Posts tagged ‘Florida’

November 27, 2020

The St Johns river!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

sanford st john river passing by to Orlando 2009

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

Some webpages on the tourism side are

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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November 27, 2020

Miramar, FL and beach volleyball !!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 25, 2020

Florida,the Sunshine State!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 25, 2020

My best restaurants in Florida!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 24, 2020

My shopping in Florida!!!

I like to share and update this post on my shopping in Florida coming from my 18 years of living in Central and South Florida USA. An experience that I would never forget ,and last visited in 2016.

Shopping is a ritual, especially around the malls or shopping center. Its a way of life, social, dating, just having a good time all takes place while shopping under the Sunshine State of Florida. Some of the shopping is so near a beach a combination is sublime. Hours are usually from 10h to 21h some open at 9h and others closed at 20h. The hours are continuosly no closing for lunch as in Europe. All properties have heating and air conditioned housing. The only drawback is that public transportation is limited and the automobile is the way to go; however, that is no problem for me ::)

These are some of my favorites places, starting with malls aka shopping centers. The photos are in some of them individual posts in my blog.

Aventura Mall, north of Miami. 19501 Biscayne Boulevard, Aventura, FL 33180 . An upscale wonderlust of stores and restaurants, over 250 stores and 24 cinema screens, with favorites like Barney, Bakers,fossil, gap, and Macy’s, JC Penney, Johnny Rockets burgers, and the Cheesecake Factory resto. This has been improved and enlarged since my time there webpage http://www.aventuramall.com/

Bayside MarketPlace, on downtown city center Miami by the port of Miami. 401 Biscayne Boulevard Miami, FL 33132. A wonderful tropical escape with boating cruises on Miami harbor and passing by the home of the famous. Souvenirs stores and great Latin American Cafe. webpage  https://www.baysidemarketplace.com/

Cocowalk Shopping Center, in the small chic community of Coconut Grove right in the middle of Miami by the bay. 3015 Grand Avenue Miami, FL 33133 .  The cinema, the walks in a quaint village, Hooters’ on a nice breeze Florida night is sublime.  This one has been torn down to re do a complete new complex . More on Facebook for the new Cocowalk: https://www.facebook.com/CocoWalk1/ 

Broward Mall, right in the middle of Plantation a city near Ft. Lauderdale and close to the beaches. A huge place with wonderful stores to browse and eat. 8000 West Broward Boulevard ,Plantation, FL 33388 tel +001 954 473 8100. You have my favorites stores Dillard’s and Macy’s plus eating at Cajun Grill. webpage  http://westfield.com/broward/

Dadeland Mall, a huge shopping center south Miami and you can get there on the monorail public transport from city center Miami. 7535 N Kendall Drive, Miami, FL 33156 Tel +001 305 665 6343. You have here the Disney store, and Sephora, plus eating at Cafe con Leche, and Tango Grill. webpage:  https://www.simon.com/mall/dadeland-mall 

Dolphin Mall, an excellent place west of the airport, you can get there by the Dolphin expressway from Miami Beach to NW 107 ave the mall is right up the street to NW 114 ave .11401 N.W. 12 Street, Miami, FL 33172, tel +001 305 365 7446 . My favorites here were the old JC PEnney store, plus the cinema, the outdoor live music events under the Florida sky, just sublime. come to shop or come to party is all here. Gap, Banana Republic, the Borders Book store,  TGIFridays, for food eating, a great place for the whole family. webpage http://www.shopdolphinmall.com/

International Mall, another dandy right next to the Dolphin Expressway coming from Miami Beach at NW 107 ave. you see it from the Expressway. One of my favorite restaurant is here La Carreta, Cuban Cuisine at its best. 1455 NW 107th Avenue, Miami, FL 33172, now with 9 properties! They had a friendly former  JC Penney store here, a former Toys R Us on the parking property, former Dillard’s (still clothing from here!), and former Mayors Jewerlers. webpage https://www.simon.com/mall/miami-international-mall

You will find great bargain and more city life shopping at downtown or city center Miami away from the port of Miami (cruise capital) and Bayside MarketPlace by going on Flagler street and meandering the little side streets around it, loads of stores there at bargain bazaar prices.  They have an association at Downtown Miami , Biscayne Boulevard to 3rd Avenue, SE 1st Street to NE 3rd Street, Miami, FL 33131 Tel +001 305 379 7070. webpage telling you all about shopping eating and nightlife plus hotels around this area is https://www.downtownmiami.com/ 

