March 27, 2020

Shopping in the Philippines!

So have been here done that, not an expert in shopping but it seems that every time I go to a country, the locals take you shopping lol! weird but true oh well. This time was making trips to the Philippines and its cities and did went to some shopping centers. Therefore, here is my take on them, sit back and do some virtual shopping in the Philippines or rather better go there!!

Let me start you off with Ayala in Makati, Manila. I stayed mostly in Makati district and was able to go the wonderful Ayala Malls and especifically in the Greenbelt malls 1 thru 5.  This is really a shopper’s paradise with about five malls all interconnected with stores, restos ,cinema, chapel and others all wonderfully modern and clean; a place to spent a whole day and night. I was there having a few beers at my old hangout TGIFriday’s and great chat with bartenders Grace and Manny! I know the TGIF’s and always fun to seek them anywhere.

A bit on the shopping mall complex.

Greenbelt is a shopping mall located at the Ayala Center, Makati, metro Manila, It opened in the 1988 and the mall offers a mix of high-end retail shops, restaurants, amenities, leisure and entertainment. Currently, the mall has five sections: two enclosed areas, two buildings with open-air shopping areas.  Built around a 250,000-square-meters (2,700,000 sq ft) retail complex, the mall, which merged the previous small arcades and shops, was first opened to the public in 1990. It was renovated in 2001, and as the complex grew, Greenbelt 2 and 3 were opened in 2002, with 4 and 5 opening in 2004 and 2007.

manila

Greenbelt 1 features Automatic Centre as the anchor appliance store, along with other lifestyle, food, and supply stores. Greenbelt 3 features a mix of international brands.  Greenbelt 4 features high-end boutiques.  Greenbelt 5 has boutiques of Filipino designers, high-end department store Adora and boutiques. Restaurants can be found in Greenbelt 1, 2, 3, and 5, with Greenbelt 1 being concentrated more on fast-food, while Greenbelt 2, 3, and 5 feature sit-down restaurants. There is even the Santo Niño de Paz Chapel a Catholic place of worship in the park.

manila

manila

The official webpage for Ayala Malls and specific on the Greenbelt complex is here in English: Official Ayala Malls Greenbelt Makati

Next,  I have been to Bacolod and of course tried their shopping mall too. The nice shopping mall SM City really nice modern and many nice stores, we had our coffees here at Starbucks inside the mall. The stores were all very clean, nice displays and many popular names notice.   A bit on the shopping malls SM city.

bacolod

SM Supermalls, is a chain of shopping malls in the Philippines that is growing and last had 74 malls located across the country . SM Supermalls has become one of the biggest mall operators in Southeast Asia.  The company that operates the malls was started in 1958 as Shoemart, with a store in Manila. In the 1960s, Shoemart expanded its shoe store chain. By the 1970s, Shoemart was a full-line department store, shifting its name from Shoemart to SM. In the 1980s, the company diversified and ventured into the supermarket and home appliance store business. It opened the first Supermall store in 1985 in Quezon City.

My experience was in the  SM City Bacolod  located along Rizal Street, Reclamation Area, Bacolod City , region of Negros Occidental, an island,  It opened on March 1, 2007 and currently has a total floor area of 133,894 square metres (1,441,220 sq ft). The SM City Bacolod was composed of two one story wings; North and South.

bacolod

The North Wing section of SM City Bacolod includes restaurants and cafes, such as Krispy Kreme, Breadtalk, and Giligan’s, for customers to dine in. The second floor of the North Wing includes many clothing and technology companies. The third floor is mostly fashion salons and stores. There are some cafes and small restaurants scattered throughout as well. The South Wing has more restaurants found on the outer section of the wing , like Jollibee, KFC, and many more. Many home goods are bought in this wing due to stores such as Ace Hardware and The SM Appliance Store.

The SM Cinemas movie theatre is located on the South Wing. The SM Supermarket  entrance is found in the south sector of the wing. There are two indoor bridges that allow for customers to explore the North and South Wings without being affected by weather conditions.

