Category: TRAVELS


9/11 World Trace Center Towers New York City Terrorist Attack

where were you ? I remember exactly where I was. This was September 9 in the year 2001. I had a Doctor’s appointment in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Walking the city I passed by a TV and electronics shop. Standing in front of the large store window and watching LIVE news. What do I see ? The plane plowing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Wow !

Coincidentally, that same year, August 2001 we (my son and I) had visited New York City, to celebrate my birthday. Traveling by Amtrak train from Washington, DC (where my son worked and lived) to New York City. Stayed in a hotel at Central Park. The evening we went out to visit the sites: Little Italy, the Russian Cafe, Times Square, Broadway, at night watching the musical Les Miserables, and hanging out. That was August that same year. From Washington DC I then returned to Alberta August 14th. Then came September 2001 and 9/11.

Next year in January 2002 we went one more time to New York City (from DC), with the elevator up the Chrysler Building, try see the sight – Ground Zero. At that time it was still all sooty and smelly and hazy, and no more World Trade Center Towers to see.

COFFEE – CAFE – KAFFEE

2020 the best year of my life, with a world wide pandemic, virus here, there and everywhere. What’s a person to do to have at least a feeling of a social life, especially if you are alone. Often I go out (in fact daily) for a walk, or take my bicycle, to the park, sit down, have a coffee. Better, yet, sit somewhere in one of the newly created outdoor cafes. Even sitting alone at a table feels better than sitting alone at home. YUK !

Coffee for many years has become an important part of my traveling life. In Europe, and on the continent. Victoria, BC, Vancouver Island: Although I have not tested all cafes, some are good, some not so, some are too expensive for the quality of coffee.

A decent cup for C$2.00 is pretty good. Murchies, 100 year old pattissery and eating place downtown. Not bad. Crust Bakery on Fort C$ around 2.00, also, but must sit outside, lots of street traffic. Other places (being that Starbucks closed down a lot) can go anywhere from C$2.50 to even over C$up to 4.00. Too expensive. My Italian shop in Victoria, on Blanchard, has the best Italian imports, everything (dozens of different panettones during Xmas season), and also a little corner cafe to sit. Regular coffee not so strong, espresso, Americano good. Prices good. [Reminds me of my Panettoni story: During Xmas 2015 went to Italy, from Cannes, bought a big Italian Panettoni, took it home to Canada in my suitcase.]. Yet, nothing beats a good Weihnachtsstollen.

While traveling in France, spending three months in Cannes, Mediterranean, ordering a coffee/cafe would always mean tiny cute little Espresso, good, but one shot. Netherlands, where I worked and lived for eight years is different again: You want to find a Cafe to sit down for a coffee ? Unless you intend to smoke pot or get some cannabis, those places are the ones. Real cafes bakeries for a coffee and dessert are bakeries (bakkerij patisserie). Germany, Berlin: There is a tiny historically old section, the Nikolaiviertel, one can sit down outside, have wonderful coffee, mostly coffee implies a little can, and have a cake. [Founded about 1200, the Nikolaiviertel of Alt-Berlin, together with the neighbouring settlement of Cölln, is the reconstructed historical heart of the German capital Berlin.]

St. Petersburg, Russia, is huge, a wonderful city. Near the Neva strolling along the Nevsky Prospect down to the landing dock for ships going to Finland, found a nice little restaurant, have a coffee. Good.

[Every morning I make my own cappuccino in my old-fashioned Italian Espresso machine.]. Continue enjoy, as long as you look at each other from the distance.

In the Northern Part of Germany nearer my own (former) home town exists a culture that invites medieval fairs, also because of the beautifully medieval (after the War restored) houses and buildings. [Braunschweig had been destroyed completely during WWII.]. The city dates back to the year 900, is a very old former medieval town, and therefore has a history of such fairs and festivals. Incidentally, its founder Henri III ‘THE LION’ was also the founder of München (Munich, Bavaria). Henri The Lion founded the cities München, Lübeck, Lüneburg and Braunschweig (Brunswick).

While in Bavaria, the south of Germany, nearer München, many old castles from medieval times still exist. One of them is Kaltenberg.

[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schloss_Kaltenberg ]. Where annual jousting tournaments are held. The Kaltenberger Ritterturnier (Jousting) is the largest and longest lasting in the world. Held annually in July at Castle Kaltenberg, Geltendorf, Bavaria.

