Mexico

I am sure this will be the longest chapter here… I cannot remember how many I have been to Mexico, how many cities I visited, there was a time where I could remember all the states of the Republica.  Where shoud I start? 1st impression : colours everywhere, smells everywhere (good or bad), chaos in Mexico

The first time I went there was an experience in itself as it was my first long haul travel as well as transcontinental. I remember clearly I was sitting at 24A in the plane when a very rude guy came in, insulting the crew, asking for an upgrade, I thought "by the look of it, I am sure he will be with me for the whole week in the group", and it was the case! I had to stand for one entre week.

So flight Paris Mexico on the way to Guadalajara, at the airport, our friend Jean Mi starts querying about his suitcase, it never turns up, he is moaning around, shouting, walking but it does not appear. In the end, there is one suitcase left and it looks very similar to his…

We checked the label, and it was Albert’s one… but where is Albert? gone to transfer. We still must go through Customs and, in Mexico, you need to press a button, if it turns green, you go ahead, if it turns red, they check everything you have, Jean Mi got Red!! We had to go for Albert, have him go back, explain, exchange luggage, etc.. In the end, after shouts and crys, we got the flight!

Guadalajara, very late at night that Saturday. We were staying at the Camino Real, wonderful place with green gardens, wooden doors to the rooms. On Sunday, while I was having breakfast, the room maids arranged my toiletries by size order on a towel, amazing service and attention to details.  

 

Breakfast was just fantastic. I tried for the first time,

Huitlacoche, quesadillas, frijoles , chilaquiles verdes, papaye juice, fresh mango, huevos rancheros, huevos divorciados, etc.

   

It was just fine until this ugly guy came to my table with his son for breakfast, he left for the day and said to the waiter that I was the one paying!! I do speak Spanish and managed this so HE paid for it…disgusting

Off we go for a visit to Tonala and its Sunday market with Albert and Karine… The afternoon was spent in Tlaquepaque which I found nice but very expensive and americanisedI had bought shoes for my niece and little souvenirs that I still keep at home   

On the monday, we went running to Chapala by bus and it was my target for that trip and I had been insisting so much. There was a massive lake where people would fish, the lake is disappearing due to global warming, contamination and all sorts. So we took a bus along with old ladies, farmers, chickens, goat, music, smells…That was the day when I introduced Karine to Vincent!

 

Colombia

What a fantastic country! I miss it so much! I would love to go again! People are SO nice! Shame there is a safety issue otherwise it would be a major touristic destination for sure.

Humberto and Jesus, for years, teased me about Colombia, they thought I was too much attracted by this bizarre country (as opposed to their lovely Mexico!).

In 2007, eventually, they discovered Bogota and Cartagena and fell as well ! Since then, I am sure they have been more times than I have !! jajajaj

1st impression : Que Español tan castizo! I never heard any insult and slang in the streets, people talk proper Spanish and are elegant

Bogota is a green city, the altitud gives a strange flavour to the city, a kind of a fog between contamination and atmosphere.

Pico y Placa, another funny thing about Bogota, Europeans did not invent anything, Bogota had it before, it has been on for years and it works!! Depending on your registration number, you drive on certain hours during the week.

There are Bicycle days as well, and so many other things

La Bandeja paisa, el ajiaco, not really light meals, but so tasty, having a lunch at Andrés Carne de Res, dance, having an evening of food, drinks and chats at Sassoon

Going to the hairdresser at 06h00 in the morning, what a luxe, an army of hands takes ownership of you and you get manucure, pedicure, coffee or hierbabuena tea, massage, haircut, color, all of this with pleasant people and for the cost of a hairblow in europe….

I remember the hotel I used to stay at, the Rosales Plaza, the employees were fantastic, there was a young lady at breakfast. She would remember from one stay to the other that I loved the physalis jam, she would always keep some for me, there was this waiter who would always wait for me in the afternoon and bring me a pot of coffee in the room at 5.00 to relax after work because he knew I enjoyed Colombian coffee. This made me feel at home

 

Singapore

Let me start randomly with Singapore as it is one of my favourite. My first visit was in 2002, I believe, on the way back from Australia. At the time, my friend Beatrice was living there and I visited her over the week-end, I arrived on a Friday and the first thing that stroke me was that, in such a tiny country, everything worked so well!

No queuing at immigration

No waiting time at luggage belt

All Cash Dispensers work and no one queues there either

No queue at the taxi rank

I was impressed (coming from France, I am sure you appreciate my surprise!)

Béatrice explained that life was easy in Singapore for her,

2 examples :

– dry cleaning, an employee picks up your clothes at your door early in the morning and delivers back in the evening

– when you call for a taxi, they recognize you by your phone number, you don’t have to give again address, name, etc. cool!!!

That time, I visited the Chinese quarter and loads of Dim Sum (what’s its name again?), Béatrice was the one introducing me to reflexology after a day of sightseeing and shopping. She took me to a small shop at the back of a mall on Orchard Road, blind people took care of my feet.

Since then, every time, I was in Asia, I would manage to have a session. It is among the things I miss the most since I don’t travel any more.

  

Then, I joined Catherine and the group to work, it was September, it was the Mooncake festival.

Mooncake is a sweet that I can’t stand but that Chinese people exchange during that month and visit each others with fantastic boxes. It looks like Marzipan but does not taste like it, let me tell you

 I remember we visited the zoo, and it had a Disney theme, we had pepper crab at a traditional Chinese restaurant along the sea, from where we could see the cargoships queuing to enter the port.

 

Brussels

Today is a nice day so I decide to go for a walk around the Berlaymont Building, the Charlemagne, rue Archiméde, around the magnificent Square Ambiorix and Marie Louise and off to work!

 So many beautiful Art Nouveau houses along the Squares and the Boulevard Palmerston, I discover new details every time I walk there, amazing.

Demonstration in Brussels

We have just been advised in our letterbox that there will be a mega demonstration in Brussels this coming Wednesday.

Apparently, we won’t be allowed to drive around, there won’t be any rubish collection, no car parking in the EU area.

 On the back of the fishers demonstration 3 weeks ago, and as they are announcing it in advance, I wonder how big it will be.

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