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Archives for March 2013

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A Tour of Falmouth Pier

If I had my way, there wouldn’t be a Falmouth Pier. Heck, there wouldn’t have been even one cruise ship pier in Jamaica, period. But of course, no one asked me – they never ask the people, the ones who really matter. Anyway, it’s here now but believe me, there are more than a few disgruntled residents in Falmouth.

Entering Falmouth Pier

Entering the pier at Falmouth

Falmouth, capital of the parish of Trelawny, is located on Jamaica’s north coast about 30 minutes from Montego Bay. The town is home to approximately 4,000 residents.

Falmouth was founded in 1769 by Thomas Reid, an English planter. During sugar’s heyday, the port was the major shipping point for sugar, molasses, rum, coffee going to England, and slaves coming to the island.

Falmouth Pier's stores

Stores and immigration building, Falmouth

After the trade ended, the once booming town, which had piped water before New York City, fell on hard times. But with its extensive stock of Georgian buildings, the largest in the Caribbean, the town is experiencing new interest.

The Pier opened in 2011 following a nearly $200 million construction of a new deep water pier that can accommodate the largest ships in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. These 16-deck mega ships can transport 6,000 passengers and 2,000 crew.

On cruise days – Tuesdays to Thursdays – sometimes two ships dock at Falmouth Pier. However, even with the many historic Georgian structures in the town, the majority of passengers are bussed to Montego Bay or Ocho Rios. A small number do a walking tour of the town.

Falmouth Pier's immigration building

Immigration building, Falmouth

The US$100 per person that cruise ships passengers were projected to inject into the local economy hasn’t materialized. And when construction is completed at the Pier, Royal Caribbean will have practically duplicated the historic town and even fewer of its passengers will need to leave the pier.

One of two berths at Falmouth Pier

Berth for Royal Caribbean’s big ships

The building of Falmouth Pier changed the coastline and has caused considerable damage to the mangroves and coral reefs. When ships are in port, residents complain that there’s less water coming from the taps as they refill before leaving.

Despite how I feel about cruise ships, however, I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to tour Falmouth Pier. I had to see it for myself.

Royal Caribbean's Craft Market at Falmouth Pier

Craft market, the pier at Falmouth

On the day we went, no ships were in port – only construction workers and a few employees were around so we had unobstructed views. The pier has customs and immigration offices, stores, restaurants, and a Margaritaville, which is under construction. We were told that Falmouth residents will have access to Margaritaville when it opens.

Falmouth Pier seen from the Courthouse

Falmouth Pier seen from the Courthouse

Royal Caribbean's ship docked at Falmouth Pier

RC Ship dwarfs the town of Falmouth

Storyboards that tell the history of Falmouth line the main walkway and there’s a performance area where cultural groups to put on shows for passengers.

Of course, what I’ve written here was not part of the tour. But it’s difficult to see Falmouth Pier and not feel a bit sad. Once again, we’ve sold out our beautiful island and swapped one master — sugar planters, bauxite companies, other multinational organizations, etc. — for another.

What are your thoughts on cruise ships and the impact they have?

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

This week, I’m also linking up with the Friday Daydreaming series organized by Becca at Rwethereyetmom. Hope to see you there!

A Return to Seaford Town

Since my first visit to Seaford Town, about a year ago, I’ve wanted to return – mostly to photograph a few of the traditional German cottages I’d noticed there.

I got my chance this past weekend. This time, it wasn’t only about the cottages, it was to introduce Inge, my cousin’s German friend, who was visiting Jamaica for the first time, to Seaford Town, the largest German settlement here. I’m glad I returned as this visit offered a lot more interaction with residents than the previous one and yielded more information about the town.

Seaford Town was created in 1835 when the government at the time purchased 500 acres of land from a Lord Seaford, who owned the Montpelier Estate, to settle Germans who’d been recruited from Bavaria, Westphalia, and Waldeck.

With slavery about to come to an end, the planters thought of bringing in additional help to work the plantations. They probably also realized that for their own safety they needed to increase their numbers. (The Christmas rebellion of 1831 resulted in the deaths of 14 whites, about 500 slaves and property damage in the millions of pounds.)

They came up with a winning solution: recruit whites from Europe. One Dr. Lemonious received a grant from the House of Assembly to recruit 500 Germans.

I wasn’t able to determine why Lemonious picked these particular areas of Germany. Nevertheless, he would have known of the upheavals, economic and otherwise, that the Napoleonic and Revolutionary wars had caused. And being German, he would have known that German men, who were required to do military service, would know how to use guns. In fact, the new immigrants were armed when they arrived, and they not only increased the number of whites in Seaford Town, they were the planters’ line of defense against the former slaves.

The first group of Germans landed in Jamaica towards the end of 1835, another followed the next year. A third arrived in 1839. In all, 300 people with names like Sourlenders, Skelding, Somers, Sleiger, Eisinger, Dusterdick, Bierbusse, Fisher, and Myhaust landed in Jamaica.

[Read more…]

A Walk Around Madrid

Located in the center of Spain, Madrid is an ancient city which offers visitors many museums, shops and traditional restaurants. The city center is known for its traditional architecture and the nearby streets are filled with parks and markets.

Museums

Many visitors visit the city for its museums. The city’s main museums are the Prado, the Reina Sofia and the Thyssen Bornemisza, which form the Golden Triangle of Museums. There are many other museums near the city center, including the Museums of Costume and the Naval Museum.

Parks

A short walk from the three main museums visitors will find the Retiro Park. The park used to be the Royal Gardens. Visitors will be able to enjoy a caña beer on one of the park’s terrazas. There is a pond where boats can be rented.

A short distance away from the city center is the Casa de Campo, another large park with a lake. There is a theme park with many roller coaster. Next to this theme park visitors will find the city zoo, which has an aquarium, a reptile corner and many aviaries. The park is connected to the city center by public transport and by a cable car. The cable car offers views towards the western part of the city.

Museo Nacional del Prado

Museo Nacional del Prado

Historical city center

The city’s main square is the Plaza de Sol, where the Oso y Madroño statue is located. The statue is the city’s symbol and is located near the Town Hall. A short walk away there are several other squares, including the Plaza Mayor and the Plaza de España. In the Plaza Mayor visitors will be able to enjoy tapas and in Plaza de España there is a small park near the Don Quixote and Sancho Panza fountain and statue. Flea markets and events are organized on this square.

Madrid’s historical city center is known for its narrow cobbled streets filled with traditional houses and shops. Most of them were built during the reign of the Hapsburgs. The Royal Palace and the Almudena Cathedral, two of the city’s main landmarks, are located nearby. The palace has more than two thousand rooms and guided tours are organized around part of the halls. After touring the palaces visitors will be able to walk around the Sabatini Gardens, where many events are organized.

Markets and shops

The Rastro, located in the traditional and trendy La Latina district, just south of the city center, is one of the city’s main flea markets. Visitors will be able to buy flowers, food and retro and vintage artifacts.

The main shopping street is Gran Vía. The street is near Plaza de España and has many shops, including national and international brands, coffee shops and restaurants. The Serrano area is north of the city center and has many chic boutique stores. For those interested in local designers, the Malasaña district is filled with ecological cafés and small shops.

– Guest Post

photo by: rjhuttondfw

Moving Day, Westmoreland Jamaica

Sometimes, moving day can mean much more than moving household furniture and personal belongings. Sometimes, it also involves the  moving of the actual house.

Moving day, Westmoreland, Jamaica

Moving day, Westmoreland, Jamaica

When I read Budget Jan‘s post for last week’s Travel Photo Thursday, it reminded me of the times, in Westmoreland, when I’d see houses like this one being moved from one location to another, usually on a tractor. Westmoreland has a long history with tractors and sugarcane so it’s not unusual to see them pulling double duty. Still, I couldn’t believe my luck at seeing a house moving so soon after I was reminded of it. I was anxious to take the photo, I didn’t have time to adjust the lens on my camera.

Typically, the houses are made of wood (board) and have two rooms – a bedroom and living room. They are raised off the ground and sit on stones, sometimes blocks. They are usually called ‘board’ houses and because of the transient nature of their owner’s work, are never made of concrete.  Other rooms will be added as the owner’s economic situation improves and his family increases.

As we got closer to this house, we noticed that curtains were still hanging in the window and there was a television antenna on its side in one of the rooms. A car traveling ahead seemed to be transporting the owners as well as some of their belongings.

So popular was this way of moving houses that there are work songs created specifically for the occasion.

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

This week, I’m also linking up with the Friday Daydreaming series organized by Becca at Rwethereyetmom. Hope to see you there!