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Tdiddy12 Dec 22nd, 2019 06:43 PM

Viva mexico
After our six week trip to Costa Rica, we have moved on to Mexico! First order of business will Interjet still be in operation for our flight from SJO to MEX. And the answer is yes and it was a fine flight. About three months ago there were negative stories about Interjet staying in business but they are still flying.

3 hour flight to CDMX, pretty uneventful actually get in early but no open terminal. Grab our bags and exit customs, there seems to be a special exit for Americans? We were directed to a separate line and scanned our passports. Super easy. Hay no problemas. Mexico City has the best system for grabbing a cab. You go to a ticket booth, buy a ticket and show it to the cabbie. $247 pesos to Centro Historico.

This is our first time in CDMX so Iím pretty wide eyed driving into town. It reminds me of Paris, the metal stairways over streets, some of the buildings, the narrow roads at times. Of course it is nothing like Paris but the ďfeelĒ was. So as we get closer to the Center, it is reminding me more of Paris. And itís really clean, I mean the big boulevards are unexpectedly tidy.

This may be a good place to enter my American bias. Sadly in the last three years the word Mexican has become a slur in the US. First of all, I have never bought into that BS. I have Hispanic friends in Los Angeles and in 40 years of traveling to Mexico Iíve never had any problems. However, it seems every time you tell somebody, non travelers, generally, that you are going to Mexico you always get the same, ď arenít you nervous there, arenít you afraid??Ē And they are right, in the last 7 weeks weíve been traveling there have been about 10 shootings! ALL IN THE US. Nuff said.

Back to Mexico City, itís gorgeous right now. The Zocalo is all dressed up with Christmas decorations, there is a skating rink, bustling with laughing, happy people. Itís simply wonderful. Check into Hotel Central Zocalo. Quite a nice hotel for us, very nicely appointed to hide the fact that you are staying in a broom closet! The room is very tiny, but they have created lots of little cubby holes to stash stuff, which is helpful, because the end of the bed just about touches the wall.

Unpack and the hotel recommends Hosteria Santa Domingo. A place around since 1860. I guess they are doing something right. The chicken Mole was dark and spicy but not over the top. It was late and they would be closing soon, so we were waited on very quickly. Worth the trip but now we are dead tired and back to the hotel to start our adventure inMexico City tomorrow!

crellston Dec 22nd, 2019 10:25 PM

A great start to your trip report Tdiddy12. We were there this time last year and loved it. Like you we had lots of negative comment re safety etc. before we left but experienced no issues whatsoever. In fact we felt as safe as anywher we have visited and the Mexicans are the most hospitable and friendly people. I see from your othe repost that you are in Morelia - enjoy! One of my favourite towns and I wish we had spent longer there. Do check out the theatre there. We chanced upon a great Argentine tango show there which was fantastic - there always seems to be something going on.

Will be following along and with a view to a possible return trip. Have been missing tacos and tequila for some time now!

Tdiddy12 Dec 23rd, 2019 02:58 AM

Hey Crellston! I followed your TR of Mexico last year with much joy!

Tdiddy12 Dec 23rd, 2019 03:29 AM

Day 2 - didn’t sleep well last night because of too much mole in my belly! We are going to have to alter our Paris “model” for this trip. Our Paris model, and I know not unique to us, is, up and out early, museum, lunch, museum, back at hotel by 4:00PM for nap, reading, relaxing, then out the door at 7PM, for sights and dinner. Of course in Paris you have to wait to generally 8 to eat. First time we went into a restaurant in Paris for dinner at 6:00, the waiter looked at us like some rabble out of Les Miserable! So this works fine in Paris where the food is rich and the portions are small, not in Mexico, where the food is rich and the portions are huge!

We start out our day with a walking tour. I generally try to start a new city with this type of tour, hooks you up with a local, and you can learn a lot. Our tour with Hermez from Strawberry tours is no exception. Start at the statue of Benito Juarez on Alameda Parque and end up at the Templo Mayor. Toured the Belles Arts, Post Office, Madera Street, La Opera restaurant to see the hole Pancho Villa shot in the ceiling! Plus a stop at a guy who makes ice cream and ended at Zocalo. Really great. I give him a healthy tip which is of course the plan, and he was off for an afternoon tour!

Had lunch on 5 de Mayo, ok not great. Eating early today, especially given the breakfast buffet at the hotel, huge. These chocolate croissants that are going to go right to my I had to eat two to maintain balance.

Walked back to Palacio de Belles Arts to get tickets for the Ballet Folklorica de Mexico. I bought the cheapest tickets, $300 pesos per person. This may come back to haunt me?

