Posts tagged ‘Florida’

May 7, 2023

A tribute to my dear parents, Elio and Gladys !!!

Often the cause unfortunately me think we write about far away lands and beautiful monuments , forgetting what we have at home. The most beautiful monument to mankind were/ are your parents , I have briefs mentioned of my parents in my blog but now that they have passed away and nostalgia sits in ,it is time to do a tribute post on them. The pictures cover different periods and not in order.  Bear with me please this post is for loving families all over our world. Hope you enjoy it as I.

Punta brava dia la boda mis padres elio y gladys

Looong ago as a child left Punta BravaHavana, Cuba, It was a journey to freedom with an intermediate stop in Madrid, Spain, on Cubana de Aviacion old Britannia four propellers airplane 16 hrs flight with a fuel stop in Santa Maria Açores island , My dear late mother Gladys took me out to join my father already in the USA,(he escape by boat!). This was a very humble trip with the clothes we had on and no money into cold snowy Madrid, We got an used coat from Catholic Charities, I have a good time been a poor refugee in the big City and was treated hugely nice by all with dear memories that have kept me very close to the big City of Spain, My grandparents from Tenerife always spoked fondly of it ,and it finally show it was all true, My dear mom was always next to me always protecting and caring for me like an angel, She is sorely missed now,

MAdrid calle de alcala 331 metro quintana lived heree 24jan10

Madrid ribeira do mino resto real madrid friends pipo et PF 24jan10

From Madrid we moved on in life to finally join my Dad Elio after five long years not seeing him, We arrived at Kennedy airport in NYC on a flight from Iberia no 951, This began finally my life in total freedom, After a family welcome with my paternal aunt in Hoboken NJ ,we came to settle as a family again in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, Here began our working and school lives to archive the American dream ,hard work and perseverance together as a strong family with great values that are firmly implanted in me, I went to the McGinnis Middle School for one year before passing to Perth Amboy High School, I passed my driving licence here with a fire test drive to Yankee stadium in the Bronx, NYC. We eventually became US Citizen in New Brunswick courthouse in 1980.  My parents had small businesses from grocery store, men’s clothing store, and a nightclub, and purchase several homes reaching fully the American Dream !!

point pleasant beach fishing parents

Edison menlo park mall pipo y mima

From Perth Amboy I decided to attend University studies in Daytona Beach ERAU, Coming back and forth by car with my 1977 Chevy Monte Carlo from here to NJ usually took 17 hrs drive and became a real road warrior !!! Of course, my parents were always behind  me and my biggest supporters not only in material things but in encouragement and moral support,  Always together like the muskeeteers!!!We came up with the slogan of the movie that carry my life thereafter, all for one and one for all !!! Indeed. I graduated in 1982 and came back to work at EWR Newark Liberty international airport with an FBO (fixed base operator) handling cargo duties and charter flights to England and Greece, After tasting the beaches of Florida, it became clear my future was in Florida, I took the decision to move there and my parents Elio and Gladys always supporting me ! I moved back and they purchase the house so have one when they were ready for retirement, I chose and they bought at Ormond by the Sea Volusia County just north of Daytona Beach on the beachside, 150 meters from the beach !!! It was glorious living and enjoy fully the Sunshine State again,,, However, always behind me my parents were not long in retiring to the house in about a year and a half afterward, We came together again!



While in Ormond by the Sea, and in my world travels as a young single guy, met a girl in Paris name Martine and you know the story of that in several posts in my blog, My dear late wife Martine was an inspirational, a good wife and one heck of a mother !! She is missed greatly, While here we had our first boy at Halifax Hospital, Daytona Beach,and was baptised in St Brendan Catholic Church in Ormond by the Sea, However, together we continue to a job placement and moved again to an appartment in North Miami, by the Keystone Yacht Club in Biscayne blvd and NE 135st street !! We started to load up on kids and twin boys were coming so my parents again,,,sold everything and came down to purchase a house for all while taking care of the grandchildren now 3 boys in west Hialeah while we worked in Miami by the airport and Beacon Center, While in Hialeah, my Martine gave birth to twin boys at Hialeah Hospital which brought more joy to our family, They were baptised at St Barbara Catholic Church of Hialeah.

Ormond beach casa isleña y papo

Ormond beach fl room elio y gladys en casa

We, then as a family of 7 or the magnificent Seven to moved again and purchase a bigger home in  Miramar, Silver Lakes division, Sapphire Bay sub division, in Broward county, We had a great family time there.  From there we made several trips to France to visit the family and enjoy the bounties of our belle France, We even took charter flights thru Gander Canada sponsored by the Consulat de France in Miami and the French expat group Miami Accueil! It was in this period where we traded nationalities as my Martine became an American citizen in Miami and me a French citizen both in 2000, all these times my parents always on guard with us helping us and protecting us ,did one heck of a job with my boys, glad they got the same home education as I.


miramar my dad in the kitchen last home in florida christmas 2002

Finally , as was expected after yearly trips to France going back to 1990 we made the decision to move to France in 2002, Preparing the move and finding a job for me as the biggest wage earner we finally did it all in August 2003, I came first to start my job in Sept03 and once the house in Miramar was sold they followed in Dec03, I tried to be neutral and told my parents of this decision where they can stay behind and will see each other every couple of years or they can move with us as residents but with no French will be lonely as we needed to work, Of course, their decision was immediately coming with us, no way they will leave their only child and 3 grandchildren go away !! I was happy too !! We got them as family reunification with all the paperwork done in Miami and their entry was flowless, My wife Martine, my 3 boys and my parents Elio and Gladys came on Dec03, to join me in France which already had an appartment waiting for them.

Les Mureaux house boys martine mima y pipo c2004

We rented in Verneuil sur Seine, Yvelines dept 78 of the Île de France region of my belle France .My boys went to school at Jean Zay Collége there, In about 8 months we purchase a house in lovely sublime Versailles in the Notre Dame district near the train station Rive Droite and the ND Market ! It was a wonderful purchase and great happiness for all 7 !! My boys went to high school in the nearby town of Le Chesnay currently attach to Rocquencourt as Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt, We were able to put them in the high school Lycée Blanche de Castille where they were happy to be independant and take the former bus A currently bus no 3 which drop them off in front of the school by the hospital Mignot and back by the Notre Dame market in Versailles ! There were indeed very happy moments in my life!

Les Mureaux Mima y Pipo oxygen tank jan07

While in Versailles, we had the tragic loss of my dear mom Gladys from an uncurable disease call Pulmonary Fibrosis, doctors gave her 3-6 years to live and she did 4 after diagnose, Very sad news, I lost a huge monumental dear mother or what definition a mother should be , she was.  Always in my mind and heart for all she did for me and her grandchildren, She was taken care of her sickness at the pital de Meulan-Les Mureaux  (Currently Meulan is name Meulan en Yvelines 78) just by the Seine river, She passed away in her bedroom on December 27 2007 22h or 10pm.  We stopped by when possible now living far but she was cremated at the Crématorium et Parc Mémorial du Val d’Oise of Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône in Val d’Oise dept 95, Her ashes were spread by the SNSM volunteer lifeguard organisation with the Notre Dame du Port vedette boat SNS 131 in Honfleur Normandie as she like it there after visiting during the Fête des Marins and seen the virgin taken thru the town and into a boat to be blessed at sea, and here,it  has been for my wife and dad as well, Many memorable moments we spent together even if life took her short before her 73, birthday. She was a brave lady never complaint, a tough Guanche of Tenerife heritage ! RIP never to be forgotten, and always missed.

Les Mureaux mima last pic kids and best grandma Yayi and mother 24Dec07

Life goes on as they tell me but never the same, we went on to move west for job improvements as well always forward, It was at the request of my wife as my previous job were taken me away from upwards of 3 months, and needed to be kept closely by the family so I did, I found me an international very good job in Saint Nolff Morbihan dept 56 of the region of Brittany, I moved to an apartment in Brec’h in june 2011, My wife, father and 3 boys came later in July 2012 after the house was sold and all paperwork done as the first two buyers for the house felled thru in their financing !!, Once all in the apartment we went out for a house and my wife Martine chose the one we still live on in Pluvigner moving in July 2013. Already 10 years here, breaking my record of 5,5 years per residence time !!! As said, already have plenty on the memories of my dear late wife Martine in my blog so will go onward to my Dad Elio.

Brech pipo new TV gift 6apr13

My Dad Elio had several medical complications but medicines and good care especially nurses coming home all cover by the great French social security system, he was kept in good conditions and we took him everywhere ! Even, eventually in wheel chair !! From our home base in Pluvigner we saw our belle France and dear Spain all over and tagging along my Dad, 3 boys and by now our dog Rex,(name chosen by my wife after a police tv series dog). The motto we took out all for one and one for all is well in our veins ! We enjoy him very much as always funny smiling positive huge Dad and immense grandfather we never got a No from him !!! His complications got him to have a cerebrovascular accident after a fall and he had a few very active stubborn Guanche !!! He had further complications from it and finally after a hospital stay of a month and a half was send home uncurable to be maintain with an HAD or hospital at home services where nurses will come three times a day to take care of him at home, At home, he lasted about another month and a half until finally passing away in his bedroom on January 7, 2023, at the good age of 87. He is sorely missed now by all we have left, me and my 3 boys, We remember him fondly on his antics and trips together, He was cremated at the same as my dear late wife Martine in the Crématorium et Parc Mémorial du Pays de Vannes in Plescop ,and put to the ocean on April 12 2023 on the same boat vedette SNS 131 named Notre-Dame-du-Port  in Honfleur, Normandie. Sad moments indeed as the house is now more empty than ever, and we only have great wonderful memories of all, never to be forgotten and always thank you Dad and Mom, or as we call them Pipo and Mima !!!

pluvigner pipo at home for his 83 bday 20jul18

Plu house pipo lecture cartes postales may22

I put the SNSM station in Honfleur which had taken my precious 3 to sea, I guess I will be next, needless to tell you I am a donor since 2008:

There you go folks, maybe sad for me, but a must in my blog. After all, as i said, this blog is my life’s history and all that goes with it bad or good.  Lucky mostly has been good ,and huge teachings of love to continue the battle of life. Hope you too enjoy life to the fullest as it is short indeedAgain, hope you have enjoy the post as I

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

May 1, 2023

My personal memories of ,,,,,,,,my life !!!

And to put more personal things in my blog which as said is my life’s history here I come again, I have been told and finally realised my life has been very rich not just in travel but life’s accomplishements, and was given amongst other things recognition pins by many organisations which I have kept in a jewerly box, Therefore , here is a bit extra on me from my personal memories of,,,,,my life !!!,That is covering the France and U S A !!!  Hope you enjoy this bit of personal trivia as I.

As have several posts on them just let me tell you briefly my living working life, Looong ago as a child left Punta Brava, Havana, Cuba, It was a journey to freedom with an intermediate stop in Madrid, Spain before arriving in total freedom in Perth Amboy New Jersey, From there went to Univ studies and eventually moved to live in Daytona Beach/Ormond by the Sea Florida, The world tour ho ho ho,continue to North Miami, and then Hialeah while working in Miami Florida, To follow went up to Miramar, Silver Lakes division, Broward county, Finally , made the move back to Europe married to a loving Frenchie and settle in wonderful amazing, beautiful Versailles, Yvelines 78 Île de France region of my belle France which after several years’s visits came to live permanently as a French citizen to boot, The road did not stop there as continue to Brec’h in the Morbihan breton dept 56 of Bretagne/Brittany region and finally purchase a house again in current Pluvigner where I am on my way to 10 years living ! Breaking my record of 5,5 years per residence time !!!

Now let me tell you about the main reason of this post when looking at my personal items found me some pins that tells a bit more about me and the trajectory in life, These are

While in Daytona Beach went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University yes you know it the «Harvard of the skies » and was recognised with several pins, as well as meeting Pierre Henri Gagey the then president of Maison Jadot Burgundy wines of excellence, Got me more involved in wines and did visit his house in Beaune later on on a special personal tour of the property by his then Sales Manager for Europe Marc Dupin, Memories forever !!

Daytona Beach school pins et jadot

I was heavily involved in politics then and was very active winning some recognition by the presidential task force with Ronald Reagan, nationally and later Jeb Bush in Florida as well as Tom Kean in New Jersey, You know these names, I was so high and so inside that left it disappointed never to return to any, However, the experiences and memorable moments of meeting these people will always be there, It made me a better person.

Miami govt USA pins

I could not leave out my football/soccer Real Madrid where I played as young boy in Madrid for the football (old Ciudad Deportiva) and baseball team (Elipa), Its my team for life and lucky to be part of the greatest team of all times by number of titles and recognition by FIFA and IFHHS organisms, I am ,also, honorable member of five supporters’ groups or Peñas in Spain from Galicia to Malaga ! They keep me busy nowdays with the discussions lol !!!

Madrid Real Madrid pins

My job experiences have been terrific and allow me even more opportunities to see the world, many places otherwise would not have known and thanks to these jobs have visited 81 countries of our world in management positions, The pins here are from Pan Am Federal Credit Union, Blue Lagoon drive, Miami, Mutual of Omaha Insurance Company, Omaha, Nebraska where because of my sales output was able to tour many cities such as Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Omaha, The extraordinary wonderful Intercontinental Hotels Group where I was in charge accounting wise of all owned properties in Paris, Disneyland Paris, and Cannes base at the L’Inter as we call it now other hotel chain there, We kept the Le Grand, resto café de la Paix and another new property in Monceau, Finally, I was a proud member of the ICTF or International Credit and Trade Finance association with collegues from all over the world, and eventually move up to Advisory Council and then Board of Directors, Memories forever and at least we still have Linkedin as I am now retired!

Miami Paris work pins

The Madrid city tourist office

The Central New Jersey tourist board ;

The Visit Florida tourist board on Central East Florida:

The Visit Florida tourist board on South East Florida:

The Île de France region tourist office:

The Bretagne/Brittany region tourist office:

There you go folks, a lot more about me and my personal memories of ,,,,,my life !!! It has been a rollercoaster ride up as the sky is the limit. Sadly I am not one of those that claim retirement is great, actually is boring and missed my job, Time and my boys will help me get thru it and of course, and my blog thanks to you all, Again, hope you have enjoy the post as I

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

April 18, 2023

That time again by my sentimental Honfleur , SNSM, and my Dad Elio.

I come here often and sometimes no photos nor stories just drive by ,its personal for me. My mother Gladys, my wife Martine , and now my father Elio  lies in the ocean buried at sea, I put him there April 12 2023,. I guess I am next in line,,,,,,,,, life goes on. The boat SNSM is a first class rescue (vedette) star SNS 131 named Notre-Dame-du-Port or Our Lady of the harbor , the patron saint of the City, which is carry out into boats and bless at see on each Fête des Marins, (see post) in Honfleur.

Honfleur SNSM route des fascine to station apr23

The time will be cherished forever, the pain will remain, and the memories will linger my dear Mom Gladys, Wife Martine, and Dad Elio !!! RIP There were put at sea very gently, nice caring loving exchanging stories of the sea with the great organisation in France, call the SNSM or Société National de Sauvetages en Mer or something like the National Society of Rescues at Sea. A volunteer group of men and women who take their time to help those in distress at sea even lifeguard stations, and of course, the duty of taken burials at sea, I am a donor since 2008, proudly !

Honfleur SNSM station ND du Port boat cendres Pipo 12apr23

Of course, this is not the typical travel post I do but a must to have in my blog, After all as said, this is my life’s history the good the bad the happy and the sad, all of it, Thanks for reading my stories since November 26 2010, Appreciated.

As hard as these time are, I like to keep the memory of my family. If you read my blog you have come to notice we are DNA of island folks both in America and Europe, and we love the sea. I was born with the sea as my patio gave to the ocean Gulf of Mexico, and have lived near or on it all my life with the exception of the time in Madrid… Honfleur, is special for me in more ways than a tourist spot. 

We first brought my dear late mom Gladys and she love it too.! And the boat rides were a must of course. This was back in 2005, and we have come over ever since every year except the pandemic mess, A phase is turning once again ,and we are less at home, now once again duty is done, the paperwork is mostly done minor details left but easy.  I will continue in life with my wonderful 3 young men and my dear Rex, our family dog always with me. However, the memories, the souvenirs, the happy face, the energy and love will remain forever. I am very lucky to have wonderful dearing parents and a loving caring wife, they have made us strong. Yes, they tell me too ,time will ease the pain. Heck, I am human, time will not heal any pain. We are very much together, always as a family remembering those words in the 3 Muskeeteers of Alexandre Dumas (father), One for all ,and All for one! We stand together.

The SNSM station in Honfleur:

Honfleur sea tides or Marée to go out safe at Honfleur:

There you go folks, maybe sad for me but a must in my blog. Hope you too enjoy life to the fullest as it is short indeed, The SNSM ,always memorable in Honfleur, Calvados 14 in the region of Normandie of my belle France.

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

March 30, 2023

The Plaza Vieja of Havana !!!

I was looking again at my blog and realise have wonderful old pictures on sites not really develop and they should stand alone, I went into my Havana and found me pictures from my last trip there in 2012 that needed to have a post of their own, Family memories flashing ; here is my new take on the Plaza Vieja or old square of Havana ! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

The Plaza Vieja limits with the neighborhoods to the north with Cathedral, to the west with the Prado , to the south with Belén and to the east with the Havana Bay. The area of the square is delimited by the streets Muralla, Mercaderes, Teniente Rey and San Ignacio. The square represented the first planned attempt at expansion of the city. It constituted an area used for different modalities, as a residential, commercial and recreational area, without having religious or political-military constructions.

havana Plaza Vieja walking Feb12

The square was called Plaza Nueva. It emerged as an open space in 1559, after the Plaza de Armas and San Francisco. In colonial times it was a residential neighborhood of the Creole plutocracy. Later, it was used as an open-air market known as Reina Cristina.(1835), Nowadays, the Plaza Vieja is dotted with restaurants, cafes, bars and beer gardens, even if sometimes the menu do not have all the dishes available..

The Plaza Vieja or old square was done in 1559 as Plaza Nueva,,, as already two squares in the City Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Francisco, It was surrounded by beautiful homes of the colonial times, and was an open air market known as Reina Cristina (queen Cristina), Over the past 150 years, Plaza Vieja has played host to an open-air food market, a car park (1952), and an amphitheatre. It was the site of executions, processions, bullfights, and festivals,  all witnessed by Havana’s wealthiest citizens, who looked on from their balconies. In the 18C, the Plaza Nueva was transformed into a market place. And in 1814, with the emergence of the market at the Plaza del Cristo, it was renamed to Plaza Real, Plaza Mayor, Plaza Fernando VII, Parque Juan Bruno Zayas and Parque Julián Grimau, until it finally received the name of Plaza Vieja. During the 17C to the early 20C, the area was developed with residential, commercial and recreational buildings that fortunately maintained coherence, including the majestic and popular Palacio de los Condes de Jaruco  (1738) or palace of the counts of jaruco and the first exclusive recreational society in HavanaSociedad Filarmónica, (1824) or philarmonique society housed in a residence at Calle San Ignacio no, 352-354. In this society, dances were organized in which the richest families in Havana participated. However, the building was built between 1796 and 1802.

havana Plaza Vieja resto Feb12

In the 18C, the pace of construction quickly transformed the square and between 1729 and 1756 nine portals were built, accompanying the consolidation and maturity of a type of manor house equipped with porticos, hallways, mezzanines, high rooms covered with Mudejar ceilings, wide stairs , inner courtyards with galleries. The example that survives most fully today is the old Palace of the Counts of Jaruco, built on one of the corners between 1733 and 1738, where the Cuban storyteller Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, known as the Countess of Merlin, was born.

The first buildings to be restored were the residence of the Counts of Jaruco, (see above) which currently houses the Cultural Property Fund, the Mercaderes building at no. 307, where the National Photo Library is located today, and the Franchi Alfaro house, no 315-317 was until the 19C on the street level the Café-Restaurante El Escorial, which opened in 1913. Later , it was converted into a multi-family dwelling. Even if the street level remained a commercial spot, Subsequently, the house at San Ignacio no 364, residence of the Count of Lombillo, and that of the Cárdenas sisters, headquarters of the Center for the Development of Visual Arts, were restored. The old San Ángel school, which today houses a real estate agency, the Gómez Vila building and the Ángela Landa primary school have also been restored.

However, restoration is gradually re-establishing Plaza Vieja’s original atmosphere; the Carrara showpiece fountain at the center of the square is a replica of the original 18C one by Italian sculptor Giorgio Massari that was destroyed by the construction of the car park; and many of the 18C residences around the square are now restored with housing on the top floors and commercial establishments, including several small museums and art/photo galleries, on the ground floor. This was renovated by a grant from Unesco as recently as 2011 ,before I was there,and later years,

Some current tourist sites which tells of today, not the same info as above that comes from my library of the historical stories of these places.

The official today Cuba tourist board on Havana :

The official today Infotur tourist guide to Cuba on Havana

There you go folks, another nostalgic spot in my life and happy to be able to share it with the world. Havana goes deep with me, even if now is a distant star flicking for survival, I believe you should know these places and eventually visit in better freer times , Again, hope you enjoy the post on the Plaza Vieja of Havana or La Habana as I

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

March 30, 2023

The Zanja Real of Havana !!!

I was looking again at my blog and realise have wonderful old pictures on sites not really develop and they should stand alone, I went into my Havana and found me pictures from my last trip there in 2012 that needed to have a post of their own, Family memories flashing ; here is my new take on Zanja Real or royal ditch (aqueduct)  of Havana ! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

The Zanja Real was the first aqueduct built in Cuba began construction in 1565 and finished in 1592. This canal ensured the water supply of Havana for almost two and a half centuries (1592-1835). It brought the waters of the Chorrera River , today Almendares to Plaza de la Ciénaga, now Plaza de la Catedral ,It was a sort of wide ditch that usually carried non-potable water during the rainy season and would have to be constantly repaired , After 1835 they built the Fernando VII aqueduct, and then the Albear aqueduct.

havana Zanja Real Feb12

The Zanja Real was a channel dug into the ground through a winding path of almost 13 km from the Almendares River. The sources that supplied the water from the Zanja Real were four at the beginning of the 17C ; the one located in front of the Casas del Cabildo (the later Plaza de San Francisco), the one located in the surroundings of El Molinillo de San Pedro, from where it extends the current Calle Luz and a third in Callejón del Chorro. All three were built in the 1590s. The fourth was built in the 17C in Plaza Nueva (now Plaza Vieja). In 1634 a farm was built, next to the Foundry, where La Maestranza was later built (royal horse bastion 1709 ,today park and hotel).

The first section of the Zanja Real that was buried was that of Calle Amargura, which was provided with a cistern located on the outskirts of Havana, behind the Convent of San Agustín. In 1606 it was ordered to bury the section of the Zanja as it passed through the streets of San Ignacio and Teniente Rey, and it was supplied by the cistern located in the Plaza Nueva, now Plaza Vieja. The first public fountain in Havana was inaugurated when the Marquis de Casa Torre was Captain General, in 1708. The humble fountain in Plaza Nueva was replaced by a more monumental one in 1836, which served as inspiration for the current one, in Plaza Vieja. The fountain in the Plaza de San Francisco was inaugurated in 1714, and was erected in front of the Casas del Cabildo; a later and more ostentatious fountain was built from 1746 to 1754., These first three related fountains would be followed between 1740 and 1755 by the fountain in the square of the Convent of the Order of Our Lady of Belen ,and the fountain in the courtyard of the Convent of Santa Clara de Asís in 1752.

Later, by royal decree, the works of the Ferdinand VII Aqueduct were approved, which started from the Almendares River, through the Ciénaga, the Cerro and the Calzada de Jesús del Monte, to the Puerta de Tierra, in Monserrate and Muralla streets, and from there to the intramural site outside the City walls. Exactly, three centuries after the Zanja Real, in 1893 the Albear Aqueduct was put into operation, which currently supplies some of the water that supplies Havana, and La Zanja Real was definitively abandoned. The excavations of the Zanja Real or royal sewers now open and shown above ground to tourists. 

Some post for information on the current sites but my notes are from my library of different outlook , more the true history of my  Havana.

The official today Cuba tourist board on Havana :

The official today Infotur tourist guide to Cuba on Havana

There you go folks, another nostalgic spot in my life and happy to be able to share it with the world. Havana goes deep with me, even if now is a distant star flicking for survival, I believe you should know these places and eventually visit in better freer times , Again, hope you enjoy the post on the Zanja Real of Havana or La Habana as I

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

March 29, 2023

The Calle Oficios of Havana !!!

I was looking again at my blog and realise have wonderful old pictures on sites not really develop and they should stand alone, I went into my Havana and found me pictures from my last trip there in 2012 that needed to have a post of their own, Family memories flashing ; here is my new take on Calle Oficios of Havana ! Hope you enjoy the post as I

The Calle Oficios was a very much visited street by my family and I just went over to walked it and got me a picture that help do this post, It is one of the most visited in the historic center of the city. It was projected from the creation of the main square, today Plaza de Armas, and in 1584 it was one of the four streets that the town of San Cristóbal de La Habana had. Currently simply refer to as La Habana or Havana (eng) Havane (Fr), Calle de Oficios goes from the Plaza de Armas to the Alameda de Paula, Habana Vieja or Old Havana.

havana C Oficio y Teniente Rey Feb12

Its name is due to the fact that small establishments were grouped along its route where trades such as carpentry, shoemaking, watchmaking, among many others, ended up being its distinctive characteristic. The street had 43 high houses, 14 had a hall, 32 were low and there were 191 accessories. When in 1584 Havana only had four streets, this was one of the main ones, drawn from the foundation of the main square, later Plaza de Armas. It was called De los Oficios, because from this square to that of San Francisco, it was full of craftsmen.

The Casa de Oficios no 8, together with the adjoining ones that make up the corner of Calle Obispo, constitute one of the oldest that was built very close to the founding site of the city. According to the legend of the 17C documents, the first three lots corresponded to the Episcopal Palace . The Schools for Infants (or San Ambrosio for boys), and De Niñas Doncellas or maidens girls (or San Francisco de Sales) , both founded by Bishop Don Diego Evelino de Compostela, the first prelate to open the doors to public education in the country. The plot that the Casa de Oficios occupies today was the one corresponding to the Episcopal Palace or house of the bishops.

In 1579 the Franciscan friars took possession of the land where the building that served as the headquarters of the old temple and Convent of San Francisco de Asís (see post) was erected, whose manufacture lasted 12 years. In 1739 the temple was consecrated, which due to the magnificence of its interior space, became the favorite of Havana society. The house on Calle Oficios No. 160 , maintains its domestic function, serving as a home for its inhabitants. It is one of the old buildings that faces the Plaza de San Francisco. It appears as one of the oldest buildings in this area, because although it was rebuilt during the 19C, its construction system denotes greater antiquity. In addition, due to the importance of this site, its occupation was carried out from a very early period. The Plaza San Francisco or Saint Francis Square owes its name to the Convent of San Francisco de Asís, located here since the end of the 16C. In the center of the square stands the Fuente de los Leones, or Lions fountain a gift to Havana by Claudio Martínez de Pinillos, Count of Villanueva, and placed here in 1836.

The Palacio de Gobierno or government palace is a magnificent neoclassical construction, which became one of the three large buildings for public use of the first republican decade in Cuba, it was erected as an extension of an old house that at the end of the War of Independence in 1895, after the USA military occupation was destined to house the House of Representatives. As recorded, it was the third building where the national flag was raised before May 20, 1902 (Republic of Cuba founded) . In May 2000, the building built in the 20C became the Government Palace Museum. Calle Oficios no. 211 between Muralla (ramparts of old Havana now also a street) ,and Callejón de Churruca streets.

The Alexander of Humboldt house was inaugurated as a house-museum on October 31, 1997. The 18C building has five exhibition rooms. In order to rescue, preserve, investigate and publicize the historical legacy of the German scholar Alejandro de Humboldt, the institution maintains a permanent exhibition that includes plates, books, scientific instruments and copies of original documents, duly ordered and identified, about events of the life of the German scholar, his work in the sciences and his relationship with Cuba in terms of nature and society. There is also, the Alexander of Humboldt Library. It is specialized in the German language, it hoards more than three thousand copies, mostly classical and contemporary literature from countries that speak this language. It has art and reference books, children’s literature texts, as well as a collection of biographies of about a hundred personalities of culture, science and politics of the 20C. It has an active and passive bibliography on the second discoverer of Cuba, including copies in Spanish. Located in the Alejandro de Humboldt House. Calle Oficios no. 254 corner to Muralla.Also, the Monument to Alexander de Humboldt. A bronze bust pays him a well-deserved tribute in the park that bears his name, very close to the museum house that discloses his life and work. Calle Oficios corner with Muralla,same spot

Museo Casa de los Arabes or House of the Arabs Museum is located in an old building from the late 18C and early 19C. Refunctionalized as a cultural institution, its main objective is to disseminate the values of the Arab world based on its customs, traditions, art, architecture and the study of the Arab presence in Cuba, from the first contacts that led to Spanish colonization, and later the movement migration that occurred between the 19C and 20C, Related to it is the .Biblioteca Ibn Jaldún or Ibn Khaldun Library. It has important collections of Arab and Islamic themes, especially editions of historical chronicles from the 19C, essays on Islam, and texts on contemporary Arab and Islamist history and art. It also treasures volumes about Arab immigration in Cuba and Latin America. Calle Oficios no. 16, between Obispo and Obrapía streets, Old Havana.

You have the museo del Automovil or Automobile Museum. The Automobile Depot is divided into two exhibition rooms, which share the entire collection made up of 30 passenger cars, 2 rigid trucks, a hearse, a special vehicle, 7 motorcycles, a traffic light, 3 fuel pumps and 2 didactic rows. The oldest vehicle in the collection dates from 1905 and the most modern from 1989; They are primarily of North American construction, although there are examples made in Italy, Spain, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Calle Oficios no 13 corner of Jústiz and Obra Pía streets, Old Havana,

The Museo de Arte Sacro or Sacred Art Museum is inside the Minor Basilica of San Francisco Asís that also functions as a concert hall, The collection of religious paintings is exhibited. In the spaces of the prestigious concert hall, images are shown, mainly from the 18C, together with other pieces of a religious nature, among them the slippers and the rain cape that belonged to the first Auxiliary Bishop of Cuba, Dionisio Rezino y Ormachea, embroidered in Mexico at the end of the 17C in silk, gold threads and precious stones. This is at Calle Oficios between Amargura and Churruca streets, Old Havana.

You have the colegio or College of San Francisco de Sales. Around 1688, when this house was bought by Bishop Diego Evelino de Compostela, it already presented an appearance similar to the current one. When the San Francisco de Sales School for orphaned girls was immediately installed there, reforms were gradually introduced, the largest of which consisted of adding a third floor that is only expressed  to the outside by Calle Obispo street, and the replacement of the original tile roofs for the current  flat roofs, Calle Oficios no.6, corner with Calle Obispo, Old Havana.

Other interesting buildings here amongst the many are the Casa del Tesorero Baltazar de Soto or House of Treasurer Baltazar de Soto ,Calle Oficios 51-53. It is an old 17C building, remodeled during the 18-19C, The Casa del Marqués De Casa Calderón ,calle Oficios no, 312. This mansion is an important example of 18C architecture, in whose last decades it acquired its physiognomy only occasionally varied in the XIX Men’s College or San Ambrosio Seminary ,calle Oficios no 8. A balanced simplicity characterizes this house, where the San Ambrosio College was located from 1689 to 1774, when it was transferred to the Seminary next to the Cathedral. Calle Oficios no 12, between Obispo and Obra Pía street, The Casa del Conde De Casa Barreto. Only an original portion, which includes the facades, remains of this stately mansion with a privileged location due to its proximity to the port. Calle Oficios no. 362, corner to calle Luz.

Calle Oficios in its extension it links emblematic places of the city such as the Plaza de Armas, the Plaza de San Francisco and the Alameda de Paula. Its a must to walk it see it smell it it is wonderful old Havana,even if now many crumble, I am putting official Cuba tourist sites for references ,bear in mind, the above also come from my library with more information.

The official today Cuba tourist board on Havana :

The official today Infotur tourist guide to Cuba on Havana

There you go folks, another nostalgic spot in my life and happy to be able to share it with the world. Havana goes deep with me, even if now is a distant star flicking for survival, I believe you should know these places and eventually visit in better freer times , Again, hope you enjoy the post on Calle Oficios of Havana or La Habana as I

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

March 28, 2023

A memorable first visit to Sao Paulo !!!

Another of my first places visit in Brazil which deserves a post of its own even if small as have others in general about it is the City of Sao Paulo,the largest city in Brazil and South America. I like to tell you about my first encounter there and my stayed ,memories forever, Hope you enjoy the post as I.

My old time favorite here for stays , and the reason of this post has been the Maksoud plaza , opened in 1979 done by the architect owner Maksoud tire of staying on other hotels, the one and only Maksoud plaza. .Unfortunately after many family feuds after the passing of the creator father the hotel was sold, It is now run by the French chain Accorhotels,Really needs to be check out as also told the world famous Frank bar next door is closed,,,, Do not know if Accor got all or what,,Sadly wonderful memories there and now here maybe just for the memories, can someone local confirm please,

It had wonderful places to eat inside like the Atrium lobby cafe and the Arlanza Grill. Ibirapuera park is nearby for a nice jogging and conferences were held every year for the me business traveler in those days. The close by Avenida Paulista is the grand avenue and most popular avenue of the city  (yes) concentrates all that is best in São Paulo. It is possible to visit museums and cultural centers, find a park amid great skyscrapers, check book launchings, enjoy the happy hour in one of its many bars, enjoy the evening at nightclubs, watch theatrical performances and movie sessions of the most diverse productions, and go shopping: all in one place! It is possible to visit museums and cultural centers,amid great skyscrapers,

More for the memories of always, the address was like in the 1980s, when it was possible to bump into Caetano Veloso at one of the tables, smoke cigars surrounded by works by artists such as Yutaka Toyota and Maria Bonomi and enjoy 24-hour bars and restaurants in the hotel, such as 150 Night Club, the Trianon Piano Bar, the Brasserie Bela Vista, the Vikings and La Cuisine du Soleil, for example. Not to mention the exquisite architecture, which received major cultural attractions, such as Frank Sinatra’s last performance in Brazil, in 1981. Also, Alberta Hunter, Bobby Short, and Buddy Guy , Of the hotel’s four restaurants , such as the rare Scandinavian Vikings, where the São Paulo bourgeoisie learned what the smorgasbord was, a table where marinated and smoked fish sparkled, the most eye-catching was La Cuisine du Soleil. Old but comfortable, this one had the advice of chef Roger Vergé , who in his Moulin de Mougins, in southern France, was one of the icons of innovative nouvelle cuisine. Oh yes many memories and at least one picture to show it and a nostalgic memorable post to keep and show to the world.

The maybe new Maksoud Plaza Hotel :


The City of Sao Paulo sits on the plateau of Piratininga at 760 meters above sea level, the city is crossed by two rivers, the Rio Tietê and the Rio Pinheiros which confluent before crossing the whole State of São Paulo and to throw themselves in the Rio Paraná. Founded in 1554 by Portuguese Jesuits, the city developed thanks to the gold of the surrounding mines until the end of the 18C, and then became prosperous thanks to the cultivation of coffee and sugar. In the last century, it has gradually become the economic heart of Brazil, with its business district around Avenue Paulista , hosting the São Paulo Stock Exchange and seats of large Brazilian and international companies. The city is known for its unpredictable climate, its architecture-and in particular its skyscrapers-, its gastronomy, its gigantic traffic jams and the number of helicopters flying over the city (biggest in Latin America).

As mentioned , this was my first entry point to Brazil,back in 1994, The Guarulhos international airport has served me many times on my trips here over the years since. You have their webpage here:

The tour was given by locals by car lol! I really enjoy it as I am a road warrior bu the traffic here is big and if you are planning to head out by car, better get your bearing on the traffic before leaving home. Not perfect but better than go out blind. Of course, it helps if speaks Portuguese (I do) The official webpage is CET and it has the City in quadrants to explain you about the trafic conditions :

Of course outside the City and into the Sao Paulo State than the autoban or expressway info which I usually take the Anhaguera (330 , Banderaintes (348) roads , you can get trafic info here :

I do walk a lot in the City but it is big so sometimes a taxi or metro will do, However, only taken taxis here, The Sao Paulo metro webpage:

The City of Sao Paulo on what to see/do (P) :

The Sao Paulo  tourist office :

There you go folks, a wonderful world different from what most think of Brazil. Lucky to have been there and won’t mind going back, eventually, Again, hope you enjoy this post on memorable Maksoud plaza of Sao Paulo as I.

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

March 27, 2023

Porto Alegre and its Gaucho tradition !!

I had the opportunity to visit Brazil for several years and even lived there for several months in Curitiba (see posts), However, my first encounter happened many years ago probably around 1994 when asked to go into the big cities of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and surprise down under Porto Alegre, I have written plenty on the country but really need to update this wonderful first encounter at Porto Alegre and its Gaucho tradition, Hope you enjoy the post as I

When I went I came along a native of the City so big introduction as his mom an attorney was still living there, I was taken all over and sadly with the enthusiasm of the first visit pictures are few, I remember been taken everywhere and staying in a nice hotel the Blue Tree Towers Hotels, and lately Hotel Radisson Porto Alegre, They had a japanese resto there very good, then, Becco churrasquerias, and now Don Pallesi Restaurant-Italian style. The big tradition here is that is part of Gaucho country not just down south but in the State of Rio Grande do Sul as well , which is where Porto Alegre is located.

My wonderful introduction to the Brazilian Gaucho tradition at Porto Alegre was at the magnificent Churrascaria Galpao Crioulo ; Rua Otavio Francisco Caruso da Rocha s / n and praça Mauricio Sirotsky Sobrinho square. Unfortunately could not confirm if still open so here is RestaurantGuru reviews on it :

Porto Alegre friends at gaucho show Churrascaria Galpao Crioulo 1999

I was with local friends and their families and had a great meal, wine of the region and a great Gaucho show at the Churrascaria Galpao Crioulo as above, memories of a lifetime.

Porto Alegre gaucho resto vladi mom fam and me Churrascaria Galpao Crioulo c1994

The city is decorated with parks (nine large urban parks) and tree-lined streets, especially in the ancient districts of the Cidade Baixa (lower town). In addition, the city has a biological reserve, around the beach of the district of Latif, on the river, which it is known to have one of the largest urban concentrations of birds of the country. The city has many hills, the Morros, which can reach up to 311 meters in altitude. The Mercado Publico is great now housing many shops of local flavor and tradition centered around the gaucho heritage. Many restos and pubs around Bela Vista and Centro typical of European cities.   Another is the great football/soccer team Internacional de Porto Alegre at river banks of  river/Rio Guaíba,in Avenida Padre Cacique, 891, at shopping  Gigante da Beira-Rio.

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

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

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

The City of Porto Alegre on tourism (P) :

The Rio Grande do Sul State on Porto Alegre :

The Brazil tourist office on Porto Alegre

There you go folks, a wonderful world different from what most think of Brazil. Lucky to have been there and won’t mind going back, eventually, Again, hope you enjoy this post on Porto Alegre.

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

March 15, 2023

The Hotel Habana Libre (Hilton) of Havana !!!

A big task considering was a beautiful city now mostly in ruins unless Unesco has provided some funds, This is my native capital City, the city where I spent a great part of my very early life until 10 years old, For family or business was lucky to visit it in 1984, 1998, and 2012 , This City is Havana or La Habana or the full name San Cristobal de La Habana, the capital of the Republic of Cuba.  This is my Habana and would like to share some of the emblematic hotels which visited with my parents as a boy and later visits, This is the Hotel Habana Libre (former Hilton ), Hope you enjoy the post as I.

Havana Hotel Habana Hilton O Libre 1998

The Hotel Habana Libre (Hilton) is one of the greatest hotels in Cuba, located at Calle 23 (“La Rampa”) and Calle L The hotel has 572 rooms in a tour of 25 stages , 532 Standard Double, 37 Standard Junior Suit, 1 Presidential Suit and 2 Standard Senior Suit. It was inaugurated on March 22, 1958, it then bears the name of Habana Hilton, it was the largest hotel in Latin America at the time. It belongs to the American group Hilton Hotels & Resorts . It was kept as the Hilton for a year and one half without success. On July 11 1960, the communist government nationalise it. (one reason of the current embargo), It featured a Trader Vic’s restaurant, casino, dining room, billiards room, and a bar on the hotel’s rooftop. For info below pic shows on left Yara, the revolutionary new name for what is was Radiocentro!

Havana Hotel Hilton o Libre from coppelia 1998

After coming to power in 1959, the already dictator moved into suite 2324 at the Habana Hilton. For three months, the hotel becomes the nerve center of the Cuban revolution, but hotel service continues in the rest of the skyscraper. (the room is now an art gallery).   During the following years, the hotel, already operated by the Cuban communist government, focused on national tourism, losing much of the prestige it had generated with its opening. For some years the hotel, underused for its original use, was repurposed for many other functions; Among them, it stood out for operating for some time as the Embassy of the Soviet Union in Cuba. Later, the hotel operated again to house important foreign personalities during their stay on the island. In 1996, the Spanish chain Sol Meliá took over the management of the hotel together with the government. It was placed in its Tryp division of urban hotels and renamed Hotel Tryp Habana Libre. It was renovated between 1996 and 1997. Among the highlights of the work was the restoration of a huge original mural by artist Amelia Peláez above the main entrance, which had spent decades hidden from public view.

In its facade there is a beautiful ceramic fresco of 640 square meters of Amelia Peláez and the Car of the Revolution, the work of Alfredo Sosa Bravo, who used 525 pieces of ceramic to make it. Currently the hotel houses shops, and you can find there the Sculpture of Clepsidra, a 10 meter high column, in metal and glass, emerging from a fountain located in the hall, among other pieces recognized by prestigious potters, sculptors and craftsmen in the living rooms, hallways and bedrooms.

Havana Hotel Hilton o Libre lobby 1998

Inside you will find the brand new and famous Casa del Habano (cigar house) and in its highest floor the famous cabaret Turquino, The Sierra Maestra is one of the most famous restaurants in Havana. Also, El Barracón the ideal place to enjoy an authentic adventure with a Cuban flavor. The decoration recalls the houses of the villages, Polinesio ,with the spirit of the Pacific Islands and a place where time sits still. Also, the Las Antillas buffet as varied as the rosary of islands and keys that inhabit the Caribbean. La Rampa , a cafeteria takes its name after a popular section of Havana and offers a wide assortment of dishes for breakfast and lunch as well as fast food dinners and take-outs. I cannot tell you the current conditions of these eateries.

The Spanish group Melia, which owns the Habana Libre, has reportedly tried several times to do renovation work. Several renovation projects were imagined between 2011 and 2019, but all of them turned into “mission impossible”. No less than ten floors of the hotel are currently closed because they are completely unusable and, at best, two elevators are working out of the six that make up the Habana Libre. Of course. The hotel’s strategic location permits easy access to the most important points of interest, such as the Cathedral (4 km), the port (4 km), the Congress & Conventions’ Center (10 km), the International Airport (17 km), the beautiful Playas del Este beaches (20 km), Varadero (140 km) and Pinar del Río (147 km).

The official Melia hotels on the Habana Libre

The official Melia Cuba site on the Habana Libre

The pictures all date from 1998, and 2012  when I made a business and family trip to introduce to my family there to my French wife Martine and boys, which they enjoy much. One more post down memory lane, many moments spent with the family now almost all gone from there. One of them was the Hotel Habana Libre (Hilton). I was the first one out 52 years ago !!, Havana is a city to fall in love for no matter what period of time in history you may choose to visit.  Enjoy the ride into nostalgia land. Again, hope you enjoy the post as I

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

March 15, 2023

The Hotel Riviera of Havana !!!

A big task considering was a beautiful city now mostly in ruins unless Unesco has provided some funds, This is my native capital City, the city where I spent a great part of my very early life until 10 years old, For family or business was lucky to visit it in 1984, 1998, and 2012 , This City is Havana or La Habana or the full name San Cristobal de La Habana, the capital of the Republic of Cuba.  This is my Habana and would like to share some of the emblematic hotels which visited with my parents as a boy and later visits, This is the Hotel Riviera, Hope you enjoy the post as I.

Havana Hotel Riviera 1998

The Hotel Riviera is located at corner of Avenida Paseo de Marti (old del Prado) y Malecon ,Centro district, Overlooking the sea, The hotel was built in 1957 and still retains its original 1950s style. It has 21 floors and 352 rooms. It is currently operated by the Spanish chain Iberostar and the dictatorship..

havana hotel Riviera on malecon aug98

A twenty-storys modernist building, curved so that all the rooms have a view of the sea. At the foot of the twenty floors with turquoise reflections, the entrance to the hotel is marked by a daring duo in love with a human and a seahorse. The reception desk of the Hotel Riviera is surmounted by three magnificent gilded bronze clocks, in local, European and American time, The staircase unfolds like in a musical, in the middle of turquoise and gold scrolls, under a dome lit by a very graphic bronze suspension.   In the first three years of its founding, the following stayed and performed there: Fred Astaire’s dance partner, artists such as Jean Stewart and 1950s heartthrob William Holden. World boxing champions Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Cuban boxer Kid Chocolate, actors such as César Romero (Cuban-Spanish born in NYC) , and American film noir gangster George Raft were also hosted.

Havana hotel Riviera apr12

As this was my dear late father Elio hangout when young ,and I was taken there by my mother very early and later visited in 1998,and 2012. Let me give you a brief description of this wonderful Hotel Riviera !

The 1st Salon, has massive stone tables, the elegant metal sideboards and the gold mosaics serve as pedestals and settings for the marble sculptures, The 2nd Salon between a palm tree and a partition with motifs freely inspired by the art of the Taïnos Indians, relaxation and daïquiri in original furniture in ivory and gold lacquered wood.

The restaurant L’Aiglon offers dinner dances a tribute to the brief passage in these waters of the forces of the Emperor Napoleon. The paintings are inspired by a theatrical set by Valentine Hugo, The old cabaret In the old Copa Room, a cabaret (the copacabana song by Barry Manilow) inaugurated by Ginger Rogers, now the Palacio de la Salsa, huge birds of paradise fly on the walls, as spangled as the naked dancers.

From the top of the three-story diving board overlooking a more than Olympic swimming pool, Johnny Weismuller, swimming champion and incarnation of Tarzan in Hollywood, paraded for starlets and wealthy clients. The swimming pool restaurant has on the walls the Al Fresco, fish and starfish dance in front of surviving furniture signed Saarinen.

The official ibercuba on the Hotel Riviera

The pictures all date from 1998 and 2012, when I made a business and pleasure trips to introduce to my family there to my French wife Martine and boys, which they enjoy much (1998). One more post down memory lane, many moments spent with the family now almost all gone from there. One of them was the Hotel Riviera. I was the first one out 52 years ago !!, Havana is a city to fall in love for no matter what period of time in history you may choose to visit.  Enjoy the ride into nostalgia land. Again, hope you enjoy the post as I

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

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