Wasting Away in Margaritaville

Well, here we are in Key West, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, also known as the Conch Republic. It is quite a scene. In some respects, it bears a faint resemblance to Nashville’s honky-tonk scene. There are lots of bars and restaurants with working musicians playing guitars looking for a break. Like Jimmy Buffet. But Key West is far more upscale.

Welcome Booth

Located in the Straits of Florida, Key West (Cayo Hueso in Spanish) is an island city at the Southernmost point of the North American Continent. It is closer to Cuba than it is to Miami. He island is very small—only 1 mile long and 4 miles wide. If you walk the length of Duval Street (the main street) you will have walked from the Gulf of Mexico at one end to the Florida Straits and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

 

The permanent population is about 25,000, and tourism is a very big deal here. And the tourists arrive by plane, auto, ferry and cruise ship. In the first three months of 2018 alone, cruise ships brought about 275,000 tourists to the island and airplanes brought about 120,000.

Key West is (or was) home to quite a few notables, including Earnest Hemmingway, John Dos Passos, Tennessee Williams, John Dewey, Winslow Homer and Calvin Klein to name a few.

Anyway, Key West is a more than a bit bohemian with an independent streak and a live-and-let live attitude that is kind of refreshing. More than refreshing, actually. There may be a lesson here.

Here (below) are some photos taken during our too short stay.

JFB

Famous Sloppy Joe’s Bar
Fat Tuesday
Rick’s Bar on Duval Street
The Customs House Museum

Guayaquil, Ecuador

Located on the western bank of the Guayas River, Guayaquil is Ecuador’s largest city (pop 2.7 million) and its main port. It was founded in 1538 by Spanish Conquistador Francisco de Orellana. The city suffered a series of attacks and looting by French and English pirates over the years. By the 19th century Ecuador won its independence from Spain and became a sovereign country.

 

Ecuador is currently on a drive to attract tourism and international business—just like everybody else. Part of the project involves the apparently successful creation of a waterfront promenade in Guayaquil complete with restaurants, offices and hotels. Guayaquil also has a thriving arts community with an Arts district in the city that houses and galleries. We visited both places–some photos are below.

Large Ferris Wheel Juts out from the Promenade

 

One of the problems Ecuador is attempting to deal with is the flow—becoming a flood—of refugees from Venezuela. To no one’s surprise (excepting Noam Chomsky) the worker’s paradise founded by Chavez, now presided over by Maduro, has been a crashing failure just like all the others. And so people are exiting for Ecuador, Columbia and Peru in an attempt to find food and medicine and other necessities. Venezuela’s neighbors have now shut their borders. Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Cyclists in the Arts District
Modern Architecture on the Promenade
Walkway In the New Part of the City

JFB

 

Iquique, Chile

Iquique, a town of 181,000 people, is located in northern Chile on the Pacific coast. Originally part of Peru, it had a large Chilean population. But as a result of the War of the Pacific (1879—1883) Peru ceded it to Chile where is has remained since.

 

The town developed rapidly with the discovery of mineral riches in the Atacama Desert during the 19th century. Mining saltpeter was particularly lucrative for a while, but eventually a way was discovered to make it synthetically, and that spelled doom for many mining towns, the remnants of which can be seen today in the desert—which is the driest hot desert on the planet.

 

After docking at Iquique, we went out to see Humberstone, about 30 miles away. It is one of the abandoned “ghost towns” that dot the landscape. Actually, desert scape is probably a better way to describe the town, which was designated a UNESCO cultural heritage sight in 2005.

Humberstone Ghost Town, a UNESCO world heritage site
Abandoned Buildings in Humberstone

After making our way back to Iquique proper we went to an opulent club off the town square to have some Pisco sours, after which we looked around the very attractive town square, saw a demonstration, and headed back to the ship.

Protestors Demonstrating in Iquique
The Iquique Town Square–note the mountains in the background

Iquique is the last port if call in Chile for us, so we are now headed off for Peru to see what awaits is there. Some photos from Iquique and Humberstone are below.

 

JFB

Nelson, New Zealand

Before turning to the city of Nelson, New Zealand, a piece of news. We published an article in Apogee, an online photo magazine, that recounts some of our Safari in South Africa. The article can be seen at this link:http://www.apogeephoto.com/glamping-photo-safari-africa/

Now–back to Nelson.

Nelson, the second-oldest city in New Zealand, is on the eastern shore of the Tasman Bay. The city is also known by its Maori name of Whakatu. The Maori settlements in what is now Nelson came about 700 years ago, beating Captain Hook to the punch by a couple of hundred years.  The city, with a current population of about 50,000 was established as Nelson in 1841. It is named for Admiral Horatio Nelson who defeated the French and Spanish fleets at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Not Ricky.

 

It is a charming and laid-back city with a museum, lots of shops, the Queen’s Gardens and a pleasant vibe. It is worth noting that in this regard Nelson is not the exception: all the cities of former members of the Empire have gardens and buildings commemorating the royals.

