Archive for ‘France’

April 3, 2020

Stop at Hong Kong!

Ok talking about airports, well been to a few. Some been not too long but are very memorable for x reasons, and I thought rather than just barely mentioned them in my blog giving it a bit more credit in a single post. This is the case of the Hong Kong International Airport. Here is all about it!

I first flew with Cathay Pacific for the first time; and it was a nice ride indeed. This is the airline of Hong Kong and I was going to the airport there for connection to a final destination. The Hong Kong International Airport was my first time too, but as connections were made tight, really had no time to see Hong Kong. Even if passed twice by it on two different trips! This will be for another time. OF course, with the times that will be a bit further away.

The Hong Kong International Airport is the airport of Hong Kong, about 30 km from the city center. Inaugurated on July 6, 1998, to replace the former Kai Tak International Airport. The current airport has become a major global center for freight transport, a connecting platform for passengers and a gateway to destinations in mainland China, east and southeast Asia. it is the first platform for the companies Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, but also for smaller companies like Hong Kong Express or Hong Kong Airlines. It also houses the Hong Kong Government Flying Service aircraft.

The airport was erected on a large artificial island called Huan Fu Zu, built from the mountainous islands of Chep Lap Kok and Lam Chau which were razed to the ground and joined together in part by their own embankments. It is connected to the north coast of Lantau Island near the historic village of Tung Chung, now in a new city. The construction of the new airport was part of a larger program which also included the construction of a new road and a railway connecting the city to the airport and comprising many bridges and tunnels. The airport is managed by the Airport Authority, which is controlled by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The airport has two parallel runways, each 3,800 meters long and 60 meters wide. The southern runway belongs to the “Category II Precision Approach”, while the northern runway belongs to the higher category (“Category IIIA”), which allows pilots to land with only 200 meters of visibility.

The Hong Kong International Airport has a total of 90 boarding gates,with 77 jet bridge gates (1–12, 23–36, 40–50, 60–71, 201–219, 501–506, 508–510) and 12 virtual gates (228–230, 511–513, 520–525) which are used as assembly points for passengers, who are then ferried to the aircraft by apron buses. Of the 66 jet bridges, five (Gates 5,23,60,62,64) are capable of handling the Airbus A380. Besides T2, the SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course has been opened in 2007 whereas the second airport hotel, the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel; and a permanent cross-boundary ferry terminal, the Skypier, began operations in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Development around T2 also includes the AsiaWorld-Expo which has started operation in late 2005. A second passenger concourse, the North Satellite Concourse (NSC), opened in 2010, followed by the Midfield Concourse in December 2015.

hong kong

Hong kong

Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport is the third largest airport passenger terminal building in the world. Terminal 2 together with the SkyPlaza, opened on 28 February 2007 along with the opening of the Airport Station’s Platform 3. It is only a check-in and processing facility for departing passengers with no gates or arrival facilities (passengers are transported underground to gates at Terminal 1) So far most low-cost carriers and some full-service carriers have relocated their check-in operations to T2. A two-storey North Satellite Concourse (NSC), this concourse was designed for narrow-body aircraft and is equipped with 10 jet bridges. There is a shuttle bus service between the NSC and Terminal 1 every four minutes. The midfield area is located to the west of Terminal 1 between the two existing runways This includes 20 aircraft parking stands, three of these are wide enough to serve the Airbus A380.   Passengers reach the concourse through an extension of the underground automated people mover On 31 March 2016, the Concourse was officially inaugurated.

hong kong

hong kong

The Hong Kong International Airport is renowned for its quality among tour operators and passengers. It is one of the three world airports to have received the 5 stars of the classification made by Skytrax. The airport is accessible with the Hong Kong Metro Airport station on the Airport Express line. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge arrives in Hong Kong near the airport island.

Hong Kong

On 2 July 1998, Air Force One, carrying United States President Bill Clinton, landed at the new airport and became the first foreign visitor to arrive at the new airport.

The official webpage of HKIA here: Official Hong Kong International Airport

The Airport Express Services here: Official Metro Airport Express Services

The Hong Kong Zhuhai-Macao BridgeHong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge

The tourist office of Hong KongTourist office of Hong Kong

There you go all you need for a wonderful stop over or longer stay. I have done the first one;looking forward to do the second one. Enjoy the Hong Kong International Airport

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

 

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April 2, 2020

My airports in Indonesia!

So this is a strategic post lol!!! I have been thru too many airports in my last 20 years to last me for the rest of my lifetime! I do not look at them as tourist attractions but a necessary step to tourism. As Indonesia is a country of many islands and vast distances the use of airplane is a must.

Let me tell you briefly on my airports in Indonesia! Oh yes all coming from my belle France! However, plenty of domestic flights once there!

