Milau

The town dates back nearly 3000 years when it was situated on the hills above the Granède.
By the second century A.D. the trade had collapsed from competition and subsequent invasions during the fourth and fifth centuries by barbarians saw the town relocate and settle to the opposite bank, changing its name to Amiliavum, then to Milhau en Rouergat (in the Millhau language), then to the French Millhau.

By the ninth century the town has grown and is the seat of a viguerie, a mediaeval administrative court, and a centre for the production of lambskin gloves. At this time the town is surrounded by ramparts. The tenth and eleventh centuries saw the creation of the Viscount of Millau and subsequently passed to the Counts of Provence, the Counts of Barcelona and eventually, in 1112, to the father of the future King of Aragon. In 1187, the King of Aragon grants him the seal and communal freedom of Provence by Consular Charter. A consulate was thus created, and was responsible for administering the city to raise taxes and to apply justice. In 1271, Millau passed to the crown of the kings of France.

In 1361, during the Hundred Years War, the city came under English rule. The return to peace in the fifteenth century gave the city a boost.

In the Middle Ages the town had one of the major mediaeval bridges across the river Tarn. It had 17 spans, but after one poorly maintained span fell in the 18th century, the bridge was mostly demolished. Just one span remains, with a mill that is now an art gallery, as testament to this significant trading route from north to south across pre-Renaissance France.
The Millau Viaduct was completed in 2004, eliminating traffic jams in the town centre. The town is now a tourist centre with one of the largest touring campsites in central France, benefiting from the attraction of the landscapes all around, and the architecturally acclaimed Millau viaduct. It is also a major centre for outdoor sporting activity.

It was designed by the English architect Lord Norman Foster and French structural engineer Michel Virlogeux. As of November 2018, it is the tallest bridge in the world, having a structural height of 343 metres (1,125 ft).

The Millau Viaduct is part of the highway from Paris to Béziers and Montpellier. It was built over three years. The bridge has been consistently ranked as one of the great engineering achievements of all time, and received the 2006 Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.

The highest pylons in the world: 244.96 metres (803 ft 8 in) and 221.05 metres (725 ft 3 in) in height, broke the world record previously held by the Kochertal Viaduct (Germany), which is 181 metres (594 ft) at its highest

Since opening in 2004, the deck height of Millau has been surpassed by several suspension bridges in China, including Sidu River Bridge, Baling River Bridge, and two spans (Beipan River Guanxing Highway Bridge and Beipan River Hukun Expressway Bridge) over the Beipan River.

Fatima

The worldwide fame of the city is permanently associated with the apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported by three little shepherds – Lúcia, Francisco and Jacinta – from May 13 until October 13 of 1917. The Catholic Church later recognized these events as “worthy of belief”. A small chapel, now known as the Chapel of the Apparitions, was built at the site of the supernatural events, and a precious statue of Our Lady of Fátima installed.

Due to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fátima, a Marian shrine complex containing two minor basilicas, located in the wealthy quarter of Cova da Iria, the city has become in one of the most important international destinations of religious tourism, receiving between 6 and 8 million pilgrims by year. It attracts the religious people, but also those who seek a peace lifestyle usually only found in the convents and monasteries.
Fátima was said to be the name of a Moorish princess kidnapped by a knight, Gonçalo Hermigues, and his companions. Hermigues took her to a small village in the Serra de Aire hills, in the recently created Kingdom of Portugal. According to the Western Catholic narrative, Fatima fell in love with her kidnapper and decided to convert to Christianity in order to marry him (sounds familiar doesn’t it? see Lourdes) She was baptized and given a Christian name, Oureana.

Arab sources, however, claim that Fátima was forced into Christianity, as were most Reconquista captives. There is no documentary evidence to support either scenario of such a conversion.

Whatever version is true, the place name recalls the Princess’ original Arab name rather than her Christian baptismal one.

The parish was founded in 1568, when it was annexed by the Collegiate of Ourém. For centuries, most of the villagers kept herds of sheep and depended also on subsistence farming.

Since the early 20th century, Fátima has been associated with events in which three local children, Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins, Francisco and Jacinta Marto, purportedly saw visions of a woman known as Our Lady of Fátima, since believed by the Catholic Church to be the Virgin Mary. On 13 May 1917, whilst guarding their families’ sheep in the Cova da Iria, the children first claimed to have seen an apparition of a “lady dressed in white” and shining with a bright light.

