Posts tagged ‘Americas’

October 15, 2021

Remembering Curitiba, State of Paranà, Brazil!

I like to remember this wonderful city and decided to update this older post, it has been a while without returning to Curitiba, State of Paranà in Brazil. I was lucky to visit the country several times over the last years ,and even thus not there since 2018, the memories will lingered for a long time. I like to bring it alive ,these wonderful memories of forever. This was my introductory post and then, there were many more.

Let me tell you about Curitiba where I spent 3 months of glorious residency, and great lasting memories, experiences ,and worth it going there for all. The city of Curitiba has world reputation for its outlook on the ecology, durable development, quality of life, and performing infrastructure’s as well as a dynamic economy.  The city is an example of urban planning especially with the invention of the above surface metro (sort like a big long bus) . It has been call the City model of Latin America by many experts. The city is divided today into 75 neighborhoods and into 10 administrative districts.

A bit of history I like.

The city of Curitiba was founded in 1654 and raised to City status in 1693 under the name of Vila de Nossa Senhora da Luz dos Pinhais or City of Our Lady of Light of Pines. The current name was officially given by an act of Congress in 1721 and come from the Tupi Indian word Coré Etuba, that means many pines making reference to the many pines on the hills surrounding the city. In the 1700s, Curitiba possessed a favorable location between cattle-breeding country and marketplaces, leading to a successful cattle trade and the city’s first major expansion. Beginning in 1870, many immigrants started to arrive due to a government land expansion program to inhabits large tracks of lands in Brazil. The majority of these immigrants came from Germany, Poland, Italy, and also French, Japanese, English, and Swiss.  The Germans came in by 1872, and Polish by 1871, the Italians by 1872 founding the district of Santa Felicidade in 1878 (very good restos here !). You, also, have the Ukrainians coming in by 1895, and the Japanese by 1915 and many from 1924 onwards. The Syrians/Lebanese came in also around this time as well. The first federal University in Brazil was founded here in 1913 as well the year of the electrification of the trolley bus .

The gateway to wild Brazil and the Iguazu Falls, plus Pantanal, Ile da Mielhe, and Morrete, Ruta  Gracioza  , Serra Verde train ride!, marvelous terrain and inland historical Lapa ,  What is there ,well a very nice cosmopolitan city.  I spent over the years the most consecutive time here,3 months!! its an enchanting city! My home the apart hotel the Mercure Curitiba Batel  ; you come in from the airport on avenida vicomte de guarapauva and leave on ave sete de septembro. The mercure webpage: https://all.accor.com/hotel/2127/index.en.shtml

Batel is a noble/chic neighborhood where you will be in good safe areas, full of everything around you. That is where the Mercure hotel is on; at the corner of the appart hotel you have a grocery store, mercadorama. Walking distace from here you can see the tower font de jerusalemmercado central, rodoferraria bus and train, praça Japao (Japan Plaza), and the main downtown city center shopping mall like Batel Novo shops, and Shopping Crystal as well as shopping Curitiba, and Shopping Estaçao Central with a railroad museum inside!  Your typical Wal-Mart store with my car for shopping , and the most time went to the Carrefour store on my way to from work at Pinais just outside the city , the other I went sometimes was the Extra supermarket , Other shopping pleasures are shopping Mueller, by Passeio Publico, and the biggest just outside by the park Barigui is  Shopping Barigui , and yet in city center you have,also,  shopping Italia!

There are various restaurants/bars  in town ,my hangouts were places such as Emporio San Francisco with great beers and live music ; Jokers Pub Cafe in center city, great ambiance at nights, Restaurant Familia Fadanelli (wonderful place ) in neighborhood of Santa Felicidade, great Italian tradition and the farewell restaurant for me last time in the city with many friends,  Churrasqueria Batel Grill, the great Brazilian steak houses, cant beat it , Mustang Sally for the real Mexican in you ,right in Batel. For an American in Curitiba, and great burgers deluxe head for Peggy Sue (closed here for the memories), For the Cuban mojito and some salsa then head for Guantanamera (now closed here for the memories). For the real Brazilian taste and home cooking head for Tropilha Grill, and Chimarrao Grill . For the Spanish in me go to Pata Negra, Rua Fernando Simas,23, in the area of Batel, Praça de Espanha, flamenco music live on Fridays. Spanish and great cooking, like I was at home. If you want to bring home some Brazilian wines with an Italian twist then head for Durigans winery, a real wine store, winery in one.

