October 29, 2009

Guanajuato, Mexico: Mummy Museum; things to do

Mummy Museum (Museo de las Momias)  Daily 9am-6pm. $4, 6-12 $2. No pets.

Just 2 weeks ago I visited the 56 mummies displayed here in a clean, temperature-controlled setting. Among them is the world’s smallest mummy--a 5- or 6-month-old fetus. All were formerly interred in the adjacent municipal cemetery, where because of rocky ground and dry mountain air many corpses do not decompose but instead dry out (they are not wrapped like Egyptian mummies). Though families can pay for perpetual burial, not everyone can afford this, so to free scarce cemetery space law permits “deadbeats” to be dug up after 7 years. In the past, the occasional disinterred mummy found in good shape was placed on exhibition in the museum, but the practice of disinterring the poor ended in 1958. Currently corpses are displayed in glass cases, which prevents the repeat of incidents in which tourists snapped off a finger or toe as a souvenir. But souvenirs are still available—traditional candies that resemble a corpse are sold by vendors just outside. The museum opened in 1952.

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image c2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

October 26, 2009

Carlsbad, California: LEGOLAND; things to do

Brick-or-Treat is LEGOLAND California’s annual Halloween celebration. It takes place every Saturday and Sunday in October with Party Nights Saturday evenings from 5 to 9 p.m. During Brick-or-Treat, the family theme park is transformed into a not-too-spooky Halloween haven for Brick-or-Treat Party Nights featuring costume contests, nighttime trick-or-treating on the Brick-or-Treat Trail, live music and entertainment.

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October 24, 2009

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: Bugambilia; restaurant review

Bugambilia Hidalgo 42, Centro, 415-152-0127. Open daily.

Established in 1945, this is the town’s first, and oldest, restaurant. And it is one of the few that still serves authentic Mexican dishes. I enjoyed lunch here last week in an atmospheric central courtyard dining area with heavy furniture and colorful flowers galore. A delicious tortilla soup (sopa Azteca) got my taste buds ready for a spectacular seasonal dish, Chiles en Nogada--a poblano chile filled with a beef-nut-almond mix and topped with a creamy sauce sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. It features the colors of the Mexican flag and is fabuloso. I'd make the trip again just to eat this dish one more time. All this, and live music nightly. Ole!

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October 20, 2009

Magdeburg, Germany: Water-channel bridge; things to do

Water-channel bridge

This river bridge over the River Elbe took 6 years and cost 500 million euros to build. Located near Berlin, it joins the former East and West Germanys.

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October 3, 2009

Portland, Oregon: food carts; restaurant review

Food carts have been around town here for about 10 years. Now almost 400 cluster in numerous “pods” around the perimeter of parking lots. Depending on which pod you visit, you can select from Mexican, Thai, Korean, and Bosnian foods, not to mention Dutch waffles and Belgian fries. The pod of carts at SW 9th Ave./SW Alder St. has no running water. A few tables are provided, but most people take their lunch away to a nearby park or back to their office. More locations and a list of cuisines can be found here.

Ziba’s Pitas 503-473-9372. M-F 10:30-3:30. Authentic Bosnian food prepared by a pleasant woman include meat burek (meat-stuffed pita) and tikvenica (zucchini-stuffed pita) as well as cufte (meatballs) with either a delicious creamy white or a red sauce. Best is a combination plate that lets you try several items.

Spella Caffè Next door, this cart dispenses rich, mellow, well-priced espresso.

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image c2009 Carole Terwilliger Meyers