A year in Mexico City!

 
2 Kudos
Don't
move!

After one year in Mexico City, I decided it was time to write about my experience and maybe give some advice about the best things you can do downtown and outside the city. Mexicans are welcoming, helpful and will even treat you like family if you behave yourself. If you have a decent Spanish you might even get their great sense of humour. Mexico has many things to offer across its 31 states, and each state is totally different. Mexico is a country rich in history, tradition and culture. Its bright colours, delicious food and natural beauty will take your breath away.

Best things you can do in the city

  • Palacio de Bellas Artes, if available I recommend the “Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández”
  • Walk along the Avenida 5 de Mayo to get to the Zócalo, the main square from central Mexico City
  • Visit the Museo del Templo Mayor,  it was one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City
  • Check out the National Museum of Anthropology
  • Visit the Chapultepec Castle and relax in the surrounding Chapultepec Park
  • Buy some great art, souvenirs and handcrafts at the Ciudadela Market
  • Go on top of the Torre Latinoamericana and admire the 360° view over the center of Mexico
  • Visit the house-museum of Frida Kahlo, dedicated to the life and work of this Mexican artist and her husband Diego Rivera

And outside the city

  • Teotihuacan pyramids, ancient Mesoamerican city with the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon and the Avenue of the Dead!
  • Go on a hike on Iztaccihuatl to admire the view on Popocatépetl active volcano, located in the state of Puebla
  • Plan a trip to Tamasopo, with Xilitla (Edward James garden), Puente de dios, Tamasopo cascades, Micos Waterfall, Media Luna Lake and the Rio Verde
  • A weekend trip to Guadalajara is something easy to plan from the city, very charming city considered the home of the mariachi music!
  • If you have even more time take a flight to Cancun and visit everything around: Chichen Itza, Playa del Carmen, Tulum (playa el Paraiso is wonderful), spend a day at Xcaret. For the more adventurous you can drive up to Merida in Yucatan.
  • Bernal, Queretaro de Arteaga
  • Grutas de Cacahuamilpa
  • Xochicalco, Morelos
  • Los Atlantes de Tula, Hidalgo
  • Taxco, Guerrero, the city is known for its silver, both with the mining of it and the crafting of it into jewelry
  • Tepoztlán, Morelos and Tepozteco Pyramid nearby
  • Tequesquitengo, Morelos
  • Tepotzotlán, Mexico

Of course you can’t go to Mexico without trying some of the best Mexican food!

  • Chiles en nogada, most patriotic dishes with the three colours of the Mexican flag
  • Enchiladas, rojas gratinadas, my favorite!
  • Tacos al pastor, Pozole, Chilaquiles, Tostadas, Elote, Tamales, Mole, Guacamole, etc
  • And a few places where you can eat downtown: Cafe Tacuba, El Cardenal, Azul Histórico, Zocalo Central Hotel
  • For the amateur of even more fancy restaurants, Pujol is one of the best to put on top of your list

Kitesurfing in Isla Blanca, Mexico

 
2 Kudos
Don't
move!

They promised the best sunset you’ve ever seen and indeed Mexico delivered! Isla Blanca is a small paradise about twenty kilometers north of Cancun. It is a small stretch of land with narrow sand bank. The spot offers flat shallow water which is awesome to learn kitesurfing or practice some new tricks! Easy to plan over the weekend if you live in Mexico, the only thing you must consider is the wind as usual.

I booked a room at Ikarus Kiteboarding which was fine. They have a restaurant with typical Mexican food that is open during the day. Plan on going there with a car to go more quickly to the spot located 10 minutes north of the school, quite a long walk if you have to carry your kite! The school doesn’t have many other activities than kitesurfing, so bring books and games! You will also probably enjoy the absence of phone network and even electricity sometimes. Last but not least, kite lessons are very expensive compare to the quality that they provide, so I would suggest to go there only if you already know how to kite!

Don’t forget your camera and enjoy your time in this beautiful Mexican paradise!

Hiking the canyons in Arizona and Utah!

 
1 Kudos
Don't
move!

The US national parks have many canyons that offer spectacular views and amazing hikes. They offer a wide range of ways to experience them. During 4-5 days we decided to explore some of the most famous canyons: The Grand Canyon (Arizona), Angels landing (Zion, Utah), Narrows (Zion, Utah) and Bryce Canyon (Utah). Below is the itinerary we followed from San Francisco.

Angels Landing, Zion, Utah

Day 1

  • 6 am: SFO-LAS, pick up the rental car
  • 8:30 am: Drive to Zion for about 3 hours
  • Pick up Narrows Permit from the Visitor Center
  • Begin your Day hike, more details on this page: Angel’s Landing
  • 4:30-7:30am: Pick up the rental gear after the hike at Zion Adventure Co (36 Lion Blvd, Springdale UT)

Recommended gear list for the Narrows:

  • Zion Park Newspaper
  • Zion Narrows Map
  • Dry pants packages reserved from Zion Adventure Co:
    • Neoprene Socks
    • Water boots/shoes
    • Walking stick
    • Dry pants
  • Headlamp / Flashlight
  • Clothing for for 0-5c weather (hat, gloves, etc)
  • Clothing for 10-15c weather (not cotton)
  • Swim suit
  • Food: trail mix, water bottle, bars, etc

Day 2

  • Drive to Zion Adventure Co by 6:20 am
  • 6:30 am: Shuttle departure
  • Get ready to get wet and hike the Narrows for several hours!
Narrows, Zion, Utah

Day 3

  • Check Sunrise time at Zion
  • Drive to Bryce Canyon (1.5 hours)
  • Begin your day hike and check the sunset time at Bryce, select one of the two options Peekaboo or Fairyland loop
  • Overnight at Bryce

Day 4

  • Check Sunrise time in Bryce Canyon
  • 11 am drive towards North Rim for about 3 hours
  • Check Sunset time at Cape Royal
  • 6 pm: Drive back
  • 11:30pm: Once you are back at LAS, return your car
  • Overnight at LAS

Day 5

  • Return to SFO!
Bryce Canyon, Utah

It was among the best hiking experience I had in the US and I would recommend this to any outdoor enthusiast.

Day hike Half Dome, Yosemite

 
1 Kudos
Don't
move!
Half Dome from Glacier Point
Half Dome from Glacier Point

Half Dome is a granite dome at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite National Park, California. It is a well-known rock formation in the park, named for its distinct shape. One side is a sheer face while the other three sides are smooth and round, making it appear like a dome cut in half. The granite crest rises more than 4,737 ft (1,444 m) above the valley floor.

Permit

We decided to hike to the top and come back down in one day. It is pretty easy to plan your hiking trip, except that you will need a permit to access the final section of cables that leads to the top.

Approximately 50 permits are available each day by lottery during the hiking season. The daily lotteries have an application period two days prior to the hiking date with a notification late that night. So, to hike on Saturday, you would apply on Thursday and receive in theory an email notification of results late on Thursday night, but it was actually on Friday for us.

Lodging and when to begin

Many lodging options are available to spend the night before the long day hike (10 to 12 hours). You might want to start hiking early, so prefer a place inside the park or outside close to the park. Make sure you have the permit before booking anything! We crossed paths with many people who started hiking early in the night to enjoy the sunrise and avoid noonday heat and traffic at the cables (often crowded in the summer). Check the weather forecast before your hike up Half Dome: if there is any predicted chance of rain or thunderstorms, or if storm clouds are observed in the vicinity of Half Dome or the nearby peaks of the Sierra Crest, the safest course of action is to not proceed past the permit checkpoint, at the base of Sub Dome.

Wear the proper ankle high boots, have fun, be safe, and carry plenty of water!