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Turn Your Phone into a Personal Tour Guide with GPS-Guided Travel Articles

Like most people, I make a list of places I want to visit when I travel and bookmark articles about interesting sites I’d like to see or restaurants I’d like to try. But the lists are just that and since my cell phone plan doesn’t include international travel, I can’t read the articles I’ve bookmarked without incurring fees to access them.

All isn’t lost, however. GPSMyCity is a new service that created a city walk app that embeds GPS navigation into travel articles. It also maps the route described in the article to show you the best attractions in over 750 cities around the world.

GPS-Related Travel Articles

The Holy Trinity article as it looks on my phone

All you need to use the GPSMyCity city walk app as a guide is to download it to your phone – you won’t need an internet or a WiFi connection. Once you navigate to the city you’d like to visit, the app will show you where you are on the map and guide you to the next location. You can read any article from GPSMyCity however, if you decide you’d like to use a GPS-guided feature, you’ll need to pay $1.99 to upgrade. That’s less than a cup of coffee! 

As a way of introducing you to this lovely concept, beginning today, January 30, 2017, I’ll be offering free upgrades to two of my article apps, The Awesome Splendor of Kingston’s Holy Trinity Cathedral and A Visit to the Bob Marley Museum.

To access these and other GPS-guided article apps or to browse by city for available article apps, click this link. Articles are free to download to your Apple device. Once you’ve downloaded the article, choose UPGRADE and pay $1.99. You will be linked automatically to an offline map and GPS navigation that will guide you through your tour. You only pay for the offline GPS-guided use.

Announced today, GPSMyCity announced today the addition of two new features to the iOS app: Audio and Custom Walk.

Audio. The audio function offers the option of having the article read to you as you walk rather than reading it yourself. 

Custom Walk. This new Walk function allows you to select some or all the sights featured in the article and create your own self-guided walking tour to these sights.

The GPSMyCity app is available for download at the App Store. 

The giveaway lasts until February 7, 2017.

 

 

 

Here are a few more articles that I have on GPSMyCity:

Note: If you choose to upgrade to one of my downloaded travel articles, GPSMyCity will send me a few cents to help me defray some of the costs of operating my travel blog.

Negril’s Rick’s Cafe Turns 40 Years, Folks!

I was rushing towards Times Square around 5:20 p.m. a few weeks ago when I noticed the unmistakable colors of the Jamaican flag high atop one of the buildings in the heart of the square.

I slowed my pace and looked. Sure enough, it was the flag. It was emblazoned on the finely chiseled body of a man, his arms outstretched as he prepared to take a dive, his movements magnified frame by slow motion frame. I was still fixated on his body when I it registered: the Rick’s Café logo.

Before I knew it, before I remembered that I had my digital camera in my bag, the ad was gone, replaced by another not so memorable one. Darn!

I did the next best thing: I took out my phone and sent a text to everyone in my address book. “Rick’s Café is 40, they have an ad in Times Square!!”

Yes, folks, Rick’s Café, voted the Best Beach Bar by the Travel Channel, is 40 years old. Forty? I was surprised. When did that happen? Wasn’t it just the other day? Time sure flies, I thought.

I still remember the first time I heard about it. I was in a taxi on my way to JFK to catch an Air Jamaica flight home. The driver asked where I was going and when I told him, he asked if I’d ever been to Rick’s Cafe. I hadn’t, even though it’s located in Westmoreland, close to where I was headed.

Rick’s Cafe was founded in April 1974 when Negril, then mostly a fishing village with few amenities hadn’t even started dreaming of tourism – at least, not on the scale it is now.

I can’t remember the first time I visited but after that, it became a regular place to hang out and watch the sunset, a place to take friends who were visiting. Seriously, if you’re in to watching the sun as it slowly paints everything in its path orange, purple, red, gold, blues as it moves behind the horizon, drink in hand, then Rick’s Cafe is the place for you. (That finely chiseled body, I mentioned earlier, yeah, Rick’s known for that too. They’re usually several more like him and they’re like the icing on the cake.)

Rick's Cafe Turns 40 Years, Folks!

Rick’s Cafe ad, Times Square

The next day, I told all my Jamaicans friends at work to go check out the ad and I looked for it every day after that, camera and phone at the ready, but I didn’t see it. I was disappointed. Did I imagine it?

I returned for several more days, no luck. Honestly, I kinda gave up. Then one morning, as I was passing through at 8:30, which is late for me, I glanced up halfheartedly, and caught the last frame of the ad. Big smile brightened my face. Okay, I though, it’s still playing. And it seems to rotate on the hour at the half hour.

But just to be sure, I made a plan: I’d pass through Times Square at 5:30 to see if I’d catch it. Sure enough, I did. I left work late, the following evening not even thinking about the ad and saw it again. This time, it was at 6:30.

A few days later, I ran into Paul, one of the people I had told about the ad, in Times Square. He was in the right place – at the corner of 43rd Street and Broadway — but he was looking away from the ad.

I set him straight and we waited together. Several ads cycled through then without fanfare, the Rick’s Café ad appeared. Paul was still holding his cell phone staring at the ad instead of taking a photo – it happened to me too. I shouted at him, “Paul, tek di picture!”

That night, I sent out an email to my friends. We were going to Hell’s Kitchen for dinner the following evening. Let’s meet in Times Square, I said, so we can catch the ad together. Despite the rain, I hustled to the spot we had agreed on but they didn’t make it. Their loss, but I’ll try again. (Seeing it is such a joy, it’s like watching Usain (Bolt) or any of our athletes win. It fills me with tremendous pride, a pride we all share. It’s a Jamaican thing, an island thing. You understand?)

I have no idea how long the Rick’s Cafe ad is running but if you’re ever in Times Square and would like to see it, head for 43rd and Broadway. If you stand at the northeast corner and look up at the billboard above Europa, you’ll see it. It seems to run every hour on the half hour. At least that’s when I’ve seen it.

Happy Birthday, Rick’s Café! You’re aging gracefully and still managing to maintain your wild side. Here’s to another 40 years of providing us the best vantage point to enjoy the most spectacular sunsets in Negril.

Rick’s Cafe is located on West End Road in Negril, Jamaica. 876-957-0380

5 Reasons to Get Out of Negril and explore Westmoreland

Negril’s legendary 7-mile white sand beach and its laid-back attitude draw thousands of visitors annually. Most are content with relaxing on the beach that straddles two parishes, Westmoreland and Hanover, but there are several reasons to get out and explore what lies beyond the sand on the Westmoreland side.

The eighth largest of Jamaica’s 14 parishes, Westmoreland takes up the south western end of Jamaica. It was first settled by Taino and Ciboney Indians, remains of whom have been found in Negril and Bluefields, which lies several miles up the coast from Savanna la Mar, the capital. Christopher Columbus stopped in Bluefields, known then as Oristan or Oristano, and a settlement was formed there in 1519, making it one of the oldest settled areas in the island.

Westmoreland is also home to a large population of the descendants of indentured laborers who came from the Indian subcontinent to work on the island after slavery was abolished.

Nature

Royal Palm Nature Reserve: Part of the 10,000-acre Great Morass, the wetland area extending from Westmoreland into the neighboring parish of St. Elizabeth, this 300 acre expanse of towering Royal Palms, is the largest stand in the world. The half-mile boardwalk allows you to see up close many of the more than 300 species of reptiles, birds, and butterflies, and over 114 species of flowers. There are also extensive deposits of peat. Open daily, 9-6. Cost: $15 adults, $7 children. Located in Sheffield, a few miles from Negril. 876-364-7404

Mayfield Falls: Billed as Jamaica’s #1 eco-tourism destination, Mayfield Falls boasts waterfalls, 21 natural pools, 52 varieties of ferns, and flowers, butterflies and birds. 876-610-8612

Roaring River Park & Cave: The park and cave are located on the Roaring River Estate that was once owned by the Hay and Beckford families and later taken over by the West Indies Sugar Company (WISCo). The property gets its name from the river that provides water for much of the parish of Westmoreland. The limestone cave and a blue hole, which sits on private property, are both major attractions for the area. Guided tours of the cave and community can be provided by residents of the community for a fee. Located near Petersfield, a visit to Roaring River can be paired with a trip to Abeokuta (below) a few miles away.

5 Reasons to Get Out of Negril - Abeokuta

5 Reasons to Get Out of Negril – Abeokuta

Abeokuta Private Nature Park: When slaves came to this part of Jamaica, they brought with them the memory of the place in Nigeria where they had come from. To them, this small corner of Westmoreland reminded them of it and they named it Abeokuta. Now a nature park, it was officially opened in 2003 by the Nigerian High Commissioner to Jamaica. On the grounds are the ruins of an old great house, an aqueduct, which channels water from a river a quarter mile away into a near Olympic-size pool. The pool is possibly one of the oldest swimming pools in Jamaica. From Abeokuta, you can see as far as the coast. 876-891-0837 Located near Dean’s Valley.