The webpage for SM City Bacolod is here in English: SM Supermalls on Bacolod

I flew to Cebu, really my center base there and of course did went into the shopping malls including the other SM City there. The SM city mall  in Cebu, great shopping and food here too; here had a great pizza pepperoni with San Miguel beer call Veneto Pizzeria Ristorante.

cebu

The SM City Cebu shopping mall is the 7th largest shopping mall in the Philippines. It has a land area of 11.8 hectares and a gross floor area of 268,611 m2 (2,891,300 sq ft). The mall opened in November 1993. SM City Cebu is a seven-level complex namely lower ground floor, upper ground floor, second floor, third floor, fourth floor, fifth floor, and roof deck featuring a total of eight cinemas with seven regular cinemas and one IMAX theater with a total seating capacity of 5,812, a food court, a fully computerized bowling center, 8,000-square meter amusement center, and a 2,000-square meter trade hall. This is one huge one stop mall folks!

cebu

 

The SM City Cebu webpage is here in English: SM Supermalls on Cebu

Another one was briefly the Parkmall, one of the newest ones there. The Parkmall opened its doors in 2008, located in the heart of Mandaue City, a next door city to Cebu. The parkmall has a two-level mall at its centerpiece a sprawling property of lush, landscaped parks.  Along the facade of the mall is the longest stretch of outdoor dining in Cebu. Parkmall’s wide variety of cuisines from around the world nestled right beside the gardens makes it Cebu’s al fresco dining destination.

The Parkmall webpage is here: Parkmall Cebu

And yet another one in Cebu. It was the J Centre ,also in town great malls too easy town shopping and eating. The newest mall there and tried by yours truly first! It is located at 165 A.S. Fortuna Street, Bakilid, Mandaue City, Cebu. One of the few malls in the area that has a movie theater and sm supetmarket. Not as big as sm cebu or ayala but its ok for the area. It opened on November 11, 2011, along with several of its anchor stores.

Cebu

It has over 200 boutique stores and restaurants that provide ample options for the avid shopper and meticulous diner. One of its anchor stores is SM Hypermart, which is a business entity operating under the SM Group of Companies brand as seeing above.  A pleasant experience indeed plenty of choices.

The official webpage for JCentre mall Cebu in English; JCentre Cebu

There you go plenty of shopping choices, plus great cinemas, and plenty of food choices as well. It seems this is a prime time thing to do there as most major activities happened in these malls. Hope you enjoy the brief shopping ride to the Philippines!

The official tourist office of the Philippines here: Tourist office of the Philippines

Enjoy it as I did , great company too; and remember, happy travels ,good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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March 26, 2020

Trés Coraçoes, Brazil!!!

So I am back in my memorable Brazil. I have many posts on the country and its cities in my blog; needless to expand more as I also lived , work and speak the language. However, let me tell you a bit more about a peculiar spot there.

Have you heard of Pelé? Do you follow football/soccer? Then , welcome to Trés Coraçoes! Read on…

Três Corações is a town in the State of Minas Gerais, and it is Pelé’s birthplace. The town of Três Corações is located in the Rio Verde basin, this being the main water course that crosses the territory.

tres coracoes

The main things to see here of course and only for the die hard football/soccer aficionado like me who welcome him to the NY Cosmos way back in the USA is the Monumento ao Tri at the Praça Coronel José Martins square.  It pays a fair tribute to the Tri-World Football Championship, won by Brazil, in Mexico, in 1970. It includes a special tribute paid by the locals to their eldest son , Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Rei Pelé.

Casa Pelé , this is a replica of the house where the King of Football lived as a child in Três Corações on the real terrain was rebuilt. Located on Rua Edson Arantes do Nascimento, nº 1.000, city center/downtown.

They even made a museum in his native home, even if he hardly visit the town now.  So much for the fame; the museum of Pele or Museu Terra do Rei , is open Mondays to Fridays from 8h to 18h and Saturdays from 9h to 13h. More on the museum in Portuguese from the Minas Gerais portal here: Minas Gerais on museum of Pele

tres coracoes

Now this is great coffee country and wonderful vendas or farm selling the wonderful Mineira food.  Some of the best coffees in the world are produced here, mainly in the state of Minas Gerais. The coffee plantations, which cover about 10,000 square kilometers, are located mainly in the states of Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Espírito Santo, in the Southeast and South, in Paraná, where the environment and climate offer ideal conditions for growth. In Minas Gerais, the largest exporting state, the culture of coffee production gained strength from 1907. The union of coffee growers of Minas Gerais in Portuguese here: http://sindicafe-mg.com.br/tipos-de-cafe

