Posts tagged ‘Florida’

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!!!

June 3, 2020

A step back in time, my Havana!

So looking at my vault of photos or rather CD-Roms I came up some older photos of a time gone by of memories not to be forgotten and family roots. I have written several posts on this native experience of mine very translucent as the times goes by and memory starts to flicker. Let me tell you a bit about my dear Havana or La Habana or San Cristobal de La Habana.

It was the ultimate Caribbean destination, the “Paris of the Americas” (Hemingway ), the “key to the gulf (of mexico) the bulkward of the West Indies (Caribbean_ King Philip II of Spain), to the whole of Cuba. It brings back memories of childhood, and still vibrates the world from no matter what place on the fence you might be. It is a beautiful city, if only can be kept in one piece. It was once the Pearl of the Antilles, the most chic city of Latin America until the revolution destroyed everything; streets names were changed, city names were change, people left in hordes, and more poverty than ever sets in all under the glorious revolution still there. I need to say this.

We spent many times by the Malecon and going in by the Paseo del Prado going into the Capitol (see post)/ last trip we were on a Ford 1954 lol!! things indeed change.

havana

All the Malecon area now is half and half some renovated with the help of Unesco and other crumbling. We just saw the inner soul of the buildings like the fabled Riviera hotel, and tried to remember what they were before…

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Then, we went under the bay of Havana on the old Tunnel that we enjoyed so much riding it.

Havana

And we passed by the University of Havana, where my Mom did studies before transfering to the Catholic Univ ,sister univ of Villanova in Philadelphia , PA USA at the time.

Havana

We passed by another favorite of my family that took me there still very early in my life. This is the Cinema Trianon!  It is at Avenida Linea beween A Street & B Street. It was built in 1920 ,and completely re-modeled in 1955 and became the release theatre for 20th Century Fox films. My picture is from when it was renovated back in 1998.

Havana

And we move on to the Morro Castle (Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro) where the remodeled all castle had a nice restaurant call the 12 Apostoles or apostles. My dear late wife Martine enjoy the trip down to my roots.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

And this is end of the trip for me with the pictures I found, bear in mind these are paper photos that I took a picture from. The pictures all date from 1998 when we went from France.  

One more post down memory lane, many moments spent with the family now almost all gone from there. I was the first one! 49 years ago…..Hope you enjoy the pictures.

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.

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

June 3, 2020

Spruce Creek fly-in, Port Orange!

And another nostalgia post oh well, these are the times!! I seaching into my vault as mentioned many photos lots of material but a hard work indeed. Going back to my times in the state of Florida, where I lived for 18 years Central and South of it.  Again, went to College here (ERAU), got my job here, married at city island municipal courthouse and my oldest son was born at Halifax Hospital, ok…

Only have one photo again from this period, with my dear late wife Martine at the Spruce Creek fly-in in Port Orange just south of Daytona Beach, Florida. I happened to be here because my father did tile pool work for a man who was one of the founders of the Sabre reservation system for American Airlines and lived there so my father tag me alone. Because the anecdote of the trip this men neighbor was John Travolta and wife Cynthia which I met!!! Unfortunately rather private encounter and no photos allowed of his Cessna 310 jet lol!

Daytona Beach

What I did get was a ride on our friend Cessna 172 all over the Kennedy Space center and back, with my family so it is nostalgic for me indeed. Hope you enjoy the post and heck, great properties to have there if you need to park your airplane in your hangar garage lol!

A bit on the spot Spruce Creek Fly-in.

Spruce Creek Airport  (FAA LID 7FL6) is a private airport and housing community located in Port Orange, 7 miles or about 11 km south of Daytona Beach, Volusia county, Florida. It was originally constructed during WWII as an outlying field (OLF) to nearby Naval Air Station DeLand and Daytona Beach.

Port Orange is a city in Volusia County, Florida  which initially was settled by John Milton Hawks, who brought freed blacks to work at his sawmill after the  US Civil War. The area that became known as Freemanville is a legacy of the settlers who stayed in the area. It is also,known for the harbor or port where oranges were shipped all over therefore the name of Port Orange.

