Posts tagged ‘France’

October 20, 2020

Koblenz , a revisit!!

I like to update this post with new text and different photos than originally done back in 2015. Things change and like to have it with fresh text and better choice of photos. Bear with me folks!

We were on our road warrior trips with the family base near Trier and we decided to go away into the center and we pick Koblenz, a nice city on the rivers Moselle and Rhine or the German corner or Deutsche Eck (see post). The city is very nice and great for walking.

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We arrive by car from Trier on the 602 ,then 1, B48 and finally the 9 roads or about 3 hrs. We entered the city and park at the Schängel Center underground, nice and all around you to walk. More on the center parking here: https://www.parkme.com/en-gb/lot/352393/schngel-center-koblenz-rp-germany

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As always recommended when in town for the first time, we immediately headed for the tourist office in the Forum Confluentes  building across the street. There is a boutique and several shops as well rather nice airy clean we like it. City of Koblenz in English here: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/culture/koblenz-attractions/forum-confluentes.html

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After some shopping there, we move on on foot. And we went into Forum Mittelrhein because my boys saw a Saturn electronic store they know from the Paris region so again another nice shopping mall. More on them here: https://www.forum-mittelrhein.com/shops/alle/SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

By Friedrich-Ebert-Ring 41 street we came across an imposing belltower Church of Christ (see post).   We did walk a lot as the city is marvelous with great architectures and figurines on the streets with fountains sometimes; we reach another Chapel of John the Baptist (see photo) who was mentioned for the first time in 1321 with the Jesuists ;located at An Der Liebfraunkirche street. We continue by Florinsmarkt , we reach the Church of St Florin or Florinskirche. (see post).

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And we reach the German corner or deutchen eck with the huge statue of emperor William I (see post) of Germany and overlooking the river Moselle and Rhine with the great cable car to the fortress above and the quaint restaurants along the riverbank . Here we had a nice German meal with sausages and a good Kronenbacher beer! at the  Eiscafe am deutchen eck ; they have a Facebook page but their original page cannot go in so maybe gone, again here just for the family memories: Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/Eiscafe.am.deutschen.Eck/

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We continue on the Basilica of St Castor , a huge wonderful Church that is in itself a must to see. (See post). Right around it you see the Ludwig museum , (see photo)  there is a wonderful fountain such as the Historiensaeule in Josef-Görres-Platz (square).(see photo) Passing by the Rathaus or city hall (see photo) . A wonderful town and good idea we decided to visit it. Certainly worth coming back here.

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The tourist office of Koblenz in English here: https://www.koblenz-tourism.com/

And there you go an overview of Koblenz as already plenty of posts on its sights in my blog. Feel better with updated text and new photos. Hope you enjoy the post as I do.

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

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October 20, 2020

Dusseldorf for the memories!

So here I am on a cold sunny day in my neck of the woods and remembering trips passed, trying to bring them to life again. Of course, I have written before on Dusseldorf, Germany but this is new text and new photos. Hope you enjoy it.

I  admit, Germany always is a gravity pull, and been there on business and family trîps, and cousin married to one.. This time went for a short spell on business to a new city on my map, Dusseldorf, wonderful! I like to tell you briefly and remind myself of the souvenirs of the visit.

It was during the Christmas season ,so plenty of Christmas markets in the zentrum or center, and we did walk the nights away. The Konigsallee area is gorgeous, and the hotel I stayed is the best, know it well because worked on them in management years ago in France. The best way is by taxi only 21 euros at the time, the train is about 6 euros at the time, but need to have changes, and no need to start your trip stress out with these taxpayer supported schemes.

The airport was great too, very clean, and friendly even without speaking German. I try the restaurant on the travel gallery on the E3 level , Das Gasthaus , more chow, this time flaky meaty fish, mashed potatoes, and the same nutty walnut cake type with a large Becks beer lol! A different way to arrive at a city lol! then went out to my hotel! Always goood to revise the posts as again another that bites the dust the resto is no longer there!! So again ,just for the memories.

The Dusseldorf airport webpage is here in English: https://www2.dus.com/en

dusseldorf airport departure level stores nov11

The airport has connection by train, bus, taxi, etc very well connected to city center. The site above will tell you only the S-Bahn S11 train stops at the Düsseldorf Airport Terminal station in the basement of the terminal building. There are several buses too to different locations. Eventually did not tried any of these. I use the taxi , even recommended by the local Germans! However, I saw the rate already up I paid 21 euros and now it says 28!!

The walks in the zentrum old city center was great, full of life nothing left unseen, the people were in their best moods. The bars were full, we had a great time at the Intercontinental Hotel lobby bar, and then went on to check out the two next ones that are a must for everyone visiting the city. The hotel webpage in English: https://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/dusseldorf/dusha/hoteldetail

I like the fact that just out of hotel the Konigsallee street and district is very nice to walk even at nights. The Düssel river passing was perfect with good friends and good cheers and a bit of Paris! Too bad this time not enough time to see much other than the culinary delights which are always welcome by yours truly.

The tourist office of Dusseldorf in English is here: https://www.duesseldorf-tourismus.de/en/

And the city of Dusseldorf page on Konigsallee district is here in English! https://www.duesseldorf.de/international/tourism/discover/koe.html

However, the highlight of the visit was going with friends to eat at a wonderful steakhouse with great wines selection. For the best steaks western style and wines galore head for the The Classic Western Steakhouse, Tubmannstrr 12 with top US beef with sound of country music and old western photos all over the walls,huge and delicious. I had the regular cut of juicy steak, mashed potatoes, nutty cake for dessert which I even forgot its German name, and share a bottle of 2008 Errazuriz Chilean red wine. More info here in German: https://steakhouse-duesseldorf.de/

Dusseldorf The Classic western steakhouse resto nov11

The next evening we went for old German chow, of beef and potatoes and green beens at a place where the beer never stop coming, I had ten glasses!!, and it was delicious, we walk home lol! This was at Brauerie Schumacher, Oststr 123. The brewery been there since 1838, pub with beautiful wood carvings, we went to the back a special room for us lol!!. More info here in German: https://www.schumacher-alt.de/index2.html

And it was time the next morning to say goodbye. Always tough to leave a place you had such a good time. I am very attaching and probably will find it well to even live there already!! nahh just kidding….

I started my return to Nantes airport direct flight , easy quick in and out place, and then my car home in about 1h30, on the N165 expressway. In all a very nice trip, and a discovery is made to come back to Dusseldorf. Hope you share with this post ,for the memories of old and travel thrills!

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

October 19, 2020

My travels in the Morbihan, LXXX!

And here I am back on my miscellaneus tipbits of my beautiful Morbihan dept 56 of lovely Bretagne, and in my belle France. The days are grayer as Fall is here for good, and the temps played the game of cold mornings and late night and pleasant during the day. Currently we have 17C overcast with no rain with this morning been 5C! What is all this to folks not on the metric system , well easy by now for me thinking in both worlds; now 63F and this morning was 41F. And yes time flies fast when having fun, LXXX is my 80th post on my Morbihan! Thanks for reading me!!!

Let me give you some of the latest from my travels or news….of Morbihan.

Vannes Photo Festival until November 1 2020 free festival ; more here : http://www.vannesphotosfestival.fr/

Salon Habitat 240 expositions about furniture, renovation, energy, decoration ecohabitat and gardens/pools . All November 14-16 2020 at Le Chorus expo center of Vannes. https://www.lechorus.com/fr/salons-grand-public/salon-habitat-et-immobilier-de-vannes

Musée de la Cohue, pl St Pierre Vannes, until November 15 showing Terres et Landes showing work from 1850 to 1950 And now all museums in Vannes are free for 18-25 yrs old!  https://www.mairie-vannes.fr/vannesloisirs/musees/musee-des-beaux-arts-la-cohue/

At Océanopolis , port de plaisance du Moulin blanc Brest, showing until November 1 2020 the 20th edition of the Festival du Film de l’Aventure Océanographique!  https://www.oceanopolis.com/festival-du-film-de-laventure-oceanographique

Alrékids, 4 avenue Roland Garros, Auray, 800 m2 games park for kids up to 12 yrs old. Mini karting, escaling wall giant toboggans, tyrollenne, trampolins, monkey bridge, football field and many shows for kids. https://recreatiloups.com/alre-kids-parc-de-jeux-indoor/

Ti Hanok cinema Auray Porte Oceane III Place de l’Europe showing the wonderful French film L’enfant rêvé! On October 28th With Jalil Lespert, Louise Bourgoin, and Mélanie Doutey. Story of folks giving their life to the forest especially those in the Jura and romance of course. https://www.cinematihanok.bzh/prochainement