Nightime at the Zocalo, again the joy of the Mexican people is wonderful to see, I know it’s Christmas so it’s already a magical time, but still all the kids, families, skating, we are a George Bailey shy of It’s a Wonderful Life. Big concert, Mambo! Some old guy up on stage in a cool hat charming the crowd, then they bring on this skinny goofy looking guy to me, hair up in a top notch, wearing a sarong looking thing, and the crowd goes crazy. Obviously this “goofy” looking guy is someone because everyone’s cell phone comes out and they are singing along.

Great end to our first full day in CDMX.

ms_go Dec 23rd, 2019 04:15 AM

Following along and looking forward to more. We spent the Thanksgiving weekend in CDMX and stayed at the sister property, Historico Central Hotel, which we really liked. We had drinks on the roof of Zocalo Central a couple of times. We got a lot of the same ("You're going WHERE?") before our trip. A relative said something to the effect of, "I've made my last trip to Mexico!" on one of my Facebook posts. Her loss.... We really enjoyed CDMX a lot and wonder why it took us so many years to get there. It won't be our last visit.

I'm still trying to get through all of our our photos. If I ever do, I'll try getting a short trip report together.

mlgb Dec 23rd, 2019 11:50 AM

Looking forward to your reporting. Just in time for me.

Leely2 Dec 23rd, 2019 12:49 PM

Thanks for your report! I love Mexico City (the art, the architecture, the food, the people, the intensity) and would enjoy seeing the Zocalo all decked out for the holidays if you're inclined to post any pics.

Tdiddy12 Dec 23rd, 2019 01:12 PM

Hey ms go - How did you like that location at Central Historico, were the rooms small? The staff at the Zocalo were super nice, we ran into a number of them on the street and they were above the grade, but we’ll probably try another area next time.

Tdiddy12 Dec 23rd, 2019 01:38 PM

Day 3 - Templo Mayor. Bit chilly today, mind you we’ve spent the last six weeks in flip flops and bathing suits in CR, but it is somewhat comical to see all of the locals dressed in mufflers, stocking caps and winter coats! We are both from the Midwest, Chicago and Michigan, so even after 40 years in California, this is not cold to us, but chilly!

For some reason, Templo Mayor is closed today (Wednesday), but the guard says the ruins are free so we check them out. Nice English descriptions. Pretty mind boggling that this used to be in the middle of a lake. From what I understand the lake is reclaiming half of the city by the annual sinking rate. After the Templo, we head to Antigua Collegio de San Ildefonso, right around the corner. Apparently this is where Diego Garcia met Frida Kahlo, we looked for a heart with DG loves FK in it but no luck. Did see a lot of phenomenal murals and a solo art show by a Mexican, Sandra Pani, very interesting.

Dinner at Cafe Tacuba. Reviews are mixed, but it’s a pretty place, my Chile Rellenos were in a fairly boring sauce. So I guess I’m voting so-so. But it’s kind of on the way to the Palacio de Bellas Artes for the Ballet Folklorico. This building is phenomenal. Remember the $300 peso tickets, they are way up there. We keep going up flight after flight of stairs, past primarily empty seats in the lower sections but every time we show our ticket they keep pointing up. This place has more levels than Carl Jung. Get to the last section before you are outside with the pidgeons and this section is packed. Every seat is taken!

The stage screen alone is worth the admission, made by Tiffany. The Ballet is great and from this height, you don’t see anyone’s face but you get. Real clear shot of the patterns. We head out a little early and sneak into the floor section just as all of the dancers come out into the crowd and pick people out of the audience to dance with them. Very nice touch.
Late night for us, out almost to 11:30PM!

ms_go Dec 23rd, 2019 02:09 PM

Originally Posted by Tdiddy12 (Post 17034218)
Hey ms go - How did you like that location at Central Historico, were the rooms small? The staff at the Zocalo were super nice....

I did like the location. It was convenient to several metro stations. We were on a very short trip - 4 days, 5 nights - so we splurged a bit on a room with a private terrace. The room, itself, wasn't huge, but it was well designed, and the terrace was nice for coffee in the morning, afternoon breaks, etc. We were very pleased with the hotel and staff, and we were happy to be in that location with all the available services for a first visit. That said, next time - and there will be a next time - we will probably go for an apartment in a different neighborhood, which is how we usually travel. We spent a nice afternoon walking around Roma and La Condesa, which we liked a lot.

crellston Dec 23rd, 2019 10:17 PM

"These chocolate croissants that are going to go right to my I had to eat two to maintain balance." going to be using that one over the Christmas hols!