My main point of entry was the Jakarta International Airport (Soekarno-Hatta) is the main airport serving the greater Jakarta area on the island of Java. It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu, who also designed Paris-Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) airport. The Soekarno-Hatta airport was Inaugurated in 1985, it was named after Soekarno, first president of the Republic of Indonesia, and Hatta, first vice-president. They were the ones who proclaimed the independence of the country in 1945.   Jakarta International Airport has 150 check-in counters, 30 baggage carousels and 42 gates. Each sub-terminal has 25 check-in counters, 5 baggage carrousels and 7 gates.

jakarta

Terminal 1 accommodates domestic flights, except for Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia AirAsia, NAM Air and Sriwijaya Air. Terminal 2 accommodates all international flights other than those of SkyTeam companies, as well as domestic flights of Indonesia AirAsia, NAM Air and Sriwijaya Air. Terminal 3 accommodates all Garuda Indonesia flights as well as those of SkyTeam companies. A shuttle system connects the 3 terminals.

jakarta

Taxi counters are located on the Arrivals level after customs and outside at the taxi stand. Several Taxi companies operate at Jakarta airport, including Blue Bird, Silver Bird, Golden Bird and Gamya. Blue Bird taxis are blue and provide basic taxi service from a reliable company. Silver Bird taxis are black and provide premium taxi service at slightly higher rates. Golden Bird is a limousine service.

jakarta

The official airport webpage is here: Soekarno-Hatta Airport at Jakarta

Additional helpful webpage is the tourist office of Jakarta in English: Tourist office of Jakarta

The Surabaya Juanda International Airport serves Surabaya, East Java and surrounding areas. It is my second most used airport in Indonesia. It is located in the kabupaten ,department of Sidoarjo, 20 km south of Surabaya. Open December 7, 1964 as an air and naval base, December 24, 1990, Juanda Airport obtains the status of international airport, after the opening of an international terminal.

surabaya

surabaya

The Surabaya Airport has two terminals: Terminal 1 is split into a couple of sections: section 1A and section 1B. The Level 1 is the Arrivals level, where check-in counters and baggage claim area are located. Level 2 is for Departures, where the boarding area is located. Find in this level access to boarding gates 1 to 6 ,and 7 to 12.   There are lounges close to gates 2, 8 and 11.   Terminal 2, handles international flights and some domestic services of Garuda and Indonesia Air Asia. Terminal 2 is the newest one and opened in 2014. It is located at the east side of Terminal 1. The Ground level This is the Check-in area and the Arrivals level. It has a boarding lounge at west and the Arrivals facilities plus the baggage claim can be found at east.   Find also here transportation options (bus, taxi, shuttle, car rental). Upper level: This is the Departures area, split into the Domestic and International departures.   Access to boarding gates 1 to 9 from a single point. Mezzanine level Find in this level the airport lounges. Taxi ranks are properly located outside Arrivals of both terminals, after the baggage claim area.   In order to take a taxi at Surabaya Airport, passengers should purchase a taxi coupon from the transportation counter. Blue Bird and Orenz Taxi.

surabaya

The Surabaya Juanda airport webpage in English here: Surabaya Juanda airport

A very nice experience for me was to go inland into Yogyakarta and Ngoro, etc towns.

The Yogyakarta Adisutjipto International Airport is the airport of the city of Yogyakarta. The airport was inaugurated as international in 2004. Adisucipto airport also houses an Indonesian air force base. Adisutjipto will be gradually replaced by the new international airport of Yogyakarta in the kabupaten of Kulon Progo. Airport taxis are available on the arrivals level. Taxi rate is fixed depending on the distance. Purchase a fixed price taxi coupon from the Transportation counter and proceed to the taxi stand outside.

yogyakarta

The Adisutjipto airport webpage is here in English: Adisutjipto Yogyakarta airport

yogyakarta

yogyakarta

The new airport Yogyakarta International Airport or Kulon Progo International Airport, is in the district of Temon, kabupaten of Kulon Progo, which serves the special territory of Yogyakarta in Java, The airport was inaugurated on May 6, 2019. This one I have not try yet.

The new Yogyakarta airport webpage in English here: Yogyakarta airport

And there you go a nice way to move about in Indonesia using various airlines most of the time Garuda Indonesia; sriwijaya airline; and Wings, etc. The tourist office of Indonesia in English for reference here: Tourist office of Indonesia

sidoarjo

Now you all set to enjoy this exotic beautiful country in Asia. Lots of memory of my 8 trips there in the last 9 years! And lots of good friends still in touch. Hopefully, will have other opportunities to be back soon. IN the meantime, get to know the airports of Indonesia, you will needed.

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

 

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April 2, 2020

Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria!

A few years back I had the opportunity to do a consulting job for an important fuel company base in the south of France. The mission was carried out in Lagos ,Nigeria for several months. I lived in Ikoyi a district of Lagos. I have told before the historical part and the restaurants and hotels of the area but and again, missed telling you about my residence. Well now is time to tell you all about it ok. Hope you enjoy the off the beaten path trip at Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.

