Let the Games Begin!
Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
217Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
What I did
That's how we discovered the little gem that is Hostal Galeria. The place is well-run by genuinely friendly brothers, Moises and Abraham, who proactively tended to all our needs and made us feel right at home! The place has great airflow, comfy double-bed bunks, is super-clean throughout, even inside the fridge(!) and has a spacious terrace! (see TripAdvisor for the full review.)
Continental breakfast is included so we didn't have to venture too far from bed
We didn't have to venture far for lunch either. Just one door before the burger place is a small restaurant frequented by locals. They prepare fresh juices and the most amazing barbacoa lonches ever! That's not a misspelling... "Lonches" is the name for a puffy, fried bread and "barbacoa" is the filling made of shredded goat (other meats are also used) slow-cooked with tomato, garlic, chillies, cumin and oregano. Don't repeat our same mistake, thinking that "barbacoa" is simply Spanish for barbecue!
My first and second visits were strained. They spoke Spanish (I think!) but it sounded so fast and the words/accents were unfamiliar. It felt like I knew no Spanish at all! They recognised my face but they also struggled to understand me. Somehow I ended up with 2 ham/cheese sandwiches and 1 barbacoa lonches, when what I was really after was 2 lonches
So within 10 paces you have breakfast, lunch, supper and superb accommodation sorted! What more do you need?! Did I mention that they an elliptical trainer at the Hostal Galeria to work off all the calories while watching Sky on a big screen? We enjoyed watching the PanAm opening ceremony with Abraham, guessing which country would march into the stadium next, and grinning to ourselves with the knowledge that we'd visiting them all one day.
Yes, on occasion we ventured beyond the street corner! Within 5 minutes walk are the bars and restaurants of trendy Av Chapultepec. But part of the road was closed off for a PanAm fan zone, big screen, a stage, market stalls and malabaristas. Sadly none of OUR travelling malabaristas that we met in Guatemala!
There were festivities happening in the pretty historic centre too with more vendors and activities amongst the churches and throughout the plazas. The Day of the Dead-type statues were popular, in fact, we had to queue to take a pic. Some were more popular than others, each representing a different sport played during the games.
We did the touristy thing and bought a pass for the sightseeing topless bus (to clarify, it's the bus that's topless!)
The fun didn't stop after dark. We partied in both the historic centre and on Av Chapultepec. There was so much to choose from and all within walking distance. We discovered a bar in the next road that serves pints and partly operates out of a red London bus. You know it had to be done!
Later that night we stepped out of our comfort zones and into Mambo Cafe, a live music venue that required partner dancing - salsa, mambo, merengue, cumbia - you name it! We'd better learn a few moves before venturing into the rest of Latin America!
At one point Manuela and I stood at the bar while Mario popped to the gents. Two guys stood about 10 metres away and simultaneously gestured something to us. It was hilarious to me because I hadn't seen it before. Manuela explained that's how they call someone over in Latin America - with their palm facing down and with fingers or their whole hand waving.
"Be still my beating heart, we've been beckoned!" Laughter aside, boys, if you wanna dance with us, you best come over here!
Aside - Mario toyed with the idea of repiercing his right nipple at the myriad of piercing/tattoo parlours on Av Hidalgo. Back in Vegas, he had lost the ring while launching himself onto a pool air mattress. Watch this space!