Starbucks Around the World: Houston, TX

Any subscribers will be glad to hear that this ends the whirlwind update from “that other travel blog”.  Bringing you this last Starbucks Around the World from Houston means I’m up-to-date (on Starbuckses, anyway) and I won’t be clogging up your newsfeed nearly as much.  Although, I have to say, it’s been so fun for me to go through all of these memories.  In the end, I’m sure you realize that it’s not about the Starbucks, or the coffee.  This is about experiencing the everyday life and cultures of different places around the world.  It’s about what is different, and what is very much the same – such as a daily cup of coffee.  I hope you’re enjoying the ride as much as I am….

Disclaimer: Since Travelpod does not allow you to export blogs, I shall be bringing old entries to you slowly, but surely, through good, old-fashioned (and painstakingly arduous) Cut-and-paste.

July 29, 2010

Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m crazy about Texas (insert sarcasm here).  Don’t get me wrong, I know a lot of nice people from Texas, but a seriously bad 48 hours in Dallas and general disdain for big hair have left me a little underwhelmed about the idea of making this state a destination spot.  On the way to Oaxaca, our 30-minute stopover in Houston meant of course that we’d miss our connecting flight and end up hanging out at George Bush International Airport for 3 hours.  At least it gave us time to stop off for the first (and presumably only) Starbucks hit in Texas.  I think it was a green tea, actually.

In the end, George Bush turned out alright – the airport, anyway – and we got where we needed to go (with a surprise trip to Mexico City and an impromtu visit with Nancy’s Aunt).  And according to our friend Shannon (the best thing from Texas, as far as I’m concerned), if ever there again after 10am there’s great BBQ in terminal C….

p.s. check me out with all my style points on Unstitched, a fantastically beautiful blog with a great series on traveling.

Starbucks Around the World: Chicago, IL

Disclaimer: Since Travelpod does not allow you to export blogs, I shall be bringing old entries to you slowly, but surely, through good, old-fashioned (and painstakingly arduous) Cut-and-paste.

July 30, 2010

Quite before the crack of dawn, this Starbucks stop is at O’Hare International Airport at the beginning of our beautiful trip to Oaxaca, Mexico in the summer of 2010.  It was so early I don’t even remember what I drank, but I assume it was caffeinated and included a yogurt parfait.

I am rather glad to report that Oaxaca has no ‘Bucks, so you will only witness two entires on this adventure, both in airports. However, coffee was still prevalent on this trip-I witnessed an up close and personal view of for real “Shade Grown Mexico” on the side of a mountain near Pluma Hidalgo, Oaxaca.

Starbucks Around the World: Mexico City, Mexico

Disclaimer: Since Travelpod does not allow you to export blogs, I shall be bringing old entries to you slowly, but surely, through good, old-fashioned (and painstakingly arduous) Cut-and-paste.

December 24, 2007

Having already visited stores in Canada and the US (continental and Alaska), this beauty completes the North American tour of Starbucks stores.  Here at the Sante Fe mall in Mexico City, paying for coffee in pesos, ordering a grande and having it actually mean something besides medium… that deserves six thumbs up.

By the way, we also caught sight of two more stores on a tour bus cruising through Mexico City:

notice the snowflakes…

We were there at Christmas time and is was a breezy 65-F

Another shot from the tourbus in downtown D.F.

Puerto Escondido, Mexico: Beach, beer, bugs, best meal

Disclaimer: This trip occurred exactly one year ago.  Since Travelpod does not allow you to export blogs, I shall be bringing them to you in real time, just a year later.

August 11, 2010

view from our Villa

Puerto Escondido is a strange combination of hidden surfer meca, tacky resort town and third world country. As an example, on the dirt road to our luxurious villa is an OXXO selling Diet Coke and t-shirts saying “Puerto Escondido: play all day, party all night,” Hostel Shalom (a seedy camp sight where the likelihood for group sex exceeds the likelihood for flush toilets, and an abandoned VW Beetle out to pasture with three wild horses.

In short, Puerto Escondido is awesome.

Our hotel is situated on a bluff overlooking Carrizalillo Beach and our room is arguably the best view in all of Puerto… the internet connection that we’ve so enjoyed at other spots along our trip has been very non-existent until yesterday, so on my last night in Puerto Escondido I can reflect on our experience here with a little use of alliteration:

BEACH:

There are many beaches here in Puerto, the most famous of which is Playa Zicatella (the home of the reputed “Mexican Pipeline”). We did spend some time on Zicatella watching surfers, but our favorite beach here by far was Playa Marinero. It’s a short walk to the right of the surfer mecca and on open waters (instead of a bay). So there are some nice waves to play in but it’s not as dangerous for swimming as Zicatella. We spent three days on Playa Marinero and now proudly boast bronzed bodies and sand in places we never knew we had.

BEER:

What’s a day at the beach without a bucket of beer? Corona con limon, por favor. We went to the beach every day except one…. enough said.

BUGS:

It’s the rainy season, people. While this did not cramp our style in terms of beach-going or getting rained out, as a result of the constant humid wetness in the area there are a lot of bugs. Mosquitoes, flies, bees (lots and lots of bees), and bugs I’ve never even seen before. Geckos everywhere- which are neither bugs nor annoying, but deserve a nod. After investing in a handy bottle of “Fly Off”, the only bug spray in all of Oaxaca, our tans are slightly marred by the bug bites all over our legs, arms and shoulders. Maybe this is not interesting, but the mosquitoes in Puerto Escondido bite more than the ones in Chicago, but are far less annoying. The bees sting less, but are far more annoying. Food for thought should you decide to visit during the rainy season…

BEST MEAL:

By FAR the best meal on this trip (and quite possibly of my entire life) was at the Hotel Santa Fe on Playa Zicatella. Refined but unpretentious, our meal was elegantly presented, with amazing service, and the food was damn good. Be sure to have the stuffed avocado for an appetizer. I had the chilies rellenos. Nancy had coconut shrimp. The sun set over the beach. Save room for strawberry pie and coffee. There’s not much else I can say about this except that if you are ever in Puerto Escondido, you MUST eat here.

That leads me to my final B-word this evening:

BALLY’S

Total Fitness will be seeing a lot of me upon my return to the US-of-A.-

Bahias de Huatulco, Mexico: Dos Gringas Rojas

Disclaimer: This trip occurred exactly one year ago.  Since Travelpod does not allow you to export blogs, I shall be bringing them to you in real time, just a year later.

August 3, 2010

To the beach! Our trip to the airport at Huatulco was an absolutely breath taking 35 min flight in a 12-seater tiny plane. On our arrival at an outbuilding at the Oaxca airport–“Terminal X” as I like to call it–was, in truth, a little desk with an Aerotucan sign and some chick (who showed up about 45 minutes late) with a net book, hand written receipts and a calculator. Our bags were searched by hand, and baggage handling, staircase moving, and air traffic control (in the form of a thumb’s up) was also handled a mano. Awesome. The flight was super cool and extremely preferable to the alternative-an 8-hour bus ride through a couple of mountain ranges.

Our first move in Huatulco? Well, after picking up the rental car it was straight to the beach. That’s right. We went to the beach. Near the equator. With no sunscreen. In my defense, we did stop at a farmacia and I felt that the $166 pesos for anything over 30-proof was just a shameless plot to take advantage of white people. In hindsight, maybe it would have been worth the expense–since after five hours at the beach, a couple of lobsters walked into the Mexican equivalent of Wal-Mart and only spent three dollars less for some 45-SPF banana scented sun screen.

Note to self:

next time I go on a tropical vacation, invest in sunscreen state-side…..

At any rate, we are embracing our raccoon eyes and red shoulders–although a little wiser today by lathering up with gringa lotion and ready to face la playa once again. This time, Nancy is a day older and a year wiser (it’s her birthday).

Oaxaca City, Mexico: Arts, crafts, & hanging meat

Disclaimer: This trip occurred exactly one year ago.  Since Travelpod does not allow you to export blogs, I shall be bringing them to you in real time, just a year later.

August 1, 2010

I’m told that Oaxaca City is the “capital” of the South, well, in truth, my Moon handbook told me this, and it’s the southernmost capital city (being the capital of the state of Oaxaca) excepting the capital of Chiapas, in Mexico. With all due respect to Chiapas, I’m not going there, so this would be the south-est I have ventured thus far. Even so, Oaxaca City is exceedingly mild-boasting mostly spring-like weather all of the time. It is essentially the same as San Francisco (cool mornings, warm afternoons, and cool evenings). This is all thanks to the city sitting in a big valley with mountains on all sides and makes for a great walk and a challenging wardrobe selection.

Since I missed an entire day due to some difficulties at George Bush airport I pounded the pavement shortly after breakfast. I visited the zocalo and a series of authentic markets (Benito Juarez and 20 de Noviembre) as well as a number of artisans markets. Oh my, the bounty. More cheese than the eye can behold. Fresh fishies, meat hanging on sticks and being grilled in front of you on open barbecues, breads, and fruit and veggies. Being of an American constitution, veggies were out of the question, but we did make out with some Oaxacan cheese, avocados, and a hot chocolate to die for that came with free bread.

On my way back through the zolcalo we stopped for some street food: a couple of ladies still in their Sunday best making tortillas in front of our eyes and heating them with some sort of black bean mixture, chilis, and queso fresco.

Lunch was at the zocalo for some awesome enchiladas and mole, where I was lucky enough to witness some street musicians rocking out Cold Play on the marimba. Best mole to date.

Throughout the city were scatterings of various arts and crafts stalls and a good portion of the day was spent admiring the handiwork of the people of Oaxaca City; my favorite stop has to have been MARO, a collective of Oaxacan woman artists who receive support from the government and produce absolutely amazing work. Along the route I came across these strange and funny looking fuzzy fruits that taste like grapes. The vendor gave out samples and said that he picked them himself near the border of Chiapas. Perfect! I’m not going to Chiapas, but they’ve got some yummy fruit. 1/2 kilo por favor!

I swear I did not spend the entire day eating… but at around 4pm after walking all day long I needed a cup of coffee. Badly. Although skeptical of any shop or restaurant with a name in English words, the instant I stepped into “Coffee Beans” it started to rain. Correction. Downpour. Well, it looked as though I’d be at Coffee Beans for awhile. Despite the all-American line-up of pop and hip hop music, I had a delightful time at Coffee Beans; I sat right by the door, watched the rain, and laughed at the occasional tourist in a white t-shirt taking refuge in the doorway and then guiltily moving on.

Upon return to Los Mariposas (our B & B), I took refuge on the gorgeous patio with a plate of bread, cheese, fuzzy fruit, and avocado with a sixer of Tecate. Excellent, excellent day.