The best areas are east of city center at Ikoyi (where I lived), and Victoria Island. The district of Lagos Island is the business area with an artificial island named Eko Atlantic City. I must tell you that even thus I was not there as a tourist and not many sites that can be tourist oriented at least at that time, I enjoyed very much the stay  ,travel all over even further away from Lagos and made many friends still in contact as much as this week, the reason to do this post. Friends forever, and they know my blog!

First, a bit about the district of Ikoyi.

Ikoyi is the most affluent neighborhood of Lagos, located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area.It lies to the northeast of Obalende and adjoins Lagos Island to the west, and at the edge of the Lagos Lagoon. Popular with the extreme upper class residents of Nigerian society, Ikoyi is arguably one of the wealthiest communities within Nigeria.

The area that makes up Ikoyi was originally a continuous land mass with Lagos Island, until it was separated from by a narrow waterway that was dug by the British colonial government. This canal has now been built over or filled so that the island is fused with Lagos Island once again.  During the colonial era, the island was developed as a residential cantonment for the expatriate British community and still retains many of the large colonial residences built between 1900 and 1950. Upmarket residential properties continued to be built after the colonial period, and the Island and its Dodan Barracks became the residence of some of Nigeria’s military rulers

One of the main attractions in Ikoyi is Awolowo Road, which is a high street lined with upscale shops and boutiques. Due to its proximity to Victoria Island and Lagos Island, much of Lagos’s business tourism is centred on Ikoyi, which has a mix of excellent 4-star hotels. The area is now home to several large luxury apartments,estates, and upscale office developments. Lagos Preparatory School (13+), regarded as Africa’s most highly accredited British School, is located in Ikoyi . The Lagos Jet Ski Riders Club, an elite club for the wealthiest of Nigerians is located in Ikoyi. Also, the Ikoyi Golf Club.

Bourdillon Road, Alexander Road and Gerrard Road, is a long stretch of road, that is considered to be the most prestigious not only in Lagos, but in Nigeria. Ikoyi includes the newer suburbs of Banana Island, Parkview Estate, Dolphin Estate and other luxurious blocks of flats that are springing up.

lagos

The Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge,wonderful to ride it over and more beautiful spots on that side;  is a 1.36 km cable-stayed bridge in Lagos State. It links the Phase 1 area of Lekki, with Ikoyi district of Lagos. The bridge was commissioned on the 29th of May 2013. The bridge is the first cable-stayed bridge to be built in Nigeria. The bridge has a 9-meters headroom above water level in order to allow for the flow of maritime traffic.   Tourists and other visitors also find this bridge as one of the places to visit and the bridge is the most photographed place in Lagos . The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg went on a morning run on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge on his visit to Lagos.

And now for my accommodations at Somerset Court, Ikoyi!

I stayed in a very nice compound, Osborne Foreshore Estates, call Somerset Court ,very well protected as it is the home of many armed forces personnel. The place is at  Ikoji, one of the nicest districts of Lagos, very nice with all amenities including a pool, billiard room,bar, restaurant, sports TV all over, exercise room, and very friendly staff.

lagos

Somerset Court is a top class luxury hotel situated at No 2, Asejire Close, Osborne Phase 1, Ikoyi, Lagos. It’s a tourist favorite due to its proximity to a lot of business outlet and also Ikoyi Golf Club among other leisure centres.

Somerset Court has rooms with classy and home feel with designs incorporating modern furnishing. Room categories include Executive Room and Suite. Some rooms have a view overlooking the city. Each room features a spacious bathroom, king-sized beds, cable connected LCD TV sets, refrigerators and air conditioners. A number of facilities are available, these include free WiFi, a swimming pool, a body spa, a restaurant and a bar. Guests at this hotel will have more time to enjoy their stay at the hotel. The hotel offers additional services on request such as 24-hour front desk, shuttle service, Concierge service, Luggage storage, Express check-in/check-out, Cleaning services, Room service, Free Parking Space, Ironing service, Car Rental, Dry cleaning/Laundry service and business center. All was wonderful!

lagos

Some assorted webpages to help you plan your trip here and know more about Ikoyi are

The Private Property guide on IkoyiPrivate Property on Ikoyi Lagos

A New York Times magazine article on Ikoyi that i found very informative. New York Time magazine on Ikoyi

And a very good local youtube video on Ikoyi  area of Lagos ,enjoy it

I like to again thanks all the staff at Somerset Court for a memorable stay and many nice souvenirs that won’t be forgotten. In the meantime, hope one day to return as really enjoyed my stay in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. Hope you enjoy the tour.

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

 

 

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April 2, 2020

The Gauchos of Porto Alegre!

So, lets stay with Brazil shall we. A huge country of many faces and sights which I had the opportunity to see over the years from north to south and even lived there for several months and speak the language, Portuguese. Many souvenirs and friends over these years that are still in touch!