It is a glorious time to spend among knights, musicians, artists and acrobats, watching archery tournaments and mingling with all sorts of folks in their medieval garments. Admiring the wonderful big horses of the knights. Not to forget the tasty down to earth food and world-famous Kaltenberg beer, brewed right here in the Castle. [ https://www.ritterturnier.de/ ]

I visited in the year 2007, spending several months in Munich and took the train from there to Geltendorf and up to the Castle grounds, to attend that year’s Jousting Tournament. Despite a cool day and rain starting at the beginning of the Knights’ Tournament, this had been a totally enjoyable and exciting experience. For me as a horse person especially, as I have had my own horses shown, raised & trained for so many years in Alberta, Canada. The entire medieval atmosphere surrounding the grounds has been exciting, different and uplifting.

Our travels across the United States 1975. My son was at that time only seven years old.

{See also: Part 1 – starting New York State up to Grand Canyon, AZ.

[ https://renataveritashistory.com/2020/05/29/travels-across-america-part-1/ ]},

followed by Parts 2 and 3: South West to San Francisco.

This is the continuation of our lengthy Bus trip across the United States. Spending many days and nights on Greyhound buses. Part 4 describes a couple of days stay in San Francisco, visiting the Bay Area [ http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Fisherman%27s_Wharf ], and sightseeing around China Town and the Golden Gate Park.

San Francisco – out of many American cities I had visited in those years – is one of the more interesting, not only in terms of its history, but also because of its uniqueness. Its original name being of Spanish origin – Yerba Buena, meaning nothing more then ‘good herb’ – changed later into the name of one of the foremost ancient Italian saints: San Francesco d’Assisi, ergo: San Francisco.

The picture gallery (selecting only a few) shows individual stops and sights.

Much later, in the year 2006, I made a return visit with my son by cruise ship to San Francisco. Including a visit to the (now closed) Alcatraz Penitentiary.

[ https://www.historytoday.com/archive/months-past/alcatraz-prison-closes ]

Incidentally, I spent Christmas in Italia, (Umbria, Perugia trip December 2015), mainly for visiting the Christmas masses and celebrations for this Saint – San Francesco d’Assisi.

[ http://www.shrinesf.org/history.html ].

Part 3 – California: San Diego Zoo and Disneyland Anaheim

Our travels across the United States 1975. My son at that time was only seven years old. This long trip was a couple of weeks with Greyhound.

{See also: Part 1 – starting New York State up to Grand Canyon, AZ.

[ https://renataveritashistory.com/2020/05/29/travels-across-america-part-1/ ]}

(followed by Part 2)

This is the continuation of our lengthy trip across the United States. Part 2 describes visits from the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Arizona, to the Mexican Border.

Part 3 continues on to California, San Diego, the famous San Diego Zoo, one of the premier zoological facilities [ https://www.sandiegozooglobal.org/ ].

A real treat for my little son, who easily made friends with some of the critters. San Diego Zoo is among the best world-wide, with also Washington, DC National Zoo [ https://nationalzoo.si.edu/ ].

Then on to Anaheim, California, some 90 miles north, to visit another world wide known attraction, Disneyland California amusement park, dating back to 1955. [ https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/disneyland-opens ].

My pictures of Disneyland are a bit dark, reason is, that shortly before I had lost an entire film and had to quickly re-buy, so we arrived shortly before dawn.

It was an adventure, spending many long hours on these buses, sometimes during the night.

Being summer it had been quite hot, therefore, the photos (Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F camera) – taken as slides – are mostly a bit light, not the best quality. At a much later date I had scanned all those slides onto my PC.

The picture gallery (selecting only a few) shows individual stops.

Part 2 – Grand Canyon to San Diego

Our travels across the United States 1975. My son at that time only seven years old. This long trip was a couple of weeks with Greyhound.

{See also: Part 1 – starting New York State up to Grand Canyon, AZ.

[ https://renataveritashistory.com/2020/05/29/travels-across-america-part-1/ ]}

This is the continuation of our lengthy trip across the United States. Part 2 describes visits from the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Arizona, to the Mexican Border, then continue on to California, San Diego.

It was an adventure, spending many long hours on these buses, sometimes during the night. Funny stories as well. After many prior stops, when getting closer to the Mexican border, some Mexicans had boarded, wearing their huge hats, not much room for us on our seats anymore. Also, meeting Indians across those South Western States and Reservations, and their wonderful silver jewelry and gift shops. The mighty Grand Canyon surely is one of the world’s wonders.

Being summer it had been quite hot, therefore, the photos (Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F camera) – taken as slides – are mostly a bit light, not the best quality. At a much later date I had scanned all those slides onto my PC.

The picture gallery (selecting only a few) shows individual stops.

Part 1 – New York State to Grand Canyon

My travels across the United States during Summer vacation 1975.

I had spent many years in the United States. Arriving from Europe in the fall of 1974 with my little son, then only seven years old, to enroll in a graduate program at Syracuse University, New York State.

During the summer vacations of 1975 we took off on a lengthy trip across the US, using a Greyhound Bus (Ameripass, later Greyhound Discovery Pass, now discontinued). It was an adventure, spending many long hours on these buses, sometimes during the night.

Starting at Syracuse University, New York State via Washington, DC, then on to Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Liberty Bell (the original bell today: Liberty Bell Center, Philadelphia, Pe), Missouri and St. Louis, then onto Colorado, and further to New Mexico, Albuquerque, and then into Arizona, to visit the Grand Canyon [ https://www.legendsofamerica.com/az-flagstaff/ ]. On the way take in old Bedrock City, The Flintstones, now closed. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedrock_City_(Arizona) ]

[continued in Part 2 – TRAVELS ACROSS AMERICA].

The picture gallery (selecting only a few) shows individual stops. The pictures are not the best quality. [BACKGROUND: On our flight over from Luxembourg to New York City with a stop at Riykjavik Airport, I had acquired an Asahi Pentax Spotmatic F camera [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentax_Spotmatic ], using slides and a projector all those years until getting my next set of cameras. Much later in 2006 I then sat down scanning all my thousands of slides to store on my PC.]

Los Angeles Adventurer Hotel – passing through

[ http://www.laadventurerhotel.com/ ]. Address:  4200 W Century Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90304.

In summary, this hotel is at best a backpackers inn, it is awful. 

My recent experiences summarized. On my way down south to Mexico I needed to stay overnight in Los Angeles, CA. I had booked this hotel using http://www.booking.com. It is near LAX, L.A. Airport and advertised a number of included FREE services, such as BF, free Airport Shuttle to and from, free popcorn, free glass champagne on arrival, and whatnot. When entering the small messy lobby, there is a list on the wall listing all of these free included services and extras. These are included in the room price.

I have not seen any of this FREE stuff. I arrived late L.A., called shuttle service at this hotel from the airport outside an area which is reserved for shuttle buses from all L.A. hotels. We waited 40 minutes till a large black van arrived at the Airport, to pick me up.

This hotel is noisy, smelly (cannabis smoking), and the reception on my first arrival there was unacceptably rude with another guest, a Chinese man. Yelling and insulting this man, making nasty discriminatory comments on his being Chinese, and threatening to call the police. Just because he had requested another room. His room did not have a workable shower. Was scary this situation. In all my travels, this was a first for me.

I spent a few hours, getup early and got the hotel shuttle alright, to bring me to the airport. On my return back to Canada, I needed again to stay overnight at this same hotel.

Calling the hotel shuttle service from the airport, no response, a different company responded. I took a taxi to the hotel, cost US$25. The room I got was nice, I must say, with a nice clean renovated bathroom. The TV was on, the remote belonged to a different machine, no way to turn this off. So I pulled the plug to shut down this noise.

Got up early again, again no BF.

How they charge beats me. On arrival they take again a credit card for so called incidentals, although my cost for this room is already charged by booking.com on my MasterCard. The incidentals referred to apparently are a number of little bottles inside the rooms, sample liquor bottles, in case a guest actually uses them. I would not touch any of this with a pitch fork. On departure a guest will then be asked if they took any of this. Nobody does. Then the reception make out another receipt with another charge US$35, and on same receipt a refund of -US$35. Checked my MC account online, if in fact all of this has been charged correctly. Between the (incidentals) amount the night before and the refund the night after, there is a difference in US to C$ conversion. For many guests this seems beneficial to this hotel. Credit card charges are to Crown Airport Hotel Inglewood. Check it out: [ https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Hotel_Review-g32525-d77998-Reviews-Crown_Airport_Hotel-Inglewood_California.html ].

