Posted by: darrellteri | March 23, 2020

Merida

A week ago we came back from Merida Mexico.     Call this the bad timing reward.     Even though when we was in Mexico the COVID-19 virus was much less of an issue than it was in the states it still affected the vibe of the city.     Since I have never been there before I loved the city and my issue was making sure that we could get back to the states.     But Teri was dissappointed since she been here before and most of the activities she had planned for us was either cancelled or with mess less people involved.     We was suppose to see a few more cities in Mexico but thanks to me we was only in Mexico for 4 nights instead of 9 nights.

To get to Merida we flew into Cancun and then took a 4 hour luxury bus to Merida.     It was very easy to get through customs at the airport and then we had a couple of hours to kill before our bus to Merida

The above is our restaurant at the hotel.     This restaurant was outside close to the bus terminal.      Our bus ride dropped us off in the upscale UPTOWN part of town..     We then had a 15 walk to our hotel.     It was an easy walk just straight down one of the main roads.    Merida is a very easy city to get around in.     It is a grid system and most of the horizontal streets are odd numbers and the vertical streets are odd numbers.      The hotel Teri got for us was the Gran Hotel which is located right in the center of town next to a small square and only 1 block from one of the main squares in the city.

The first night we walked around the city so Teri could show me the place that she loves and we had dinner at one of Merida’s finest restaurants La Chaya Maya.    This restaurant specialized in regional cuisine.    Also cool about this place is you have ladies making tortillas in the seating area of the restaurants.

The next day we took a walking tour with our guide “Mi Amego Ivan”    It was a comprehensive tour showing us the local university, churches, great restaurant recommendations, colorful squares, and important statues and monuments.     As usual these walking tours had people from all over the world and everybody was really happy because almost everybody came from a place that was being affected with the corona virus much worse than Mexico.     It was also cool that we had some conversations with our fellow walking tour compatriots and even saw some of them later on during out time there.

When we was in Mexico City we saw plenty of murals there most of them painted by the legendary Diego Rivera.     It was the same thing in Merida.     One block from our hotel is the Yucatan Government Building (official name Palacio de Goberno del Estado de Yucatan) .     Besides holding government and tourism offices and huge murals documenting the history of the Maya people and the state of Yucatan.

Another thing that is standard in big Mexican cities is a huge market where everything is being sold and Merida has theirs as well      I thought I was in the Lucas De Galvez Market.     I was told that this market was huge but I found out later it is in the suburbs of Merida.     But Teri showed me a huge market that is in the center of town called Mercado San Benito.    This place is huge and goes on forever.    It is so huge that Teri, who has been here before, did not even realize that there was a second floor.     I am quite sure that the Lucas De Galvez Market is probably even bigger which is almost impossible to fathom.

Near the end of our time in Merida we went to the Museo de Arte Popular de Yucatan.     Art museums in Latin America are usually more colorful than in the states.     It was a relatively small museum but we had a great time here

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Even though we did way less walking than some of my solo New York trips or my 2018 trip through Europe we did some walking through Merida because there is always something interesting to see in the city.     One of the main boulevards in the city is the Paseo de Montejo and one of the highlights of this is the circle that is close to the main long distance bus station.      This monument is very photogenic the Justo Sierra Mendez Monumento

Unlike Teri I will repaat I have never been here before so despite we constantly worrying about making sure I can make it back to the US I really enjoyed my time in Merida.     I am posting this blog March 2020 and hopefully it will be very soon that people will be asking me why did I post this last picture.