I like to bring from the vault a visit and friends that made the trip and the introduction to Brazil much more enjoyable. Porto Alegre was the first city I visited in Brazil, and they are the Gauchos of Brazil! Let me tell you a bit about it ok

A bit about the State of Rio Grande do Sul!

The Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost of the 27 States of the Federative Republic of Brazil. It is separated from the State of Santa Catarina by the Rio Mampituba, is bordered to the east by the Atlantic Ocean and is bordered by the Argentina and Uruguay. Its capital is Porto Alegre. The inhabitants of the state are called Rio Grandenses or, more commonly, Gauchos!

A bit of history to set up the State of Rio Grande do Sul (big southern river)

In 1627 the Spanish settled near the Uruguay river, but were expelled from it by the Portuguese in 1680, who founded the colony of Sacramento on the Rio de la Plata. However, Spanish Jesuits established missions in 1682 in a geographical area straddling the contemporary states of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.  In 1737, the Portuguese arrived in present-day Rio Grande do Sul with the military expedition of José da Silva Paes. Many conflicts later broke out with the Spanish for the possession of the land and did not end until 1801.  In 1816, the Portuguese extended their presence in the region by seizing the Banda Oriental (en. Eastern Band ,the old name of Uruguay), which became a Brazilian province, the Cisplatin Province. But in 1825, the independence of Uruguay is proclaimed; a war ensued until its recognition by Brazil in 1828.

On February 28, 1821, after the proclamation of the Republic in Brazil, the State of Rio Grande do Sul was formed. In the 19C, the Rio Grande do Sul was the scene of several federalist revolts, such as the Farrapos War (1835-1845). During the Revolution of 1893, left-wing insurgents occupied the states of Santa Catarina and Paraná, occupying the city of Curitiba, but were ultimately overthrown due to their inability to obtain war ammunition. Then in 1923,a civil war broke out again between supporters of the President of the State, and the opposition. In 1930, the president of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Getúlio Vargas, after having presented himself without success in the presidential elections against the candidate of São Paulo, took the head of a revolt against the federal government and succeeds in overthrowing it. This led to the dictatorship of Vargas in 1937 and the period known in Brazil as the Estado Novo (en New State, same new and similitude with the one in Portugal); the  Third Republic which ended the dictatorship of Vargas in 1945. And the rest is the modern history of Brazil.

Coming now to my city of Porto Alegre the first city ever visited by me in Brazil , as well as been the Capital of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, and the largest city in the southern region of Brazil. The city was established on the east bank of the Rio Guaiba, a bay within which converge five rivers that form the Lagoa dos Patos. The latter is a huge lake that faces south on the Atlantic Ocean. It is thanks to it that Porto Alegre is in constant contact with the sea, even if it is not by the sea. The activities of the port are so important that every year, the locals celebrate a feast dedicated to Our Lady of the Navigators or Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes. This event is held every February 2.

The first inhabitants of Porto Alegre were the Amerindians Minuanos and Tapes who were mainly cattle breeders. The Portuguese from the Azores then arrived who brought in the African slaves. After the abolition of slavery in the country and especially its independence, new immigrants also came to settle there, including Germans, Poles and Italians.   As the city is very close to Uruguay, its history is also linked to it, including that of Gaucho culture. This term describes the culture in which the Gauchos evolve every day, cattle breeders who also specialize in rodeo. the majority of the inhabitants are strongly anchored in the gaucho culture which implies musical traditions as well as the famous rodeo or throwing a bottle intended to capture the cows. The gaucho are in Argentina, Uruguay and in the south of Brazil, a guardian of herds of the South American plains or the pampa, in the same way in Paraguay, in the south-east of Bolivia by Tarija   and the south of Chile . In Brazil, the term is at the origin of the gentile Gaucho, which is used to designate the inhabitants of the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

My wonderful introduction to the Brazilian Gaucho tradition at Porto Alegre was at the magnificent Churrascaria Galpao Crioulo ; Rua Otavio Francisco Caruso da Rocha s / n and praça Mauricio Sirotsky Sobrinho square. The official webpage in Portuguese here: official churrasqueria Galpao Crioulo in Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre

I was with local friends and their families and had a great meal, wine of the region and a great Gaucho show. The youtube video below best show this wonderful tradition.

 

The tourist office for Porto Alegre in Portuguese with contact info: Official govt tourist section with contacts info for Porto Alegre

Tourist office of Brazil on Porto Alegre in Spanish (cant seen to find others) : Tourist office of Brazil on Porto Alegre

Tourist office of State of Rio Grande do Sul on Porto Alegre in Portuguese: Tourist office Rio Grande do Sul on Porto Alegre

And there you go a wonderful world different from what most think of Brazil. Lucky to have been there and won’t mind going back, time will tell…For now enjoy the Gauchos of Porto Alegre.

