Posts tagged ‘Europe’

January 16, 2021

Vannes, the gateway to the Gulf of Morbihan!!!

Indeed, it is the gateway to the Gulf of Morbihan and more! Vannes is our capital city and I need to update this post from 2013 with links and text on my black and white series as sights and pictures are elsewhere in my blog already. Hope you enjoy the reading and do stop by when possible. 

It was another excuse to go where I work, and have it as a holiday lol! I am really on vacation but always the last minute road warrior.  Yesterday, we needed to do some errands and shop, so I gather my father and boys and drag along the streets and stores of Vannes.  Its a magical city full of shops and restos all over, and yesterday it was vibrantly full. A nice summer day with temps in the 28°C and sunny. We drove by car of course, and went thru the back door on blvd de la paix, got on rue de la fontaine and found parking on the street payable but for 2 euros spent 6 hrs! And as everything is nearby on foot is heaven.

Again, Vannes means Gwened if use the Breton language as Morbihan is small sea, mor=sea bihan=small, in French, petite mer; and you are welcome to my region, Degemer Mat !!

We went to the Church of St Patern (see post), is the second most popular after the Cathedral and it is gorgeous as well. In a very quaint old city side full of shops and restos, where we ate too. The church is in the St Patern neightborhood and was name after the first bishop of Vannes in the 5C.  The church was destroyed by Norman invasion in the 10C,and rebuilt in 1723. To visit and walk around its neighborhood is a delight that I recommend.

We wandered all over the side streets,like Méné, pl des lices,de la Fontaine,de halles, Francis Decker, and the ramparts with the old castle ruins still visible plus a look at the entrance to the chateau de l’Hermine , 5 rue porte de poterne (see post). We did some shopping in the covered market by pl des lices, and visit la Belle Illoise, La Trinitaine , the ice cream gourmand Alain Chartier, Monoprix store in pl jacques le Brix, la huche à pains bakery, and a brief visit to the museum of history and archeology at Chateau Gaillard. (see post).

Got a nice shot of my regional government building or Préfecture du Morbihan, this is the official one, that is for govt employees and official functions, there is another one where the citizens go in for our daily routine as driver’s license,voting,etc. at pl de la République. .

Did I said, we ate, yes at the St Patern neighborhood and a wonderful find; Le Gavroche, (see post) a traditional French restaurant with terrrace in the back, with friendly Breton welcome of a brandy of rum and honey for free as a digestif! It is at 17 rue de la Fontaine, and we had steaks with cook vegetables, potatoes, grimbergen beers for five, coffee for five, and desserts from créme brulée to ice creams of many sorts all for 19 euros per person. 

Boys did go and shop at Empire Games  (now closed memories only) a sort of star wars scenes of games and figurines, t-shits etc. ; all chic and different by pl des lices; very nice friendly service. Another store Japanim is by 14 Bis Rue Emile Burgault  that offers lots of mangas, dvd, cups, etc of the japanese genre of games and movies. My son’s favorite !

We did our usual majestic drive by the porte de Poterne into the remparts to inner city that is always magical  going thru there.  And,of course see the old fortifications and the tour du Connétable majestic rising over the remparts gardens. (see post).

In Vannes ,we did our grocery shopping at E Leclerc with my sons and had a between meal meal at a nice cafeteria  we have seen and now was the time to try it. Le Vénélis cafeteria grill (this is closed and is now Flunch cafeteria which we have tried too)  is very friendly smiling staff, and great food at wonderful prices. We had boeuf bourguignone, spaghetti meatballs for some, and breast of duck for others, with a bottle of beaujolais nouveau red, bottle water Evian, sodas such as fanta and coca cola , desserts from natural fruits including kiwis, to passion fruit desserts, and coffee expresso for less than 18 euros per person.

In late afternoon we continue our walks passing by some of our favorite stores and streets such as 

La Belle Illoise, fish canning local ,wonderful; 31 place des lices, La Trinitaine, cookies biscuits ,breton sweets, deco, souvenirs,and fish canning too, glorious at 19 place des lices. Alain Chartier chocolatier and glacier ,ice creams gourmands, mâitre chocolatier de France at 25 place des lices, and also a school of cooking desserts. Monoprix, discount dept store at place Joseph le Brix. La Huche à Pains, the best bakery at 23 Place des Lices. 

And we move on for late dinner at Villa Valencia. 3 Rue Bienheureux Pierre René Rogues ,where I had my filet mignon pork in a wok oriental style, and the kids had their pizzas , a bottle of Charles Pain, Chinon red wine , banana splits desserts and coffee for 24 euros per person.

We went home but next day came back to Vannes so will put it together here. We stop by Le Port for lunch at one of our favorite places, A l’aise  Breizh Café on top of the Capitanerie du port (harbormaster). We had our mussels =moules with the local guimennée sausages and fries, with  kouign–amannbreton sweet with a ball of apple ice cream ,and banana splits, plus a bottle of muscadet from Sauvion, for less than 22 euros per person.

Again with the boys we needed to stop at Japanim, japanese cartoon,mangas the works from Japan, at 14 Bis Rue Emile Burgault for more mangas books! We passed by the quant nice covered market or marché couvert des lices at pl des lices. We did some tablecloths shopping at La Tapenalgue, 23 Rue des Halles , wonderful gifts of Brittany and foods items locally done. The store is in the old section very nice quant area to walk too, our favorite. Now own by Aux Mille Délices of Lorient. Even if now closed we stop by our favorite shopping store  Michel Loizeau was at pl Henri IV , the house dates from the 15C! Here we had our Breton winter clothing, bags ,umbrellas,and belts of the finest local quality. 

Through the meandering hilly cobblestone streets of old Vannes we love to walk it ,however, if feeling tired , we never but, dont forget the petit train, or little train that can take you past these places to get a general feel of the city if time is short, of course, walking is best.

We decided to try a different eating place this time for dinner, and having passed by the pizzeria, we took the plunge into .It was a wonderful discovery as the service was fast and friendly, the food was excellent and with big portions, the place was full of local folks most with families. This Pizzeria Don Camillo at 20 rue du port, by the Le Port area across from the canal and the tourist office. We like it so much came back second time same week, once we like something ,we are very hard to let go, the couple owners are a delight and fun to speak with regulars of many years ,who even come to sample the wines that will be serve on the menu book! This time it was a chardonnay from the Languedoc area, but we stuck with our Rosé of the Côtes de Provence, les Diamantines of Domaine de l’Estan , very inexpensive and delicious rosé for about 11€ the bottle.  We had  pizzas in mediterrannée with chorizos, and goat cheese samplers, with cafe gourmand, the expresso coffee with four different small portions of sweet from tiramisu, mousse au chocolat, apple pie, and babba rhum cake, and the beforemention bottle of rose wine all for less than 19 euros per person!

And we came home again, as usual by now a regular routine in my Vannes from to Pluvigner. You will love it at Vannes,capital city of the Morbihan in my lovely Bretagne and my belle France. Hope you enjoy the walks!

The Gulf of Morbihan tourist office on Vannes: https://www.golfedumorbihan.bzh/explorer-vannes/decouvrir-vannes/golfe-morbihan/vannes/

The Morbihan dept 56 tourist office on Vannes: http://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/home/discover/morbihan/the-main-destinations/vannes

The city of Vannes on tourism in English: http://en.mairie-vannes.fr/

Now I feel better, all done and pretty , waiting for you to visit when possible of course. Vannes is worth it, one of the best jewels of Bretagne. Hope you enjoy the post as I

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

January 15, 2021

The Tour Solidor at Saint Malo!

