Archive for the ‘TRAVEL’ Category

Travel To South America Part 13 A Good Thing Comes To A Bad Ending   Leave a comment

 martin flowered shirt tux0001

It is apropos that this is part 13 of this travel series because talk about bad luck! I have ZERO recollection of going to the airport, flying to Guatemala and then to Mexico City where it seems I had a day’s layover before I continued on to Acapulco. I was really looking forward to this stop and then Puerto Vallarta as the latter became famous when Richard Burton and Ava Gardner filmed the movie “Night of the Iguana” and Liz Taylor, at that time married to Burton, didn’t quite trust him or Ava and came to stay for the whole production and it made world headlines. Hey I was a Gardner and Taylor fan and just thought how lucky Burton was!

I, vaguely, remember going to a square in Acapulco, going to a gay bar by taxi but most of all I remember standing on the balcony of my hotel with such a blinding headache that I wanted to jump off just to stop it.

I know with today’s precautions I probably couldn’t have done it but I still don’t know how I packed my bags, changed my plane reservations—did I skip my flights to Puerto Vallarta and Mexico city?–went through customs in Dallas and woke up in the Baptist Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, after being there for 2 days.

I had all my belongings with me including the gifts I had bought for everyone in the office and my notes which had stopped my last day in Caracas. Bernie said all he knew was that he got a call from Baptist hospital saying that I was a patient there and he was my emergency contact. The final diagnosis was that I had an ‘unknown virus’. Obviously a lot of scotch doesn’t kill germs. The doctor said it could have been from the water, food or a hundred other things but it was all cleared up now.

For some reason, unfairly, I blamed the whole Iguassu Falls section of the trip.

I never did get back to see Puerto Vallarta or Mexico City and I did shy away from that part of the world but it certainly didn’t stop me from traveling though I, more or less, confined my traveling to the USA as my past posts told about traveling all over the States during that July 15-August 15 period.

For what it is worth I did make up a trip, and got prices, to return to New Zealand and Australia in 2003 which included going to the Sidney, Australia, Mardi Gras on March 4–maybe someday when, not if, I win the lotto!

Sadly there was one more negative reminder of that summer of 1973. As Bernie was driving me home from the hospital he told me that one of our friends, who also worked for us, came home one day to find that her husband had committed suicide, leaving her with 2 small children and that she was still in shock.

Life goes on and a few years later she remarried and, hopefully, lived happily ever after. I did try to find her on face book but I don’t remember her what her married name was.

I started to make my 1974 plans to drive up to Denver, fly to Vancouver and then drive across Canada but that too would have to be changed.

Posted September 1, 2014 by greatmartin in LIFE EVENTS, TRAVEL

TRAVELS TO SOUTH AMERICA CARACAS ACAPULCO PART 12   Leave a comment

acapulco-81359_150 1

My last 2 days in Caracas was spent drinking, eating, having sex and spending some time at plaza La Castellana which was the richest area of Caracas having the finest hotels and the Centro San Ignacio which is a shopping mall having restaurants, night clubs, musical theatre, a movie complex, etc., and was very cruisey and a lot of fun.

I do remember one meal I had there and asked the waiter to order for me. He brought a delicious appetizer which was an avocado stuffed with shrimp and had a light sauce drizzled over it. It was followed by a great mixed grill consisting of sausage, steak, sweetbreads and chicken cooked at the table. After that I was served a marquesa which was like a cheesecake made with a cookie crust. It was one of the best meals I had on my trip.

The last night in Caracas, still not feeling well, I decided to have an early dinner, no booze and hitting bed, alone, to get a good night’s sleep before the last week of my trip. I invited Stephen, John, Marco and Hector to join me as they had gone out of their way to entertain me and take me around Caracas. We exchanged addresses but I was never to hear from them though I did write them a few letters when I got back to Memphis.

I wasn’t going to leave Caracas until 5 PM so I decided, not feeling up to par, to get a massage, hit the sauna, take a swim in the pool and bake in the sun before I had to go up and pack. For lunch I had a broiled seafood platter and coffee not wanting to have any booze as that touch of a headache seemed to be getting a bit worse.