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

 

April 1, 2020

Copacabana!!! yes Brazil!!!

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

A bit on the name first shall we

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

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

And the beach at Copacabana!

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

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

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

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

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

Rio de Janeiro

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

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

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

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

Rio de Janeiro

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

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

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

 

April 1, 2020

A bridge in Cebu, Philippines!

Ok so let me tell you about an anecdote that this road warrior likes. I have visited the Philippines about 5 times in the last few years and this particular area of Cebu 3 times. There has not been too much time to sightseeing as these were business trips but the memorable of the post is the driving and the crossing of the channel from the Mactan airport to city center Cebu. 

However, let me give a bit more about this particular area of the Philippines as I cannot go to a spot on earth without knowing its history.  I will be telling you about the Marcelo Fernan Bridge in Cebu. First, an introduction.

A bit on the province region of Cebu.

Cebu is a province located in the Central Visayas (Region VII) region, and consists of a main island and 167 surrounding islands and islets. Its capital is Cebu City, known as the Queen City of the South, the oldest city and first capital of the Philippines, which is politically independent from the provincial government. The Metro Cebu is formed by 7 neighboring cities such as Carcar City, Cebu City (I was base here), Danao City, Lapu-Lapu City (passed by here) , Mandaue City (passed by here), Naga City, and Talisay City; and 6 smaller towns like Compostela, Consolacion, Cordova, Liloan, Minglanilla, and San Fernando. Cebu City as the main center of commerce, trade, education and industry in the Visayas. Mactan – Cebu International Airport, located on Mactan Island, is the second busiest airport in the Philippines and about 20 km from Cebu city.

And a bit on the City of Cebu.

Cebu is the second largest city in the Philippines (after Manila) and is very similar to the capital: teeming, noisy and contrasting. The city has the particularity of presenting places steeped in history but also very beautiful paradisiacal beaches not far away .It still offers interesting architectural curiosities, witnesses of the different influences of the Philippines.

Cebu is located in the east of the island of the same name. It is the capital of the province of Cebu and that of the region of Central Visayas. Cebu is also the oldest city in the Philippines and it was the first place of colonization of the Spanish in the archipelago. It is the main shipping port of the Philippines and is home to around 80% of the country’s inland shipping companies.

A bit of history I like

It was on April 7, 1521 that Fernand de Magellan landed in Cebu. He is greeted by Rajah Humabon, King of Cebu, and the Queen who converted to Catholicism on April 14 with 800 Magellan natives, however, failed to claim the island for the crown of Spain, having been killed by the king of Mactan Lapu-Lapu on April 27, 1521 during the battle of Mactan. On April 27, 1565, the expedition led by Miguel López de Legazpi begins the colonization of the region with the Augustinian brother Andrés de Urdaneta.

The Villa de San Miguel is the first founded by Legazpi in the archipelago on May 8, 1565. The villa becomes a city with all the rights relating thereto, on January 1, 1571, thanks to a royal decree of king Felipe II under the name of Ciudad del Santísimo Nombre de Jesús or City of the Most Holy Name of Jesus. In 1898, the city was ceded to the United States of America after the Spanish-American War and the American-Philippine War. In 1901, it was administered for a brief period by the United States and obtained a special status of self-government in 1936 allowing it to be managed independently by Filipino politicians. Occupied by the Japanese during WWII, the city eventually integrated the Republic of the Philippines by July 4 1946.

Some of the things to see an enjoy here are

The Sinulog held each year, festival and ritual dance of nine days organized from the third Sunday in January to celebrate the baby Jesus of Cebu: Santo Nino. It’s a ritual dance, two steps forward then one step back, to the sound of percussion. I have been twice at the beginning of it with lots of actions activities in town, a real fun way to visit Cebu! Until 1980, the Sinulog, which falls every third Sunday in January, was not a major event in Cebu, but the regional director of the Ministry of Sports wanted to give it new impetus and organize a larger parade, mainly around the Cebu Basilica. Supported by authorities, the festival has grown in importance and is now one of the most important events in the Philippines. It is huge!!! Official webpage:  Official Sinulot Festival at Cebu

There are a number of significant Spanish colonial constructions in the City such as the Basilica of the Holy Child , Fort San Pedro, the Casa Gorordo museum and the Magellanic Cross. The Taoist temple of Cebu dominates the city and its neighbors of Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu.

And after all, I give the most famous bridge in all of the Philippines and yours truly has passed and enjoy it on several occasions. A great souvenir to remember forever.