And for my recommendation of places where you can buy this wonderful brew direct there , my favorites, Trés Coraçoes, their webpage is here:Cafe Tres Coracoes

And to try a cup on site go the Cafeteria Grao Terra in Trés Coraçoes; webpage here:  Cafeteria essencia da terra and grao terra

I stayed briefly once there, of staying at the Pousada Calabreza, a simple hotel too simple the TV did not work but did had time to rest after the long 4 hrs trek by car.  They have a hotel propertly said in city center a bit better for longer accommodations;  I actually moved to the town nearby Varghina.  For a night stay over this one is ok. The Facebook page is here : Facebook page on Pousada Calabreza

tres coracoes

And for eating we went to Venda do Chico right around Tres Coraçoes for lunch, a great country place right in the woods with beautiful gardens and great souvenir and foodie store as well as the great restaurant. Real food, Mineira or miners’s town food hearty and plenty at excellent prices.  See it here and take a look at the photos! Venda do Chico restaurant store

tres coracoes

 

And to do things in reverse, let me tell a brief history of the town of Trés Coraçoes:

Três Corações do Rio Verde became part of the Minas Gerais Province in 1873, after the President of the province sanctioned laws establishing that the territory was part of its civil parish. The town continued to develop civically after Emperor Pedro II, and the imperial family visited it in 1884, for the inaugural of the Minas & Rio railroad. The railroad connected the town to Cruzeiro, a town in São Paulo Province. Three months following the emperor’s visit, the town was emancipated and became a city. Though formally known as Três Corações do Rio Verde, on September 7, 1923, the city became known as Três Corações.

The city of Trés Coraçoes webpage in Portuguese is here: City of Tres Coracoes

Tourist portal of Minas Gerais on things to do in the area in Portuguese: Tourism of Minas Gerais on things to do

And there you go , a small spot but very off the beaten path for the real taste of Brazil, this time in Minas Gerais and Trés Coraçoes. Hope you enjoy the brief tour.

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

 

 

March 26, 2020

Union Square shopping HCMC!

So not a great shopper myself but the locals encouraged me to come here as was close to my hotel and walking is the magic word for me once in town. So I let my legs walk a bit and saw beautiful French style architecture on the main square near city hall and then the shopping mall!

I have several posts on Vietnam but let me bring to focus the grand shopping at Union Square Shopping Mall at Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC!

hcmc

Union Square was originally a new part of Vincom Center A, the shopping mall across the street, but was later sold and is now an independent shopping mall in a prime location. The mall is home to a wide range of foreign luxury brands as well as a mix of everyday brands from Vietnam and beyond. Right on the corner diagonally from the city hall you have the shopping center. There was construction of a new metro line 1 that begun in 2012 to be completed by 2021 as told.

hcmc

Union Square Shopping Mall houses a wide range of designer brands, both local and international alike. Set within District 1, this upmarket shopping mall occupies a massive French colonial building and is fitted with luxurious interiors, broad halls, marble tiles, and European-style décor.

This is a good youtube video showing you Union Square shopping Mall


Attracting a steady mix of affluent travellers, locals, and expats, luxury brands available here include Dior, Hermes, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Lauren, Versace and Dior, some of which offer relatively attractive promotions from time to time. However, don’t expect real bargains as it’s one of Ho Chi Minh City’s most high-end shopping venues.

Open daily, Union Square Shopping Mall is within a five-minute walk from the Saigon Opera House, Notre Dame Cathedral, and the People’s Committee Building. It’s also flanked by the famous shopping street of Dong Khoi and the popular Nguyen Hue walking promenade, making it a popular spot for dining and shopping after a day of sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City. The exact location is at 171 Dong Khoi Street, District 1, HCMC.

The Vietnam Guide has further info on the Union Square Shopping Mall: Vietnam Guide on Union Square

And a interesting webpage call Scooter Saigon Tour has a nice layout on Union Square Shopping Mall here: Scooter Saigon Tour on Union Square

And there you, who say the French have left! Lots of nice architecture features on the building, and beautiful stores inside as they said if specials days you can find some nice brand names here. Hope you enjoy a bit off the beaten path thing to do in Ho Chi Minh City!