At 5 PM I boarded a Pan American plane, traveling first class, to Guatemala where I would switch a plane for Mexico city staying overnight and then going on to Acapulco where I would spend 3 nights and then on to Puerto Vallarta for 2 nights and the last leg of my trip back to Mexico city for 2 nights before boarding American Airlines to Dallas, go through customs and then head home to Memphis.

The only reason I know all this written in that last paragraph because that is what it says on my itinerary. The last thing I remember is wanting to jump off the balcony of my hotel room in Acapulco!

Posted August 28, 2014 by greatmartin in LIFE EVENTS, TRAVEL

Travel to South America Caracas Part 11   Leave a comment

caracas-2  319558_150

Walking down the Sabana Grande Boulevard Stephen and I played the old cruising game that made me felt I was back on Times Square. We would stop at different shops and sort of look at each other through the reflections of the windows, walk a bit more, a couple of more looks until I just waited for him to reach ‘my’ window. He spoke very little English but seeing the Damon gay guide in my hand he took it and pointed to a bar listed in it and then pointed at himself. I figured he wanted me to follow him at the bar which I did to find out that he owned it. He introduced me to John who spoke fluent English and Raphael who was moving to Los Angeles on Saturday and Marco and Hector, 2 very wealthy effeminate guys. The six of us spent the late afternoon, early evening going from place to place. John, Ralph and Stephen agreed to pick me up at the Hilton and then we would go out for dinner and they would show me more of Caracas.

As I had a couple of hours before they would come to pick me up I went for a swim in the hotel pool and for a quick massage. The guy did a good job and when he, shyly, asked if he could come up to my room later to give me another massage I got the message and smiled shaking my head yes. I explained about my plans for the evening and I had no idea how they would and he said if I wasn’t back by midnight he would come to my room and wake me up with a massage in the morning.

I don’t remember the restaurant we went to but I did make note of what I ate and it was black bean soup and a Hallaca, which is a Venezuelan dish that is an important part of the Christmas holiday but served all year round. It is made of meat, pork, chicken, rice, olives, onions, raisins, etc., wrapped in a thick bean paste and then covered by banana leaves. It was huge, great and tasty. I wouldn’t taste it again until 30 years later in a Venezuelan restaurant in Fort Lauderdale and that brought back all the memories of the days and evenings I spent in Caracas.

I had an interesting night in more ways then one but we won’t go into that and I started the day off with that massage! I met Marco and Hector in the hotel Lobby and they were going to take me sightseeing. I don’t know if this is when it all started but I do know that I had to cancel most of the sightseeing as I was getting what I thought was a bad cold. My nose was continuously stuffed up, I was coughing and what was rare for me I had the start of a headache.

Until I left Caracas on August 4th I was more or less in a haze. I was doing way too much drinking being hung-over every morning and what I though t was a cold was getting worse. Along with everything else if I had been in better shape I would have enjoyed it but I was having way too much sex, if there is such a thing.

I did meet a guy who was having lunch alone in the hotel dining room and I asked him if he would like company and he nodded his head yes. Turned out he was a charter travel agent in Minneapolis and he had booked a tout in Spain for Jan who was the owner of the WW franchise there. After lunch we went to the bar where we met a guy from Washington, D. C. Let’s just say we all got smashed and leave it at that.

Posted August 27, 2014 by greatmartin in LIFE EVENTS, personal life, TRAVEL

TRAVEL TO SOUTH AMERICA RIO AND CARACAS PART 10   Leave a comment

stock-photo-skyline-of-caracas-city-capital-of-venezuela-182034323

I arrived back in Rio on Friday July 27th and picked up right where I left off as if I had never left. I was just getting to ‘swing’ in Rio, spent a great day and night at Ipanema beach where the speedos and bikinis were even smaller than on the Copacabana beach!

Back at Rio, staying in another hotel, the Nacional, I met Denny and Claudio and the 3 of us went out to eat and I had 6 huge linguias which were smoked sausages with garlic and were finger licking good! After dinner we went to 2 gay dancing bars and I got smashed. We spent the night at Claudio’s place and I finally got back to the hotel at Noon two days later!

