personage out of fiction from the writer Cirilo Villaverde, but after some searching it was found that it was indeed a women name like that and she rests here. She was beautiful mulata (mix black and white person) that was very pretty and was even call the little virgin of copper. The rests of  Cecilia Valdés  daughter of the royal house of maternity or Real Casa de Maternidad who died in 1893 at the age of  86 rest at quadrant N.E., square 6, Campo Común.

It even has tombs of the fallen from WWI and WWII  at Avenida Zapata and Calle 30 (Street) The remains of the casualties are located in the mausoleum of the Anglo-American Welfare Association.

Some of the information was taken for credit from the webpage norfipc on the cementery Colon in Spanish here: https://norfipc.com/cuba/el-cementerio-necropolis-colon-habana.php

Some of the other notable names buried here are: Manuel Arteaga y Betancourt, Cardinal , Hubert de Blanck composer, Federico Capdevila, lieutenant Colonel of the Spanish Army who defended the medicine students in 1871; Alejo Carpentier, writer and musicologist, Eduardo Chibàs, politician,  Dr Carlos Finlay, physician and researcher (discovered mosquito of the yellow fever) ; José Migule Gomez, President of Cuba, Maximo Gomez, hero of the war of Independence, Harrison E Havens US Congressman , José Lezama Lima, writer and poet, Dulce Maria Loynaz, poet novelist; Adolfo Luque, Major League baseball pitcher ; Armando Marsans major league baseball outifielder , William Alexander Morgan, US combat soldier fought against Batista and Castro;  Juan Rius Rivera, Puerto Rican military hero, etc etc.

Just one of the oddities of Havana.  I am not going to tell you to go to Havana to see this, but if you are in the neighborhood , why not, very educational and historical too. Hope you enjoy the post.

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

December 8, 2020

Daytona Beach, road warrior!!!

And well here is a bit more about me! I have written all over my blog that I like the road warrior freedom of driving all over Europe and the Americas. However, why I like it so much my road warrior mentality. Well, first I got my driving license in the NY/NJ border, if you can do it there , you can do it anywhere! And then I moved for university and later living in the Daytona Beach area of Florida home of car/moto racing! And the rest is as they said , history!!! road warrior is me , the freedomo of the road!

However, let me tell you of what is happening in Daytona Beach Florida USA all these years. Just three events, 24 Hrs of Daytona, Daytona 200, and Daytona 500. Get it!

The 24 Hours of Daytona, is a 24-hour sports car endurance race held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is run on a 3.56-mile (5.73 km) combined road course, utilizing portions of the NASCAR tri-oval and an infield road course.

Shortly after the track opened, on April 5, 1959, a six-hour/1000 kilometer USAC-FIA sports car race was held on the road course. Count Antonio Von Dory and Roberto Mieres won the race in a Porsche, shortened to 560.07 miles due to darkness. The race utilized a 3.81-mile layout, running counter-clockwise. Starting in 1966, the Daytona race was extended to the same 24-hour length as Le Mans. The first 24 Hour event in 1966 was won by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby driving a Ford Mk. 1966 also saw Suzy Dietrich enter the 24 Hours event, driving a Sunbeam Alpine with Janet Guthrie and Donna Mae Mims. The trio finished 32nd and, along with another women’s team in the race, became the first women’s teams to finish an international-standard 24-hour race. The regular teams were expanded to three drivers in the 1970s. Nowadays, four drivers compete typically because of the longer night driving.

The anecdote here is that I sneak in to be with the Porsche team right at the track, which was wonderful. Of course ,in those days not much into pictures ,or else just a beach bum road warrior dude! Just memories!

The Daytona Inter Speedway webpage for the 24 Hrs of Daytona event: https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Events/2021/Rolex-24-At-DAYTONA/Rolex-24-At-Daytona.aspx

And the governing body IMSA on the 24 hrs event: https://www.imsa.com/weathertech/

The Daytona 200 is an annual motorcycle road racing competition held in early spring at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida .The 200-mile (320 km) race was founded in 1937 when it was sanctioned by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA). The original course used the beach itself before moving to a paved closed circuit in 1961.
Daytona Beach had been used by land speed record competitors since 1902 however, by 1935 the rutted beach course began losing its appeal in favor of the Bonneville Salt Flats. In an effort to boost the local economy, race promoter Bill France Sr. arranged for the Savannah 200 to be moved to the 3.2-mile (5.1 km) Daytona Beach Road Course in 1937.