The Marcelo Fernan Bridge is an extradosed cable-stayed bridge located in Metro Cebu. It spans across Mactan Channel connecting from Cebu to Mandaue City and to Lapu-Lapu City in Mactan Island (where the airport is located). It is currently the longest cable-stayed bridge in the Philippines. It has a total length of 1237 meters (4058feet) with a center span of 185 meters (607 feet), and was completed and inaugurated by President Joseph Estrada on August 3, 1999. And this is the bridge I passed each time there from the airport to city center Cebu! Nice ride!

cebu

On the Mactan Island side of the bridge, there is a park called the Millennium Park at the base of the bridge’s piers, and the Filipino Seafarers Memorial is located in that park. Also, the bridge has two pedestrian walkways, one on the north side of the bridge, and one on the south side. On the Cebu Island side of the bridge, there is Mandaue City, and the bridge is accessed via United Nations Avenue. The Mactan Island side of the bridge, which is in Lapu-Lapu City, is accessed by Old Patiller Road, a spur road of the Manuel L. Quezon National Highway.

cebu

The memories and friendship will endure and hoping one day to be back there. Time will tell, in the meantime, thank you for the warm wonderful welcome each time.  Remember , even the best here are the beaches! Cebu is wonderful.

I leave you with a couple of webpages to help you plan your trip here

The official tourist office of Cebu Bohol in English: Tourist office Cebu Bohol on Cebu

A guide to Cebu unofficial: Tourism info on Cebu and Philippines

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

 

 

 

 

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March 31, 2020

Church San Bartolome, Belmonte!

So let me stay in this picturesque town of my Castilla La Mancha region as in Belmonte all is nice. I have to admit came here for the castle very historical of Spain and France.However, there is a lot more in this small town in the province of Cuenca. Let me tell you a bit more on the Church San Bartolomé.

This is one never been inside as not enough time for the castle on both times there. It will be on my list to hit it next time.

The Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé is located in the upper town of Belmonte, wthin the walled area, guards the wealth of faith and religiosity of a town made history and art, for more than five centuries. The Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé was built on the old Visigothic parish of the 5C. A human burial and a flat stone at its head, with the Crismón incised XP, along with other remains and old walls, which appeared in restoration works of 1976, so attest.

Belmonte

The Marquis of Villena and Master of the Order of Santiago, Don Juan Pacheco makes almost all the church work and built it again from the foundations. At his request, Pope Pius II erected the parish of Belmonte as a Collegiate Church in 1459.

Belmonte

The brief description from the translated blog of it as I did not had time to go inside. Too much time spent on the castle!!(see post). It has a floor plan of three large naves and of severe magnificence, with four sections that separate thick round pillars, supporting pointed arches and ribbed vaults. The supports are circular, solid and robust columns, with double pillars that serve as support to the same vaults. The Puerta de Perdones (forgiveness door), the one to the west, is flanked by two sprouted and lowered arches, sheltered under another slightly pointed one, on whose eardrum and above the mullion the solemn and majestic figure of Saint Bartholomew emerges. The Puerta del Sol or (Sun door), facing towards noon, is surrounded by two Gothic pinnacles. The hollow of the door is a lowered arch inscribed inside another trilobal of the flowery Gothic. At the intersection of all the ribs of the vault, as well as its support in each of the corresponding columns, a heraldic motif appears with the arms of the Marquis de Villena’s surnames.

The stalls of the choir of the Collegiate Church of San Bartolomé are from 1454, is the first historical choir in Spain, made up of an icon and one of the most outstanding parts of the collegiate church. It was carved from walnut wood originally intended for the Cathedral of Cuenca as commissioned by Bishop Don Lope Barrientos and transferred to Belmonte in the 18C, as stated in the minutes of the town’s council of Cuenca. The painting of the Virgin that is in the Sacristy, is placed on the presidential chair; it is a beautiful canvas on panel of the Virgin with Jesus, recently taken down from the Cross, dead in her arms, of great merit and artistic quality, The stalls were completed with the realization in 1718 of a pipe organ.

From a distance it looks very nice, and closeup outside is awesome indeed more like a Cathedral than a Collegiate Church so on the list to be seen in my beloved Castilla La Mancha. Hope you make it here too it is worth it I say.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The official blog of the Church San Bartolomé in Spanish: Collegiate Church San Bartolomé

Tourist office of province of Cuenca on the Church in English: Tourist office of province of Cuenca on the church

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Church in English: Tourist office Castilla La Mancha on the Church

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Church’s museum in English:  Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Church’s museum

There you go for me noted down on the list to see. Belmonte is nice worth the trip to see these wonderful monuments again and of course inside the Collegiate Church of San Bartolome.

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

 

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March 30, 2020

Always on my mind, Las Majadas!

So , here again, several posts on it but its special for us; read on Las Majadas. See it visited and stay at the house, all recommended and you know I usually do not do this on my travels.

We have come here in 2016, we love it!!! thinking to enjoy our summer family vacation we had our usual family council of ministers meeting::) We quickly decided it must be Spain again !!! great! for me. Then, we talked long and search our records and many online sites for the place to be base for our trip.

