3 Days inMonterrey- Colla de Caballo and Grutas de Garcia

40 Kilometers off Monterrey near the town of Santiago lie the falls of Coll de Caballo (Horse tail falls). An 82 feet cascade that resembles a horse tail.

Colla de Caballo falls

Colla de Caballo falls

One can reach the fall through a short walk, on a horseback or on a carriage. With time on hand one can also explore the flora and fauna on natural trails. Once a while you can also capture some natural beauties:

Colla de Caballo

Colla de Caballo

cola3

Chica Guapa

For an adrenal rush the area provides bungee jumps from a cliff top and some fine dining. One can also find peacocks vying for attention. This one followed us and then proudly posed for a picture:

Colla de Caballo

Colla de Caballo

Grutas de Garcia (Garcia caves) lie about 30 kms off Monterrey. Access to the cavesis through an aerial tramway or through a steep but well paved path up the mountain. Formed 50to 60 million years ago the caves are home to interesting stalactites and stalagmites.

Grutas de Garcia

Grutas de Garcia

There a many interesting stalagmites and stalactites. One of the most spectacular chambers is known as “El salón de la luz” (The Light Chamber) named because of the natural clarity of the rock on the ceiling allowing light from outside to filter through.

“La octava maravilla” (The Eighth Wonder) is a formation in the cave where a stalagmite connected with a stalactite to form a column.

La Octava Maravilla

La Octava Maravilla

“El mirador de la mano”, is a stalagmite that formed a shape that resembles a human hand. Hanging on the ceiling is a cross formation and below the hand lies a square piece of rock in the shape of a coffin.

El mirador de la mano

El mirador de la mano

There are numerous other formations that are fascinating like: “El Nacimiento” (The Nativity), “La Fuente Congelada” (The Frozen Fountain), “La Torre China” (The Chinese Tower), “El teatro” (The Theatre), and “El Árbol de Navidad” (The Christmas Tree).

El Teatro

El Teatro

Grutas de Garcia

Grutas de Garcia

Burning Fires of Hell

Burning Fires of Hell

(More pictures at surendra.smugmug.com)

Advertisements
Posted in Mexico | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Days in Monterrey Mexico- Chipinque, Santiago Magico, Presa de La Boca

Joel Torres, our taxi driver we retained for our excursions in and around Monterrey (+ 52 1 44 81 1382 5862) built our travel itinerary. A hike up Chipinque National Park, a visit to the small town of Santiago and the adjacent Presa de la Boca, Cola de Caballo and the Grutas de Garcia.

The Chipinque National Park not far from downtown has almost 20miles of  hiking trails through wooded area with panoramic views of Monterrey on the one side and abundant flora and fauna on the other.

Monterrey view from Chipinque National Park

Monterrey view from Chipinque National Park

Flowers in the Chipinque National Park

Flowers in the Chipinque National Park

Chipinque National Park

Chipinque National Park

For the most the trails are well maintained wooden steps, though I would have preferred a natural dirt track. For mountain bikers there is a well maintained paved mountain road. Beware though that you will be accosted by individuals who may ask for money for “permission to take pictures”. There is a a restaurant at the end of the trail and a hotel, refreshing to get some nourishment after a long hike. However do not forget to carry your restaurant receipt as the guard at the entrance demands to see that. Not sure what may happen if you do not have one:

Restaurant , Chipinque National Park

Restaurant , Chipinque National Park

20 Miles heading south from Monterrey is the small town of Santiago designated Santiago Magico or the magical Santiago. Santiago is a picturesque town with waterfalls (nearby Cola de Caballo), colonial churches and getaway homes for the rich. In 2010 Santiago made National news when the Mayor was assassinated by 6 of his own police force working for drug cartels. Since then there have been others in the region that have been kidnapped or missing.

Santiago

Santiago

Santiago

Santiago

Santiago

Santiago

Restaurant Santiago

Restaurant Santiago

House in Santiago

House in Santiago

Presa de la Boca is a lake contained by a dam in the town of Santiago. Ideal for water sports and fishing, this also supplies water to the town of Monterrey:

Presa de la Boca

Presa de la Boca

Joel kept his promise as he led us to Pollo San Javier to let us savor some local food, educating us on the different types of avocados or on how we were to eat – we wrap everything in a tortilla…

Pollo San Javier

Pollo San Javier

Good food and good music go together, what better than a mariachi…

Mariachi

Mariachi

From here it was Cola de Caballo (Horse Tail Falls) …… in the next blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Mexico | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Days in Monterrey Mexico – Monterrey City

Disclaimer- this was a business trip, Monterrey a destination by need not by choice. But every place has its own goodie bags and Monterrey did not disappoint. What makes a trip worthwhile is to find someone local, someone who knows the places to take you, takes good care of you and does not charge you an obnoxious amount. So first a shout out to our local hero: Joel Torres,Taxi Santa Lucia; + 52 1 44 81 1382 5862:

Joel Torres Taxi Santa Lucia + 52 1 44 81 1382 5862

Joel Torres
Taxi Santa Lucia
+ 52 1 44 81 1382 5862

Monterrey is a modern city very American yet maintains that Mexican flavor! It’s safe and yet has places best kept away from but that could be any big city anywhere in the world. So stuff happens, yet there is the omnipresent Federal police:

Federal Police

Federal Police

All right now that we have that out of the way – focus Monterrey and around Monterrey.