And for things to see there are so many in and around the city and not far from it if with a car as I had, my Chevy Prisma lol!

For tourist attractions ,my favorites were/are Bosque Alemao (German black forest), Cathedral (Basílica Menor de Nossa Senhora da Luz de Curitiba) , Centro historico or city historical center walks, Jardim Botanico or botanical gardens where in 2007 in Brazil poll it was declared one of the seven wonders of Brazil! it houses a part of the University  ,Memorial Ucraniano(Ukranian memorial) at Parque Tingui, Opéra de Arame (Wire Opera House) at the Parque da Pedreiras , built in 1992 in a circular design of metal tubes covered with polycarbonate fiber given it a cage feel , Parque Barigui( with an antique automobile museum webpage auto museum in Portuguese) my best park , Parque Tangua (impressive!), Passeio Publico (first park n Curitiba 1886) right in quant city center (see pic) , Praça do Japao (Japan plaza),Praça Tiradentes (center and birthplace of the city),Torre Panoramica (panoramic tower of 109.5 meters), Santa Felicidade neighborhood (Little North Italy),Castelo do Batel or castle inspired by the French castles owners saw in France, now a cultural center, walk from my hotel. The Contemporary Arts museum of Oscar Niemeyer, A great historical center of learning the Universidade Federal do Parana, oldest in Brazil. The Municipal Market is not a normal market, there are a lot of organic products, and vegan food. The food court has a lot of Asian food, vegan food and organic too. There you will find everything and more. It is located in downtown, next to the bus station of Curitiba.

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A modern city of our world, public transport is second to none in Brazil, even I tried it lol!  There is a Linha Turismo bus service that take you to the 22  principal spots in the city coming out from Centro praça tiradentes from 9h to 17h30 every 30 minutes city of Curitiba govt webpage : https://www.urbs.curitiba.pr.gov.br/transporte/linha-turismo

The main bus terminal is at avenida Presidente Afonso Camargo,340 Centro right across from mercado central, praça rua Barosa, The airport for all arrivals and departures is the Afonso Pena international airport, just outside the city at Sao Jose des Pinhas, best inexpensive take taxi to city , airport webpage: webpage : https://www4.infraero.gov.br/aeroportos/aeroporto-internacional-de-curitiba-afonso-pena/

One of the best ways to see the coastal areas from Curitiba is to take the Serra Verde train, a wonderful ride into time with magnificent views like to Morretes,webpage : https://serraverdeexpress.com.br/

Another nice areas to visit from Curitiba other than Foz de Iguaçu are Morretes ( the summer get away of folks in Curitiba), and Lapa (epic battle for the federal union of Brazil), they were weekends escapes for me while there by car!!

Some further webpages to help you plan your trip are:

The Curitiba tourist office: https://turismo.curitiba.pr.gov.br/en/

The Curitiba City Hall prefecture on its history in Portuguese: https://www.curitiba.pr.gov.br/conteudo/perfil-da-cidade-de-curitiba/174

You need to check for updates but in my time there you could go by bus to Foz do Iguaçu,(Iguazú Falls) and you can choose a conventional or convencional bus or a couch bed bus Leito. The line was Catarinense. webpage: https://www.catarinense.com.br/nossos-destinos

There you go folks, wonderful memories forever, could be great if able to go back for a visit, Hope you can, it is recommended by yours truly, Curitiba was is wonderful.

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

October 7, 2021

My old stumping grounds in the USA!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 7, 2021

PAHS Soccer!!