On the 30th I was going to take off to Caracas where I would spend 5 nights. I was by now familiar with the exchange rate of money in Rio, knew my way around on the beach, had made some ‘friends’ and it was time to leave. I did a lot of shopping before I left Rio getting everyone in Memphis gifts and decided unless I saw something very special I wouldn’t buy anything else. I did buy a boar’s tooth on a gold necklace for me.

I was doing a lot of charging and out of the $1200 I brought with me I still had $690 left with 12 days, or so I thought, to go before I returned home. I understood Caracas was the most expensive city in South America and the 3rd most expensive city in the world.

I arrived in Caracas at 5 AM after having been very sick on the plane which is very rare for me and may have been the beginning of the end for my trip. I was still a little shaky in the afternoon after I had taken a nap and sent my clothes to the cleaners. I was spending 5 nights here so I had time to get things done before the rest of the trip. I was staying away from the night life which was good and the hotel was situated in the financial and cultural center of the city. I planned to take it easy my first night just inspecting the hotel and the area around it. I watched TV for awhile–did you ever hear Van Heflin dubbed in Spanish? Heck do you kids even know who Van Heflin was?

The next day I took a walk to the “Broadway” of Caracas and was surprised the gay guide didn’t have anything listed for that area. I did come across their new Museum of Modern Art that had opened a few months before I go there and was not only a magnificent building but their art collection put the Museum of Modern Art in New York to shame. See my traveling wasn’t all about sex!!! LOL

Still feeling a little queasy I went to the hotel’s health club and after getting a massage and spending some time in the sauna I felt a little better. The masseuse had suggested I take a walk down to the Sabana Grande area which was THE boulevard of Caracas having all kinds of shops, artists doing their work on the streets, gallerias and sort of reminded me of Washington Square in Greenwich Village in New York. Walking along the Boulevard I got ’lucky’ and met Stephen.

Posted August 26, 2014 by greatmartin in LIFE EVENTS, personal life, TRAVEL

TRAVEL TO SOUTH AMERICA BRAZILIA PART 9   Leave a comment

(The National Cathedral of Brasiilia)

As are most cities in South America there are many different ways of spelling them–I am using the spelling that is on my itinerary.

Even now 41 years later I remember the flight attendant on Transbrasil describing Brasilia and how it came to be. It seems it was, literally, dug out of the jungle to be made the capitol of Brazil. The architect designed it in the shape of a plane with the center being the business/government and embassy center of the city while the ‘wings’ were residential and each area had their own schools, stores and parks.

I got there at 1:40 PM on July 26th and left at 5:25 PM the next day so I really didn’t have too much time to explore the city. Once again I don’t have any notes regarding my stay there and I have only one outstanding memory of the place and that was the Cathedral of Brasilia and I can still see my going under ground to enter it. What I would call the steeple was at ground level and represented 2 hands reaching up to the sky. Between the ’fingers’ were stain glassed windows that gave a beautiful light to the chapel.

From what I understand the whole building turned out to be impractical because of the sun coming threw the windows made the place uncomfortable but I do remember being intrigued by the colors the sun gave shining through the windows.

I do know I stayed at the top hotel at that time in Brasilia but just now reading the reviews it seems it hasn’t been refurbished or taken care of since then!

I don’t recall any meals, or sex, there, so I am just hanging onto the once in a lifetime experience of going to a church underground.

Now on to Caracas!!

Posted August 25, 2014 by greatmartin in TRAVEL

TRAVEL TO SOUTH AMERICA–1973–PART 7 IGUASSU FALLS   Leave a comment

iguassu falls

On July 22, 1973, I boarded the plane from Buenos Aires to Iguassu Falls ( or spelled/called Iguazu Falls, Iguazú Falls, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls) and most of the first half of the trip after landing there is still a blur in my mind and due to circumstances very little was written in my letter that day.

All I can recall is landing at a one airplane airport, a lot of scurrying around and all of a sudden the entire place is empty, no one around and I am there all alone! The Itinerary said that a car would pick me up and take me to the hotel but after waiting 2 hours, and no car showing up, I looked for a phone but there wasn’t any—heck there wasn’t even a reservation desk! I really didn’t know what to do but I figured another plane would have to show up sooner or later even if it was only the plane I was scheduled to leave on the next day.