Posted by: darrellteri | March 22, 2020

Cape Coast Ghana

Since everybody is dealing with this COVID-19 virus I have better things to be upset than my lukeworm time in the Cape Coast area of Ghana.     There are two reasons I hated the area.    One is obvious.    It was the place where unspeakable things happened to black people.     I will get back to that later but that I was expecting.     The second reason I will mention now.     We had the bus ride from hell going from Accra to Cape Coast.     Our bus broke down and after at least 3 hours it was not fixed nor was a replacement bus sent to take all of the passengers to Cape Coast.     This was not the worst thing that happened.     A bus came by but the people lied to us saying it was not going to our location.     They lied to us because they did not have enough space to fit all of us but we could have figured that out but the lie really pissed us off.     That was not the worst thing that happened.     When we first got on the bus we was lucky to actually get on it because our seats was filled with luggage that the bus company sold to freight customers.     Eventually they shifted our seats around and this one young lady basically had to sit in the front on the steps.      This was still not the worst thing that happened.     THIS IS THE WORST THING THAT HAPPENED.      After 4 hours I called an uber to take us the rest of the way to Cape Coast.     Since it was a long way and the drivers really didn’t not make (at least for my standards) a lot of money it took a little for us to finally get a driver there.      When we was getting ready to take off our bus driver who gave us MINIMAL INFO the whole time came out of nowhere to inquire why was we taking an uber and holding up our driver.      Basically in my mind my vacation was done dealing with this asshole.    I can’t remember a time when I was so angry on a vacation and I have had an airline go bankrupt on me.     I am still angry at this one person 2 months later but not as angry as I was then when it would not have been surprising if I would have offered 4 figures to have somebody kill him.     Here are some helpful hints to getting to Cape Coast from Accra.    One if you have the money either get an UBER or have a private driver.     Two never take the VIP bus NEVER NEVER NEVER.   Take the STC bus it wasn’t that bad.      Third do this journey during the daytime.      During the day it is ok but the road is dangerous at night with many police checkpoints.

Once we finally got there we finally saw one of the main reasons we decided to go to Ghana was to see the Cape Coast “castle”.     It really dungeon.    The tour guide there was excellent.

One thing that was pointed out to me was even though we all knew that slaves we kept there and was shipped off to America, the Carribean and other places away from Africa we was given endless examples of how bad it was there.     Whether it is punishing people by putting them in a cell and letting them stay there until they die.   Making women chose between being a sex slave to the boss of the place or dying, or having no regard for the monthly cycle needs of women there.     About 15 miles from Cape Coast was another dungeon that we was able to visit the Elmina “Castle”.     Again when we toured this place the tour guide here was great.      The only difference between the Elmina and the Cape Coast dungeons was the European country that was in charge of torturing black people.     I did not remember which countries since each dungeon changed hands many time between the Eupopean powers

I have to assume that Barack and Michelle had an easier time getting to Cape Coast.     Even though it was super important that I saw both of these places I did at times question was it worth for me to go there due to the hassles I had getting there.

Posted by: darrellteri | February 2, 2020

Accra Ghana

I have been back from my trip to Portugal and Africa for a week and it is time for me to write a blog about Ghana.     I held off on this because I was a little disappointed with the Ghana part of my trip.    Since everybody always have something bad to say about Africa I did not want to add to the people talking about Africa.     Since this might be the only time I will be in Subsahara Africa I feel it is important for me to write a blog about Ghana.     This one is about Accra.     Hopefully soon I will also do a blog on the Cape Coast area of Accra.

We got to Accra at 4 oclock in the morning.     We knew we was going to be getting in this early so we had reservations at the Holiday Inn that is right by the airport.   For the most part this is a great hotel.    One great thing about the hotel is the decor.

Real close to the Holiday Inn and the airport is the La Tante DC10 Restaurant.     This was an old plane that was turned into a restaurant.    The place was great and the food was real good.     Most of the time the restaurant is empty because only the tourists go here.

One of the best things I did in Accra was to take a half day tour of Accra.    Through tripadvisor we found this company BigBentours1gh which did a great job.      Four of the places we went on the tour was great.      The first place he showed us was Black Star Square.     This is a monument that celebrate Ghanaian independence.

