Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Walk Down Juárez From Alameda Central Park To Plaza de la Constitución - Mexico City

On our first day out and about in Mexico City we walked down a street called Juarez starting at Alameda Central Park all the way to the Plaza de la Constitución, as known as Zocalo.  There are many attraction on this road and it was about a mile walk one way.

We did get all the way down the road on the first day but didn't have time to see all the sights we wanted to on that day so we had to retrace our steps another day to hit them all.  If you read my first post on Mexico City you will remember it was really only a half day that first day since we got to Mexico City so much later than we expected.  I am sure you could hit all the sights in one day if you get an earlier start than we did.

Juarez street has very beautiful things to see, so let's take a look.

In the center of Alameda Central Park on the Juarez street side there is a homage to Benito Juarez.  Benito Juarez was the president of Mexico in the mid 1860's and he was BELOVED by the public.  I mean you don't get a HUGE hemicycle build in your honor for nothing!

Benito Juarez Chamber Alameda Park Mexico City

Across the street from the hemicycle is Juarez Plaza.  The Museum of Memory and Tolerance is in the plaza which I will blog about at a later date since we didn't go in one this day.  The plaza itself has a neat water feature.  There are 1,034 red pyramids situated in the shallow water.  This photo may not look like much but when the plaza is viewed from an aerial perspective on Google maps it is REALLY impressive!

Water attraction with Pyramids at Plaza Juarez Mexico City

Back on the same side as the hemicycle of Benito Juarez but further down we saw one of the world's most beautiful buildings!  It is called Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes).

Palace of Fine Art Street View Mexico City

From the ground it is pretty, but if you cross the street and go up to the 8th floor of the Sears store there is a cafe up there plus other windows facing the palace where you can have views like this.  Stunning!

Palace of Fine Art View from Sears across street Mexico City

Back on the ground and continuing down Juarez we came the House of Tiles (Casa de los Azulejos).  It was built by the Count del Valle de Orizaba family and three of its sides are completely covered in the expensive blue and white tile from the Mexico state of Puebla. It is currently a Sanborns department store and restaurant.

House of Tiles Bottom Floor Mexico City

Here is a close up of some of the tiles.  I am semi-sure they are all handpainted but I do know for sure they were all beautiful!

Closeup of House of Tiles Mexico City

One more shot of the House of Tiles just because I liked the dragon lamppost!

Dragon Lamp Post at House of Tiles Mexico City

After the House of Tiles there were lots of shops and restaurants until we got to the Plaza de la Constitución, also known as Zócalo.  Zocalo is the main square in Mexico City and it is humongous!!  Even the flag at the plaza is giant!

Mexician Flag Zocalo Mexico City

The flag is so large that we could see it from our hotel which was almost 2 miles away!!  TWO MILES!!   I was able to take a picture of it FROM the hotel!  (Ok, yes, I zoomed in with my camera, BUT still!)

Huge Flag at the Zolaco Seen From Our Hotel Mexico City

One of the buildings surrounding the plaza is the Metropolitan Cathedral.  It is the largest cathedral in all of the Americas!

Metropolitan Cathedral Zocalo Mexico City

When we got there they were starting to close off parts of the cathedral for the day.  We walked in the door and stopped to ask an attendant a question in English.  (As I mentioned there were not many people there who spoke English, so when we found one we asked questions!)  This attendant was a small older man who answered our questions and then asked if wanted a tour of the cathedral.  We said yes and he walked us through very quickly since they were in the process of closing.  I didn't stop to take pictures knowing we would come back another day to absorb more of the atmosphere at a slower pace. (I will tell you all about the inside in another post.) He gave a very nice quick tour of the inside and then took us outside to see a statue of the newest saint, Saint Pope John Paul II.

John Paul Statue Made of Keys at Metropolitan Cathedral Mexico City


That was one of my favorite photos of the trip.  I like this next one too.

Side of John Paul Statue Made of Keys at Metropolitan Cathedral Mexico City

I like this photo as well, but not just because I think it looks cool. You see, this statue had an attribute unlike any other I have seen.  This statue was made entirely of keys!

John Paul Statue Made of Keys From Bottom at Metropolitan Cathedral Mexico City

In fact, the guide told us that even some of his keys had been used in the making of this statue.  What was on his keyring now was duplicates!  How cool is that??

After our guide took us around he then said, "Now comes the part of the tour that I don't like.  I have to charge you for this tour. It is 150 pesos."

That is about $12 USD.

Grrrr!!!

Granted that made it $6 for each of us and we did learn things we wouldn't have known otherwise, but him not being upfront about it was just wrong.

Wrong!

I thought I could trust small older men.  Maybe it isn't trust I feel towards them, but the knowledge that I can outrun or physically hurt them?  Maybe that is it....

