Friday, September 25, 2009


The first post in my Viva Mexico series is about Mexico City, where we started our tour. I had not visited Mexico City in many many years. (this was Neto's first time) It was even better than I remembered. I was so impressed by...everything.
{art installation in Centro Historico}

Unfortunately our time there was short. We stayed only 5 days 4 nights, not even close to having enough time to uncover this fabulous city. We did the best we could and let me tell you, our feet were sore.
I was able to use my starwoods hotel points and we stayed at the Sheraton Centro Historico in a perfect location across the street from Almeda Park. They upgraded us to a huge suite on the 22nd floor with a spectacular view.
Probably like many other visitors to Mexico City, we started our explorations at the Plaza de la Constitucion, or Zocolo. This is the main square of Mexico City’s historic center. (fun fact: also the second largest public square in the world next to Moscow’s Red Square)
{Catedral Metropolitana en Zocalo}

Like many of the buildings in the historic area, the Catedral Metropolitana is sinking. You can't see in the above picture, but when you are standing in front of the cathedral, you can see the right half has sunk down significantly. (supposedly due to water issues)
Because Mexico's independence day is on September 16, they we decorating the plaza for all the festivities.
Special vendors were set up all month selling flags and other Mexican decor to celebrate.
Mexico City has a population of about 23 million. (not a place for the claustrophobic) We often rode the metro and it was packed like sardines every time.
If you can handle that, try the Mercado de la Merced, the bigges market in Mexico City. It's a never ending maze of clothing, household goods, fruits, veges, spices, food vendors cooking up great food (cheap too!) and my favorite part, neon chicks. what??
Ducks too. 30 pesos each (that's about $2) for this little duckie, look how cute!
It's not my usual mode of transportation on a trip, but we hopped on the TuriBus (you know the red double decker tour buses that every big city has) so we could cover more area.
{El Angel de la Independencia}

{Palacio de Bellas Artes}

A 20 minute metro ride south of the city center is a beautiful suburb called Coyoacán. It is a beautiful neighborhood with narrow tree lined streets.  This caught my eye. The house color, those wood windows, the yellow flowers growing up the tree.  I want a garden so bad!
It is here you will find La Casa Azul [the blue house] where Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived together. (2 very famous Mexican painters) If you saw the movie Frida (starring Selma Heyek) you will remember this awesome house, painted a very mexican blue color. If you haven't seen it, rent it today, it's a wonderful movie.
{La Casa Azul, Coyoacán}

One thing that we really wanted to check out was the Aztec "floating gardens" of Xochimilco, 40 south of the city center (on metro)
Colorful painted boats cruise along the extended series of canals, which is all that is left of the ancient Lake Xochimilco.  Vendors come around in separate canoes. Mariachis float up to your boat to serenade you (for a tip, claro!) there were boats selling blankets and other souvenirs. This guy has a nursery on his boat.
This lady was selling micheladas and beers. She way overcharged us, but the convenience was undeniable. Note: bring your own beer [and friends] to Xochimilco.
 What do they eat for breakfast in Mexico? This street vendor was set up a few blocks from our hotel This condiment line up and the smell of beef lured us over. Tacos for breakfast! Sure, what the hell.
Chapultapec Park is a huge park in the middle of the city. (similar to central park in NY) There is a lake where you can rent little paddle boats, the Zoo is there, and there are miles of walking trails with vendors lining the way.  The Turibus dropped us right at the entrance and we spent a few hours there exploring.  Outside the zoo there was this beautiful wall that I had to climb for a photo. 
There is so much to write about Mexico City, and one of my favorite things is the food.  Besides all of the street food, which is where we ate the majority of our meals, there are tons of great restaurants.  
Taqueria los Paises- a streetside restaurant serving delicious tacos.  Made fresh in front of you, the chef flips the meat onto your tortillas and you can stand at one of the few small bar height tables on the sidewalk, or stand on the sidewalk eating with the rest of the crowd sans table. Very busy place. Cheap too. 

El Diez- an Argentine steakhouse with outdoor seating in Condesa.  Good meat and great prices. 

La Botica- a very cute and tiny mezcaleria guessed it, mezcal. A popular alternative to tequila.  I thought it was similar in taste, but Neto could tell a difference, and prefers it to tequila. It's smoother. It is also made from the agave plant, but a different variety. It was here that we tried champulines (grasshoppers) along with 2 shots of the 50 or so types of mezcal on the menu. They were served like peanuts and tasted like wood.  Also in Condesa neighborhood.

El Regiomontano - Recommended to us by Lonely Planet, this restauant, only a few blocks from our hotel in Centro Historico cooks up kids on a spit.  Haha, baby goat is the specialty, and they are on display in the window of this tiny eatery with card tables and plastic tablecloths. The service was good and the goat delish! Not on a well lit street, take a taxi at night. 

Probably one of the best dinners in Mexico was when we met Barbara and her husband Roberto. We were set up on a "blind date" with them at Villa Maria in Polanco, by Neto's sister Veronica. The decor was cozy and the food delicious. Notice the tamarind margarita as big as my head.  
I ate two things I had never tried before.  Escaroles, which are ant larve and huitlacoche, which is a fungus that grows on corn, they cut it and serve it in quesadillas.  So. Good. 
Barbara ended up giving us the keys to their apartment that night. They were leaving for the weekend and insisted that we stay in there home.  It was nice. We pretended that we lived there and we liked it.  We liked Mexico City. A lot. 

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