Barcelona 2

There was so much to Barcelona.  There was a lot we did not get to.

On our second day our main goals were to find the place from where our tour the next day started and to make arrangements for our travel to Granada.  We booked the tour through Viatour, an outfit that arranges a lot of tours through local agencies.  Ours was through Explore Cataluyna and we can recommend them.  Their office and the meeting place was on the way from our hotel to Placa Cataluyna and kind of across from the Catalan Museum of Music.

Having found that we made our way to the Cortes Ingles travel office – this was a free standing one not in the big department store.  The trains to Granada were sold out, so we booked a flight on a local discount airline, Vueling.  Worked out fine.

Anyway, we walked around, looked open-eyed at buildings, ate tapas, drank wine, took a nap, and since it rained stayed in and ate for jamon and cheese instead of going out for dinner.  This was the jamon iberica pata negra, fed acorns.  I loved it!!

The next day we did the tour, it was nine hours long.  Some of it was walking and some was by bus.  We saw the Gothic Quarter, the Olympic Stadium, more of old Barcelona, Familia Sagrada. La Pedrera (an apartment building designed by Gaudi) and Parc Guell.  It was an overwhelming day.  I will do a post with photos of the Familia Sagrada but will include a couple at the end of this post.

The next two days we did a couple of self-guided walks from the Rick Steve’s book (recommended), went to the beach at La Barcoleneta, visited the Apple store at Placa Cataluyna and hung out.  It was great.

Here are some photos

FishP1000739 P1000740 Gaudi

P1000748 P1000751Unknown

P1000752Just Wow  P1000758 P1000765 P1000779ColumbusP1000791 Olympic flameP1000803 Bullring, now a mall – bullfighting now illegal in CatalunyaP1000811 Familia SagradaP1000814 P1000816 P1000834  P1000889 P1000892 P1000896 P1000903Parc Güell P1000931 P1000937 P1000947 HarborP1000990 P1000998 P1010002 La BarcelonetaP1010019 Gaudi at nightP1010035That is it for now.  Steve Cotton, a commenter, said he considered retiring in Barcelona.  We could do that, but we both ended up in Mexico.



We left Mérida on May 17, taking the bus 4.5 hours to Playa del Carmen.  We spent the night there, meeting friends at Wah Wah Beach Club, one of our favorite places in Playa.  They were having a micro-brew festival and we had a few good beers, a nice dinner and a nice visit with Rick, Sue, Erik and Jan.

The next morning we took the bus from Playa to the Cancun airport (one hour) where we caught a nonstop flight to Newark, NJ.  Nonstop flights and travel days that were as short as possible are a theme in the trip.  We spent the night near the airport and the next evening we boarded a flight to Barcelona.  During the day there, we replaced  a large suitcase that lost a wheel.  Gave us something to do with our time.

We arrived in Barcelona the next morning, only going through six time zones, so we we were a bit dazed and confused.  Immigration and customs were formalities – they glanced at our passports and custom forms as we walked through, it seemed.

After finding an ATM and getting a cup of coffee, we took a taxi to our hotel, arriving before noon.  They let us stow our luggage in our room and we went out to explore the Eixample, the section of the city where we were staying.  More on that later.  We walked around, found a place to have lunch, explored a bit more and returned to our hotel, where we had a nice, small one bedroom apartment about a 15 minute walk from the old, historic center of the city.

I went shopping, bought some jamon, some bread, some cheese and some wine.  We had another snack and then we then slept about 12 of the next 16 hours, largely recovering from jet lag.

Here are a few photos, and there will be more on Barcelona in the next few posts.

P1000728 P1010017 P1010015 P1010011 P1000743

We took a little trip

Hi everyone,

We left home on May 17 and traveled to Spain, Portugal and California before returning home on June 23.  I am going to try to write about that some.  It was our first long post-retirement trip.  There may or may not be others – but I think we are going to do some getaways every year during Merida’s hottest times.

We went to (in chronological order) Barcelona, Granada, Almunecar, Estepona, Seville, Lagos, Lisbon, Porto and Madrid.  I plan on doing a post on each city, along with our experiences at some other places we visited.  It was a big trip for us that included some “bucket list” things for each of us.