Again reviewing old posts to update/revise text/links , I have come across many sights not really mentioned in those posts or briefly. They deserve more , so therefore, here is my take on the Tour Solidor or tower in Saint Malo! This is in Ille et Vilaine dept 35 of my lovely Bretagne in my belle France!

The Tour Solidor (tower) is located at the mouth of the Rance, in the district of Saint-Servan and was built in 1382 by Duke Jean IV of Brittany in order to control the city of Saint-Malo. At a time when the city of Saint-Malo was rebellious to his authority. In particular, taxes should be levied on the goods transported. Its name is derived from steir and dor which in Breton means “door of the river”.

The Solidor tower was built on an already fortified site, the Tour d’Oreigle, also called Tour Aiquin and which included a small châtelet, transformed into a guardhouse of the new ensemble and a fortified enclosure, itself built on Gallo fortifications. Roman dating from the 4C which defended the ancient port of the city of Alet and of which vestiges remain in the current entrance bastion. It is possible to spot at low tide, the remains of a stone causeway which led to the Gallo-Roman port, the sea level being 8 meters lower than today.  This tower is the combination of three circular towers connected to each other by small curtains, the whole forming a triangle whose width is about 14 meters and the length about 20 meters. The base of the west tower at about 9 meters in diameter is reinforced by three massive buttresses. About 22 meters high , the tower consists of four floored levels, served by a spiral staircase of 104 steps. Its top has a beautiful belt of machicolations.

st-malo-tour-solidor-aug12

In 1588, the local folks or Malouins seized the tower on behalf of the Duke of Mercœur, leader of the League of Brittany. It was only guarded by five or six men. A captain was installed there in 1590 with three soldiers, a maid and two watch dogs. The soldiers occupied it for a long time in order to watch the estuary in order to block trade between Saint-Malo and Dinan.  In 1636, Louis XIII ordered repairs to be made there. In 1694, the guard of the tower was entrusted to the inhabitants of Saint-Servan. In 1756, the drawbridge at the entrance was replaced by a stone bridge. The history and evolution of military technologies having rendered its initial use obsolete, the tower was transformed into a prison during the French revolution and then as a warehouse under the Empire. Priests, nuns and soldiers were locked up there. Graffiti can still be seen on the interior doors which closed the cells. In 1886, the Ministry of the Navy ceded it to the administration of Historical Monuments. The current appearance of the tower is a little different from the one it had at the beginning of the 20C, in fact only the tower remains as a building. and the guardhouse.

A cross resides at the foot of the Solidor tower. It was erected in 1985 on the rock where Jacques Cartier cast off for Canada in 1534.

The Saint Malo tourist office on the tour Solidor in French: https://www.st-malo.com/tourisme/art-culture/tour-solidor/

Since 1970 it has housed a Cape Horners museum which brings together the collections of the Saint-Malo museum on long-distance navigation and Cape Horners (maps, models, navigation instruments …) A wooden weather vane in the shape of an albatross was donated by the Chilean section of the Amicale internationale des Cap-Horniers in 2003. The collections of objects and on-board instruments belonging to the sailors, the nautical charts from the end of the 19C to the beginning of the 20C will be exhibited at the Maritime History Museum of Saint-Malo (Opening scheduled for early April 2022). You will therefore be able to relive the history of sailors around the world by passing through Cape Horn.

The Amicale Internationale des Cap-Horniers webpage: http://www.cap-horniers.fr/CHLC/Welcome.html

The musée d’histoire maritime of Saint Malo from the city how it will look like: https://www.ville-saint-malo.fr/albums/le-musee-dhistoire-maritime-de-saint-malo/

From the Solidor tower , a passenger and vehicle ferry regularly crossed the Rance towards Dinard, before the Rance dam was put into service in 1967. The Rance tidal power plant draws its energy from the force of the river tide. It is located in the Rance estuary, between the towns of La Richardais and Saint-Malo, With an installed capacity of 240 MW, it remained the largest tidal power plant in the world for 45 years, from its commissioning in 1966 until August 4, 2011. The departmental road 168 passes over the dam and allows vehicles to link Dinard to Saint-Malo. The dam houses the Discovery museum of the Rance tidal power plant. The Saint-Malo museum has a pastel by Henri Arondel representing the Solidor tower, in its collections.

The Saint Malo tourist office on the Rance Dam in English:https://www.saint-malo-tourisme.co.uk/explore/on-and-in-the-water/the-river-rance

More from the electricity company of France, EDF in English: https://www.edf.fr/en/the-edf-group/industrial-provider/renewable-energies/marine-energy/tidal-power

There you go folks another dandy in my beautiful Bretagne and wonderful Saint Malo. Hope you enjoy as I did catching up with this marvel, the Tour Solidor.

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

January 15, 2021

Brussels , and the family!

I have been coming here since 1991, business and pleasure. This is Brussels, one of my favorite cities in Europe. This is an update, refresh link post from 2012 and of course plenty more in my blog on it too. Its a whimsical city, holding the main of the European Union. Let me tell you a bit more on Brussels, Belgium!

At first, the trips were short, but this time took the advantage of a vacation period between Christmas and New Years to go for a week with the family and go all over the city , Brussels, Bruxelles is magical. See my posts on the many sights below.

You have many nationalities here, and English is well spoken too. The trip started by car from our new home in the Morbihan breton dept 56. Before, I have gone from Versailles and then by train from Auray thru Brussels Midi and then rent a car there. This time went by car from  Brec’h, where we lived ,taking the expressway N165, then  N166 to Rennes, briefly on the N24 around Rennes to connect with the  A84, N175,A13 (autoroute de Normandie), and then cut across northern France on the A29, A28, back on A29, A16 briefly, A29 again (E44 European road system), then got on the A1 by TGV Peronne , (E19 European road system), A2 by known family territory of Cambrai, then get into Belgium in the A7,and get on the RO or Ring road of Brussels to exit No 13 or the road N8 at Chaussée de Ninove (where I always get in from France); past by suburbs of Dilbeek, Molenbeek, Anderlecht,  under the tunnel Leopold II to go our hotel past more north west suburbs of Saint Josse ten Noode and then Schaerbeek. All 9 hrs with stops and 818 kms later ,and 117€ gas and tolls. Yes Bretagne is a peninsula deep in when before from Versailles was just 4 hours with rest stop!

