Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gudalajara 469

So it was totally random. But D saw a commercial on TV that there were some concerts going on downtown, and wouldn't you know it- it was Guadalajara celebrating its 469th anniversary. We made our way downtown, and saw some major Brazilian hot shots in concert- Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil!

Cathedral at night

Caetano Veloso

And a quick google search even turned up a clip from the night:


Friday, February 25, 2011

Monarch Butterflies in Michoacan

About two weeks ago we had a long weekend for Constitution Day and decided to take a day trip to see the famed monarch butterflies at the Reserva de la Biosfera de la Mariposa Monarca in Michoacan. While we were hoping to split it over two days, timing would just not allow it and we were afraid that we might have to wait until next year if we didn't go, because the monarchs would be migrating back up north for the summer. So we left early early and got on the road. Mostly it was fine, until the last hour when we were climbing up crappy roads. (sidenote: It's always surprising how little infrastructure is attended to around these national attractions.)

The butterflies generally hang out in this area from November to March when it's too chilly to stay in North America (Great Lakes area). Despite the fact that it was a beautiful day all around, on the hillside, in the forest it was cold! Cold enough that the butterflies were not really in flying mode, but more like huddling on trees mode. It was a good few kilometers hike up and down and overall a great excursion. We ended our visit with a hot blackberry drink, thick like sahleb and very tasty. But enough chatting, here are the pictures:

The forest:

Those clumps are actually butterflies:

Take a closer look:

And even closer:

To Visit:

Driving from Guadalajara- take highway Mex 15 until Maravatio, where you turn south towards Angangueo (for 4*4 vehicles) or Ocampo (for little cars). Door to door, it's about 5 hours, and the cuota comes out to appx. 500 MXN each way.
Alternatively, from Morelia it is appx. 2 hours.

The Park- From Nov. to March, 9am to 6pm. The best time to come is in on a sunny day in Feb/March when the butterflies are more likely to be moving around. Try to come mid-day/early afternoon. It's about 2-4 km uphill hike; horses also available. Entrance is 40 MXN/adult.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Themed Tour: The Da Vinchi Code in Paris

I know I previously bashed this kind of tourism, but if that's what it takes to get a visit to the City of Lights, so be it. To do this, you could pay a tour company, or do it DIY using a tour such as this one-

(at St.Suplice w/Lil' Sis)

If you're not totally intent on following the steps of the movie, but just want a few major scenes, here's a list of the major landmarks:
St. Sulpice
Place Vendome

Monday, February 21, 2011

Advanced Paris: Outskirts and Outside

If you have some extra time, are sick of museums, or feel the need to leave the downtown bustle, here are some other attractions on the Paris outskirts.

La Defense

City Outskirts:
La Defense- a business area, for lovers of modern architecture or devoted mall shoppers
Chateau de Vincennes- a small chateau you can see without leaving the city
Pere La Chaise- huge cemetery including gravestones of many famous people

Pere laChaise

Outside the City:
Versaille- the quintessential French palace to see, most would categorize under "Paris 101"
Giverny- Monet's home and inspirational garden
Castles- such as Fontainbleau, or Chantilly

Chateau de Vincennes

Friday, February 18, 2011

Advanced Paris: Museums Edition

If you have some more time, here are a few good museums for a variety of interests:

(Les Invalides)

Musee de Quai Branly- fabulous natural history/anthropological/ethnographical museum
Les Invalides (Army Museum)- military and French history museum
Photography Museum- not huge, but some rotating exhibits are excellent
Fashion Museum- mostly 19th century clothing on display
Musée de la Mode et du Costume de la Ville de Paris
, 10 Avenue Pierre 1er de Serbie, 75116 Paris, France; tel. 01 47 20 85 23
Palais de Tokyo- contemporary art exhibits

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paris for Beginners 3: Museums

So we continue our overview with the must-see museums, these are two full days, unless you're superman (and can and probably should be mixed and matched with some of the walking days):


Museum Day 1:
Louvre- you can spend the whole day here, or not, as you wish.
Picasso Museum- if you're a Picasso fan, or you just need to get out, go in the afternoon and explore the quaint neighborhood around it, the Marais.
the Marais

Museum Day 2:
Musee D'Orsay- if you heart impressionist, this is a must-see
L'Orangerie- a small museum with big big paintings, a must for Monet fans
Centre Pompidou- for the modern art lover

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just a Sampling

SMOOCHES! And Happy Valentine's Day!

Today we're going to take a day off the touring to mention 3 of our favorite restaurants in Paris, perfect for a romantic dinner!