So, be sure to ask the price of everything up front or you will have surprises at the end like we did!

Anyhow, one of the days we were in Mexico City it was the opening day of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.  We just happened to be at the Zocalo during the first game and the city had these HUGE screens set up for people to watch.

We walked around the plaza and watched the people watching the game.  It was Brazil vs. Croatia, not even Mexico and most of the people around were glued to the screens.  They were not talking or on their phones, all eyes were riveted on the game!

Mexico vs Brazil World Cup Zocalo Mexico City


Besides the cathedral there are also many government buildings surrounding the Zocalo including the National Palace (Palacio Nacional).  Now this palace is not just any palace, this is where the president of Mexico lives.

The PRESIDENT of the ENTIRE country!

And we were allowed to just waltz right in (after going through security that is, which was easier to get through than at airports!).  In fact we only saw a one person guarding one door once we were inside. This just blew my mind.  In America we are only allowed to see where our president lives from a distance.  There is no getting close to the building, let alone going in unannounced!

National Palace Mexico City


We didn't go in the first day because it was already so late in the day that they were closed.  We did go back and will tell you all about it in a later post.

I have one final photo of the Zocalo that I would like to share with you.  It is a panoramic of the entire plaza.

Panoramic of Zocalo Plaza Mexico City

Since we walked to the Zocalo from the hotel, guess what.  We had to walk back.   Of course, there are always things to see!

We kept seeing this little door in the gates of the shops.  The gates were halfway down on some of them with this little door open.  Some had the gate all the way down with the door open and some were just closed.

Small Door in Gate of Store Mexico City

These doors were tiny!  Frankie stood by one to help show the size.  Now keep in mind, Frankie is 6 foot 1 inch so it might make the door seems smaller, but really they were small!  I think I would have to duck and I am 5 foot 1 inch myself!  Still not sure of the purpose of those doors, but there you go.


Frankie in Front of Open Small Door in Gate of Store Mexico City


We stopped to eat just as it started to rain.  As I looked out the door I saw a delivery bicycle and liked the way it looked.  We saw lots of things being delivered by bicycle while in Mexico City.  I am not talking small things either!

Delivery Bicycle with Umbrella Mexico City


Speaking of eating, we didn't have to eat just Mexican food while there, not that I would have complained!  We managed to find funky Asian inspired fare.  The following picture is of a sweet and sour chicken with vegetables sandwich.  It was yummy!

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Vegetables from Articulo 123 Cafe Mexico City


We ate, the rain let up, and we made the walk back to the hotel.

Final photo of the day, Mexico City at night from the hotel.

Night View of Mexico City from Hotel


In my next post I will go back and give more details about the Museum of Memory and Tolerance.

So until then!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Popular Art) - Mexico City

From the Diego Rivera Mural Museum we took a five minute walk to the Museum of Popular Art.  I love Mexican folkart and this place was chockablock full of the stuff!  Let me share some of my favorites.

When I think of Mexican folkart, something like this coyote is what I think of.  I love the colors and slight abstract shape.

Coyote at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

Check out these awesome covered cars.  They were each about foot in length.

Tiled Car at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City


Fabric Covered Car at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

These paper cut outs were tiny!  I am talking maybe at MOST an inch in length.  I am not sure what they are depicting, but the size alone was amazing.

Tiny Paper Carvings at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

A lot of Mexican folkart deals with skeletons.  At the Museum of Popular Art there was a whole section of skeleton art.  This one shows a bull fight where all the spectators, fighters, and even the bull are bones.

Skeleton Bull Fight  at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

The colors on these small skeleton statues were gorgeous! 

Skeletons  at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

When was the last time you saw skeletons on bicycles? Or even one with a cigar?

Skeletons on bikes  at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

Another popular Mexican art form is something called a tree of (pick a subject) and vary in size.  This first one is called Tree of Traditional Dances and it was about a foot tall to a foot and a half tall.

Tree of Traditional Mexican Dances  at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

This one is called Tree of the Artisans and it was close to eight feet tall.

Tree of the Artisans at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

This was one of my favorite pieces from the museum.

Close up of Peacock  at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

This next piece was AMAZING.  It was a little bigger than a La-Z-Boy recliner, which isn't the amazing part.  It was full of colors, which isn't the amazing part.  The pattern was beautiful, which still isn't the amazing part.

Beaded Large Artwork at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

The absolutely amazing part was the fact that what gave it the color and the pattern were tiny seed beads.

Close up of Beaded Large Artwork at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City


I'm talking tiny!!!   Like this tiny.


Amazing, right?!?

There is one last piece of art that I would like to share with you from the Museum of Popular Art and that is this lady.