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

 

 

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March 26, 2020

The streets of Mexico DF, some!

So let me bring you back to the land of tequila, mariachis, beaches and architecturally stunning sites; my Mexico. One of the countries I have visited the most over the years and family there!

I like to tackle the streets of Mexico city or some of them in this post. Hope you enjoy it.

I always wanted to write something on the streets of Mexico City and finally took the challenge. Of course, this is a monumental task in a huge city and even if I have driven by it or driven with for most of it do not have enough photos. Probably the reason not written on the subject before. However, have some and here I go for you. Hope you enjoy it in one of the world’s most congested cities, driving is a thrill and a challenge. All handle well by your road warrior!

Let me start with my favorite area. The place known as the Zona Rosa is a space that over the years has become a commercial area. Located within Colonia Juárez, which belongs to the Cuauhtémoc Delegation of Mexico City. It is surrounded to the north by Paseo de la Reforma, to the south by Avenida Chapultepec, to the east by Avenida de los Insurgentes and to the west by Avenida Florencia . All largely walked by yours truly over the years as well. This is my Mexico city central!

You know why this area was call Zona Rosa or pink zone? Well several theories, my favorite was written by the Mexican painter José Luis Cuevas, whose explanation was that the pink color of the area comes from being a red area at night, and white area during the day. Indeed this is a happening area and my home even if over the last few years it has become the LBTG central as well.

Likewise, he has declared on numerous occasions both in the press and on television, that the name originally emerged as a tribute to the Cuban actress Rosa Carmina born in Havana,(1929), who is a film actress and Cuban television, dancer, singer, rumbera and star based in Mexico ; you can search for her work. She belongs to the so-called Golden Age of Mexican cinema as one of its main stars. For some years, she lives in Barcelona, Spain.

The most notable street for bars has to be Calle Amberes. All between Avenida Chapultepec and Paseo de la Reforma!   This is my central central and as said lately the home of its LBTG bars even if all are welcome including me! I have stayed here several times on the Royal Hotel and the Basque/Spanish Tezka restaurant, and just around in Calle Genova the Konditori now closed. And by Calle Hamburgo, El Lugar del Mariachi still open. And just across the street Avenida Chapultepec another old favorite the Segovia Regency Hotel.

Mexico

Mexico

Moving on to Calle Mercaderes,Colonia San Jose Insurgentes is   home of Fiesta Inn hotel , City Express Hotel and the El Gran Leon de Oro restaurant. All of my usual stays over the years. As well as Le Pain Quotidien Belgian chain resto ; Teatro Insurgentes and the Parque de los Hundidos ,and of course the Lamborghini car dealer for Mexico lol!

Mexico

I moved into more business like areas and reach the Avenida Centenario, by delegation Alvaro Obregon home of Teatro Centenario Coyoacan and Arcos de Centenario a very nice residential area of friends.

mexico

mexico

And really central for me and close to all the others is the hugely popular and grand Avenida de los Insurgentes which is a set of three continuous avenues that form one of the main road axes in Mexico City. With a combined length of almost 29 km, it crosses most of the Mexican capital. It is divided into three avenues or zones: the Norte (north), the Centro (center), the Sur (south) zone, which is the one I have been the most. The Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur, from Paseo de la Reforma, to the Caminero Monument, its numbering starts north and ends south between 1 and 5000, north to south. This area begins at the intersection with Paseo de la Reforma and due to its extension it will be divided into several areas.

 

I will mention the ones I crossed either by car or walking! These are the Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur (Cuauhtémoc – Juárez). Between Paseo de la Reforma and Avenida Chapultepec It is characterized because to its west is the popularly called Zona Rosa, while to the east is the Colonia Juárez which is characterized by its architecture, where the modern and tall buildings that surround it.

Mexico

The Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur (Roma). Between Avenida Chapultepec and Miguel Alemán Viaduct and it begins at the so-called Glorieta de Insurgentes , built by the works of Line 1 of the Metro and where the Insurgentes metro Station is located, this gazebo is characterized by being sunk with respect to the rolling area, having several tunnel accesses, such as the Zona Rosa and this is characterized by being one of the main meeting centers of the LGBT community.

