Posts tagged ‘France’

March 31, 2023

My visit to Geel in Belgium !

As I brag so much about my road warrior past-time all over Europe, many times I have to encounter folks who think that I do not take public transport in France. Well ,if you live in Europe you know that cannot be true. I have done many many train rides (grand voyageur SNCF frequent traveler ) all over not to mention riding on tramways, buses, metros, and taxis to know and be able to speak about transportation. Of course,not to forget my educational background is aviation,,,(see post), Therefore, to the point, let me update with new text/links in getting to Geel near Antwerp (Anvers Fr), Belgium , which did a couple times taking trains and car to get to Geel, Therefore will tell you about my visit to Geel, Hope you enjoy it as I

The Midi or Central train station is one of 3 in Brussels.  I have walked by the others, but the one used has been always Midi. At Brussels-Midi, the main station of Brussels, Thalys high-speed trains take you comfortably and quickly back to Paris ensuring the connection from Gare du Nord. Brussels-Midi station, more commonly known as Gare du Midi, This station, which was a terminus when it was inaugurated in 1869, and the second station was inaugurated in 1949, and  covered with a yellow and smooth brick facing and is surmounted by a square clock tower became a station of passage from the junction Nord-Midi in 1952. The station has 22 lanes, including two dedicated exclusively to Eurostar trains. It is located at Avenue Fonsny 47B ,main entrance and back side is Place Victor Horta, 26 Saint-Gilles side and where I get my car rentals Avis !

The different was on the going the ride was an odyssey, first TGV Vannes-Paris Montparnasse, change to metro line 4 but was block, police intervention so needed to take alternative line 6 to Denfert-Rochereau then switch again to RER B to reach Gare du Nord; running not to miss my Thalys to Gare du Midi in Brussels. There had reserved an Avis rental car Citroen C3 to reach destination on the ring road of Brussels all with traffic jams to stand still !!! Went around on the E19 straight to Anvers, there took the ring road R2 to final destination. The return was not easier, Avis rental car to Brussels Midi train station was fine, but the thalys was delayed 30 minutes !! by the time reach Paris Nord took metro line 4 alright this time to Paris Montparnasse, arrive late the train TGV was ready to leave, spoked my way to train operators until finally called me back and allow me into the train, oofs !! and reach Vannes, no taxis, tourist had taken them all, needed to wait 15 minutes to have one arrive and finally reach home! Never again by public transport here !


A bit about Geel, a Flemish-speaking city of Belgium located in the Flemish Region in the Province of Antwerp. The central point is the pleasant market (markt)  square, facing the Saint-Amand  Church. With its attractive terraces and easy parking . The oldest part of the City /town hall dates from the 17C. Not far away, the Sint-Dipna Church marks the place where the saint was buried.The area around the Saint Amand Church is full of bars/restos and took up residence on one lol ! One big event taking place here is the Reggae Festival. The Reggae Festival, one of the larger reggae festivals in Europe, the next one is schedule for August 4-5 2023 keep track webpage :

I like the ambiance around the church and should have taken more time but the resto ambiance was very good, The Sint-Amandskerk or St Amand Church  is the oldest parish church in Geel. It is located near the Markt square in the center of the city.  It is a late Gothic church that was built from 1489-1532. The predecessor burned down in 1489. This was built in Brabant white sandstone. The rebuilding of the church took place in 1490 in brick. A few parts of the sandstone structure remained. The tower has a substructure from around 1400, partly also from 1489, and was raised to 59 meters in the mid-16C. In 1567 most of the works of art in the church were destroyed by the iconoclasm. Only images of Saints Dimpna and Gerebernus were spared, as well as two paintings, including an Adoration of the Three Kings.  The interior of the church, as it is revealed today, dates from the Baroque. It concerns the paneling of the side aisles and the confessionals. In addition, the choir stalls from the end of the 17C, a pulpit from around 1715 , the high altar from 1748. Furthermore, on the pillars the statues of the Apostles and the marble choir enclosure from 1693.  The stained glass windows can be seen in the south facade.