A new place Awen Brew Pub is now open as a micro artisanal brewery with unique beers such as the Awen Blonde, Triple with an North American inspiration all with meals locally produce, a big meeting room and events like concerts and sporting TV showing. Open 7/7 9h to 01h 1 rue Gilles Gahinet, Parc du Golfe, Vannes. https://www.brasserie-awen.bzh/

Casino de Carnac, 41 avenue des Salines Carnac showing October 23 Hommage à Johnny (Holliday) and on November 8, Olivier Lejeune with his show Mieux vaut en rire, comedy. weppage here: https://www.circuscasino.fr/fr/etablissements/agenda/carnac

The Grand West Festival in Quiberon. 1st edition – Cinema & Literature Meetings sponsored by François Busnel. Weekend organized by Le Paradis Cinema, the City of Quiberon and the Port Maria Bookstore. To accompany the Grand West festival, the Quiberon media library honors its American authors and Gallmeister editions. The exhibition Impressions of America designed by Gallmeister editions presents ten illustrations of his novel covers: how does the illustrator conceive of an original work that resonates with a text? What vision of America is thus conveyed by the creator? Cinema Le Paradis, Rue du Phare Quiberon 56170. https://www.facebook.com/CinemaleParadis/

And the tourist office of the Bay of Quiberon on the Festival:  https://www.baiedequiberon.bzh/a-voir-a-faire/agenda/festival-grand-west-a-quiberon

La Sorcière du Château or sorcerer of the castle presents … Hello little and big monsters, The Witch is organizing a creative week to celebrate Halloween during the following dates: Wednesday October 28: creation of Halloween card with scary seals and waxes (5 €) Thursday October 29: Terrifying Halloween Origami (2 €). Friday October 30: Bookmark in Calligraphy (€ 5) Saturday October 31: Disgusting snack and horrifying Halloween makeup (€ 2). It is preferable to reserve your schedule for the workshops in order to respect our health protocol in the face of CoVid. 24 place St Michel Rochefort en Terre 56220. More here: https://www.facebook.com/La-Sorci%C3%A8re-du-Chateau-466389130595998/?modal=admin_todo_tour

A Castle, a Museum, a full moon, pumpkins … Or the curious ingredients of a visit like no other! From Baudelaire to witches, from the Queen of Swords to pagan celebrations, come and rediscover the origins of Jack 0’Lantern by letting yourself be sprinkled with magic and esotericism. Come celebrate Halloween at the Naïa Museum, for a unique event between myths and reality, art and thrills. October 29, 30, 31 and November 1. Visiting times: 14h to 15h and   15h30. to 17h30 . Prices (guided tour + entrance to the museum): 12€ Full prices, 10€ Reduced prices. Guided tour intended for an audience aged 7 to 77, and beyond! Groups will be made up of a maximum of 10 people per visit. Online reservations only.  14 rue du château Rochefort en Terre 56220. More here: https://www.facebook.com/naiamuseum/

The diversity of Brittany, a land of inspiration for many artists in the 19C and 20C, is still unknown to this day by many of us. Through this exhibition, you will discover the interest shown by some painters both inland and along the coast.  The proposed trip from Faouët to Concarneau will be marked by several stops passing through Scaër and Rosporden, or Bannalec and Pont-Aven, but also through Quimperlé before going along the south coast and reaching the city of Ville-Close. The exhibition will highlight the artists’ artistic and ethnographic view of these people of the sea and land and their world through the seascapes and rural landscapes, as well as the scenes of collective life, animated on festive and market days, or the more intimate scenes of life in the marine and peasant interiors, not to mention the work of their daily lives. Bringing together numerous works from public and private collections, this presentation will also include several paintings from the Faouët Museum’s permanent collection and will be accompanied by a richly documented and illustrated catalogue. 1 rue de Quimper Musée 56320 Le Faouët. More here: https://www.museedufaouet.fr/pages/actu/actualite-exposition-une-famille-d-artistes-au-faouet-169.html

Halloween under the theme “it’s raining, it’s wet it’s the pumpkin party”. This season for the All Saints’ Day holidays, from Saturday October 17 to Sunday November 1, the Ferme du Monde is once again offering Halloween entertainment under the theme “it’s raining, it’s wet it’s the pumpkin party”. On the program, sheltered games for families: guessing games, angling in dark water, spider races, story time, and a haunted house. Not to mention the unconditional ghost train. 2 “flagship” days to note: Wednesday October 21: dog sled animation (demonstrations and petting sessions) and Wednesday October 28: make-up workshop for children from 14h30. Children bringing a Halloween-themed drawing will participate in the draw to win a birthday package for 6 people at the Ferme du Monde (valid for the 2021 season). Finally, to thank the disguised children (up to 12 years old), their entry will be offered to them. La Ferme du monde Carentoir, 56910. More here: https://www.lafermedumonde.com/2018/10/19/journees-halloween/

And there you go folks, short and sassy as the old saying goes;;; nothing to start you off on my Morbihan department fall/winter season. Plenty of things to come, stay tune ok. Thanks for reading me and best wishes for the season ahead.

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

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October 19, 2020

Amsterdam, public transports!

Here is one of my classic posts, as been crazy about road warrior trips I give the impression that I am always in a car ! However, you know that if you live in Europe, public transports is a must. I have taken these in many cities/countries of Europe. One of my fun trips were in Amsterdam! Therefore, let me tell you a bit on public transports there!

Granted, I have driven to Amsterdam too lol! call me crazy but I do not said road warrior for nothing! Love the freedom of the road! The main here is the A10 Ringroad surrounding the city connects Amsterdam with the Dutch national network of freeways. Interchanges allow cars to enter the city by transferring to one of the eighteen city roads, numbered s101 through s118. The s100 is called the centrumring, a smaller ringroad circumnavigating the city center. There are free parkings in Amsterdam but not with security and are rather quickly taken so be aware, anyway these are Spinnerij, Diemen-Zuid, Gaasperplas, and Buikslotermeerplein. To find a covered parking in Amsterdam see the choices at parclick webpage with my favorite Centraal near the train station showing here: https://parclick.com/parking-amsterdam/weparc-valet-amsterdam-centraal-station-cs

ams parking centre near centraal apr13

For the fearful or radical ecolos who do not want to drive into city center, you can choose the P+R (park and relay)» Olympish Stadion . This one is better in off season from tourists as when they are in the most it is full usually. Others are  P + R Sloterdijk and P + R Bos en Lommer, P + R VUmc (weekends only), P + R RAI, P + R ArenA, P + R Zeeburg I, and Zeeburg II. The city of Amsterdam tells you all about their parkings in English here: https://www.amsterdam.nl/en/parking/

My road warrior experience took me into the A4 then A5 in Holland connecting with the A10 to connect with road s109 then s108 ;museumbrug ;Prinsengracht; Westerdokskade, right on De Ruijterkade to  Centraal train station parking! Great city driving!

As per the pure public transports within the city of Amsterdam you a blend of  bicycles and other public transportation.  The city is known as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world and is a center of bicycle culture. Most main streets have bike paths. Bike racks are ubiquitous throughout the city. Bikes can be taken onto tram 26 or the metro but only outside the rush hour (7-9h / 16h-18h30). A bicycle ticket costs 1.80€ and is valid for the entire day. It can be added as a supplement to a personal or anonymous OV-chip card. Alternatively there is a disposable 1 hour card + bicycle which costs 5€. Do check these prices for updates.

Amsterdam has a large collection of canals (see post). In total over 150 of these waterways crisscross the city and its surroundings, dividing the city of Amsterdam into approximately 90 mini islands. This network of islands is joined together by a vast number of bridges, totaling over 1,000. Today these canals are only suitable for smaller barges, pleasure craft and the canal tour boats. There is however one main exception: DHL (my dear late wife Martine wonderful employer in France) has its own DHL parcel boats that delivers packages across town using the old waterways.

ams centraal canals apr13

As you can already notice, public transport in Amsterdam consists of metro, tram, bus and ferry routes operated mainly by GVB, the city-owned public transport operator. Currently, there are 16 different tram routes, and five metro routes. There are also privately operated water taxis, a water bus, a boat sharing operation, electric rental boats (Boaty) and canal cruises, that transport people along Amsterdam’s waterways. A GVB day ticket will give you unlimited traveling with GVB for 1,2,3 , 4,5 up to 7 days ( I have purchased the two days ticket very handy on a OV chipkaart).