The second place he showed us was the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park and Mausoleum.   Kwame Nkrumah was the first President of an independent Ghana.     The Park is at the spot where Kwame gave on his first speeches after he became president.      Also in this park is the gravesite of Kwame

The third place he took us was the Makola market.     We got “lucky” because our tour was on Sunday.    On any other day the Makola market is extremely crowded but on Sunday we was still able to see the market but have it be seminormal.     At the makola market you are able to buy anything.    I mean anything, the market is spread out over many blocks in the center of Accra.

The last area I want to talk about on the tour was the Jamestown section of Accra.     This area is right next to the ocean and you have houses of the head of different tribal leaders in their mansions right next to all of the other houses and shacks in the neighborhood.     We was given a walking tour of the neighborhood by an local expert who told us about the history of the place.      One thing we learned was that boxing is probably the most populist sport in the neighborhood even ahead of soccer.     We even met and saw in action this “prodigy” who was seven.     The guy was amazing so I have to be on the lookout for boxers that come from Accra.

After a few days we moved to another hotel that was in the heart of this area called Osu.     We stayed at the Urbano Hotel which was in a great location.

This was one of the happening spots in Accra.    Many restaurants bars and lounges and safe.     The only thing you really have to worry about is walking down Oxfrod Street at nighttime because the sidewalks are not the best.     One of the restaurants we went to was Frankie’s.  Frankies is a restaurant/hotel and dessert lounge.     The restaurant had the menu of an diner with an unlimited amount of options and in the bakery you can get pastries, cake and ice cream.

The final place I want to mention is the W.E.B. Dubois Centre.     W.E.B Dubois was an African American civil rights activist author and historian who was invited to Ghana by the first president Kwame Nkruhmah when Ghana first became an independent nation.     He became a mentor to the president.    Once he got to Ghana he became a Ghanaian citizen.    One of the things that he was working on an encyclopedia for history for all of Africa.     He died soon after he got in Ghana but he lived a very long and productive life dying in his 90’s.     At the W.E.B. Dubois Center a masoleum where the body of W.E.B Dubois is buried.

 

 

Posted by: darrellteri | January 11, 2020

Casablanca

After spending 4 days in Marrakesh we made our way to Casablanca.     We got there by taking the train from Marrakesh to Casablanca.      We had first class tickets and it meant we shared a “private” car with 2 other couples one from Northern Ireland and one from the UK.     The train ride was comfortable and our seatmates were fun to hang out with.     Both the train stations in Marrakesh and Casablanca were beautiful.

We got to Casablanca early and had some time to kill before we can check into our hotel.     While we was looking for an restaurant we got lucky and spotted the Mad Men restaurant.     It was not just a play on words but a restaurant totally dedicated to the AMC show.     The restaurant is filled with posters celebrating the show.

We finally made it to our hotel the Four Seasons.      This was a dream of Teri’s to stay at the Four Seasons and I was fortunate to find one that was only in the very expensive range and not in the you got to be @#$%ing range.     Another bonus was that it was by the Atlantic Ocean so we are able to wake up to the Atlantic on the eastern side which we never been to before.     The staff at the Four Seasons was incredible they treated us like gold even people like me who could barely afford the place unlike some others we saw there especially the “Opec” meeting we may have saw in the main lobby.     I would have taken pictures to show I thought this could have been a meeting of Opec execs but they look well connected and no need to take that chance.

One of the main things we wanted to do here was to go to Rick’s cafe.     Yes it sounds cheesy no it is not the same place that was in the movie but a place modeled after the bar in the movie Casablanca but it was great.     The atmosphere was great and the food was great as well.    It is one of the best cheesiest tourist traps you can go to in the world.

Another impressive site you have to see in Casablanca is the Hassan II Mosque.     This is one of the tallest mosques in the world.     It is an impressive structure that you have to see.    I was told that it was even more impressive on the inside but do to time constraints I have to save that for possibly another visit.