Francisco died in 1919 and Jacinta in 1920, during the international Spanish flu pandemic. Lucia dos Santos became a nun and lived until 2005. The two who died young were beatified on 13 May 2000 by Pope John Paul II, and were canonised by Pope Francis on 13 May 2017, the hundredth anniversary of the first apparition. Some rumors say that the two youngest ones were killed somehow. Because they were too young to keep secrets, they might have reveled something that they shouldn’t.

The construction of the sanctuary and the steady visits by pilgrims stimulated local development. In addition to construction of a large shrine, basilica, and sanctuary, the complex includes a hotel and other facilities. The town of Fátima was elevated to the status of city on 12 July 1997.

My hometown

Today you’ll be introduced to the only town I’ve ever lived for more than a few days. I spent my 6th year here. The year I went to school. The year I lived as any other child. The year I’ve made some memorable memories.
Back then, we lived in two different places. The first one was maybe a mile or two from Figueira da Foz, in a neighbourhood called Buarcos. We had a small appartment on a 4th floor. That’s when I started going to school which was in that neighbourhood. It was a small class, maybe 20 or 30 children. Every row was for a different grade. And one teacher. An old lady who was replaced occasionally when she was sick. She was called Donna Emilia. A few months later mom and dad found another appartment which was here in Figueira, it was a big one, much brighter too and was on the 9th floor of a bigger building. Unfortunately you won’t be seeing the building neither Buarcos as I didn’t have enough time to go there. But you’ll be seeing the main town where we came to pick up the post or to the market.

The market place you’ll see at the end of the video is where mom and I came every week as there weren’t any supermarkets at the time. Outside there were widows selling roasted chestnuts. There were times mom bought some. They were hot and yummy. And then we headed home.
Yeah…. it was long ago….

That one is my neighborhood, too far for me to go there now.

According to the legend the place’s name is due to a fig tree, which stood at the quay of Salmanha, where the fishermen used to tie up their boats. The historian Nelson Borges said, however, that Figueira comes from the word “fagaria”, which means “opening, huge mouth”. Foz comes from the Latin word “fouces” = “mouth of a river”, and Mondego comes from the pre-romanic expressions “mond” = “mouth” and “aec”= “river”. That means, Figueira da Foz would be “the river’s mouth opening”. Some historical traces show that people were settling in this region since the Neolithic age. The oldest known document, however, dates from the year 1096.

Knowing the great importance rivers had in the development of cities and of ancient civilizations, the mouth of the Mondego must have played a central role for the fixation of men in this region and for the formation of settlements, which were the beginning of the city of Figueira da Foz.

It had a huge development during the 18th and 19th centuries due to the immense port movements and the expansion of the shipbuilding and cod drying industry, supplying the city with new communication routes, housing and other facilities. It was elevated to vila (small town) on 12 March 1771 and turned city (cidade) on 20 September 1882. Discovered as a sea resort by the end of the 19th century, it gained great reputation in the 1920s and 1930s. The city had the Portuguese nickname of Rainha das Praias (Queen of the Beaches).

The municipality has some noted landmarks like the Sotto Mayor Palace, the old fishing village of Buarcos, the Serra da Boa Viagem – a small forested mountain by the Atlantic Ocean, and a long beach!

I’d like to tag

richa https://wp.me/p9eJg8-12D
Pia majumdar https://wp.me/p8JTtz-zh
Jane ridgewood. https://wp.me/p7UTiD-7w
thought forchange https://wp.me/p9GjMZ-4H
Crazywriter https://wp.me/p3hbpa-8A
bitchin’ in the kitchen https://wp.me/p9Bhvg-4s
she https://wp.me/p9CNvz-1v
Monahttp://Pseudomonaz.wordpress.com
Goldie
shreya jindal liveoutcrazy.wordpress.com
Earthwalker https://wp.me/p9yYYQ-6P
debadrita https://theveliledfacet.wordpress.com
Lisemorepaper.com
Artyplantsman.wordpress.com
Deb (beingauntdebbie.com)
Aquibview https://wp.me/p7MN1c-kn

Crushedcaramel

Uzma

Kristian
soiba
plantsandbeyond.com

Ortensia72.com
mainpaperpusher.wordpress.com
Mel Gutiér (fictioninmyhead.com)
B. Aphorisms Myaphorisms.com
Fiery Song silentlysmoulderingwords.wordpress.com

if you want to write a post about your hometown feel free.