It was about 3:30 and I really don’t remember how long it was before my ‘rescuers’ came along. A couple in their 20s, from California, were backpacking their way across South America and they had just come from the jungle and were on their way to the Falls. Using their map we eventually came to a place where we caught a bus, then another bus, then a cab, then a ferry and finally another bus eventually getting to the hotel. I can just imagine coming all this way on my own–no way!

I invited the couple to have dinner with me and offered to get them a room for the night, which, if I had seen what the rooms were like first, I am sure they would have said no. I just looked up the hotel on google and 41 years later it is nothing like it was when I was there! My room was smaller than any room I have ever seen in a hotel. There was a curtain around a section of the floor and a drain which turned out to be the shower. The bed was a cot!

After we were all checked in I met the couple in the dining room and according to my notes the restaurant was beautiful. I was tired, hungry and absolutely amazed that I had remained so calm even though I faced the possibility of being in the middle of the jungle all night before the couple came along. Along with everything else it was cold and misty outside and so was my room!

The restaurant was pure French service and there was a trio playing rock ‘n roll Portuguese style. I had a scotch and soda, hearts of palm soup, assado (pot roast with a ½ pound mashed potatoes, vegetables and a platter of rice), bread, Bazillion coffee with 2 heaping teaspoons of real sugar and a dessert which seemed to be a combination of flan custard and rum like cake costing all of $2.70!! Funny but I made notes on all of this but nothing about the American couple. I just noticed all my notes were written on the back of 2 long laundry lists.

I was up at 10 AM to have breakfast and wait for the car to take me to the Falls. The couple had left leaving me a very sweet Thank You note but no way of getting in touch with them!.

My final note of this trip to Iguassu Falls is that I don’t remember the trip to the actual falls or did I make any notes regarding it–now that is strange!

On to Sao Paulo.

Posted August 19, 2014 by greatmartin in TRAVEL

TRAVEL TO SOUTH AMERICA BUENOS AIRES PART 6   Leave a comment

 
 

????? Was 32, had been invited to
Argentina to work with the theatre 4 years
previously and he loved his job, the city and the people so he decided to stay and was starting to begin an adult theatre importing plays from New York and London. As we talked we ate and we also drank 2 large bottles of beer though I wasn’t a beer drinker. We had a lettuce, tomato and onion salad, a huge cut of baby beef, a full dish of spaghetti and fried Provolone both for less than $10! (Remember this was 1973!)

When we left the restaurant we took a walk along Corrientes Avenue, referred to as Broadway of BA where there were theatres, cabarets and tango palaces. We stopped at one of the latter places and I couldn’t believe how noisy it was, mainly with the customers encouraging the dancers and musicians. Years later I would see “Tango Argentina” on Broadway and it was no where as nitty-gritty as it was in that club. Everyone from the dancers to the bartenders to the customers exuded sex!

I invited him back to the hotel and though it was around midnight the boulevard was jammed packed with thousands, not hundreds, of people coming and going. As we passed a bookstore he said “Wait a minute,” and in about 5 minutes he came out with what was obviously a book all wrapped up and he handed it to me, telling me to open it tomorrow. He had bought me a Spanish-English dictionary to use in Sao Paulo and Caracas.

Did I mention that he was 6’2” and weighed 138 pounds!!!! Talk about skinny! I just remembered–don’t ask me how–but his name was Germaine! Tomorrow was to be my last day in Buenos Aires so we agreed for him to pick me up and to go out to another special restaurant for lunch called “El Palacio de las Papa Fritas”. There is still a restaurant by that name in Buenos Aires but I don’t know if it is the same. (There are also 2 restaurants by that name in Miami today!) I had a T-Bone steak, a plate (I mean A PLATE!) of Papas Fritas–French fries–salad, tea, large bottle of beer and an apple pancake glazed with syrup for $3.50!!

We took a bus ride to “La Boca”, the Italian section, and then a train to La Palmero and returning to my hotel (don’t recall ever seeing his place–was he single or???) for a siesta and then a local gay bar and dinner. I told Germaine it would have to be an early night as my plane left early the next day. We had a nice evening and said goodbye ‘after’ LOL

Buenos Aires was my kind of city–it was a place for night life–fun–’night people’– good restaurants–tender beef–I wish I had more time here but I didn’t. When I left it was raining and the temperature was about 40 degrees. I was sad to go.

