This weekend, Clara had a three-day weekend, Mario had a one-day weekend, and I was itching to get out of town. What better to do than to brave the wilds of Monterrey on my own?
After five years of living an hour and a half from Monterrey, it´s about time I began to figure out this town!
In my defense though, I´ve had babies for most of the time that we´ve lived here, which doesn´t make exploring easy. Furthermore, two years ago, Monterrey was one big shooting range, so we erased that from our list of nearby places to visit. Fortunately, things seem a bit more stable there, my kids are old enough (or at least sufficiently predictable and flexible) to make a day away enjoyable. So we took the plunge on Saturday!
I had been curious about the Planetario Alfa for almost a year, when I heard that it´s Monterrey´s children´s museum. I got on their website, found out that they offer transportation from Monterrey´s Alameda (which is very, very near a metro stop), so I decided that the Planetario was our plan for the day.
Someday I may learn my way around Monterrey to be comfortable enough to drive there. But that´s not the case at this point. We took a bus from Saltillo to the central in Monterrey, walked a block to the metro, took the metro one stop to the Alameda, and then looked around for the museum shuttle. (I know, we probably could have walked to the Alameda from the bus station, but it was super-hot at noon in Monterrey, and I have two small children who were super-excited about the thought of riding a train. It was eight pesos well spent!)
The shuttle stop on the Alameda
Joey wanted to be closed into a wind chamber. All the pieces of paper were supposed to be germs and he was the immune system trying to catch them!
The shuttle stop is on Washington Pte, near the corner with Trinidad Villagomez. There´s an information kiosk just a few meters before the stop. The museum's ¨bus¨ is actually a Mercedes Sprinter, with a capacity for 19, so it´s best to get there a few minutes before the bus´s scheduled arrival, every hour on the half-hour (12:30, 1:30, etc).
Picnic in the Alameda
While waiting for the shuttle, we had a fruit salad picnic in the Alameda, then we bought some hot dogs and water. Unfortunately, after taking maybe one bite each, she shuttle came, and it was clear that we needed to get in line or we wouldn't get a seat. So we finished our picnic once we reached the museum. Near the entrance to the parking lot, in the prehispanic sculpture garden, they have a number of picnic benches at the ready (in the sun, of course). We chowed down next to a giant Olmec head.
Then, we entered the museum. The basic entrance is $60 per person (ages 3 and up). The Alfa does boast an IMAX, so if you want to see a movie, that will add an extra $30 to the ticket. We didn't have a ton of time, so we skipped the IMAX this time around.
The second floor has a temporary exhibit about Tinkertoys (leaving at the end of May). The kids had a good time building things, turning cranks, etc, but it was geared for kids that were a little older.
So we headed to the fourth floor, where they have a temporary exhibit on Clifford the Big Red Dog, on loan from the Minnesota Children's Museum. I had a feeling that this was more of a toddler/preschool exhibit, and I was not wrong!
We spent most of our time with Clifford, but we did run down to the third floor, to check out their "Me" exhibit, describing the human body. Then we had to book it out of there 1) before my kids lost all the skee balls for a game and 2) before the 5:00 shuttle left without us.
It took the shuttle a mere 15 minutes to get back to the Alameda. We had ice cream, watched the fountain and then finally headed to the metro to grab a bus back to Saltillo.
It was a long day (the two hour bus ride back wore me out the most), but it was a good day. I'm glad I finally tried out Monterrey on my own.
We'll be back in a few weeks, to play in the fountains on the Paseo Sta. Lucia!