Dia del Muertos Mexican Woman at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

I absolutely adore her!  I love the size, she was about 5 feet tall.  I love the colors.  I love her braids.  I love her flowers.  I love her hat.  Okay, you got it.  I loved this thing!!

I mean just look at this face!


Close up of Dia del Muertos Mexican Woman at Museum of Popular Art Mexico City

After going through the museum we needed a snack.  Of course!  We went with a slice of lime pie.  We think it was a wise and tasty choice.  Plus it looked so fancy!

Lemon Torta Mexico City

Another tasty thing we tried was some flavored water.  It said it was the taste of Jamaica, so I had to try it.  What DOES the country of Jamaica taste like?

Jamaica Flavored Water Mexico City

I have since found out that it is a Jamaica flower or hibiscus and not the country.  Slightly disappointing, but still enjoyable!

We had a few more sights to see on this day and I will share those in later posts, so until then!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Museo Mural Diego Rivera (Diego Rivera Mural Museum) - Mexico City

When you don't arrive somewhere until 3 in the morning, it makes it difficult to get up early the next day.  With that being the case it made our first day in Mexico City shorter than we had anticipated, but we still managed to cram in some adventures.

Our first stop, once we were up and moving, was for food.  We usually start out heading in the direction of the first museum or sight and look for something to eat along the way.  We usually don't look at guidebooks and try to find their suggestions.  It just never works out for us.  After passing many places and saying no for various reason, we finally stepped into a place called El Farolito.  We sat down and were handed a paper menu all in Spanish with no descriptions to even help decipher it.

El Farolito Menu Mexico City

We asked if the waitress spoke English and she didn't.  Out of all the foreign places we have been, Mexico City had the least amount of people around who spoke English.  The waitress did understand our plight and brought us a menu in English.

Farolada Pastor Description Mexico City

It helped...some.   They called it a farolada pastor, once it was placed in front of me, I called it a quesadilla, and then I called it delicious!  (Mom, I even ate the beans!!)

Farolada Pastor and Beans Mexico City

With lunch done we headed to our first museum.  Mexico City has over 100 museums!  We couldn't see them all if we tried!  So we settled for a few. Our first one was the Diego Rivera Mural Museum.  Diego Rivera (1886-1957) was a famous artist in Mexico.  He was married to Frida Kahlo (1906-1954) another famous artist in Mexico.  Diego was famous for his murals which are painted in many places in Mexico City, the US, and around the world.  

The one that we went to see at this museum is called Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park.  This huge (50 ft by 13 ft)  mural was originally painted at Hotel Del Prado which was across the street from where the mural now resides.  In the 1980's the hotel suffered irreparable damage from an earthquake so the mural was moved and a museum built to honor it.

Rivera Mural from Above Diego Rivera Museum Mexico City

There are other exhibits in this museum but this is the main reason for going.  Against the opposite wall there is information about the painting in both English and Spanish.  It tells about every person who is painted in the mural which depicts three main eras of Mexico's history.  I found it most interesting that Frida Kahlo is painted in the mural as well as a depiction of Diego Rivera as a child.  Diego is holding the hand of the skeleton called, "La Calavera Catrina", and Frida is behind him.

Young Diego and Frida with Skeleton Diego Rivera Museum Mexico City

One last thing to share about museum is a very comical one to me.  In the bathroom there is this sign:

Frida Wants You to Keep the Bathrooms Clean at Diego Rivera Museum Mexico City

Basically it says to help keep the bathroom clean by putting trash in the trashcan.  What made it funny to  me is the fact that Frida Kahlo, from the mural, is showing you what a good patron would do with their trash.  On the men's door they had a sign with a young Diego Rivera, so I am sure he helped the men out.

We left the museum and walked through part of Alameda Park towards our next destination.  I will tell you all about the Museum of Popular Art in my next post, but before we leave Alameda Park, let me share one last picture with you.

I thought this was a neat piece of art.  I don't know anything about it, except for the fact that I like it.  And really that is all this is needed at times.  Enjoy!

Hand Statue Alameda Park Mexico City

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Getting to Mexico City Was A Challenge

After batting around several possibilities for a summer trip we finally decided on Mexico City, Mexico.  It is a place that we kept saying we wanted to go but wasn't sure of the safety.  We did our research and decided it was as safe as anywhere else as long as we followed all the precautions that we normally do when we travel.

We got different reactions from people when they asked where we were going.  They ranged from, "Nice knowing you!" to " You'll love it!"   We reassured them all that we did our research, were not worried, and knew it was going to be great.

On Monday, June 9th, we headed to the airport in plenty of time for our 1:22 PM departure time.  We were thrilled that the flight was only two hours.  All of our other trips to foreign countries have been eight hours or more, so two hours, that was nothing!  