 

Shopping, bars and restaurants in Nelson

 

Sidewalk Cafe

Captain Hook, who visited New Zealand 3 times, is credited with discovering it (for the West) around 1769 – 70. The Maori have a different perspective about this. Britain declared sovereignty based on the Treaty of Waitangi in February of 1840. The treaty signers were the chiefs of the major tribes of the north island and representatives of the British Crown. Parts of the treaty are still in dispute, and representatives of the Maori people and the New Zealand government have been working for years to reconcile their differences over the treaty and arrive at a final resolution.

 

That aside there is evidence that suggests that Arabs had discovered New Zealand even earlier, perhaps around the 13th or 14th centuries. Regardless, New Zealand’s is now an independent state whose independence nevertheless came in fits and starts instead of in one fell swoop. The Queen of England, though, is still formally the head of state.

The Queen’s Gardens

Two Days in Lyon, France

We spent a quick—too quick—couple of days in Lyon, France’s second largest city. According to Journal des Arts it is the second city for culture in France, coming in just behind Paris. The capital of the Lyon Metropolitan region, the city is a festival of museums, restaurants, cafes and historic architecture. We stayed in Vieux Lyon—the Old City—where we had stunning views of the town and could easily make our through the old streets to do some sightseeing. A quick ride in a funicular and we arrived at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere, which overlooked the city.

 

Lyon, the gastronomical capital of France, is positioned between the Rhone and Saone Rivers, making it extraordinarily picturesque. In addition, Lyon is a college town. It is home to many well-regarded universities, and is ranked 34th in the world by students for desirability.

 

If you travel to France, it’s well worth a visit.

 

There are a few photos below of Lyon, taken in the Old City. Collections of photos taken in both Lyon and Paris are available in the galleries section. Licenses are available at www.evocativephotos.com

 

JFB

The Old City in Lyon, France
Lyon, France–November 6, 2017–Dwellings around the Old City section of Lyon. The Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere is at the top of the hill. Editorial Use Only.
Building on the bank of the Stone River in Lyon
Lyon, France — November 5, 2017 — People, cars and colorful buildings on the bank of the Saone River in Lyon, France. Editorial Use Only.
Side street in the Old City of Lyon
Lyon, France–November 6, 2017–Shops and Restaurants clustered in the Old City section of Lyon. Editorial Use Only.
The Stone River in Lyon, France
Looking down the Saone River in Lyon, France, at dusk.

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Asbury Park Photo Walk

A beautiful summer morning—just right for a photo walk with Michael and Beverly Miller in Asbury Park. We started at Convention Hall early when we had the pale morning light, and wandered around taking photos as the sky brightened and the beach and boardwalk began to fill up.

 

Here are some photos from the walk.

JFB

Summer is Here–at Least in Spirit

Summer has arrived, if not officially, at least in spirit. The brand new Marina Grill opened for business in Belmar—and it was packed. The tent houses in Ocean Grove are being readied for the summer season, and the rides at Jenkinson’s Pavilion on the boardwalk at Point Pleasant are open for business on the weekends.

JFB

Point Pleasant, NJ USA — May 14, 2017 Adults and children riding the “Wave Swing” at Jenkinsons Pavilion on the boardwalk.
Riders wave thier arms as they go around the bend
Ocean Grove, NJ USA — May 12, 2017 — Tent houses are set up for the summer season in Ocean Grove, NJ.
The Fishing Pier at Ocean Grove

The High Line–April 12, 2017

Now that the weather is turning nicer New Yorkers are back to leissurely (by New York standards) walks around the city. Here are some shots from a recent walk around the High Line.

Beautiful Day in NYC

Yesterday, February 2 was a beautiful day in Manhattan–although a bit in the brisk side. A stroll around Central Park provided some nice photo opportunities–see below. We will be in Hawaii in a coupe of weeks, so we will be posting from Maui pretty soon.

JFB

 

Wollman Rink
Skaters on Wollman Rink in Central Park
New York City, USA — February 2, 2017 — New York City Police Car on duty in Central Park with children playing in the background. Editorial Use Only.
New York City, USA February 2, 2017 — The Gapstow Bridge in Central Park with ducks swiming in the pond below it. Editorial Use Only
Couple standing on a hill in Central Park looking at skyscrapers on the West Side
An Anonymous Couple Stands on a Hill in Central Park looking at skyscrapers on the West Side
New York City, USA — February 2, 2017 — The Gapstow Bridge in Central Park with ducks swiming in the pond below it.

Quick Trip to NYC

Just back from a quick trip to New York, where we went to see the show “Beautiful” about Carole King. Just tremendous.

The stage just before the show starts
The stage just before the show starts

 

The Christmas Tree is lit up; getting around 5th Avenue is a nightmare now that Trump tower is serving as the White House North. Speaking of Trump, we had lunch with friends from the Serenity Crystal cruise at the Jean-George Nougatine Restaurant at 1 Central Park West. Just spectacular.

Here are a couple of shots from around town.

 

Ice Skaters at the Bryant Park Rink in New York
Ice Skaters at the Bryant Park Rink in New York
A photo shoot in Bryant Park
A photo shoot in Bryant Park
Midtown Manhattan during the Christmas Season
Midtown Manhattan during the Christmas Season
Bryant Park in Winter afer the leaves have turned brown
Bryant Park in Winter afer the leaves have turned brown