Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Monterrey, Mexico

Fri Jan 9, 2009 6:04am EST
 
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By Walker Simon

MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters Life!) - Ringed by soaring mountains, Monterrey in northern Mexico offers breathtaking scenery, museums and a vibrant nightlife which are being discovered as it sheds outworn industrial trappings.

Dominated by the Cerro de la Silla mountain, Monterrey is a city of nearly 4 million people, barely 100 miles from Texas. Tourists heading south for colonial flavor have long bypassed the city with its towering smokestacks.

But the city hopes to change that and recently turned a steel mill into a park with half a dozen new museums and a river walk.

FRIDAY

6 p.m. - Monterrey's cuisine is identified with cabrito, or roasted baby goat. Cabrito is so emblematic of the city that prizes in the local film festival offer a silver statuette of a kid goat, its equivalent to an Oscar.

The dish is slow-cooked over mesquite coals. Try El Gran Pastor (8333 3108, 8333 3391), El Rey del Cabrito (8345 3232) and La Escondida (8348-9816).

8 p.m. - For a city view, head to the central Obispado, a hill capped by a former bishop's palace with an intricate baroque facade. The city sprawls below, framed by mountains soaring over a mile from the valley floor. Nearby, a giant Mexican flag flaps, a nationalist reminder of the Mexican-American war. In 1846, U.S. troops seized Obispado as a strategic outpost.

10 p.m. - The club and bar scene is downtown at Barrio Antiguo, or Old Quarter, full of adobe and brick houses of the 1890s. A youth magnet, its narrow streets crawl with weekend revelers until dawn. Try the Old West-style 1800 bar in the Gran Hotel Ancira (www.hotel-ancira.com) and the Cafe Iguana bar for the latest alternative rock bands (www.cafeiguana.com.mx).   Continued...

 
<p>The newly opened Paseo Santa Lucia river walk, measuring 4 km (2.5 miles) long, is shown in this updated handout photo. The walk links downtown Monterrey, Mexico, with the Fundidora Park, home of a cluster of new museums. In the background is the landmark Cerro de la Silla (Saddle Mountain). REUTERS/Tourism Office/State of Nuevo Leon/Handout.</p>