Postcard from Toulouse, France: A far from humble home for city’s leaders

Above: Under renovation this past fall, the distinctive pink brick Neoclassical facade of the Capitole stretches across the entire eastern side of an impressive plaza.

The city government of Toulouse has headquartered itself on the same expansive plaza since the 12th century.

In the early 16th century, the people of Toulouse lived in fear of invasion by Spanish forces under the flag of King Charles V (1500-1556). The threat was ongoing because Charles V was at constant war somewhere on the continent as he tried to defend his multiple titles in a far-flung Hapsburg Empire. Charles simultaneously was King in Germany, King of Italy and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. This powerful threat inspired city leaders to build what is now the oldest remaining governmental portion of its Capitole compound, a brick tower designed to protect the city’s archives and gunpowder. The tower often is referred to as Le Donjon, or The Keep. Le Donjon’s centuries newer belfry was added by the architect known for remodeling Notre Dame in Paris, Eugene Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879).

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Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: ‘Quiero volver, volver, volver’

Above, “Volver, Volver” in La Clave Azul

Leaving Guanajuato City, you always know you want to return, as in the chorus of that classic ranchera.

This assortment of images is as jumbled as the colorful houses climbing up the mountains surrounding the city or the sounds emanating from musicians stationed along her streets.

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Postcard from Guanajuato, Mexico: Try to save room for an affogato

Pouring espresso over gelato for affogatos at Estacion Gelato

We had mourned the loss of Le Midi in Guanajuato, but were pleased to find a tasty newcomer had filled its lofty upstairs quarters – Costal Cultura Cafetera. Place an order for their croquetas while pondering choices. Both the tacos filled with tender octopus and the ceviche tostadas made great starters. The two variations of ancho chiles rellenos were rich in flavor, one filled with a ground beef mixture and the other with corn and cheese. The shrimp topping a salad with mangos were not abundant, but were perfectly cooked, and the chicken breast filled with spinach and goat cheese was flavorful and moist.

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