Le Dix Vins- Nice and cozy, this place is super romantic and has great traditional French food.
57 Rue Falguière, 75015 Paris, France; tel. 01 43 20 91 77

Relais de l'Entrecote- For delicious steak and fries.
20 Bis Rue St Benoît, Paris; tel. 01 45 49 16 00

Essaouira- For fabulous couscous and Moroccan food.
135, Rue Ranelagh - 75016 Paris 16ème; tel. 01 45 27 99 93

mmm...our mouth waters just looking at it...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Paris for Beginners 2: Iconic Sites

Part I (morning):
Another morning walk began at Rue du Bac walking on Blvd. Raspail, passing by the Assemble National and along the Seine. We crossed at Pont de l'Alma, noting the monument designating Princess Diana's crash site. From there we went up Avenue du President Wilson through the market and up to the Trocadero. From there it was down to the Tour Eiffel.
market Av. Wilson
Tour Eiffel

Part II (afternoon)
The afternoon had us heading to Monmartre. We started by climbing to the Sacre Coeur and then wove our way down through the streets. We made a walk-by viewing of the Amelie cafe, and ended by the Moulin Rouge.

Sacre Coeur

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Paris for Beginners: Introductory Walking Tour

OR "How to see a lot in one day"

Part I (morning):
We started at Place de la Bastille (metro= Bastille), then walked past the Hotel de Ville (City Hall).  We continued walking along the Seine and crossing the river onto Ile de la Cité (City Island) to see Notre Dame de Paris. We made a (totally unnecessary) stop at Shakespere and Co, and then detoured through the Jardin du Luxembourg before heading towards Rue du Bac (St. Suplice on the way).
Notre Dame

Part II (afternoon):
We walked on the lovely Rue du Bac to get to the Tuileries, taking a left and walking right through (bypassing L'Orangerie Museum). From the Obelisk of Luxor at Place de la Concord we headed up the Champs Elysée, ending up at the Arc de Triomphe by sunset.
Arc de Triomphe

Monday, February 7, 2011

From Paris with Love *

How embarrassing! It has been sitting in our draft box for well over a year- but it's time to finally reveal, Paris, city of lights, city of love! We want to stay away from over-explaining the basics and the cliches: We know our readers are smart enough to figure out when the Eiffel Tower opens and how to get to Versaille. But we do want to share some of our favorite places. And we have some tips for those on a follow-up trip or with a little more time.

*We were going to start with a movie review but this movie is really bad. So we don't recommend it. :)

**We make no claim to be experts on the topic, we're just going to share things that we enjoyed and would recommend to our friends. :)

And so coming up: walking tours, museums, and a little more. Short and sweet.

Friday, February 4, 2011

"It's a road with Ranchos"

Two weeks ago, we went on a very successful picnic in Parque Metropolitano here in Guad. We didn't take any pictures, but it's just a nice big park. Some areas are pretty open for walking/biking and some are more family/kid oriented with little BBQ areas and playgrounds. It's the perfect place for a Dia del Campo (aka day out, aka tiyul).

So this past weekend we tried our luck at the Bosque de la Primavera. We drove all the way out of town, past the pereferico on a not-so-great turned paved-with-stones turned dirt road. And man was it a bust. While we trudged along in our little car M had to maneuver like crazy to avoid destroying our underside and all we wanted was to find a little picnic spot or short trail to walk on. Instead we got a never-ending road and on both sides of it were private Ranchos. And frankly, the forest was pretty ugly. About half- way down we saw a "ranger" that told us there were nice spots another 10 km away. So we kept going. And going. And going. Until we hit a sign that said we couldn't keep going. So we found a tree by the side of the road and finally ate our lunch!

(At which point the same ranger in his truck shows up, and tells us to move the car out of the road, when there was NO WAY we could have done with out getting stuck!) So we left.

We were feeling a bit unsatisfied with the "park experience" so before heading home, we stopped at the Parque Agua Azul*. And that was quite a little gem. The small park is well maintained and has plenty of little spots to explore including an aviary, orchid greenhouse and butterfly "cage". If only it weren't in a not so great part of town we'd be back often enough.

*It's also next to the municipal theater and the "archeological museum", glad we found those ;).

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Welcoming 2011 Properly

We're trying to get a few trips in this semester.

So we've got trips tentatively planned for February, April and June! In between, we'll be filling you in on the rest of the deets regarding our Chilean adventure (including lots and lots of tips), we'll be hosting a throwback to our City of Love adventure, and keeping up with some must watch movies, must read books, and must know tips.

Stay tuned! and a belated Happy New Year to all our readers!