The GVB network: https://en.gvb.nl/

ams centraal station right apr13

The metro in Amsterdam is especially efficient to travel to the edges of the city. When exploring the city center trams and buses are more convenient.
The tram is one of the most popular ways of transportation in the city center, the network is large and highly reliable.

it is not possible to travel with standard paper tickets anymore. Traveling using the railway network requires a public transport chip card or a one way ticket. Please note that in order to be able to travel by train the credits on your chip card must be at least  20€. To avoid the hassle of buying a travel ticket seconds before departure of the train it is possible to buy your ticket online. The card to load money is call OV-Chipkaart

Of the 15 tram lines, 9 operate from Amsterdam Centraal train station.  There are 2 tram stop areas on the city side of Amsterdam Centraal station ; one on the eastern side labelled A, for services south- and east-bound, and one on the west side labelled B, for services south- and west-bound. Trams run daily from around 6h(weekdays) and 7h (weekends) to just after midnight.

The GVB tram lines in English: https://reisinfo.gvb.nl/en/lijnen?tram&show

There are 5 metro lines such as M50 , M51, M52, M53, and M54 with a total network length of 43 km which includes 39 stations. The Amsterdam Metro first opened back in 1977. Just for reference as do not like to go underground, want to see the city best above ground.

To move in the harbor, best try a ferry , just for the adventure. Each of these ferries is entirely free to use and there is no ticket required. Ferry services are available for foot passengers, cyclists, and moped users.

ams GVB ferry at port behind centraal apr13

Second best to trams ,use the bus in Amsterdam!  Amsterdam’s public bus system is probably the most extensive service offered by GVB with a total of 35 bus lines taking passengers from the city center to the suburbs. There are also 10 night buses which run after dark from Centraal train station to a variety of locations such as Sloterdijk, IJburg, Nieuwendam, Bijlmer-ArenA and more.

The GVB bus network is here: https://reisinfo.gvb.nl/en/lijnen?bus&show

There are 10 train stations in Amsterdam.  My experience has been with Amsterdam Centraal. From the station there are regular services with destinations in Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland. The other train station just listing as never used them are Amstel, Bijlmer ArenA . It is close to the Amsterdam ArenA stadium. Holendrecht, Lelylaan, Muiderpoort, RAI Amsterdam Science Parkn Sloterdijk . It allows passengers to change between the directions Amsterdam Centraal, Haarlem, Schiphol and Zaandam.Sloterdijk Hemboog This is an extra stop for trains on the direct railway between Zaandam and Schiphol. Amsterdam Zuid.

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I have to include here Schiphol Airport which is less than 20 minutes by train from Amsterdam Centraal Station . The Airport Express bus 397 operates between Schiphol and Elandsgracht in central Amsterdam every 15 minutes. However, already have a post on the airport see post!

ams schiphol airport transfer line schedule sept17

The city of Amsterdam on public transports: https://www.amsterdam.nl/en/policy/policy-traffic/public-transport/

The tourist office of Amsterdam on public transports: https://www.iamsterdam.com/en/plan-your-trip/getting-around/public-transport

My favorite route planner in English webpage 9292https://9292.nl/en

The official GVB travel plannerhttps://reisinfo.gvb.nl/en/route

And for the most courageous public transports in Holland as a whole from the tourist board in English here: https://www.holland.com/global/tourism/information/public-transport.htm

There you go a wonderful pocket guide for your moving around in Amsterdam. As said, have experience here by road, plane, tram, and train. Hope this brief guide can help you navigate and enjoy the city better.

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

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October 19, 2020

Lovely Prague, and more!!

Well lets get back to Europe shall we! I always heard of the country even when it was a different name, and had opportunity to come in but did not. Then , all of a sudden, came to it first by 2014 and thereafter came 3 more times until the virus. Prague is nice and the new country of the Czech Republic has interesting sights as well as the new country of Slovakia! Let me tell you a bit about it with new text using some old photos but new in the blog.

I am not going to go into the history because is long and troublesome, already touch base in previous posts. Let me tell you where I went instead. This was Prague, mainly, as well as by Brno and Bratisalva in Slovakia as well as visit smaller towns like Kurosov, Budmerice, Ostrokevice, and Radnov.

I did walk the Prague,and went to the periphery of Praha 10 or Prague 10 district away from touristic center. This is the real city for me. The airport is smallist but easy to move about, not too many stores. I came by air on AF from Nantes to Paris CDG and then Czech Airlines to Prague Havel airport. The airport is in the nearby town of Lestice.

There are many ways to get to the city with buses ,taxis, shuttles etc. I usually took a taxi, but this time try the tourist in me and took Cedaz the private express airport. The ride was 150 K or about 7 euros; every 30 minutes ride is about 40 minutes. You can take it from Terminal 1 exit F or 2 exit E. Very easy nice ride. It stop me right in front side of the Hilton Old Town Hotel. However, as updates goes, the Cedaz service has been discontinued so this is just for the memories ok.  At the aiport had lunch at a nice restaurant in El Mundo del Tabaco cafe. Where I had my lunch with a nice Czech beer Pilsner Urquel. This has also closed so again just for the memories in my blog.

The Prague airport site in English: https://www.prg.aero/en#/

Prague airport T1 passing oct16

prague airport getting to gates C7 T2 oct16

My first stay going in was at the wonderfully nice mansion villa in Praha 10 as well call Hotel Villa, very nice friendly service, good space rooms,and good breakfast, restaurant. They are still there, webpage in English: http://www.hotel-villa.cz/?lang=en

prague hotel villa main ent nov13

However, while in town went out to eat as the locals do for a full feeling of belonging in Praque. I had great lunches at Peugeot Restaurant; very local food and away from tourist, good food and nice prompt service. I went for the menu of Czech specialties and all good. The owners love the Peugeot cars and the rooms are decorated with replicas and posters of them plus scènes from Paris! More here in Czech: http://www.restaurace-peugeot.cz/

prague peugeot resto outside praha 10 nov13

Then, it was a wandering walk thru old town, just missing the Charles river but see everything else.  I stop by the train station which is rather nice and webpage is here: https://www.dpp.cz/en

Also , at  Masarykovo Nadrazi with plenty of tramway and bus service to the city and around it. Also trains as  Hlavni Nadrazi to other towns, webpage here: https://www.cd.cz/en/default.htm

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As I needed to be in and out of Prague ,when back stayed at another wonderful location. I did some ride into town and did some walking until finally settling into my hotel. A new place very inexpensive and very nice, I have already experience knowing the investment guys in the St Christopher’s in Paris, but here it is call Penzion U Krystof in Praha 10 .More info here: https://krystof.cz/en/

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Nice friendly and no English Pizza Next on 131 Zabehlicka street Praha 10, real good pizzas and a nice pint of Pilsner Urquel beer. all for 6€ lol! Cannot find a webpage for them but it is near the Hamr tennis complex on the above street. Talking about the Hamr tennis sports complex, this is superb, and nice modern facilities. Even a soccer/football local match to watch, and great food at the Piazza d’Oro terrace restaurant overlooking the lake Hamersky. too bad is only in Czech, but the facilities are full, the restaurant was goulasch , rice and a nice krusovice beer for 4€ ;more info  here: http://www.hamrsport.cz/cs/zabehlice/restaurace/

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prague-hamr-tennis-club-entrance-next-to-hotel-oct16

On my way out of Prague and going home I did splurge myself  at the Hilton Old Town Prague. This is  a grand chain and this hotel rank high up. Queen size bed and views of the city in front of you, walking to Namesti Republiky square The room was big ,bath too, wifi, bar, and on the 7th floor nice.  more into the business traveler but families will be in heaven too. More info here: https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/prgothi-hilton-prague-old-town/

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And of course, going out with a bang. I went to eat at Potrefena Husa resto and it was fantastic ambiance good food and cheap at 10€ including beer. The beer was local and a bit yeasty but ok. More info here: https://www.potrefena-husa.eu/en/

My evening I went to the Kolkovna Celnice typical Czech resto not far from the Hilton, and it was  a simple business dinner pilsner beers that took the idea of Prague even more enticing Old Czech Kolkovna  platter 900 grams for about 13 euros! More info here: https://www.kolkovna.cz/en/kolkovna-celnice-13

Next day was a soul searching in dark old town Prague; and I took my friends on a walking tour of Prague to find a place locals had brought me before, the Hybernia or 2002 with the brewing pilsner beers and more drinks and be merry, recommended for more time. More info here: https://www.dvatisicedva.cz/contact

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I continue the seach for excellence and we just got in before closing at the Dubliner Irish pub that we should come back. More info here: https://aulddubliner.cz/

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In between i was in the market of Monday morning at Namesti Republiky, colorful by the metro station entrance. I walk around seeing the wonderful buildings such as the powder tower ,muséums, and theaters; etc.

