Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mexico - Veracruz - the second story

    This post has been a long time coming. A lot of water has gone under the bridge. I am again working full time after 6 years of retirement. Our Cardinal decided that I needed to be gainfully employed so I am in the Diocesan Chaplains Corp, assigned to the International Seafarers Center.

 With Veracruz, VC, Mexico, being one of my favorite places in the world what better place to take my bride for our honeymoon?
     We were married on November 22, 2002 and after a small reception with family and close friends we were off to the airport for the 2 hour flight to Mexico City, a flight that is usually uneventful, as this one was, so uneventful that you are served a bag of peanuts, and of course a soft drink if requested. Our connecting flight to Veracruz departs Mexico City 35 minutes after scheduled arrival in Mexico City. In that short time span, 35 minutes, one has to go through immigration, then one has to claim luggage, then one has to go through customs, then one has to make it from ONE end of the airport to the OTHER ...
     We arrived and went through the formalities with immigration. The airport system announced that our luggage, based on our flight number would be at carousel # 13. We hurried to # 13 and waited and waited and waited and ..... No luggage. We inquired at a desk and was told that no, it would not be on # 13, instead it was rerouted to carousel # 23, some distance away, someone just forgot to post that on the electronic notice boards. Off we went, huffing and puffing, beginning to stress a bit because we have a flight to make. We got the luggage, went through customs and headed for Aero Mexico's flight to Veracruz.
     When we arrived at the gate a smug attendant told us that "the flight is closed!" "What do you mean the flight is closed, it doesn't depart for another 5 minutes, we have tickets and confirmed seat assignments!". "Yes sir, but you are supposed to check in not later than 20 minutes before departure".
At this point I am, to put it mildly, getting a bit upset; this is simply an attempt to grease my hands and I can make things happen. "Your company sold us this ticket together with the ticket from Houston to Mexico City, knowing that there is only a 35 minute window between arrival, immigration, luggage claim, customs and departure. I strongly suggest you call your supervisor and clear this up and, while you are on the phone, make hotel accommodations for us here in Mexico City, at a hotel of our choice, as well as arrange for meals at restaurants of our choice, at your expense, and then book us on the early morning flight" ...."But Senor, I can't do that".
"Then I strongly recommend that you get us on that plane now or I am going to make scene right here and now!".
Magically, the flight was no longer closed and our luggage was loaded and we were escorted to our assigned seats. Since I have encountered this scenario on other occasions on the same flights on can only assume this is an attempt to extract a little cash for services rendered, in other words, mordida.
     The flight from Mexico City to Veracruz is a short flight, uphill one half of the way, and downhill the other half, clearing the peak of Orizaba. In the good old days when airplanes still served full meals, a full dinner would be served on this flight, all of about 45 minutes long, while on the Houston to Mexico City flight only peanuts were served.
     After arriving in Veracruz, at General Heriberto Jara International Airport, the luggage claim and process was a piece of cake. Then to a taxi to get to our hotel, "Hotel Emporio". Now in many parts of the world people pay good money for exciting rides, such as roller coasters and the like. May I recommend taking a ride in a taxi in any large city in Mexico, and in Veracruz in particular.
   The airport is located SW of the city, and the hotel is on the Malecon. The easiest route is on Mexico 150D. It does have a number of traffic lights on it (which are only suggestions to slow down and look both ways before running a red light); it has a number of stops signs (which are suggestions to look both right and left, but slowing down is not required); it has lane stripes which are only considered to be a method of measuring the width of the road, since the lane stripes are equi-distant from each other (it has nothing to do with maintaining the lane one is driving in). On my many trips along that road I do not recall seeing speed limit signs, and if there are any, they are not being obeyed.
    Arriving at the hotel, hearts in our throats, blood rushing in the ears from the drive, we check into Hotel Emporio and I was greeted as a regular; "Welcome, Capt Frederiksen, glad to see you are back with us". Introducing Norma she received a warm welcome.
     We had a nice dinner in the hotel restaurant, which is first class. Then we went out to see the sights on the Malecon for a bit before calling it the day. Here are a few photos from Vera Cruz, the Malecon, from Los Portales and other areas.
One of the hotels at Los Portales with the sidewalk cafes.

El Palacio Municipal - City Hall at Los Portales

Another view of City Hall

A general view of Los Portales, hotels and sidewalk cafe's on the left,
City Hall tower in the center.

Norma smiling while we enjoy the strolling musicians.

Yours truly smiling for the same reason.

One of the many vendors selling trinkets.

One of the markets. This one on the Malecon.

An early morning view from the Malecon toward Los Portales.
The tower on the left is on the Cathedral.

Pigeons enjoying the fountain.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A family adventure

Although I can't say that I did this I have great admiration for the family that is doing it.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mexico - Vera Cruz - the first story.

    I began writing this post in October of 2014, but was interrupted by a tremendous amount of work, which continues. It is now the middle of January 2015 (Happy New Year to all). Post will continue as time allows.

    My first time in Mexico, sometime in 1963, was in the industrial city of Coatzacoalcos in the State of Veracruz. I have to admit that I was not impressed. My perspective was that of a North European and I clearly recall thinking, what a dumpy place this is. In the same breath I have to share that my first impression of the United States was in like manner.

     First to the first impression of the US. Arriving for the first time, sometime in late 1961, in the Port of Boston, passing by Logan Airport and then what I believe to be East Boston. Here is what I saw; houses built out of wood, some in sore need of painting, trash cans on the streets, trash on the streets, a general look of neglect and poverty. Surely that can't be true in this country where Hollywood is telling the world, through movies, that everyone is well off, and where Radio America is telling the world the exact same thing. This is during the days of the "cold war" and we knew of course that the Russians (Soviets) were lying because the rosy pictures painted by their propaganda radio broadcasts of the Soviet Union was what we believed the US to be like, and here, in front of my, as we sailed slowly by East Boston, was a stark contrast to what we had come to believe.

     Now back to Coatzacoalcos which means "where the snake hides".
As with all ports in the world, except one, it is located in an industrial part of the city. But the city had the smell of raw sewage about it. The waters in the port were full of trash and had a very heavy sheen of oil floating on the surface. Going ashore all the buildings looked like they were in need of some serious repair, probably not having been maintained since the last Spaniard in the area died.

     From Coatzacoalcos we sailed to the City of Veracruz, meaning "True Cross", from which the State of Veracruz takes its name. What a contrast to Coatzacoalcos!!,_Veracruz
The port is located downtown; one walks out the gate and after just a block or two one is in the historical center of the city. The Palacio Municipal at one end of the square,
the Cathedral on one side
and hotels and restaurants on the other two sides (the link below is in Spanish). This area is called the Portales.

     Over the next 1 1/2 years I was in Vera Cruz about every 8 to 9 weeks, sailing on the same ship. Over time I feel "in love" with the place, its history and its "alma" (soul). In those days there were no McDonalds, Papa Johns, Office Depot, Wallmart or similar in Vera Cruz. South of the city was a nice area of beach with a number of restaurants and clubs. One of those clubs catered to the elite of the area and every Friday and Saturday night one of, or perhaps back then, the only radio station in the area transmitted live the dance music played by the big orchestra in this particular club.

     Further down the down coast is the community of of Boca del Rio (Mouth of the River). In the early 60's it was a fishing community. I remember seeing fishermen in dug outs fishing along the river.,_Veracruz

     When we were in port the evenings consisted of taking a taxi to the beach, going swimming in the warm waters. Having a "cuba libre" in one of the places along the beach and then going to Los Portales to listen to the musicians there, or take in one of the performances on the open air stage with groups like "Alma de Veracruz". A group that played old music particular to that region of Mexico.

     Now, when travelling from Vera Cruz to Boca del Rio, one can't tell where one ends and the other begins.

     Other attractions in Vera Cruz include the Paseo el Malecon, San Juan de Ullua, Veracruz Aquarium, the house of Agustin Lara (a famous composer)
The following link is in Spanish

     When we return we will have some photos of the places visited. Happy 2015 to all.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

ROOTS - not the movie - 19

     The last couple of days in Denmark have been busy; my niece Nina is getting married so Nina and her parents are busy with plans and getting things together. Finally the big day arrives and we all drive to a hotel in the town of Randers
and check into Hotel Randers where the dinner and dance will take place tomorrow evening.

      After unpacking and doing away with the "dust" of the journey at the hotel bar we go around town a bit to sight see. My last time in Randers was the spring of 1962 while I was on the good DFDS ship Oklahoma. It is an old city with a lot of history.

     Among the points of interest is Saint Mortens (Martin) Church

    We came across an old pharmacy, or should I say a really old Apothecary, and there are very few of those around in the modern world today. In this country, the US, they are generally known as Compounding Apothecaries. It is a good example of history on that side of the Atlantic and history on this side of the Atlantic. Here the news casters on Television will use phrases like "Way back in August ..." and now it is almost October. This apothecary is 380 years old, really from "way back .."
This was actually directly across the street from the hotel.
 As can be seen the apothecary was founded in 1634, and 142 years later the American Colonies declared independence from British rule.

     Some participants in the wedding plans were getting their hair done, others were buying last minutes needed stuff.
One of the stores where we shopped.
He just had his hair cut and fixed up really nice.
A crucifix  made of driftwood. This is located inside of Saint Mortens Church.
The bride Nina and the groom Carsten after the wedding. And it began to rain.
   So rain drops are falling from the sky, well, why not add a little challenge to the situation;
The antique automobile hired to transport the newlyweds to the hotel wouldn't start but eventually it was persuaded to do what it was asked to do.
Make sure they do not get wet.

The cranky old engine "cranked" up.

The newlyweds and well wishers.
     Just a few more photos from the wedding.
The flower girl.

The Groom and Bride

The young lad enjoying the day.

Max on the left, Frank in the middle and yours truly to the right.

The bride and her sister.

Berith, Nina and Carsten

The children with their mother.

The obligatory shot of the newlyweds cutting the cake.

The Bride

The parents oft the Bride.

The parents of the bride and groom.

Proper table settings, no paper plates or pastic ware.
This is way beyond Fajitas, Rice and Beans and Bud Ligth, in other
words, it is done correctly.

A tender moment between Uncle (Farbror) and the bride.

Uncle (Farbror) and bride.

Dancing the Wedding waltz

She is dancing, I am trying.
    Thus endedth the wedding. Tomorrow is departure day and we had a nice brunch in the home of the young couple. Then it was time for a few last photos and off to the airport for the flight to Copenhagen (KĂžbenhavn) where we will spend the night until our early flight back to New York and then Houston.

The newlyweds on the back porch.

Add caption

Norma enjoying a bit of rain, the first we saw in our three weeks in Denmark.
The Gudenaa (Guden River) can be seen in the background.
More rain.

My brother Max (on the right) and yours truly (on the left).
This is the last photo taken in Denmark.
     A great trip to my roots comes to an end. The memories will always be there.

In the near future we will go to Mexico.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

ROOTS - not the movie - 18

    Today, again a bit more than 7 years ago, was a day of leisure, without planned activities during the day. It was also a typical Danish summer day.
This photo is from about 11 AM (11:00)
We mostly just cooled our heels but did walk around the little town of Nr. Nissum Seminarie By. My brother and his wife were busy running around getting stuff ready for Saturday, because on Saturday my niece Nina is getting married. I recall going with Max to the local car wash where I purchased the DK stickers that are on my car. DK is the internationally recognized abbreviation for Danmark. Remember, it is Danmark, not Denmark, the people are Danes, not Denes. I did purchase a fair supply of them knowing they are made for the North European climate (see temperature gage above) and not the Texas sun and heat. In this heat they do not last more than a year or so, and I only have two left.

     Later in the day we went to my niece Beriths house and spent a little time there, and walked around the bay which is on the Limfjord. Here we encountered an authentic replica of a viking ship, as well as a play area for the kids made like a viking ship.

We are coming to conquer your lands and your people.

Authentic descendants of the Vikings

The viking ship in silhouette as the sun is almost setting.

The finely carved figure head.

The interior of the hull with the thwarts clearly visible.

Imagine crossing oceans in something like this!
All the way to New Foundland and back!!

Mast and rigging detail.

This gives whole new meaning to the term "to go in Vik",
that is to go in search of, to go exploring.

     This particular boat was used in a trip across the North Sea to England and back, and I am sure the present residents around Lindisfarne had a much better understanding of the panic that gripped the area a bit more than 1000 or so year ago when they saw a fleet of viking ships come up over the horizon. Below are a number of links of those historic events as well as more information.
     This evening I also got to enjoy another "Jolly Cola", the first coke type drink I ever had, at about the age of 9 which means it had to be sometime in 1954.
My first coke type drink was a Jolly Cola.

    There is a ferry landing right where my niece lived, and the little park was made for people waiting for the ferry. 
The ferry just left the landing.
Notice the correct color fishing boat far left.
      One of the hazards of living near the ocean, especially when it is almost on your doorsteps, is the fact that you will have the constant company of seagulls, and their droppings on just about everything.
This almost looks like a mad artists rendition of an island with sandy beaches, on the left,
and mountains on the right, in a mighty blue ocean or perhaps a view from space.
      A walk along the beach of the North Sea and another Viking grave were the last activities of the day.

A Viking grave

In the next post will be a few pictures from our last two days in Denmark.