SENIORS SEEK ADVENTURE IN ARGENTINA



Seniors Choose Bariloche

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San Carlos de Bariloche (commonly called Bariloche), in Argentina’s Inner Patagonia, is a town bordering Lago Nahuel Huapi, a large glacial lake surrounded by the snow-crowned Andes. Senior visitors will enjoy it for its Swiss alpine architecture and its chocolate, sold in shops lining Calle Mitre, its main street.

 Bariloche  is a popular base for hiking and skiing the nearby mountains and exploring the surrounding Lakes District. The “American Switzerland,” as it is called, is famous for skiing and also for sightseeing, water sports, hiking and climbing. Senior visitors enjoy its Swiss-like atmosphere and its breweries.

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The truly brave at heart can take a plunge into icy Lake Nahuel Huapi, which, even in summer, never rises above a chilling average temperature of 57°F. Could you do that? Great souvenir memory with lots of goosebumps.

Beaches like Playa Bonita and Villa Tacul are attractive, but a word of caution…try to avoid Bariloche  in July, when the town is inundated with high-school students celebrating graduation. They like to call the town simply “Bariló.”

Seniors Enjoy Nahuel National Park

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Senior travelers will find plenty to see and do starting off with the Nahuel National Park. This massive national park is the largest in Argentina, nearly 2 million acres. Established in 1934 with mountains, lakes and forests and many outdoors activities.

Tronador is an extinct stratovolcano in the southern Andes, located along the border between Argentina and Chile.  The mountain was named Tronador by locals in reference to the sound of falling seracs ( a block or column of glacial ice, often formed by intersecting crevasses on a glacier). Add that term to your geological terminology knowledge as I did.

Seniors Take in the Beauty

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So what is there for seniors? Plenty. Lonely Planet notes that being strung out along the shoreline of Lago Nahuel Huapi, in the middle of the national park, Bariloche has one of the most gorgeous settings imaginable.

Combined with a wealth of summer and winter activities in the surrounding countryside, Bariloche has become the Lake District’s principal destination. And chocolate. There are a host of chocolate shops lining main street. Makes for a great edible souvenir, that is, if you can make it home with them as gifts.

 So travel south, seniors, and enjoy the healthy air of the Andes, the variety of water activities, the fine array of local dishes (Bariloche is famous for its smoked foods, particularly deer and trout,) and the beauty of the area. -jeb

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB



Seniors Go Island Hopping In The Mediterranean

travelog-pantelleria We have been hopping around from Sardinia to Sicily to Corsica and elsewhere on these blogs.  Today, senior friends, get your coffee and let’s take a short trip off the coast, 110 km southwest of Sicily, to an island called Pantelleria,  the “Black Pearl of the Mediterranean.”

Ready for an adventure? Formerly called Cossyra and used by the Romans as a place of banishment, Cossyra means “little one,” as the island is quite small, and perhaps also to distinguish it from nearby Malta. It lies only 60 km east of the Tunisian coast and can even be spotted on the horizon on clear days.

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ABC News wrote that the Italian Island of Pantelleria is…“A Trip To Paradise.” TripAdvisor notes that this small, hilly island between Sicily and Tunisia is growing in popularity as a tourist destination.

Consider renting a scooter and go exploring. Circle the Specchio di Venere, a lake inside the crater of a former volcano that made the island all black.

 Seniors Enjoy Thermal Pools

Big draws on the island are the hot thermal pools. The beaches are rocky, but offer great snorkeling just offshore. Both the Lago di Venere and Bagno Asciutto are two favored hots springs and geysers. Seniors, have you ever soaked in a hot thermal spring?  If not, you are in for a memorable experience in Pantelleria.

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My wife soaked in an outdoor thermal bath in Chile. Neat experience. In addition, seniors will see steaming fumaroles, from the Latin fumus,” smoke” that are  openings in a planet’s crust, and mud-baths. I haven’t done that one…yet.

Lonely Planet wants you to know that while there are no true beaches, Pantelleria’s gorgeous, secluded coves are perfect for snorkeling, diving and boat excursions.