Bill France Sr. looked for alternatives and negotiated with the city of Daytona Beach to purchase a site near the Daytona airport. He arranged financing and in 1957, construction began on the Daytona International Speedway, a 2.5-mile (4.0 km) paved, oval-shaped circuit with steep bankings that permitted higher speeds.The track opened in 1959 and France convinced AMA officials to move the beach race to the Speedway in 1961.

The anecdote here is that when at the university and afterward , I rented apartments there until my parents purchased me a house .While at school, I lived at Hollywood avenue just off Main Str, the epicenter of bike week!! Good times rolled and I was in every bar lol!!

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The Daytona Inter Speedway on the Daytona 200https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Articles/2020/9-September/2020-DAYTONA-200-Presented-by-Comoto-at-Daytona-International-Speedway-Canceled.aspx

Of course, as said above, this race became the centerpiece of what became known as Daytona Beach Bike Week, featuring motorcycle competitions besides road racing such as motocross and dirt track racing. Daytona Beach Bike Week is a motorcycle event and rally held annually in Daytona Beach, Florida. Approximately 500,000 people make their way to the rally area for the 10-day event. The festivities include motorcycle racing, concerts, parties, and street festivals. The event is usually held on the first full week of March (including the Fri-Sat-Sun prior to) and the most popular motorcycle rally in the United States.

Official webpage for the Daytona bike week: https://www.officialbikeweek.com/

And this is not all folks!! In 1991, the Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau created a second motorcycle festival event in October, named Biketoberfest (you guest right!) . Biketoberfest is usually scheduled for the weekend immediately following Columbus Day (October 12 holiday), although some participants arrive on Columbus Day weekend and visit for the entire week. Part of the fun is a twelve-mile ride along a scenic route, known as the Ormond Beach Loop and Trail (this is something I used to do in a bicycle 23 miles of it!!) . Daytona International Speedway also sponsors some motorcycle races to coincide with the dates of Biketoberfest.

The official Daytona Beach Biketoberfest webpage: https://www.daytonabeach.com/biketoberfest/

And this is the big one, huge crowds and lots of fun for all! The Daytona 500 miles race

The Daytona 500 is a 500-mile-long (805 km) NASCAR Cup Series motor race held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida . The inaugural Daytona 500 was held in 1959 coinciding with the opening of the speedway and since 1982, it has been the season-opening race of the Cup series. The Daytona 500 is regarded as the most important and prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar, carrying by far the largest purse. Championship points awarded are equal to that of any other NASCAR Cup Series race. It is also the series’ first race of the year; this phenomenon is virtually unique in sports, which tend to have championships or other major events at the end of the season rather than the start.

The race is the direct successor of shorter races held on the Daytona Beach Road Course. This long square was partially on the sand and also on the highway near the beach. Earlier events featured 200-mile (320 km) races with stock cars. Eventually, a 500-mile (805 km) stock car race was held at Daytona International Speedway in 1959.

The Daytona 500 was the first 500-mile (800 km) auto race to be televised live flag-to-flag on network television when CBS aired it in 1979 (and I was there!)  The television ratings for the Daytona 500 have surpassed those of the larger Indianapolis 500 (which has much larger physical attendance and international attendance) since 1995, even though the 1995 race was available in far fewer homes than the year before.

My anecdote is that I ,also, sneak in to the race hidden in the trunk of the car (back storage area)! so we can get one paying adult and the rest go in free lol!!! Great fun at the times, later they made you open the trunk!!

The official Daytona Inter Speedway webpage on the Daytona 500https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Events/2021/DAYTONA-500/DAYTONA-500.aspx

The Daytona International Speedway opened in 1959, and it has been the home of the Daytona 500, the most prestigious race in NASCAR as well as its season opening event. In addition to NASCAR, the track also hosts races of ARCA, AMA Superbike, IMSA, SCCA, and Motocross. The track features multiple layouts including the primary 2.5-mile (4.0 km) high-speed tri-oval, a 3.56-mile (5.73 km) sports car course, a 2.95-mile (4.75 km) motorcycle course, and a 1,320-foot (400 m) karting and motorcycle flat-track. The track’s 180-acre (73 ha) infield includes the 29-acre (12 ha) Lake Lloyd, which has hosted powerboat racing. The speedway is operated by International Speedway Corporation pursuant to a lease with the City of Daytona Beach on the property that runs until 2054.