In summery Casablanca is much bigger than Marrakesh.     They even had a tramway system.     If it goes to places you want to visit or stay it is a very useful option even though it can take a while to go from one end to the other.     The cab drivers are not as aggressive as in Marrakesh but you still have to be careful and make sure you are being charged correctly.    Try to stay in the downtown area because you can easily get by without a car.     You either will arrive by train from Tangier if you take the ferry over from Spain.    Or if you fly there is a train from the airport to the downtown area.      It is not a priority but I might can see myself coming back to Morocco.     For me the cabs are an issue for Teri the cats were a problem.     You have to work but you can sorta avoid the cabs but you can not avoid the cats.

 

Posted by: darrellteri | January 11, 2020

Marrakesh or Marrakech

We finally made it to Africa.      For me this is 5 continents sorta and for Teri this is 6 continents sorta.     I am saying sorta because we have been to the Asian side of Istanbul.      We will be in two countries in Africa on this trip.     The first place we are going is Marrakesh in the country of Morocco.     Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way.     Cabs.     I can deal with people asking me do I want to take a cab.     I can sorta deal with many people asking do I need a cab.     I can not deal with the same person asking me more than once, or following me to continuing ask do I want a cab, and/or if I decide to take your cab you try to change the price that you originally set.     I may decide to only go to places that only have a subway or all of the main attractions are within walking distance.     Another disclaimer most people will not notice that there are more cats than normal.      Some people will be in love with all of the stray cats that you will see.     While for others Morocco may not be for you, because you will see 1 2 or 100 cats.

Now onto the highlights of Marrakesh.     The first thing I have to mention is the Jemaa El-Fna    You have to see this place.     I seen it at night and in the daytime.    You will see it all here, snake charmers, monkeys, people selling all types of clothes and restaurants, hearing the call to player and then as soon as the call to prayer ends you hear traditional moroccian music with a hip-hop background.     For the most part it is a normal amount of pressure from the sales people trying to sell you something.     It really wasn’t that bad and the your eyes and ears will be busy non-stop.

Right next to the main square are the souks or markets.     These souks are impressive and they go on forever.      A few minor warnings.     You will probably get lost but eventually you will figure out how to get out.     Now if you are clastrophobic they can get very narrow.     Try to stay on the paths that are wider and maybe the ones that have no roof and you can see sunshine.    And finally even though they are basically hallways at spots you still have to be on the lookout for motorbikes.

While I was in the souks I had lunch at a great place in the heart of the souks.     I had one of the staples of moroccian cuisine which is a tangine.     I was able to sit on the balcony and enjoy all the action below.

Another place we went to was the Yves Saint Laurent museum.     I am not into fashion but this museum was great.    I knew nothing about him but this museum had all of his major designs.     Most of his designs are outlets that most people can actually wear.     He was born in Algeria moved to France when he was young and brought a house in Marrakesh during the later part of his career.     He loved Marrakesh so much that he created a foundation after he retired that had two missions one was to carry on his work and the other was to maintain this marvelous garden in Marrakesh the Jardin Majorelle.     This garden is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Marrakesh.

 

Posted by: darrellteri | January 11, 2020

Lagos……………………….Portugal

No I have not got to that Lagos yet.     While we was in Portugal Teri heard about this slave castle,dungeon,torture chamber that she had to see.     After finally figuring out what city in Portugal it was in we made plans to visit the town of Lagos Portugal which is in the southern part of Portugal in a region called the Algaves. We took a relatively comfortable 4 hour train there from Lisbon to Lagos.     Once we got there it was a quick walk from the train station to our great hotel the Marina Rio.    It is close to both the train and the bus station has great views of the small marina in Lagos and a short walk to the center of town.

Like I said previously the main reason we went to Portugal was to see the African American museum located at the gates of where the slaves first came to Portugal when they was taken (without the consent obviously) from Africa.   The official name of the museum is the Mercado dos Escravos.    This was a small museum but it was great.     It gave a great history of history that happened at that site and as a bonus touch they gave all of the patrons ipods so when you pointed at some items it will light up and give a 3D image of some of the items or people at the exhibit.

