A Travellerspoint blog

Oaxaca

Wahaka?

sunny 30 °C
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I left Mexico City on a bus to Oaxaca which took 6hrs and went through some varying Terrain and gave me my first glimpse of 'real' Mexico, some of the scenery was amazing as we passed through mountainous areas and almost deserts I expect during the dry season they are pretty much that.

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Upon arrival I decided to get a taxi rather than try and walk it, a wise move as the pavements are almost single file and it was really, really hot! I'd written the address of the Hostel down and in true English style I resorted to pointing at the address hoping the driver would understand. The Hostel was a bit of a dump but you can't argue too much for $9 a night, the beds were clean and there was running water albeit cold water. After dumping my bags I quickly got chatting to a couple of English girls that were playing Chinese poker, after a few games they asked if I'd eaten and since I hadn't we all went for a bite to eat in the town. We hit the zócalo and I was supprised to find that the prices were still fairly reasonable even thought it's a tourist trap, 10 quid for 3 mains and a beer each!

The next day I explored the markets and the town properly with a Yank called Suzy, she's ok for an American and even gets sarcasm, we took in the famous-ish Mercado 20 de Novembre and were assaulted by the many different smells and sights. We sampled some freshly made gooey chocolate stuff for making hot chocolate with and some real street food that cost 30 peso's which is about 15p!

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On Thursday I visted Hierve el Agua which is a natural warm spring which contains air trying to escape, the name "Hierve el Agua"means “the water boils”. The water is also full of minerals, so as it runs off of the edge of the nearby cliff, calcium carbonate and magnesium in the water create a petrified waterfall.

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Posted by ride165 13:41 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Mexico City

Aztecs & Salsa

sunny -17 °C
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Today I went to visit the Aztec Pyramids which is about 40km outside the City in a place called Teotihuacán this name was given by the Aztec centuries after the fall of the city, and is translated as "the place where men became gods". It's about a 1 hr bus ride to the ruins which meant negotiating the Mexican bus terminal, not an easy task. There are loads of different bus companies servicing the different routes. After 20 mins of wandering up and down the desks I finally managed to find the right one.

On the bus journey we stopped several times to allow locals on selling various eats and drinks along with a guy who got on with a guitar, he then played and sang to everyone for a while then collected money and got off again.

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Upon arrival you can't but be impressed. This site is home to what was the largest city in the Americas. It is made up of large avenue, called "Avenue of the Dead", which is about 2 miles long. At one end is the Pyramid of the Moon. To the side is the Pyramid of the Sun (second largest in the New World) and along the Avenue are many smaller platforms. The larger of the two Pyramids the Pyramid of the Sun was constructed around 100 A.D. which makes the place even more impressive to think that these massive structures were built basically by hand so long ago.

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That evening I met up with some of Tara's friends consisting of some expats, some Aussies and some Mexicans. After some dinner at a local restaurant we went to a Salsa bar which was really entertaining, these Mexicans can move! They had a live Salsa band playing and the place had a real mix of young and old. We were only in there 5 mins and the girls were being dragged onto the dance floor by the many Mexican dudes, like flies round the proverbial turd, I was happy to watch and take in the atmosphere. Though I later danced a little jig with one of the girls who used to teach Salsa. I had a good chat with Franco one of the Mexicans even though he kept apologising for his English, I kept telling him it was really good, much better than my Spanish which is non-existent. He kept asking me what all the bad English swear words were although he seemed to know most of them already!

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Posted by ride165 11:05 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Mexico City

Tacos & Tequila

all seasons in one day 23 °C
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I arrived in Mexico on Sunday to be greeted by a major down pour, it's supposed to be the end of the rainy season but it wasn't letting up. After an interesting journey from the airport through some dodgy looking areas I arrived at Tara's place and in the few minutes getting from the Taxi to the apartment I got soaked. She lives in a nice area of the City called Roma which is next to an even nicer area called Condesa. That evening we ate out at a funky little restaurant where they serve the nicest cheese dish which is basically a large round piece of cheese which is baked so it goes soft inside with a tomato sauce over it, you spread it onto pieces of bread, it was delicious!

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The next day I had a lie in then went for lunch and checked out Roma, just nearby there is a semi derelict house affectionately referred to as 'the earthquake house' it was one of the houses which was damaged in the 1985 earthquake and was never rebuilt or knocked down and it is now inhabited by squatters. That evening I sampled some traditional Mexican tacos where I found that they are not actually crispy shells like you get in the UK, apparently this is an Americanisation (bloody Yanks!), they are in fact soft like small tortilla and are much tastier and easier to eat. I also sampled some Mescal which is similar to Tequila but not the same.

The following day I explored the City Center (Centro Histórico), visited the Zócalo also known here as 'Plaza de la Constitución' They have decorated the surrounding buildings with Mexican flags and colours in preparation for Mexican independence day (16th Sept) there should be lots of celebrations going on this weekend. I joined a walking tour from the Hostel off the Zócalo which took us on the metro to Chapultepec Park which has the only Castle you'll see in North America. Here we also got to see the dance of the Voldaroes whereby four performers, tied to ropes atop a pole, spin and spiral down to the sound of flute and drum to signify the cycle of the Aztec calendar.

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After this we visited the Anthropology museum, I'm not a big museum person as I've mentioned and I quickly became bored listening to our guide go on and on about Aztec history, they did have some cool looking objects though including this skull....