The Saddle Mountain (Cerra de la Cilla) is Monterrey’s signature peak. Place yourself anywhere and you cannot miss it any time of the day:

Saddleback Mountain view from the Fundidora Park

Saddleback Mountain view from the Fundidora Park

Saddleback Mountain sunset

Saddleback Mountain sunset

Monterrey is an Industrial city one of the richest in Mexico and the Fundidora park pays tribute to its Industrial past:

Ladles at the Fundidora Park

Ladles at the Fundidora Park the Saddleback as a backdrop

 

Museum at the Fundidora Park

Museum at the Fundidora Park

A mile and a half long canal connects the Fundidora Park to Paseo Santa Lucia. This scenic outpost 300 acresof park, fun, dining and amusement is a nice place to spend a late evening. Don’t take my word? See the guy on the right top corner. I found him in that spot, same pose three hours after I first saw him:

Paseo Santa Lucia

Paseo Santa Lucia

The Macro Plaza (Gran Plaza) is the city hub. A 100 acre park this contains several monuments, the most famous is the Faro de Comercio (the Lighthouse of Commerce), which dominates the cityscape and is the tallest in Mexico.I mistook that for the tallest CD/DVD Rack and the Cathedral of Monterrey. The Cathedral is itself over 400 years old and houses several Spanish paintings:

Faro de Comercio and the Cathedral of Monterrey

Faro de Comercio and the Cathedral of Monterrey

You can also find the  the Theater of the City, the Esplanade of Heroes, the Governmental Palace, the Museum of the Governmental Palace and the Fountain of Life.

Fountain of Life (more pictures at surendra.smugmug.com)

Fountain of Life
(more pictures at surendra.smugmug.com)

As the sun sets the park takes a character of its own:

Macro Plaza at late night

Macro Plaza at late night

El Obispado presents the best views of the city:

Monterrey from El Obispado hill

Monterrey from El Obispado hill

Monterrey City from El Obispado

Monterrey City from El Obispado

 

That was Monterrey city. It was now up to Joel to show sights outside Monterrey. Our next stops would take us to the Cola de Caballo falls, Grutas de Garcia, Santiago Magico, Presa de la Boca and Los Cavasos.

If the sight were delicious the food was outstanding. We lunched at Restaurant San Carlos, dined at Chino Latino and other places in the neighboring plaza. The best Mexican food undoubtedly in Mexico. And then we made the mistake of trying Indian in Mexico – Curry Sultan- no they don’t serve bottled water, no credit cards please and if you still want to brave it there make transport arrangement in advance. The iron grills on every door in the neighborhood was not exactly a good sign of confidence!

It was then that we decided to leave it to Joel to take us to some really authentic rural places for “real” Mexicanfood and neither Joel nor the food disappointed!

……………………………………………………………….(more to follow)

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Mexico | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Antelope Canyon, Hoodoos at Escalante and the Horseshoe Bend

Two hours North east of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon lies a small town of Page home to the Antelope Canyon, the Lower Antelope and the upper Antelope Canyon. Two hours is the max one gets to spend in the Canyon. Entering the Lower Antelope Canyon is like going through a birthing process. You enter through a narrow slit in the ground, two hours late you make your way back through the same hole:

Entrance to the Lower Antelope Canyon, Page AZ

Entrance to the Lower Antelope Canyon, Page AZ

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon, the walls are very close together and are wind and water eroded. That leaves an amazing tapestry and a riot of colors. A woman with flowing hair?

Flowing Hair?

Flowing Hair

and is that a Bull?

Bull

Bull

Nature beams a flashlight:

Nature's Flashlight

Nature’s Flashlight

There have been flash floods sometimes with tragic consequences. After the last tragedy there are adequate provision to protect visitors in the canyon.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

Not far from Antelope Canyon and into Utah lie the hoodoos or toadstools in the Escalante National Park.