The Spruce Creek Fly-in is west of the I95 interstate highway .The best way to get there is get on US 1 (South Ridgewood ave) and turn right into the Dunlawton avenue or SR 421, it then becomes Taylor Road (we did drag racing here during good old college days!!) this is still the SR 421. Then turn left on the Spruce Creek Blvd you have a couple turns remaining but signs lead you to Spruce Creek Fly in. Wonderful countryside on the mainland. Port Orange is on the other side of the Intracoastal waterways so no beach, for that you need to turn into Dunlawton avenue over the bridge into Daytona Beach Shores left or Wilbur by the Sea right.

Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Spruce Creek fly in on its history webpage: Fly In on history of Spruce Creek

The Spruce Creek journal (newspaper) and housing: Spruce Creek Journal

The city of Port Orange on its history: City of Port Orange on its history

And there you go another nostalgia lane story of yours truly. Yes it has been a long trek on various continents and countries and what not, all worth it, very rich, and always missing these places as a reluctant traveler does always. Hope you enjoy Spruce Creek Fly In at Port Orange.

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

June 3, 2020

A multi themes museum , Daytona Beach!

Well hard to come up with a post title and my rudimentary creative mind…. But rather than not write about it , its a start. This is in nostalgia sentimental route of mine and on these days it’s the perfect time.

I , if you have read my blog, lived for 18 years in the State of Florida , central and south of it. One big spot was Daytona Beach! I went to university studies there and worked, and married, and had my oldest son at the Halifax hospital. Therefore, know the area quite well.  Of course, I have several posts on it .However, I like this time to write about a multi themes museum in Daytona Beach.

The Museum of Arts and Sciences, often referred to as MOAS, is one nice place to visit while in Daytona Beach, Volusia county, Florida,  The museum is a member of the American Alliance of Museums , and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. Very dear to me as I was one of the volunteers who helped clean and place some of the artwork in the Cuban Foundation museum with Dr Libby back in 1978. Read on…

The Museum of Arts & Sciences was founded in 1955. However, all started when in 1977, art historian Gary Russel Libby was hired as the Executive Director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences which became accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and a Smithsonian Affiliate under Libby’s leadership. The Museum grew from one location of 7,000 sq. ft. to 120,000 sq. ft. with three different locations. During his time as director, Libby organized and led the first international museum travel program in Florida. This annual program introduced cultural treasures in Mexico, Central America, South America, Europe, Scandinavia, North and Equatorial Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia to thousands of central Floridians who attended these interpreted educational and cultural expeditions. At his 2002 retirement, the Trustees of the Museum of Arts and Sciences named Libby as the first Director Emeritus and named the Lobby of the Museum as the “Gary R. Libby Entry Court.” A well deserved nomination and more.

A story dear to my history roots is here, and a must for all interested in Cuban history and the arts. Not in Miami, but Daytona Beach!!!

The newly rebuilt West Wing of the Museum opened on October 30, 2015. This was great as the previous space was rather cramp and dull.  This expansive wing of MOAS is home to the Cuban Foundation Museum, amongst other museums themes. The largest permanent exhibition of Cuban  art outside of Cuba!!! yes

daytona beach

Here you will see an exhibit that chronicles 300 years of Cuban history and culture. The art collection is a legacy of former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, who lived in Daytona Beach off and on during the 1940s and 1950s. He came to Daytona Beach and bought a house on North Halifax Avenue in the mid-1940s when term limits prevented him from seeking a second term and his successor in office would not guarantee his security. For direction North Halifax Avenue runs along the Halifax river part of the Intracoastal river highway dividing mainland and beachside in most of Florida. It starts north of Main Street bridge and goes all the way north. The old locals I met remember him fondly, not us of course, unfortunately the next one was worse.

While president, Batista vacationed in Daytona Beach with his wife and children. The city celebrated him with a parade and declared it Bastista Day on March 24, 1956. Batista rode in an open air convertible with Mayor Frank Morrison, waved to crowds lining the street and later spoke at a reception with a U.S. senator, according to news reports from the time. During the visit, Batista gave his two properties at 137 and 145 N Halifax Ave. to the city, and formalized the creation of a Cuban Foundation Museum. And Batista’s former homes were later torn down and replaced with St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, which is still there. When it became clear that Batista would be overthrown by Castro, he sneaked out of Cuba on Jan. 1, 1959. At the time, the Eisenhower administration would not let him back into this country. Batista’s wife and son, Roberto, were living in the former Ransom Olds mansion at 129 N Halifax Ave (now the Greek Orthodox church) . Batista would never set foot in America again and died in Spain in 1973.

Daytona Beach

Some webpages to help you plan a trip to the museum and the Cuban art to follow

The museum of Arts and Sciences of Daytona Beach: Official MOAS

The MOAS Cuban Foundation Museum section: Official MOAS on the Cuban Foundation Museum

City of Daytona Beach on the MOAS museumCity of Daytona Beach on MOAS

The State of Florida tourist office on the MOAS museum in Daytona BeachState of Florida tourist office on MOAS

Ok so I am glad found one old photo (showing the Vuelta Abajo tabacco area and Yumuri caves) and got me the idea to tell you about this wonderful place that I worked as a college student and help arranged some wonderful Cuban art pieces. Hope you like it and do visit , something wonderful to do away from the beach, the MOAS at Daytona Beach.

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

June 2, 2020

Bayside Marketplace!!!

So coming back at you in memory lane of yesteryear and never forgotten, why should I , spent many years there and my boys were born in Florida! This one is from the sleeves as many years visited but last in 2009. It was one of our hangouts on weekends and holidays. Let me tell you a bit more on the Bayside marketplace mall in Miami, Florida, USA! Pictures are from old paper photos.

The Bayside Marketplace at 401 Biscayne Boulevard; Miami downtown is a wonderful tropical escape with boating cruises on Miami harbor and passing by the home of the famous. Souvenirs stores and great Latin American Café for great Cuban sandwiches while overlooking the Bay. This is the LA cafe info: Bayside Marketplace on the Latin American Cafe

miami

Bayside Marketplace is a two-story open air shopping center The banks of Biscayne Bay wrap around the property with the City of Miami marina at its side. Different from typical shopping malls, Bayside offers an entertainment experience with live music daily, restaurants, bars, open-container policy, family events, and the picturesque settings that come with a waterfront property. The shopping center was frequently featured on the crime drama TV series, Miami Vice! yes remember them?.

The marina that runs alongside Bayside gives this Miami place a special cachet. You will particularly enjoy strolling there at the end of the evening. The mall is located on Biscayne Boulevard, (US 1) one of Miami’s largest avenues, at the edge of the marina preceding the harbor.

miami

Bayside Marketplace is a shopping center where you can do your shopping in a very Latin atmosphere. An American mall, but also a Cuban one, in all its splendor and grandeur. It’s the perfect place to relax while being in the heart of Miami! Salsa musicians and dancers provide the relaxed atmosphere of the place. On the shopping side, more than 150 shops will allow you to find everything you need. Before or after your shopping, you can also stop and sit down at midday or in the evening. The Bayside Marketplace has the very big advantage of offering restaurants right by the water! Most of the time in Cuban atmospheres moreover. Finally, Bayside Marketplace is also the starting point for many cruises if you want to visit the bay in complete relaxation. Many companies await you for tours to discover the most beautiful villas of stars.

miami

The Miami tramway, otherwise known as MetroMover, is the most convenient way to get to Bayside. Get off at the College / Bayside station then walk 3 minutes on 4th Street and you’re there! The Government Center metro/subway/tube station or known as Monorail is the closest to Bayside. Once down, allow 10 to 15 minutes of walking via 2nd or 3rd Street towards the sea. The bus lines that take you there are: 3 (this one also goes to Aventura Mall), 93 (only runs during the week), 95 (only runs during the week during peak hours), and no. 103, and no. 119. There is great parking we always use at the Bayside car park undeground.

The Bayside Marketplace is right across from downtown or city center Miami with a plethora of shopping and restaurant/bars choices from all corners of the Earth. We love to walk it as an extention always pleasant at daytime. This is the official page and you can see three areas Central Business, Brickell and Arts & Entertainment districts. More here: Downtown Miami shops restos listing

Additional webpages to help you enjoy the visit to this area and especially Bayside Marketplace are

The official Bayside Marketplace webpage: Bayside Marketplace

The tourist office of Miami and the Beaches on Bayside: Tourist office Miami and the Beaches on Bayside

Time change and do not know now, but for us back then it was a must stop on our go around road warrior trips in the area of Miami which is a lot more than just a city with about 8 different towns with Miami on their name. This one Bayside Marketplace is in Miami proper. Hope you enjoy the tour and do visit one day, worth the detour.

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

June 2, 2020

Coconut Grove, FL!!!