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The tourist office of Praguehttps://www.prague.eu/en

This time took some time into the countryside and even into Slovakia. Hurry trip by car moving fast and eating on road stops but now I saw more of a pretty country.  It was new ,also, to have lunch at the road rest stops like Benzina, Mol, and Viva along the road 1 dir Brno, etc. and into Slovakia. This site will help you find some of the stations : https://www.benzina.cz/en/stations/Pages/main.aspx

bratislava-mol-gas-rest-stop-resto-oct16

And of course the Czech motorway info page is very good for car travel there ! I love it!!! http://www.motorway.cz/

I did had lunch at a nice stop hotel restaurant Atrium near Brno , more info here:https://www.hotelatrium.eu/en

brno-near-brno-hotel-resto-atrium-for-lunch-oct16

I drove by Brno and Bratisalva in Slovakia as well as visit smaller towns like Kurosov, Budmerice, Ostrokevice, and Radnov with lots of country and farms. All nice rolling roads and beautiful scenary. It will be a nice to be back when the virus allows it for in depth look.

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Otrokovice city hall passing oct16

And it was time to be back to Prague, and my Hilton again before saying goodbye to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The difference was that I always get a taxi and never a problem,only once had to haggle over a price but was easily settled in my favor. This time I hire the Prague Airport Transfer service and English spoken nice ride and good driver. More info here: http://www.prague-airport-transfers.co.uk/

The tourist office of the Czech Republic:  https://www.visitczechrepublic.com/en-US

The tourist office of Slovakiahttps://slovakia.travel/en

There you folks ,another dandy road warrior trip with a bit of help of airplane to get there. Wonderful country side and lots of souvenirs of these trips. Again, looking forward to be back, it was a blast! Hope you enjoy the post as I did.

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

October 18, 2020

Wonderful Pyrénées-Atlantiques!!!

So I am taking you back to my belle France, of course. I like to revised, update my post on this wonderful department 64 Pyrénées-Atlantiques of my belle France , that I have visited and love so much. Of course, so do the rest of France, but this is special. I have written on its off the beaten paths towns and would like to reshape, update the text with some new photos found.

Following first the Tour de France bicycle race , later came in to visit the city of Pau and took advantage to take my local road warrior trips into my deep France. Always wonderful memories of doing it with my dear late wife Martine.

This part of France have gone thru many name changes over the years into the unified kingdom of France, the empire and then the Republic. Before 1969, the department was called Basses Pyrénées from the French revolution.  And before the French revolution ,this was the province of Béarn ,including lower Navarre, lands of Labourd and Soule (from the province of Gascogne) as well as some parishes of Soubestre .  The Labourd, Lower Navarre and Soule were the three provinces of the French pays basque. The department 64 has two faces today, that of the Béarn with Pau as principal city and the Pays Basque with Bayonne as principal city.

Let me tell you a bit about these off the beaten path towns which I have written specific posts before; this is a revision in a general sense of them.

Not too far from Pau, we have Thèze, about 20 km and is part of the Vic-Bilh. The N134 and the D44 /D944 as well as the connection with the A65 connects the city very nicely.  The Church of St. Peter dates from the 12C. It is remarkable for the volume of its porch tower and its Renaissance portal.  More from the city of Théze in French here:  http://www.theze64.fr/?page_id=488

We have Monein . The best way to get there is on the A64 highway (Toulouse-Bayonne); Exit 9 Artix at 11 km.  Monein counted a secular abbey from the 12C, a vassal of the viscounty of Béarn. King Henry IV dubbed Monein ,the Paris of Béarn!!!  The Church of Saint-Girons  (see post) dates from the 15C and 16C. It is the largest Gothic church in the  Béarn.  More info on the city of Monein heritage in French here: http://www.monein.fr/la-ville/patrimoine.html

The tourist office of  Coeur de Béarn on the Church Saint Gironshttps://www.coeurdebearn.com/en/heritage/the-church-of-st-girons-and-its-timber-roof.html

In direction Morlaàs we passed by an old castle where winding roads needed to be taken up the road D7 and then D62. this is in ruins but the tower is in excellent shape rides up ; and chivarly or knights contests for kids was very colorful. This is the Château de Montaner.  More info in French from the tourist office of the Pays Vic en Bigorre here: http://www.tourisme-vic-montaner.com/patrimoine-historique/chateau-de-montaner.html

And we arrive at wonderful Morlaàs, the town is connected with the D39 and D943 roads from Pau traversing the A64 highway. From the 10C to the 12C, Morlaàs was the residence of the Viscounts of Béarn and capital of the Béarn in place of Lescar destroyed in the 9C ,and Orthez will follow in the 12C. The town had a commandery of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem from Carvalho and Morlaàs. There were convents of Jacobins and Cordeliers. Morlaàs  printed money at the Château de la Hourquie (or the Fourquie, whose exact location is unknown to us today) since the 9C. The Morlan money was used throughout the south of France throughout the Middle Ages. In 1690, the monetary workshop was transferred to Pau. The weights and mesures of Morlaàs served as standards throughout the Béarn and up to Soule and lower Navarre.

Plenty of things to see here, and the main ones were covered in previous post but will name my favorites here: The fountain known as Baratnau, place Sainte-Foy, dates from 1635 ; this square also welcomed, from the 17C until 1845, a market; there is ,also the house of Jeanne Albret from 1451 as well as the Musée de Morlaàs with a rich collection of medieval or newer objects, paintings, weapons, keys, furniture, sculptures, a funerary slab and various architectural elements. The Château de Baratnau (at Place-dit Grange de Baratnau) was built around 1540.  The Château de Sarrabat, at the square of the same name, was built at the end of the 19C. There are eleven windmills in Morlaàs, some of which have preceded 1385.  St. Andre’s Church, rue Bourg-Neuf, partially dates from the late 11C. The Romanesque Church of Sainte-Foy dates from the 11C. The church is a stopover on the via Tolosane (or Toulouse Road), the Latin name of one of the four paths of France of the Pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela, the southernmost.

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Further in glorious Morlaas, you have the The Cloister of the Benedictine priory of St. Faith dates in part from the 11C. A Church belonging to the Saint John Hospital Commandery of Jerusalem is reported in 1318 at the place Berlanne. Several times demolished and rebuilt (destruction by the Protestants in 1569, re-erection in 1610, demolition in the 19C, new inauguration in 1902), it is still the subject of a pilgrimage.  A first Convent of Jacobins was built in 1268, north of Bourg-Mayou, then destroyed in a fire in 1569. The monks then occupied a new building, dating from the 16C. You can see five capitals of marble columns Rue Molaàs-Vielle, the Convent of Cordeliers was founded before 1290 by Gaston VII of Béarn. 

Power to you to visit this beautiful architecture and historical city of Morlaas, more in their city page in French here: https://www.mairie-morlaas.fr/la-ville/histoire-et-patrimoine/demeures-monuments-remarquables/

Then took the D918 direction Mauléon-Licharre.  Not expecting to see anything here but just passing and voilà to our surprise it has many interesting things if hidden to the general public, of course you need a car but I will always say , the best way to travel….Mauléon-Licharre is located in the heart of the historical province of Soule, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Mauléon, an old feudal town, is built on the right bank of the Saison river or gave of Mauléon, at the foot of a hill where the ruins of the castle rise. The current town was created in 1841 by the union of the towns of Mauléon and Licharre. The old castle of Mauléon is an 11C castle, the castle of Maytie called Andurain was built at the end of the 16C by Pierre de Maytie. The city/town hall, located on the Place des Allées, was built for Count Philibert de Grama by François Mansart whose style is recognized with the alternation of skylights arched and triangular pediment and large spaced windows.  The states of Soule bought this mansion in 1777. It became the sub-prefecture of Mauléon from 1789 to 1926. Since 1980, it is the new City/Town hall of Mauléon. 

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Some further interesting facts here are that the writer Pierre Benoit used this location for the action of his novel for Don Carlos ,la Maison de La Fee (fairy ), at 8 Rue du Fort, known as the oldest in Mauléon. It bears the date of 1485 but probably dates more like 1785. The Maison de Bela which dominates the upper town with its Rounded tower. It is particularly well known because in 1587 its owner, Gérard de Béla, decided to introduce taxes, an innovation that displeased particularly  the inhabitants of the city. The market or halles dated 1765, was claimed by the inhabitants since the terrible fire of 1641 which had destroyed about 20 houses, leaving only eleven that could still properly shelter the market under their awnings.  The Chapel of Saint-Jean-de-Berraute is attested from 1220. It was part of the Commandery run by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem or Knights of Malta. The Notre-Dame Church in the Upper Town; it has a parchment of 1373 which gave permission of the Bishop of Oloron to build a new chapel. The Chapel even though it was small, became Church and even Cathedral, having sheltered, with its contiguous  houses the bishop of Oloron and his chapter of canons on two occasions, from 1378 to 1412, during the Great Schism of the West which saw the Catholics divide between supporters of the Pope of Rome and those of that of Avignon . And again, from 1570 to 1599 during the Wars of religion. The Bishop of Oloron Claude Régis, expelled from his cathedral by the Protestants, took refuge in this Church to which he bequeathed his heart at his death in 1592. The Calvary (or white Cross) from the  17C made in  white marble located in the Rue de Navarre is a marble column erected at the site of the walnut tree where the judges of the ancient Court of Licharre, (today a crossroads in the traffic roundabout), were gathered.  The Church of St. John the Baptist was built in the late 19C.

