#4 Yucatan, Mexico Jan. 6, 1982

Local Palenque IndiansDriving south into the jungle we stopped to visit a family of Indians who lived in the jungle. It was fun to interact with them, albeit in a limited way because of the language barrier. However, they looked to us like people may have looked ‘back in the day’ when these sites were vibrant cities.

Palenque has a unique setting since it is so deep in the jungle. Palenque was first settled around 100 BCE but had its hey-day from about 630 to 740 AD. Like many of these img686wonderful Mayan cities, it was abandoned about 900 AD. The largest structure, the Temple of the Inscriptions, contains a stone sarcophagus with a beautifully decorated lid. This was the tomb of Pakal, who reigned from 615-683. Many more structures remain in this group.

Giant Olmec HeadWe pushed on to one more magnificent museum—-at Villahermosa where they have the Parque-Museo La Venta. In 1958 when petroleum exploration threatened the very important Olmec site of La Venta, archeologists had the important pieces moved to this outdoor park- museum Altar 4in Villahermosa. The Olmec civilization flourished at La Venta from about 800 BCE to 400 BCE making it one of Jeanne with Two Friendsthe oldest in Mexico. These colossal heads (eight feet tall) are truly mind-blowing.

These huge rock edifices are on a massive scale. We really enjoyed not only the wonderful monuments, but two boys accompanied us on our exploration. It turned out that there is a zoo on the premises, too, and so not only did we have the company of the boys, but also of a four- legged friend!

The Regional Anthropology Museum rounded out our explorations here, providing a goodRegional Anthropology Museum opportunity to view the different img704artifacts from different eras in this area.

 

 

We drove back to Cancun, turned in our car and flew Mount Orizabahome, passing over the volcanic mountain of Orizaba on the way, which allowed me to photograph it from the air.

 

 

 

It was a splendid trip and the Mayan archeological sites were wonderful to experience.

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#3 Yucatan, Mexico Jan. 3, 1982

TiculFrom Uxmal we drove on, stopping at the town of Ticul to visit their 16th century church, Iglesia de San Antonio de Padua.

Many of the stones of this church were taken from the many Mayan ruins hereabouts—-a common story of church building in Mexico.

Ticul's Church of San Antonio de Padua

And finally we reached Merida, the capital of the state of Yucatan. We didn’t spend a lot of time here, but did see the lovely Museum of Anthropology housed in the Palacio Canton, built in 1910.

Regional Museum of Anthropology-Palacio CantonWe also ate some lovely meals, ending them with the dessert of Queso de Napolitano, the RICHEST flan imaginable.  We had Huevos Motulenos for breakfast quite often, an elaborate egg dish that Burt and I had encountered in 1974.  It is made with eggs, ham, tortillas, salsa, peas, cheese and fried plantains.

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img623Merida made a great base from which to branch out and visit more Mayan ruins. We drove north the first day to Dzibilchaltun. This site has a remarkable history, having been used as a ceremonial site from about 1500 BCE until the time of the Spanish conquest in 1540 AD. The Temple Jeanneof the Seven Dolls (called thus since they Sacred Cenotefound seven grotesque dolls on excavation) is oriented so that during the equinoxes the sun ‘lights up’ the doors and windows in a special way. While we weren’t there during the equinox, nevertheless, it still ‘lit up’ img636Jeanne as she stood in the doorway!

Nearby is a sacred cenote, which is a limestone pool or sinkhole into which were thrown special Mayan artifacts for ritual purposes, which were recovered by a diving team in 1958.

We continued north to Puerto Progresso, which is on the Caribbean north of Merida. There is a long wharf, used for commercial shipping, and a beautiful beach, which we enjoyed for an hour.

The next day we went south from Merida on the Ruta Puuc to explore a number of Mayan ruins that were important in their day.  First up was Labna, with its wonderful arch.

Arch of Labna

Continuing on we came to Sayil; all of these ruins have facades that show stylized masks of Chac Mool. The turkeys added some modern life to the view!

Sayil Archeological Site

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Next was Kabah, covered in nearly 300 masks representing Chac Mool.

And then on to Edzna, a triangular pyramid called the Edificio de Los Cinco Pisos (Five-Storey Building) with its serpents, masks and jaguars’ heads.img656

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We put in to the town of Campeche, which is on the Gulf of Mexico. It has the requisite fort, the Fuerte de San Miguel, protecting the city. There wasn’t any parking in front of the hotel that we had selected so Jeanne got out and went in to register us and find out about parking while I would circle the block. When she told the desk clerk that we were two people, he asked her where the other one was. (This was all in Spanish) So Jeanne took a stab at it and replied, “cir-coo-lazion,” drawing a circle with her hand. He understood!

The town itself looks quite ‘weathered’ in kind of a charming way—-I suppose a result of all the salt air.img667

Tomorrow we will move on to Palenque, another Mayan ruin, but in deep jungle.

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#2 Yucatan, Mexico Dec. 30, 1981

Chichen Itza-El CastilloHere we are at Chichen Itza—-the most famous of the Mayan Archeological Sites in Yucatan! El Castillo is the centerpiece, of course, which we were lucky enough to see in the early Plumed Serpent-ToltecMayan Temples-Chichen Itzamorning with nary another visitor. Chichen Itza was settled initially by the Maya, but in the 10th century was invaded by the Toltecs, who brought the cult of the ‘plumed serpent,’ Quetzalcoatl, to add to the Mayan rain god, Chac Mool. El Castillo is designed so that on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes the sun makes shadows that depict a serpent ascending or descending the staircase.

The Temple of the Warriors is Toltec but a Mayan Chac Mool has been put atop it, which sits right next to the Toltec Plumed Serpent.img579

Chac Mool

The ball court was central to the city. There are actually eight ball courts but this one is the largest in all of Mexico. The game demanded that the players hit the ball through one of the side hoops to ‘score.’ Sometimes the loosing players were sacrificed by decapitation, depicted on the walls of the court.Gran Juego de Pilota (Ball Court)
El Caracol (‘The Snail’ as the Spaniards called it) is thought to have been an astronomical observatory. From the dome, the priests determined times for planting, rituals and celebrations by observing the stars.Observatory

Uxmal Archeological Site is also a very important pure Mayan site. Settled about 600 AD img575and abandoned about 900 AD it nevertheless played an important part in Mayan times.

Jeanne and I arrived late in the day, staying at the Uxmal Hotel right on the site. There was a lovely lobby with a beautiful grand piano, which I played—-to an empty lobby. It was fun, though, to pretend I was a real musician.

 

 

 
We were treated to a light and sound show after dark, and continued img605Palace of the Governorexploring the site the next day.

The Palace of the Governors is a beautiful Mayan building with a very intricate facade.

 

The ‘Dovecote,’ so called because it reminded the Spanish Conquistadors of Moorish dovecotes in Spain, was once part of a quadrangle.El Palomar (Dovecote)

 

 

 

 

 

And the UxmalNun’s Quadrangle is a most impressive building.

Staying at the Uxmal Hotel was truly a respite, with lovely accommodations, good food, and beautiful views from the terrace of the lovely Uxmal Archeological Site. Tomorrow we shall continue with our explorations of Yucatan.

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#1 Yucatan, Mexico Dec. 28, 1981

A trip for just the girls! My sister, Jeanne, and I decided to go to Yucatan, Mexico, which was quite a change for us since our two families (10 people) had driven on trips to Mexico many times for quite a few years.

Puerto ProgressoWe flew to Cancun and rented a car. in Mexico one doesn’t have a choice of cars, other than the price range. As they were bringing up the cars for various customers, we saw them bring a little VW bug—-just perfect, we thought. Ferry BoardingWell, it was not to be—-our’s was a great big two-door (with gigantic, heavy doors) and our first excursion was to put it on the ferry to go to Isla Mujeras. We The Ferry to Isla Mujeresmanaged this successfully, but a VW bug certainly would have been easier!

 

 

 

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Isla Mujeras, a small island about eight km from Cancun, was very pleasant—-beautiful sea views, good food, and even a small Mayan ruin to explore. One day we walked to the tip of the Carol-Mayan Ruinsisland to see this ruin and also a scenic lighthouse nearby. Of course we did a little beach time, but we’re not very beach-ey people—-our ancestral Norwegian skin is too light!Back to Cancun

 

After a couple of days we reloaded our car back on the ferry and returned to Cancun.

When we were checking into our modest hotel, the desk clerk’s eyes got very big as he watched Jeanne sign her name on the registration. He said, “How can you write so fast?!”

Cancun

El Rey Archeological Zone is the name of the Mayan ruin in the town of Cancun. It was not very grand, but fun to climb around. We are planning to see many of the Yucatan Mayan ruins on this trip.El Rey Archeological Area

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on we stopped Coba Archeological Siteoff to see the ruins of Coba, a ruin that has not been fully excavated. In 1841 John Lloyd Stevens explored this ruin and his colleague, Mr. Catherwood, drew pictures using the ‘camera oscura.’ The drawings look very much like what we were looking at even today.

 

 

 

 

 

Jeanne climbed way up on one very tall pyramid, which I thought was kind of scary. She got down again, without incident, and we drove off to Tulum, a popular ruin on the coast.img537

 

 

Tulum Archeological Site

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tulum is beautifully located and we enjoyed climbing around on it and photographing it in its beautiful ocean setting. There were a surprising number of people there, which I suppose were vacationers from Cancun.

 

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img556Xel-Ha was our next destination, on down the coast from Tulum. This is a beautiful lagoon area with lovely tropical fish that one can observe in a glass-bottomed boat.

 

And on shore we img552Iguanaalso got close-up looks at iguanas.

 

We’ll be staying overnight here and tomorrow we’ll push on to Chichen Itza.

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#4 Benelux-Germany, June 3, 1982

Leaving Amsterdam, we drove to The Hague, which is the capital, of course. We only stayed part of a day, but did get a look at the town. The Ridderzaal in Binnerhof is from the 13th century, surrounded by old Parliamentary buildings. A pretty fountain is nearby.img381

img382The Peace Palace has been used for Parliament duty for centuries, but now they meet in a new modern building.img383

We visited the nearby beach of img386Scheveningen (what a mouthful!) and observed the European custom of topless bathing.img390

Our next stop was Delft where we had lunch in the square while looking at the Delft New Church. We spent some time looking at (and buying) the img389wonderful blue and white Delft porcelein.

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On our way toward Ghent, we stopped to look at a windmill up close. We could go inside to see the living quarters of the tender and his family. Underneath is the big set of gears that moves the water, powered by the wind moving the sails.

img397Leaving Holland, at this point, we entered Belgium, and headed for Ghent. Ghent is a img418lovely medieval city, and at one time was the third largest European city after Paris and img425Constantinople. Their wealth was based on the cloth trade. It, too, has its canals.

Burt, especially, enjoyed the beautiful tortes that were in many shop windows.img408

We also saw a demonstration of Belgian lace making, and bought img421some pretty tablecloths.

Next we found what turned out to be one of our favorite cities on this whole trip, which was Bruges. As usual, when we arrived in a new town, two of us would go out, one each way, to reconnoiter the hotel situation. This town seemed pretty expensive and as we were about to pay over our budget, I found a ‘deal.’ It was beautifully located four-storey hotel, but the top storey was not reached by the elevator, and was under the eaves—that was evident in the architecture of the rooms. However, they were lovely rooms and best of all had a view out over the tile roofs and chimney pots of the town! We loved it!img440

Additionally in that hotel, in Bob and Jeanne’s closet somebody had left an academic gown and accoutrements, which Bob felt inclined to try on! We wondered why it was stored there in a rental room.img375

Another thrill was to see a statue by Michelangelo—the only one that was sent outside of Italy during his lifetime—a Madonna and Child in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk.img432

Bruges was so beautiful with its canals and medieval buildings—it just had such a nice ambience. Our favorite night out was dinner at the Golden Harnock. We just walked down the street from our hotel and saw that this restaurant had a price fixe that looked lovely so we decided to splurge. We ate our seven courses on a lovely linen tablecloth with beautiful porcelain dishes. I think I counted 17 img446pieces of silverware for each of us. We were visiting with a couple at the next table, who were from California. They asked us how we got this reservation, saying that they supposed that we had made it months ahead of time, as they had. No, we only walked in from the street! They also asked where we were staying and when we told them our hotel was just a few steps away from the restaurant, they again supposed we must have had a prior reservation for any hotel in this area. I guess we were exceedingly lucky.

Our favorite spot in all of Bruges was a view of one of its canals.img451

Brussels was our next destination. It, too, had quite a history in the cloth trade. The magnificent Grand Place has beautiful antique (18th century) guildhalls all around it. It really was something to see!img456

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And a visit to Brussels wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the tiny Manneken Pis! It’s surprisingly small.

We ate lunch just off the Grand Place. I had the most wonderful lamb chops! The restaurant had quite a red affect.img465

Leaving Brussels we headed back to Luxembourg, this time to visit Luxembourg City. It has a signature bridge, which img472dominated the city.

After seeing some of the sights, we spent some time in a Villeroy and Boch china shop, where I couldn’t resist buying a set of Amapola. img497It’s actually made in Germany but it will be a nice souvenir of both! Jeanne bought a pretty porcelain piece that turned out to be mde in the USSR!

We followed the Mosel img482River in Germany all the way back to the Rhine. On the Mosel we really enjoyed a wine called Piesporter Michelsberg, which was just becoming popular in the United States. We img477especially noticed that they served the Mosel wines in glasses that had clear bowls and green stems. Yes, the wine definitely tasted better when we drank it out of those glasses—which we did all along the Mosel. The wonderful small towns and the grape vines made pretty pictures everywhere you looked.

Finally we reached the Rhine with its myriad of castles high on its banks.img487

We followed the Rhine for quite a ways and stayed overnight, our last night on this trip. The Rhine was so photogenic and I could see that there would be a beautiful picture with the Rhine, and a castle as the sun would sink slowly in the west—-. This scene was across a busy street, across some railroad tracks and I was without my camera. I ran back to our hotel, grabbed my camera and headed back to take the picture. Oh, heck, there was a train sloooowly going past on the train tracks. I made a mad dash and nearly got run down getting to a vantage point where I could capture the sunset. I nearly didn’t make it!img501

The next morning we drove the short distance to Frankfurt, turned in our car and flew home to Minneapolis.

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#3 Benelux-Germany, May 30, 1982

img327Jeanne, Bob, Burt and I continued on to Amsterdam. We stayed in a nice small hotel on one of the canals, which encircle downtown Amsterdam. The first morning we took a tour boat ride on the canals img328to get an idea of Amsterdam. Along the canals are beautiful medieval buildings where one can observe how they move furniture in and out! They have hooks and a block and tackle on the exterior of the building that make it possible to get large articles in and out since the stairs are all narrow and circular which prevents moving anything of any size within the house.img355

The canals are spectacular and are woven throughout the downtown of Amsterdam,

There was a big ‘houseboat’ parked in one canal on which people were living. The atmosphere is kind of ‘wide open,’ apparently based on its history when, after its founding in 1200 when it wasn’t beholden to any feudal empire, it became a center for sea trade with the people turning quite capitalistic.img354

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Even today Amsterdam is quite a ‘liberal’ city!img348

img350Of course it is remembered for being the home of Anne Frank, the 15-year-old Jewish girl who left a diary about her days before she became another Holocaust victim. We were able to ascend the stairs to her hiding place in the attic of a Dutch family who tried to save the life of her and her family.img345img346

Our next stop was the Rijksmuseum to see its most revered painting, Rembrandt’s “Night img359Watch.” Of course we also enjoyed the multitude of paintings by all of the Dutch Masters.img360

img362From there we went to see the Van Gogh Museum—wholly devoted to just Van Gogh! We couldn’t resist buying a couple of prints to frame when we get home!img363

One day during lunch Burt was recalling how the proprietess in Bergen Op Zoom had said “One Beer!” so img368assertively, followed with “Two Beers.” While we were laughing about that, of course the waiter in this restaurant overheard him and brought a round of beers! Another big laugh!

By now it was time to visit the Amstel Brewery, which brews Heineken Beer. We were guided img369through the big brewery until we got to the sampling room, where we had a very nice time interacting with other travelers and drinking an unlimited amount of good beer. img372

Stopping at the Van Dobben Kroketten for croquettes, plus a wonderful concert at the img377Concertgebow, rounded out our sightseeing.

At the concert, since we only bought tickets at the door we got some ‘overflow’ seats, which were directly behind the orchestra—probably seating for large choirs when they are needed. It gave us quite an interesting perspective on the orchestra.

What a beautiful city!

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#2 Benelux-Germany, May 25, 1982

Departing Luxembourg, we drove toward the Netherlands, planning to stop in Liege, Belgium, but Gisela, who was driving their car, felt that it was too challenging to drive in that city, and as we approached it, we stopped and she said she would like to turn around and circumvent this city. Gisela has not been driving very long as she had obtained her license rather recently. Living in Berlin they had not owned a car, but had bought this car a few months ago and had taken the necessary instruction to pass the license exam. Wolfie img273did not have a license so the driving fell on Gisela.

We turned aside from Liege, and entered the img266Netherlands, staying at several B&Bs. One had beautiful rugs on the tables, which seems to be a uniquely Dutch custom.

At this house our hostess served us tea and a beautiful torte. Spring flowers were blooming in their front yard.img278

We drove to the town of Otterlo to visit the Hoge Veluwe National Park, which has the wonderful Kroller-Muller Museum, img277one of the most outstanding. It was misting all day, which made the park and the Museum seem ‘off the beaten track.’ img284

Big windows in the museum showed the surrounding lovely park area and img291became part of the museum.

We loved the extensive collection of Van Goghs as well as many other wonderful works by a variety of masters.img297

Next we drove up to the Markenwaard, which is part of the Sea. There were some lovely towns in this area, all built around water, canals, and boats.

Marken was our first stop with its pretty houses all along the water.

img300One poster in a window took a political stance, asking to stop the neutron bomb.img303

Beautiful Volendam was nearby with its pretty green wooden houses. Here we saw some people wearing ‘old-fashioned’ clothing. img321img319

Continuing on north, We stayed overnight in the third town of Edam. Here the specialty was cheese and we saw img310lots of it.

The B&B where we stayed was the only one where our hosts were not terrific. In this one we got a very skinny breakfast, which didn’t even include any Edam Cheese! She also complained when Gisela used her hairdryer. So it goes.img308

Here we visited the ‘Kloempenmaker’ who was hard at work making wooden shoes. Yes, they still use these in this watery country!img316

Here we also saw bridges going up to let the sailboats through.img312

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Bergen Op Zoom was in an almost ‘moonscape’ area with sand dunes piled along the shore with some rough grass attempting to cover.img391

When we were eating lunch here, Burt ordered a beer. “One Beer!” boomed the hefty proprietess! The rest of us didn’t order beer, but one of us said, “I don’t think I want beer and the proprietess boomed out “Two Beers!” Several comments regarding beer were made and each time she heard the word, beer, she just kept adding to the beer order. We finally made it clear to her that Burt only wanted one beer, but it struck us all very funny!

Alas, our friends, Gisela and Wolfgang, now had to leave and return to Berlin, so we four carried on by ourselves. What a lovely time we had with them, and hope to see them again soon on another vacation.

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