Our second month on our trip around the world was very busy: we travelled all over North America all the way from Canada to Mexico!
From Québec to Montréal
After visiting the Wendake Indian Reserve we said goodbye to Nicolas’s cousins and went to Montréal. We had two nice days there. We met up with some friends for: brunch, more poutine, city walks and a hockey game (freezing but worth it!). Here is our top 15 of things to do in Québec.
From Montréal we then took a bus to Vermont. Once again crossing the US border was very stressful, but the carefully crafted words chosen by Clémentine allowed us to pass without questions. A bunch of other people from our bus had to go through interviews and one was handcuffed and disappeared.
Stopover in Vermont
At Montpelier, the smallest American state capital, we were incredibly well received by Kip and his family. Kip is Clémentine’s former colleague who moved from New York to Vermont. Montpelier and its surroundings are very beautiful and calm, the atmosphere is very charming! Moreover, we loved staying in a typical 140-year-old house. Kip also playfully made fun of Clémentine who (obviously) offered to read the children’s bedtime stories: “your favourite books read with a French accent”! We wish we could have stayed longer. Here is our article on what to do in 24h in Montpelier.
To get from Montpelier to New York, rather than taking another bus, we decided to go on the train called the “Vermonter”. A long journey which passes very quickly looking through the window at the beautiful autumn scenery. From Québec City to New York we have seen magnificent examples of “Fall Foliage”. We were incredibly lucky to be in the right places at the right times because the leaves are falling fast and the intensity of the colours depends on the weather.
New York: the return
After this it was the return to New York City (where 5 years ago Clémentine was lucky to live for few months). It has not changed much, except for the cannabis smell at almost every street corner, like in Canada, where it is now largely tolerated. We had forgotten how impressive the buildings height is and we tried not to catch torticollis while observing those (Nico stumbled a lot but did not fall). We started with the most touristy visit: the Statue of Liberty, a first time for both of us (although this is Nico’s third visit to New York). Between our visits we made up for lost time with Clémentine’s friends from her student residence where she lived in the city in 2013. Our program in New York was packed: the Natural History Museum (where Ross works in Friends) amazing as always, rooftops drinks, the Morgan Library, Highline walk, the Tenement Museum, Ellis Island, Central Park, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge… Faithful to ourselves we do not miss the opportunity to see a Broadway show. We were terribly disappointed to learn that the Sponge Bob one is no longer on stage but we made up for it with the Books of Mormons.
For our accommodation we spend the first few days in an Airbnb in Spanish Harlem (so happy to have found an affordable and nice accommodation in Manhattan) and the weekend in Brooklyn where Clémentine’s friends let us stay in their flat. We spend our last night in Queens near JFK Airport, a little anxious to leave for our first destination out of our comfort zone: Mexico City.
Mexico: the real adventure begins
CDMX (Mexico City) is the most populous city in North America and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. To be honest to begin with we were not very comfortable. We were worried about security (especially after a trip to the United States where we hear a lot of preconceptions about Mexico). We also felt overwhelmed by the need to pay attention to pickpockets, the supposed taxi driver kidnapping attempts as well as our health. Indeed it is the first country where we have to filter our water (even to brush our teeth), be careful not to order drinks with ice nor to eat unwashed and unpeeled raw vegetables. Fortunately, we had booked an accommodation in one of the nicest areas, very close to Frida Kahlo’s childhood home. We remained vigilant and everything went very well. We quickly understood the buses and subways system and went on excursions throughout the city.
There is an impressive number of museums and all the ones we visited were outstanding. We went to a Lucha Libre show, tasted many culinary specialties and walked in the different neighborhoods. Nonetheless it is true that, as in Paris or San Francisco, some areas of the city should be avoided and others are more or less clean and reassuring. Our favourite excursion was the visit of the Teotihuacan ruins (including two pyramids and a temple)! You can read our article about Mexico City by following this link.
Oaxaca: el Día de Muertos
Oaxaca is a very pretty town on the edge of the mountains. The centre is composed of paved streets and colourful buildings as well as many beautiful churches. This region is very rich in culture, and there are many villages, ruins and nature wonders to visit nearby. Unlike Mexico City, we feel completely safe. We had initially decided to stay a dozen days in this city to experience the Día de Muertos. This typical Mexican traditional feast is very important (more so even than Christmas). From October 31 to November 2, the Mexicans pay homage to the deceased of their family with a colourful and joyful party. Altars are made in the houses with photo of the dead and offerings (usually their favourite dishes, treats and drinks). The cemeteries are also decorated. Tradition says that the dead whose families have honoured the memory return to the world of the livings for a day (hence the importance of having their favourite dishes waiting for them!). We loved the city so much stayed another week to take Spanish classes (because our conversations are rather limited for the moment).
After a week in Mexico City we decided our next Mexican destination would be the city of Oaxaca de Juárez (the capital of the Oaxaca state). The trip was not easy, our bus was blocked by a protest and part of the highway was inaccessible. The driver tried to limit the delay by driving us in a crazy race through the mountains! Many passengers felt sick but the driver did not slow down. We arrived a little shaken after this long drive to Oaxaca where we were incredibly well received by our hosts