Great stuff, keep it coming!

Tdiddy12 Dec 24th, 2019 05:40 AM

Crellston - Indeed, thinking we would miss out on the usual Christmas food orgies in the States by spending time in food “impoverished” Mexico was a rather misinformed rationalization!

Tdiddy12 Dec 24th, 2019 06:24 AM

Day 4 - Later start today given that our legs are tired from simply watching the Ballet Folklorico. If you have seen the group you will understand, there is a lot of stomping going on down there. Today we head to Museo Nacional de Arte in a magnificent building, the former Ministry of Communications and Public Works building, which leads me to wonder, just how much Gold and Silver did they pull out of this country, that the Cell Phone guys and the Plumbers had their own building with a statue of Charles the IV in front of it!

If I may, let me talk about Mexican Museums in CDMX. The government, or some entity has taken all of these fantastic old buildings and turned them into museums, every kind of museum you could want. Yes I know the Louvre was a Palace before it was a museum, and the D’Orsay a train station, but no one does it to the level of Mexico City. And generally the prices are minimum. With a few pesos you can get into a lot of museums.

So, for the Museo de Arte, we set a plan, let’s go to the top of the building and work our way down. Good plan, except the top floor represents all of the 1600’s artwork which of course is a ton of Madonnas and Jesus, which usually leads me to wonder, how did a kid born in a manger, get to be so rolly poly? There is however nice translations about how art was intertwined with politics at that time. The salons and the politics of Mexican vs. Spanish artists.

Next floor down is where the good stuff is, IMHO. We go through rooms and rooms of excellent art all of it by Mexican Artists. Funny thing, the guards are super serious here, nary a smile. So, the museum is $70 pesos to get in and an extra $5 pesos to take pictures. At first I balked, don’t even ask, brain freeze I guess, as I’m checking my bag, I realize $5 is a quarter, so I pay up to take pictures. Now this is what I love about Mexico, if I can explain it. I am given what is obviously a folded up paper ticket that has been stapled to create a ring that you slip on your finger. So I’m walking around with a little origami on my finger, and believe me the guards are looking for that ring if you are taking pictures. Wifey took a picture, no origami and she was chastised!

Dinner tonite was at a taco stand with seating on the second floor. Awesome. 6 tacos, 1 cerveza, 1 Fresca = $5 US. Quick little calculator for everyone. In Costa Rica right now the exchange is about 550 colones to $1. So you multiply everything by 2 and that is what it costs. So that $6 hamburger is actually $12! Not cheap. In Mexico, right now roughly, $1 is 20 pesos, so you divide everything by 2 and take away a zero. So a $200 peso entree is $100 minus a zero = $10! In St. Maarten there is a saying, you stay on the Dutch side and eat in the French side. It doesn’t work that easily with Mexico/Costa Rica.

Daniel_Williams Dec 24th, 2019 02:24 PM

A trip to Mexico City back in 2005 changed forever the way that I saw North America and sparked an interest in pre-Columbian civilization that has never abated. An amazing trip that made me feel that I was in Europe at times, that also brought me to visit numerous other fascinating Mexican cities in later years. Thanks so much for your trip report, for bringing back memories of the vibrant capital!

Tdiddy12 Dec 24th, 2019 03:23 PM

Thanks Daniel! We have been Coastal Mexican travelers for about 40 years, sometimes 10 years between trips, so you can imagine the experience we are having in the hinterlands. I also understand the fascination with Pre-Colombian history, it’s amazing to think that Tenochtitilan was like the biggest city the world when the Spaniards came in, stole all the good stuff and paid the bill with smallpox.

Tdiddy12 Dec 24th, 2019 03:39 PM

Friday, Day 5 - Caught a little bug somewhere in the last day or two so am a walking food processor at this time and have a little trouble with energy, but this afternoon we go to the Cathedral. I can see why Daniel Williams felt he was in Europe. Been in a lot of Cathedrals and this is up there with the best. After the Cathedral we walk down the Calle that runs down the north side of Palacio Nacional, it’s called Moneda. Right after the Palacio, it got crazy, there are streets and streets full of people and merchandise, on the sidewalks, in the middle of the streets, vendors hawking stuff, but not in your face, just yelling, “I’ve got underwear, $10 pesos”. Reminds me of Rommel during WWII, who said “men everyone gets a change of underwear”, big applause. “Fritz you change with Erich, Heinrich you change with Albert”. Be here all week tip your waitresses.

Anyways, it was a huge amount of people unlike anything I’ve seen since Vietnam. Crellston you would have loved it!

Simple dinner tonite of Aztec Soup, I would call it Tortilla soup, nice amount of Avocado, tons of tortilla strips. Nice little jazz band on the street outside Cafe El Popular playing a nice mix of the real stuff, Brubeck, Miles. Good to be alive.

Tdiddy12 Dec 25th, 2019 07:36 AM

Day 6 - Last Day
Yesterday was a lost day, planned to go to Chapultepec but didn’t make it. So off to the Palacio Nacional. No line, heads up, you have to give them an ID that they keep while you are inside. Crellston hipped us to this. Guard took one drivers license for both of us. The draw here as most know is the Diego Rivera staircase murals, but the inside courtyards are a very nice touch of peace in a bustling city. The staircase is actually closed for restoration, but you have a pretty good view of the murals. On the second floor however, there are a second set of murals that surround the courtyard that I had never read about by Rivera. IMHO you have much better access to them, also you can see the staircase murals from the second floor. This is such an amazing amount of work it’s hard to describe.

Checked out the reproduction of the Congress Hall, original burned, and Juarez’s apartments. Again, no charge for all of this. Would do it again! Late lunch at Sanborn’s in the Casa Azul. You have to go check this building out. It’s a standard on the tourist trail but well worth it. The food is not gourmet, but practicing our Spanish with the waitress who has been there for 38 years was a delectable dessert.

Back at the hotel to practice our Booing, that’s right, tonight is Lucha Libre, Get Ready To Rumble! OMG this was the most amount of fun. Went to the Coloseo which is close to Historico and a lot smaller than the Arena. $5 tickets put us 6 rows back. We laughed so much, it is super camp, but some of the gymnastics these guys pull off are really amazing. Of course there are the barrelhouse punches that miss there target by a foot and the receiving wrestler goes flying to the canvas. Too funny.

What a way to end our 6 days in beautiful Mexico City! Last night I read the two Fodor’s streams about Politics and traveling and the Age old question of vacation vs. traveling. I was impressed that the Politic stream stayed polite and a lot of good points were made. Isn’t the word polite somehow the basis for Politic? Don’t know but it sure isn’t today. Met a guy from San Diego who asked about the Red or I guess 4 rating for Guerrero, where we are headed at the end of our trip. How does Guerrero get a 4 and Texas doesn’t at least have a three!

As for the vacation/travel question. I’m not going to make any new points here, but to me travel means to look for something new. I want to think I am a traveler not a tourist, but in reality I have been within a 20 square block radius in Mexico City. The only glimpse I saw of the non shiny Mexico City was on the way in from the Airport and our brief walk through the lovely chaos of Christmas shopping behind the Palacio Nacional yesterday. Traveler / Tourist / Vacation / Travel , who cares, all that is important is the Doing It. Respecting other people and knowing we are all One and trying to see the touch of humanity in all. Tomorrow Morelia! Viva Mexico.

mlgb Dec 25th, 2019 08:27 AM

Thanks for the report and tips. Have fun in Guerrero.

We didn't have any issues in Downtown Acapulco off our cruise last month. OTOH, in supposedly safe Puerto Vallarta there was just a headless body on the exact beach at the Ameca River mouth (Boca de Tomates) where we finished our birding tour! And I'm pretty sure it wasn't a crocodile that did it (although my friend was sorry he watched one of those finish off a chicken).

baldone Dec 25th, 2019 12:02 PM

Random comments.
First, thanks for the excellent TR. We haven't actually stayed in Centro for many years, but I think next time for sure.
I agree about Sanborn's and the Casa De Azulejos. It's a beautiful place well worth seeing even if just for coffee. Or a beer as was our case hiding out from a downpour.
We liked Cafe Tacuba for breakfast. The waitress let us buy one of copper pitchers that was on each table. Still have it almost 20 years later.
Likewise we were beach people for about 10 years until discovering colonial Mexico. Such a rich history. I've read comments such as 'I love Mexico' by those that have never ventured inland. They don't know what they're missing.
While in Morelia, you should try/buy some coffee from La Lucha. My very biased and subjective opinion is it's the best in Mexico. It's sourced only in MichoacŠn from local growers, but not in quantities enough for export or even distribution to the rest of Mexico.
The post office, or Palacio De Correos, in Mexico City's centro is a fabulous building.

Tdiddy12 Dec 25th, 2019 03:11 PM

Thanks Baldone! We did go into the Palacio de Correos on our walking tour. Fantastic building. When we were there they had a display on people emigrating to Mexico, very interesting. They have a giant eagle in the Museo part of the post office that is maybe 5’ x 6‘ and when you get up to it you can see that it was made of postage stamps. Real cool.

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