Toadstools in Escalante

Toadstools in Escalante

Hoodoos

Hoodoos Escalante National Park

Toadstools Escalante National Park

Toadstools Escalante National Park

Escalante National Park

Escalante National Park, Utah

Next stop was the Horseshoe Bend an amazing place,the timing was perfect as the sun was setting. We settle down at the very edge of a vertical peering 1000 feet below at the Colorado river as it takes a horse shoe like bend in an Ampitheater type setting. If the Antelope Canyon is a no-no for those with claustrophobia, the Horseshoe bend is best viewed from afar by those with vertigo. Yes, it was mentioned that a photographer lost his life as he fell down into the bend. But with such an awesome sight how can one hold back:

HORSESHOE BEND

HORSESHOE BEND

For more pictures the Albums are available at surendra.smugmug.com

 

 

Posted in Nevada Arizona Parks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May blooms in our Garden

A breather after a hectic travel schedule and before another one. Took some pictures of the blooms in my garden!

DSC_6161 DSC_6162 DSC_6163 DSC_6164 DSC_6167 DSC_6168 DSC_6171 DSC_6173 http://surendra.smugmug.com/Nature/Flowers-in-our-Garden/29264293_xbCKnx#!i=2494776509&k=tjXnPP2 DSC_6177 DSC_6180 DSC_6185 DSC_6190 DSC_6194 DSC_6196 DSC_6204

Posted in Flora and Fauna | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Grand Canyon – again and again….

It snowed as I drove into the Grand Canyon area. It was also April and cold. So why do you get up at 4:00 in the morning get your gear and venture out… and freeze your butt out? Now that’s a question that gets thrown at me ever so often. Mather Point on the South Rim at 4:45 am-  the wind is howling but the canyon is still as still and silent, spiritually silent and waits ever so patiently for the sun to rise.

The "Grand" grand golden canyon at Sunrise

The “Grand” grand golden canyon at Sunrise- Sunrise moments at surendra.smugmug.com

Suddenly Mather Point comes alive as if from nowhere busloads of visitors mingle around taking ever square inch of space. “Shitsuei” “Sumimasen” “Arigato” followed by moments of silence as you gawk open mouth at the golden landscape unfold. I try to get as many shots and lose many to excited neighbours tripping on my tripod. And I am not annoyed for they have as much right to be there as I do. So I stand back and enjoy every unfolding moment.

Golden moments in the morning

Golden moments in the morning

and see the landscape transform as the hours crawl by:

The Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

By mid day it’s warmer. The Canyon is home to Indian tribes who have lived here and continue to live here for centuries with a rich heritage:

Navajo Artwork

Navajo Artwork- more artwork at surendra.smugmug.com

Hopi House

Hopi House

It was time to get ready for the sunset:

Colorado River early evening

Colorado River early evening

and watch the shadows paint a colorful palette:

Sunset and the Colorado river

Sunset and the Colorado river

waiting for the magic to begin:

Sunrays peep through the clouds

God’s rays peep through the clouds

The golden evening magic

The golden evening magic

and the sun sets on the Canyon:

The sun sets on the Canyon

The sun sets on the Canyon

…..so why do I want to be there at 4 in the morning in biting butt freezing cold. There’s why, because I love it there… Need I say more…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Nevada Arizona Parks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Three Days in Rome – Day 3

Apologies to all who keep on gently reminding me that Day 3 in Rome is now overdue. Tardy I am I just have been on the road all over but did manage to visit the Grand Canyon, Antelope canyon and the Hoodoos in Escalante. More about that later. here is Day 3. Day 3 was a revisit to some covered at night earlier:

Piazza Di Spagna

Piazza Di Spagna

First stop Spanish Steps and the Church:

Church

Church

Next stop was a quick stop to the Convento di Cappucini a macabre site! This site has 5 crypts built and decorated- artistically- with the bones and skull of dead friars. There is a skull room, a pelvis room and a room where the legs and thigh bones are used. Bones decorate the walls, lampshades. Pictures are not allowed so no pictures here!

Piazza Navona, a city square with a palace and fountains:

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

The square contains several fountains, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi Fountain of the Four Rivers):

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi

Fontana del Moro

Fontana del Moro

Next stop the Pantheon and the Church inside:

Pantheon

Pantheon

Pantheon Dome

Pantheon Dome- an architectural wonder

Church in the Pantheon

Church in the Pantheon

Three days are just not enough for Rome. I missed the Villa Borghese Gardens, all the Museums, the Baths of Caracalla, the Catacombs, Via Appia Antica and so much more. But they say Rome will be in your travel in the future  if you leave Rome after  dropping a coin in the Trevi Fontana. The last stop naturally had to be Trevi Fontana:

Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

I am sure there are many more places that I could not visit in this trip. Do let me know there will always be another day in Rome. After all I did throw that coin in the Trevi Fontana!

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Italy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment