Exploring Mexico City

This morning we decided to head off to Bazar del Sabado, translation, Saturday market. Many markets in the city, this one is in an area called San Angel, we caught a taxi, lanes on the road are just a suggestion, not a requirement!

The market is set up within plaza de San Jacintois and is well known for having a great selection of paintings along with all the other market knicks and knacks, but a cool little area.

Lots of vendors are set up all around the place selling everything and anything, spoons, lace, steamers etc, one vendor was using his car to sell his rugs

Inside one of the buildings they had a court yard with a restaurant which had a mariachi band playing, you often have musicians playing for you in restaurants as you eat your food.

We then jumped into another taxi and headed to another area called Coyoacan, this was a really cute little area, filled with lots of locals and tourists hanging out in the square and at cafes on the weekend. We got the taxi to drop us off at Frida Kahlo's house that has been turned into a museum. The line was really long, so a photo out the front was it.

 

Walked past this place and it had two singers in the two windows upstairs performing into the street….as you do!

By now we needing some refreshments and a little snack, so we stopped at a bar not far from the square, ice cold beer…….and some guacamole with fried grasshoppers on top…..yep, it was actually really yummy

We then headed back towards the metro along this really cute little street called Franceso Sosa, had some really cool looking houses along it, and a church.

 

Took the ladies only carriage on the metro, we saw this last year in Japan too….you could never do this back home. We went back to Bosque de Chapultepec to check out Largo de Chapultepec on our way back to the hotel. This area was extremely touristic, with hundreds of vendors selling all the same things lined the whole walk through the park to the lake, king of ruins the experience, but I guess people are just trying to earn a living.

After some r&r back at the hotel we headed out to dinner……on a quest to find tacos for dinner….success, wasn't really that hard. We sat out the front of the restaurant, which means you get a constant stream of people trying to see you things, lolly pops, wooden spoons, individual cigarettes, painted combs, and snacks.

Tomorrow we fly to Cuba for 8 nights, we don't expect to have any wifi while there so won't be able to update the blog until we get back to Mexico

 

Hola Mexico City

After some much needed sleep and feeling somewhat more human again, we head out for b'fast near our hotel in an area of Mexico City called Condesa. Our menu is all in Spanish, waiter doesn't speak any English, no problem we can work this out….after some time studying the menu to try translate it, we order…..fruit juice and an omelet….the fruit juice, just as we expected……the omelet, not so much!

It actually tasted ok, but it came with frijoles……I don't like frijoles, but other than that was pretty good. The basket of bread was just put on our table, it had an almond croissant in it, if I must!

Walking shoes on….aka Havaiana's we head off to Bosque de Chapultepec…..a large park here in Mexico City that has plenty of museums, a zoo, lakes and what we came to see Castillo de Chapultepec, which is a castle on top of a hill that looks over the city.

Walk up the hill…..it's only high 20's today, but still quiet warm, get to the top and as we enter the security guard checks our bags and confiscates my bottle of water…..seriously what am I going to do with it….throw water over the paintings!!!!

Next we headed to Centro Historico, as the name suggests the old area of the city. We catch the metro to get there…….20 million people live in Mexico City….seems like all of them catch the metro.

Walked through Alameda Central to Palacio de Bellas Artes, they are big into their art and performances here.

Then continued through the streets until we got to Plaza de la Constitucion, a large open square, with Catedral y Sagrario Metropolitano, a church on one side of the square

On the other side of the square is the Palacio Nacional……a few military people around, and a very strong police presence, in fact we have hardly gone 5 mins without seeing police in this city, either that's what keeps everything safe, or they expect things to kick off at any given moment.

We went inside the Palace, they confiscated our water again, at least this time we could bag check our water….yep that's right, we handed to the security guard our half empty water bottle and got given a number to collect them on our way out……seriously what damage have people done with water!?

After retrieving our highly guarded water bottles we continued to explore the area some more

Suddenly, the wind changed and a big grey cloud rolled in with some thunder…..mmmmmm might be time to stop for a drink…..really what choice did we have we didn't have an umbrella.

 

 

30 hours travel with numerous power naps, we have arrived!!

Knowing that the journey to Mexico City was going to be long and painful is one thing but doing it is another thing! 3 boarding passes in hand we depart Melbourne…….and no more work for 5 weeks, wooo hoooo!

Arrived LAX, got stuck at customs for some time, got grilled about my trip and my job…..”and your work is ok to give you 5 weeks off?”, “how long you worked for them.”…..and we just transiting through!!!! 6 hours to kill at this airport…….walked through 7 different terminals, I am sure security would have been watching us, I mean who does a walking tour of airport terminals……bored people who have 6 hours to kill at one of the worst airports in the world!
Our flight to Mexico City had a stop over in Las Vegas…..slot machines at the arrival gate. Very cool airport to fly into, last time I was here I drove in, you literally are flying over desert, more desert, yep and more desert, then suddenly Vegas! The airport is right next to the end of the strip….had a great few as we took off…sorry didn't get a photo.
We also flow over the Grand Canyon on route to Mexico City, well the edge of it anyway…..last time I flew over the Grand Canyon, I had food poisoning and was sick for most of the scenic flight……this didn't make up more it, we too high.
So after over 30 hours of travel, only 2 hours sleep, and after having countless power naps we arrived in Mexico City, hola! Straight to our hotel, shower and much needed sleep!

 

Mexico and Central America …….4 more sleeps!

Almost off on the next adventure, this trip will take me and Claudia to Mexico and Cuba for 2.5 weeks, then I continue on my own to Belize and Guatemala …….5 weeks in Central America, yep life is tough!!!!

 

I will again be updating you all with my blog, but might go a little quiet for the week in Cuba as not expecting to get much wifi. Remember you can follow my blog so you get an email each time I post an update.

 

 

It’s all over…..insert huge sad face!!!

As our trip comes to its end and I sit on the plane heading home writing my final blog, I reflect on all the things that made this trip so amazing, goes without saying hanging out and traveling with my best friend is a big part of that, but Japan is an awesome country, so I have listed below some of the highlights of this country and its beautiful people.

Shopping:

  • So many department stores, and international shops….plus it was sale time
  • Face covers when you try on clothes so no make up stains
  • When you purchase something they walk you to the door, hand you your purchase and then bow as you leave and say thank you
  • All the department stores have food halls in the basement, only downside was no where to eat the yummy food
  • Below if photos of Shinjuku train station, the busiest train station in the world, just in this photo are 4 department stores

Restaurants

  • The food was awesome and good prices
  • Always had a place to store your bag, either on a shelf, hook or in a basket…you never had to put your handbag on the floor!
  • Set menus….get to try a bit of everything
  • When you leave a restaurant, everyone says good bye to you, waiter, kitchen staff, chef
  • The popular places that had people que outside them, had chairs for people to sit and wait on, plus they have you fans or wet towels
  • Below are some of my favorite meals this trip

Toilets

  • You can touch a button that plays music or water noises while your in the loo – discretion music!
  • A baby seat in the loo so you can sit your child in it
  • A pull down stand in the cubicle to stand on if you need to get changed
  • They are always clean and have paper, and are everywhere, and are free

 

Transportation

  • So easy to use….well once you work out the Tokyo subway
  • Always on time …. except once, but that really is rare
  • On the bullet trains, all the seats face the direction you are traveling
  • Everyone queues, it's polite and orderly, people don't push
  • No one eats or drinks on PT….sometimes I didn't like this one!
  • Cars rarely toot their horns
  • Train conductor and trolley lady bow as they enter and exit each train carriage
  • No graffiti or gum anywhere, it's always clean
  • The subway had girls only carriages, so in peak hours you wouldn't be squashed up next to some stinky man
  • The subway sometimes feels like you walked half way across the city just to get to your exit…..literally mini cities underground
  •  

    The people

    • So polite and friendly and happy
    • Smile back at you if you make eye contact
    • Customer service is because they want to, not have to!

    Vending machines

    • You can hardly walk 10 meters without finding either a convenience store or a vending machine to buy drinks at, very handy when everyday was over 30 and humid
    • We didn't see many food vending machines…..we finally found one, so for the novelty factor I made a purchase…..horrible food, was still frozen, I didn't eat it
     

     

     

    On the flip side, also a few things that we didn't like so much

    • They LOOOVE plastic….things come in about 3 layers of plastic, then they give you a plastic bag for it, even a bottle of water gets a plastic bag. In one shop Claudia said no bag for her clothing purchase, so they wrapped it in plastic…..
    • The no eating or drinking in public was actually annoying as we both need to eat frequently and often had to sneak snacks as we shopped or walked the streets
    • You could hardly walk a city block without seeing a Starbucks….seriously they are every where
    • That's a short list, as generally we loved this country and especially it's people, highly recommend you visit, can give you plenty of trips and recommendations.

    Well that's the end of another trip and another blog, hope you have enjoyed it, see you all soon

     

     

     

    Tokyo – just enough time for some more fun…and sake!

    Our last full day in Tokyo today, sniff sniff, holiday is almost over. Another hot day today, it was 33 today….mmm going to be a shock to the system when we get off the plane at Melbourne!

    Headed off this morning to see the Imperial Palace…..well the outer buildings and garden as you can't go into the actual Palace as its home to the current emperor and his family. Didn't actually get a photo of the palace, but did get some other shots.

    Finally, after all the parks/gardens we have been too, a grassed area….

    We then walked via Tokyo Train Station, which looked like it could have fit into most European cities.

    The plan for lunch was to go to another restaurant of the awesome burnt ramen we had in Kyoto…..after trip advisors blue dot directed us to the wrong spot (first time this trip, all other times the blue dot has been awesome), we then ask directions and found it……but it no longer is open, at all, closed down…..not happy!

    So a department store lunch it was sitting on the main street in Ginza, Chuo Dori, as it was closed to traffic. Lots of Japanese people out and about in their kimonos shopping in Tokyo's versions of New York's 5th avenue.

     

    It's a rather posh area in Tokyo….lots of boutique shops, fancy cars…we even saw a Porsche dealership. During the summer they have a number of festivals across Japan, we not sure how this next event fits into that, but we guessing it did. Along the street they had about 100 little wooden bowls filled with water, behind each stood a person, most wearing kimonos, then some chanting and drums and then at the same time they all throw the water up into the air…..sadly I missed the photo of them throwing it, but was rather funny.

     

     

    After a long hot day out and about, we popped into a bar for some cocktails….I needed a drink, it was hot!

    Afterwards we headed out to see the Chou Dori at night, suppose to be famous for all the lights, we thought we had seen better, but guess it depends what peaks your interest.

    Ok, cocktails…tick, final bits of shopping…..tick……all the major sights of Tokyo….tick. Time for our final dinner and some more sake. This was the best katsu curry of the trip….yummmo.

    Sadly back to the hotel to pack and get ready for our last day in Japan before heading home, one more blog update to come.

     

    Tokyo – last few days of shopping, eating and some sights

    Yesterday morning we decided to go check out Tokyo Bay and the area in Tokyo called Odaiba. Basically the area is a collection of entertainment centres…each with shops, restaurants and then some form of entertainment, for example movies, aquarium, Lego world, Madame Tussaud's. You can catch the monorail over as its on a separate island across the bay, the monorail goes over Rainbow Bridge, it's a great spot to get a view of Tokyo, well a small part of it anyway.

    It's a very modern area of Tokyo, with some rather cool buildings, this one is the Fuji TV Building in the background, with one of the entertainment centers in the foreground called Aqua City.

    They also have a beach here…….well, it's sand next to water, but with a sign that says no swimming or playing ball games…..not my kind of beach.

    Dinner was at a place recommended to us, well known for its soba noodles. We also had some scallop carpaccio and a fig salad……yummy.

     

    I enjoyed some different sake with my dinner, firstly a chilled sake that was served in a wooden box. They then over pour it so the overflow falls into the dish under, this is to represent abundance….I like this approach to serving a drink, no short pours here. It came with a side of salt….as the waiter said “like a margarita style”. First sip was interesting….as too was getting the last sip out….try drinking out of a square box!

    Next I tried the hot sake….this was served in a metal jug and the tiniest little cup, so lots of refilling the cup.

    We were out in an area of Tokyo called Roppongi. Had some cool buildings at night time, and lots of nightlife.

    The subway stops just before midnight in Tokyo, as its such a huge city, everyone catches the last few trains home, so like Cinderella we home before midnight, resting up for our official shopping day tomorrow.

    Woke to a beautiful day this morning, had some b'fast and headed to the shops……no photos of the shopping! The area of Tokyo we are staying in is called Shinjuku and is well known for its shopping, just within a few city blocks it has approximately 10-15 different department stores, you could literally spend a lifetime shopping here, we just allocated a day….and boy was it a long day, and somewhat successful.

    After a long day of shopping we just did dinner close to home…..mind you that still involves 100's of options. We did tempura, was not too bad. But we did have tempura sea eel….I never had eel before, so yet another food tick for this trip. Was really nice.

    One of the things I love about the way they serve tempura here, is the salt selection they have to accompany your tempura…..mixed herb salt, wasabi salt…all really yummy.

    After dinner we walked around an area nearby called Kabukicho, which is Tokyo's notorious red light district, apparently you name it, it happens here, just not for foreigners, plenty of dodgy guys and sexy ladies standing on the streets trying to persuade Japanese men into their establishments.

     

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