More on this wonderful little town of Mauléon-Licharre from the city webpage in French here: https://www.mauleon-licharre.fr/fr/decouvrir-mauleon/patrimoine.html

The wonderful Lescar very near Pau , our home base always in the area for years, and you can tell we like it very much.  Lescar is located at 6.5 km  west of Pau;  it is also 52 km north of Urdos, which allows the passage to Spain (via the Col du Somport), heck yeah for many years our route even before the tunnel was built !!!,  and 87 km east of Capbreton on the Atlantic coast. It sits on the east-west axis by the A64 highway ( aka  La Pyrénéenne). A highway exchanger to reach the new highway A65 ; (aka Autoroute de Gascogne), crossing the A64 on the territory of the town and allowing to reach Langon in the north.  The town is also served by the old national Roads RN117, Route de Bayonne, and RN417 (forming part of the Beltway of Pau) which are grouped under the RD817 (super road connecting to many areas of Pau and out to other towns, great).

The town maintains more than 600 000 m2 of gardens, 12 000 m2 of compound massif shrubs, and has 2 674 trees on its territory. The best on are the Parc de Beneharnum, at the foot of the ramparts, then the  garden of the place Royale or the park of the City Hall. An oppidum of the second Iron age was also identified in the district of Bilaà, on which is built the castle of the family of Ariste. The lower town of Lescar represents the heart of the ancient Beneharnum. Archaeologists have exhumed in the district of Bialé  178 traffic lanes, sewers, foundations of houses, as well as ditches. Still on the Domaine Saint Michel, the remains of the funeral enclosure La Tourette are discovered dating from  the lower empire period of Rome. Several elements discovered on the site are exposed to the museum of Lescar, including furniture and a mosaic of 6.5 meters long on 3.3 meters wide.

The city of Lescar on its heritage in French: https://www.lescar.fr/attractive/ville-historique/patrimoine/patrimoine-architectural

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And we continue on towards Orthez, this is a nice town, first you have the house museum of Jeanne d’Albret, that shows the Protestant Béarn, the museum at 37 rue Bourg-Vieux, here you have four centuries of history from the reform to the 20C, the story of the Huguenots ,love the history. You must see the Church of Saint Pierre in a vast square or pl St Pierre. The town was the site of the viscount of Béarn and this led to start the construction of the Church in the 13C.

The city of Orthez on its heritage in French: http://www.mairie-orthez.fr/Decouvrir-Orthez/Patrimoine

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On our way out we passed and got to see the parvis of the château Moncade right in the town of Orthez! It is built on a hill of 100 meters high protected by moats with a well unique in Europe, from the top of the tower donjon (33 meters) you can see a wonderful view of the roofstops of Orthez.  the castle was built in 1242 and finally finished in the 14C by Gaston VII de Moncade. More on the Coeur de Béarn tourist office in English: https://www.coeurdebearn.com/en/heritage/the-moncade-castle.html

And there you go a quick run to some of the most picturesques off the beatn paths sights in my Pyrénées Atlantique of the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. Enjoy the ride and do keep them in to see places in my belle France.

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

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October 18, 2020

Bacolod ,in the Philippines!

And here I am taking you back to Asia and wonderful Philippines. I was lucky to visit the country and some of its islands on several trips over the last few years and it has memorable stories and good friends. I like to tell you a bit more on Bacolod.

Ok so I did had a little time on my last trip to the Philippines. There was not much time to do sightseeing but did get into a whole new area of the Philippines. I flew from Cebu to Bacolod on Philippines Airlines.

Arriving at Bacolod city airport by 7h where another driver was picking me up and gave a brief introduction to Bacolod. It is actually located in nearby city of Silay, 15 km from Bacolod. This is about 1 hour by air from Manila and 30 minutes from Cebu by air. More on the airport at Airportia: https://www.airportia.com/philippines/bacolod-city-domestic-airport/

bacolod airport arriving jan18

bacolod aiport bombardier Q400 to cebu jan18

Bacolod has two main roads, Lacson Street to the north and Araneta Street to the south. The streets in the downtown area are one way, making Bacolod free from traffic congestion. However, its beginning to be filled recently.

bacolod street driving in city jan18

We ,then set out to eat at the favorite place of the locals, Bob’s Restaurant. Here we had blue marlin fish dish just fried as it is, and rice, and delicious fruit punch drink, wonderful. I would come back just for the fish! More on them at their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BobsRestoBCD/

I like to tell a bit about Bacolod for the memories, for my blog and for those readers who dare go to the off the beaten paths in countries afar.

The City of Bacolod  is the capital of the province of Negros Occidental where it is geographically situated but governed administratively independent from it. Sitting in the region VI of Western Visayas. It is notable for its MassKara Festival held during the third week of October and is known for being a relatively friendly city, as it bears the nickname “The City of Smiles”.

The historical church accounts provide a glimpse of the early years of Bacolod as a mere small settlement by the riverbank known as Magsungay (“horn-shaped” in English). When the neighboring settlement of Bago was elevated into the status of a small town in 1575, the early missionaries placed the village under the care and protection of Saint Sebastian sometime in the middle of the 18C. Bacolod was not established as a town until 1755 or 1756, after the inhabitants of the coastal settlement of San Sebastián de Magsung̃ay, were attacked by forces under Datu Bantílan of Sulu on July 14, 1755 and the villagers transferred from the coast to a hilly area called Bacólod . In 1889, Bacolod became the capital of  Negros Occidental when the Province of Negros was politically divided into the separate provinces of Occidental Negros and Oriental Negros.

The success of the uprising in Bacolod and environs was attributed to the low morale of the local Spanish detachment, due to its defeat in Panay and Luzon and to the psychological warfare waged . For a brief moment, the provinces of Occidental Negros and Oriental Negros were reunited under the cantonal government of the Negrense Revolucionaries, from 6 November 1898 to the end of February 1899, making Bacolod the capital. In March 1899, the American forces led by Colonel James G. Smith occupied Bacolod, the revolutionary capital of República Cantonal de Negros. The Cantonal Republic of Negros became a U.S. territory on April 30, 1901. This separated Negros Island once again, reverting Bacolod to its status as the capital of Occidental Negros.  Bacolod was formally inaugurated as a chartered city on October 19, 1938. In WWII, Bacolod was occupied by the Japanese forces on May 21, 1942. The city was liberated by joint Philippine and American forces on May 29, 1945.

The city of Bacolod on its history: http://www.bacolodcity.gov.ph/about-bacolod/history

Some things to see here even if it is not a tourist destination, rather an off the beaten path area I love to come and lively city life.

The world-renowned MassKara Festival is an annual festival with highlights held every fourth Sunday of October in Bacolod. The  Panaad sa Negros Festival , also called simply as the Panaad Festival is a festival held annually during the month of April in Bacolod. The festival is a form of thanksgiving to Divine Providence and commemoration of a vow in exchange for a good life. The celebration is held at the Panaad Park, which also houses the Panaad Stadium, and is participated in by the 13 cities and 19 towns of the province. For this reason, the province dubs it the “mother” of all its festivals.

Even if no MassKara Festival this year due to covid19 here is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/masskaralive/

The Panaad sa Negros Festival on their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PanaadSaNegrosFestival/

A nice area for walks is the Public Plaza one of the notable landmarks in Bacolod, which is found right in the heart of downtown/city center area, very near to the city/town hall and right across the San Sebastian Cathedral. There is a nice Negros Museum a privately owned provincial museum situated in the Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol Complex. The structure was built in 1925 as the Provincial Agriculture Building. The Negros Museum Cafe serves the needs of museum goers and walk-in guests, situated in the West Annex of the museum.

The tourist office of the Philippines on Bacolodhttp://www.experiencephilippines.org/tourism/featured-destinations-tourism/featured-destination-tourism-6/

A private webpage with plenty of information on the Philippines and this time Bacolodhttps://guidetothephilippines.ph/articles/things-to-do/bacolod-tourist-spots

And there you, an exotic place glad to be there and nice friends found, some still in touch. Bacolod is a far away place of nice memories and happy to have in my blog for the memories and the friendship. Hope you enjoy the post as I did.

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

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October 17, 2020

San Cristobal de la Habana, my Havana!!!