Then, we headed for the hotel parking at 10€ per day ,not bad at all.  We chose an inexpensive 2 stars hotel in a city area away from tourist center , it had some not soo good reviews on travel sites, but I am a contrarian when I read these so took in at the Hotel Bentley.  it was a basic accommodation with continental breakfast included about 67€ per night per room; the folks were very friendly, always available,and with great service at breakfast even if a bit limited in choices you had all the typical offerings in a continental style breakfast. My son left his bag full of electronics stuffs in the resto area and it was immediately brought up to his room, nice confidance to stay in places like this. All throughtout the service, and help was very nice and courteous, and see no reason why folks write bad reviews on properties like this, stand alone family business who try to help and make your stay a pleasant one. Maybe its the bad human habits of downplaying immigrant areas as the hotel is in little Turkey, plenty of nice folks even walking at night, and very helpful on bus tram routes. We will be back here. The webpage: http://www.hotel-bentley.com/

We went all over so much, taken bus, metro, and tram. The stop Botanique is the closest station to the hotel. We walk all over taking the metro line 1,5,and 6. We took the tramways 25 and 92, and the bus 66. We prefer the trams very nice clean efficient and see it all. The buses were crowded older and less clean, the metro was great but underground not to our liking. You can a Brussels journey planner to trace all your trip here: https://www.stib-mivb.be/tripplanner/?l=en

Folks sometimes get confused when I tell them to drive instead of public transport. It is better for a family to rent drive a car, and once in the city use the public transport, then go around all over in transport, much more expensive everytime you go past 2 persons. Try it. We purchase the magnetic card for 10 trips at a cost of 13€  ,good value from the usual 2,10 per person individual ticket on the trams. This having already a MOBIB Basic card which cost 5€. If purchase in the transport is 3€. The best part of the MOBIB Basic card is that you can lend to other persons to use so if a family you can reduce the cost further you know.

We like very much the City 2 shopping center, with FNAC, Armand Thiery, Carrefour market groceries; Australian ice cream parlor ,and a nice refuge from the rain ,all week, but we manage ok. Webpage in English: https://www.city2.be/

We ate at great places some old to come back to a Pizza Hut in Brussels brings a lot of memories from the time way back came as a young man with my late mother, our spot was here Bvd du Jardin Botanique 10. We tried the Australian ice cream parlor , the steakhouse Brussels Grill across the street, call the Manhattan center,  the Casa Nostra pizzeria was good, the wonderful all time favorite , real Belgian ,always a stop at Chez Patrick, an all time favorite here. We had our chocolates at a classic galerie de la reine at St Hubert, Corné Port Royal, the very best Belgian pralines or chocolates! We love it!!

We visit many stores old and new, and walk by the many wonderful streets and jardin botanique or botanical garden, seeing and reshape many monuments along the way from the great statue to Gen Montgomery of WWII fame by the metro tram stop of same name just pass the Parc du Cinquantanaire where we saw the wonderful Autoworld museum of vintage auto and bikes, a must see even if not into cars. We went over the Royal Armed Forces museum but here we got into a bit of laberinth, the museum close at noon for one hour, so if you are inside, you stay in the aviation hall with a restaurant very nicely place ho ho ho , but we wanted to continue seeing, no way, all aisles were close! so after having seen most (just pavillion 12 was left), we decided not to wait and leave, well no signs for sortie or exit available, we asked ,and it was thru the WC sign tunnel or rest rooms lol!!! weird way to leave a museum lol!!! Other than that, the museum is a marvelous place, not to be missed, of WWI and WWII to the Cold War tanks, planes, weapons,  uniforms the whole works!

We went over to mini Europe, so nice to see the wonders of Europe monuments all in minituare sizes, just glorious, and very nicely done, a must to visit. Nearby by is the symbol of Brussels, the Atomium globe , its a great architectural achievement and very nicely done for at least once seen, its 108 meters high with many levels open and some not. The panorama view from 7 is the main point of going up! You come here and dont drink beer lol!!! wonderful, we do lol!! and do visit the museum of beers at the Grand Place, small but a good introduction to beers Belges!  In all another wonderful visit to Brussels/Bruxelles, and a passing by the European commission of course, and the Royal Palace, and Santa Claus motorcycles, and the Cathedral Ste Catherine, the site of this year Plaisir d’Hiver or a Christmas market place full of hamlets, slaloms, dragon tunnels, and a big wheel we took awesome!!! a Great ambiance. the Church of Benigue, nearby is nice, the Royal Theater, parc du Bruxelles, and the wonderful chic Louise neighborhood.  Not to missed the Mannequin pis!!

A must to see when in Europe, one of its great Capital cities, Bruxelles, Brussels, we will be back. And we did, see the sights above on individual posts in my blog with pictures.

And of course, told the way up above, so now giving you the way down or home. I took the old route back, as if we were in Versailles, we left out very easy just as to go in, really is easy to drive on, you only need experience driving in cities and it will be fine. We left on the blvd du jardin botanique to blvd Adolphe Max left continuing on blvd Anspach then right on Rue Antoine Dansaert, then left on blvd de Nieuport to Chaussée de Ninove direction Mons to get on the RO ring road direction Mons. There you go on the Belgian A7 or E19 roads towards Paris, once in France you get on the A2 dir Valenciennes, then at the end it takes you into the A1 direction Paris, you go all the way to near CDG Roissy airport you see the panels Cergy Pontoise on the N104 (this is the la Francilienne road that goes on the outer limits of Paris) , continue direction Cergy Pontoise, pass the bridge of the A15 direction Versailles (yes my old town lol!) then go direction St Germain en Laye on the N184 same road, and just pass the Centaure train station at St Germain en Laye turn right on the A13 towards Poissy/Orgeval, at this round about you take the A13 direction Rouen,and up you go towards Caen then Rennes on the A84, N175, N24, N166,and N165 back to  Brec’h which is finally the road D768... This route took 880 kms, and 10 hrs with stops, with 91€ gas and tolls. So, longer but cheaper on gas/tolls.

The  tourist office of Brusselshttps://visit.brussels/en

The city of Brussels : https://www.bruxelles.be/

I must say that in later years I took the time to go on secondary /national roads without any tolls as these I consider extra taxes to pay! Its up to you! Hope you enjoy the ride! And remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

January 13, 2021

Versailles, yes there is a castle here!!

I am updating, revising text on some of my older posts; however, some are very nice that I should had done it before. I will bring you back to my beloved Versailles a city I used to lived, enjoyed and love. Again with so many posts and pictures, this will be on my black and white series. Hope you get to like it too ::)

I have live almost 9 years here, and love it. Most come to Paris, many think is an annex to Paris, but this is Versailles, royal, grand, historic, the foundation of a Nation. It is here when the French constitution needs to be discussed ,changed, amended, all the French parliament and President must move here by constitutional law, and Versailles becomes a de facto Capital of France, last happenned in 2009. The Kingdom was here and the Republic started here.

It has many attributes, friendlier, smaller, nice, beautiful architecture, lots of history all around  you, royal and republican, but it ,also, has a castle. What a castle, I considered the most beautiful in the world, and many were tried and done copying it. Nothing of this magnitude has ever been done. Thanks to king of the French Louis Philippe I that seeing history goes to nothing, had the brilliant idea of converting it into a museum! as he said, FOR THE GLORY OF FRANCE, So in 1837, the castle became the museum, and the story began for all of us. I got caught up in this museum magna, the most beautiful of them all. A bit of stories, compiled from my time as living there and Friends of the Castle.