Seniors Find Great Hiking Trails

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The island has excellent hiking trails along the coast and in the high vineyard country of Piana di Ghirlanda. Near Mursia on the west coast, there are signposted but poorly maintained remnants of sesi (Bronze Age funerary monuments).

Wikitravel wrote that “Pantelleria is becoming quite a chic destination. It is striking and hilly, with the countryside dotted with white Dammuso houses. While there are no beaches, people enjoy swimming off the many black rocks.

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I counted four places to bed down on the island and each was called “charming and cheap.” No vacation would be complete without good food, and gastronomically speaking, Pantelleria has much to offer.

Read what Tom Kington of The Guardian writes of his experience on Pantelleria.  Enjoy your visit to this romantic, scenic and isolated discovery. -jeb

SENIORS TRAVEL SPAIN



Seniors Pay A Visit To Grazalema

800px-TejadosGrazalema Senior travelers will find Grazalema in the northeastern part of the province of Cádiz, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Situated in the foothills of the Sierra del Pinar mountain range, Grazalema has a population of just over 2,250.

It is known as “a charming white village” because most all the houses are white. Traditionally, the economy of the village was generated by small-scale agriculture, sheep herding, cork harvesting, and handicrafts, like hand-weaving lambswool cloth and furniture-making.

Its steep, cobbled streets are immaculately kept and are lined by whitewashed houses with windows covered by wrought-iron rejas (bars) and plant pots spilling over with a wide array of colorful flowers.

Seniors Head For A UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

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In the heart of the village is an attractive main square, the Plaza de España, lined with bars and restaurants. On this square is Grazalema´s central sight, the 18th-century church of La Aurora.

Designated a Unesco Biosphere Reserve in 1977, the Sierra de Grazalema was declared the first natural park in Andalucia in 1984 and is one of Spain’s most ecologically outstanding areas. Sierra de Grazalema is considered to be one of the most important natural parks in Spain due to its wealth of flora and fauna and its unbeatable landscapes.

The park is famous for its spectacularly rugged limestone landscape of cliffs, gullies, caves and gorges. The region is well known for being the rainiest place in Spain, with an annual rainfall of 2,200 mm. There are 1,300 Mediterranean plant species registered there, many of them endemic and some of them unique to the Sierra.

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Seniors Enjoy Grazalema’s Fiestas

Grazalema is filled with history, lots of things for seniors to see and do and plenty of fiestas. The first fiesta is the Romería of San Isidro Labrador which is held on the last Sunday in May, celebrating the arrival of summer.

On 13 June, the village celebrates Benamahoma, the fiesta in honor of its patron, San Antonio. During the third week of July, the Fiestas of Carmen are held which climax with the Monday of Bulls.

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The limestone composition of these mountains creates a landscape of sinkholes, galleries, caves and shelters all making for a memorable hike. Senior hikers, bring your hiking  boots.

After your hike a good soaking in the Spa Wellness Grazalema will regenerate  your muscles. For some great practical souvenirs, pay a visit to Artesania textil de Grazalema for some beautiful local wool products.

There are several walking tours for those of us who enjoy nature and flowers. Enjoy your visit to Grazalema. -jeb

SENIORS ENJOY ITALY



Seniors Discover Bologna

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 This senior recently read a travel article on Bologna, whose population is 700,000+, and wanted to explore the city with our readers. Bologna, in addition to being home to numerous prestigious cultural, economic and political institutions, is one of the most impressive trade fair districts in Europe.

In 2000 it was declared European Capital of Culture and in 2006, a UNESCO “city of music.” Bologna is famed for the oldest university in the Western world, founded in 1088, a lively student population, its exquisite food, the typical brick terra cotta-roofed architecture and porticos, theater and superb nightlife.

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The Celts called the city Bona. Later under the Romans it became Bononia. Bolognais is the lively, historic capital in northern Italy. This city enjoys a varied mixture of monuments and architectural examples, medieval towers, antique buildings, churches and the layout of its historical center as well as works of art.