One month at the Marina Hotel & Resort,  located at the Bahia Santa Cruz. There are seven Bahias (beach areas within secluded bays). [ https://www.lonelyplanet.com/mexico/oaxaca-state/bahias-de-huatulco ]. The sand here is nice and yellow and the water of the Pacific clean and clear. Despite, that this is also an area for local fishing boats.

This entire area referred to as Huatulco lies along the Pacific Ocean within the Mexican state of Oaxaca. Meaning this is a highly touristy area with its seven bays of beaches and therefore frequented by many Mexican families, as Mexico City is only one and a half hours flight from any of the Bays. Because of its decent pricing, the Marina Hotel Resort is one of the largest attracting many Mexican families. Use ear plugs to sleep. Everybody is very friendly, especially if you make the effort of speaking Spanish.

Coming from Canada, British Columbia Pacific Coast, the temperature difference feels enormous on arrival. I had booked a difficult connection between Vancouver Airport and Huatulco, with stops at Los Angeles, CA, where I had to take an overnight hotel, then on the next day via Mexico City to the final destination Huatulco Airport. We do have direct flights from Vancouver, Canada. The flying did not bother me that much. I only had a small suitcase with me, quick in and quick out.

This is my fourth vacation to various locations in Mexico. However this area is different as it has been developed on the basis of an extended resort and beach area. Not offering cultural and historical sights.

I have to admit that I do not favour Mexican food. But at Santa Cruz Bay there were so many hotels and restaurants that one could always find something good and delicious. In fact I dined mostly at the Holiday Inn across the road. They even take – besides Pesos, also MC or American dollars. Which means that a meal could become quite cheap. I also bought fresh fruits and vegetables at the little grocery stores, plus there are weekly markets where produce is cheaper.

Throughout this month the weather was always hot with very high humidity. The little town La Crucecita. is a short 1km walk uphill along beautiful landscaping including natural stone steps and walls. Delightful. If it were not for the constant irrigation, there would be desert instead of those beautiful plants and trees.

The best yet is the high level of safety everywhere. I always travel alone and walk alone. I could walk at night up that hill in safety. With the number and levels of security personnel and guards, from hotel, beach, municipal, State and Federal. I never witnessed one altercation or problem anywhere.

Friday the 16th February we had a 7.2m earthquake nearby in the State of Oaxaca, direction of Puerto Escondido. I could feel the building shake in my hotel. [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Oaxaca_earthquake ] . Of course this happens often particularly along that stretch of Pacific Ocean from all the way down south up to Alaska.

Santa Cruz being the heart of the Marina, many tourist boats are leaving from here to any of the other bays. While most of the restaurants are along the beaches. Taxis are plentiful, most operating on fixed prices, 30 Pesos.

We did a nice day tour to the Hagia Sofia Sabiduria Sagrada, a large 130ha Botanical Park. Its a unique agro-ecological development with many different plants and flowers, fruit trees, and butter flies and birds. As well as wildlife [not to be seen during the day]. All food is grown on the property, and visitors are invited to delicious organic breakfast and lunch, all included. The setup is amazing, somewhere is the Santa Magdalena River and an opportunity to take a dip and go behind the little water fall. Change cabins are there and a naturally constructed shower facility as well as WCs. Cost was MXN800.

My next trip will be to the other side of Mexico.

Mexico – safe travel location

Mexicans do not steal.

I traveled four times to different locations in Mexico, never had anything stolen. Having now spent over three weeks at the Bahias de Huatulco, southern Pacific, a grand tourist location. Examples of my experiences: Hotel safe, not necessary here. No cleaning staff touches any guest property. This includes cash money, jewelry. When arriving I had forgotten my cash Pesos in my room, thousands, left openly on the wardrobe. Coming back afternoon after the cleaning lady had done my room, found everything where left. Today buying some fruits in my little grocery store, paid with a 200 Peso bill, thought is was a 20. Can happen when your  brain fries in the heat. They called after me with my exact change. Even when I said I am an idiota, they said, NO, es normal. Don’t you love it !

Want to try this in Canada or the USA  ? Don’t!  Most of valuables I had stolen was exactly in those countries. And these were not hotels.

How safe is it here for a single lady ? Couldn’t be safer. I could go out at night after dark alone. There is lots of specialized security personnel and police and auxiliary police. Everywhere, even in parks.

Taxis. When I travel I usually do not take taxis. Here the prices are pretty much fixed, there is no hustling.