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Posted by ride165 15:46 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Team SFO

F#@k yeah!

overcast 20 °C
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So I booked an early morning flight to Mexico which involved an 5:30am pickup by a muppet driver from the airport shuttle service. Even though my confirmation said pickup was 5:50am he insisted that it was a 5:20am pickup and that I was late, he kept showing me his little handheld device that showed the times, I felt a sudden urge to shove the device where the sun don't shine!

Checkin was nice and easy no hassles or sign of a queue, airport security however was a different story. As everyone lined up to go through they went through checking passports and tickets and pulling certain people aside into a new line. I was one of them and I'm pretty sure it was all based on passports and not at all random. At this point I noticed the special machine that looked like it was straight out of Star Trek which we were imminently about to go through. So up steps the doofus operating it and tells everyone they have to empty pockets, remove shoes, belts etc and place them into the containers. He sends in the first guy and says don't worry it's just gonna blow some air at you and explains the procedure. This thing has glass doors on the other side to stop you walking right through it. He steps in and it blasts about 6 shots of air at him and then lights up like a christmas tree and the doors wouldn't open, the doofus presses some buttons to let him out and they then close on him as he exits. Nobody else was sent through it after that so I guess it broke. We were all instead subjected to manual screening.

To say these guys were unorganised would be an understatement, I think the chuckle brothers could have done a better job, and this was at 7am with only a few passengers to deal with. These idiots have specially designed typically American uniforms with little patches on the arms saying 'Team SFO' 'Making Safer Skies'. Oh I felt so safe! As they swabbed almost the entire contents of my bag for what I can only assume to be explosives one of them got real excited. He'd found my handwash gel. He then put it in a little plastic bag and just as I though he was going to confiscate it he handed it back to me along with my rucksack and said it should be put inside a bag like this, err ok I thought but I've cleared security now so what's the point?!

Posted by ride165 16:29 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Seattle

Bumbershoot Festival

sunny 28 °C
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So I left Canada on the bus heading to Seattle for the Festival with Angie and her friend Emma, both Aussies so I was lovingly referred to as 'English' for most of the journey. Emma turned out to be a good laugh and she liked tea almost as much as me. It was a 4hr bus ride with a 1 hr stop at the border so that the US Border guards could flex their egos and tell us all how scanning everyones fingerprints stops global terrorism. Next it'll be retinal scanners and DNA profiling!

Once we arrived at the Hostel tired and hungry we were delighted to hear that there we free leftovers available from dinner. After consuming a large bowl of pasta we went out for a few drinks and then hit the hay ready for the festival the next day.

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I didn't have a ticket for the festival so I had to queue up whilst the girls got in via the press entrance (Emma is a Journalist) I was only in the very long queue for a few minutes when I was offered a 3 day ticket by a girl with a spare for sale, I offered her $80 (normal price $90) and she took it, winner so I joined the other queue to get in. The festival was really good, a lot more chilled out than your usual festival.

One of the Artists at Bumbershoot, ever so talented!
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One the Tuesday after the festival I spent the morning checking out the famous market and I went the the first ever Starbucks in Pike Place where I tried the Pike Place blend of coffee only available at this Starbucks. The afternoon was spent chilling out in the Hostel where I met Francesca (Frankie) and over our free hostel dinner we planned a visit to the Experience Music Project and driving to San Francisco. The visit to EMP was awesome and well worth it, we spent almost the entire day there. I learnt how to play a rift on the guitar and found out how uncoordinated I am on the drums. It's very inspiring to visit the place and really made me went to learn an instrument. Frankie plays the violin (she's posh) and she could also play piano and a little guitar which totally put me to shame! The rest of the day was spent sorting out our little road trip.

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So thursday morning we collected our rather nice hire car which we weren't expecting, it was fully loaded and had leather seats! Frankie bought an iTrip so we could connect our iPods to the stereo which is cool because American radio is crap! As we were short on time we hit the Interstate and headed south covering about 500 miles to a place called Klamath just South of Cresent City in California. We got to the HI Redwood Hostel at 9:52pm, last checkin was 10pm, to find they had 2 beds left, our luck was in. Both starving hungry we raided the free food shelf and whipped up some omelets and reheated leftover couscous, lovely, always tastes better when it's free!

The next day we awoke to find an amazing view of the coast from the hostel, it was pitch black when we arrived so it was a pleasant surprise. It was a great little Hostel and only costs $20 a night. After gathering info on good routes to see Redwoods we set off in search of some breakfast. We took the 101 highway which has scenic routes off of it to see the magnificent redwood trees. We stopped several times to stand in awe of these giants, some of them had trunks so thick that they were bigger than the car!

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After a long day driving we hit Santa Rosa which is about an hr outside San Fran and since we had no accommodation booked for San Fran we thought it best to find something here, we came across a delightfully tacky motel called the Pink Flamingo and promptly booked ourselves in. In need of something more substantial than crisps we headed to the bar for food and people watching. In all the time I spent in the wilderness of Canada I never ever saw as much wildlife in one place as this bar, there were cougars everywhere! I spent the evening glued to Frankie's side worried I would be attacked at any moment which was funny because the one time I left to go to the bar I came back to find her being chatted up. I sat down and she immediately turned to me and said he's a bloody wierdo! I gave him the Mancunian stare and he left :-)

So the last leg of the journey was a short jaunt to San Fran back on the 101 hwy taking us over the Golden Gate bridge. Dropped the car off and said our goodbyes, she had girly shopping to do and I had to sort out my flight to Mexico!

Adiós

Posted by ride165 20:38 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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