Tag Archives: Mexico

Liebstar Award Entry

Thanks to Tamz Explores for nominating me for the Liebstar Award.

My answers to your questions are:

  1. How did you come up with the name of your blog?

Pretty quickly- it’s my name and writing.

  1. Who or what inspired you to travel?

My parents took me traveling from the age of 6 months and so I was always going to be doomed to a life of wanderlust!

  1. What is that one country/city that you found the most fascinating and why?

India- it’s just so different to anywhere else.

  1. What has been the most memorable interaction with anybody during your travels?

It would have to be with all of those I interacted with during our wedding week in Koh Lanta, Thailand.

  1. Five things you would never travel without?

Camera, day bag, a good book, snacks and a sightseeing list.

  1. Where are you heading to next in 2016?

Off to the Gold Coast to take my daughter to the theme parks.

  1. What is the best food you have had on your travels?

I had the best gnocchi in Budapest.

  1. What is your worst travel memory?

Getting ripped off in a hammock shop in Merida.

  1. Three destinations you would definitely recommend to fellow travelers?

Mexico, New Zealand and Spain.

  1. Name three of your favorite travel bloggers.

Emily Luxton, Jetsetting Fools and Independent Travel Cats.

My nominated bloggers are:

  1. Emily Luxton Travels
  2. Jetsetting Fools
  3. Independent Travel Cats
  4. In Search Of
  5. Global Grasshopper
  6. I Will Travel
  7. Travelling King
  8. Flights and Frustration
  9. Venga, Vale, Vamos
  10. Borderlass
  11. Mallory On Travel

My questions to them are:

  1. How did you made the leap from recreational blogger to professional blogger?
  2. What is one of your most favourite places you have been?
  3. What is special about your hometown?
  4. Where do you see yourself living in 5 years?
  5. Can you imagine ever getting sick of travel?
  6. What is your favourite city?
  7. What is your favourite small town?
  8. Tell me about somewhere you travelled that was undiscovered at the time?
  9. What is your number one tip on travelling with kids?
  10. Where do you see the future of travel blogging heading?

It’s a South of America Thing

I’m not going to pretend that I know everything about South America. Having only been to Argentina, I know I have only scratched the surface. Although I only experienced Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, it left me with a strong idea of the place and a desire to go back and explore more of the country.

I remember dog walkers, steak and potatoes and the Obelisk on Avenida 9 Julio in Buenos Aires. Drinks that were too strong, underwear that was too skimpy and streets that were too long. Real cowboys, dancing the tango, the colour of La Boca and visiting Evita’s grave.

Iguazu Falls were the widest, reddest and most naturally beautiful waterfalls I had ever seen. You can’t help but be impressed.

There are many more places I must return to see in South America. The the wildlife of Patagonia, the beaches of Brazil and the national parks of Chile. Manchu Picchu of course, the legendary Amazon and Angel Falls in Venuzuela. Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Galápagos Islands in Equador and the Cartagena coast in Columbia.

Now, Mexico, I feel I know a bit more about. I have explored ruins in the jungle, on the desert plain and by the beach. I’ve swum in a cenote, eaten a cactus salad and swung on a swing in a bar.

I’ve seen lots of main plaza’s with cathedral, government palace and town hall. I’ve experienced the heat of the day, the cold of the buses and the feel of a freshly made tortilla. I’ve seen protestors, markets and a Luche Libre wresting show in one of the biggest cities in the world.

I’ve climbed forts, snorkelled next to 500 sunken statues and been amazed by how blue water can be. I’ve sampled the local mescal as well as traditional arts and crafts. I’ve learned what real guacamole and fish tacos taste like.

I want to go back to see the beaches of Jalisco, the waterfalls in Chiapas and the rock formations of the Marieta Islands. I would love to return to Oaxaca, the island of women and the ruins of Teotihuacán. I know I saw a lot, but there is always more to see.

And we never did make it to Guatemala, Belize or Costa Rica….

Related posts: Isla Mujeres and Cancun, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011, Argentina, 2005, Buenos Aires, 2005

Campeche and Merida, 2011

After Palenque, my husband and I headed to the coastal town of Campeche in the Yucatan peninsula where we stayed in a cute hotel with a small pool.

Our first stop was the restaurant at the Campeche City Hall. From the first floor balcony, we could see over the top of Plaza Principal central square which had a bandstand in middle, surrounded by churches, all enclosed by a city wall with arched gates. It was fun watching the band play and all the locals milling about.

Campeche was filled with bright murals, bronze statues, colourful houses and round towers. It really was a pretty little place. We saw the old lighthouse, a street of wedding dress shops and got a great viewpoint of the town from Baluarte de San Carlos.

My favorite part was walking along the Malecon waterfront promenade at sunset past all the modern statues and bars- mostly closed for the off-season. The Cathedral de la Purisma in the main square also looked pretty spectacular lit up at night.

A little outside of town up a hill, we went to the yellow Fuerte Museo San Jose del Alto, which overlooked the Gulf of Mexico. The fort even had a drawbridge and I loved the rounded turrets.

The rest of the day was one of my husband’s favorite times of the trip. We sat in a seafood restaurant on the water drinking, playing cards and eating the best free fish ceviche for whole afternoon. We had the restaurant to ourselves so were able to watch the cormorants fishing nearby and soak in the atmosphere for as long as we wanted.

Next stop was inland to Merida. Merida was hot. So hot, that my husband felt sick. So sick, that he didn’t have the strength to protest when I got ripped off by a Mayan hammock seller that we had met in a café. He took us back to his shop and sold me a bracelet and an overpriced picture after I flat out refused to buy a hammock for a ridiculous price. At the time I figured it was the lesser of two evils, but I still got scammed in the end.

After this disappointing episode, I ate the largest burrito I have ever seen and we retired to the air conditioning of a Frida themed hotel.

The next day, we discovered that cruise ship visitors had invaded the city. So after a quick spin around the main plaza with it’s Cathedral, the old Bishops residence and the red city hall with black and white checkered balcony, we left as soon as possible.

My highlight was the discovery of some interesting modern murals inside the green Government offices at the top of a large staircase that ran from the courtyard.

I never realized how much of a coastal dweller I was until I was in the middle of the Mexican heat of Merida. I longed for the relief of a sea breeze once again, but first it was off to the to see the desert ruins of Chichen Itza.

Related posts: Palenque, 2011, Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011

Palenque, 2011

At the end of the longest bus trip I’ve ever been on, my husband and I arrived at Palenque. I was glad that we hadn’t decided to include Guatemala and Belize into our trip as originally planned, as we definitely wouldn’t have had enough time.

We were so tired after the overnight bus trip in temperatures that could only be described as fridge like, where I was still cold despite having two backpacks on top of me for warmth. If you did actually get warm enough to sleep, there was always the loud snoring local to disturb your sleep further, the speed bumps as we went through each small town and the fact that they had filmed us on when we got on the bus as this was a notorious kidnapping route.

When we got there in the morning, we discovered that it was too early to check in. And in typical Mexican- time- style, noon check in became 2pm check in, and I resorted to snoozing on the reception couch. When we were finally permitted to check in, we were happy to discover that we were in our own private house with the luxury of a TV with movies in English.

The hotel also had a swimming pool and a restaurant on the river overlooking now flooded river bars. We were in the middle of the jungle and the only reason most people come here is to to see the ruins.

The ruins of Palenque themselves were amazing. The towering Templo de las Inscripciones greeted you as soon as you entered the compound and was just as awe inspiring as expected.

The Palacio was the largest building with many structures, lots of steps and a big indoor courtyard with surrounding patios. We saw the Tomb of Red Queen inside one of the many temples and the Temple of the Sun with its stone panels.

I climbed up Temple of the Cross which had a fantastic view of all the ruins. After that we saw the large ball court in Group Norte and went for a walk into the jungle to see the Queens Bath of limestone waterfalls and the Bat Group of buried ruined houses.

Seeing ruins in the jungle was an amazing experience where I could really imagine what it must have been like back when the people lived here. I was so glad we had made the long trip to see it all.

Related posts: Oaxaca, 2011, Mexico City, 2011

Oaxaca, 2011

It was a long bus trip to Oaxaca, distance was a factor I hadn’t thought of fully when we decided to come to Mexico- everything was a little further than I thought. It’s hard to pick a favorite place in in the country, but Oaxaca definitely made the top three, so it was worth it when we got there.

My husband and I stayed in an authentic hotel with gothic style rooms and courtyard gardens. Perhaps it was a mistake to try the local mescal- a moonshine version of tequila- after such a long trip. One shot in the Alice in Wonderland themed bar and it was down the rabbit hole for me.

The next day, we wandered down the Alcala, a closed off walking street lined with buildings, to the main square with the usual Cathedral and state Government palace. The iconic Hotel Monte Alban also overlooked the square that was filled with the sounds of musicians and the sights of the market.

I bought a pair of earrings from a local mountain tribe seller and an Alebrijes lizard. Alebrijes are wooden painted animals, originally made as toys for children, that are unique to Mexico. They were so colourful and beautiful that I wish we had the foresight and luggage space to buy more.

We went to an authentic mole restaurant in the house of a local woman to try mole, as Oaxaca claims to be the originator of the popular Mexican sauce. First time around, I thought it tasted like dirt. Another evening, we had mole with duck in a fine dining restaurant called Los Danazantez that had a lovely open air courtyard of water features and a large wooden bar. It was better second time around, so I can see how the locals have acquired a taste for it.

Oaxaca is a town of colour, flowers, black pottery and pushed tin. At times, I felt like I was on the set of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. It is also a town of churches and temples, so we visited Iglesia de Santa Domingo.

Inside was plethora of gold with the Santa Domingo family tree on the roof. In the grounds of the monastery next door there was elaborate courtyards with marble pillars and lots of painting of monks on the walls.

The view over the cactus garden to the mountains from one of the arched windows was beautiful. Also housed here the Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca with many statues, gold painted balconies and saints on cornices.

That evening we visited a rooftop bar overlooking Iglesia de Santa Domingo and felt like we were on top of the world.

Related posts: Mexico City, 2011

Mexico City, 2011

I had heard Mexico City was dangerous, so was a little apprehensive about visiting. When I found out my husband had booked for us to stay in a rough neighborhood, this did nothing to allay my fears. When we got to the hotel, we were informed that the following day was a public holiday and there would be political protesters everywhere. Despite all this, I have never felt safer in any large city than I did on that Labour Day Monday in Mexico City.

Our hotel had a lovely roof top pool, which we never managed to utilise due to killer jet lag. In an effort to get back in the right time zone we walked to the Torre Latino Americano for a great view of Mexico City- it is huge. I had no idea how big until I got the birds eye view of the endless sprawl. My favorite building I could spot was the close by Palacio de Belles Artes with its beautiful multi-coloured roof.

We continued down Calle 5 de Mayo, which had many old mosaiced buildings, to the Zocalo main square, flanked by the Palacio National and the Catedral Metropolitana. The square had a political protest group in the middle and Aztec Indian dancers on a side street. Behind the Palacio National we found a skeleton statue as a shrine for Santa Maria outside the Templo de la Santisima Trinidad.

The next day was Labour Day and as soon as we stepped outside, we found that there were protestors everywhere and 4 different types of police. Despite the sheer numbers of people, it all seemed relatively peaceful.

One of the main streets- Paseo de la Reforma- was closed for the public holiday and there were families with kids walking, biking and roller blading along the wide road. I saw the biggest stone seat I have ever seen, along with many monuments and statues, including the Budapest-like Monumento a la Independencia with a gold angel at the top.

The Monumento a la Revolucion- a Paris-like arch- was a hub of riot police and protestors who had marched there along the flag lined Plaza de la Republica. Alameda Central park also seemed to be a hive of activity for the locals.

We decided to seek out the Mercado de la Merced, which we later found out is located in an actual dangerous part of the city. I did wonder why the streets were lined with prostitutes. The market itself was an explosion of colour in flowers, piñata’s and chillies.

Our next stop was the Arena Coliseo to see a genuine Luche Lubre wrestling show. It was very entertaining, and I am sure the extra spicy Doritos and cheap beer helped. After the show, my husband bought a blue wrestling mask and posed for a photo with a policeman. I suppose after the long day of protesters, a couple of tourists were no hassle.

The main thing I wanted to see in Mexico City was the Teotihuacan ruins. However, we discovered that it was the one day of the week that the ruins were closed, A lesson in always read the guide book carefully was well learnt, thankfully at the start of our trip.

That night, we were cheered up by dinner with Eugenio, who my husband had met through his rotary exchange program, and his wife Cynthia. They were lovely warm people, even though I had never met them before. We went to a fancy restaurant and they introduced us to fine sipping tequila and cactus salad- which was actually very yummy.

If this was only the beginning, we were in for a hell of an awesome trip in Mexico!

Related posts: France, 1997, Part 1: Paris, Hungary, 1997 

It’s a water thing

Growing up five minutes from the ocean, perhaps it was inevitable that I have an affinity with water. I love swimming in the ocean, particularly with dolphins, turtles or any other safe sea creatures I can get close (but not too close) to, and will take any opportunity to go for a dip.

I always enjoy going to the beach, walking along the sandy shores, dipping my toes in the water and running from the waves. I remember long summer days by the sea and had my first kiss on the beach.

Wide-open spaces leave me feeling restless for the feeling of the sea breeze in my hair again. I feel land locked and only sighting the ocean shore makes me feel at ease again.

I have been lucky enough to grow up near some of the most beautiful white sandy beaches in the world in Jervis Bay and visit other beautiful beaches in Mexico and Malaysia.

Even if you can’t get in the water, getting on the water by boat will do, or a walk down a promenade, or even a bar with a water view.

All of the best road trips I have been on have been along the coastline, like Big Sur in California, the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and pretty much the whole of the South Island of New Zealand.

My search for waterfalls is a bit obsessive. I have been to Iguazu and Niagara Falls as well as countless other less famous waterfalls. I plan not to rest until I see Victoria Falls, Gullfoss and a waterfall on the beach in Norway.

I also love a fountain, which is probably a lot of the reason why I love Spain, Rome, Versailles and all those other big gardens with lots of fountains. I mean, how can you not admire the Trevi Fountain?

Unless you were unlucky enough to go when they were restoring it, in which case there is always the Fountain of the Four Rivers and all those other gorgeous fountains in practically every square in the city.

So, yep, that’s me, water baby in search of any beaches, waterfalls or fountains I can find. I wander where my search for water will take me to next…

Related posts: It’s a French Thing, Random Public Holiday Ramblings, USA Road trip, 2007: Part 2, Malaysia, 2006, Canada, 2005, Argentina, 2005, Europe, 2003, Italy, 1997, Part 1: From Rome to Florence, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond BarcelonaEngland, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988