We took a while but at the end we came back to the same place as in 2017. The house is wonderful roomy cool and in the center of the town; the owners are wonderful human being very laid back country folks who enjoy talking and sharing stories;great ! Here we are to show some pictures of the house and more on some businesses we patronized.

The town is Las Majadas in the Serrania de Cuenca about 1400 meters up and 36 km from the Unesco World Heritage site of Cuenca. The house is Casa Rural Pitu at calle Anastacio Lasso near the clock tower which houses the pharmacy and library of the town!. This is a town that in Summer may have 1000 folks but in Winter is down to about 50! It was a dream vacation each time, and we love it enough said. I have several posts on it just for the memories.

Las Majadas

Las Majadas

The house was great with four bedrooms and two baths, on two levels, and easy in and out, walking distance to all. It was completely stock with all you need for a family vacation hands free. The owners were wonderful and very kind, we will missed them until then. I will always recommend the house to all, check it out.

Las Majadas

Las Majadas

Las Majadas

The town of Las Majadas is very friendly and easy to walk, with great pathways into the mountains for the courageous runner/walker/hiker is a paradise. We   tucked in the city and the great bars and restos in it. Sad to hear the bakery has close down and now bread is deliver after 10h at the local school.

We were at 1400 meters altitude (about 4593 feet) and the driving down and up is winding and zig zag’s roads with gorgeous mountains views with lookout stops along the way to enjoy the scenery more.

Las Majadas

Las Majadas

In all, it was a great place to be at. We are already talked about next year would it be a third? or try something different, time and memories will lingered and we will decide by next February 2018. Unfortunately, never came to be as my dear late wife Martine passed away from pancreatic cancer on April 30 2018.

For now, I and the boys have the wonderful memories and trips around the area and remembrance. Las Majadas, Province of Cuenca, autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha in the  Serrania de Cuenca mountains will always be a home.

I will give you several webpages more than usual from me anyway, but I believe all useful to showcase the area, the house the place Las Majadas.

Casa Rural Pitu again is here in Spanish: Casa Rural Pitu in Las Majadas

Do not see getting into the city hall but the rural site where we first found the house tells you about Las Majadas in Spanish: Escapada rural on Las Majadas

Tourist office of Province of Cuenca on part of Las Majadas in English: Descubre Cuenca on mountain routes

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Las Majadas in English: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Las Majadas

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Serrania de Cuenca in English: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Serrania de Cuenca

Guia Repsol of Spain on Las Majadas (Michelin of Spain) in Spanish: Guia Repsol on Las Majadas

There you go a wonderful nature’s world place away from it all in the mountains yet full of wonderful fun nice folks. Hope you too can enjoy this beautiful corner of my Spain, Las Majadas! My souvenirs will remain very strong for it.

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

March 30, 2020

Marqués de Pombal, Lisbon!

And again in my dear Europe, there has been so much travel here over the years, and Portugal dear as many interactions with this community since earlier days and a godfather of my son, but finally made it to Portugal and Lisbon was the start. What a start, my favorite city in Portugal, really (i had plenty of beaches before in my life) .

I have written on the country and city before , but like to stress an area dear to me as first stayed nearby and visit every time there, and not enough mention in my blog me think. Therefore, let me tell you a bit more on the very nice Praça do Marquës de Pombal.

The Plaça do Marquês de Pombal is a square between Avenida da Libertade and Parque Eduardo VII park. A monument to the Marquis de Pombal stands in the center of the square, inaugurated in 1934. Under the square passes the vehicules/pedestrian Marquis Tunnel

lisbon

The square pays homage to Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo, marquis of Pombal, statesman, who led the country around the Enlightenment, having ruled between 1750 and 1777. He reformed the economy, agriculture, political system and administration to improve efficiency and increase the competitiveness of Portugal. His statue is at the top of the column, his hand resting on a lion, a symbol of power, his eyes turned towards the Baixa district, in the center of the city, which Pombal had reconstructed after the earthquake of 1755. Just below of the statue are relief busts of his most important collaborators. The base is decorated with groups of sculptures which represent the institutions that the Marquis reformed, such as agriculture, industry, politics and education. Debris and waves at the foot of the monument represent the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami of 1755. The inscriptions on the monument praise the achievements of the Marquis de Pombal.

lisbon

It was on this Marquis de Pombal square that the decisive events that led to the proclamation of the Portuguese Republic took place on October 5, 1910. The buildings surrounding the square are those of the headquarters of the most important companies, the main Portuguese banks and the hotels of the big chains. The Marquis de Pombal square is also a symbolic place for local Lisboners ,because it is the place where supporters of Benfica Lisbon, Sporting Portugal and Seleção Nacional (National team) come to celebrate the victories and trophies won.

lisbon

To the north of the square is the Eduardo VII Park where the national flag ; the largest flag in Europe is located, as well as the monument to the Carnation Revolution (Revoluçao dos Cravos ) of April 25, 1974. The one that toppled the dictatorship of Salazar in power since 1933.

There is the Metro stop of Marquês de Pombal with lines Yellow (Amarelo) and Blue(Azul). However, I walked this wonderful district always, and go from there. The most sublime walk is to start at Pombal and walk down to Comércio square! Do it. Some directions: Head south on Praça Marquês de Pombal towards Av. Duque de Loulé Turn left on Av. Da Liberdade .Continue on Praça dos Restauradores (wonderful too); Praça dos Restauradores turns slightly left and becomes Rua 1º de Dezembro and continue taking right on Rua. Áurea ,then left on Praça do Comércio and you are there! It took me longer but never time it, the google on it tells me 27 minutes walking but the sights it should be like 45 wonderful walk anyway recommended.

Some webpages to help plan your trip to wonderful Lisbon are

Tourist office of Lisbon in English: Tourist office of Lisbon

Tourist office of Portugal on Lisbon in English: Tourist office of Portugal on Lisbon

And there you go, a nice area wonderful architecture , history, shopping, and restos and going down on the walk above is sublime. Hope you enjoy the Marquis of Pombal square in Lisbon.

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

 

 

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March 30, 2020

The Churches of Vianden!

Ok so have written about the wonderful Vianden, Luxembourg in my blog on several occasions. However, these have been mostly directed at the castle and lifts. I need to tell you about the wonderful monuments in the city , hugely historical and even architecturally nice. This post will be on the Churches of Vianden.

The city of Vianden is located east of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, on the western edge of the German border. The city is crossed by the Our river, a tributary of the Sûre. The name of Vianden would derive from the Gallic word vien which means rocky.   Already in the year 1256, Vianden is cited as a city, but it is only since the franchise letter of 1308 that Vianden legally carries the title of city by franchise letter.

The quant Church of Saint Nicolas.  Can’t missed it once entering town. After the creation of the parish of Vianden on the right bank of the Our river around the middle of the 13C, the Templars of Roth built a chapel for the inhabitants of the left bank attached to their parish. In 1545, a cemetery was built to the left of the church. Following a fire, the sanctuary was rebuilt in 1724. In 1907, the exterior was renovated in a neo-Gothic style. The altarpiece of the choir with the statue of St Nicolas dates from 1768. The holy bishop is venerated as patron of merchants and boatmen. The stone statue of St John Nepomucen, canonized in 1729, comes from the Our bridge where it has been replaced by a copy. This saint is regarded as protective against the dangers of water and as a model of the confession.

Luxembourg

 

Yet no much mention so could be said off the beaten path in Vianden. The city of Vianden has a page on the Churches and Chapels and mention the Church of St Nicolas here: City of Vianden on Churches and Chapels see St Nicolas

Luxembourg

On the Church of the Trinitarians there is more yet more seclusive. In 1248, Count Henri 1er of Vianden donated to the “Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives” a hospice located at the foot of his castle. Henri I of Vianden did this to thank the order for having bought his father from the Saracens; it contains the supposed skull of Yolande de Vianden, the daughter of Henri I of Vianden and the tombstone of Henri de Nassau, bastard of a count of Nassau. The Trinitarians founded a convent there with a church also frequented by the faithful living in the surroundings. This situation provokes dissatisfaction with the Templars of Roth, owners of the parish church located on the left bank of the Our. The sanctuary of the Trinitarians quickly obtains the same rights for the inhabitants of Vianden established on the right bank.

Luxembourg

In 1498, a fire destroyed the Church of the Trinitarians, which was rebuilt, undoubtedly with 13C cut stone, which explains the archaic aspect of the church with two naves of equal height. In 1644, the religious choir that extends the southern nave was replaced by a new, more spacious construction. The grandstand and the organ were added on the same side in 1693. When the Order of the Trinitarians was abolished in 1783, the church continued to serve as a parish.

Two funerary monuments recall the memory of the counts of Vianden. The recumbent figure of Marie de Spanheim c1400, and the epitaph of Henri de Nassau c.1589. The stone altarpiece in the north nave dates from the beginning of the 17C and comes from a workshop in Trier. The side altars were erected in 1729. In 1758, the monumental altarpiece of the apse. The last restoration dates from 1991. The pulpit dates back to 1630 and comes from the Jesuit church in Luxembourg (current cathedral). The stalls of 1769 are decorated with musical instruments and refer to the praise of God practiced in this place for centuries by the Trinitarians. The stained glass windows in the nave were made after WWII.

City of Vianden on the Church of the Trinitarians in French: City of Vianden on the Church of the Trinitarians

Tourist office of Luxembourg on the Church of the Trinitarians in Vianden in English: Tourist office of Luxembourg on the Church of the Trinitarians

There you a nice town to visit beautiful natural country, great castle (see post) and nice looking monuments , and of course Victor Hugo was here (see post. Enjoy Vianden!

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

 

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