The final thing I want to mention about Lagos is the central downtown.    It is a small city so you can see everything in a day or two but that are a lot of shops and restaurants to visit and most of the streets are pedestrian only which is a plus.     However do watch out for motorbikes.    More about motorbikes in upcoming blogs.    If you are there during the summer there is more things to do since it is right along the water there are tons of outdoor activities you can enjoy.

 

Posted by: darrellteri | January 2, 2020

Lisbon

At the end of each year we celebrate our Anniversary.      Sometimes we are lucky enough to be in a great place to celebrate our anniversary and this year we was really lucky because we was able to celebrate New Year Eve in Lisbon Portugal.    Lisbon is an incredible city.     In many ways it is similar to San Francisco it is hilly has trams and a bridge that looks like the golden gate bridge.

One of the main things we went on this african tour of Lisbon that was led by Naky Gaglo

This tour was incredible.     He had all of the tour participants be really involved in the tour and we learned a ton.    We went to areas of Lisbon that had a heavy African presence, learned about the past history of the Portuguese slave trade and we talked about the upcoming African memorial that will be built in Lisbon soon.    Even though this tour was in Portugal, the people we talk to was from York Pa, New York City, Rio De Janeiro, and Boston.    Nobody we talk to was from Portugal.

For New Year Eve Lisbon had a huge party at their main plaza by the river Praca do Comercio     This party was huge there had to be at least 1 million people there and the fireworks show they had there was incredible.

The first thing we did when we got here was go to the Time Out Market.     Time Out has a few markets throughout the world including one in Brooklyn but this is first one they had in the world.     This place is great.    It is like a lot of the food hall that are appearing all over the world.     This place is super crowded.    So crowded that we had no place to sit but fortuneately we was able to sit in a park right outside of the market and the weather cooperated.

One of the most popular areas in Lisbon is Belem.    Belem is a neighborhood that is on the western side of town.    Three of the most popular things in Belem is 1) Pasteis de Belem.     For the DC area people think of this as the Georgetown Cupcakes of Lisbon.     There is always a line here.    The main thing they sell here is a very sweet egg tart that Lisbon is famous for.     You can find this all over Lisbon but people really want to come this to this particular place.     2)  Padrao dos Descobrimentos this is a huge statue along the river that is a tribute to Portugal exploring history.

3) the tower of Belem     this was a fort and lookout tower in the 16th century.    We did not have time to go here but was able to view it along the river.     Also in this area you are next to a bridge that cross the river that looks very similar to the Golden Gate Bridge

The final thing I want to mention is the place we had our Anniversary dinner the Bellalisa Elevador Restaurante.     This restaurant was next to the Santa Justa Lift which was an elevator which transport people from streets in the lower level of town to the upper level.     The restaurant was at the top of town and had excellent views of town and we was able to eat outside but in a covered area so we could see everything.

I can not wait to get back to Lisbon

Posted by: darrellteri | June 18, 2019

Augusta

During our road trip we stopped in Augusta Georgia.     Teri was there for work and this would be the first time I would be in Augusta for more than an hour.     There are a few things to do in Augusta but within the actual city it could be a little rough outside of the central downtown area.     Augusta is the home of James Brown and you see this all over town.

There is a statue of James Brown in a mini park right in the center of the city.      Also in the center of the city is the Augusta Museum of History.     For 4 bucks this is a great museum and two of the main items of emphasis in the Museum is the history of James Brown and the Masters golf tournament.

Above of some of the costumes James Brown wore on stage.     There is also a long film on the career of James Brown you can see in the museum.     Since Augusta is the home of the masters golf tournament they have statue of Jack Nickolas, Arnold Palmer, and Bobby Jones.     Before I could complain where is the Tiger Woods statue, I saw the huge section they had for him.

Real close to the museum by the waterfront they have an riverfront walkway.      Actually there are two on them one closer to the river and another one 1 level up.     On the other side of the river you are looking at the waterfront homes of the people who live in North Augusta which is in South Carolina

Finally when we was in Augusta we went to two cool restaurants.     The first one was the wife saver restaurant.     Just for the name alone we had to try it out.    It was good and of course the portion sizes were huge.     But our favorite restaurant had to be the Boll Weevil.     Teri heard about this place.    They are known for their desserts so we had the dessert first here.      It was as good as advertised.      Also the rest of the food here was good as well.

Posted by: darrellteri | June 13, 2019

Chattanooga

On our recent road trip down south we visited Chattanooga Tennessee.     Before we got to Chattanooga we went to Ruby Falls.     This is a cave with an underground waterfall.     This is located just outside of Chattanooga.   This cave is like other caves I have been to with the main thing that makes it different is the waterfall underground.      That is the highlight of your visit.    Near the end of the tour underground you get to enjoy standing by the waterfall for a minute while a light and sound show is performing.    I was here over 25 years ago and what they did was talk you real close to the falls and turn off all of the lights for 30 seconds so you can hear the falls in complete silence.     I am guessing they change this up due to legal and safety reasons.

After Ruby Falls we stayed very close to downtown in the Southside Section of town.     We was within walking distance of the hip Southside neighborhood, the Chattanooga Choo Choo, downtown and the Riverfront area of town.     Very close to our hotel was the Hifi Clyde’s restaurant.    This restaurant/sports bar/live music place was a great spot to hang out and the food there was great as well.     And finding the bathroom here was very easy.

Like I said we was very close to the Chattanooga Choo Choo.     This is an historic train station in Chattanooga.    It stopped operating as a train station many years ago.  When I was here over 25 years ago it wasn’t much just an hotel from what I can remember.    But now you have shops on the complex, you can have dinner in one of the trains and what looks really cool is there is an escape room in one of the old train cars.

Downtown Chattanooga is so so.     It is a small to medium size city so in some spots not much is there.      However they have a nice riverfront area and there are a lot of hotels by the riverfront section of town.     Also by the riverfront is one of the largest aquariums in the country.      The day we was there they was having a huge festival and Lionel Richie was the headliner.      I think Keith Urban was the headliner the next day and on the final day Macklemore was the headliner.      Not sure if I need to rush back to Chattanooga but it is a cool place for a day or so.

Posted by: darrellteri | June 4, 2019

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Tennessee

Me and Teri took a road trip through the South and one of the last places we visited was the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains.    I have heard about this are forever but never have been here.    Let me sum up Gatlinburg.     It looks like the outskirts of Orlando had a baby with Branson Missouri.     On the main strip in Gatlinburg is non stop shops restaurants and tourist attractions.     Putt putt, inclines to the top of mountains, souvenir shops, fun houses, escape rooms, etc etc it is all there.      And there are at least 10 places you can get flapjacks (not pancakes) and probably double of that where you can get a free sample of moonshine.

When you walk down the streets in Gatlinburg during the middle of the day it is super crowded and you are lucky to be driving over 15 mph on the main street because it is so crowded.

Around 5 to 10 miles up the road is Pigeon Forge.     Not as condensed as Gatlinburg but still we are talking about an area with tons of things to do.     The major differences between the two towns is that Gatlinburg is in a valley, the main road is only 4 lanes as oppose to 6 to 8 lanes on the main road,and Gatlinburg probably has the same amount of things to do in a 1.5 mile stretch that Pigeon Forge has within a 5 mile stretch.

One place we went to in Pigeon Forge was the Alcatraz East Crime Museum.     This was a great museum.     It talked about crime throughout the history of the United States.     There was many original artifacts in the museum and was very modern even talking about cybercrime and as detailed as a exhibit on phishing.

The two cars above are the Ted Bundy beetle that he own and the shot up car of Bonnie and Clyde

The last thing we went to was a huge flea market that is in Sevierville Tenn that is around 10 miles from Pigeon Forge.     This place was huge but you are reminded that you are in the south.     Besides seeing my “favorite” flag I learned a very important “lesson” that I saw at least 10 times on items.     “You stand for the flag and kneel for the cross”

 

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