What about…. #14

The sense in Traveling

I spent my childhood traveling in a variety of places which led me to a lack of sense of belonging anywhere in the world. I’ve seen plenty of vacationers along the way, who by their way of expressing themselves and their behavior it could easily be understood that they traveled for a mere vacation. They weren’t accustomed to travel more than a few weeks per year.
Vacationers are people who look for something different from what they’re used to do for a few days , such as those who go for a few days to town, or to the countryside, or to the beach… they usually follow other vacationers either thinking that the other tourists are smarter than them or just to put up with the Jones.

I think that it’s not fun at all to go along with what the travel agency suggests (even though it’s good for the economy of whatever country it is; without tourism some countries will fall into crisis). In my opinion if someone wants to go in a holiday somewhere, even for a few days, it must be in a place that is very very different from his own, otherwise why bothering?

I remember that we used to have a month vacation every year when I was a child. Well we spent it at home. It was a very very different place from our daily life. The Holiday is for the one who has enough of what he is doing, If someone loves his job why taking a vacation, which is not always instructive by the way ?

Traveling is not a holiday. To Travel is a life, even a job. Such as truck drivers or reporters for example. To travel we need knowledge, experience, courage, will and audacity. Those who spend their lives on the roads, need to know how to find an accommodation when it’s a maniac holiday, they need to know what to do when they run out of gas in the middle of nowhere, they need the knowledge of how to cross a border without too much fuss, they need to have tips on how to get a hotel room paying half the price, it’s to notice when the car behind you is in a hurry, and by courtesy you let him pass… It’s not about visiting a foreign place and to make a lot pictures and bringing souvenirs home. I know what it is to travel. There aren’t always good memories, some dreadful moments remain printed in the mind.

There was a time, a very long time ago, we rented a car from a rental company, but this car was defective and we needed to change it in the nearest location which was over a mountain. So we took the road, we didn’t know how the road was at first, but getting closer to the mountain top, the road changed completely.

And there, was where the story took place. It was a winter morning, we were driving up the mountain when we noticed that the car wasn’t following the wheel. There was a high ravine on our left and the mountain wall on our right, as the car was defective and the road was snowy and icy, the car was sliding between the right; where the mountain wall was, and the left; where the ravine was, and then to the right and back to the left all over and over again. We could have fallen and died that day, if it wasn’t for my dad’s experience. There was no one else on the road with that weather except us. And that’s not all, we didn’t have winter tires as the car was rented, we had all season tires! When we crossed over we arrived in Salt Lake City, we were so relieved that we went to Mcdonald’s.

There were countries that left me with lots of dreadful memories (and that wasn’t so long ago), that I wish to forget. Going in a holiday and traveling are two very different things. I’ve seen travelers along the way, there was once an Italian and an Argentinian woman traveling together from Brazil to Argentina by bus, arriving at the boarder, every passenger had to step down with their luggages to be checked. But there was a lot of “confusion” among the customs, they didn’t seem to know what they were doing. Well that Italian found the situation very amusing, he didn’t stop laughing and smiling at the way the customs were working. The lack of pictures he took, the number of stamps in his passport, the small quantity of luggage he had, his behavior meant that he was an experienced traveler.

Putting the finances to the side, it is important to travel for the sake of knowledge and for the love of what God has created. It will never be the same being in Chichen Itza and seeing it on TV. You’ll never see the long forestal road from Cancun which leads there, the small local shops, the small villages. It’s not the same being at the Iguatzu Falls, hearing the tremendous sound of the water, being wet by the steam and seeing it on TV. The experience leaves a mark, a memory while seeing what others show you leaves a memory of what has been seen, period.

To travel is not meant to find its true self, unless you’re in a spiritual journey to whatever holy place, it is meant to see the world, the world is so wide, so diverse, that it will be unjust to ignore all of it for the mere love of a home. Home is not the same for everyone, for some it might have a claustrophobic sense, or a place of trouble with the neighbors, or a place of quiet and peace. I know the value of home, it is a peaceful, joyful, loving place where wonderful moments take place, but for someone like me, home becomes a boredom after some time. Where are the new people, cultures, languages, towns, mountains, lacs, forests, birds, trucks, roads, etc….? We can find anything online nowadays, but it’s very very different from living it .