Way down on Miami southern tip going towards Key West but still Miami you will find the Falls shopping center, an open air mall of great chic stores right off US 1 main road, they claim to be the biggest in the USA. Here you would see old names wow!! do not see these there now Bloomindales,Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, Williams Sonoma, as my favorites stores with eating places like Los Ranchos, PF Changs China Bistro, are still there but TGIFridays is not!. A wonderful shopping experience under the sun, but nice AC in the stores ::) webpage  https://www.simon.com/mall/the-falls

Lincold Road, this is right on Miami Beach , a very nice shopping place right off the beach for about 10 blocks of stores, restos, art galeries ,nice. Go for the upscale YUCA restaurant now gone!. The News Cafe was a place to talk and mingle with the locals and visitors alike and start your day fresh with all the news!!! Not to forget Joe’s Stone Crabs restaurant, and the beautiful Art Deco hotels lining up Ocean ave. webpage: http://www.lincolnroadmiamibeach.org/ 

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. It is in my home county of Broward, north of Miami and west of Ft Lauderdale. In the city of Sunrise, 12801 West Sunrise Blvd, Sunrise, FL 33323. It is an outlet mall per excellence, with many visitors and locals alike filling its magnificent array of stores.  Some of the former were Saks Fifth Avenue outlet was my favorite, as well as Book-a-Million bookstore (still there!) , Burlington Coat, Bed- Bath & Beyond, Dockers, Levi’s, and K-Bee toys, they have a wonderful role playing games complex center in Wannado City , The Regal 23 theaters cinema (still there!)  is excellent, Gameworks arcade for children (still there under Gamebox arcade) , and the TGIFridays restos,(still there)  around it, the Walmart store just outside (still there!) , Rainforest Cafe inside (still there!) , plus many additional shops and centers around it make it one of the biggest one stop shopping in all of Florida. webpage  https://www.simon.com/mall/sawgrass-mills

Pembroke Lakes Mall, the closest to my house in Miramar , this is a nice family mall, very nicely done in a  belle epoque art deco style inside. 11401 Pines Blvd., Suite 546, Pembroke Pines, Florida 33026, Tel +001 954 436 35 20. The great Toys R Us store, the former JC Penney, American Eagle, Bakers, Bath & Body Works,Macy’s,  former Sears, former  Radio Shack, GNC, Churromania resto with Spanish churros pastries!(still there!) An excellent food court with Nathan’s famous hot dogs, and Godiva Chocolatier. Come on in and relax. Webpage: https://www.pembrokelakesmall.com/en/directory/ 

Volusia Mall, by the international speedway in Daytona Beach, 1700 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, Florida 32114. My old reliable place while in my college and post college days in the area. former JC Penneys my old nice clothing place (purchase my wedding ring here lol!) , former Sears for all those tools, American Eagles, the Applebee’s resto with succulent ribs, Radio Shack, and eat at Wetzel’s pretzels, Mr Dunderbaks german eatery, and Sbarro’s pizzeria. Great memories here, Webpage  https://www.volusiamall.net/shop/volusia.nsf/index

Altamonte Mall, Altamonte Springs, just before reaching Orlando coming from Daytona Beach on the I4 inter state highway on your way to Disney. Better prices ,great surrounding, nice place. 451 East Altamonte Drive
Altamonte Springs, Florida 32701, Tel +001 407  215 51 00.  Former Barnes & Nobles bookstore, Bahamas Cruise resto, Barnie Coffee & Tea, Perfumania, and nice surrounding. webpage https://www.altamontemall.com/en/directory/

The Shops at Pembroke Gardens, another distinctive location of fine shops and eateries near my old home and a family favorite. Here you will find the great burgers Fuddruckers, DSW shoe warehouse, Barnes & Nobles bookstore,and old Navy store.  527 SW 145th Terrace, Pembroke Pines, FL 33027 , tel +001 954  450 15 80.  webpage http://www.pembrokegardens.com/

A great area to do shopping,eating, drinking ,partying ,and all family fun in Ft Lauderdale is at Las Olas blvd area, in a quaint village atmosphere.  Gourment farmers market, galleo belgian chocolates, are two of my all time favorites there. Former Mango’s , Cafe la Bonne Crepe (still there) ,and the former Café de Paris are fine eating habits of the family when in the area. You will find in the link info on hotels ,art galleries ,and many other tidbits of the area, if need more let me know, dont want to write a book ,its just a blog Lol!! https://lasolasboulevard.com/