We were flying Aeromexico but had walked up to the Delta counter since Delta handles the check-ins for Aeromexico.  That is when we saw the dreaded word CANCELLED  next to our flight.  There had been a bad stretch of storms that day that were affecting many flights.  It was a chaotic day for the airlines at San Antonio!  One of those storms went through Mexico City and instead of a delay, Aeromexico simply cancelled the flight.  The person at the ticket counter then informed us that there wasn't an actual representative for Aeromexico at the airport and we would have to directly call them ourselves to figure out how we were going to get to our destination. 

Frankie called and the person with the hard to understand strong Spanish accent that he spoke to told him that there would be no problem changing our flight to one tomorrow.

TOMORROW!?!  NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mexico was a mere two hour flight away.....we were soooo close.  Dang it, we even made it to the airport on time this time!!

The mini fit of disappointment passed and we resigned ourselves to the fact that we would just be going to Mexico City tomorrow.  The Aeromexico representative asked us if we wanted to bump our return flight a day since we were leaving a day later, that way we would have the same amount of time in Mexico City. We agreed to that then suddenly, the representative told us that he had kept checking and that he could get us out today after all.  All we would need to do was go to the United Airline counter and get a confirmation number for a flight to Houston.  From Houston we would get back on Aeromexico to Monterrey and finally to Mexico City, but it would all happen today.

Happy dance!

We hustle over to United to find out that the reason Aeromexico couldn't get a confirmation number themselves was because the flight was full.

Ugh!

Instead of calling Aeromexico back and struggling to understand the representative we went over to the Delta counter.  The person we talked to eventually went and talk to someone else in a back room.  She came back and told us that someone was working on the situation.  In the meantime we just hung around the counter listening to other customers affected by the cancellation.  One poor lady from Mexico was stuck with no place to go but the airport and was not very happy about it.  I couldn't imagine being stuck in a foreign country with a flight cancelled, at least she could speak English.  My luck, we would be stuck in some country where they use symbols and I wouldn't even be able to sound out the words much less understand them!

After a long wait a person came out of the mysterious back room and told us that they were able to book us on a flight through American Airlines.  We would have to go to Dallas first and then from Dallas we would have a nonstop to Mexico City.  The best part, we would be leaving TODAY!

Happy dance two!

With eyes wide and repeatedly saying, "Today?  We are leaving today?", we grabbed the tickets and boogie walked to security.  

Safely on the "other side", if you have flown you know what I am talking about, we went to the gate to learn that now we would have a delay getting to Dallas because all the bad weather we had that morning in San Antonio had now moved up there.   That's ok, we were getting a plane TODAY to go to Mexico City.

That delay became a later delay and then a later delay with one more delay.

At 8:15 PM we got a plane heading north to Dallas.  Mexico (which is south) here we come we are just taking the scenic route!  I have proof that we were actually ON a plane.

Jennifer on plane after 7 hour delay


We were a little worried that we might miss our flight from Dallas to Mexico City because there was a small window of time to get from one gate to the other.  Once we arrived in Dallas we discovered that the plane to Mexico City was delayed.

Even further from Mexico than when we started that morning, we just grinned and said, "Well, at least we won't miss it!"

Things started to get blurry after that.  I know that I took two pictures from the time we got on the plane actually heading to Mexico City and the time we arrived in our hotel.

Picture 1:  If there is an emergency you will be pooped out of the back of the plane.

How Exit Back of Plane to Mexico City


Picture 2:  The customs in Mexico are going to open your luggage and look at your undergarments.

Customs at Airport Mexico City


I told you things were blurry...

I know that we FINALLY got to the hotel at about 3 AM Tuesday morning and I don't remember much else until noon on Tuesday.

There is so much to see and do in Mexico City.  There are over one hundred museums in the city along with many other sights and attractions.  We stayed about a week and only hit the highlights!  We could go back several times and never have to go to the same place twice!  

If we ever do go back, I will need to brush up more on my Spanish.  I thought I knew some Spanish, maybe enough to get across what I might need while visiting, but boy was I wrong!  I could ask a question in halting Spanish but the problem came when they would answer.  Those words would fly at me and just sit there as a jumble of letters and sounds with absolutely no meaning.  I learned how to say, "Please repeat slowly." and that helped some until it came to numbers.  A vendor or taxi cab driver would tell us the price and we would just look at them blankly.  After many repeats and/or it got written down we eventually would get it figured out.  Most of the people were so friendly and helpful, one lady even got up to find a pen to write the price down on her hand for us.

I will give more details in future posts about what we saw, where we went, and what we ate while in Mexico City.

So until then!