No way I’m going to tell you folks to go traveling abroad just because the others did so, it has to be from your own will. But I can tell you to take a vacation overseas, because it’s good for you and for the economy of the country you’ll be visiting. You’ll learn many things if you do.

Don’t prepare your journey, don’t get a package from your travel agency, make your own ticket online, book your first hotel and that’s it. Leave the rest when you get there, take a map and chose your own route, your own towns, what you really want to see, don’t follow what other tourists follow. Make your own trip a memorable one. Eat the local food, you might love their cuisine and do it at home when you get back. Make local friends which might enhance your holiday.

See the world because you live only once.

Lourdes

The current municipal area of Lourdes was inhabited since the prehistoric times. The oppidum hill where today stands the fortress, as it is testified by the numerous finds came to light in the second half of the nineteenth century, remains of walls, fragments of citadel stood a pagan temple dedicated to the gods of water, whose buildings have come partially to light soon after the demolition of the parish of Saint Pierre. In the fifth century the temple was replaced by an early Christian church destroyed later because of a fire.

Little is known of Lourdes in the period from the barbarian invasions to the Carolingian period, when the town was part of the County of Bigorre. The fortress was at times the seat of counts and, during the Albigensian Crusade, it was the subject of disputes between various local lords. Ultimately it came under domination of the Counts of Champagne. In the fourteenth century Lourdes was first occupied by Philip the Fair, then, during the Hundred Years’ War, the English, who controlled it for nearly half a century, from 1360 to 1407, through some local feudal lords to their faithful, as Pierre Arnaud de Béarn and, later, his brother Jean de Béarn. The English were able to take advantage of the excellent strategic situation and the prosperity of a market that was born in the eleventh century, had been increasingly consolidated thanks to its proximity and good communications with Toulouse and Spain.

For 46 years, up until 778, Lourdes was possessed by Muslims of Al-Andalus. However, during the 8th century, Lourdes and its fortress became the focus of skirmishes between Mirat, the Muslim local leader, and Charlemagne, King of the Franks. Charlemagne had been laying siege to Mirat in the fortress for some time, but he had so far refused to surrender.
According to legend, an eagle unexpectedly appeared and dropped an enormous trout at the feet of Mirat. It was seen as such a bad omen that Mirat was persuaded to surrender to the Queen of the sky by the local bishop. He visited the Black Virgin of Puy to offer gifts, so he could make sure this was the best course of action and, astounded by its exceptional beauty, he decided to surrender the fort and converted to Christianity. On the day of his baptism, Mirat took on the name of Lorus, which was given to the town, now known as Lourdes.

During the late 16th century, France was ravaged by the Wars of Religion between the Roman Catholics and the Huguenots. In 1569, Count Gabriel de Montgomery attacked the nearby town of Tarbes when Queen Jeanne d’Albret of Navarre established Protestantism there. The town was overrun, in 1592, by forces of the Catholic League and the Catholic faith was re-established in the area. In 1607, Lourdes finally became part of the Kingdom of France.

The castle became a jail under Louis XV but, in 1789, the General Estates Assembly ordered the liberation of prisoners. Following the rise of Napoleon in 1803, he again made the Castle an Estate jail. Towards the end of the Peninsular War between France, Spain, Portugal, and Britain in 1814, British and Allied forces, under the Duke of Wellington, entered France and took control of the region and followed Marshall Soult’s army, defeating the French near the adjoining town of Tarbes before the final battle took place outside Toulouse on 10 April 1814 brought the war to an end.

Up until 1858, Lourdes was a quiet, modest, county town with a population of only some 4,000 inhabitants. The castle was occupied by an infantry garrison. The town was a place people passed through on their way to the waters at Barèges, Cauterets, Luz-Saint-Sauveur and Bagnères-de-Bigorre, and for the first mountaineers on their way to Gavarnie, when the events which were to change its history took place.

On 11 February 1858, a 14-year-old local girl, Bernadette Soubirous, claimed a beautiful lady appeared to her in the remote Grotto of Massabielle. This lady later identified herself as “the Immaculate Conception” and the faithful believe her to be the Blessed Virgin Mary. The lady appeared 18 times, and by 1859 thousands of pilgrims were visiting Lourdes. A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes was erected at the site in 1864.

