Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Monterrey, Mexico (MEX): In Monterey

The drive to the city was fantastic. You could see the large mountain in this Mexico's third largest populated city behind Mexico City and Guadalajara (home of Ugly Betty). It is also Mexico's largest industrial city ad the capital of the state of Nuevo Leon.

The city is large sitting at the base of the mountain; some of the house lead up the side of the mountain and a part of the city is on the other side of the mountain accessible by a well constructed tunnel. The mountain is famous as a part of it looks like a horse's saddle.

I had dinner at a local place called la Valentina at Ave. Lazaro Cardenas 2660-B Valle Ote. in an area called San Pedro Garza Garcia.

Monterrey, Mexico (MEX): At the Monterrey International Airport, Monterrey, MX (MTY)

On landing, there were about five airplanes waiting for take off including an Aeromexico Boeing 737-700 with winglets and an Aviacsa Boeing 737-200; Mexico is always a fun place to see lots of 737-200s.

As we taxied over the the really nice terminal with its jetways, an Aviacsa Boeing 737-200 landed behind us and taxied in as well. They took the gate while we walked down the stairs and into the terminal a short distance away. That Aviacsa airplane was really taxiing fast into that gate I thought.

We cleared Immigration and Customs without incident and saw our driver waiting with our names; that is always nice to see.

We went outside and got into the car as I took a picture of the front of the airport.

Monterrey, Mexico (MEX): CO3020 Houston Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH) to Monterrey, MX (MTY)

CO3020 16JAN08 Houston-Intercontinental, Houston T (IAH) to Monterrey, Mexico (MTY) 4:00p 5:35p ERJ N12934 operated by ExpressJet Airlines, Inc., dba Continental Express

Flying Time: 1:18

I said hello to the flight attendant as I boarded; she was smiling as I had done a funky switcheroo with my backpack and my computer bag before boarding.

I turned right and walked to my seat through this single aisle 50 leather seats 1-2 configured airplane with the lone lav. at the back of the plane. The overheads were full so I stuffed my stuff under the seat; they just about fitted too. I also grabbed a blanket in a plastic sheath from the overhead; I had taken a pillow from another overhead on my way down.

I settled in and chatted a bit with my colleague who was having a headache. I offered her an Advil and she said she would try to see if she could sleep it off first, but appreciated the Advil.

At 3:55p, the Captain came on the PA and announced that we would be cruising at 32,000’ today and the journey should take 1:18 of flying time. It was not repeated in Spanish; odd, I thought.

We pushed back at 3:58p as the flight attendant gave the safety demo in English. By the time it ended, we were taxiing under our own power to the runway. I was wondering where was the Spanish version when it started playing.

I looked through the window and could see a United Express ERJ-175 taxiing into its gate at Terminal A. just then a Continental Airlines Boeing 737-700 pulled up next to us. You know you are a small plane when a Boeing 737-700 looks big to you.

Off in the distance, there eight other planes ahead of us including a Northwest Airbus A319 and a few other ERJs and one private jet. As we taxied closer to the runway, I could see a KLM Asia Boeing 747-400 Combi taking up its position in the queue for runway 15L/R. The Captain told the Flight attendant to take her seat and we were airborne by 4:07p.

The flight attendant said that we would have beverages and then a snack service; on our way to the airport, we were wondering if there was a meal on this flight. We thought yes, since it is a business market.

I took out my computer as soon as I heard the ding and started the blog for this flight. The guy next to me pulled his out and it took up the entire tray table; it was a Dell that was literally twice the size of my computer if I turned it sideways; way too big for my liking, where is my MacBook Air?

After the beverages were served, minus coffee as the flight attendant announced that the machine was broken, we were served a turkey and cheese sandwich with some baby carrots and a Kit Kat. She then followed up with documentation for entering Mexico.

The bread for the sandwich was rather large and a bit bulky for want of a better word. I ate around it and left most of it in the wrapper. I also did not have the KitKat and after much chewing, finished the baby carrots. Trash was collected after all that during a little turbulence.

The documentation for entry into Mexico differs based on whether you are form Mexico or not. As a U.S. citizen, I had to fill out a visitor form as well as a Customs form. I think Mexicans fill out the customs form as well as another document for Mexicans only. Immigration forms are always annoying as they are sometimes lengthy and want your life story. The simplest I’ve seen is perhaps France, where they usually want just basic information on a small form and oftentimes when you get there, they don’t take it from you.

One tip for you is that you should always bring a pen with you whenever you travel as in cases like these you will need it. Also, you never know who you may meet and need to take their contact details or give them yours. One other good tip is also to memorize your passport number, alien number, if applicable, and the expiration dates of these documents. It comes in handy when filling out the forms and saves you time from having to rifle through your passport.

The Captain came on the PA when we were twenty-three minutes flying time from the ground and said that we had started our descent into the Monterrey area and due to turbulence the seatbelt signs would continue to being lit. He continued saying that there was light winds, temp of 10C which is 50F. He thanked us for flying Continental Express and wished to see us on a future flight; the announcement was not repeated in Spanish.

The flight attendant then came through again one more time picking up trash. The guy next to me was filling out his form and so was I. He asked me if it was necessary to fill out the bottom of the form and I told him yes.
We landed without incident and taxied to the gate.

Monterrey, Mexico (MEX): Walking to the gate in Houston, TX

As I was close to the gate, well, I kind of lost track of time, I left the Club at 3:42p, checked the FIDs first to ensure that the gate has not changed and then headed there. When I got to the gate, the agent said hello, checked my passport and scanned my boarding pass.

Monterrey, Mexico (MEX): At the hotel

I just arrived at hotel in Monterrey after about an hour's drive from the airport. It is a beautiful city, kind of like Las Vegas with its vegetation

It is kind of funny to watch Smallville in Spanish :-)...

Monterrey, Mexico (MEX): At the airport in Houston Intercontinental

Houston-Intercontinental, Houston TX (IAH)

This is a quick trip for work across to Monterrey, Mexico (MTY). I've not been to this city, so it should be cool. I really enjoy going to new places as I never know what to expect.

It was smooth sailing on the highway to the airport and getting from the parking lot to the airport terminal was a breeze.

At the airport, I'm hanging out in the Presidents Club in Terminal B while I await the flight at 4p. I just had some crackers and cheese; you know my routine by now.

The TSA guy was scary as he balked at this lady before me, telling her to stay behind the line and wait until called; this is odd as I'd never seen a line like that at the TSA set up anywhere. The guy was really rude as he could have done this much better than he had.