Blue Hole Mineral Spring: I have not checked out this spring yet but it looks very inviting. Pool and mineral spring. Wabba 876-860-8805 Near Negril.

Sports

Negril Hills Golf Club: 18 holes, par 72, 6,333 yards, tennis court, pro shop and restaurant. 876-957-4638. Negril

Culture

Seaford Town: One of Jamaica’s best known German communities, Seaford Town, welcomed immigrants from Germany in the 1830s. A small museum documents the history of this community.

Hilton High Day Tour: A day tour of Hilton Plantation can be combined with a trip to Seaford Town, a few yards away. The tour includes a buffet lunch of roasted pig. Enjoy a relaxing stroll around the plantation, which is located in Westmoreland’s Montpelier Mountains.

Although Seaford Town and Hilton Plantation are located geographically in Westmoreland, they are best reached from Montego Bay.

Heritage Sites

Manning's School - Thomas Manning Building, photo from website

Manning’s School – Thomas Manning Building

Manning’s School: Although not a tourist site, Manning’s, founded in 1738 on land bequeathed by Thomas Manning in 1710 for a free school, is the second oldest high school in Jamaica. Its main building, now a library, is a Georgian structure that was constructed of timber. It has a vented gable roof, a cupola with fixed jalousie to provide ventilation, and deep verandahs on the sides. Located in Savanna la Mar, the capital.

Negril Point Lighthouse: Built by a French company in 1894 on a 14 foot deep tank which is filled with water to keep the lighthouse stable in the event of an earthquake. The lighthouse is painted white and rises 66 feet above ground.

Negril Hills Golf Club

Negril Hills Golf Club

Chebuctoo Great House: This Georgian style great house was declared a national monument in 2008. Chebuctoo, which is located on a pimento farm in Cave (near Bluefields) got its name from the Indian name of Halifax, with which Jamaica had significant trade in the 18th century, especially in salted fish.

View of the Caribbean Sea from Chebuctoo Great House, photo from the Internet

View of the Caribbean Sea from Chebuctoo Great House

Music

Peter Tosh Memorial: A few miles up the coast from Bluefields is the community of Belmont where a monument to Winston McIntosh, popularly known as Peter Tosh, a founding member of The Wailers and a son of Westmoreland, is located.

Note: My roots go deep in Westmoreland. I also graduated from Manning’s.

 

 

 

Travel Photo Thursday: Negril

Negril is located on the western tip of Jamaica. It got its name from the Spanish word, Negrillo, which either refers to the black cliffs south of this small community or the black eels that used to be found along its coast.

Whenever I go to this world famous spot, I always think of my first visit. I was 10 or 11 years old at the time. All Negril was then was a main road, the beach, a couple places to stay and a few houses. I wish I had photos.

Thirty-plus years later, Negril is a busy resort area that plays host annually to more visitors than the estimated 3,000 people who live there year round. It is this year’s Spring Break destination. Its well known white-sand beach is lined with all inclusive hotels, guest houses and cottages, and its main road — the only way in — now a boulevard that bears a famous name: Norman Manley, national hero and leader.

I took these photos on my most recent trip.

Negril - early morning on the beach

Negril - Early morning beach scene

Negril - beach scene

Negril - Beach scene

Negril beach sign

Negril - Beach sign

There might be no nude bathing allowed but I did see a few nude sunbathers.

Negril Starfish

Negril - Starfish

This starfish was washed ashore just as I walked by.

Negril beach scene

Negril - Beach scene

Negril, Riu Hotel

Negril - Riu Hotel

Negril - waiting for the sunset at Rick's Cafe

Negril - Waiting for the sunset, Rick's Cafe

Rick’s Cafe has been a fixture in Negril for about 30 years. Crowds gather to watch the sunset with the same enthusiasm as they do in Times Square to watch the ball drop on New Years Eve, except there are fewer people.

Negril sunset

Negril sunset

This is my submission to this week’s Budget Travelers Sandbox Travel Photo Thursday series. Be sure to check out other photo and story entries on their website.