Since the apparitions, Lourdes has become one of the world’s leading Catholic Marian shrines and the number of visitors grows each year. It has such an important place within the Roman Catholic church, that Pope John Paul II visited the shrine twice: on 15 August 1983, and 14–15 August 2004. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI authorized special indulgences to mark the 150th anniversary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Today Lourdes has a population of around 15,000, but it is able to take in some 5,000,000 pilgrims and tourists every season. With about 270 hotels, Lourdes has the second greatest number of hotels per square kilometre in France after Paris.

Yearly from March to October the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes is a place of mass pilgrimage from Europe and other parts of the world. The spring water from the grotto is believed by some to possess healing properties.

An estimated 200 million people have visited the shrine since 1860, and the Roman Catholic Church has officially recognized 69 healings considered miraculous. Cures are examined using Church criteria for authenticity and authentic miracle healing with no physical or psychological basis other than the healing power of the water.

Tours from all over the world are organized to visit the Sanctuary. Connected with this pilgrimage is often the consumption of or bathing in the Lourdes water which wells out of the Grotto.

At the time of the apparitions the grotto was on common land which was used by the villagers variously for pasturing animals, collecting firewood and as a garbage dump, and it possessed a reputation for being an unpleasant place.


I’ve been here many times before (not for religious purposes) but I’ve never seen the town this empty of tourists, sick and disabled people. Usually all the religious shops are open, now it seems to be…desolated. Didn’t have time to make lots of pics so here is a video a little longer than usual 7mn.

Grasse

The town is considered the world’s capital of perfume. It is 350 m (1,148.29 ft) above sea level and 20 km (12 mi) from the Côte d’Azur

Three perfume factories offer daily tours and demonstrations, which draw in many of the region’s visitors. In addition to the perfumeries, Grasse’s other main attraction is the Cathedral, dedicated to Notre Dame du Puy and founded in the 11th century.

Grasse has had a prospering perfume industry since the end of the 18th century and it is the centre of the French perfume industry. It produces over two-thirds of France’s natural aromas (for perfume and for food flavourings). Its particular microclimate encouraged the flower farming industry. It is warm and sufficiently inland to be sheltered from the sea air. There is an abundance of water, thanks to its situation in the hills and the 1860 construction of the Siagne canal for irrigation purposes. Jasmine, a key ingredient of many perfumes, was brought to southern France by the Arabs of North Africa in the 16th century. Twenty-seven tonnes of jasmine are now harvested in Grasse annually. There are numerous old ‘parfumeries’ , such as Galimard, Molinard and Fragonard, each with tours and a museum.

The countryside around the city began to grow fields of flowers, offering new scents from the city. In the middle of the eighteenth century, the perfumery was experiencing a very important development. Leading companies dating from this period includes oldest French perfumerie and third oldest parfumerie in Europe Galimard established in 1747.

In the Middle Ages, Grasse specialized in leather tanning. Once tanned, the hides were often exported to Genoa or Pisa, cities that shared a commercial alliance with Grasse. Several centuries of this intense activity witnessed many technological advances within tanning industries. The hides of the town acquired a reputation for high quality. But the leather smelled badly, something that did not please the glove wearing nobility. This is when Galimard, a tanner came up with the idea of scented leather gloves. He offered a pair of scented gloves to Catherine de Medici who was seduced by the gift. Thereafter, the product spread through the Royal Court and high society, and this made a worldwide reputation for Grasse. The seventeenth century became the heyday of “Glovers Perfumers’. The rare scents from this town’s (lavender, myrtle, jasmine, rose, orange blossom and wild mimosa) did win the title for the Grasse as the perfume capital of the world.

A network of sixty companies employs 3,500 people in the city and surrounding area. Additionally about 10,000 residents are indirectly employed by the perfume industry. The main activity of perfumery is in the production of natural raw materials (essential oils, concretes, absolutes, resinoids and molecular distillation) and the production of concentrate, also called the juice. A concentrate is the main product that when diluted in at least 80% alcohol provides a perfume. Also food flavorings, which developed since the 1970s, account for over half of production output today.

The Fragonard Perfumery was established in 1926 in one of the oldest factories in the city. Its museum Fragonard Musée du Parfum displays rare objects that explain the history of perfumery, covering 5,000 years.
International Perfume Museum. Opened in 1989, the museum traces the evolution of techniques during the 5,000 year history of perfumery and the large contribution of the Grasse area to perfume making.

These are some pics I took of the old town. And there is a 5mn long video through the old streets.