 

Bologna is also an important transportation crossroad for the roads and trains of northern Italy, where many important mechanical, electronic and nutritional industries have their headquarters. The city is at its best from March/April to October, when it is warm.

Seniors Awed By Bologna’s Beauty

Piazza Maggiore is a sprawling plaza lined with arched colonnades, cafes and medieval and Renaissance structures, such as City Hall, the Neptune Fountain and the Basilica of San Petronio. Among several medieval towers is the leaning Asinelli Tower, which is open for seniors who enjoy a good climb workout.

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Ever heard the term “museumed out?” That could happen in this city with its more than fifty museums. I’d enjoy the Archaeological City Museum, representative of local history from prehistoric times to the Roman Age. It is one of the most important in Europe, the second in Italy, for historical artistic quality.

Bologna is considered second only to Venice in beauty by many Italians and has one of the largest and best preserved historic centers among Italian cities. Its architecture is noted for its palette of terra-cotta reds, hence the name of Bologna la rossa, Bologna the red.

 Home To Bolognese Sauce

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Bologna, renowned for its culinary tradition, has given its name to the well-known Bolognese sauce, a meat based pasta sauce. Senior visitors discover many fine restaurants throughout the city. 

The rich local cuisine, la cucina Bolognese, depends heavily on meats and cheeses and senior visitors find Bologna’s local cuisine is light-years away from the American deli meat bearing the city’s name.

A sporting nickname for Bologna is Basket City in reference to the successes of the town’s two rival historic basketball clubs. The NY Times writes that… “few Italian cities still live in their main squares as intensely as Bologna does. Since the 13th century, the Piazza Maggiore has served as the city’s social, administrative, political and commercial heart.”

Italy Guides has virtual tours to get you acquainted with Bologna and the many beautiful  Piazzas and Palazzos. The best way to explore Bologna is on foot…enjoy! jeb

SENIORS TRAVEL TO MALTA



Seniors Stop In Valetta

Main2 Valletta, the capital city of Malta is Europe’s smallest capital city, that senior travelers will locate in the heart of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Valletta is a dynamic city which has never ceased to change and move forward, retaining its original beauty and splendor.

Located on a hilly peninsula between two of the finest natural harbors in the Mediterranean, Valletta is a fortified city with many cruise ships anchored off its harbor. Passengers come for a closer look and a visit.

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Valletta, (population 6,744), is one of Europe’s most sophisticated micro cities with an intense concentration of baroque architecture and a defense line of fortifications that is second to none. Valletta owes its existence to the Knights of St John, who planned the city as a refuge to care for injured soldiers and pilgrims during the Crusades in the 16th century.

Until the arrival of the Knights, Mount Sceberras, on which Valletta stands, lying between two natural harbors, was an arid area of land. Its fortified and bastioned walls are modeled around the natural site.

 Seniors Consider Segway Tour Of Malta

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A major draw in Valetta is St. John’s Co-Cathedral that was built by the Knights of Malta between 1573 and 1578, having been commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassière. Senior visitors will want to seek out Lascaris Battery, also known as Fort Lascaris, an artillery battery.

Me, I would hop aboard a Segway and tour the entire city. Known as The Fortress City, “Citta’ Umilissima,” Valetta is a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen” and is a living, working city and the administrative and commercial heart of Malta.

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Valletta is named after its founder, the respected Grand Master of the Order of St. John, Jean Parisot de la Valette. The 16th-century Grand Master’s Palace conceals a sumptuous interior and was once the residence of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St John.

Early in its history Valetta was ruled successively by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and the Order of the Knights of St John. There are several UNESCO sites to visit. It’s all just awaiting your arrival and you will soon see why so many visitors flock to this Mediterranean island.  jeb

SENIORS DISCOVER FROMENTERA



Seniors Find the ‘Last Paradise in the Mediterranean’

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Recently, Fromentera came up on a travel website and it caught this senior’s attention. Called the “last paradise in the Mediterranean”, Fromentera is the smaller and more southerly of the Balearic Islands of Spain.