The market square,(Markt)  facing the St-Amands Church and bordered by attractive café terraces, is the focal point of the city  Stroll through the shopping streets Nieuwstraat, Pas and Stationsstraat and end your shopping with a relaxing terrace on the traffic-free market!  Several events and a nice Christmas market.  An overview of all stores and events can be found on this webpage:

I stayed both times there at the excellent hotel walking distance to the best in Geel just around from the main square ,200 meters, with excellent personal service was the Hotel Verlooy. Located at Pas 117,(street address) Geel  . The 12 rooms are luxuriously furnished with comfortable beds, unique light design and spacious bathrooms. Oak parquet floors and the use of natural materials create a comfortable space for body and soul.The rooms take their name from the world of pastry with a nod to the neighboring bakery-pastry Verlooy, renowned in the region. Your morning starts in the best possible way with a crisp breakfast in the veranda, overlooking the winter garden. Possibility to rent bicycles and e-bikes only with prior reservation. Parking, WiFi and minibar in the room are free. Webpage :


I went out to drink and eat at the Het Forum ,and the Celtic Legends Irish pub with a nice Guinness,only has a FB page, Het Forum webpage : .

A bit of history I like tell us that from the time of the French revolution in 1795, the Duchy of Brabant was dissolved and Geel made part of the French department of Deux-Neuves, the precursor of the present province of Antwerp. Geel actively participated in the Belgian Revolution of 1830, resulting in the award of an honorary flag from King Leopold II.  A major occurrence in the history of Geel is the battle of Geel in September 1944, one of the heaviest and bloodiest fights during the liberation of Belgium. Eventually the territory of Geel, and the smaller villages around it, were finally liberated on September 23 1944.

The official Thalys trains :

The Geel tourist office (Flemish) :

There you go folks, a train ride which as said can be taken all the way to Anvers but much better the ride from Midi into the side roads of Anvers to reach wonderful picturesque Geel. It would be on the list for a future visit and include the big City ,eventually, Again, hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

March 30, 2023

My last trip where all begun ,Cuba !

I was asked to go to Cuba on a business trip for my company, and needed to go, I have seen it all, and not really wanted to go but business first as they say, I took advantage with my assigned driver to see the family still there , and by now the vast majority out of the country finally as told them many times, I went around with nostalgia and sadness to see what has remain. It all began there for me many many years ago. I left it in 1971, and hardly any sight pictures, the current pics in this post are from this last trip in 2012. You can see my many posts on Cuba in my blog for the real picture,,,Hope you enjoy the post as I,

I took a long flight it seems endless from home in my beautiful Morbihan 56 , went by car to Nantes airport;following the road N165 all the way to exit D201 Nantes Atlantique signs about 1h30 minutes. Then took a regional Air France flight to Amsterdam, Schiphol airport, which as today’s travel goes make you go north and then south ! I change there to KLM for the flight to La Habana about 10 hours !!! and finally arrive in Havana, very tired !

I stayed at a Casa Particular as was assigned this by the ongoings of local politics ,house in the new district of Playa,(old Miramar) no fancy hotels for me, My other collegues did stayed in the Mélia Habana Hotel,the new aparthaid ! Stories about Cuba abound from all periods; blaming each other, but no doubt the previous pre 1959 regime was better for the mayority. Proof over 2 millions have left already and several millions waiting for the opportunity while been politically correct.

Havana rogelio casa side back apr12

havana Rogelio casa particular dining room Feb12

We had not much time to see the sights ,so I took a ride by car on the Malecon, went over to the old Church of San Francisco de Asisi, the Morro , Fuerza ,and Cabanas castles (see post). Lots old history ,and sad stories of my Cuba.

havana malecon melia et riviera hotels FEb12

We had business lunch at Restaurant 1830 at Calle Calzada esq. a 20, Vedado. This was a branch of La Zaragozana that was founded, in 1830 ! It is now considered one of the best there , There was a special treat at a casa paladar on a fifth floor of a building, but could not remember the name as it was at night and friends rode me there, we had asked for lobsters supreme but not available even if was on the menu , realities of life there; at least it had a nice view of the city.  The highlight was at El Palenque, near pabexpo Cuba, and serving the Convention palace wonderful typical Cuban place and food, very nice lechon or pork with yucca,moro (blackened rice), and the local Cristal beer, It is by now a local institution, stands out as an unpretentious and authentic eating spot that attracts a large number of Cuban families and foreigners. It can be crowded and lively, but it is a great way to feel Havana at Calle 17 & Calle 190 , now Playa  For a nostalgic trip we passed by El Potin resto, (see post) my dear late Mom Gladys used to take me here as a little boy, just a sandwich and light platters place and ice cream,juice and soda drinks, still there!!! and it looks nice after all ! Inspired by French immigrants ! at Línea corner of Paseo, Vedado neighborhood of La Habana.

havana El Palenque resto playa Feb12

The next day I asked my assigned driver to take me to my native town of Punta Brava, (see post) just in the city of La Habana, visiting family aunt and cousins (which by now all left Cuba ) , I ate at a typical Cuban casa paladar in pesos nacionales, (local currency) a dish of roast pork,moros black beans,yucca,tostones in garlic sauce, salad of tomatos and lettuce, plus coffee and four beers for two persons at about 260 Cuban Pesos Nacionales. Just in Calzada (main street Avenida 51) before turning left to Guatao, on the old Carretera Central.

Punta Brava calzada to santa fe Feb12

I went further inland to visit another aunt and cousin at Cayo La Rosa, (these still there) off Bauta, this was a huge textile plant (Ariguanabo) of 5000 workers done by Mr Hedges an American from Tennessee in the 1950’s and now in ruins. The village have not change much, and took a ride with my cousin in an electric moto on the town, crazy,  but a great and cheap means of transportation there now.  And proud of myself was able to take my local driver there as he did not know how, and I did it with so many years out just on good memory lol! He was impressed !

Cayo calle 11 apr12

Of course in each visit I ate with the family and reminiscent of the old days, telling me what a nice guy I was !!!  Finally, it was time to come back again, and took my flight from La Habana Jose Marti International airport, very easily, this time in route to Paris CDG on Air France. The plane was full and cheapy company had me on economy class! But I was bump up to Business Class , by asking and it shows the difference, very nice flight of 9 hours to Paris CDG. There change again on AF to Nantes, and took my car from the airport parking for the trip home after paying 54 euros of parking fees. Cheaper than renting a car lol!

Roissy CDG T2 Pipo going to Miami aug12

I was hoping not to be the last trip to Cuba, but still that was my last probably, and no plans to be back ; time is ticking and hardly any family there, one aunt and one cousin. Even in the difficulties of that system was the same warm welcome by the family and the faces of the buildings even if change were still recognisable, and I look forward to the future when all can have a pleasant place to visit with family and no dictatorship mistreatments and abuses. It is time to put more emphasis or at least equal treatment to the holocaust and the gulag.

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 my last trip where it all begun ,Cuba as I

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 29, 2023

My visit to Yogyakarta , Indonesia !!

I have found this older post with missing info and old links so is updated now and while doing it bringing many many memories of my visit to Yogyakarta. I have, also, told you that I have been 8 times to Indonesia over the last few years, and most of these trips were to the more popular cities but once I went to some off the beaten paths areas such as here in exotic Yogyakarta !!  Hope you enjoy the post as I

Briefly, Yogyakarta is the capital of the special territory of the same name, in the center of the island of Java, Indonesia.  Its name, which means “the work of Ayodhya”, comes from that of a city in the kingdom of Koshala of which Rāma was the monarch in the epic of Ramayana. The Special Region of Yogyakarta, one of Indonesia’s autonomous regions, owes its special status to the Sultanate of gyaHamengkubuwono, which has ruled the region since 1749 and led it through the difficult times of the occupation and the struggle for independence

The city is known as the center of classical Javanese art and traditional culture including wayang kulit shadow theater, batik, ballet, theater, music, poetry. Yogyakarta is also known for its silver craftsmen, gathered in the money district, Kota Gede. The German painter and musician Walter Spies , who was one of the first Western artists to make Bali known to the world, was conductor of the European music troupe of the Sultan of Yogyakarta.

Some things to see here with more time are: The Beringharjo market is a huge covered market ,where you can find everything: a huge choice of batik (clothes and printed fabrics), spices, fruits and vegetables, wicker baskets, trinkets… It is open in the morning only from 8h. The Sultan’s Palace! Yes a sultant still resides in Yogyakarta. He is the governor of Central Java and has a large palace in the city center, which is open for tours every morning. The Taman Sari ,formerly, the Water castle of Yogyakarta was the place where the Sultan and his Court came to bathe. The famous temples of  Borobudur  and  Prambanan  are located near Yogyakarta.

Oh yes I came here by air, see my post on airports of Indonesia. On the older Yogyakarta Adisutjipto International Airport is The new airport Yogyakarta International Airport or Kulon Progo International Airport, is in the district of Temon, kabupaten of Kulon Progo, which serves the special territory of Yogyakarta in Java, The airport was inaugurated on May 6, 2019. This one I have not try yet as my last visit dates from 2018.

