Feb 27, 2011

Off The Beaten Path: Mexico’s Sierra Gorda Missions

Off the beaten path in Mexico are five missions, all UNESCO World Heritage sites, rarely visited by foreign travelers.

They are known as the Sierra Gorda Missions due to their location in this mountainous region in Queretaro state and were designed by Franciscan Fray Junipero Serra. Born in Spain he also founded the California Missions.

Baroque in style they were built in the 18th Century and their ornate facades look good enough to eat.

Pictured above is the Conca Mission.

Here is its cousin in Jalpan.

The Landa Mission was completely empty and peaceful.

The Tilaco Mission seemed to be more popular.

The Tancoyol Mission was the last we visited.

The best way to see the missions is to base yourself in Jalpan and arrange a taxi for the day to see the other four. They aren’t far apart and the taxi costs about $50 for the day, a bargain if you have a traveling companion or two.

You can get to Jalpan from Mexico City via Tequisquiapan, which takes about three hours. I recommend overnighting in Tequisquiapan, a picturesque colonial town. From there it’s a four to five hour ride to Jalpan.

Feb 17, 2011

Strange Souvenirs: Edible Cosplay Treats Tokyo

Tokyo’s Maid Cafes are part of the cosplay (or costume play) culture unique to Japan. Young women dress up as maids and serve customers at the venues, which have been booming in the last several years. Patrons, who are served tea and cakes, are of often greeted with “Welcome home, Master.”

And with something popular there is often a commercial spin off of some sort. In this case it’s themed cookies and cakes.

The sweets are also available in the school girl variety.

Imagine getting caught with these in customs and trying to explain yourself.

Have you ever brought something home from your travels that might be difficult to explain to a customs official?

Previous Posts In This Series:

Barbed Wire DMZ
Mosque Alarm Clock

Feb 6, 2011

Hong Kong’s Tallest Building

The latest edition to Hong Kong's skyline is also the special administrative region’s tallest. Located in West Kowloon the International Commerce Centre (ICC) in Union Square was completed in 2010.

At 108 stories it is also amongst the tallest buildings in the world. The hotel's lobby is the highest on earth at 1,394 feet - even higher than the Park Hyatt in the Shanghai World Financial Center. Meanwhile, the Jin Mao Tower, WFC’s neighbor in Shanghai, boasts the world’s highest post office.

ICC has an observation deck on the 100th floor that is open to the public.

What is the tallest building from which you have taken in surrounding views?