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A Spectacular Approach to LaGuardia Airport

We were coming in to land at LaGuardia Airport on a particularly sunny afternoon a few months ago when I looked out the window – I always get the window seat for precisely this reason – and saw this:

Approaching LaGuardia Airport1

New York City

It was such a spectacular view, I grabbed my cell phone and moved closer to avoid the sun’s glare on the window. (Thank goodness, there was no dust and no watermarks.)

Approaching LaGuardia Airport2

The Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges cross the East River and connect the east side of Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Approaching LaGuardia Airport3

That patch of land in the foreground is Governor’s Island, a 172-acre island 800 yards south of Manhattan, which is on the left. To the north, is Brooklyn, one of New York’s five boroughs. (Staten Island, Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx are the other four.) 

Approaching LaGuardia Airport4

Governor’s Island

Here we’re almost flying over Governor’s Island, moving towards Manhattan’s southern tip.

Approaching LaGuardia Airport5

Over Buttermilk Channel, which separates Governor’s Island from Brooklyn, going towards the East River. Governor’s Island to your left, Brooklyn on your right.  Manhattan ahead. 

Approaching LaGuardia Airport7

Continuing over Brooklyn towards Queens. That’s the East River on the left, Manhattan is across the river.

Approaching LaGuardia Airport8

Getting closer to the airport; getting closer to land.

Approaching LaGuardia Airport9

Named for the former New York mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia, LaGuardia Airport is located in East Elmhurst, Queens, and overlooks Flushing Bay. Whenever I fly in to LaGuardia, I always look out the window and watch the approach. Since the bay is so close, it looks like we’re heading straight for the water. Finally, the runway comes into view. I always say a prayer of gratitude for the pilot’s skill. (If you’ve landed at Laguardia, you know what I mean.)

New York City from LaGuardia approach

LaGuardia is the smallest of the three major airports (JFK International and Newark Liberty International are the other two) that service the New York City area. It also has no immigration or border control so if you’re flying in from Canada, for example, you clear immigration before your flight departs.

Have you ever landed at an airport that has a tricky or unusual approach?

Linking this week with Travel Photo Thursday that Nancie of Budget Travelers Sandbox, Jan at Budget Travel Talk, Ruth at Tanama Tales, and Rachel at Rachel’s Ruminations.

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Also linking with The Weekly Postcard hosted by A Hole in my Shoe

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Be sure to head over to these linkups for more travel photos from around the world.

 

Seeing Jamaica on Television

Jamaica had a fantastic few weeks on American television when two reality shows, The Real Housewives of Atlanta and The Bachelor, filmed some of their episodes there. Although neither show appeals to me, I swallowed my distaste and allowed the storyline to take a backseat to the view unfolding on my television screen. I ended up catching more of The Bachelor than of the Housewives. Here are some of the places they featured (not in oder):

YS Falls, St. Elizabeth

The show centers around a young man who’s trying to find a marriage bride. In the episodes that were filmed in Jamaica, the prospective groom travels with one of the two female finalists to YS Falls. Located on a 2,00-acre spread in southwestern Jamaica, YS Estate and Falls is a former sugarcane and logwood tree (a natural dye) farm and privately owned stud farm. YS has its own waterfall – seven, to be exact – that reach to 120 meters with several natural pools.  

Seeing Jamaica

YS Falls

The area surrounding the falls is lush and green. Visitors can swim, do canopy rides or just relax. There are also activities for children.

YS Falls, Jamaica

YS Falls, Jamaica

#TPThursday: Falling for YS Falls

Falling for YS Falls

Good Hope Great House

I saw only a part of the episode that was shot at Good Hope Great House. When I tuned in, the couple was standing outside the house. Although the grounds are beautiful, I think the interior is even more stunning.

Good Hope Great House

Good Hope Great House

A Photo Review of 2013

Good Hope

Counting House, Good Hope Great House

The Counting House

The Blue Lagoon

When they showed the couple at the Blue Lagoon, also called the Blue Hole, the popular local destination was unusually devoid of people but still recognizable. Located between the parishes of St. Ann and St. Mary, the Blue Lagoon, was not quite ready for international visitors when I visited a few years ago. It’s possible that the show could have rented it for filming. 

Blue Lagoon

It was great to see the Blue Lagoon on television. I was a little sad though as it’s one of those places that, given the choice, I’d keep for local use.

Blue Lagoon,

Do you ever go out of your way to watch a show that featured your country?

Linking this week with Travel Photo Thursday that Nancie of Budget Travelers Sandbox, Jan at Budget Travel Talk, Ruth at Tanama Tales, and Rachel at Rachel’s Ruminations

 

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How Much Will Cuba Change?

President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba later this month has its many detractors both here in the U.S. and in Cuba. Normalizing relationships is beneficial for both countries, for the region, and especially for ordinary Cubans, but Cuba will no doubt change. I wonder what will be lost.

I visited Havana in 2009 so I could see it as it is before America, with its fast food and chain stores, returned and reduced everything to bland sameness. Here are a few things I hope won’t disappear.

Callejón de Hamel

Located between Calle Arumburu and Calle Hospital and about 10 minutes’ walking distance from the US Interest Section (now the consulate) in Vedado, Callejón de Hamel pulses with Afro-Cuban music starting at about 11 a.m. on Sundays. The rhythms, the vibe uniquely Cuban.  

Havana Callejón de Hamel

Callejón de Hamel

All around are murals by well-known local artist Salvador Gonzáles Escalon.

Havana Callejón de Hamel

Mural at Callejón de Hamel

Mural, Callejon de Hamel

Mural, Callejon de Hamel

Centro de los Orishas, Regla

Located about 20 minutes’ drive from Havana, the Centro de los Orishas in Regla is an open-air museum with wooden sculptures that depict the santería gods, Obbatala, Yemaya, Chango, Ochun, Babalu Aye, Eleggua and Ochun.

Havana, Shango and Ochun

Change (red) and Ochun

Havana, Yemaya

Yemaya

Billboard Free Cuba

Probably the first thing you’ll notice in Cuba is that there is no commercial advertising, no billboards hawking products. Instead, there are murals and signs extolling the revolution, and the country’s achievements. 

Havana mural

We I found this 300m mural on Mercaderes Street, across from the Marqués de Arcos mansion. Created by the artist, Andrés Carrillo, along with the architect Jaime Rodríguez, sculptor Nicolás Ramos Guiardinú and students from the San Alejandro Art Academy, the mural is made up of 52 panels that depict 67 outstanding historical and artistic figures in Cuba.  

Havana Libre

Vivo en un pais libre

Translated, this mural proclaims, “I live in a free country.” I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on the Cuban people.

Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara

I found this etching of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, the Argentine-born doctor, guerrilla leader and a major figure in the Cuban Revolution on a sidewalk.

Havana Che

And this one across from Plaza de la Revolución (if you’ve ever seen video of Fidel Castro speaking to a multitude of people, that’s where they’d gather). Interestingly, it almost faces the statue of José Martí, another important historical figure.

Che

José Julián Martí y Pérez

There are several memorials to José Julián Martí y Pérez, a poet, journalist, revolutionary and national hero who was born in Havana more than 160 years ago and is revered as the father of the revolution.  

Statue of Jose Marti

Statue of Jose Marti

However, to me, this one shows Martí’s humanity.

Jose Marti

The inscription at the base reads, “to timely prevent with the independence of Cuba that is spreading through the Antilles the United States and fall with that additional force over our American lands. All I have done so far, and will do, is for that.” – Jose Marti, May 18, 1895, hours before dying in combat.

Havana’s Classic Cars

You’ll see these classic American made cars all over Cuba. Some, like this one, are surprisingly in pretty good condition. I wonder how quickly their Cuban owners will exchange them for much needed cash (and if the government will allow it). 

Havana car

Havana car

Classic Car taxi

Classic Car taxi 

Black Flags

One thing that, thankfully, has disappeared are the Black Flags. On February 6, 2009, the Cuban Government hoisted 138 black flags, each with a star, to commemorate the lives that were lost during the Bay of Pigs and other tragic events that the Cubans have attributed to the U.S. Government. Although the U.S. had no diplomatic relations with Cuba since 1961, it maintained a presence in Havana.  

This photo doesn’t show it but the U.S. Interest Section is to the left of the flags. The building is several floors high and on the outside, near the roof, which lined up near the top of the flags, was a crawling informational sign with news and political information (Cuba controls information its citizens are exposed to). The thinking is that the government placed the flags there to obscure the crawling sign. The flags were removed in 2011 so the president will not see them when he arrives in Cuba later this month.

Havana's Black flags

Black Flags, Havana Cuba

Change is inevitable, even in a communist country like Cuba. The challenge for the government is to manage the change as well as the expectation of its citizens, many of whom are like my friend, Emilio, who’s happy to establish relations with the U.S. As Emilio said, “La gente esta muy contenta por el restablesimiento de las relaciones entre los dos paises.”

Linking with Travel Photo Thursday

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Rocking Down Electric Avenue, Brixton

Electric Avenue is the Brixton, South London street that gave its name to the song that was No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the summer of 1983. I know the song and started humming it immediately after I spotted this sign above a row of stalls in Brixton Market last summer. However, I did not know about the street. 

Electric Avenue Brixton

What a happy coincidence, I thought as I stopped to take this photo. I looked forward to sharing my find with family and friends when I returned home.

A few days later, as I walked down Electric Avenue with one of my cousins, a history buff and a child of Brixton, he pointed to the sign and waving his hand towards the street, announced quite proudly, “This is the first market street in all of Britain to get electricity, that’s why it’s called Electric Avenue. It doesn’t look like much now but can you imagine how it would have looked then?”  I couldn’t but he had my attention. 

Electric Avenue runs between Brixton Road and Atlantic Avenue. It has had electricity since 1888. Old photos show an elegant, gently curved street of Victorian row houses with distinctive iron canopies.

Electric Avenue, 1912

Electric Avenue, 1912 from urban75.0rg

Now part of Brixton Market, Electric Avenue is a bustling area of street and indoor markets with restaurants, coffee shops, and stalls selling clothing, household goods, meat, fish, vegetables, and produce from Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean.  Except for the canopies, which were removed in the 1980s because of damages they had sustained from World War II bombs, Electric Avenue looks much like it did in 1912. The row houses are still there though they’re now partly obscured by vending stalls.

By the time the British Guyanese singer, songwriter and producer, Eddy Grant’s eponymous song became a hit (in 1982 in Britain, 1983 in the US), Brixton had been home to thousands of Caribbean and African immigrants who began pouring into the area in 1948.

With few jobs and poor housing, crime spiraled. In 1981, the police instituted the ‘sus law’ that allowed them to stop and search anyone they suspected of criminal activity. A riot broke out causing hundreds of injuries, damage to property and scores of arrests. Although there is no mention of the word ‘riot’ in Electric Avenue (the song), and no rioting on Electric Avenue (the street) , it is this riot that Grant references.

Electric Avenue is easily accessible from the Brixton Underground and several London bus routes, including the 109, 250, 333 and 415.

Linking this week with Travel Photo Thursday which Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Jan at Budget Travel Talk, Ruth at Tanama Tales, and Rachel at Rachel’s Ruminations

 

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