The Yogyakarta Adisutjipto Inter airport :

The newer Yogyakarta inter airport



The Restaurant Taman Pringsewu Km. 9 Mulungan Jln. Magelang, is the pride of the family every time there is an event that definitely has to eat its food here. The tastes never disappoint and the variants are very much so you can choose, the price is worth it, the place is clean and the service is fast  Friendly children. Super menu.  Super nice,very affordable price & the dining experience is extremely relax with nice ambience. Definitely will come again. The food and service is awesome. First time there and can come back again hopefully. I had lunch at the in a magnificent setting with all exotic local foods some are even hard to remember or spell ! The grill fish is to kill for it, . A wonderful coconut and orange drink as well.The chain webpage :

And the personal Taman resto webpage :



The Yogyakarta tourist office:

The local Yogyes on Yogyakarta (ID):

The Indonesia tourist office on Yogyakarta :

There you go folks, another nice off the beaten path spot on my world map, and plenty of good memories which have lasted and will last forever. Thanks for the friendship and opportunities to visit all these wonderful places in our world such as Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Again, hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

March 28, 2023

The Durigan’s of Curitiba !!!

While living in Curitiba Brazil in 2008 I enjoy the City and the people with some still in touch, One of the highlight of the stay was tasting Brazilian wines, Mind you, there are better producing wine countries around there but in Brazil the tradition goes back to the ealry immigrants to the City, This was the case in the district of Santa Felicidade and the Durigan’s winery of Curitiba, I have a couple of pictures so will do justice to their hospitality and wines to do a post, Hope you enjoy it as I

Do you know Brazil makes wine? and improving every year. I happened to lived there as an expat , and really enjoy coming to Durigan. Let me tell you a bit about them,and hope you too can taste it there. If you want to bring home some Brazilian wines with an Italian twist then head for Durigan’s winery, a real wine store, winery in one. The wines are not bad price/quality ratio and its unique as gift given or to drink as I did taken them home when I lived in the city .They cover a whole range with French grapes with the Reserva and white Chardonnay not bad at all.

Among so many stopping points in Santa Felicidade , district of Curitiba, and the Italian neighborhood about 7 km from the city center, reserve at least one hour for Durigan Wines. is on the most touristic stretch of Av. Manoel Ribas, the main artery of the neighborhood. The place is cozy, rustic and themed. Right at the entrance there are several sculptures, one of which represents Bacchus god of wine over a small waterfall.

Curitiba durigan winery store entr 2008

The Durigan family arrived in Paraná State in the 19C from Treviso, Italy. After passing through Morretes,(see post) on the coast , the immigrants took up residence on the Curitiba plateau, today called Santa Felicidade.

All those delicious snacks such as salami, cheese, antipasti, sweets and chocolates are on sale. Daily they offer free tasting of cold cuts, juices and wines. The space is also focused on Italian gastronomic culture. If you want to prepare a typical dinner, you can open your wallet: here you can find pasta, sauces, olive oils, focaccias, crostinis, jellies and delicious pastries.  Another detail that I find very cute in the Durigan house is that it is always decorated according to the time of the year: Easter, Christmas, June parties;: giving the place an always festive look.

curitiba durigan winery store santa felicidade 2008

The official Durigan’s winery (P):

For ordering, this is their Vinicola Durigan (see vinhos de mesa or table wines and vinhos finos for the finest wines) :

There you go folks, something unique and off the beaten path in lovely memorable Curitiba , as the old saying goes, to remember is to live again. Again, hope you enjoy this post on the Durigan’s wines in Santa Felicidade, Curitiba 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 26, 2023

My favorite beaches of Lacanau-Océan !!!

Let me tell you a bit more on Lacanau-Océan in the Médoc ,as found me pictures not yet in my blog ,and they should. Do see my other posts on the are in my blog.  This an area we love so much and spent many summers there. This is a bit of a mix bag for me as can combine the best wine in the world with beautiful beaches. For quick reference, Lacanau-Océan is located in the Gironde dept. 33, in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region.  It is located 42 km from Bordeaux.

However, unless you are surfer, most do not know that  to the west of the Gironde river is the wonderful Atlantic ocean and its gorgeous beaches of the Médoc peninsula. Be aware, there are two towns here, the beaches are in Lacanau-Océan, and the inland town by the lake is Lacanau Ville the city proper.

Lacanau ocean plage centrale folks c2000

The Ocean coast of the Médoc offers a line of more than 100 km of beaches made of fine sand !!! There is a line up of beaches in the Lacanau area from south to north, you have 18 km with the  Plage Sud, Plage Centrale, and Plage Nord. The Centrale is more crowded as it is in town center, the others are less ; we love the plage Nord or north beach, The surfing is king here and world renown indeed.

Lacanau ocean plage nord c2000

The town of Lacanau on its three areas City, lake, and beaches

My fav Plages TV site on beaches for Lacanau:

The Médoc Atlantique tourist office on the beaches of Lacanau:

The Gironde dept 33 tourist office on the Médoc

There you go folks, this is wonderful Lacanau Océan beaches and al, many nice memories of family vacations there that will endure for life and hoping you can try them too and enjoy them as we did and will again,eventually.

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

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March 26, 2023

The Passage du Grand Cerf of Paris !!!

As I sit in my window looking out a cool rainy winter day in my Morbihan breton , I can’t help thinking of my walks in Paris. As said, Paris is an outdoor living museum, like no other, and by far the most beautiful city in the World. I did and do a lot of walking in Paris, if feeling tired then took the bus above ground Paris is glorious. Some of these walks made me realize further the beauty of the city, in its history, architectures and facts. One of these pleasant walks took me to see the passage du Grand Cerf or covered walkway of Paris seldom seen and full of charm. I like to tell you about it, and hope you enjoy the post as I.


In 1825, the House of the Taxi of the Grand Cerf, which was the terminus of the Royal Couriers, was demolished. The opening date of the passage remains unclear. It was probably opened in 1835. The style of the canopy is however of a later period. The history of the Passage du Grand Cerf is closely linked to the history of the neighborhood ( quartier)  Saint-Denis which was in 1830 the most popular and industrious of Paris where there were small factories and workshops.  Its height, 11.80 meters, the highest in Paris, and a lenght of 113 meters was the most important of all the Parisian passages. It’s partially metallic structure allowed building two levels of fully glass facade. The house only starts from the third floor. Thus, it was said that this Passage was more intended for production and handicrafts than for the luxury and sale of its products.

paris passage grand cerf ceiling sept15

The passage of the Grand Cerf, connects the 145, rue de Saint Denis to 8, rue Dussoubs, in the 2éme arrondissement of Paris, in the neighborhood or quartier of Bonne-Nouvelle. The name of the passage refers to the old sign of a hotel, the Grand Cerf Hotel. This hotel, which belonged to the Hospices administration, is also across the passage of the Bourg-l’Abbé which faces it, in rue Saint-Denis, was inaugurated in April 1828 and ,however, a guide dated 1831 indicates that the passage of the Grand-Cerf is still under construction…The passage was built on the location of the Terminus house of the Grand Cerf where the Royal stagecoaches brought the courier destined for the east of France.  The current architecture of the passage makes it rather go back to the year 1845 than 1825. This is actually the year where this passage was covered by a large canopy. The use of metal structures made it possible to situate it at a high height and thus to raised large glass surfaces in height, at the level of the interior facades of the shops.The decoration is in neoclassical style, the metal walkways and the woodwork showcases bring a chic and sober side, two floors of skylights illuminate the passage. The shops of the passage of the Grand Cerf are mainly those of designers and creators (jewelers, furniture.etc..). It was necessary to invest to maintain it and finally the Public Assistance plans to sell it. After failure to sell it , it was finally sold in 1985. This allowed to restore it and rebuild it identically by 1990.


A sequence of the film by Louis Malle ,Zazie  dans le Métro (in the metro/subway/tube ) was shot in 1960 in the passage.  Anne Français (1909-1995), painter, lived at 4, passage du Grand-Cerf. The birthplace of the French politician, Léon Blum is located next to the passage, at number 151, formerly number 243. An episode of the series Les Cinq Derniére Minutes (the last five minutes), with Jacques Debary, was shot in the passage du Grand Cerf.  The TV show Un Coeur sur Mesure ( a custom-made heart), is first broadcast  on 25 July 1981. The crime takes place in a tailor shop located in the gallery.

It is located at  145, rue Saint-Denis – 8, rue Dussoubs with access on Metro Etienne Marcel line 4 or Bus  29, arrêt/stop Etienne Marcel.

The Paris tourist office on the passage du Grand Cerf :

The passages and galleries site on the Passage du Grand Cerf :

There you go folks, a wonderful walk, shop;eat in quant beautiful eternal Paris , Take your curiosity to the limit and see this wonderful passage du Grand Cerf Again, hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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