The official webpage on events: https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Events/Responsive-Event-Calendar.aspx

The anecdote is first, my university sits right next to it ERAU , see posts on that grand institution! And Bill France Sr  (died in 1992) lived near my parents and I house in Ormond Beach. Incidentally at this city is what claims to be the birthplace of speed .City of Ormond Beach on it: https://www.ormondbeach.org/87/Birthplace-of-Speed

So, there is a bit more of my background, born to speed I guess! and love the pavement. Daytona Beach, Florida is another great spot on earth for me and my family;  my oldest son was born there! Hopefully radical elements will not throw away these memories and the free spirit of the road in a car, moto etc. Hope you have enjoy the tour and thanks for reading me.

The city of Daytona Beach on visiting info: https://www.codb.us/890/Visiting

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

November 27, 2020

The St Johns river!!!

Ok so this is new, because I found me a picture! I like to document my memories in my blog if I can find a picture! In my road warrior ways I criss cross the State of Florida USA many times. I have great memories of youthful reverence in these towns going out and meeting friends, even long time friends that are still in touch with me.

Therefore, let me tell you about the St Johns river of Florida! For starter, my personal recollection tells me of my passing on the SR 40 from Ormond Beach (I lived) to Ocala (cousin lives there) near Lake George. Along SR 17 to Palatka and Gainesville (UF home!), and by Jacksonville (old school friend there) the river on the I 95 and driving a boat on the St Johns passing by Mayport the US naval base! Wonderful memories glad to add them to my blog!

The history and places I love to recount and great memories of passing by these towns for many years. Hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading.

The Saint Johns River from the Spanish; San Juan del Puerto is the longest waterway in the state of Florida. it stretches over a length of 500 km (about 310 mi), winding through or on the border of twelve counties!. The river is one of the few rivers in the United States to have a north-facing channel. Many lakes are formed by or drain into the river and the maximum width of its bed is 4.8 km, spanning several kms between the towns of Palatka and Jacksonville, the latter city being the largest urban area on the river. The narrowest point of the bed is at its source, a non-navigable swamp in Indian River County. With a watershed of 22,900 square kilometers, the Saint Johns is one of Florida’s major inland wetlands. The river has been the subject of journals by naturalist William Bartram, books by writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and letters by writer Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Having its source in Indian River County and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean in Duval County, the Saint Johns is Florida’s main commercial and recreational waterway. It flows north from its source in the direction of Lake Wales Ridge which is located at an elevation slightly higher than 9.1 meters above sea level. Due to this reliable elevation, the course of water has little current. Indian River County is where the river begins. Originally, it was more of a swamp system, in St. Johns marsh (“swamp”) in west of the town of Vero Beach in central Florida. The upper basin measures approximately 5,200 square km. The river turns into a waterway in the next county, to the north, Brevard County. The stream passes close to Osceola and Orange counties, then crosses Seminole County and enters the Middle Basin north of the town of Titusville. The length of the river through the upper basin is approximately 121 km.

The middle basin of over 60 km long, the river passes through a basin of 3,100 square km mainly supplied by springs and stormwater runoff. This basin, covering part of Orange, Lake, Volusia, and Seminole counties, is home to the greater Orlando metropolitan area. Widening to a bed 2.4 meters deep and about 91 meters wide after leaving Lake Monroen the Saint Johns meets its most important tributary in the middle basin, the Wekiva River. Near this confluence are the towns of DeBary and Deltona.

The riverbed turns north again as it passes through a 190 square km basin through Putnam, Lake, Marion counties and the western part of Volusia County. Slightly north of the Wekiva is Blue Spring, the largest spring in the Saint Johns with over 240,000,000 liters per day. The Florida springs remain at a temperature of 72F or about 22 C throughout the year. For this reason, Blue Spring is occupied in the winter by Caribbean manatees which are protected in Blue Spring State Park. Bordering the northern Blue Spring State Park, is the State Park of Hontoon Island accessible only by boat. The Saint Johns enters the southern tip of Lake George, the second largest lake in Florida at nearly 190 km in area, 9.7 km wide and 12 km long. The Ocklawaha River flows into the Saint Johns and is its largest tributary, with significant historical significance. The Ocklawaha watershed stretches across Orange, Lake, Marion and Alachua counties for a total of 7,170 km2. The towns of Ocala, Gainesville, and the northern suburbs of the Orlando metro area lie within this basin.

Stretching 163 km from the confluence with the Ocklawaha River to the Atlantic Ocean, the Saint Johns lies in the lower basin with a total area of 6,700 km2 in the counties of Putnam, Saint Johns, Clay and by Duval. Twelve tributaries flow into the river in this area. The bed of the Saint Johns widens considerably at the north end of Lake George; between Lake George and the town of Palatka, the river varies between 180 and 800 meters in width and then between Palatka and Jacksonville, it widens between 1.6 and 4.8 km. This portion of the river is the most navigable and river transport is its main human use.The tides cause seawater to enter the mouth of the river and can affect the water level in the middle basin. As a result, much of the river water in Jacksonville is salt water, making it an estuary-like ecosystem.

sanford st john river passing by to Orlando 2009

The final 56 km of the river’s course crosses Jacksonville, a major city in Florida.The United States Navy has two bases in the Jacksonville area: the Mayport Naval Base at the mouth of the river is the country’s second port for the fleet of the Atlantic Ocean, while the Jacksonville Naval Air Station is primarily a Navy airport.

Some webpages on the tourism side are

The Florida tourist board on the St Johns riverhttps://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/jacksonville/along-the-st-johns-river.html

The Jacksonville tourist office on waterways: https://www.visitjacksonville.com/things-to-do/beaches-water/

Some webpages on the technical side of understanding the St Johns river:

The environmental group St Johns Riverkeeps on its protection: https://www.stjohnsriverkeeper.org/about-us/

St Johns river water management districthttps://www.sjrwmd.com/

And those who helps keep it clean as well as creating waterways ,the United States Army Corps of Engineers or USACE: https://www.usace.army.mil/

There you go folks, I feel better. A wonderful part of my Florida now is in my blog! The St Johns river is awesome and unfortunately only one photo afar but it brings memories to have in my blog. Hope you enjoy the story and again thanks for reading my blog. Appreciated.

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

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November 27, 2020

Miramar, FL and beach volleyball !!!

Those were the days of youth and glory! Memories flashing as I look at this old post in my last home in USA! Miramar, Broward county, Florida! And the wonderful corporate sports ambiance that I was part of.

One of the best moments were on the beach volleyball team of my company in the corporate league! This was fun times ,getting together with collegues and going out after work to play some beach volleyball and sometimes practices for the big game! Memories forever!!

Well just cruising on my older posts and came up with this one I like to revise update with the only photo I got as souvenir to remind me of my beach bum days in my dear Florida and playing that sport call Beach Volleyball.

By now establish as an Olympic sport in its two tandem teams we used to play it also, as a regular 6×6 only on sand.  The FIVB organisation for it is here: https://www.fivb.com/en/beachvolleyball

Back in Broward county is where I began to play as an organize team event even if had played before in Volusia county.  I am going way back folks maybe 1998-2003.

Some of the rules are still the same today only we not only played 2×2 but also 3×3 and more regularly 6×6. These rules are : the terrain measure 16 by 8 meters, the net is in the middle at a height of 2,43 meters. The ball is play sending the ball on the two ways with the first two match played to 21 points and if a decisive third is needed we go to 15 points; needing two point difference to win the match if it goes beyond 15 points.

The team need to change side every 7 points and each team can touch up to 3 times the ball. As the service is done to the opposite team , and it is touch/block in any way it remains two touches to the receiving team to get the ball on the other side of the net.  The player who block or touch the ball first can do the second touch. The ball needs to be spiked and not handle with the hand or fingers.  Another thing we played it Co-Ed or mixing boys and girls/men and women on the team in a corporate league.

jl-audio-beach-volley-team-2001-pedro-left-seated-front-row

And the reason of this post was that I came across the name of my old park where the games were held and the picture. The park was Forzano Park at 2001 Douglas Rd, Miramar, Fl 33025!!! and the info on it from the city of Miramar page is here: https://miramarparks.org/Facilities/Facility/Details/Forzano-Field-22

Who knows maybe some of the folks on the photo will show up here lol!! Helloooo!!!

I won’t give away the name of my company or names of players for sake of privacy, (well I am in front left ::))  but the bottom line is, go ahead and enjoy some beach volleyball ,it can rewarding and everlasting friendship. And memories to last ,photo from 2001!!!

The huge choices of parks are in the Broward county page on parks here: https://www.broward.org/parks/thingstodo/pages/sports.aspx

Great to remind myself of these times, and thanks for following along with me on this memory lane journey. Miramar was a nice experience and always remembered

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

October 25, 2020

Florida,the Sunshine State!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 25, 2020

My best restaurants in Florida!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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