Mexico

Mexico

The Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur (Napoles – Del Valle). Between the Miguel Alemán Viaduct and the Interior Circuit. We find one of the areas with the highest economic level in the country, in which there are several colonies such as Napoles, Colonia Insurgentes Mixcoac, Colonia Nochebuena, Colonia del Valle and the remains of the Pueblo de San Lorenzo. Tlacoquemecatl. In this segment, the World Trade Center building in Mexico City stands out (see my post on views from above Mexico city). You , also find in this area the wonderful Monumental Plaza de toros (bullfight arena) and the so-called Estadio Azul (Blue Stadium) This stadium was home from 1996 to 2018 of the Cruz Azul FC of the Mexican first division football/soccer. It has been said, that it might be demolished in 2020 as the team plays now its games at the Estadio Azteca.

The tourist office of Mexico city in English: Tourist office of Mexico city

The Atlas turistico of Mexico City in Spanish: Atlas turistico of Mexico city

Tourist office of Mexico on Mexico City in English: Tourist office of Mexico on Mexico city

And there you go a wonderful tour of Mexico City; you do not have to do it by car, once in the location walking around is magical and allows you to see the architecture styles of this great metropolis. Enjoy the streets of Mexico city as I do!

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

 

March 25, 2020

Versailles, exteriors!

Well as said, cannot be too far from my dear old home Versailles. There is so much to write on the city and its monuments (more than the castle) that a blog on it would be more appropiate. However, using my library and been friends of the palace for many years let me tell you a bit more on the exteriors! Yes we do so much on the interior that we forget the wonderful exterior of the Palace:museum of Versailles!

I am back on my nostalgic mood so of course, Versailles is sublime, can’t go a day without thinking of it, visited many many times over the years and again; however, living there for 10 years was tops. A royal chic town with friendly folks and history all around you, France, Europe, the World. Unique

I have done posts on Versailles of different kinds over the years but now will do one on simply the exteriors of the palace/museum of Versailles. The architecture is phenomenal and the look from any angle in the city is awesome.

Versailles

I will be a bit more technical on this post, of course, taken from the pros publication of the Friends of the Palace of Versailles experience.

The succession of the Place d’Armes and the three courtyards of the Palace : Avant-cour (forecourt), Cour Royale( Royal Court) and cour de Marbre (Marble court) are the result of several construction campaigns. As early as 1662, king Louis XIV ordered, among the first transformations of his father’s (Louis XIII) little castle, the widening of the lower courtyard and the development of its surroundings. Its first architect Louis Le Vau rebuilds the two wings of the Commons on both sides of this low courtyard which today corresponds to the Royal Court. He also rebuilt the guard pavilions that frame the gate. But ten years later, this entry is completely modified: the wings of the Commons now des Offices are ennobled at their ends by the construction of colonnades or porticos on which is aligned a new grid creating the Royal Court.

Versailles

This forecourt presents its current appearance. It is now preceded by the Place d’Armes, on which the two French Guards and Swiss Guards have opened under the new ramps of the Avant-Cour. A new gate now called the grille d’honneur ( honor gate), flanked by two sentry boxes for the guards, comes to close it..The Secretaries of State pavilions are connected by main buildings, all of which constitute the ailes des Ministres or Ministers’ wings. Finally, two gatehouses, like those in the honor gate, are created for the Gardes de la porte (Door Guards on duty) at the gate of the Royal Court.

Versailles

In 1772-1774, the construction of the pavillon Gabriel which removed one of the two porticoes from the old ailes des Offices wings; in 1794, the destruction of the gate of the Royal Court and its sentry boxes; finally, in 1814-1820, the removal of the second portico and the construction of the pavillon Dufour. From the outset, France’s victories over the enemy powers is illustrated by the two groups in the first grid; it brings peace and abundance, themes figured by the groups that framed the second entrance. Some of these with year are 1662. Decoration of the pillars of the gate and the guard pavilions closing the new lower courtyard. 1671. First decoration of the Secretaries of State pavilions. 1672-1673. Sculpture of the twelve figures of the porticoes of the ailes Des Offices wings. 1680-1682. Sculpture of the entrance to the guardhouses under the ramps. Realization and installation of the four groups above the gatehouses of the Avant-cour and the Royal Court; decor of the fountains on the ramps; decoration of the dormer windows of the Ailes des Ministres and enrichment of the decoration of the Secretaries of State pavilions. Between 1771 and 1826; decorations of the Gabriel and Dufour pavilions.