Little did I know what Hell I was going into!

Posted August 17, 2014 by greatmartin in TRAVEL

TRAVELS TO SOUTH AMERICA PART 5 BUENOS AIRES   Leave a comment

 
 

south america 1

As in New York, Memphis, Miami Beach, and Rio ,a gay bar in Buenos Aires was like walking into an old hangout but though I understood and spoke a little high school Spanish I couldn’t keep up with all that was being said but managed to get across to the bartender that I wanted a ‘un scotch y aqua’ and got it! The guy next to me started laughing and, in a very heavy British accent, said something to the effect, “That was a good one chap!”

We talked for a little bit and he said he would really like to see me again but he had to get some sleep as he had an early rehearsal in the morning. It seems he was the owner/director of a very well established children’s theatre. He suggested I come to the theatre and that we could spend the evening together, having dinner, walking around the Cordoba Avenue shops and then—leaving it as a question mark. We agreed that 6:30 PM would be a good time and he gave me his card and suggested he show me where the theatre was which he did. I walked back to the hotel marveling at the wide boulevard and how busy it was so late at night.

Following are some of the notes from the letters I wrote from Buenos Aires and as much as I look and try to remember the guy’s name I don’t see or recall it!

I went on my own out to a restaurant for lunch called the Gran Florida restaurant on Florida street not far from the hotel. (I had to see if it is still there and though there is a Gran Florida Restaurant on Florida Street I don’t know if it is the same one!) I ordered a Parrillada Mixta. It is a mixed grill and I mean a MIXED GRILL! And the portions were big enough to satisfy me. I did learn American Scotch was $3 while local scotch was $1.

I walked around the city for about 3 hours until it was time to go to the theatre and meet ????. It is a busy hustling city with, it seems, more people then in New York. The men looked so-so, not as flagrant showing their ‘jewels’ and aren’t as sexy, Latin looking like the guys in Rio but the women look they just got off or were just going on a tango stage. They all seem to wear skintight skirts and swayed in a way that defined sexiness. It was fun just watching people walking by.

I was much better with the money here than I was in Rio except when I was buying something I didn’t quite understand how much they wanted but they seemed happy, not too happy, so I guess I was within the ballpark figure!

At 6:30 I was in the theatre watching some scene being done in a mixture of Spanish and English. He nodded for me to take a seat and 30 minutes later everyone was gone and we went for dinner, his pointing out different places, such as hotels, where famous people stayed or stores like the famous London Harrods branch and walked into a restaurant that was jam packed. He said it was like this all day and night and people stood by your table waiting for you to get up and get out. It wasn’t the best place to get to know someone but we managed to exchange information about each other and to eat!

Posted August 16, 2014 by greatmartin in TRAVEL

TRAVEL TO SOUTH AMERICA 1973 RIO PART 2   Leave a comment

 
 

south america 1

Be sure to read part 1 to understand what this is about.

12) All kinds of beautiful kites on the beach–falcons, airplanes, parrots, etc.
14) I am getting a lot of sleep, a great tan and doing a lot of walking
15 Still haven’t quite figured out the money–so I am saving a lot–I eat in the hotel restaurant and sign the tab–don’t know what a meal costs but U tip 10 cruzeiros ($1.60?) and so far all waiters have aid thank you–will charge hotel bill to Diners or American Express when I leave. I hope pesos are easier to figure out.

An aside–is The Diners Club still in business and have a credit card? Important lesson when traveling–learn the rate of exchange between countries, though as you will read I was lead astray.