First you see the statue of Louis XIV on a horse,  done in 1836! but the base and mount comes from the Louis XVI statue that his brother and later king, Louis XVIII wanted to have in the center of the pl de la Concorde in Paris ,then also call place Louis XVI  instead the statue was transferred here to honor under Louis XIV the great builder of Versailles, and the first you see upon coming to the castle. The moment you walk up to it you see pave stones roads, six alignements of pave stones, to welcome the king and guest to castle; nothing could come here than by invitation of the king, once past it you see the cour de marbre or marble courtyard, done by 1681, and renovated a bit in 1678 to give it a clock crown on top middle of the square, and the windows expanded to seven. Around this clock you have Hercules and Mars figures, and an eagle representing defeated nations of Spain, and the Holy Roman Empire during the war of Holland. You see a hydra snake representing the Grand Alliance raised to combat France, and a bull symbol of glorious pass over the Rhine in 1672.  You have the statues in the cour de marbre representing Africa and America on the south side of it, facing the Asia and Europe on the other side. Here too you find on the facades of the cour de marbres 84 busts done in 1685, after heroes of antiquities such as Marc Antony,Jules Cesar,Constantine, etc. Here you see the Cour des Cerfs et Degré du Roi, intimate spaces of Louis XV, it has three floors invisible from the cour des marbre or the cour royale, it serves to do libraries, cabinets rooms, and dining rooms for Louis XV could received his intimes friends. There was a dining room in the 3rd floor opening into vast terraces,and on 1754 a stair degré du roi was done to access the apartments of the royal guards from the cour royale.

But , lets go inside, ok. The wonderful Salon de Mars, see the wonderful painting, La Famille de Darius aux pieds d’Alexandre (1660) with the eyes of Louis XIV at Chateau de Fontainebleau done by Charles Le Brun, who had done Vaux-le-Vicomte,and  also did the galerie d’Apollon at Louvre and considered the best French painter of the 17C. See the marble floors between the Salon de Mars and Salon de Diane in the Grand Appartement du roi; known as the Versailles style parquets, done first in 1684 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart.  On the ceiling of the Salon d’Apollon see the Apollon conduisant le char du soleil (1671-1678) just to imitate the father in law known in Spain as the planet king, so Louis XIV (married to Spanish queen Maria Thérese or in Spanish Maria Teresa, and where all Spanish bourbons kings descend today such as Felipe VI) . Move on to the same salon de Diane to see the work on the doors by the stairs de Maréchaux ,see the reliefs on the doors, the stairs was destroyed in 1752, the reliefs stayed on.  It is now a small replica there and copy at the Chateau d’Herrenchiemsee in Germany.

At the north wing, on the rooms of the 17C, you see the great courts of the portraits of woman of the court of Louis XIV; It is the room of beauties done in 1663, such as the duchess of La Valliére, Henriette of England, Princesse  de Soubise or Princess of Monaco, Marie Mancini, or Anne Marie Martinozzi; lovely indeed. At the cour de l’Hymen by the stair of the queen you see a trophy en metal cover with copper and lead, showing the marriage of Louis XIV to his cousin Marie-Thérese d’Austria to reconcile the quarrels between France and Spain done at St Jean de Luz in signing the treaty of the Pyrénées in 1659. You see the fatality of queens at the ceilings of the antichambre de grand couvert, grand appartement de la reine , beautiful. Go on to the first antichambre du roi done in 1686, vast and beautiful.

The magnificent galerie des glaces done in 1681-1684, with 73 meters long and a canopy of almost 1000 square meters, as well as the ceilings of the salon de l’Abondance, grand appartement du roi. Here see the wonderful office cabinet furniture done in 1708. See the Salon de l’oeil de Boeuf, on the second antichambre in the appartement du roi; white ceilings done in 1701 but richly decorated along the walls. See the wonderful bedroom of Louis XIV at the appartement du roi. Here the king died on Sept 1st, 1715 after 60 years of reign.

There is a big oval encrusted painting showing Louis XV offrering peace to Europe in 1729 in the Salon de la Paix(peace) that follows the Salon de la Guerre(war) to the Grand Appartements. You,also, see the calendars for the anniversaires of the chapel of the king, see at the Sacristie des Musiciens near the tribunes of the chapel done by 1770. You can see the bedroom of Louis XV by the interior appartement du roi,the king uses it from age 27,and he died there May 10, 1774, Louis XVI continue its use, one of the places in the castle where few could entered.

See the wonderful dining room or salle à manger des retours de chasse in the interior appartement du roi; done in 1750 and held until 1769 the diners after his returns from hunting.  There is a nice room call the Cabinet de l’appartement de Madame de Pompadour, in the small appartement du roi in the attic, on top of the salon de la guere. Here many rdv was held by the king and woman including putting here Mme de Pompadour,(real name Jeanne Antoinette Poisson), entered in the courts of Versailles in 1745, and lived her first five years in the castle here, she even had a small chapel  once becoming a duchesse in 1752, she takes a jesuist as confessor in 1756, and while she was sick the king allows her to finish here in 1764, the only person of non royal blood to died in the castle, the king later said, ” Here is all the honors that I can give her, a friend of 20 years”.

You can see the library, in the appartement du Dauphin, or heir to the throne,  done in 1750, served for he of Louis XV and Louis XVI. The Grand Dauphin died at 49 in 1711 four years before Louis XIV while his son Philippe V or Felipe V ascend to the throne of Spain. You can see a wonderful pending clock  or the pendule astronomique de passemant (1730-1740) at the Cabinet de la Pendule, interior appartement du roi.  Given to the royal academy of sciences in 1749 it put here by Louis XV in 1754. It is programmable to be used until 9999! At the time it gave the time in the kingdom of France. You can see the library and bathroom of Madame du Barry, petit appartement du roi (second floor french ,3rd floor US), before becoming the favorite of king Louis XV, she was a saleslady in a boutique n the rue Saint Honoré de Paris. Louis XV keeps her at the age of 25 when she came to lived in the castle. In kicking out Madame du Barry by Louis XVI he takes over the room and you now see the Grand Cabinet in the appartement du Comte de Maurepas, the advisor to king Louis XVI not a good one after his bad advice Versailles came from being the birthplace of the monarchy to its tomb.

Another favorite is the Salle à manger des Porcelaines, or porcelain dining room.  It was the last dining room used by Louis XV  after his hunting runs, and later became a formal dining room under Louis XVI;its in the interior appartement du roi.  Another favorite item is the chandelier or imperiale du lit de Marie Antoinette n the bedroom of the queen. The room has been done exactly as the last day the queen use it on October 6, 1789. Furniture is from 1787 and the bed is from 1769 all renovated. Just think here 19 royal children of France including Louis XV ,and Felipe V of Spain were born. Come to see the Cabinet Doré , interior cabinets of the queen, done in 1783, one of the most beautiful piece of the queen, the harp was done in 1774.

There is a passage from the bedroom of the queen(chambre de la reine)  and the Salon de l’oeil de Boeuf; early on October 6, 1789 the queen was awaken by a large noise, the Parisiens arrives, the Salles des Gardes there was havoc, the room ladies help Marie Antoinette opening the small door to the left of her bed,and she takes leaves by the passages that led to the bedroom of the king. They met there in the passages, while the crowds gather at the cour des marbres and invades the castle. From the king’s bedroom (chambre du roi)La Fayette( he who help the US independance as the Marquis de Lafayette) and a few granadiers battle the insurgents protecting the royals ,while they arrive at the salon de l’Oeil de Boeuf. They needed to leave Versailles

You come to another of my favorites, the Galerie des Batailles or the battle gallery, at the central wing or aile du midi, (1 floor or 2nd Fl US) You see 16 paintings in bronce done from 1834-1836 with engraving of 528 names: 36 princes of the royal house, 10 admirals, 6 connatables,25 mariscals, 33 warriors,18 commanders, and 400 officers dead in combat for France. It describes the military history from Clovis to Napoleon, with 92 busts and 33 paintings of famous battles including the famous USA battle for indepedance at Yorktown.  See the magnificent Porte de l’Hospice des Chevaliers de Saint Jean de Jerusalem; at the salles des Croisades, the door is sculpture in cedar wood and bath of bronze from Rhodes Greece dating from 1512! ,from 1837-1839 the room was embellished with 150 paintings representing the period of the crusades.  Right around there, see the stair or Escalier de l’attique Chimay, to go to the attic Chimay, that extend the one of the queen done during the time of Louis XIV, but the king Louis Philippe, does from 1833-1837 true marble of colors and dust with a paste that gives the impression of seeing glass. The lady in room of Marie Antoinette was to have live here  14 years but actually stayed in the attic of the central wing just behind the glasses of the galerie des batailles/ So her name princess of Chimay,Laure-Auguste de Fitz-James who never lived here but the name stayed on. See the sculptures des Grands Hommes de France, galerie de Pierre, north wing 1 fl or aile nord. four galleries of stones, done in 1776 for the grand galerie du louvre but by Louis XVI here.

The project of a museum to the great man of France is the idea of the Assamblée Générale that in 1791 starts the Central Museum of the Arts, and on 1797 Versailles welcome the special museum of the French School of Arts. The most remarkable of the statues sculpture here is that made in marble of Joanne d’Arc done by Marie d’Orléans second daughter of the king of the French Louis Philippe I done in 1837.

The French Republic is ,also,here, the aile du midi or the middle wing served until 1958 to hold the National elections to hold the parlamentarians that came here to name a President of France.  You see the monograms FF as not to confused the R with the republican party of France, see it at the corniche de la Salle du Congrés du Parlement de Versailles, aile d midi or middle wing. Same wing, see the Pavillon de Provence, the Bureau or cabinet du Président du Congrés ou l’Investiture. The old salon of the countess of Provence came to be under the IV République Française the working office of the president of the National Assembly or Assamblée Nationale. From the 1879 to 1953 14 presidents of  France were elected here! Now is the lieu of work when the French constitution needs revision,changes or amenmends.

The official webpage of the Château de Versailles: http://www.chateauversailles.fr/homepage

The official webpage of the Château de Versailles eventshttps://en.chateauversailles-spectacles.fr/

The city of Versailles tourist office on the must sees in the Château de Versailles: https://en.versailles-tourisme.com/les-10-incontournables.html

Versailles is a lot more than a castle, but the castle is sublime , unique, exceptionally superbe and a must see while anywhere in France or the République Française! I hope you enjoy my favorite, the property is huge , for all tastes. One place to know the whole history of France. Hope you enjoy the post , and it needed to be long.

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

January 13, 2021

Versailles, and me !!!

I am updating, revising text on some of my older posts; however, some are very nice that I should had done it before. I will bring you back to my beloved Versailles a city I used to lived, enjoyed and love. Again with so many posts and pictures, this will be on my black and white series. Hope you get to like it too ::)

Coming around my life, as a family we decided way back that one day we might end up in France. Being married to a French woman, and all French citizens, the time was just any minute. Life in South Florida has been great, and we were visiting France every year since 1990 together,even sometimes with my parents.

The decision was made to come to live in France permanently. First, I found a job online with a major French CAC 40 corporation as head of their accounting dept which included 9 regions of the world and 5 billion USD in sales, the force of 53% of its sales to the USA. The decision then was to prepare the move and sell our home in Florida.

I came for the job on August 23, 2003 to start with Thomson Broadcast & Media Solutions in Cergy-St Christophe, dept 95 Val d’Oise,and  lived with my in-laws in Chambry near Meaux dept 77 Seine-et-Marne ,which of courses knew the area well, this while I search for an apartment. This was done by October of that year, at Versailles dept 78 Yvelines, with good transport to the city and Paris as well as close to my job via car. My family joined me in December 2003 together with my parents who decided to follow their only son and grandchildren here!!

I had secured a big four bedroom apartment near transport and schools, and large enough to received our belonging from Florida USA. The move was done from Miami Florida by SDV French freight forwarders who gave us an expatriate deal very cheap for a 40 foot container door to door delivery, unbelievable price, nobody could believe it. But my wife worked for them in Miami!

My parents were issued quickly visa long séjour and upon arriving titre de séjour visiteur as they were already US retirees did not needed to work . My wife was helped by a French compatriot in the USA who refered her to a company here doing the same job as in Florida, freight forwarding agent ,and within a couple of month found the job at Roissy CDG in the freight or cargo area of DHL Global Forwarding. My kids went to school for quick entry at the town of Verneuil sur Seine (collége) and then Le Chesnay-Roquencourt (lycée)  ,and quickly began to get good grades in school as their French was already mastered by the mother in house education, using tapes, books, cassettes, plus the daily usage of the language and annual visits to France. Kids can really pick up the languages quickly!!

Quickly settling in to our new surrounding, we purchase our first home by July 2004 in the same area near a forest that links with Versailles behind the Domaine de Versailles which includes the castle everyone comes to see. It is a four bedroom 2 bath one car garage home with fruit trees in the patio and a nice front yard full of roses and flowers. Tool shed house and barbecue pit of bricks. It is our sweet home in France, and we love it. Later on we came to live in town by the Notre Dame Church behind it!!

About this same time , 2004 , I was given the opportunity to be the head of Accounting of the Intercontinental Hotels Group in France, handling all hotels own and manage by the group including the fame Cafe de la Paix in Paris and 3 Intercontinental hotels (two in Paris and one in Cannes) plus the Holiday Inn Republique in Paris and Disneyland Paris (now all with different names and new owners except Le Grand and Café de la Paix) . A job that allows me to maintain close relationship with the deluxe high end and tourist industry in France. As well as getting to know some well known individuals in many fields.

Our next move as we move along in our belle France, which by now it has become our home and legal residence is to move closer to the kids university and schools, as they are working or going to school in Versailles or next to it using the city bus system very well while Dad continues to haul his car around (habit hard to dismiss). My job since 2006 involves doing independant contract work for corporations inside and outside France in the area of  Finance/ERP/Controlling/and international dealings with the largest French corp part of the CAC 40 (sort like a Dow Jones industrials in the USA). See my other posts for the stories to follow on this one city and beyond into Bretagne!

The city of Versailles, on top right page, the globe can translated to several languages: https://www.versailles.fr/

The Dept 78 Yvelines on entertainment and link to tourist office: https://www.yvelines.fr/loisirs/tourisme/le-guide-de-sorties/

The Ïle de France region on tourism: https://www.iledefrance.fr/tourisme

You are welcome to ask any questions if thinking of coming over, it is a lot easier than most will tell you; just follow the French system, read procedures. I will expand with my stories in other parts of the world and the continuation in France, stay tune. It felled very nice to be more personal and let you all know a bit of my history. Hope you enjoy it as I did telling you. Versailles is worth a kingdom!

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

January 13, 2021

Versailles ,its worth a kingdom!!

I am updating, revising text on some of my older posts; however, some are very nice that I should had done it before. I will bring you back to my beloved Versailles a city I used to lived, enjoyed and love. Again with so many posts and pictures, this will be on my black and white series. Hope you get to like it too ::)

I will stop this time my historical anecdotes of the city of Versailles to tell you of my first coming home “visit”. I am in transition after almost 9 yrs living in the city to move out, my house is sold, waiting for the closing in June to move permanently to the Morbihan breton dept 56. So every chance I get to be back it feels great indeed. Versailles I will never forget you!!!

I had to pick up my oldest son for a meal at home with the family, so instead of just a round trip, I spent my time walking and driving all over the city, just a nostalgic tour one more time. It is hard, one who is used to living internationally (five countries already lived), each time is a psychological process, this time even more so, the city has given me and my family so much good.

First an hommage to  a great gardener ,and one that one of my son is trying to follow as gardener paysagiste himself. There is a bust statue of André Le Notre (see post) , by Ave des Etats Unis  and Ave de Saint Cloud, honoring the master of his chef d’ouvre Versailles, but ,also of Palais des Tuileries, Palais Royal, Saint Germain en Laye ,Marly-le-Roi, Saint Cloud, Chantilly, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Sceaux, Saint Maur, Saint Martin de Pontoise, Ussé, Chaville, Pontchartain, Conflans, Gaillon, Guermantes, Castries, Les Rochers, Maintenon, Meudon, and, Clagny. First gardener of the kings of France from 1645 to his death in 1700.

I went back to a seldom site as I live on the opposite Notre Dame, but the Saint Louis district is unique too, in that it houses the Cathedral de Saint Louis, (see post)  wonderful ,and today many scouts kids in it, during service. I waited for the end to come back for the pictures. One should not take photos when service is held, please.

For an historical anecdote, the Collegiale de Notre Dame Church is the oldest but when the French revolution for not given in to the old royal grounds, they chose this one as the city’s Cathedral. Nevertheless as I said , it is very imposing and compact, nice.  First blessed as such in 1754. The organ was done in 1761, and survived the revolution instact. You have the baptismal urn of king Clovis ,the first king of the Franks or Francia=France.  Wonderful huge paintings, and statue of Joanne d’Arc, patron saint of France. A must to see.

I went again by the Potager-du-roi, the vegetable patch for the king Louis XIV, still given out goodies to the general public on Wednesdays.  This one is the one open to the public as the Kings harvest place, there is one bigger behind all the way of the castle properties now accessable by Saint Cyr l-école (see post) on the D307 road.

I let you have ,once in my neck of the city, the exit I take from the gare rive droite in Versailles, closest to me, I would go out on blvd de la Reine, and next to it is the nice and historical Hotel de Clagny.

I once again take you to the wonderful , magnificent, highly recommended Marché Notre Dame, (see post) the best, by the place du vieux marché, and parking underground Notre Dame for those daring like me to drive. This is all you need to buy, all is here. I like to take rememberence to the Hôpital Richard, a venerable institution in Versailles who have seen its better days. The Units have been transferred next door to a modern facility ,and the old hospital is been transformed into a luxury condo,apartment complex, which if models show it, will be stunning. The only building left will be the Chapel. It looks nice and the price is as per location. The Chapel  was, in the former Convent of the Augustinians of Versailles or couvent de la Reine, dedicated to the education of young ladies founded by Queen Marie Leszczynka,wife of Louis XV. It was done in 1772.

I then move over to seldom seen areas such as another district or neighborhood of Versailles (see post on districts of Versailles) ,this is Montreuil, a royal neighborhood, and the Church of Saint Symphorien (see post) done 1764-1770, wonderful paintings from the 18C ,but today it was in ceremonial service so no pictures inside.  The colorful ,commercial rue de Montreuil leads to Ave des Etats Unis is full of shops and bistros ,very lively at night too. Last we made a tour into the end of rue Royale, to take a look at the Lycée Notre Dame de Grandchamp that houses a private school and next to it at 16 Rue Monseigneur Gibier , you have the Bishop’s office of the diocese of Versailles. And next to it at no 8 the Chapelle de l’Immaculate Conception.

On the run, we stop at my son’s hangout in near Saint Louis Cathedral, where the kebad is the kids thing, talk, gossips and girls, I guess ::) Planeté Food, 7 rue du Général Leclerc , very good service, and menus includes fries and sodajust crossing street you are at Cathédrale de Saint Louis, and tracing back to rue Royale brings you out to the train station gare rive gauche-Château. Tried the Greek or Grec menu with American sauce combination mayo and ketchup. A young crowd but very well disciplined ,most from private schools in the area.

The city of Versailles tourist office : https://www.versailles-tourisme.com/

The city of Versailles on its history/heritage: https://www.versailles.fr/ma-ville/decouvrir/histoire-de-versailles/

And there you go a nice “visit” to my beloved Versailles and time to see and do some of the routines of old. Always feels good to be at Versailles, it is worth a kingdom indeed. Hope you enjoy it as I do, and do visit when possible.

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

January 12, 2021

The Alignments of Carnac, Part II!

Now this is a heavy subject and I won’t claim to know it well but live nearby so visit several times for the learning curve! The Alignments of Carnac are world famous even Unesco world heritage site and I am just 25 minutes from them! I have written before on them plenty of detail and history so will concentrate on the newer pictures shown here.

They are just south of me about 25 km or 12 miles, and we past by the famous megalithes or stones, as well as stopping by once for the formal knowledge about them. Indeed they have been here for centuries, and very popular now. I am not much into stones, mind you,  but its very historical and folks all over come to see it. The locals have a predilection for stones even decorating their homes with it on the facades. Which we of course ,have copy for our house! Carnac is nice for the ambiance of its restos bars and beaches in summer; its a place to go eat seafood, fish, and the great Breton galettes/crêpes with the cider or the white wine of muscadet/loire or the Breton beers.

The alignments of Carnac  are an exceptional megalithic  alignments located in the town’s limits of Carnac. They are the most famous and most impressive megalithic ensembles of this period with nearly 4 000 stones lifted around 4500 years BC. The alignments are however accessible to the public in high season through the visits conferences with a guide proposed by the Maison des Mégalithes,  and are on open access in winter period or between October and March.  They include 2 733 menhirs, probably largely below what existed in the Neolithic era!

Ideally, your visit to the Carnac alignments should start with a visit to the Maison des Mégalithes or House of Megaliths. The good news is that it is free to access. Its hours vary according to the season, so check the tourist office.

The Le Menec site is the easiest to access. It faces the House of Megaliths, a reception and information center for the alignments. Its spacious parking lot and the location of the museum are not the only reasons for its success! It is the site with the most menhirs. With the 2nd major site Kermario count nearly 3000 megaliths on site!

Carnac maison des megalithes jul12

It is at Menec that it is easiest to grasp the notion of stone alignments. On 11 very distinct rows, you have 1050 aligned stones, in ascending order of size. The spacings are regular enough so that we can clearly see the lines appear when we observe each row.

Carnac maison des Mega menec from roof jul12

At the Kermario alignments, you face the largest monoliths in the Breton region. Here, 1029 menhirs are aligned in 10 rows. Nearby, you will discover the Giant of Manio, the highest standing stone in Carnac with a height of 6.50 meters, or the strange quadrilateral of Manio.

carnac Kermario menhirs jun13

On the Kerlescan site, the alignments are more modest. You have 555 megaliths aligned in 13 rows in front of you. It is completed by the nearby Petit Menec site.

 

I will repeat and update several webpages that will help you further understand these stones and plan your visit to this wonderful area of Carnac.

The unique webpage of the Menhirs of Carnac stones: http://www.menhirs-carnac.fr/en/

The city of Carnac capital of the megaliths: https://www.carnac.fr/Territoire-d-exception/Capitale-des-Megalithes

The Carnac tourist office on the megaliths: https://www.carnactourism.co.uk/discover-carnac/standing-stones/megaliths-carnac

The local Bay of Quiberon tourist office on the Carnac megaliths: https://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/megalithic-sites-of-carnac

The dept 56 Morbihan tourist board on Carnac things to see: http://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/home/discover/morbihan/the-main-destinations/carnac

The Brittany tourist board on the megaliths of Carnac: https://www.brittanytourism.com/offers/les-alignements-de-carnac-carnac-en-1994701/

The Ministry of Culture of France on the Carnac megaliths: http://www2.culture.gouv.fr/culture/arcnat/megalithes/

There you go now you are loaded to come and see them. Worth the visit and let me know when in town. Carnac is special for the stones and more! Hope you have enjoy the tour.

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

January 11, 2021

Vannes and the Fêtes Historiques!!!

This is a wonderful festival on the streets of Vannes every year in July. We first encounter it in 2012 and been to it ever since. I like to update the one from 2016 for its historical face. Hope you enjoy the Historical Festival of Vannes!

This is a wonderful event in Vannes, my capital city , where I work and live only 26 km or about 14 miles on country roads.  A huge middle ages intact city left in time and glory for all of us to enjoy it today. The event in it’s 31th edition is the Fêtes Historiques or Historical Festival.

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We enjoy it every year since the last five we have live in the area, and always wonderful. This year the Festival has a guest of honor ,Napoléon III.

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It is held ironically around the National Day of France July 14 ,today ,showing another aspect of French traditions and this time held July 13-14, 2016. It has hundreds and if not thousands of folks dressed in period costumes with fire works in the ramparts gardens, and many représentations from other European countries. Of course, Spain was here, as the wife of Napoleon III was Maria Eugenia de Montijo, emperatrice of France and Spanish born (see Belmonte post).

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Napoléon III came twice to Vannes ,once in 1858 and again in 1865. It was on a long trip to Brittany to gather support in the region,and stop of the religious center in Sainte-Anne d’Auray (see post) as well. They came with their children and were received in the Palais de la Motte (where today lies the préfecture or regional government building see post on garden).

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The animations starts from 14h30 to 20h each day, and there are walks with all personalities around town at 16h30, from the Church of Saint Pattern,(see post) 17h from the Place Maurice Marchais, and at 22h30 from the same square Place Maurice Marchais. Fireworks at the ramparts garden at 23h30. We were early at 10h30 in the Hôtel de Ville (see post) where the foreign visitors will be presented and bal dance held as well as marching band from the period.

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Some of the artists that will be here of my interest are the Centre Equestre de Plougoumelen.   And the Fundacion Bodas de Isabel of  Teruel, Aragon, Spain. This is worth seeing in Spain too on the dramatic romance of Teruel, more in Spanish webpage: http://www.bodasdeisabel.com/W3/Bodas/Index_Bodas.aspx

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There will be navette bus free from the right bank of the harbor area or le Port, and the Parc du Golfe, and parking Racker. And the city of Vannes had a bus from midnight 00h30 departing from the Place de la République , front of the post office building. We parked in place de la Liberation bus terminal area for free and walk 10 minutes to city center!

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A great event which unfortunately due to the virus cas cancelled for July 2020. Hopefully, see you better in July 2021.

Be ready for 2021. The Gulf of Morbihan webpage on the Fêtes Historiqueshttps://golfedumorbihan56.com/vannes-les-fetes-historiques-2021/

More on the Vannes south Brittany webpage: https://www.vannes-bretagne-sud.bzh/evenement/fetes-historiques-vannes/

And the tourist office of Brittany on the Historical Festival of Vanneshttps://www.brittanytourism.com/matching-what-i-want/culture-and-heritage/brittanys-main-events/vannes-historical-festival/

Hope you enjoy it, and be ready next time to be in the area; you will enjoy it too, me think..

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

January 10, 2021

Domaine de Versailles!!!

Oh yes when started my blog way back in 2010 ,I wrote a post on the Versailles property that the world comes there to see. However, in France we make a distinction between the Château or Palace and the Domaine or Domain of Versailles. One is just one building while the latter is the whole property including dependencies. Let me tell you a bit of the history of the Palace and the things in the Domain of Versailles.

One of the grands of our world, a must to visit when in France or even to come just for it!! The domaine de Versailles is the set of lands and buildings of 850 Ha. (8000 Ha before the French revolution) dependent on the Palace of Versailles. You do the math as one hectare is equal to 2.471 acres.

Besides the castle, it includes 93 ha of gardens and 300 ha of forest. You count 20 km of enclosures, 42 km of alleys, and 372 magnificent statues !   However, also, the Petit and Grand Trianon with a park of 80 ha for the Grand and 50 ha for the Petit. Also, the Hameau de la Reine, the Grand and Petit Canal, Orangerie, and the pièce d’eau des 3 Suisses. It has 55 basins! The biggest are the Grand Canal 23 Ha, and 500 000 M3 of water and the Piéce d’Eau des 3 Suisses with 180 000 M3 of water. A total of 35 km of canals and 600 water jets.

The Palace of Versailles also has an Royal Opera house and a Royal Chapel.   The chapel created between 1689 and 1710, the Kings regularly attended daily mass. It has been completely renovated this December 2020! The Opera, inaugurated in 1770, was one of the last buildings of the Palace of Versailles. This museum (palace of Versailles) is the biggest in the world with 18000 m2 of space.

We love the gardens where we walked, jogged, had picnics in the back and enjoy a nice croissant etc at Angelina by the Petit Trianon.  To admire and understand Le Nôtre’s masterpiece, you have to go and discover it from above, from the king’s and queen’s apartments and the Hall of Mirrors.  Then, in the gardens, passing through the steps of the bassin de Latone, the majestic prospect of the reflecting pool leads to the chariot of Apollo. Then, you have to get lost in the plant labyrinth to better savor the effects of surprise that the discovery of the fourteen green rooms has in store. Among these creations, the salle de Bal or ballroom and its rockeries. The days of Musical Fountains, gardens and groves are a visual and sound enchantment.

The park is spread around the Grand Canal, a 23 hectare body of water with a 5.5 km periphery. Its major axis towards the sunset extends the perspective of the garden towards infinity between the hedge of large Italian poplars, the proud silhouettes of which can be seen beyond the water. At the head of the Canal, the buildings of Little Venice are reminiscent of gondoliers and gondolas, yachts and galleys which made up the flotilla and which were used for walks, for concerts or for nautical festivals. The transverse arm of the Grand Canal linked the Menagerie (now destroyed) to Trianon.

On either side of the Grand Canal are forest plots made up of local tree varieties and crisscrossed by large alleys. These are bordered by single or double rows that were once planted with elms and today with tillers and beeches. The trees are rigorously pruned, making up a real plant architecture. Near the Castle,the flowerbeds were designed to be seen from the first floor. The parterre du Midi, boxwood embroidery decorated with flowers; the parterre du Nord, all of boxwood and grass; in the center, the two mirrors of the parterre d’Eau bordered by reclining statues representing the rivers of France, masterpieces of sculpture. At the bend of an alley new points of view are offered, new fountains, new statues, trellis cradles,and   topiaries. Fantasy can be found in the groves , today 9. These groves are rooms of greenery nestled in the small woods located between the alleys; when one goes through these, one cannot suspect the existence of these wonders.

The property goes back way back of the Grand Canal into the towns of St Cyr l’école and its many gates or portes that encircle the old Domain of Versailles for 43 km!!. My favorite here was the Porte de Bailly still visible from the Ferme de Gally on St Cyr l’école. 700 meters from it you can still see the Porte de Noisy with a garden guardian house still there. Much further in the enclosure you have the Porte de Buc (town of Buc) ,Porte de Saint Cyr(town of St Cyr l’école) ,Porte d’Aréne (town of St Nom la Bretêche ) Porte de Jouy et Porte de Loches (town of Jouy en Loches) , Porte de Mérantais (town of St Quentin en Yvelines) , pavillon de Chateaufort (town of Chateaufort) ,Porte de Puissaloup (town of Bois d’Arcy) ,my favorite entrance to the Domaine , porte Saint Antoine or Porte de la Reine ( town of Versailles) ,Porte de Trou Salé (town of Toussus le Noble) ,Porte d’entrées or entering gate (town of St Nom la Bretêche private occupied today). You see my Domaine de Versailles!

A bit of history I like

The first mentioned of Versailles dates from 1038 where monks erect a Church of Saint Julien. By 1472 , the first complete mentioned of the city is as Versailles-aux-Bourg-de-Galie (new French, Versailles in the town of Gally). by 1475 the Lords of Versailles give right to Trianon to the abbey of Sain Germain, first mentioned of Trianon in texts. by 1589 first time king Louis XIII stops by Versailles, which he again will visit in 1604,1607, and 1609 ;while doing his first hunt in 1607. By 1623 ,king Louis XIII has built a modest country manor home in bricks to spent his time hunting and passing by but never sleeps in it.

The first castle type construction was done by what is today the cour de marbre or courtyard of marble, being of 24 meters long and 6 meters wide. On April 18, 1632 king Louis XIII buys the lands and domaine of Versailles to Jean-François de Gondi, bishop of Paris. New lands around it are purchased and a bigger castle is built in 1634. King Louis XIII died on May 14 ,1643.

His son king Louis XIV lived in Paris at the Louvre, and was born in nearby Saint Germain-en-Laye. By 1651 does his first visit to Versailles and on October 25th, 1660 takes there for the first time his wife queen Maria Teresa (Spain). From 1661-1668 renovations and new constructions takes over the life of the domaine. He brings in the crew that built the castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte (seine et marne dept 77) as Le Vau, the architect, Errard and Coypel, the decorators, and Le Notre ,the gardener. By 1664 the first parties are done in the castle including plays by Moliére. First statues place in the gardens done in 1665 , the Grand Canal was built in 1667 . The biggest party is thrown on July 18 1668 to make the castle known to the world.

In the period, 1668-1670 the castle is enlarged again with encircling the old building all done by architect Le Vau, and after his death in 1670 by his successor architect d’Orbay. The Trianon de Porcelain (replace by the Grand Trianon) is built in 1670 , and at this time many hôtel particuliéres or manor houses are built of great richness such as the ones of Luxembourg, Noailles,Guise,Bouillon, and Gesvres. Between 1678-1686 the galerie des glaces or the Hall of mirrors (73 meters long) is built with decorations by Le Brun. By 1682 even before all is finished the king Louix XIV comes to live in the castle.

Meanwhile, more construction is going on between 1685-89 . New Orangerie, (see post) Grand Comun (for servants and lesser officials quarters -see post) , the stables  of Petite and Grande Ecuries (see post).  1700 new apartments are done to house the duke of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, future king of Spain under Felipe V (the Bourbon line is done, ancestors of today’s king of Spain Felipe VI ,his father king Juan Carlos I was fifth in line to the throne of France).

By 1689-1710,  the Royal Chapel is built; upon king Louis XIV death in 1715, Louis XV finally comes to live in Versailles in 1722 at the age of 12 years old, and makes his preference to lived at the Grand Trianon later more so the queen Marie Leszczynska . Meanwhile renovations and constructions continues from 1729 on such as the Salon d’Hercules in 1729-1736, the Royal Opéra 1768-1770, and the Petit Trianon 1761-1768. In 1770 the marriage of the dauphin heir future Louis XVI with Marie-Antoinette de Lorraine, archduchess of Austria is held here at the Royal Chapel.

Comes king Louis XVI, he builts the library in 1774 done by Gabriel. Cabinet Dorée or golden cabinet built in 1783 to house the collections of Louis XV, his father. then comes the French revolution.  The Estates Generaux are held here and from October 6, 1789 the castle is never the same again. All traces of kings is taken down, all objects are spread all over France and abroad.  the statues, sculptures and paintings as well as furniture is sold all over Europe. A sad time indeed. Then comes reason in the name of the new monarch of king Louis-Philippe in 1830, he decides for good that the castle can be save if made into a museum !  ” FOR ALL THE GLORIES OF FRANCE”. The museum is open on June 10, 1837, hails greatly by one Victor Hugo.

Here the treaty of Versailles ending  WWI is done on June 28 1919.  The French constitution has it that all changes or amendments to the French constitution as per article 89 needs the National Assembly or Assamblée Générale (house of reps) and the Senate,and the President and his cabinet must move and do those changes debates in Versailles. While here the city of Versailles becomes the de facto Capital of France!!! Like it never has stopped being it !!!!!!!!!!

It has welcome celebraties and events such as in 1972 Queen Elisabeth II of England (UK) 1974 the Shah of Iran, 1985 Mickaïl Gorbachev, 1992 Boris Yeltsin, and 1982  served as reunion site for the G7, amongst many more including serving as office of Pres Charles De Gaulle!

The latest info for ticketing : All these places are to be discovered thanks to the “Passport with hourly reservation” ticket which allows access to the entire estate (the castle with access within half an hour following the chosen schedule, the gardens, the Trianon estate ). This ticket allows access to the gardens on the days of Musical Fountains and Musical Gardens, during which all the groves are open and the pools are filled with water. Tariff is 27€ on Musical Fountains or Musical Gardens days , and 20€ excluding Musical Fountains and Musical Gardens days.

Some webpages for more info and planning for your next visit as soon as possible are

The official Chateau de Versailles:  http://en.chateauversailles.fr/

The city of Versailles on history/heritage info:   https://www.versailles.fr/ma-ville/decouvrir/histoire-de-versailles/

The official tourist office of the city of Versailles :https://en.versailles-tourisme.com/

In French but the little city newspaper , Le Petit Versaillais ( the little person of Versailles =versaillais) that you can subscribe for news of the city in general, give all the everyday life of it including tourist updates and information. Webpage: http://www.lepetitversaillais.fr/

If you want to help restore and maintain this wonderful property call the Domaine de Versailles and join millions around the world who do, including me, this is the webpage for Les Amis de Versailles or the friends of Versailles.  https://www.amisdeversailles.com/?lang=en

Of course impossible to name them all, the property is huge, this will give some ideas and history to search. If need any detail information feel free to post a question or contact me on this blog. I lived there for 9 glorious years!!! Hope you enjoy the tidbits of info on the post of my fav Domaine de Versailles! 

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

January 10, 2021

Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca !

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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