Tuesday, October 26, 2010

monterrey - part two

I can't believe that my three weeks of Monterrey has come to an end. Unfortunately my Spanish is still rather pathetic. But I have to thoroughly enjoyed my time here. I was told before I came over that there wasn't any thing to do in Monterrey... I managed to find plenty of places to visit and tonnes of new foods for me to taste.

Places I visited that I recommend checking out:
- Macroplaza in the city centre
- Museo del Noreste (MUNE)
- Museo de Desierto, Saltillo
- Las Grutas de Garcia... grotto full of stalactites and stalagmites
- Cola del Caballo
- a Lucha Libre fight

Things to eat:
- taco maƱaneros... breakfast tacos
- mole... chicken in mole sauce (which has got fruits, nuts and chocolate in it)
- limonada... the limeade is simply divine
- everything covered in chillies

I also managed to head down to Mexico City (the locals call it Mexico DF) for a couple days with some friends. I was able to squeeze in a trip to check out the Teotihuacan pyramids, meander through the city centre, went to the Plaza Garibaldi which is where the mariachi bands all hang out, and Six Flags. We stayed at a poxy hotel where the first night I got no sleep due to the music blasting across the street (the next night we insisted on moving to another room). All in all, I got a taste of life in Mexican and I really loved it. The country is full of rich culture, each region has it's own distinct personality, it's fascinating history, the variety of food (I reckon I have gained quite a few kilos on this trip). I can't believe how quickly the time has passed by. Thank you Mexico for sharing your beautiful country with me.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

monterrey - part one

It has been eleven years since I have been in a fully Spanish speaking community. My Spanish skills (or the little that I had once had) has pretty much gone to shreds. I entered Monterrey, Mexico, with hardly any ability to communicate with my host family. The poor family spent the first couple of days lamenting over the face that I had forgotten my Spanish, and that I once was able to speak with them well. (In fact, I know it was a miracle that I was able to communicate with them when I was in Argentina because the next semester when I was back at university I wondered how on earth I managed to get away with so little Spanish) Anyway, a few days later, I am now using my maimed Spanish and feeling a little more confident talking to people.

A little bit of background about Monterrey... it is the capital city of Nueva Leon, the north eastern state of Mexico. The city is famous for its natural resources... it is rich is iron, steel, cement, etc. It is a city surrounded by mountains (hence the name). And the climate is very desert like... it's supposed to be autumn now, but the weather still is in it's high 20s up to the mid 30s.

Things I have been discovering about Mexico:
- the Mexicans love their chillies
- the Mexicans do not like being associated with the US, but they have tonnes of borrowed words from the English language...
- apart from borrowed words, they also have lots of different words from the Spanish spoken in Argentina and the Spanish I have learnt at uni

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

new york

This city really never sleeps! I've been here for a week and there is always new things to check out for museums, exhibitions, shopping, broadway productions, food, markets etc. There are tonnes of shops open till midnight or even 24 hours!

I have been very blessed with accommodation this trip, and have been staying at a friend's apartment overlooking the Hudson River and the New Jersey shoreline. It's really fascinating watching the different types of transportation that crosses the river... there are speedboats, cruise ships, container boats, ferries, kayaks etc.

Before I arrived in New York (NYC) I had heard people that live on Manhattan Island do not like to leave the island. I didn't think much of it until I got into NYC and discovered it for myself. I guess even though Manhattan may be an island, it is very self-sufficient and comprehensive so many of its residents do not feel the need to travel out of it. I did manage to venture out to Williamsburg, Brooklyn (an area very much like Fitzroy in Melbourne) to catch up with an old primary school friend from my HK days. I even took a train up to Connecticut for a day to go sailing with some friends and had a feast of a dinner at their house.

I somehow was able to cram an enormous amount of touristy things into this trip, and I admit I'm a little museumed out... the museums I have visited:
- Solomon Guggenheim Museum
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- American Museum of Natural History... even made a video postcard haha American Museum of Natural History - Video Mail
- MoMA

More places of interest I visited...
Food: M&Ms World, Hershey's, Pop-Tarts World, Magnolia Bakery, Momofuku Milk Bar (and even The Australian pub... yes I met up with a bunch of Aussies)
Shops: Tiffany & Co, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Sephora, Origins, Patricia Field
Other spots to note: Central Park, Circle Line sightseeing cruise around the lower half of Manhattan, Empire State Building, NBC Studios tour, St Patrick's Cathedral, Times Square, Tribute WTC Visitor Centre...
Plus many more...

jeff koons at wtc + sailing in connecticut

lady liberty + a glimpse of sightseeing

Links to pics:
NYC - part one: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=513491&id=859840586&l=22f12cfb80
NYC - part two: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=513495&id=859840586&l=e1e99d346d

Next stop, Monterrey, Mexico! I'm exciting and slightly freaking out cuz my Spanish is not up to scratch at all! Oh well... I'm sure I'll have fun regardless!