Ok beat me ,I am getting nostalgically old nowdays, maybe its the confinement lol! But heck I need to put this piece in my blog, it is just awesome memories and this is the time to do it. Memories forever in my State of Florida. Bear in mind photos are old and from paper photo so for me just for the memories!!

Let me tell you a bit on a special spot there for me and my family as we were there almost every weekend for years. Let me tell you about Coconut Grove! the Grove!!!

Coconut Grove is the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood of Miami in Miami-Dade County; State of Florida. The neighborhood is roughly bound by North Prospect Drive to the south, LeJeune Road to the west, South Dixie Highway (US 1) and Rickenbacker Causeway to the north, and Biscayne Bay to the east. It is south of the neighborhoods of Brickell and The Roads and east of Coral Gables. The definitive spelling “Coconut Grove” was established when the city was incorporated in 1919.. The area is often referred to as “The Grove” and many locals take pride that Coconut Grove is one of the greenest areas of Miami.

Landmark of hippies in the 60s, home of Flower power and then a favorite quarter of intellectual artists, the village of Coconut Grove then became considerably quieter. If it now shelters a wealthy but discreet population, an extraordinary greenery and small motley shops, it retains traces of this originality and a Bohemian spirit that make the Grove a unique district of Miami.

Official webpage dedicated to the Grove: Coconut Grove all info needed

One of the nicest spot there and we went for it each time just to unwind from our day before getting to eating and drinking away was the Barnacle! Nestled in the middle of a dense forest of tropical plants and trees, the Barnacle is the oldest house in Miami Dade  County. The building was designed in 1886 and now it is home to the Barnable Historic State park at 3485 Main Highway. More from the FLorida State Parks here: Florida State Parks on Barnacle

coconut grove

CocoWalk is currently under construction and is set to reopen in the early 2020s. Actually this is as old as I can remember and the main reason we came here. It had a cinema, discothéque, several restaurants and a great library not to mention a nice Mediterranean architecture to just spend a day with the family. I would be glad once it reopen and see the new layout. Probably delay due to the virus. It was very popular.

coconut grove

Coconut Grove

What is still there is The Streets of Mayfair. For your shopping moment, this is where it happens. This small neighborhood located between Grande Avenue in the south, Virginia Street in the west, Oak street in the north and Mary street in the east is ideal for pedestrian walks, with its small restaurants, its bookshop and its rather motley shops.

The villa Vizcaya  castle and museum at 3251 S Miami Avenue already written on it in my blog (see post).

The maze of winding streets, the queen vegetation, the architectural freedom of the houses, a stroll through the residential districts, even by car, will reveal the “artist” character of the Grove. Wander the alleys shaded by banyan fig trees, get lost in the flowery paths to feel this special atmosphere , but only during the day. Because at night, between the lack of street lighting and the leafy trees, you may not see anything at all. Lose yourself between: East of Lejeune Road, South of Loquat Avenue, West of 37th Avenue and North of Ingraham Highway. Indeed superbe one of the nicest spot in South Florida me think and I worked and lived there for 11 years (total of 18 in Fl).

Take a walk by 37th avenue, between Charles Avenue and Franklin Avenue, to take a look at the Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery where it was filmed the scene of the living dead of the music clip Thriller by Michael Jackson .. In the film Scarface, Manny lives in an upscale home in the Grove yes saw the movie? In the TV series Dexter, based on the book series by Jeff Lindsay, Dexter Morgan lived in Coconut Grove.oh yeah! And and Coconut Grove was the location for the 1985 Burt Reynolds film Stick. Yess! Also, the 2008 film Marley & Me with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, based on John Grogan’s book, was filmed on location in Coconut Grove. Oe oe oe!!!

I found a very nice youtube video that show you more of the place, credit to it.

Additional webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is recommended when in Miami are

The tourist office of Miami and the Beaches on Coconut GroveMiami and the Beaches on Coconut Grove

The State of Florida tourism on Coconut GroveState of Florida tourism on Coconut Grove

It was magical and we love to be there, even came back on a visit in 2009. Always in our heart and many family moments. Hope you too can one day enjoy Coconut Grove. 

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

June 1, 2020

Gander, Canada!!

Another one out of the old cabinet, vault whatever, this is way from the beginning of visiting France with my now dear lafe wife Martine from Florida. Always looking for a inexpensive way to travel with the whole family and do so every year since 1990 to 2002 when finally came to live permanently in France in 2003 as already French citizens. Memories forever!! Hope you like the story as we do.

We were registered at the French consulate in Miami as French citizens and partipated in its activities thru Miami Accueil. One of the niceties of belonging is that French families living there (about 8K in all of Florida) looking for ways to visit the country the least expensive possible as the goings and comings were frequent. One of the ideas was to charter a flight by the group and passed on the good prices to us. So therefore we got on Rich International airlines (now gone) and took a charter flight to Paris Orly airport at less than 400 dollars per person!!! The trick it landed for refueling at Gander, Canada. Sot here is the story of this spot on earth, I can call it I WAS HERE!

By the way for any French reader of this post, the Miami Accueil is still there! Here is the webpage: Miami Accueil Miami Florida

Gander is a town located in the northeast of the island of Newfoundland in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador,Canada; about 40 km south of Gander Bay.  The territory of the city is home to the Gander International Airport, a former major stopover for the refueling of transatlantic flights and still houses a military air base, as well as an air control center, attached to the Gander Oceanic Control Center. The activity of the city is very linked to this airport which was created in the 1930s .

Some titbits of information gathered from the town’s webpage which I like as history is good to know are

Nearly all of Gander’s streets are named for famous aviators, from the Wright brothers, Alcock and Brown, Lindbergh and Earhart, to more modern pioneers like Canadian astronauts Marc Garneau, Roberta Bondar and Chris Hadfield. It hosted early experiments in aerial refuelling in the late 1930s. The decidedly low-tech system of the day required some brave soul to lean out of the target plane with a large hook and try to snag a fuel line dangling from a tanker flying in close formation overhead. In the early years of the supersonic transport Concorde, while most nations still refused to allow the futuristic craft into their airspace, Gander successfully lobbied to host cold-weather avionics testing. Two prototypes were based at Gander International two years before Concorde’s first commercial flight!.  The runways at Gander International Airport routinely handle the world’s largest, fastest and heaviest aircraft, up to and including the Russian Antonov An-225. Due to its strategic location and runway capacity, Gander was a designated alternate landing site for NASA’s Space Shuttle program! At the time of its completion in 1938, the then ‘Newfoundland Airport’ was the largest airfield on the planet, with four huge paved runways covering a combined area of one square mile.

Gander is the site of North America’s only Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery as well as a nice museum would love to visit the North Atlantic Aviation Museum: where you learn all about Gander’s strategic role in the world of aviation and its important role in WWII and beyond. More here: North Atlantic Aviation Museum

The Gander International Airport Authority Inc. is the official authority of the airport main office at 1000 James Boulevard P.O. Box 400 Gander, NL, Canada.  According to their site there are only four airlines such as Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing Airlines and Pal Airlines. More info here: Gander International Airport

GAnder

Gander International Airport (IATA: YQX, ICAO: CYQX) is the official name of the airport, and is operated by the Gander International Airport Authority. Canadian Forces Base Gander shares the airfield but is a separate entity from the airport. Construction of the airport began in 1936 and it was opened in 1938. Within a few years it had four runways and was the largest airport in the world. Its official name until 1949 was Newfoundland Airport.

Gander

The Canadian federal government changed the name to Gander Airport after Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949. It opened the current passenger terminal in 1959. On 16 September 1945 the first transatlantic proving flight, a Pan Am (I worked for them in Miami!) DC-4, departed Gander for Shannon in western Ireland On 24 October 1945, the first scheduled commercial flight, an American (my school chairman was co founder in 1934) Overseas Airlines DC-4, passed through Gander. Gander is near the great circle route between North America and Europe. Starting in the 1940s it was a refueling stop for transatlantic flights and continued in this role through the early 1960s and in some cases into the 1990s.

Gander

With the advent of jets with longer range in the 1960s, most flights no longer needed to refuel. Gander has decreased in importance, but it remains the home of Gander Control, one of the two air traffic control centrers (the other being Shanwick Oceanic Control in western Ireland) which direct the high-level airways of the North Atlantic. Most aircraft travelling to and from Europe or North America must talk to at least one of these air traffic controls.

Gander

During the Cold War, Gander was notable for the number of persons from the former Warsaw Pact (I was part of it young boy) nations who defected there including Soviet chess player and pianist Igor Vasilyevich Ivanov, Cuban Olympic swimmer Rafael Polinario and the Vietnamese woman famously photographed as a naked girl fleeing a napalmed village, Phan Thi Kim Phuc. It was one of the few refueling points where airplanes could stop en route from Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union to Cuba.

On September 11, 2001, with United States airspace closed because of the terrorist attacks, Gander International played host to 38 airliners, as part of Operation Yellow Ribbon. Gander International received more flights than any other Canadian airport involved in the operation apart from Halifax.

Officials at Gander International Airport have stated that the future for the airport is grim unless the Canadian Federal government provides funding to cover costs. Over 50% of all aircraft operating from the air field are military, and do not pay landing fees The terminal building built in the 1950s and noted for its modernist design and heritage architecture still includes many of its original furnishings and fixtures. In 2017, the airport announced the existing terminal would instead be renovated and downsized .

A BBC Video showing Gander passed world leaders and celebraties of our world interesting me think: BBC video on people faces at Gander

The city of Gander on its history here: City of Gander on its history

And there you go folks ,another corner of the world yours truly has partake; never amazes me our wonderful world. We find ways where there is none and continue to enjoy travel as a free men, Gander is an example of it thru the years and hosting a family wishing to reach France inexpensively and together. Gander is for the memories, never forgotten. The pictures are old from paper photos maybe blurry but worth a million showing my family in flight. Hope you enjoy the post on Gander, Newfoundland, Canada!

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

June 1, 2020

The Virgin Islands, US and UK!

Well going back deep into my vault, times require me to put in my blog my life’s history and so I am doing just that. Many posts many spots on our wonderful Earth over the years and still keep going strong like duracell commercial lol! Well here I am going down to my roots, the Caribbean , that wonderful sea. After all nothing comes close for a water, beach activity. And I have been to plenty everywhere.

I have mentioned in a previous post about my sailing adventures in the Caribbean area last done in my blog was March 2019. However, the islands are more than sailings so here is a bit more on the US and British Virgin Islands, the one for the thousand virgins!

Saint-Thomas is an island which constitutes with those of Saint John and Sainte-Croix the Virgin Islands of the United States, it is also one of the three districts of this territory. The island has an area of 81 km2. The main city is Charlotte-Amélie, capital of the archipelago. Saint-Thomas was once one of the haunts of privateers, pirates and buccaneers and it is a customs and tax free zone which makes it one of the tax havens of the United States

The Dutch West India Company established a post on St. Thomas in 1657. The Danes conquered the island in 1666, and in 1672 established their control over the whole island through the Danish West India Company and Guinea. In 1685, the Brandenburg African company took control of the slave trade to St. Thomas, and rented the island to the Danes, and for some time the island became the largest slave market in the world. The island was finally bought in 1917 by the Americans from Denmark. A great deal again.

The capital city is Charlotte Amalie founded in 1666 as Taphus (meaning “beer house”]). In 1691, the town was renamed to Charlotte Amalie after Charlotte Amalie of Hesse-Kassel queen consort to King Christian V of Denmark-Norway.  When American tourists were barred from Cuba in 1960, some began visiting Charlotte Amalie instead. As an unincorporated territory of the United States, it’s been a haven for mainland United States citizens seeking luxury vacations or a second home in the Caribbean.

St Thomas

I happened to spent time here on my crossing between the US and UK Virgin Islands and connecting flights to the USA. Still many memories and recall the name very well of the Galleon House Hotel very high overlooking the harbor and Main Street. It has a sweet water pool with a terrace! . You are within 5 minutes on foot of the market. The hotel house was built in 1852. It has AC rooms with all the trimming and a wonderful breakfast on the veranda . The sights of the Fort Christian is only about 500 meters and the airport  Cyril E. King is only about 10 minutes by car. Love the experience still. More info here. Galleon House Hotel

St Thomas

Another nice sides to see here are the Blackbeard castle, the wonderful beach area of Magens Bay, and the Coral World Ocean Park.

The tourist office to the US Virgin Islands :Visit US Virgin Islands at St Thomas

Saint Thomas things to do and seeVisit US Virgin Island St Thomas things to do

Now always my final destination were the British Virgin Islands and their wonderful beaches and sailing ambiance.

Tortola

The British Virgin Islands are an archipelago of the Caribbean and an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. The British Virgin Islands are a tax haven. The Virgin Islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus during his second trip in 1493, who would have named the islands in honor of Saint Ursula, known in the legend of the eleven thousand virgins. Abandoned by the Spaniards who preferred the wealthier regions, the archipelago became the ideal haunt of the pirates English, French and Dutch buccaneers who plied the Caribbean Sea to carry out their raids against the Spanish Armada. Colonized in 1648 by the Dutch and annexed by the English in 1672,

The British Virgin Islands are a group of around fifty islands that are part of the West Indies, of which only 16 are inhabited. The main island, Tortola, is separated from Saint John, in the Virgin Islands of the United States, by only 2.3 km. The main inhabited islands are Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Peter Island and Salt Island . Road Town, the territorial capital is located on Tortola. Glad to write I have been to all the previously name islands.!

Tortola  largest and most populated of the four main Islands, is a lush mountainous Island which was formed by volcanic activity. Crowning Tortola is the tallest peak, Sage Mountain National Park, at 1716 feet (great views over the bay it can be climbed!), which exhibits the characteristics of a tropical rain forest. Beef Island, an island in the British Virgin Island, is located to the east of Tortola, and the two islands are connected by the Queen Elizabeth Bridge. Beef Island is the site of the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport the main commercial airport that serves Tortola and the rest of the British Virgin Islands. Adjacent to it is sailboat-filled Trellis Bay, a unique cultural village with craft shops and restaurants, awesome indeed at least from I remember.

Tortola

Tortola

Virgin Gorda is the third largest island of the four main islands The capital of Virgin Gorda is Spanish Town.  The Baths  (heavens for me) is located on the southern end of Virgin Gorda. This tourist attraction shows evidence of the island’s volcanic origins as huge granite boulders lie in piles on the beach, forming scenic grottoes that are open to the sea (and you can swim inside of them and between them!)  The Baths, a geological wonder comprised of awe-inspiring granite boulders, which form sheltered sea pools on the beach’s edge. The protected area also includes Devil’s Bay, which can be reached from The Baths by a series of ladders scaling the boulders ,yes indeed a wonderful thing to do!. Just north of The Baths, Spring Bay is reached by a separate road and includes a lovely white sand beach but smallish.

tortola

Named Anegada or the “Drowned Land” by the Spanish, Anegada is the only coral island in the Virgin Islands’ volcanic chain. Anegada is known for miles of white sand beaches and the 29 km (18 miles) long Horseshoe Reef, the largest barrier coral reef in the Caribbean, and the fourth largest on earth.  Indeed this is awesome and a must visit.

tortola

Jost Van Dyke is the smallest of the four main islands of the British Virgin Islands. Jost Van Dyke, named after a famous Dutch pirate, has been a sailor’s mecca for years. Like many of the neighbouring islands, it is volcanic in origin and mountainous. Captain ‘Joost van Dyk’ was a 17C Dutch pirate who used its harbours as a safe hideout and to attack ships passing North of the island on way to Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Cuba. Great Harbour, the main port of entry, is always bobbing with sailboats and sailors coming ashore to the charming West Indian village that lines the beach with gift shops and restaurants. Since the late 1960s, Foxy’s Bar in Great Harbor has been a popular stop for Caribbean boaters. Indeed Foxy’s is the talk of the islands and a must for a cold beer and great storytelling for all.

tortola

And one not mention in tourist brochures because it is private but you can go as part of a group cruising trip as I was, singles and it was party time galore! Peter Island is a 720 hectare (1,779 acre)  private island located in the British Virgin Islands. It is about 5 miles (8 km) south-west  from Road Town, Tortola.  The island was named after Pieter Adriensen nicknamed The Commander who was the brother of  Abraham Adriensen  Patron of Tortola under the Dutch West India Company in the early 17C. Pieter Adriensen and Joos van Dyk built a fort and slave pens at Great Harbour on Peter Island to facilitate privateering and the nascent trade in slaves from Angola. Right now there is a coconut trees shaded semicircular beach which is heavens on earth.  A world  famoust resort is right on it, more here fyi ; Peter Island Resort

Tortola

Hope you enjoy the tour with me in my memory lane of younger wild days, and still fond of  a lot. Never the youth out of me; hope you too can enjoy this heavens on earth, the US and UK Virgin Islands. All pictures copies of paper photos.

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

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