Versailles

Some of the details which will be too long for a post actually can create a blog just on them are:

Above the sentry boxes framing the grille d’honneur you see the allegories of Victory honor grid in the guise of a winged woman brandishing a laurel wreath and slaying a male figure, accompanied by various attributes, weapons trophies and emblems. On pedestals at the top of the ramps of the Allegories of Peace and Abundance forecourt, each depicted as a woman with various attributes, accompanied by winged children and defeating a figure of an old woman, a symbol discord for one and starvation for the other. The bronze relief console with scrolls and grooves decorated with a newt mask from above and freezing on the plinth. The Crown surmounted by a fleur-de-lys and supported by griffins’ legs. Globe with the figure of the King surmounted by the mask of Apollo irradiated and accosted by two horns of plenty.

Versailles

From the small castle built for king Louis XIII in 1624 to 1630 remain the wonderful Cour de Marbre and its architecture of brick, stone and slate. Preserved, or more exactly reconstructed identically over time, the three facades that frame the Cour de Marbre were very early decorated between 1663 and 1665, in the two angles they form, with small cabinets on horn and the floor and fountains on the lower level; in 1671-1672 aviaries were placed in front of corner cabinets and a third fountain adorned the center of the courtyard. All this disappeared in 1678-1680 in favor of a more monumental party aiming to further ennoble the facades: the main facade, at the end of the courtyard, was enriched by a higher body than the rest of the buildings, while the attic is adorned with railings that run along the two courtyards.

Versailles

The buildings that line the Royal Court today have undergone more transformations than those of the Cour de Marbre: in 1662, Louis Le Vau built the two wings of the Commons (stables and kitchens) in the style of the old castle. Ten years later ,1670-1672, they became the Ailes des Offices; they are then connected to the palace by the construction of two bodies of buildings which extend them with a step; at their ends, they are decorated with porticos aligned with the grid which delimits the new Royal Court. In 1680, when the offices are installed in the Grand Commun, the architecture of the two wings divided into apartments,are again modified in order to be more in harmony with that of the buildings of the cour de Marbre: the attic is raised and bordered by a balustrade, the end pavilions are topped with a lantern.

But this unity was broken when Gabriel reconstructed between 1771 and 1774 the north wing which was called the aile du Gouvernement wing (it housed the accommodation of the governor of Versailles) in the neoclassical style. As this Gabriel wing was called the new wing, the symmetrical wing takes the name of old wing. It was in turn altered when Dufour rebuilt the main pavilion Dufour using the architecture of Gabriel. Finally, among the works carried out under the direction of F. Nepveu for the creation of the Louis-Philippe museum, (the king of the French who save Versailles) see the construction of a lantern in the southwest corner of the Royal Court, which will disappear in 1897.

It’s awesome , so much architecture details and history , always amazes me anyway.  A bit of a tourist office of Versailles on the building of this marvel in English here: Tourist office of Versailles on construction history

The Palace:museum is huge( and the Domaine is out of this world)  and very much a must to see in Versailles . However, remember Versailles is the royal historical town of France, there is a lot more than the palace/museum… Enjoy the post as I do!!!

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

March 25, 2020

The Gentlemen from Paris, Havana!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

havana

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

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

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

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

 

March 25, 2020

A courthouse at Daytona Beach!

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

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

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

daytona beach

Daytona beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daytona Beach

Credit:Volusia County Courthouse City Island Daytona Beach

A bit of history I like

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

Ormond Beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 24, 2020

Walt Disney, Orlando!!!

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

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

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

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

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

orlando

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

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

orlando

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

Orlando

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

orlando

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

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Official Walt Disney webpage: Official Walt Disney

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

March 24, 2020

Villa Vizcaya at Miami!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miami

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 24, 2020

Deering Estate at Miami FL!

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

Let me tell you about the Deering Estate of Miami.

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

miami

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

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

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

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

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

The official webpage for Deering EstateOfficial Deering Estate

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

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

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

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

 

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