Ok you know who you are PAHS yes I have written several posts on it and great to have in my blog. However, need to tell you about the wonderful experience of being part of the soccer/football team of Perth Amboy High School (PAHS)!. Therefore , here is a bit more and some old old pictures for my memories and hopefully your enjoyment to read/see this post. Thanks

Known as the “City by the Bay,” Perth Amboy is made up of four and ½ square miles on the eastern border of Middlesex County. With a population of approximately 50K+, the town is a residential, blue-collar community situated on the Raritan Bay, approximately 30 miles (about 48 km)  southwest of Manhattan.  Perth Amboy features a historic, recently revitalized waterfront area and a bustling downtown business district.

Perth Amboy High School ( PAHS) is a four-year comprehensive community public high school which serves students in ninth through twelfth grades from Perth Amboy in Middlesex County, New Jersey. The current Perth Amboy High School was built in 1971, to replace an earlier building that opened in 1881 (and this older building became the William McGinnis Middle School which I attended before! ) .The school mascot is a panther!! Go Panthers!

The Perth Amboy schools have it on the High School (lycée):  https://www.paps.net/perth-amboy-high-school.aspx

The Perth Amboy High School Panthers compete in the Greater Middlesex Conference, (GMC) which is comprised of public and private high schools in the Middlesex County area and operates under the supervision of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA). The school was classified by the NJSIAA as Group IV for most athletic competition purposes.

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The NJSIAA webpage on Perth Amboy:  https://www.njsiaa.org/schools/perth-amboy-high-school

Some trivia of PAHS : Led by Brian Taylor, the 1968 boys basketball team won the Group IV state championship, defeating Neptune High School by a score of 72-70 in the tournament final at Atlantic City’s Convention Hall . And the Middlesex County tournament could have been name the Perth Amboy county tournament as we won it on many occasions! Dating back to 1927, Perth Amboy has had a Thanksgiving Day football (American) rivalry with Carteret High School that was listed at 8th on NJ.com’s 2017 list “Ranking the 31 fiercest rivalries in N.J. HS football”. Yes indeed a big game even if we were that good in the sport.

The Soccer program had some success around the 1971 year and then went dormant until revive again in 1975 of course when I played on the teams thru 1977 central defender and we were ranked 1st in Middlesex County by the local News Journal newspaper, and as high as 6th in the NJ state ranking of the Newark Star-Ledger (NJ) newspaper.

The old Star Ledger newspaper New Jersey now on High School soccer news: https://www.nj.com/highschoolsports/2021/09/boys-soccer-live-updates-results-and-featured-coverage-for-tuesday-sept-14.html

My Central New Jersey newspaper (old news journal) on high school soccer: https://eu.mycentraljersey.com/story/sports/high-school/soccer/2021/09/08/boys-soccer-daily-updates-highlights-2021-season/5779454001/

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In the off season, summers; we played at Rudyk Park complex underneath the Outerbridge to Staten Island, NYC, which was used by many to play summer league soccer/football sometimes with as many as 40 nationalities playing! I believe the park still there but not much soccer news from it. The playing here was the highlight of my playing time there and many friends some still with me in touch!

perth amboy soccer team yearbook photo 1977

The Perth Amboy local Guardian newspaper: http://www.amboyguardian.com/

The city of Perth Amboy; https://www.perthamboynj.org/

Lots of flashes and memory fading but still a Panther, after all they say is for life! Very happy to still have school friends with me today after 44 years gone by and almost as much without seeing each other!!! Life is beautiful and I thank them all!!! Perth Amboy will be with me forever after all I writing to you in English thanks to the schooling there!!! Hope you enjoy the post and my younger pictures!

And we keep in touch in Facebook with the “I went to Perth Amboy High School” group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2204418579/about

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

October 6, 2021

My memorable restaurants of Florida !!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

fll-croissantime

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

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

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

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

October 6, 2021

Wonderful Key Biscayne!!!

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

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

key-biscayne entrance to the key 2009

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

key biscayne over to beach bill boggs mia skyline aug09

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

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

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

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

key biscayne

key biscayne cape boggs lighthouse beach the boys aug2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 6, 2021

West Florida!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tampa busch gardens MF et boys c1998

tampa shells resto MF et PF c1998

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cape coral casa loma hotel MF boys c1997

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

cape coral intracoastal bridge jun2002

cape coral intracoastal bridge crossing jun2002

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

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

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

September 30, 2021

The battlefields in France of WWI or Great War.

Here is something I gave credit in my blog a while back, and its time to update text and links and carry it on in my black and white series, no pictures. This is one of those posts that pictures are not needed me think. I like to pay tribute to all those who gave it all for me and my children and freedom in our world. This is my humble hommage to them with some of the battlefields in France of WWI or the Great War as its call here in my belle France. Hope you enjoy it as I.

Dates come and go and come and we sometimes find no time to write about certain dear things to us. This is the case of the efffort of many for a free Europe/World. I am particularly thankful to the Americans ,which I am and French. I like to pay tribute to those who fought and or died for our freedom from all Nations in this humble post. I have visited these places one time or another.

I married a patriotic French women from the Battlefields of the Marne, Monument Americain or American Monument on the Route de Varennes near Meaux, today , there is a wonderful WWI museum there that you all should visit.  Museum of the Great War,see post, Webpage : https://www.museedelagrandeguerre.com/en.html

The Battle of the Somme in WWI was a huge battlefront of 750 kms (about 465 miles) including two periods. Since September 1914 the course to the sea around the monuments of Ovilliers, Guillemont, and Flers. And then a north south line along the villages of Beaumont-Hamel, Thiepval, La Boisselle, Fricourt, Maricourt, Curlu, Dompierre, Fay, Chaulnes, and Maucourt. It then , came again in June 1916 in the second Battle of the Somme, from Beaumont-Hamel and Bapaume to the north to Chilly,Chaulnes to the south; here the British and French fought side by side until a line at Maricourt. The battle involves about a million men and 200 000 horses as the official encounter began on June 24.  By July 2nd the losses were big already 58K men of which 22K killed especially by the British, their biggest losses up to that point in any war. Total by the December 1916 the losses were big, 1,2Million men out of combat for a total of 3M; the British advance only 12 kms the French 5-8kms alone the line.  Here too it talks about the great British offensive of Yprés from June to October 1917, the battle of Cambrai in November (first using tanks), and the tragic offensive of the French at Chemin des Dames.  1918, mark the commandement unique of the allied army to Marichal Foch March 26 at Doullens, the offensive by the Australians at Villers-Bretonneux, the American monument at Cantigny, monument to the 2nd division Australians at Peronne and the Canadian memorial at Le Quesnel, all evoke the counteroffensive that led to the armistice of November 11 at Compiegne. You should visit the Historial de la Grande Guerre in Peronne see posts, webpage : https://www.historial.fr/

You can see the Cross to the 16st Irish division at Guillemont and Ginchy with Irish Treffles  for heroic action on September 3 and 9, 1916. Also, remembering all the Irish who lost their lives in WWI.  At Longueval,  and the taking of Bois Delville by the South Africans  on July 15-20 1916. At Longueval, we ,also, honor the New Zealanders that took bravery here on September 15 1916 taking objective near Flers the wood of Fourcaux, or high wood done by the 47th London division of New Zealand! You can see the South African memorial of Bois Delville with 63 hectares land of South Africa from 1920. Behind you will find a museum too with a replica of Fort du Cap. The New Zealanders have their memorial with a cross of the 12th battalion of Gloucestershire and the cemetary of Caterpillar Valley, Scottish monument of the 1th Cameron Highlanders, 1st Black Watch, and the 47th division with a Cairn of 192 stones coming from Scotland to honor the 192 who felled here from the 9th battalion Highland light Infantry (Glasgow highlanders) and the London cemetary out in about 2 km from Longueval.

The Canadians are here too, Memorial Canadien on the road D929 to the right hand side in granite stone toward the village of Courcelette, took part here September 3 to November 18 1916. Losing 24K of their sons. You have the memorial to Newfoundlanders  with 16 hectares done in 1925, you can see while getting there on the road a statue of a Caribou ,their mascot in bronce.  You can see at La Boiselle the Lochnagar Crater of 100 meters in diameter around here you saw the 34th Division of Scottish and Irish, there is a monument with a bas-relief in bronce of Saint George attacking a dragon, cross of Saint Andrew (Scottish), and a large celtic harp (Irish) with inscription engrave in the stone relating to this battle of July 1,1916.

The great battles around Albert,  with great efforts by the British , the town was destroyed 90% and the town reconstructed with the help of the city of Birmingham in England. You can see the wonderful Basilique Notre Dame de Brebiéres, and not to miss the museum ,see post, Musée Somme 1916 in Albert webpage: http://www.musee-somme-1916.eu/?lang=en

You drive around the area and can visit the Monument to the American and French nurses at Chaulnes, a gift from the USA and France Red Cross; at Lihons on August 21 1916 died in combat after volunteering to fight the nephew of Napoléon Ier Marshal Murat, a prince, you can see it on the road entering Lihons coming from Vermandovillers there is a small route on the left after the town cemetery. See the wonderful Arc de Triomphe at Proyart , a huge memorial for a small town donated by a rich Champagne men who lost his only son in the war.  You can see the old train line that supplies the front lines, the P’tit Train de la Haute-Somme; and now its a tourist attraction at Eclusier-Vaux for the little train ride and a trains museum. The Little train of the Haute Somme, webpage : http://www.appeva.org/

On May 28 1918 ,just when the French retreat from the Chemin des Dames and losing Soissons, the Americans land and engage for the first time in the front of Cantigny, and they take the town on May 31.  The American who lost their lives here are buried at the huge American cementary of the Somme in Bony, not far from the imposing memorial of Bellicourt on the road N44, it has a chapel, secretary office, and welcome center. It is honoring of the Big Red One Division on the borders of the town in the road D26 direction Montdidier, not far from the A16 direction Amiens.

At  Villers-Bretonneux, you have the Australian Memorial on the road D23 direction  Fouilloy/Corbie, two huge white towers with an even bigger one in the middle and the names of the dead written on it. It opened in 1938 and here it is held every year the ANZAC Day celebration. They were 331K volunteers from a population of 4,9M and casualties of  58500 men including 16000 dead. See ,also at the Le Hamel the Parc Memorial Australien built by Australia in August 7,1998; free to all with trenches intact.  It is here too in July 4 1918 Australian and American troops fought alongside with infantry, artillery, aviation, tanks, and paratroopers to begin the modern war tactics…The Australian museum webpage : https://www.museeaustralien.com/en-au/home

Do visit the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, where over 72,000 men with no known grave are remembered. Climb to the top of the  Newfoundland Caribou Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel for a moving view of the former battlefield.  See the enormous Lochnagar mine crater at La Boisselle, created at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, on 1 July at 7h28 (7:28 am). Explore Delville Wood and the South African Memorial at Longueval, a former battleground today at peace. Take part in the moving ANZAC Day Dawn Service on 25 April at Villers-Bretonneux.  Participate with the commemorations of the Battle of the Somme at various sites of remembrance on 1 July.

Today, you can pay tribute to these great men in various cemetaries all over France,these are: The French are care by the Ministry of Defense and in the Somme there are 20 national cementaries webpage: https://www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/

For those seeking a love one, this place can help, French Defense Ministry webpage : https://www.memoiredeshommes.sga.defense.gouv.fr/en/arkotheque/inventaires/recherche.php?fam=10

Picardie 14-18 in French for those seeking battlefields etc mostly British but others too,webpage: http://www.picardie1418.com/fr/decouvrir/cimetieres-militaires-somme.php

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission takes care of the dead from the areas known as the Commonwealth UK, it takes care of 410 cementaries in the Somme alone, webpage :https://www.cwgc.org/

From the USA, it is the American Battles Monuments Commission, who handles and maintain them, webpage : https://www.abmc.gov/

Towns in general of WWI or Great War history and conflict are Doullens, hall of the sole command, Froissy, petit train de la haute somme, Thiepval, memorial Franco-Britanique, La Boiselle, Beaumont-Hamel, Rancourt, Longueval, Albert, Chaulnes,Cantigny,Lihons, Aveluy, Soyécourt, Frisé, Eclusier-Vaux, Maricourt, Feuilléres, Bouchavesnes-Bergen, Flaucourt, Courcelette, Martinpuich, Mametz,Fay,Moislans, Corbie, and Montauban-de-Picardie.

And of course, there are many others like Vimy, the Indian Memorial at Neuve-Chapelle, Notre-Dame de Lorette monument in Ablain-St-Nazaire, National Museum of Franco-American cooperation at Blérancourt, the Clairiére de l’Armistice at Compiegne, the Memory of Walls Museum at Verneuil-en-Halate, Caverne de Dragons and Chemin des Dames near Laon, Second battle of the Marne Memorial and Dormans Ossuary at Dormans, Navarin Ossuary at Souain, The First battle of the Marne memorial at Mondement, Vauquois Hill near Fleury, The world peace center at Verdun, as well as the Verdun Memorial, Douaumont Ossuary and Vaux fort.In addition footnote information, for the Australians the most memorable places other than Villers-Bretonneux are Amiens, Corbie Plateau, Le Hamel, Albert, Poziéres, Sailly-le-Sec and Peronne.

For me including those of WWII as well is the American Cementary of Suresnes (dept 92 Hauts de Seine just outside Paris), And , also, the Lafayette Escadrile located inside the gates of Domaine National de Sainte-Cloud, (dept 92 Hauts de Seine as well)  of where I have been the most and event took visiting friends there. The  ABMC above webpage has more info.

Rememberance is to honor them, never forget. As I see many who likes to come to cemeteries for the rich and famous, why not come to these ones, the feeling is much better and the experience unique! Hope you have enjoy the post as I.

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

September 26, 2021

Gourin and America!!!

So in my road warrior trip I have come into many towns all over the world and especially my belle France. Some have been passing by chance, others well known in advance but this one well;;; it is so close yet was so far. Only an hour from my house but this is my first time there! And there, because I have heard the story of the important link between Gourin and the immigration to the USA and Canada as told by a collegue of mine that lives here, I like to tell you a bit of this story close to my heart as well in Gourin an amazing little town. The amazing thing as well was that while walking the city center got to see collegue from work who told me about and now saw him in town ! He had moved nearby but a native of  Gourin and was visiting relatives!  So I got good tips lol!!!

Gourin is a town in the department 56 of Morbihan, in the region of Bretagne, it belongs to Cornouaille (Cornwall) Morbihannaise. It has the particularity of being 83 km from Vannes, its departamental capital city , and only 40 km from Quimper, the departamental capital of the Finistére, dept 29 . Gourin is also located 47 km from Lorient, 71 km from Brest, 74 km from Saint-Brieuc and 143 km from Rennes. As well as been 71 km from my house! The routes we take are the D102 into the D769 (Lorient-Roscoff road) and the Quimper-Rostrenen-Saint-Brieuc road D1 which takes us right into city center Gourin.

A bit of history I like as an introduction post on Gourin!

In the 11-12C; Gourin was the seat of a viscount that extended over the parishes of Gourin, Guiscriff, Langonnet, Le Faouet and Leuhan and the Trier of Roudouallec, Le Saint, Lanvénégen and La Trinité. Among the viscounts of Gourin are the names of Cadoret who rose up in 1075 against Duke Hoel et Tanguy I who participated in the First Crusade with his Duke Alain Fergent. The Viscount was attached to the ducal domain of Brittany from 1265. Gourin then became the seat of a ducal bar which after the act of union of Brittany to France in 1532 will become the seat of a royal seneschal until its removal during the French revolution.

The first lords of Tronjoly were the Kergoet, who lived in the old manor house from 1426 to 1660. The present castle was built in 1768, replacing the old manor. At the beginning of the French revolution, the lords of Tronjoly sheltered refractory priests and chouans (rebels against the revolution) . Under the supervision of the republican authorities, the L’Ollivier were forced in March 1793 to settle at Le Faouët and some members of the family emigrated; among them François Urbain L’Ollivier de Tronjoly, wounded during the landing of Quiberon (Breton immigrants from England coming back to fight the French revolution) on July 16, 1795, was tried and executed in Vannes on August 1, 1795 (as about 795 others) . See my post of the castle and immigration exhibit as well.

In the late 19C and early 20C, especially between 1902 and WWI, Gourin and its region experienced a strong immigration, mainly of young men, to North America, although it began in the 18C. There was a second wave of immigration from the cantons of Gourin and Roudouallec in the 1950s following the visit of the Canadian consul., several young Gourinois went to Canada between 1948 and 1953. Many of the Bretons currently living in the United States are from the Gourin region . But immigration to these countries began around 1885, not all immigrants are young men, but sometimes older people, small farmers, small traders or craftsmen, not having land able to feed them; At the end of the 19C and at the beginning of the 20C, a large group of immigrants from Montagne Noirs ( Black Mountains) settles in the resort area of Lenox, Massachusetts , with women becoming housekeepers, and men as gardeners. By 1928, there were approximately 3,000 inhabitants of Gourin in New York, 400 of whom were directly employed by Michelin (founded in 1901 in New York), the factory of Miltown, in New Jersey, and who recruited Bretons in a privileged manner. Between; only the years 1946 and 1955 immigrants, mainly young, leave the region of Gourin (13.4% of the population), a large part of it to the United States, the Bretons immigrants tend to regroup in colonies, a real “Breton district” being created for example in New York, on the border of Brooklyn and the Bronx, between 49th and 52nd Street; others went south to Louisiana and Florida or west to California. Three agencies of the “Compagnie Générale Transatlantique” also had their headquarters in Gourin and Roudouallec at the time to organize travel to the United States. The return to the country of some of these émigrés, nicknamed “Americans”, sometimes enriched, was a powerful vector of modernization of agriculture and housing as well as changing mentalities; but most remained settled permanently in North America. These immigrants were also sometimes nicknamed “ar lostou ru” (“red tails”) in local Breton, referring to the color of their license plates.

Proof enough of this exchange of the Bretons with America is the fact that they have a replica of the Statue of Liberty, in the place de la Victoire testifying to the exodus of the population of Gourin to the American continent.  Air France donated in 1996 to thanks the travellers who went the route from their office in Roudouallec until 1985 ;the initial statue of Liberty! The new  Statue of Liberty of Gourin  has been finished , identical to that of the Luxembourg Garden in Paris , and it looks wonderful.

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As to been after lunch, we still got a bit hungry so we stop by at the local bakery pastry and salon de thé shop Le Clec’h at Rue Jacques Rodalle just before the steep street leading to the Statue of Liberty. Nice abricot pastries indeed to keep us at bay until back home! And a nice mayor’s office across too. And do not forget the usual wonderful Saturday morning market at Place Stenfort!

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The city of Gourin on its heritagehttp://www.gourin.fr/patrimoine-de-gourin.html

The Pays du Roi Morvan tourist office on Gourinhttps://www.tourismepaysroimorvan.com/en/the-local-towns-and-villages/gourin-1010463

The webpage Bretagne trans America on the immigration story of Gourin: https://bretagnetransamerica.com/2021/01/17/english/

There you go folks now me and you have seen  Gourin! A nice find and certaintly been so close a return trip is in order. I had a good impression of the town, lively, clean , good ambiance and wonderful things to see. What can I say, my beautiful Morbihan dept 56!

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

August 25, 2021

Memories of Chile and Colombia!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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August 23, 2021

Windjammers Barefoot Cruises, Fantome!

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

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

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

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

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

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

tortola BVI going ashore from fantome 1988

A bit of the story of the Fantome I like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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