The Big Mexico Trip

Old Oct 7th, 2021, 02:19 PM
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indianapearl - Probably a good idea to find a driver/guide vs. a taxi driver/crook when in Mexico City. We took an Uber to Bosque Chapultepec this morning for $38 pesos or $2. $3 on the way home because it was a busier time of day.
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Tdiddy12 View Post
Fra_Diavolo - I figured Carlos wasn't the richest man anymore, but look at all the good he has done. The only thing Jeff Bezos ever gave me was free Prime Delivery. Oh wait...I pay $13.99 a month for that!
Well that's for sure!

Have you found the Under the Volcano English language used book store? It was the reason I took such a long walk in Condesa, guided by a friend whose nickname might be "Wrongway." Under the Volcano Books
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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 03:01 PM
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My Big Day - We are going to Castillo de Chapultepec! My wife claims I have a love for "bricks", ruins, old churches, temples and castles and she is right. I love art museums, galleries, concerts, but nothing gets my blood going like a castle. And Chapultepec delivers! First it is on top of the hill with spectacular views of Mexico City. It's old, originally built around 1770 and it is in great shape. Last year we read a number of books about Carlota and Maximilian and I'm sorry to say I didn't know much of the history about that ill-fated adventure, so walking the steps where he reigned for three troubled years is pretty cool. It really does feel like a royal residence.

The first part of the visit is dedicated to the Nacional Museo de Historia and it is really complete. Detailed displays and artifacts tell the story of the history of the country from the Mexica up until the Spanish. Light on the indigenous people but the Spanish side of the history is much more complete, including all of the paintings from the 1500's with quasi big shots with their royal round eyed, in-bred looks. I don't know if it was the skill of the artists back then or if these people really were too cozy cousins with overly long necks and "I just saw a ghost" eyes. So the history side tells all about the various revolutions, with guns and flags and uniforms, you know guy stuff, and kind of ends up with Porfirio Diez, so around the 1915's.

The next side of the castle is the Alcazar and this is where all of the various rooms are: the smoking room, the reading room, the game room, the waiting room, the library, the dining room, the meeting room, the bedrooms, bathrooms. These people must have a had a full day just going from room to room. The rooms have a lot of the original furniture and are set up beautifully. Also there are two sets of gardens on the property that are very nice to places to take a breather.

The two art museums in the Bosque de Chapultepec are closed, the Rufino Tamayo and the Arte de Moderne, but there is still a lot to do in the Parque and well worth a visit. We'll probably have to come back to do another stroll.

Four days in Mexico City, we have done two museums and a castle and tomorrow will be a rest day. I have to say this though, and it is NOT a political statement, and that is the Mexico I've seen so far is taking Covid seriously. We've had temperature checks at every museum and restaurant we have been in, and we are given hand sanitizer at every stop. Mask wearing is at about 95% in my opinion. I can't speak about any place other than Mexico City and in reality my little section in La Condesa and the official places we've visited. I only state this because before we left, some people and ourselves included, said/thought, is it right to be traveling. I can't answer that but I do feel safe here with all of the precautions.

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Old Oct 9th, 2021, 03:24 PM
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Fra_Diavolo - We found Under the Volcano on our walk around Avenida Amsterdam yesterday. Unfortunately it is only open on the weekend, it looked really cool and it's in the old American Legion building as you know. Also stopped at El Moro which is famous for churros and hot chocolate. Great. The hot chocolate isn't sweet like what we've become accustomed to in the States. Had a real sunny day yesterday for our neighborhood stroll. Oh and was on hold with Delta airlines for 2 hours and still didn't connect. My phone died. Delta is really blowing it on customer service. Was on hold for 2 hours Monday night, finally got a representative, they re-booked our flight, no charge and then the next day I find out they re-booked me on the wrong day. Very frustrating.
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Old Oct 10th, 2021, 09:10 AM
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Tdiddy12 -- Glad you found it. My friend says the hours can be erratic and the website is not always accurate, but he likes the people (and the books!)
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Old Oct 10th, 2021, 02:47 PM
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Saturday in Mexico City and today we head to Centro. I've read about the Diego Rivera Mural Museum and we decided to head there first. From La Condesa to Parque Alameda should be a straight drive down Av. Paseo de la Reforma, and it is until we get into town and the road is blocked off with protesters. Not exactly sure what they were protesting but I believe it was against the Presidente. Our Uber driver tried maneuvering around the protest but eventually just stopped and said the museum is a block over! We completely understood.

The Diego Rivera Wall Mural museum is essentially a large mural, maybe his last, A Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Central. It was in a hotel restaurant next to Alameda Park, that collapsed in the 1985 earthquake and somehow they salvaged the Wall. The museum is primarily the mural which is impressive and they've added a few exhibitions on the second floor. Cost to enter $1.50! The museum's in Mexico are so inexpensive. So after resting in Alameda Central, a beautiful park with fountains and statues and cleaner than any public place I've seen in the States, we head across the street to the Franz Mayer Museo. Franz Mayer was a German financier who lived in Mexico most of his adult life (thanks Google) who was a major collector of furniture, porcelain, paintings and other collectibles. This museum was a whopping $3.50. It is in an old church/ hospital and the ground floor cafe sits in a really nice peaceful garden. So much to see that we had retinal failure after about two hours.

For anyone heading to Mexico City, there is a ton of stuff to see right off the Zocala, all kinds of museums and Templo Mayer etc, but if you get out to Alameda Centro, there are at least five other museums that really deserve your attention. Being in Centro is such a change from La Condesa and after about 5 hours down there we were ready to get "home".
Tomorrow is our last day in wonderful La Condesa.
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Old Oct 10th, 2021, 08:42 PM
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MinnBeef - We are leaving La Condesa tomorrow and I'm handing it over to you! I'm sure you have plans of what you will do while you are here but I have one suggestion that we did today. As discussed on this blog, there is a median that runs down the middle of Mazatlan which then turns into Durango with a median down the middle of the road also. Durango ends at the Fuentes de Cibeles, a statue based on one in Madrid. If you do that walk you will be greatly rewarded by a lot of great architecture. If it's Sunday you will see Ciclavia, the streets are blocked off and filled with bicyclists. On Valladolid, there is a museum we discovered today, Museo Soumaya - Casa Guillermo Tover de Teresa. I guess he was an art collector and the museum is free with a real good cafe. It is being run by the Carlos Slim Fundacione, so that's the third Carlos Slim museum in CDMX. At the roundabout that surrounds the Fuentes de Cibeles you will find a ton of restaurants. We ate at La Cerviceria de Barrio. The Pollo Baha tacos are excellent. Enjoy La Condesa
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Old Oct 12th, 2021, 11:56 AM
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Farwell La Condesa, Hello Queretaro
Left our La Condesa around 11AM, quick drive, 1/2 hour to the North Bus Station. Quick tip, ask about your bus with someone who knows what's going on. We were inside the station looking at all of the buses with the names displayed on the top and we didn't see Queretaro? Finally it's getting close to departure time and still no Queretaro bus, so we asked the attendant and she said you want to take the San Miguel de Allende bus that leaves RIGHT NOW! Made the bus no problem but just saying your bus may not have the exact name you are looking for.

Uneventful trip to Queretaro. You go past a lot of towns with Pan and Titlan in the name, have to find out what those suffixes mean. Arrived in Queretaro, beautiful day. You don't buy a ticket for a cab at a general window, you get an authorized cab at the curb. Given our recent experience with cabbies we were distrustful. The driver said Setenta, $70, and we didn't believe him, it seemed cheap, but that's what he charged us. 15 minutes to El Serafin Hotel Boutique. Very nice little hotel on Calle Independencia about two blocks from Plaza de Armas. It's 82 degrees here! A lot different than CDMX. Walked around a bit and had dinner at La Mariposa. Old school restaurant where the waitresses are wearing school cafeteria uniforms like when I was a kid. I know this is still traditional in Mexico, reminded me of Sanborns. Great enchiladas for $85.

If in La Condesa we tried to retain the facade of "locals" living in an apartment, grocery shopping but doing "touristy" things, going to museums, parques etc in Queretaro we will be the obvious tourists. We've only been here 3 hours and we are already walking around like a couple of large mouth bass with our eyes and mouths wide open. It is spectacular. Now remember we are in Historic Centro. Not two miles away are some the most modern buildings you can find. Queretaro, I think is 2 million people. But downtown I'm in a magical place, just a little Cinderella looking for my glass slipper. Or at least a glass filled with Margaritas.

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Old Oct 12th, 2021, 06:22 PM
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We lived in Queretaro for a year, we often spend a night when we do big box shopping or dr appointments, but in all that time, we've never eaten at Mariposa. I know where it is, but just never stopped in. We need to try it! We tend to get in a rut with our faves, the 1810, Hercules & Tikua Sur. Speaking of restaurants, try to avoid the touts on 16 De Septiembre. The sidewalk restaurants are good for people watching, but the food is generally just average. Interestingly, when we lived there, we were in one of those modern high-rise condo buildings away from centro and used that time to get to know other parts of the city or explore the wineries outside the city. Might still be living there if the traffic hadn't wore me down. Looking forward to more!
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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 05:33 AM
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Baldone - We have already been recommended to Tikua Sur, looks interesting and passed 1810, that's on our list. We will have to look up Hercules! Thanks
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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 06:05 AM
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First Full day in Queretaro - In preparation for our trip I have been on every You Tube video by every blogger, all the couples who quit their day jobs as dog groomers and Yoga instructors and are now touring the world on $3 a day, and now it's ME talking about Queretaro. First of all, the buildings are shorter than in La Condesa, so at every turn you see these churches piercing the skyline above the other buildings. And they are some really fine churches. It seems like every two blocks is another Notre Dame. There is so much to see and the town is very walkable. Today for instance, in the morning, we stayed on our street Calle Independencia and just walked east. Along the way we say, Museo Casa de la Zacatecana, great little museum with about 11 rooms full of decorative arts and furniture. Plaza de la Fundadores, Queretaro was founded in 1531 and there are statues of four of the founding fathers looking at each other as if to say, " we should have bought real estate". Across the street is the Museum of Contemporary Art. Opens at 12, we are too early, Next is the Templo y Convento de la Santa Cruz, with a statue of Junipero Serra, well known priest in Los Angeles and California for starting the missions. And then just past that is the Mausoleo de La Corregidora, resting place of Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez, daughter of the 1810 Revolution and to top it off, right across the street is Mirador de los Arcos which not only looks at the historic Aqueduct that runs for many blocks along highway 200 but you get to look out into the distance and see the amazing growth of Queretaro with sky scrappers and luxury apartment buildings. I almost want to grab the four statues of the Fundadores and tell them, "you should have bought real estate?!"

Again, this is all on one street! There are probably at least four or five other streets with the same level of historic perspective. We are going to have a busy time here that's for sure. There are a number of pedestrian only streets and many of the other streets are one way. We have lunch at San Miguelito on Cinco De Mayo. It's kind of touristy, as Baldone mentioned many of the restaurants on these pedestrian streets are leaning toward the tourists, but San Miguelito has a really vibrant decor, lot's of paintings, statues, very colorful. Their claim is that they make guacamole right at your table and it is really good. Our whole lunch is a mocaljete of guac. I'm going to really enjoy this town! Tomorrow on to the next street.
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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 07:00 PM
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I must say, your timing has been fortuitous. We were in Queretaro today to do a little big box shopping before we head to the border. The skies were mostly clear and free of smog. An absolutely beautiful day in Q. A week ago skies were mostly overcast, as they've been for a few weeks, and there had been some serious rains and flooding in San Miguel and even on hwy 57 from cdmx to Queretaro. Not to mention the exchange rate of almost 21. Well done!
San Miguelito indeed is a fun restaurant. But Hercules is my happy place. So much to choose from!
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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 08:05 PM
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Baldone - We have indeed been pretty lucky with the weather. CDMX rained a little bit every day but mainly in the afternoon. When we got to Q on Monday it was down right hot! Really rained last night and we kept losing the electricity at our hotel.
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Old Oct 14th, 2021, 06:51 AM
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Go West Young Man! That's what we did, this morning we head west down again on one street, Franciso I. Madero. First stop is the Jardin Zenea, it's the city square with a bandstand, flowers, fountain, all the usual suspects, beautiful. At some point the Calle becomes partially pedestrian, wider sidewalks and two foot high "pawn" black barriers between the cars. We peak in at La Casa de la Marquesa hotel. WOW, this was a mansion that as been turned into a hotel and it is spectacular. It is extremely elegant and gets good reviews. Just down the street from the Casa is the Fuente de Neptuno. You probably seen it in all the pictures, it's at the corner of another baroque church, former convent of Santa Clara, if you see a door open, go in! The inside is well worth a visit we lucked out and caught it right after mass, took a few pictures then they closed the church. There are a lot of Former Convents in Queretaro, so they weren't necessarily churches for the public but part of bigger orders and then a church was added. I think there were probably men and women.

Quick stop at Jardin Guerreo. Another pretty large plaza named after a President, great fountain, Dia de Los Muertes is celebrated here, we heard.

Still on the same street, we head to the MUCAL, Museo del Calendario. The Calendar Museum. We ended up staying at least an hour or more here. First the museum is in an old hacienda and it's been beautifully restored. Secondly it's interesting. All in Spanish, but the first few rooms they talk about calendars around the world, Mayan, Chinese, Hebrew, Spanish etc. Then there are several rooms of Calendar Art. Back in the day calendars were essentially for advertisement purposes, generally not photographs but paintings, pre Ansel Adams. You know the old time ones with a Vargas girl smoking a cigarette, "Have a Nice Day". Well Mexico was no different and there are artists that were well known for calendar art, pictures of Mayan kings...with the girl, Cowboys...with the girl, guys in cars...with the girl, and most times Just the girl. The art really gave us this idealized version of Mexican life and what would have been considered beautiful back then. There are quite a few rooms dedicated to the individual artists and then rooms filled with actual calendars. Very well displayed. The museum also has a really nice cafe and in a garden setting. I think even in the states calendars are still pretty big business.

Now all of this has been on one street! I make such a big deal of this because in Los Angeles if I walked down a street for 4 blocks, and face it, who would do that, nobody walks in LA, but I would walk past a liquor store, Burger King, CVS, liquor store, McDonalds, liquor store, Jiffy Lube. I know it's comparing apples to cactuses but still.

Now we turn off the street and make our way to Templo de Santa Rose de Viterbo. Another amazing looking church with CEART next to it. Center of the Arts in Queretaro. This was a small art gallery, bigger garden and some history displays. The building, again, former convent still has a lot of painted walls, fresco style and has been restored. We have been walking for about 4 hours now and drag ourselves back to the El Serafin, which is proving to be a very comfortable quiet hotel.

Dinner tonight at 1810 which is a restaurant right on the Plaza de Armas. Good food, good prices, less expensive than the restaurant next store and again right on the Plaza for great people watching. Interesting thing here, on the smaller streets they don't have stop signs. At busy corners they have a sign, shaped like a stop sign that says Uno a Uno. One to One. Each car stops and then they zipper across the streets. It works well because most of the smaller streets are one way. Well at the restaurants tonight, both have a keyboard player in front. The restaurants are right next store to each other, so if both keyboard players played it would sound horrible, so our piano player plays one song, stops and then the guy next store played a song! It was like a battle of the Liberaces. Very civilized. Another long day in Queretaro.
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Old Oct 14th, 2021, 08:18 AM
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Enjoying your report. We stayed at La Casa de la Marquesa. It's as good as it looks. Also ate well at 1810.
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Old Oct 14th, 2021, 08:23 PM
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We also did an anniversary night a few years ago at Marquesa. I wanted to suggest a drop-in, but guessed you'd already have figured that into your plans. Fabulous property. At that time, Calle Madero was still open to vehicle traffic. I think that was a good move, that is, making Madero pedestrian only. For that reason, our preferred hotel is often Hotel Madero, with a balcony. Sister hotel to the more budgety Hotel Hidalgo.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 07:27 AM
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Baldone - We've stopped at the Marquesa twice, once I think it must have been in the morning and I asked about dining, it's open to the public. The front person let us in to take a few pictures etc. Yesterday the big glass doors were closed and you couldn't go in and another attendant, more official looking, told me that they didn't serve dinner only breakfast and lunch. Maybe a Covid thing. Will look for Hotel Madero although our stay here at El Serafin has been very enjoyable. Breakfast delivered to our room and a beautiful property.
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Tdiddy12 View Post
MinnBeef - We are leaving La Condesa tomorrow and I'm handing it over to you! I'm sure you have plans of what you will do while you are here but I have one suggestion that we did today. As discussed on this blog, there is a median that runs down the middle of Mazatlan which then turns into Durango with a median down the middle of the road also. Durango ends at the Fuentes de Cibeles, a statue based on one in Madrid. If you do that walk you will be greatly rewarded by a lot of great architecture. If it's Sunday you will see Ciclavia, the streets are blocked off and filled with bicyclists. On Valladolid, there is a museum we discovered today, Museo Soumaya - Casa Guillermo Tover de Teresa. I guess he was an art collector and the museum is free with a real good cafe. It is being run by the Carlos Slim Fundacione, so that's the third Carlos Slim museum in CDMX. At the roundabout that surrounds the Fuentes de Cibeles you will find a ton of restaurants. We ate at La Cerviceria de Barrio. The Pollo Baha tacos are excellent. Enjoy La Condesa
Hey Tiddy-thank you very much for the tips! I leave for Mexico on the 30th and arrive in CDMX and La Condesa on Friday Nov. 5th. I’m looking forward to taking over La Condesa on your behalf!
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 08:37 PM
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MinnBeef - It will be in good hands! Safe Travels
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Old Oct 15th, 2021, 09:00 PM
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Last two days in Queretaro - Yesterday morning we took the Tranvia tour that goes to Cerro de las Campanas, Hill of the Bells. I can't say I would recommend this trip. First of all it is in Spanish, as it should be because...we are in Mexico! However, they don't let you off at Cerro de las Campanas. This is the hill on which Maximilian was executed in 1867. The Austrian government dedicated a small chapel to him in 1900, which is funny because they didn't give two expressos about him when he was alive. So the Tram stops, the guide talks non-stop for about 10 minutes and we move on. Bummer. After the tour we walk over to the Museo Regional, across from Constitution Plaza, well worth a visit. Great building, good collection and very well curated.

My wife said she needed a break...from me, so I decided to walk back to the Cerro de las Campanas. Only about a half hour walk. The park is very peaceful, visited the Chapel and a small museum. Glad I went back. Caught a flock of parrots zooming around the park.

For dinner tonight we went Italian on Cinco de Mayo. Di Vino gets good reviews although some have said the portions are small. We decided to order two salads, both really good and split a pizza. Good decisions. Service was quick and professional and I would recommend this place.

Last day - Got some final museums to see. Word to the wise. On the internet, mainly Google maps, it says the museums open at 10AM. They don't! They all seem to open at noon, not sure if this is Covid related or not. So we alter our plans and head out to Los Arcos, the Aqueduct again to get a few more photos and search for a plaque that commemorates the silver trail through, I guess what is now Highway 200. Things are really picking up in town now, wedding parties, lot's of National tourists, plazas are full. Kind of glad we got in on a Monday, it was a lot quieter. For dinner tonite we go to Tikua Sur. It has been recommended to us by a couple of people, Baldone included. This is a must restaurant. My wife had sea bass wrapped in plantain leaves and I had the pollo con three moles. Killer desert, a chocolate cake with blue cheese inside the mix. Sounds funny tasted great. This wasn't an inexpensive place, bill with generous tip ended up being about $1,400 Pesos. Which of course is actually $70 US, or the equivalent of a big blow out at Chili's. We spent a half an hour talking with the manager, Regina, and all in all this has been the culinary highlight of our trip. What a way to say goodbye to Queretaro
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