Category Archives: Puerto Rico

Cemetery Tourism

I have always been fascinated by a cemetery.

There is a huge one near where I live, which dates to about one hundred years ago.  Many graves were moved here, and at the time it was considered so far out in the country it would last forever.  They estimate it will last another hundred years, but the city has grown around it.

There has been some neglect over time, and they have summer students doing research, and finding markers that have toppled sometime in the past and are completely grown over with grass.

Here, I look at a couple of historic cemeteries.

St Thomas Anglican Church

The Chisholm Monument
The Chisholm Monument

The Anglican church and cemetery date back to the early 1800s, and this is the most extravagant marker in the plot.  The Chisolm family have seven names attached to this marker, three of whom died in 1832.

Lafayette Cemetery #1

Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans

Located in the Garden District of New Orleans, this active working cemetery was established in 1833.

“Society Tombs” were established in the days before government-sponsored children’s services. Orphans and foster children were relegated to children’s homes and orphanages and would be interred here due to the high mortality rate.

Santa María Magdalena de Pazzis Cemetery

Santa Maria Cemetery, San Juan
Santa Maria Cemetery, San Juan
Santa Maria Cemetery, San Juan
Santa Maria Cemetery, San Juan

Located in San Juan, Puerto Rico,  construction for Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzis began in 1863 and was administered by Carmelite nuns.  It is on the Atlantic shore at the foot of  Castillo San Felipe del Morro.

St Louis Cemetery #1

St Louis Cemetery, New Orleans
St Louis Cemetery, New Orleans

There’s a reason that I have saved this one for last.

The photo was taken from a tour bus as we drove by.  The cemetery is located on Basin Street and was established by the Catholic church in 1789.

I’m sure it is lovely inside.  However, it is a private operation, and not open for viewing unless you pay for a tour, something I was not prepared to do.  Not because I’m cheap, I just believe that charging for access like it is a tourist attraction is wrong.


Symmetry in Architecture & Design

Symmetry in Architecture & Design

I’m not one prone to haunt beaches.  I did spend a few days on Ambergris Caye in Belize a few years ago, but that’s about the extent of my tropical vacations.  My visit to Puerto Rico was mostly limited to San Juan and a few outlying areas, including El Yunque Rain Forest.

I do like wandering cities.  Walking the streets, enjoying the street art and graffiti (Athens), but mostly for the history.  Old neighbourhoods and buildings are a delight, sometimes even more so when looking up.

Shanghai Pudong Airport

It’s modern, and it’s huge.  Standard airport with lots of glass and seemingly endless shopping and eating experiences available, if you have time to kill.  Looking up, this was the delightful ceiling in departures.

The symmetrical ceiling in the departure area of Shanghai Pudong Airport.
The symmetrical ceiling in the departure area of Shanghai Pudong Airport.
Keleti Station, Budapest

My last day in Budapest.  I have checked out of my apartment rental, and took the long walk, suitcase dragging, to the train station, bound for Vienna.  Keleti station opened in 1884 – a glorious building from outside.  Inside it’s another story.  The platforms seemed a bit grimy and dark, but looking up provided two lines of sky.

Keleti Station, Budapest
Interior of Keleti Station, Budapest. The symmetric lines of light meet at the open end.
Lincoln Cathedral

Located in England, building began in 1088 and it was consecrated in 1092.  Part of the original cathedral remains, although there were many additions throughout the Medieval period.  It was the tallest building in the world for 238 years.  Perfect symmetry, even at this height.

Lincoln Cathedral
Interior view, Lincoln Cathedral
Hyde Park, London

Sometimes, symmetry can be found right in front of you.  Hyde Park was directly across the street from my hotel when I stayed in London in 2011.  I was at Bayswater Road & St Petersburgh Place, and the bike share was immediately inside the entrance.

Bike Share, Kensington Gardens, London, UK
Bike Share, Kensington Gardens, London, UK
York Minster

The Cathedral and Metropolitical Church of Saint Peter in York, known by it’s common name, York Minster.  Although there were previous churches on this site, this building was began in 1230 and completed in 1472.  Note the dragon on the right.

The York Minster, York, England. Note the dragon on the right hand side.
The York Minster, York, England. Note the dragon.

So I have provided a sample of some of my favourites encountered during my travels.  There are many more.






Preview of Changes and Upcoming Travel

New Developments

It’s early 2017.  We’re having decent weather on the sunshine coast of Florida.  Mostly sunny, and starting to get warm.  There has been very little rain, and only a couple of storms. My only travel has been local –  to Orlando, Tampa and St Petersburg.

I’ve been spending my winters in Florida for the past eight years.  I bought a condo in an adult only development.  From here, I have been able to fly or drive to Puerto Rico, Belize, Las Vegas, Turkey, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Panama City.

Now, it’s time to go.  The US government has made a sharp turn to the right, and I think it will get worse.  I’ve sold my condo, and will be departing on 16th March, not to return.

Packing up the house is a chore, and most of what I own has been sold.  I’ll be spending one night in Corbin, Kentucky, and should arrive in Canada by the 18th of March.

2017 Travel

25th April – This is a bit up in the air at the moment.  I have booked a few days in Lansing, MI, thanks to IHG Points Breaks.  Since then, an event has come up in Warrendale, PA that I’d like to attend.  Can’t do both, but I have some time to decide.

9th May – Today I depart for my first trip to Greece.  I’ll be based in Athens, and have a trip to Delphi scheduled.  There is a travel break to Santorini, then back to Athens.  I have booked an apartment through Ebab which has a view of the Acropolis.

6th July – This week I’ll be doing a circle tour of Lake Superior, by car.  First stop is Sault Ste Marie, then three days in Thunder Bay.

Poster for the 2017 Thunder Bay Blues Fest - last year attendance was over 18,000
Summer travel to the 2017 Thunder Bay Blues Fest – last year attendance was over 18,000

I’ll be at the festival for all three days, then departing on Monday for a leisurely drive to a place called Iron Mountain, MI.  Two days later I’ll be back home.

7th November – This day I depart Toronto for twelve days in China.  In addition to Beijing, I have a balcony cabin for a cruise on the Yangtze River.

That’s all that I have planned for this year, however I’m quite certain some smaller trips will work their way in.  Beyond this list, I travel to Kenya and Tanzania in October, 2018.


El Yunque Rainforest

A trip to Puerto Rico wouldn’t be complete without a trip to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System.

There is a visitor’s certre to visit, and as you drive in, a place to leave your vehicle.  From here, your trip will be on foot.

Visitor's Centre at El Yunque National Forest
Visitor’s Centre at El Yunque National Forest

This is the path at the entrance.  Beyond here, it is mostly paved access.

Entrancce to El Yunque Rainforest
Entrancce to El Yunque National Forest

Part way through, you will encounter La Coca Waterfall.

El Coca Falls, El Yunque Rainforest
La Coca Falls, El Yunque Rainforest

It is a long trip up the path.  Very hot, and very humid.  People coming down the path tell you that you’re almost there, but you’re not.  It’s a very long slog, with a reward at the end.

Top of the Rainforest
Top of the Rainforest
Top of the Rainforest
Top of the Rainforest

I stayed at the top for about an hour, chatting with the locals (thanks for the info, George!).  From here, one can see San Juan, Loiza and Fahardo.  That dot out in the Atlantic Ocean is St Thomas.

Clouds blow past your head.  There was a brief rainstorm.  Returning takes less than half the time it takes to get there.

Puerto Rico 2010

Way back in 2010, I happened to stumble upon a great deal to Puerto Rico.  I was living in Sarasota, Florida at the time.  The trip was for a four day weekend, included return flight, hotel, and a car rental for $500.00.  I couldn’t resist.

The flight was uneventful.  I arrived at the airport and went outside looking for the car rental place.  The heat and humidity hit me like a sledgehammer.  Turns out, there are no car rentals at the airport (although there was a closed casino).  I had to take a shuttle to somewhere in San Juan to pick up my vehicle.  This also meant I had to remember where this place was to return the car.

Lucky me, I got a white Toyota Yaris.

Coral by the Sea
Coral by the Sea, Carolina, Puerto Rico

This was my hotel on the coast, east of Puerto Rico.  Two short blocks from the ocean, and free parking.  I had a decent room on the top floor, facing the street.  On the lower left of the building was an ice cream parlour, on the left a restaurant.  This was used a lot by people for an overnight stay before boarding a cruise ship.  I have never seen travellers with so much luggage before.  I brought a backpack.

101 Bar
101 Bar, Carolina, Puerto Rico

Between the Coral by the Sea and the Ritz Carlton, this was my hangout.  Wonderful owners and patrons, cold beer, good food, inexpensive.  A quick search today tells me it has since been closed.

El Morrow
El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Guard Station, El Morrow, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Guard Station, El Morrow, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Castillo San Filipe del Morro is a Spanish citadel built to guard the entrance to San Juan Bay in the 1600’s.  Construction began in 1539 by order of King Charles V of Spain.  Many improvements were made over time.  The original 1.8M thick walls were increased to 5.5M by the end of the 18th century.  Puerto Rico was awarded to the US at the end of the Spanish-American war in 1898.

In 1961, the US Army officially retired El Morro, and the citadel was declared a World Heritage Site by the UN, and is a US National Park.

Guard Station, El Morro, Puerto Rico
Guard Station, El Morro, Puerto Rico
Entrance to El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Entrance to El Morro, San Juan, Puerto Rico


Abandoned Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Abandoned Hotel, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Old San Juan is mix of modern structures and also a place where time has stood still.  This old hotel had been abandoned for some time.

North Shore, San Juan, Puerto RIco
North Shore, San Juan, Puerto RIco

The rocky shore of San Juan, Puerto RIco, below El Morro.

San Juan, Puerto Rico 2010


Downtown San Juan is old, crowded, and noisy.  Tight streets, I couldn’t find anywhere to park my rented Toyota Yaris except at the parking garage by El Morrow.  Beer costs more in these crowded streets.  Stumbled across this old wreck of what was once a hotel.  Long abandoned.




Reminds me of Belize City, with its burnt out, abandoned or otherwise derelict buildings.


Puerto Rico, 2010



Continuing with my trip to Puerto Rico, I drove to the El Yunque Rainforest.  It’s a long drive in, and after parking the car, a short walk to the entrance to the walking trail.

Thought I’d take a short walk in, but it was not to be.  After what seemed like an eternity, I made it to the top, with the help of some friends I made along the way.



Here I am, with my head in the clouds.