Kathy wanted to see Barcelona and modernista architecture, particularly Gaudi’s work, while she could still see fairly well.  I wanted to see Portugal, particularly Cape Sagres;  missions accomplished.

For now, a few photos that were taken in Barcelona.  Later, at some unspecified time, a post on Barcelona.  One may not be enough for that city, where we spent five days.

The travelers








Gaudi architecture:  one example


Retirement: Year One

I have procrastinated on this long enough, in part waiting for immigration news that I now have, so here comes the brief review of our first year of retirement in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico.

The Move and Housing

At the end of January, 2014 we flew down with three suitcases, two backpacks, a 21.5″ iMac, and our cat.  Tom Kuhn, the now famous Burgerteer and all around good guy picked us up at the airport and, along with his lovely wife, Debi, provided us with cat-friendly lodging on our first night here.

The next morning we met the rental agent / property manager at the house we had rented sight unseen for 3 months.  Lynn was great and I highly recommend her!

At the end of that short-term lease, we moved to a longer-term rental.  Tom and Debi are friends with the owners (who now live in the USA) and the house was becoming available.  Debi connected us with the owners and here we are.  We signed a one year lease on a lovely home in a great location and plan to renew it for at least another year.


The first three months or so we lived without a car, and that can certainly be done for far longer than that.  Taxis are plentiful and reasonable and there are a variety of bus routes.  In addition, almost any product or service you need can be delivered to your home.  Nonetheless, it is very nice to own a car and have the freedom to take day trips, drive to the Campo Deportivo Salvador Alvarado and walk on their one kilometer track, and it is far easier for Kathy, who is legally blind, to get around with her seeing-eye husband behind the steering wheel

Immigration Matters

I came down on a residente temporal visa affixed to my passport, a temporary resident visa good for one year and renewable for three more.  Kathy got a 180 vistante visa (those who tend to be technical about such things may point out that it is not technically a visa).  Within 30 days I started the in-country part of getting a residente temporal card.  Once that was processed, Kathy became eligible for the same status as my spouse.

This week, after the first year of temporal status my application for a change in status to residente permanente was approved.  I will no longer have to go through the renewals.  On Friday I will take in my new photographs and get fingerprinted and about a week later will get the card.  After two years of being married to a permanent resident, Kathy will be eligible for the same status.

We used a facilitator for these processes.  When we first arrived we used Yucatan Expatriate Services.  The staffer who helped us there left that company and started her own, and we used her for the change in status to Permanente.

Life Activities

We typically go to the sports complex in Merida (Salvador Alvarado) and walk a few kilometers in the morning.  We come back home and do a few light housekeeping things (like pool maintenance and keeping the patios clean), I spend some time on the internet – mostly looking at the markets and communicating with other investors.  Early afternoon is usually time for some sun and/or pool time.  We have lunch around 2:00.  Kathy does a  round of pool exercises after that and I typically take a siesta.  We do shopping, a little volunteer work, communicate with family and watch a little TV.  We take occasional day trips and explore new areas of Merida on Sundays.

We have gone over to the Caribbean coast every couple of months for two or three nights.  We have had company from the states  a few times and taken longer vacations around the Yucatan with them.  Last November I officiated a wedding vow renewal ceremony for friends and we spent a few days with them and a large group of people who flew down for that.

Last Sunday on our explorations we found the Yucatan Leones baseball stadium and plan to attend a few games in the upcoming season.  We also plan to attend some symphony concerts and take advantage of other cultural events here in Merida that we missed during our first year.

Travel is a part of retirement for many people, and we will be taking a longish trip to Spain and Portugal this spring.  Other than periodic trips to the States and one to visit friends who are retired on the Virgin Islands, we plan more travel in Mexico.  Pre-retirement we visited Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende, Lake Chapala, and Guanajuato, which leaves a lot still to explore!


I guess I should post a bit about this.  Between pensions and Social Security we are doing fine.  I manage our investment accounts.  It does not take a lot of time – they are not very big – but it makes for a nice hobby for this retired research analyst.  The exchange rate has moved to our personal benefit this year due to the strong dollar, but I imagine at some point in time it will move in the other direction.  The cost of living seems reasonable and our resources seem to be adequate to provide us with a comfortable if somewhat frugal life.  That is fine with us, because that is how we roll.