So once again back into nostalgia lane, this will be common in our times of covid19, wuhan virus , coronavirus etc ! I am relinquishing viewing some old post in my blog that needs update due to webpages changes routes etc. My last time in Havana was in 2012! After leaving it in 1970! However, always in my heart. Let me tell you a bit of update on San Cristobal de la Habana or simply La Habana or as most outside says Havana/Havane.

It was the ultimate Caribbean destination, the “Paris of the Americas” (by E Hemingway ), the “key to the gulf (of Mexico) the bulkward of the West Indies” (King Felipe II of Spain), to the whole of Cuba. The “most beautiful land human eyes have yet seen” (C Columbus upon arrival 1492) .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.

havana C Oficio y Teniente Rey Feb12

You first arrive most likely by the Jose Marti International Airport in Rancho Boyeros, just outside the city of Havana,and now part of the city administrative speaking; here you ,also find the Havana Zoo. The real name from its founding in 1519 was San Cristobal de la Habana (St Christopher of the Havana), the saint is the name for the genovese navigator Cristobal Colon (Christopher Colombus), Habana is an old indian word meaning a savanah between two rivers the Almendares (also the best Cuban pro baseball team before the revolution) ,and the Cojimar (famous by Hemingway fishing out). The old center is all of a UNESCO heritage site.

If you go by El Templete you will see an old oak tree where the first religious Mass was held on the island on 1519 . There lies a bust to Christopher Colombus and 3 paintings by French painter Jean-Baptiste Vermay (who, also, did the Cathedral!).  It gain notoriety when the Spanish crown decided that the city will hold all shipment coming from the rest of the Americas to be sent in convoy to Spain this in 1561 (to avoid pirates ransacking them) . Finally in 1592 king Felipe II declares it a city!

It fell to British rule in 1762 after a succesful attack by British ships and naval man, it was then exchange for Florida in 1763, and Havana came back to be Spanish for good by the Treaty of Paris. In 1774 the first census of the city is done with 170 000 inhabitants, and on 1796 the remains of Christopher Colombus arrives from Santo Domingo to be put in the Cathedral, later to be transfered to the Cathedral of Sevilla, (where the wood of the tomb complex is from Cuba) as the legend goes. In 1837 the first railroad is born from Havana to the town of Gûines, a first in the Spanish-speaking world.  In 1863 the old city walls were destroyed so the city can enlarge into the suburbs being the first one, the Vedado. It became a free Republic on May 20,1902 under Republica de Cuba under American protectorate by the Platt Amendment until 1934. After some not so good dictators, it fell into the worse in 1959 where still is under a communist dictatorship; second oldest in the world behind North Korea!

The longest river is Almendares for 50 kms (31 mi), and the name for an old baseball team, my family’s favorite. The highest point is at Tetas de Managua at 210 meters (693 ft). The bay of Havana is one of the biggest and best in the world. The average temperature is 25°C or about 77°F. But near the airport it has been recorded as low as 4°C about 36°F in 2010. Today it has about 2,5 million inhabitants or about 20% of the island population.

It was once the Paris of the Americas, 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. However, it was not always like today.

It quickly grew into the city with Latin America’s biggest middle class, and Hemingway quoted “In terms of beauty only Venice and Paris surpassed Havana”. Gas public lighting came in 1848 and railroad in 1837. Most of the building were inspired by French architect and style such as the Aldama castle build in 1844. See the University of Havana, Capitol (1929 replica of the one in Washington DC USA). Neoclassical like the Convent of Santa Clara, Art deco like the Bacardi building,modern like the Habana Hilton Hotel (today Tryp Habana Libre part of the Spanish group Melia), and wonderful castles like La Fuerza, Morro, Cabañas,Atares,Principe,La Punta. The grand theater also known as Garcia Lorca theater,and the biggest in Latin America, cementerio Colon (Colombus cementary).

Some of the places of interest to see in my opinion are the followings : Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña or simply La Cabaña in the west side of the harbor; Capitolio Nacional, built in 1929 replica of the one in Washington DC USA; Castillo del MorroEl Templete (first Catholic Mass in Cuba), Cemeterio Colon or Colombus Cementary ,the largest in the Americas; Plaza de la Revolucion ,old Plaza Jose Marti; University of Havana, founded in 1728 and one of the oldest in the Americas; Catedral de la Habana or Cathedral, Convento de San Francisco, Convento de Santa Clara, Palacio de Aldama, Estacion Central de Ferrocarril Or the railroad station, Castillo de AtaresCastillo del PrincipeEl Torron de CojimarAcuario or national aquarium of Havana at avenida 3ra; Museo de la Revolucion in the old Presidential palace ; Fabrica Partagàs, cigars of Cuba; go outside towards Cojimar at Vigia to the house /Museum of Ernest Hemingway, his old property; Walk on bulevard PradoManzana de Gomez, a whole city block building of stores, Cinema Yara the old radio city hall, Castillo de la Real FuerzaCastillo San Salvador de la PuntaPalacio del Segundo Cabo, the home of the 2nd in line governor of old Cuba under Spanish rule; Gran TeatroTeatro Amadeo Roldan; old Captain’s General building where the only king’s throne room in the Americas is located, the site of the governor of Cuba in colonial times and today a museum, Chinatown, as the Chinese quarters.

Havana Mon Maceo Malecon apr12

The way for transport is complicated, and very saturated but its the travelers choice to mingle with the locals and feel ,see the way of life as it is. There are metrobuses lines but very unfrequent and best hire a taxi with driver, and get to ride old American cars at least on the outside. There are some long line bus companies like the locals in inter city travel use the Astro buses from the same spot as below , where if pay in foreign currency you can get a preferential seat (not verify but I was told foreigners cannot use it anymore,check). You can also take the more tourist oriented Via Azul , last I heard their hq was at Avenida Independencia No 101 corner with calle 19 de Mayo, Plaza de la Revolucion, but I never taken anything there than a car. The line via azul schedule is from a French side in pdf file here: https://jdsdf.pagesperso-orange.fr/pdf/Bus%20Viazul%20Cuba%20Horaires.pdf

The same webpage above talks about a new service Transtur ,never heard of but apparently It offers transfer between airport and hotels pdf file here: https://jdsdf.pagesperso-orange.fr/pdf/Bus%20Transtur%20Cuba%20Horaires.pdf

Taxis are regulated  under private individuals and agencies, these are best to be hire for all your trips. Again not use them as have someone ride me around there from the family but this site is for real: http://: https://taxincuba.com/es/index.html

Its a very friendly city that will have no problem finding help and very safe. Driving is not recommended for visitors unaware of the laws and bad road signs but if willing to the best is Havanautos company   with official webpage here: https://www.havanautos.com/AboutUs.aspx?lng=2

The gas/petrol is not plentiful and need to know where are they once you hire the car The stations are call Servi-Cupet and need to pay in foreign currency preferably euros. This is a great map application to find them and more I have it on La Rampa Centro Habana: https://cubamaps.travel/es/compras/tiendas/83623-cupet-la-rampa

For hotels or eating places with the locals try the “Casas Particulares” private folks with official approval. These are best to hire for the experience of real Cuba and Havana of course. There are several sites but I put one from there in English and French too: http://www.casas-cuba.org/index.html

The places to eat best are again at the Casas Particulares that also offered restaurant service. There are now many Paladares or private folks restaurant paying a license to operate from the government but are more typical of Cuba and Havana of course. Again several sites but this one is local as I know it Alamesa or to the table! https://www.alamesacuba.com/en/la-habana/search/#places

And a more popular Restaurant guru for Havana here : https://restaurantguru.com/Havana

Then you have the old reliable like La Bodeguita del Medio, and Floridita Bar (the best bar in the world in 1957 by Esquire magazine); El Aljibe in Miramar, La Ferminia also in Miramar,El Conejito in Vedado ,the old family hangout of rabbit dishes; Los Doce Aposteles in the Morro castle; La Divina Pastora overlooking the harbor, La Zaragozana ; El Potin, near prado and Lineaand Coppelia for ice creams are some of my family favorites.

Oh yes to get to Cuba there are many airlines, but for Cuba there is Cubana de Aviacion, webpage in Spanish here https://www.cubana.cu/

There are others foreign companies that do a lot of flights into Cuba such as COPA, AeroMexico, InterJet, Air France, Avianca, Air Europa, LAN, Comviasa, KLM, Iberia etc. Need to check flights due to covid19.

Booking and al. info on Cuba ,see the old reliable junky at http://www.cuba-junky.com/

And another old reliable Netssa at http://www.netssa.com/

The Cuban tourist organisation in Spanish/English is at  https://www.cubatravel.cu/

As the most tourist now arriving and for the last few years are Canadians, here is the Cuba tourist board in Canada in English: https://www.gocuba.ca/en/

And of course ,the tourist board of Cuba in France in French: https://www.voyage-cuba.com/

Its a city to fall in love for no matter what period of time in history you may choose to visit. Just wishing for those there, better times ahead. Enjoy the ride into my nostalgia old land. Havana is for dreamers!

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

October 16, 2020

Some news from France, CCCXVIII

So here I am again in my belle France, never far from it. The time has change we are fully into Fall season and the weather is changing with temps going down to 5C or about 41F and now afternoon day almost over is 14C or about 58F and cloudy gray in my neck of the woods. In lovely lonely Paris is the same conditions.

I like to take a breakt to thank all those loyal readers over these years ;looking back I realised started this series of Some news from France back on December 9; 2010!! Already in its 318th edition. Thank you!!!!

Now this is my latests on what is going on in my belle France!

Since 2017, the project to redevelop Place de la Bastille has been launched. Only two months left before its complete , with the highlight being the new staircase which descends on one of the quays of the Port de l’Arsenal.

The leaning house, symbol of the effects of global warming, will leave the forecourt of the Gare du Nord 10éme arrondissement. The “Maison fond”, a work by Leandro Erlich symbolizing climate change, will be removed. It would be in bad shape. Ahh mother nature!

The Sacré-Cœur soon to be classified as a historic monument! A little more than a century after the end of the construction of the Basilica of Montmartre, the process is finally launched. Another deserving effort, do not understand why not before if only does not belong to Paris but the archdiocese!!

One-way street, cycle paths: in a few weeks, access to Paris via the Porte de la Chapelle will be transformed. The goal is to calm a very dense area, but some fear congestion. Porte de la Chapelle 18éme. On November 9, the entry of vehicles into Paris will be profoundly changed. Local residents are afraid of the big traffic jam and deplore the lack of communication. Of course, they needed to do this years ago, but now will be another traffic hell in socialist Paris.

Always a hassle to get around in Paris, the one-way street of the rue d’Alésia is annoying. Rue d’Alésia 14éme arrondissement is now one-way. If this choice makes cyclists happy, residents and shoppers are divided. Of course, free flow and no cash , Paris of the future!

A prehistoric Neanderthal site discovered at the gates of Paris. This is the first Neanderthal site discovered so close to Paris in two centuries. The site has been updated on the banks of Clichy-la-Garenne (Hauts de Seine 92).

In Seine-Saint-Denis technical incidents, exasperated travelers , is the T4 tramway cursed? A series of technical incidents paralyzed the line for several days, the last station of the extension to Montfermeil (Seine Saint Denis 93) being commissioned at the end of last August. And of course, new delay of metro line 12 and the inhabitants of Aubervilliers (Seine Saint Denis 93) annoyed. RATP announced a third delay in the delivery of the extension of line 12 to Aubervilliers. The stations should be inaugurated in the spring of 2022. Oh yes cut off the roads for more transports that do not work and are not enough, Paris of the future!

The remains of a Gallo-Roman village discovered in the Val-d’Oise (95) Traces of dwellings dating from Antiquity have been unearthed in the heart of Louvres. A first, which comes as Archéa, the museum dedicated to archeology, is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The current excavation site is taking place at 95, rue de Paris.

Take-away meals, advanced service or outright closure … The curfew requires the managers of the 1004 restaurants in the department 77 Seine et Marne to find an organization to combine the need to work, respect for health protocol and customer expectations. The restaurant La Bodega Don Felipe in Melun (77) will offer take-away meals between 18h30 and 20h30 during the curfew. An innovative idea of many to survive the wuhan virus.

Take your precautions if you are leaving the area for the start of the holidays this weekend of October 16-18. Friday is classified orange in the direction of departures. In addition, several RER and Transiliens train lines are closed this weekend for works. The toll of Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines (78) of the A10 should be loaded this weekend in the direction of departures going out especially south! Always happened, they should know by now, take alternative routes but the folks continue the habits.

In Saint-Germain-en-Laye (Yvelines 78), PSG (Paris Saint Germain) is on every street corner. A photo exhibition is organized for the 50 years of the club. It honors everyone who made PSG from the founding in 1970 to the present day. The photos reminds all that the history of PSG has largely been written on the side of the Camp des Loges here. You got it merger of a football/soccer team from Paris and from Saint Germain (en laye) Yvelines 78!

In Versailles, street art makes the popular tourist district. This coming Saturday, tourists will be guided to the popular Bernard-de-Jussieu district (furthest near Hauts de Seine dept92) where giant frescoes have just been installed. The ten giant frescoes were painted on the gables of buildings!!

The Compiègne Memorial has a bookshop!. It is one of a kind, dedicated to history and especially to WWII. A bookshop is the result of a public-private partnership between the Memorial and the Librairie des Signes.

Well not tourist oriented but , Amazon is inaugurating a unique distribution center in France. This gigantic warehouse supplies the brand’s other sites from Senlis (Oise 60). It will eventually be able to process up to 11.5 million items per week. 342 permanent jobs have already been signed. For the Christmas period, up to 1,500 people will work at the distribution center

And finally, Matisse and his “ Intérieur aux aubergines ” or eggplants interior: an itinerary of a little-known masterpiece. The painting by the French painter, owned by the Musée de Grenoble since 1922, will finally be exhibited at the Centre Pompidou in Paris from October 21. In the fourth room of the exhibition “ Matisse, comme un roman” or like a novel.

The gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin took another rabbit out of his hat: on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October, he is organizing a treasure hunt at the Grand Palais with, as a result, twenty works donated by the artists he represents. They will be hidden by his teams in the 16,500 m2 of the nave, which should have hosted the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) – canceled due to the virus.

An exhibition on Genghis Khan at the Nantes History Museum censored by China!! Oh those Chinese again, like not calling it the wuhan virus!!. This exhibition dedicated to the Mongol Empire had to be canceled after interventions from Beijing. It will be presented in another form in 2024. This was to be the event of the Nantes History Museum in the first half of 2021 it will ultimately not take place in its initial form due to acts of “censorship by the central Chinese authorities “, deplores Bertrand Guillet, director of the Château des Ducs de Bretagne-Nantes History Museum. Beijing’s interventions to change the content of the exhibition are an illustration, according to the director, of the “hardening of the position of the Chinese government against the Mongolian minority.” Located in northern China, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is populated by 4.2 million Mongols, who make up 17 percent of the region’s population. Demonstrations were held in September to protest against Beijing’s desire to impose Mandarin in school curricula. Hopefully the museum will not allow drastic changes to the original presentation!!!

In Bretagne, the islands want to regulate the great human tides. Oh yes we are popular, tourists welcome, but now running from the avalanche of the beauty we have here !! An increase of 10.22% in Ouessant and Molène, + 17.90% in Sein, + 6.65% in Groix; etc. This summer, the number of visitors to the Breton islands – already very high has increased almost everywhere, according to figures from the region. There is hardly any other than in Belle-Île, in the Morbihan, where it is down slightly (- 2.05%). The Île de Bréhat, between 350 and 400 inhabitants per year, welcomed more than 350,000 visitors in two months!, with peaks of more than 5,000 per day. “By day it was Mont-Saint-Michel and at night it was Ibiza,” sighs Stephan Morlevat, president of the tourist office. In Hoëdic, off the Gulf of Morbihan, the water supply was even interrupted for one afternoon, in mid-July, to prevent stocks from running out! Well little islands you better be ready because they know where you are now and you are gorgeous!

For the second time, the Jardins du Trocadéro and its sublime terrace-bar of the Paris Aquarium will host an ephemeral ice rink with the added bonus of a view of the Iron Lady. 500 m2 of sliding space and pure happiness! From November 15, 2020 to January 31, 2021, the ice rink will give all aspiring athletes time to step on the ice between two shopping sessions. Christmas music, carols and decorations, skating, tobogganing … and even a gourmet village to enjoy delicious homemade hot chocolate, sweets or spicy hot wines! Patinoire des Jardins du Trocadéro ice rink, 5, avenue Albert de Mun 16éme arrondissement 14€ for adults and 9€ for children. From November 15, 2020 to January 31, 2021. Great event one that I missed the Paris region still.

Basilic & Co. , with around 30 locations in France, has finally opened in Paris, a stone’s throw from the Bataclan. fine and gourmet dough, flavors from all over France: the Basilic & Co pizza has arrived with great fanfare. The secret? It is made in front of your eyes and has a very specific feature, it is made from semolina and not flour: The dough pushing system is very long, explains David the owner. We exploit our dough after at least two days, which gives a light and crispy dough. In addition, all the pizzas and focaccias are homemade ”. Basilic & Co. 58, Bd Voltaire 11éme arrondissement. Welcome and best of luck

The famous Bo & Mie bakery, renowned for its fruit tarts and XXL puff pastry pastries, is going to open a third Parisian address, and not the least since it will be 400 m2 opposite the Louvre museum, the new Bo & Mie bakery will be the largest in Paris. This new setting will be inaugurated on next Saturday, October 24 and will be spread over three floors for a total of 400 m2. It will be spread over three floors for a total of 400 m2 . Bo & Mie , 91, rue de Rivoli 1éme arrondissement. Welcome and best of luck.

And you may have seen, heard, the news in France , from our glorious government of patch up gang of incompetents in my opinion. There will be starting this Saturday October 17, a curfew from 21h to 06h or 9pm to 6am, for a period of four maybe six weeks. Every week, a supposedly Defense Council on Covid-19 (out of Wuhan China) is organized to put in place new measures to limit the pandemic. And they keep putting out crazy arguments that are not clear and makes sense to most in my entourage. This past Wednesday, October 14 at 20h., the head of state (very well orchestrated by Macron) took the floor to announce new restrictions as well as the re-establishment of the state of health emergency from this Saturday, October 17. A certificate will be available directly on the phone via a mobile application for professional reasons, health reasons, transport reasons – train or plane -, take out your pet or to help a loved one in a situation of dependency. On the other hand, if individuals travel without a certificate, they risk a fine of 135 €. To enforce the measures, “12,000 police officers and gendarmes will be, every night between 21h. and 06h, specially responsible for actually verifying the prohibitions mentioned. Wow an army, we got bucks when money can be made easily. “Companies, and especially those in areas where the curfew applies, are now asked to define a minimum number of days of tele working per week for positions which allow it”, declares Elisabeth Borne, the Minister of Labor, Employment and Integration (which means less jobs). Direct state loans will be granted to the most troubled companies and extended until June 30, 2021. Right; welfare won’t solve the problems never has and never will. For clarification this curfew is only for the Ïle de France region (Paris, Versailles, Fontainebleau etc) , and the big cities of Lille, Grenoble, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Rouen, Saint Etienne, Montpellier, and Toulouse. Therefore, my beloved Bretagne is spare come on over!!!

So there you go folks some news and some of my enlighter rants on current events; again thank you for reading and be safe.

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

October 16, 2020

Mexico and Jorge Negrete!

So I have come to Mexico several times over the term of my life and always nicely welcome. Now I have written several posts on Mexico in my blog, but I need to do justice to one person.

If you are from the Spanish speaking world then you should have heard of Jorge Negrete! Granted you have to be perhaps a mature person as unfortunately Jorge Negrete died in 1953. His music and movies continues on as a legacy of Mexico and Latin America and a special place for him, Cuba. I like to tell you a bit about the Plaza Jorge Negrete and the person.

mex plaza jorge negrete statue sep18

An interesting statue and this one real Mexican charro , and one of the most famous singer and actor of Mexico and well known in all Latin America is of Jorge Negrete and its Plaza de Jorge Negrete square.  Located by Ave de los Insurgentes Sur and calle Capuchinas,not far from Parque del Conde park.  Metro line 7 and 12 are close by or metrobus line 1 stop Teatro de los Insurgentes (see post on the theater).

mex plaza jorge negrete statue far sep18

Briefly, Jorge Alberto Negrete Moreno was born in Silao, Guanajuato, on November 30th, 1911 and died in Los Angeles California on December 5 1953. He studied at the military college at the age of 14 and at 18 came out with the highest qualifications which led him to perform further studies in Paris and Rome. He seemed to have a brilliant military career, because he also studied medicine and manages the military Hospital in Puebla. But at the same time he takes singing lessons, and finds out that he has a privileged voice for opera singing. He starts singing on the radio, and soon asks for his military career to end to devote himself to singing at the XETR broadcaster in Mexico City. The rest as the saying goes is history and good one. Worth a detour for the lovers of good music and films.

However, the idea of the text and new photos is to talk about Jorge Negrete for the lovers of good music and films.

His father worked as a teacher at the Alexander Von Humboldt German School, thanks to which he was able to enroll his children in that institution. There Jorge finished high school and learned German, French, English and Italian, and studied the fundamentals of Nahuatl in a self-taught way.

Later he entered the Héroico Colegio Militar or Heroic Military College, graduating as Lieutenant of Cavalry and Administration  of the Mexican Army with high qualifications. There he learned to ride a horse, a skill that he would show off by playing the Mexican charro in the cinema. Later he worked in the Fábrica de Armas de la Ciudadela or Citadel Arms Factory performing administrative tasks, and partially studied medicine.

He studied singing with José Pierson, director of the Compañía Impulsora de Opera de México, who was a teacher of notable opera singers at the time, such as Fanny Anitúa and José Mojica, and popular interpreters such as Pedro Vargas, Alfonso Ortiz Tirado and Hugo Avendaño.  In 1931, with the rank of second Captain, he applied for a license from the Mexican Army to fully dedicate himself to his singing career, starting at the XETR radio station. At that time, he performed Mexican romances and Neapolitan songs, as well as pieces by authors of the time.

In 1934, he sang for the only time at the Palacio de las Bellas Artes in Mexico City, (see post on the palace of fine arts) with the student choir of maestro José Pierson in the musical La verdad sospechosa , (suspicious truth) by Juan Ruiz de Alarcón. In November 1936 he traveled to the border on their way to the United States. In New York played as the Mexican Caballeros for the NBC network. There in April 1937 Jorge Negrete participated in an audition to be part of the cast of the Metropolitan Opera House, but was unable to do so, as he was offered a substitute role, which he refused. Desperate, he agreed to work as a waiter at “Yumurí” and other restaurants with a Latin atmosphere. He made some money making adaptations of American songs into Spanish. One night in which the singer of the dance orchestra did not appear, Negrete replaced him, and due to the success of that modest presentation he was hired by the Cuban musician Eliseo Grenet to sing with his orchestra.

In 1937 he made his first film appearance, in the Warner Bros. short Cuban Nights characterized as a Cuban troubadour. Back in the United States, in 1939 he got a contract with the 20th Century Fox company, to do films in Spanish in Hollywood, but the project did not come to fruition due to a boycott by the Union of Actors of the United States (American Actors Union) against Latino actors. Around that time, he had the first serious manifestation of the liver disease that had been diagnosed by the doctors of the Heroic Military College and that would lead him to death years later. Due to lack of resources, it could not be properly attended to.

In that same year, 1941, back in Mexico, he played the main role in ¡Ay Jalisco, no te rajes ! ( hey Jalisco do not give up) , a film that would catapult him to international fame and made him one of the greatest artistic figures in Latin America, sharing the main credits of that movie. In 1950 he received the distinction as best actor by critics in Spain, for the film Teatro Apolo. 

The radio station Cadena Azul of Cuba offered the now famous actor to sing live on its radio channels in combination with the National Theater. The affection of the Cuban people was so great that then-president Grau San Martín went to the National Theater to applaud him. After his contract ended, he traveled to Puerto Rico, but returned to Cuba to perform charity concerts, since the island had been hit by a hurricane. During these performances, non-commercial recordings of his voice were made, which would be for the station’s private use and several years later they were digitally rescued.

Jorge Negrete was a great promoter of tourism and investments for the benefit of Guanajuato, of which he always wanted to be governor and where he frequently organized festivals and artistic caravans to support the construction of the central headquarters of the University of Guanajuato, a hospital, a dispensary and the temple of the Calzada de Guadalupe in his hometown. He was married towards the end of his life with the actress María Félix (another great one of Mexico and Latin America). The wedding with María at the Catipoato farm,  featured the most well-known celebrities of the show, as well as intellectual figures, such as Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, María Teresa Montoya and Octavio Paz, as well as famous bullfighters and athletes of that time, among others. He only had one daughter, Diana Negrete with his first wife Elisa Christy.

Jorge Negrete founded the Union of Cinematographic Production Workers of the Mexican Republic and reorganized, together with a select group of actors, the National Association of Actors (ANDA), of which he was its most prominent leader.

The day of his death was considered national mourning and five minutes of silence were observed in all theaters in the country. At the Mexico City airport alone, about 10,000 people gathered to receive his body. In the theater of the A.N.D.A that today bears his name, his mortal remains remained exposed for the people to pay tribute to him. His admirers walked in front of his coffin in an unbroken line for two days and nights. On the day of his burial, a human fence of hundreds of thousands of admirers skirted the path of the National Actors Association Theater ,today Jorge Negrete Theater  to the Panteón Jardín, south of Mexico City.

A bit more on the life of Jorge Negrete in English: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0624434/

There I feel I made justice to a great person ,singer, and actor of my Latin America. And reminds me of the wonderful welcome always given me in Mexico Lindo y Querido!!! Hope you enjoy the cultural post.

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

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