As of 2014, the population was 11,545. The island’s name is usually said to derive from the Latin word frumentarium, meaning “granary”. Formentera is not only a place for those of us who love sun and sand, it is also a paradise for lovers of diving. It has 69 km of coast, of which 40 are sandy coast.

Some senior visitors to the island choose to rent mopeds or bicycles due to the flat nature of most of the island and the availability of dedicated cycle tracks in many locations. Formerly you could reach Fromentera only by boat from Ibiza but in recent years regular passenger service from the Spanish mainland has increased tourism.

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While the official languages are Catalan and Spanish, other major languages like English, Italian, German, French and Dutch can also be heard extensively in the summer due to mass tourism. The overwhelming majority are Italian and the Italian language is heard more often than any other.

Seniors Find Something Different In Formentera

The tourist success of the island, loved as much by residents as by visitors, is rooted in the fact that people still find something a bit different in Formentera. The difference is marked by respect for nature, the survival of its own culture and the vision of achieving exclusivity through protecting the environment.

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The secret of the existence of a crystalline sea and Formentera’s long sandy beaches, which mark it out from the rest of the Mediterranean, is what is called the posidonea prairie (commonly known as Neptune Grass or Mediterranean tapeweed) ) that surrounds the island, a natural treatment underwater plant that cleans the water.

This underwater jungle was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.  Since the ’70s, Fromentera has been attractive for artists and artisans, who are nowadays part of the island’s differential heritage. Some call them “hippies.” Their designs in clothes, accessories, jewelry and their works of art are powerful attractions for Formentera.

Seniors Find Secluded Place Of Rest

Located in La Savina Harbour senior visitors will find a Sailing School where one can learn windsurf, kayak and sail. The climate, agreeable throughout the year, makes diving possible all year long.

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Condé Nast Traveler calls Fromentera “Ibiza’s Chilled-Out Little Sister.” They note that this fourth largest of the Balearics, hangs off the southern edge of Ibiza like an unevenly formed dog bone dangling on a string.

Fromentera is so different from the other Balearic Islands that you’ll wonder if you’re still in Spain. It is said that people come here to relax in absolute seclusion, thus making it an island for individualists not for crowds.

Senior epicureans, the local fishermen say that the seafood caught around Formentera is second to none in quality and taste. -jeb

SENIORS TRAVEL TO THE ISLAND OF ELBA



Seniors Enjoy Portoferraio

Portoferraio_panorama_01 Portoferraio on the edge of the harbor of the island of Elba, seniors discover, is the island’s largest city. Portoferraio, situated on a rocky spit of land on a natural harbor, is the key port of arrival for car ferries.

The Old Town with the fortifications of Forte Stella and Forte Falcone surrounds the old harbor. The center of the Old Town is the bustling Piazza della Repubblica.

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Do you remember your history and the story of Napoleon Bonaparte being exiled to the Isle of Elba?  He lived in the town during his banishment between 1814-15. From what I have read and seen, Elba is a great place to be exiled.

Seniors Visit Napoleon’s Residence

The Palazzina Napoleanica, the residence of Napoleon during his exile, has been decorated with furniture from the 18th and 19th century. Only a small number of original furnishings exist today. From the garden of the residence, senior visitors will enjoy the scenic view of the Tuscan coast.

Portoferraio became a main shipping port of the iron ore towards the mainland, therefore the current name, meaning “Iron Port” in Italian. Because of its terrain, many of its buildings are situated on the slopes of a hill surrounded on three sides by the sea.

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The small harbor was acquired by Cosimo I de’ Medici in the mid-16th century, when its distinctive fortifications took shape. The Medici family fortified this former Roman town from the 16th to 18th centuries, and it was under French siege from May 1801 to June 1802 during the Napoleonic Wars.

The town center is crowded around the small marina in a scenic natural cove. Senior visitors flock to the Forte Stella, Forte Falcone, Forte Inglese and the Archeological Museum, each a major point of interest in town.

 Seniors Find Beautiful Beaches

Portoferraio is a resort town and port in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the Tuscan west coast of Italy.  TripAdvisor offers beautiful beaches that are an integral part of the attractions on Elba.

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Lonely Planet cautions senior visitors that Portoferraio can be a hectic place, especially in August when vacationers and day-trippers pour off the ferries from Piombino on the mainland. Ferries dock in the city’s newer half to the west, but the city’s core is still an old fishing village, a U-shaped conglomeration of streets terracing up the side of the rocky promontory.

The Museo Villa Napoleonica di San Martino was where Napoleon dropped in to escape the city heat. Behind the illustrious name of Villa Romana delle Grotte, visitors will find the remains of a Roman country house from the 1st century BC. From high up on the hilltop one can enjoy a beautiful view of the entire bay of Portoferraio.

Bring along a healthy appetite and enjoy some of the 8 fine dining establishments in town and enjoy your stay at Portoferraio. -jeb

SENIORS VISIT REGENSBURG, GERMANY



Seniors Visit One Of Germany’s Oldest Towns

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This visit takes senior travelers to an old town called Regensburg located on the banks of the Danube River and dating back to the stone age. This area has lived and prospered by the easy access of the mighty Danube River.

Roman ruins can still be seen today fused together with the newer style architecture. Founded by the Romans in 179 AD as Casta Regina, meaning Fortress by the River Regen, makes Regensburg one of Germany’s oldest towns.

The city is the political, economic, and cultural center of Eastern Bavaria. Modern yes, but Regensburg is home to the largest medieval old town north of the Alps with nearly 1,500 preserved sites. Lord Norman Foster, a famed British architect, called Regensburg “One of the most beautiful cities in the world.”

 Seniors Enjoy A Medieval Town

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In this UNESCO medieval town, senior visitors will find many buildings of exceptional quality that testify to its history as a trading centre and to its influence on the region from the 9th century. A notable number of historic structures span some two millennia and include ancient Roman, Romanesque and Gothic buildings.

Near the center of the city seniors will find the famous stone arched bridge, which was built in the 12th century and stands very sturdy yet today. This bridge was a crucial access point for the crossing of the Danube River by the Knights of the 2nd and 3rd crusades as they made their way to the Holy Land.

Next to the Old Stone Bridge, is “The Old Sausage Kitchen” which is the oldest restaurant in Germany, opening in 1135 AD. Today the “The Old Sausage Kitchen” serves great sausage and a lot of it.

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 Seniors Enjoy Gothic Cathedral

Regensburg is best known for its High Gothic Cathedral (founded in 1275 and completed in 1634), whose high twin towers dominate the city. TripAdvisor rates the Alte Kapelle and the Cathedral high on their list of places to visit.

Regensburg is a prosperous city of about 137,000 inhabitants, 3 universities and many landmarks, most dating to the Middle Ages (e.g. the Cathedral of St. Peter, Old City Hall and Imperial Diet, and the Stone Bridge). Lonely Planet writes that “though big on the historical wow factor, today’s Regensburg is a laid-back and unpretentious sort of place, and a good springboard into the wider region.”

Regensburg has so much to offer senior travelers that you will leave with many fond memories. -jeb

SUNDAY COFFEE WITH JEB



Senior Bikers Find Best Cities For Biking

bike-route-sign-1 This senior recently read an article in my Wired Magazine on the best cities in the world for biking.

The cities were ranked from one to twenty with Copenhagen, Denmark number 1, followed by Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Copenhagen in 2013 was ranked #2, but things have changed for the better and now bikers head for Denmark just to bike in a great city.

Utrecht in the Netherlands comes in #3 and get this…The world’s largest bike parking facility, with space for 12,500 bikes, is under construction and brilliant. Now the city only needs to figure out how to get rid of the long stretches of brain-rattling cobblestones.

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Seems like everyone who selects the best cities in the world for biking has their own ideas. Here’s a video for senior cyclists to look over.

Senior Cyclists Join The Ride

Wired notes that biking makes sense in cities. With rising urbanization, our cities need modern mobility solutions, and moving around on two wheels proves time and again that it can offer results. Investment in bicycle infrastructure is a modern and intelligent move. Research shows the social, economic, environmental, and health benefits of urban cycling.

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Studies from Denmark tell us that for every kilometer cycled, society enjoys a net profit of 23 cents, whereas for every kilometer driven by car we suffer a net loss of 16 cents. In Berlin, 13% of the population rides a bike. Wow.

Over the past fifty years I have been all over France. One of my favorite cities is Strasbourg that borders Germany. Strasbourg, #4, has long been the premier cycling city in France.

There are 333 miles of cycle routes in town and surrounding metro area, and the city has a unique bike-share system: Vélhop lets you get a bike from docking stations but also has long-term rental.

 Paris Pulled It Off!

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Paris #20, is catching on as well and you can rent bikes just about anywhere and leave them off at other stations thoughout the city. Few would have believed that Paris could have pulled it off, but it’s doing just that.

Another favorite city is Nantes, #7, out in Brittany. It rocketed onto the index in 2013 thanks to clear political will and investment in infrastructure and facilities.

Another French city on the rise, Bordeaux, ranked #8. Bordeaux continues to take bicycle transport seriously. Its investment in several tram lines has helped boost cycling by providing a traffic calming effect.

This American senior,  just had to toss in one city that makes the list…Minneapolis, ranked #18. I found a video on the Top 10 Cycling-Friendly Cities for you to enjoy.

So enjoy your biking in some of the major cities of the world. You will get some good exercise, see great scenery and sites and stack up lots of fond memories. -jeb

SENIORS HEAD BACK TO MEXICO



Seniors Visit Querétaro

Acueducto_qro_atardecerAlthough I taught French for over 35 years, I truly love Spanish, Mexico and Mexicans. I have had the good fortune to travel to Europe over 30 times and to Mexico a dozen times. This senior enjoys exploring Mexico, its cities, its people, its history, its culture and its food.

I was reading the various news sources on my phone this morning and up came Querétaro.  That’s an area that I am not acquainted with. I’ve been close by, but never there. I learned lots by putting this blog together, enough that its on my own travel bucket list.

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Querétaro is the fastest-growing city in Mexico, basing its economy to IT and data centers, logistics services, aircraft manufacturing and maintenance, call centers and manufacturing center for automotive and machinery industry, chemicals and food products.

 Seniors Find Large City In A Small State

Querétaro is a small state in north-central Mexico, however the city is huge with a population of nearly 2 million inhabitants. The historic center of its capital, Santiago de Querétaro, has fountain-filled squares and stone streets lined with bougainvillea.

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Its wealth of Spanish colonial architecture includes churches such as the ochre San Francisco and the baroque Santa Rosa de Viterbo. One of the most distinct sites is called Los Arcos, an aqueduct with 74 pink stone arches.

Querétaro has an interesting ethnic and cultural heritage that has developed from the integration of pre-Hispanic and European customs.

UNESCO, that selects World Heritage Sites, notes that the old colonial town of Querétaro is unusual in having retained the geometric street plan of the Spanish conquerors side by side with the twisting alleys of the Indian quarters.

 Seniors Find The Safest City In Mexico

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I learned recently that Querétaro has repeatedly been recognized as the metro area with the best quality of life and as the safest city in Mexico, a significant fact for seniors planning their travel to Mexico.

It is also the most dynamic in all of Latin America and is experiencing an ongoing social and economic revitalization. The city’s full name is Santiago de Queretaro, and although it’s spelled out fully on the doors of every taxi in the city, none of the locals use the full name in polite conversation.

The region of Querétaro has a rapidly growing vineyards agriculture and it hosts the famous wine producer from Spain called Freixene. The wine production in Querétaro is now the second largest in Mexico after the Baja California region.

Enjoy this hub of culture and all the city has to offer. -jeb

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