I have not kept detailed records of our expenditures or how much we spend per month on regular expenditures.  I will do a blog post on that later, but we typically have a little left at the end of the month and I can’t complain much about that.

Wrap up

This could be more detailed, but we are headed over to Puerto Morelos tomorrow to meet friends from MA.  I will try to be more regular about posting, but no promises.



Isla Holbox

The Friday after US Thanksgiving we set off for Isla Holbox.  It was our first visit there.  The island is probably best know for the annual whale shark migration season, and snorkeling with them is a very popular activity.

Alas, it was not whale shark season when we there.

It was about a 4 hour drive from Merida to Chiquila, where you catch the ferry or private boat to the island.  That is if you take the toll road most of the way, which was our route. We arrived too late for the 2:00 pm ferry, so after parking the cars in one of several parking establishments in Chiquila (5 Hermanos, 50 pesos a day), we took a private boat over.  It cost 500 pesos, the ferry would have been 400 for the four of us.

Jeff and Julie, our traveling companions, had been there last year, so they knew the ropes.  From the dock on Holbox we took a cab to our hotel, Posada Mawimbi.  It was no ordinary cab for this island of sand roads:

We spent four nights there and had a wonderful time.  There is a town square, some restaurants, lots of birds, not a lot of night life, but we are not really night life kind of people.  The restaurant and bar at the hotel were wonderful, with attentive staff and good food and drinks.  A breakfast of a fruit bowl and toast is included in the room charge.

Lobster pizza is a specialty, and we shared one at a restaurant on the square with a sign that said they had created it in 1982.  We ate at a couple of restaurants in the town (the hotel is right on the edge of the central part of the town), and had a great meal there.  One highlight of the trip, beside enjoying the beach and sun, was Kathy’s birthday dinner on the beach, about 20 feet from the water.

On to photos.  We are returning in mid-March to meet a cyber friend from Norway and his wife.  Our friends who took us there called it forced relaxation.  It certainly was relaxing.

Hotel beachP1080864 P1080856SunsetP1080816 P1080803Birthday with multiple name spellings P1080892 P1080904P1080888Horseshoe crab colletion


Celestun Flamingo Day Trip

On November 26 good friends from Oregon arrived at our home, having spent time in Puerto Morelos and Valladolid on the way. On Friday we drove to Celestun, on the Gulf Coast, about 90 minutes from Mérida, where we had a nice lunch on the beach and then boarded a small boat for the estuary. Here are some photos of the day:

Jeff on the boat                   P1000064Fishing from the bridgeP1000065FlamingosP1000074 P1000083 P1000086  MangrovesP1000090

Julie being careful at a stopP1000098Termite nestP1000099Julie and meP1000101Jeff, Kathy and JulieP1000104

Local pelicansP1000051Visiting Canadian pelicans P1000053


Some travels and a future update

Hi everyone!

It has been some time since I have written anything here – wow, since September 7 – Brasil’s Independence Day.  We have been a wee bit busy, but not that busy.

We’ve had some company.  Jorden, our ‘adoptive’ grandson arrived in early October, spending 9 or so days with us, three weeks with a host family at a language school, two weeks volunteering at a local school, another week or so with us and then he was off to Playa del Carmen to meet up with his family and a friend who flew down from Vancouver BC for vacation.

We went over to Playa a few days later where I officiated a wedding vow renewal ceremony on the beach for two good friends from Oregon.  We came back to Mérida, had a few days off and then Jeff and Julie arrived on November 26.  They are other good friends from Oregon.  We did Thanksgiving here, went to Celestun for a day and did the flamingo tour, and then headed to Isla Holbox on Saturday, spending 4 nights there.

We are back home now and have nothing much scheduled firmly until mid-January.

I plan to do a blog post on the mini-vacation to Playa, one of the day trip to Celestun, and another one on our first visit to Isla Holbox.  I am also working on a post about our first year of retirement and living in Mexico.  This should all happen in December.

A couple of photos, as a teaser