16) Haven’t bought any souvenirs yet as I will be coming back to Rio and will do it then. Did go into a record store hoping to buy some Brazilian singers and musicians records but just got an Olga Guillot recording and she is Cuban, but I do love her singing.
17) So far the man and car who met me at the airport didn’t come to take me sightseeing–not taking any chances tomorrow when I leave for Buenos Aires–won’t wait for driver, taking a taxi (hope I don’t’ tip him $50!) I fly Cruziero airlines tomorrow–hope it isn’t as confusing as the money!
18) If I could get the ‘parent’ off my back and let the ‘free kid’ out a bit more I wouldn’t just be having good time but a great time–when I get back to Memphis I will have to work wit Joe on that.
An explanation–I was going through therapy–Transactional Analysis at that time–you may have heard of it as “I’m Okay, You’re Okay” and it really helped me with the rest of my life.
19) I come back to Rio on the 27th–will then go sightseeing (Sugar Loaf, Corcovado, Tipica Forest, etc.) and get some souvenirs. Rio is expensive as far as I can figure out and so far doesn’t look like any ‘bargains’ in jewelry and I haven’t seen any that thrills me. (At that time I was very big into collecting rings, chains, etc.)
20) I am looking forward to Buenos Aires as I think I’ll really like that city even though temperatures are suppose to be in the 40s.
21) To sum up–Rio is okay but nothing like I imagined.
22) “I miss you–haven’t heard “Look of Love” once yet bit I whistle it ( It was ‘our song’ as song by Sergio Mendez, the world famous musician.)

Next on the Itinerary was: Departs Rio 5:30 PM arrives 8:05 PM–will stay at the Plaza Hotel–Chauffer driven car will pick you up at the airport and on the 20th for a day of sightseeing.

But before we get to Buenos Aires let me tell a few things–PG rated–about Rio that I skipped in the numbers up above or just didn’t number.

Posted August 12, 2014 by greatmartin in TRAVEL

TRAVEL TO SOUTH AMERICA–RIO–PART 1   Leave a comment

 
 

south america 1 a menu How’s this for a airlines menu cover?!
 

It was July 1973 and time for my one month’s vacation. I wanted to go some place different, some place that I wouldn’t bump into a bunch of Americans or feel I had to stop in a Weight Watchers class and by this time they were everywhere. In any case I decided on South America. I had learned Spanish in high school but only retained the basics and then Pepe, my first lover, taught me some Spanish but it wasn’t the type you would use in public. I did not know how to speak Portuguese but I thought that would add to the excitement of the trip.

As when I took my trip to New Zealand/Australia I was still drinking heavy but this time I kept a diary in the sense that I wrote either Bernie, my partner, or myself letters almost every day. Between the letters and my itinerary, and I still have both, I can more or less put my travel to South America all together, including get lost in the jungle and being so sick I wanted to jump of the balcony of my hotel in Acapulco.

With my gay Damon guide I took off from the Memphis airport on July 15 and via Miami, with an overnight stay, arriving in Rio De Janerio where I was booked into the Hotel Copacabana Palace with an ocean front room right across from the popular beach. I was met at the airport by a chauffer driven limousine who was to take me on a all day sightseeing trip on July 17.

Following are some quotes from my first letter home written on July 18th. Regarding the missing numbers they have to do with sex and gay life in Rio so I am eliminating the X rated numbers–want to know what they are about email me at GreatMartin2003@yahoo.com !

“Some thoughts on Rio after 3 days:
1) reminds me of Miami beach with mountains and without the deluxe hotels. The “Christ the Redeemer” statute known all over the world is very imposing overlooking the Copacabana Beach. (I was suppose to take a ride up to see it but I was too hung-over to take that sightseeing trip.)
2) Buildings on main avenue block the sun on the beach after 3 PM.
5) All the men are on the thin muscular side looking dark, sultry and sensuous living up to Hollywood’s stereotype of Latin men, while the women all look like Melina Mecouri and both wear the skimpiest bathing suits you have ever seen.
6) There are some but not many fat people.
7) I was sick one night after having shrimp in a hot, very hot, tomato and onion sauce.
8) Coffee too strong
9) Many American movies playing like “The Get-a-way”, “Dumbo”, “Sounder”, etc.
10) Not being able to read the menu and most restaurant employees not speaking English I have been guessing so far and I’ve been lucky. (It was then that I put into effect my seeing someone eating alone and asking them if they would like company– not many Cariocas, as Brazilians are called, ate alone and I mostly ate with English speaking people with a basic knowledge of the language on business in the city.

Posted August 10, 2014 by greatmartin in TRAVEL

%d bloggers like this: