Patzcuaro

Patzcuaro is a town located near Morelia.  Many city folks from Morelia enjoy going to Patzcuaro on the weekends to relax with family.  We are no exception.  As with many towns in Mexico, it has a centro (central) plaza downtown.  Patzcuaro’s plaza is home to children who dress up as old people complete with the masks to truly appear older. They dance the Danza de los Viejitos or the Dance of the Elders.  We took in the sounds of their clackety clack shoes, the bright colors of their clothing, and their festive palma hats to realize they are dancing in celebration of those who reach a mature and hopefully wise age.

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Across from the plaza, the nieve or ice cream is a locally known sweet treat for the weekend.  Nieve can be found in many flavors such as nuez (walnut), rompope (alcohol drink similar to eggnog – but this is frozen!!), chocolate, fresa (strawberry), canela (cinnamon), and many more.  The best part of this ice cream is that all ingredients are fresh.  They are served with child size spoons that make anyone feel like a child again!

Patzcuaro is, also, known for their tiny fried fish, charales, that are caught from the Lake of Janitzio.  One time we ate at a local restaurant right off the water.  While eating the small fried fish with fresh squeezed lime on freshly made tortillas topped with homemade salsa, we experienced more of the Danza de los Viejitos.  There is nothing like fresh made tortillas!

Another delicious dish and one of my favorites is the corunda.  The corundas in Patzcuaro are more generous in size than in the city.  The city corundas are the size of a small fist.  These in Patzcuaro are at least three times bigger, so maybe start with one first…  Corundas are made with a corn masa similar to tamales, but are shaped like pyramids filled with your choice of chicken, pork, or cheese with salsa.

 

As mentioned before with the fish dish, Patzcuaro is near a beautiful lago or ‘lake’ with an island called Janitzio.  A ferry takes you from the town of Patzcuaro to the island of Janitzio.

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When stepping off the boat onto the dock, I could feel the water all around me.  It felt like a private island.  I saw the local island folks wearing their huaraches (leather sandals).  The day we went it was raining and the ground was slick.  However, we proceeded to climb the mountainside despite the drizzle.  I suggest you check the forecast ahead of going as it can be slippery when the rocky stairs are wet.  This way you have a good pair of foot wear.  Luckily, I had my huaraches on as I carefully made my way up the mountainside.  As we climbed the spiral staircase on the mountain, there were many family run stores and restaurants along the way.

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Once at the top of the mountain, we were at the base of the Morelos statue.  So, of course, we climbed up more stairs to get to the very top.  The view was absolutely worth it!  Also, we worked off all the calories we ate in town between the corundas, charales, and nieve!!

We climbed down from the statue plaza and enjoyed elote in a cup.  Elote is boiled corn on the cob served (off the cob) with water, cream, cheese, and hot sauce.  Yum. Yum!!

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As we climbed back down the mountainside, we discovered a tree growing out of the mountain that had homes, storefronts, and restaurants built around to make it part of the architecture.  I love that in many parts of Michoacán, folks choose to keep nature in their building plans.  Can you picture yourself on the balcony?  I can!

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We returned to the dock to board the ferry to the mainland Patzcuaro.  A local band joined us on the ferry to our delight!  We enjoyed a relaxing boat ride with live music.  When you visit Morelia, check out Patzcuaro!!

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What To Do Houston? Go!! 10+ Places

Many may know Houston as an oil and gas industrial place.  However, Houston is, also, a port city that has two large medical centers.  So, plenty of work, right?!  What is there to do for fun?  Whether you are there for a business conference, a weekend visit, or a full relocation to live and work, there are plenty of places to go without spending too much of that hard earned money!  There is so much to do that I will include more places in upcoming blogs!  But, I will work my way from the city center of downtown to out and about an hour or so drive.  The drive is so worth it!! (Also, I posted the links to each place at the end of the blog to make it easier to find out more about them.)

  1. Chase Building!  Where? Downtown.  Cost? Free. Yes, free!! 

The view of Houston’s downtown from above is great!  You get to see the penthouse pool of a building nearby.  You can see the aquarium with all the amusement rides.  A miniature replica of the outdoor sculpture seen in the front plaza sits in the center of the lobby along with a story about it.

2.  Downtown Aquarium! Where? Downtown.  Cost? $8.99 (children) $11.99 (adults)

A great way to spend a date night.  Or, take the whole family.  Visit sea life up close and learn more about the native wildlife near Houston such as from the bayous and gulf coast ocean.  For only $5 more you can touch and feed the sting rays.  My husband and I fed the sting rays.  It was a fun experience.

Are you done with the indoors?  Go outside and play!  The aquarium has several amusement rides including a large Ferris wheel.  It gives a grand view of downtown Houston.  Also, get a bird’s eye view of the highways without the worries of driving them!  It gives a new perspective of them too.

Aquarium Chase Tower View
Aquarium viewed from the Chase Texas Commerce Center

 

Patty aquarium city outdoors
Aquarium view of Houston

 

3.  Downtown Underground Tunnels! Where? Downtown. Cost? Free.

Alright, enough of the above ground fun.  Let’s take y’all underground.  Yes, you read that right.  Houston’s best kept secret is underneath the downtown area.  Bring out your inner adventure explorer while keeping cool in the Texas heat!  Sure beats a gym membership.  There are restaurants, shopping, and connections to downtown sights such as the Chase building.

My brother and I discovered this when he came to visit us in Houston. We went downtown and soon became confused that we didn’t see anyone in a major U.S. metro city on a weekday!  I know the heat can be a bit much, but…  Finally, we saw a few folks.  My brother asked a young woman where everyone went as the downtown seemed empty for a weekday.  She replied simply for us to follow her.  As we arrived to a building entrance, she explained that everyone was down below and we needed to take the stairs.  Down below?  We followed her lead down an escalator.  Boom!  There was such a hustle and bustle.  Folks everywhere!  The aroma of food.  The sounds of conversations.  Oh and it was nice and cool too.

4. Hermann Park Where? Just South of Downtown near Rice University and the zoo. Cost? Free.

This one my husband and I discovered when looking for another new place to walk our dog.  This park is very dog friendly!  It is a large park with joggers, sports teams, and outdoor theatre and music performances.  One night we sat outside with our dog Charlie to enjoy live music.  Another night we watched a dress rehearsal for a theatre production.  Also, ever been to cities where you can not find a public restroom anywhere?  Not a problem here.  Plenty of clean public restrooms.  It can be the small things in life that make or break a place.

Hermann Park

Hermann Park birds
Houstonian birds

 

5. Galleria Shopping.  Where? Downtown.  Cost? Depends if you are buying or window shopping.  Parking is free.

The Galleria is one of the downtown spots that are accessible through the underground tunnels.  But, if you are out and about and decide to drive there, the parking is free as well.  Parking is underground so you can avoid coming back to an oven heated car!  You can spend the day visiting an art gallery or trying out a luxury car.  My brother and I went into an art gallery to learn more about the artists behind each piece.  Then, we went into a store where they had an actual floor model of a Tesla.  It was nice to try a car without the pressure of a dealership or crowd of a car show.

6. Buffalo Bayou Park. Where?  15-20 minutes East of Downtown. Cost? Free.

Buffalo Bayou Park is another great place to walk the dog, walk with friends, play sports with family, and just enjoy the tranquility of the bayou.  Also, the night view of downtown is a local’s treasure.  Our view was located in the Greater East End of Houston.  Yes, that is the name of the neighborhood!

Downtown view from Buffalo Bayou
Downtown Houston night view from Greater East End Buffalo Bayou

 

7. NASA Space Center Where? 30-35 minutes Southeast of Downtown. Cost? $29.95

Do you want an out of this world experience?  Go check out the NASA Space Center located just Southeast of Houston in Webster!  You get to sit in the control center.  Yeah the one y’all see in the movies.  Then, you see the Saturn V up close.  This space craft will make you feel petite.

NASA seating
How astronauts sit. Get a first hand view at NASA Houston!

 

Nasa Patty spacesuit
Be an astronaut for a moment!

 

8. San Jacinto Monument.  Where?  30-35 minutes East of Downtown Houston.  Cost? Free.

Do you admire large battleships?  Do you crave seeing one in person?  Do you like learning more about history?  Do you like relaxing outdoors?  This is the place for you!  The San Jacinto Battleship is docked as though still ready to go back out to the sea.  Across the road stands the San Jacinto Monument where you can read more about the battle.  Also, there is a vast dog friendly park area.  Yes, we take our dog to as many places as possible!  He gets much needed exercise while we get our much needed adventures.

San Jacinto Battleship
Battleship!!

9. Galveston Beach. Where? About 1 hour Southeast of Downtown Houston. Cost? Free. Free entry! Free parking!

Enjoy the warm gulf water at Galveston Beach.  There is a pier with amusement rides along with good eats along the main street that runs along the beach.  Also, it is a great place for a house sightseeing drive.  Then, you can park right on the sand!  Free.  Take your children and dogs to play by the beach.  Galveston Beach is a great place to see natural sea animals from starfish to sting rays.  We even watched as a guy put a lost string ray back in the water.  Charlie loved running along the beach with my husband!  Even the seagulls enjoy the free parking!!

Galveston Charlie and Enrique run

10. Galveston Ferry. Where? Northeast of the beach. Cost? Free. Dog friendly.

Oh yeah, done with the beach for the day?  Catch the sunset on the water!  Galveston has a free ferry that you can drive onto and be taken to the next port to go home.

Galveston Ferry

11. Kemah Beach.  Where? Cost? Free. Dog friendly.

The Houston area boasts of another beach area – Kemah.  Do you enjoy sailboats? Look no further!  Kemah has beautiful sailing water.  Visit Kemah center to see the vintage police car too.  Fun for the kids!  While there, grab some fresh delicious seafood.

Links to learn more!

Chase Building formerly Texas Commerce Center – http://www.chasetower.com/building.php?sect=1

Houston Aquarium – http://www.aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumhouston/default.asp

Downtown Underground Tunnel Walkway – https://www.downtownhouston.org/district/downtown-tunnels/

Hermann Park – http://www.hermannpark.org/visit/hours-and-directions/

Galleria – http://www.simon.com/mall/the-galleria/about

Buffalo Bayou – http://buffalobayou.org/?gclid=CPfn7PCowNMCFU64wAodfAwHow

San Jacinto – http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/battleship-texas

NASA – https://spacecenter.org/

Galveston Beach – http://www.galveston.com/beachparks/

Galveston Ferry – http://www.galveston.com/galvestonferry/

Kemah – http://www.kemah-tx.gov/

Copyright 2016-2017 by Patty M. Vanegas DBA USMexpats.Wordpress.com

 

 

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