Centro YBOR in Tampa is another wonderful Florida combination of shopping, Food, and games for the whole family. Another favorite when visiting relatives or Busch Gardens. An escape when coming to play soccer at the Univ level Div 2,and summer leagues semipro Lol!!!  One of the oldest and the oldest Cuban enclave in the USA.  1600 East 8th Avenue, Tampa, Fl 33605. Get on Gametown, (still there) the Muvico theater for great movies, tried former Hamburger”s Mary for the real beefeater in you, try a homemade beer at the former Tampa Brewing. See a Cuban cigar being roll in front of your eyes ,and many more. Webpage  https://www.centroybor.com/directory

St Augustine Premium Outlet, its an outlet stores mall in the historical city north of Daytona Beach, was a family hangout for lunches many weekends. The city of Saint Augustine is the oldest city in the USA, founded by Spaniards in 1565. Jockey, banana republic,levi’s are all great here, as well as Van Heusen shirts, Carters  and Oshkosh B’ gosh were our daily routine for our kids growing up , former Bass shoes were my favorites, and the Book Warehouse (still there). 2700 State Road 16, St. Augustine, FL 32092, tel +001 904 825-1555.  webpage https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/st-augustine/stores    

A similar outfit was visited too in International Drive, Orlando near Disney, at the Orlando Premium Outlet mall, 4951 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819 . tel +001 407 352 9600 . Favorites here were façonnable, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Samsonite (where I bought my first luggage for Europe!) , and the usual Sbarro pizzeria chain. webpage:  https://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlet/orlando-international

Town Center at Boca Raton, to go up and get some French goodies we usually stop at this shopping center, great stores in a very nice setting. For Sephora and Godiva Chocolates indeed !!! 6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431. tel +001 561  368 60 01. You go there from Miami on best by I95 north to Glades Rd exit and follow to mall at town center drive left. webpage  https://www.simon.com/mall/town-center-at-boca-raton

My regular all time wine stores were ABC or Crowns in Florida, I became a wine aficionado while working at an ABC store in Ormond Beach while my college years, and was in charge of stock and ordering the wine section. 725 South Yonge Street, Ormond Beach ,that is the US 1 highway near the intersection with Granada Blvd going to the beach about 6 miles.  The store is here , still there!!! wow!!https://www.abcfws.com/product/23

I did shop in their Aventura, Fl store at 16355 Biscayne blvd.. ,now this store has move a bit south to North Miami Beach so their webpage:https://www.abcfws.com/product/51

I later on, as I moved south, my interest turn to Crown Wines & Liquors a more French look and friendly folks which I entertain for years there, guided by able senior wine purchaser Chip Cassidy. My favorites stores were in the North Miami area at 12555 Biscayne blvd, North Miami ,33181 where I came to lived nearby initially in the area,this store seems closed,   and the most frequented for wine tastings and shopping was at 1590 South Dixie highway, Coral Gables, 33146.  https://www.crownwineandspirits.com/store-locations/

Well the list is endless if I get to it, but I think these will give you a pretty clear picture of shopping in Florida from central to south of the State. And I am surprise what so many years from the day to day shopping can do with so many property changes, webpages and especially stores. Hope you have enjoy the tour and find it helpful for your future visits.

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

September 15, 2020

The Bahamas!!!

And here I am very happy to have found these photos to write this post, long coming and deservingly so. I am back in my Caribbean sea!!! close ok. All started there for me and the Bahamas were my first “tourist” visit ever!from the USA…back in 1986! yes I have been around ::)

Let me tell you now a bit on the Bahamas from the photos I found in my old vault!

The Bahamas, in the long form the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, located north of the Caribbean Sea. The Bahamas archipelago occupies approximately 700 islands and islets of the Lucay Islands located in the Atlantic Ocean, east-southeast of Florida, northeast of Cuba, northwest of Hispaniola and islands Turks and Caicos. Its capital is Nassau, located on the island of New Providence.

Grand Bahama is one of the northernmost islands in the Bahamas, 88 km from the Florida coast. The island is 154 km long with a maximum width of 27 km. The Spaniards called the island Gran Bajamar (great shallow sea) and it is undoubtedly from this name that the Bahamian Islands take their name. Yes indeed Bahamas is Baja Mar or shallow sea.

In 1955, an American businessman named Wallace Groves entered into an agreement with the Bahamian government to build the town of Freeport under the terms of the Hawksbill Creek Agreement and manage the port with the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA). An agreement, the Hawksbill Creek Agreement, with the Bahamian government dating from 1955, stipulates that Freeport companies will not pay any taxes until 2054. The port of Freeport is accessible to larger ships, and has a container terminal. The port also has a terminal for cruise ships, a container port, a private marina, and a boat maintenance service.

The Grand Bahama International Airport (IATA code: FPO • ICAO code: MYGF) is a private international airport located in Freeport. This is how I came to Freeport! The airport is at 100 km from the coast of Florida USA. The Freeport airporthttps://www.bahamas.com/how-get-here-grand-bahama-island-scheduled-air

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The straw market is very pretty colorful place, with small shops, restaurants … excursions nearby; near the marina and the other side of the beach and the casino.

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The Bahamas tourist authority on Freeporthttps://www.bahamas.com/freeport

The city of Nassau, formerly Charles Town, is the capital of the Bahamas. Commercial and cultural center of the country, it is the largest city, whose extent is such that it occupies almost the entire island of New Providence and merges with it. The city center is rather on the northeast coast of the island, opposite Paradise Island on which is the Atlantis Paradise Island, a tourist complex that has become the main attraction of the archipelago. Nassau has a major port, Nassau Harbor, as well as Prince George Wharf, the main cruise ship terminal.

Nassau was founded by the English from Eleuthera Island in the late 17C under the name Charles Town. Destroyed by the Spaniards in 1684, it was rebuilt and renamed Nassau in honor of William III of Orange-Nassau in 1695.

The Lynden Pindling International Airport (IATA code: NAS • ICAO code: MYNN) is the main airport in the Bahamas Islands, located on the island of New Providence, west of Lake Killarney and nearly 15 km from Nassau.

The tourist office of the Bahamas on Nassau: https://www.bahamas.com/islands/nassau-paradise-island

Government House is the official residence of the Governor General of the Bahamas, located in Nassau. It was built in the colonial days and was the residence of the Governor of the Bahamas. It later continued in the role of official residence and office of the Governor General following political independence from the United Kingdom in 1973. The original Government House on this site was completed in 1737. The statue of Christopher Columbus, which stands at the harbourside entrance of the building, was reportedly designed in London by an aide to American novelist Washington Irving, a Columbus biographer. The 12-foot-tall representation was placed in front of Government House by Governor James Carmichael Smyth in 1830.

The tourist office of Bahamas on Government Househttps://www.bahamas.com/vendor/government-house

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The Queen’s Staircase is a walkway of 65 steps (102 feet or 31 meters) in Nassau. It was carved out of solid limestone rock by 600 slaves between 1793 and 1794 to create an escape route from the fort above and is a major landmark of Nassau. The stairs are located at Fort Fincastle Historic Complex near Bennet’s Hill in city center/downtown Nassau next to Princess Margaret Hospital and Grosvenor Campus of the University of the Bahamas.  The staircase has water cascading to a pool below, along the side over series of steps. At the bottom a walkway goes between high stone walls, tropical plants and trees. In the 19C the staircase were later named in honor of Queen Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland who ended slavery in the British Empire. The number of steps is by coincidence, equal to the number of years in Victoria’s reign.

The tourist office of the Bahamas on the Queen’s staircase: https://www.bahamas.com/vendor/queens-staircase

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And now I feel better to bring this nice island to the light, and my wonderful memories of my first trips abroad to the Bahamas islands. Nassau and Freeport will stay in my vault of memories forever. Hope you enjoy the post as I writing about it.

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

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September 14, 2020

Orlando: Gatorland!!

Well this one I am astonished to find some photos on it. It was my early life in Florida USA, and to Orlando came a lot, later and still have family there. I have some posts on Florida overall and Orlando attractions in particular but not on this park yet.

Let me tell you about an attraction that many still come to Florida, Gatorland.

But first , let me tell you an anecdote. When my dear late wife Martine’s older brother came to visit us from the Nord of France, he was eager to see these sort of things. We took them to the place and had his first gator burger without knowing, a prank I did! He found it delicious until he found out, and well too late, he got the taste for it now lol!

Briefly as it has been a while and the new photos here are old ok. I guess from the 1990’s. Maybe before…not sure…

Gatorland is a 110-acre  or 45 ha theme park and wildlife preserve in Florida, located along South Orange Blossom Trail in south Orlando. It was founded 71 years ago by Owen Godwin on former cattle land in 1949, and is privately owned by his family today.

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Billed as the “Alligator Capital of the World,” Gatorland features thousands of alligators ,including the rare leucistic alligators and crocodiles, and many other animals. Attractions in the park include a breeding marsh with a boardwalk and observation tower,  zip lines an off road swamp vehicule tour a ridable miniature train, alligator feeding shows, alligator wrestling shows, an aviary, a petting zoo, and educational programs. The breeding marsh area of the park was used in the filming of the 1984 movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (and one my family favorite films too).

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The Gatorland Express, known as Ol’ Iron Horse Express prior to 2001 is a 2 feet or 610 mm narrow gauge railroad attraction inside the park, which first opened in 1961. And still very popular ride , a must when visiting me think.

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There just the basics , do not know how to make the post better as the text is mostly from their site which is here:  https://www.gatorland.com/

The tourist office of nearby Kissimmee has a better laidout on Gatorland here: https://www.experiencekissimmee.com/things-to-do/theme-amusement-parks/gatorland

And there you go folks ,short and sassy just for the memories and hoping it will become yours one day. I know would love to see Gatorland again if life and times allow me to be back. For now life goes on in France!

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

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July 4, 2020

The family in Florida USA!

So bear with me , I am on the mood for things nostalgic again. I have written plenty in my blog and I thank you. However, missing out on my family, very dear to me. Therefore, let me tell you a bit about it, up close and personal. And happy 4th of July!

A wonderful 18 years in the State of Florida, my biggest chunk of life so far (France total so far is 17). Memories that will not go away easy. The State was sunshine, friendly, and happy; so many things to do it will take an entire blog history to tell. Of course, left for my belle France in 2003, and just back once with the family in 2009 and a couple days business conference in 2016. Life moves on, but the memories remain. Even many have change.

Starting with the Daytona Beach for college then Ormond Beach for living. Then , North Miami, Hialeah, and Miramar while working in Miami. Hope you have enjoyed this overview of my memories in Florida on my many posts on the great State. I told you about me and my places lived and visited all over the State. However, let me give some of my family still there as some are too shy to even have a FB page never mind a blog! Even if I send them my posts via email or FB lol!

So obviously a family portrait of Florida and those visiting from abroad while we were there; therefore not much text. Hope you enjoy it as we do , for the memories, for the times, forever family ,the rock or foundation of human life. Thank you for all you have taught over the years and still going strong!!

cape coral

Cape Coral family with wife and boys

cape coral

Cape Coral family with wife and boys

Hialeah

Hialeah family with wife ,father, and boys

Miami Lakes

Miami Lakes family pool and my boys

Miami lakes

Miami Lakes family pigout Father and friends forever

Ocala

Ocala family cousins aunt and my Parents

Orlando

Orlando family, my wife and boys

daytona beach

Daytona Beach market parents and paternal grandpa visiting

Miami

Miami me, paternal grandfather and his brother

ocala

Ocala old Silver springs my mom and visiting aunt visiting family

Orlando

Orlando Epcot France pavilion of course my dear Frenchie need to put up

Ormond Beach

Ormond Beach my parents, wife and oldest son godparent (Portugal)

Miramar

Miramar walmartmy parents and paternal grandfather visiting

Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine with my late Mom and late wife’s Grandma visiting from France!

Saint Augustine

St Augustine statue ponce de leon me and aunt visiting

Tampa

Tampa Ybor City Columbia oldest Spanish resto in USA facade my dear wife and me

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach my office aunt visiting now in Mexico!

Hope you enjoy this family post as much as I doing it. Florida will be a part of my heart wherever I go in our world. Thanks for sharing these moment with me.

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

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July 4, 2020

My early US history, Perth Amboy NJ!

It is said, that in times of need/worries in this case due to the covid19 virus, the roots come out and make you stronger. I believe it. I have an entertaining blog that keeps my time thanks to all my readers it helps. I sometimes write about glamorous places that I have been lucky to visit or lived! but the roots always comes back to you. And happy 4th of July.

On a cloudy cool day at about 17C or 64F in my new neck of the woods Pluvigner, Morbihan 56, Bretagne in my belle France, let me get back on my feet. I came finally into freedom after avoiding communism and fascism into the United States. I was 13,5 years old arriving in unknown town of Perth Amboy New Jersey USA!

Perth Amboy

I spoked no English, no money and the clothes I was wearing arriving with my Mother (passed away in Versailles 2007) to join my Father there in Amboy as we locally call it. And the good times began!! Date: May 10 1972.

Perth Amboy

Perth Amboy

Perth Amboy

The early life was working very hard ,helping my parents who had branch out into small businesses such as the grocery store , clothing store, restaurant, delivery services,and nightclub activities. As hard working immigrants, it was a period of learning English, and new rules, laws, and way of living ,adjusting to the American work ethics that so much carry on in my life today. Even if by now also enjoying the la vie en rose à la Française!

Perth Amboy

Perth Amboy

I became a US citizen in the municipal courthouse of New Brunswick, Middlesex county, New Jersey on December 13, 1980. I learn my ways and language like a native ::) I continue playing my beloved football/soccer (learned in Madrid), and some baseball at high school, and amateur team levels. I played in the Garden State Soccer league known as Schaeffer league for the local beer who sponsored it,and the LISA, or Luso-Iberian Soccer Association with Portuguese and Spanish clubs.

new brunswick

My sports were intercepted around the help needed on my parents businesses,so I was very busy ,sometimes working at nights so to have some daytime free for sports and girls ::). The city that welcome me to America was Perth Amboy ,in Middlesex County, NJ. It was a city of about 50 000 inhabitants, full of immigrants from all over,there were sections call Budapest, Dublin, Little Italy, Holy Cross, etc, I lived by the one call the Waterfront (facing Staten Island, New York City).

Perth Amboy

I graduated a Panther from Perth Amboy High School in June of 1977,and went to university in Florida (later my second and last home in the USA). In Perth Amboy I lived for 13 years, hard working and full of learning a new surroundings and customs/language but full of great memories and many many friends that will eventually stop by here. Forever, Go Panthers !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

perth amboy

In the 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!  The wonderful tennis courts by the waterfront was entertaining, and with great views of the bay of NY all in Bayview Park. It has a vibrant downtown or city center area around the Five Corners as five avenues coincide at this junction. The roads are very easy as it is at the crossroads of the NJ Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and the Routes 1-9, 35 (to the Jersey shore and The Boss/Bon Jovi days), and 440.

Perth Amboy

These were what I call the learning years, the real adult fun began in Florida, but have several posts on it too in my blog.  And then , of course, my belle France (French citizen since 2000) and have many many posts on that in my blog too!

The Perth Amboy is full of American history from the times of the colonies and later, just browse my other entries on it. It was the right city to be acclimated to the American way of life indeed. I am still attach to the city and high school with groups in FB!

Perth Amboy

The Amboy Guardian local newspaper here! Amboy guardian newspaper

The Perth Amboy schools have it on the High School (lycée): Perth Amboy Publis Schools on the High School

The Middlesex County NJ webpage on Perth AmboyMiddlesex County on Perth Amboy

The city of Perth AmboyCity of Perth Amboy

Just for the memories and if by the area NY/NJ a must stop to get to know about early American history as it was the home of the British colonial governor of NJ and many battles were held there. Hope you enjoy this personal post. And thank you Perth Amboy!

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

June 4, 2020

Going to Punta Brava!!!

And here I am again in nostalgia lane going back to my roots. Indeed I have been lucky enough to travel the world, 81 countries last count. However, it all goes back to one.. Ah well where is Punta Brava, well there is quite a few towns in various countries with the same name even back in my grandparents land of Tenerife, Spain. However, we were later and my Punta Brava sits in Havana, Cuba. 

Let me tell you a bit on my Punta Brava town of about 2K folks where I was born and left 49 + years ago.

Punta Brava is a town part of the agglomeration of La Lisa nowdays under the new administrative arrangement after the Cuban revolution. Before , it was alone just inside the city limits of Havana. It is about 21 km (about 13 mi) of city center/downtown Havana. Nearby settlements include Machurucutu to the north, La Lisa city to the east, Bauta to the southwest, and the University of Information Sciences to the southeast.

Punta Brava

There is lots of confusion as to its origins as my family claims it was around 1870 when the point coming from the Tabacco plantations and its wealth in Vuelta Abajo Pinar del Rio province passed by here on its way to the port of Havana and onwards to Spain. However, around this point bandits always ransacked the convoy so it became a punta brava or hot point. The other is that the origin of the town baptized as San Vicente de Punta Brava, located on the banks of the Camino Real de Vuelta Abajo (royal road of vuelta abajo or downward road) ,but with no mention of the bandits. In Punta Brava, at the time of its appearance as a town, there was a tile manufacture factory who made bricks. Its producs were famous for its quality, and were considered then, as the best brick tile in Cuba. In this town there were also large pineapple packers ((and as boy it was gone and we played baseball!), destemming, packing and tobacco picking workshops, cart and car workshop, and Maidenform women undergarment (my mother worked) as well as other establishments that show the economic development reached by Punta Brava at the end of the 19C.

A major event that was celebrated nationally until the revolution stopped it took place on December 7, marking the death in combat of Cuba’s greatest general. This was on the San Pedro farm, loma or hill of Cacahual, near Punta Brava, on December 7,1896, General Antonio Maceo y Grajales fell in combat. It has been the scene of different military encounters during Cuba’s fight for independence, and is most notable as the site where Maceo died at the hands of Spanish troops. For the anecdote the revolutionary dictator Castro’s father, Ángel Castro Argiz,was happy of this event as his company was the one involved in the killing of the General Maceo on this day. Angel was born in Lugo, Galicia, Spain. Fidel’s father.

 Nowdays, Punta Brava is currently like an empty, abandoned, lonely space. The splendor of yesteryear has disappeared in 61 years of socialist revolution. Of the old traditions and rituals, little or nothing remains. Without a doubt, its inhabitants are trapped in the middle of nowhere. As if they were lost in time.

Punta Brava

outside Ford 1954 inside ??

During the missile crisis,1962, the Soviets reportedly built a missile site in Guayabal near Punta Brava. By Punta Brava, passed the old Central Highway, which connects with all of Cuba, going to Arroyo Arenas, Lisa, Marianao and Havana and beyond to Pinar del Rio, and the other way going by Bauta and into the Matanzas and the rest of Cuba. It was connected by rail with its own station from at least 1909. There are several airports in relatively close proximity to Punta Brava including Playa Baracoa Airport which has been mostly used by the military and some permitted passenger service. The Havana Jose Marti international airport is at Rancho Boyeros not far at 15 km (about 9 mi).

With my mom and aunt (her sister) we used to go a lot to El Salado beach not far from Baracoa beach and airport. This was a sandy beach and some huts nice family getaway , now they have more stones… but some tourist services there.

Punta Brava

Another favorite beach of my family were Guanabo ,Santa Maria del Mar ,and of course Varadero. Do not have pictures of the first two but did visit Varadero again in 1998.

Varadero

my native town Church is the Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Caridad ( Church of Our Lady of Charity,) which is also Cuba’s Patron Saint  located at Ave. 249  betwen  42 and 44 streets, I grew up at Ave 247 in Punta Brava. Again not much on it just for the memories. When Pope John Paul II visited Cuba shortly after the Virgin of  Charity (Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre) or the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary , patron Saint of Cuba was brought all over and passed by Punta Brava! My family sent me the photo.

Punta Brava

While in my last visit in 2012, , I asked my assigned driver to take me to my native town of Punta Brava, visiting family aunt and cousins (which by now left Cuba too) , I ate at a typical Cuban casa paladar in pesos nacionales (for the locals as tourist have the apartheid convertible pesos), a dish of roast pork,moros black beans,yucca, tostones in garlic sauce (green plantains) , salad of tomatos and lettuce, plus coffee and four beers for two persons at about 260 Cuban Pesos Nacionales. The place was just in Calzada (main street Avenida 51, aka Central Highway) before turning left to Guatao,if coming from Havana. It was nice as was there with my remaining family at the time.

If you want to see my pictures as a boy in Havana/Punta Brava I have a post in my blog with these old photos; here: Paris1972-Versailles2003 blog on Punta Brava Havana child days post

As said , the time passes by and all we have is blurred memories of always. A time, a place, a dot in my world map, that is in another world. Hope you enjoy this personal post on my always Punta Brava, Havana, Cuba!

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

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