Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Sights to See: Trinidad & Tobago



An Overview:
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

Port of Spain cityscape in Trinidad
Port of Spain cityscape in Trinidad
Located in the southeastern region of the Caribbean just 7 miles off the Venezuelan coast, Trinidad was in fact once part of South America until it broke off in an earthquake broke it off.  They are the last island in the Caribbean chain. 
    Britain gained control of the islands in 1797 and brought in thousands of African slaves to work on sugar, cotton, and indigo plantations.  Today, descendants of those slaves make up most of Tobago's population.  When Britain abolished slavery in 1830, landowners brought in indentured workers from India, China, and the Middle East.  Their descendants give the islands a multi-ethnic appeal.  According to a guide, “We are mixing it up,” and he said that Trinis celebrate their religions together and are inclusive rather than divisive. 
     Because the islands existed separately for centuries, they each have a distinct personality.  Britain joined them together in the late 19th century, and the two islands gained independence in 1962 and became a republic in 1976.
     The official language is English, and half of the annual visitors are from the U.S.  People come here for the culture.  Driving is on the left--except when it isn’t--so defensive driving is essential on both islands.  “We drive like how we dance--dangerously,” an islander told me.  There are no all-inclusive resorts. 


TRINIDAD
Known as the “cultural capital of the Caribbean,” bustling Trinidad measures 65 miles long by 50 miles wide.  It is the birthplace of the limbo, the calypso, and singer Harry Belafonte--as well as of the steel pan drum, the only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century.  It was ranked the happiest nation in the Caribbean by the United Nations’ World Happiness Report in 2013 and 2015.  And though the island is lively and developed, the tourism infrastructure is not well-developed.  You will find only one souvenir store downtown and no crafts market.  U.S. service men stationed here during WW II--there were more than 200,000 of them--cut some of the roads that provide access to a mountain range and secluded beaches along the north coast.


TOBAGO
Tiny Tobago is only 30 miles long by10 miles wide and mostly undeveloped.  Crown Point is the tourist hub, although Scarborough is the main town and where the cruise ships arrive.  This lush island features hidden beaches, great diving, and quaint villages.  It is home to the largest brain coral in the Western Hemisphere, and its Main Ridge Rainforest is the oldest protected reserve in the Western hemisphere.


FACES OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Ricardo, a guide with Island Experiences in Trinidad
Ricardo, a guide with Island Experiences in Trinidad

owners of Coloz restaurant in Port of Spain, Trinidad
owners of Coloz restaurant in Port of Spain, Trinidad

server at HAKKA restaurant in Port of Spain, Trinidad
server at HAKKA restaurant in Port of Spain, Trinidad

pan player and song writer Kwesi Paul at Dan-Demonium pan yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad
pan player and song writer Kwesi Paul at Dan-Demonium pan yard in Port of Spain, Trinidad

guide Monica helps serve drinks at Blue Crab Restaurant in Scarborough, Tobaygo
guide Monica helps serve drinks at Blue Crab Restaurant in Scarborough, Tobaygo

Things to do in Trinidad.

Things to do in Tobago.

More travel articles to inspire you and help you plan some spectacular getaways.

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sights to See: San Diego de Alcala mission, San Diego, California


San Diego de Alcala mission  10818 San Diego Mission Rd., in Mission Valley, in San Diego.  Founded by Father Junipero Serra in 1769 at a site near the mouth of the San Diego River, this was the first California mission.  Also known as the San Diego Mission and the “Mother of the Missions,” it was relocated here--6 miles from its original site--in 1774 and has been rebuilt several times, making the current church the fifth on this site.  It is now a peaceful island amid a busy shopping area.  The mission church was named a minor basilica (a church of very important historical significance) by the Pope in 1976, and is one of only four of the California missions that are basilicas.  Two striking features are its impressive bell tower featuring one original bell and the restored church featuring textured plastering typical of Indian craftsmanship.  The well-maintained old gardens are also noteworthy.  You can rent a taped tour, which kids 7 and older particularly enjoy.  An annual Festival of the Bells that celebrates the mission’s founding takes place each July and includes a carnival and a blessing of both the bells and animals.  

front exterior of San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
front exterior of San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California

display of all the California missions in the museum at San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
display of all the California missions in the museum at San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California

bell tower at San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
bell tower at San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
 
 
interior garden at San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
interior garden at San Diego de Alcala mission in San Diego, California
 
Article about all 21 California missions.  

More things to do in San Diego.

More information about San Diego.

Things to do in nearby La Jolla. 

Travel articles to inspire and help you plan some spectacular local and foreign getaways.  Travel articles to inspire and help you plan trips.
 

images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

 

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Things to Do: Sara D. Roosevelt Park, NYC


Sara D. Roosevelt Park  Lower East Side.  This 7.85-acre park underwent a $5 million renovation in 2011.  It features a soccer field, track, roller-skating rink, basketball courts, two playgrounds, and a senior center.     

promenade at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in NYC
promenade at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in NYC

Houston Street Playground 
 
Rivington Street Playground 

Hester Street Playground  On Hester St., between Chrystie and Forsyth Sts.  Facilities include colorful play structures with padded ground beneath, a large sand pit, swings, and an enclosed toddler area.  The area is unshaded, but in summer an assortment of water features operate. Picnic tables--which tend to be in use by adults playing card games--and restrooms are available.
 
Hester Street Playground in NYC
Hester Street Playground in NYC

tile depicting Hester Street Playground in NYC
tile depicting Hester Street Playground in NYC

adults playing game outside Hester Street Playground in NYC
adults playing game outside Hester Street Playground in NYC


adults playing game outside Hester Street Playground in NYC
adults playing game outside Hester Street Playground in NYC

More things to do in NYC.

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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Stopover in LaPlace, Louisiana


STOPOVER IN LAPLACE
LaPlace is a convenient spot to overnight.  I recommend you plan in a swamp tour here as well.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites La Place  4284 Hwy. 51, in LAPLACE, (985) 618-1600.  Continental breakfast.  Pool; coin laundry.  This is a cog in the reliable chain and features really unusual bathroom plumbing.

Nobile’s Restaurant  2082 W. Main Street, in LUTCHER, (225) 869-8900.  L M-F, D Thur-Sat.  Built in 1895 during Louisiana’s lumber boom--this town harvested cypress--when it served as a bar and boarding house, this spacious restaurant features vintage high ceilings is a comfortable gathering place for locals.  It retains a lovely Victorian mahogany bar that greets arrivals and has some interesting collectables as part of the decor.  The menu offers Cajun and Creole dishes, including gumbo, seafood, and po’boys.  I chose a crispy Caesar salad and an unusual appetizer plate of crawfish empanadas to go with my colorful Hurricane cocktail.

front dining room in Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana
front dining room in Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana

rustic paintings for sale in Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana
rustic paintings for sale in Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana

Hurricane cocktail at Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana
Hurricane cocktail at Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana

Caesar salad at Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana
Caesar salad at Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana

crawfish empanadas at Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana
crawfish empanadas at Nobile's Restaurant in Lutcher, Louisiana
Nobile's Restaurant & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Cajun Pride Swamp Tour  110 Frenier Road, in LAPLACE.  Tours here glide through the legendary, privately owned Manchac Swamp, where you will see alligators, turtles, and a variety of birds.  Seasoned guides introduce additional local flora and fauna as the pontoon boat meanders through the waterway, and they tell tales of hurricanes, survival, and the unique Louisiana culture.  According to Captain Allen--our Cajun guide who sports a gravelly voice much like the late actor Redd Fox--whether you see alligators “depends on the temperature.”  At 70-degrees plus they come out.  Allen keeps alligators in his home as pets and sometimes brings one along for his riders to hold.  If you’re real lucky, as I was, he will do this on the day you visit and you, like I did, might get to hold a two-foot-long baby alligator.  

Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana
Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana

alligator spotted on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana
alligator spotted on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana

egrets spotted on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana
egrets spotted on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana

red cardinal spotted on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana
red cardinal spotted on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana

Captain Allen holds alligator on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana
Captain Allen holds alligator on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana

visitors hand off alligator on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana
visitors hand off alligator on Cajun Pride Swamp Tour in LaPlace, Louisiana

Nearby plantations.
 
More things to do in Louisiana. 
 
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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sights to See: Destrehan Plantation, Destrehan, Louisiana



Destrehan Plantation  13034 River Road, in DESTREHAN, (877) 453-2095, (985) 764-9315.  The oldest documented plantation in lower Mississippi, this fully restored property dates to 1787.  It started as an indigo plantation, and then in 1804 became the largest sugar plantation in the area.  A 10-minute video viewed in the brick-wall and brick–floor Cooling Room orients visitors for the 1-hour guided tour of the Big House—which began as a French Colonial in the 1790s, but was later remodeled into a Greek Revival--after which visitors can explore on their own.  Costumed guides, who refer to themselves as “interpreters of history,” interpret the legacy of the Destrehan family and point out the unique architectural features of their home, which being a country house was not so grand.  But though it had sparse furnishings, it was clean and well maintained.  The focus here is on stories, so you’ll learn about the French family whole lived here, as well as about Marguerite--the cook and laundress slave born in 1740.  You’ll also see an original document signed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.  Period craft demonstrations occur daily and include open-hearth cooking, indigo dyeing, sugar-cane processing, weaving, 1780s carpentry, and African-American herbal remedies.  

Big House at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana
Big House at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana

240-year-old live oak tree at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana
240-year-old live oak tree at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana


costumed guide at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana
costumed guide at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana

bedroom at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana
bedroom at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana

bathroom at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana
bathroom at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana

detail from painting at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana
detail from painting at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana

demo of 1780s carpentry at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana
demo of 1780s carpentry at Destrehan Plantation in Destrehan, Louisiana


More plantations.
 
 
More things to do in Louisiana. 
 
 
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images ©2017 Carole Terwilliger Meyers