Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Running off to Mexico City


Last week, work presented an opportunity to see a city that I never really thought of for vacation but am certainly glad I was able to visit.  While the trip had a few rough patches in the beginning and looked like it could be a week stuck in the hotel, it turned out to be a fair and balanced excursion. 

Ironically, the prior weekend Dorothy and I attended a wedding where the groom was originally from Mexico City.  After getting a slew of tips and recommendations from him, I left for a four day, three night trip to Mexico City on Monday morning and was there by the early afternoon (one hour behind US EST).  Upon arrival, I was scheduled to have a driver pick up arranged by the hotel.  We had to have missed one another multiple times walking back and forth a 50 foot hallway.  After having the “Informacion” desk call the hotel for me, we managed to finally run into each other in the terminal. 

For the record, my Spanish is essentially non-existent.  After multiple years in high school and a semester in college (ha), I really don’t remember too much of it at all.  I can pick up words here and there when someone is speaking it, but in terms of speaking it myself; no chance. 

The Intercontinental Hotel is/was quite impressive.  Located in the Polanco section of Mexico City, you find yourself within walking distance of the park, the Anthropology Museum, and the President’s Castle.  I’ve simply listed these items because those are what we went to see during our time in the city; you can imagine / be sure there is plenty more. 

The vast majority of Monday was spent holed up in the hotel room until I met a co-worker for dinner at the restaurant in the hotel – Alfredo Di Roma.  I wound up going with some type of “Hunters Chicken” and that was delicious.  With dinner, that basically concluded our first day in Mexico City as it was back to the room for preparations. 

On Tuesday, and every other morning of the week, we had breakfast in another hotel restaurant – Frutas y Flores.  They had a little bit of everything across cultures and made it very easy to enjoy a quick, but filling breakfast (including an omelette station). 

After our meetings, we decided that we had enough time to check out the Anthropology Museum and walked over to take a look.  I am not a museum person at all, but there are a lot of interesting artifacts and paintings throughout the exhibits.  My friend from the prior weekend’s wedding suggested we focus on the Mayan and Aztec exhibits.  Sadly, our Spanish is/was so terrible that we could only find the Mayan exhibit and wound up taking pictures in the Oaxaca exhibit.  There may or may not have been a convincing argument that the letter Z doesn’t exist in Spanish and this “could have been” the Aztec exhibit made by yours truly.  Since returning home I’ve come to realize that I took a picture of the outside of the museum where the Aztec exhibit was located.  Naturally.  One final note on the museum complex – they have a beautiful “waterfall”-esque structure built in the middle called “El Paraguas” – which is a huge concrete umbrella that sprays water down on the walkway.  (Picture below)

We left the museum to walk down “Presidente Masaryk” which is one of the main streets in the Polanco section of Mexico City.  This is where you will find a number of restaurants and shops.  You’ll see local cuisine and just about anything else imaginable, including a “Melting Pot” and NY City Pizza Shop.  After a short walk we found (see: walked into) our restaurant – Dulce Patria.  The food here was fantastic, but the presentation was even better.  The appetizer that I particularly enjoyed was the “esquites”.  “We” are going to try that make that here at home.  Both the dinner and desserts were good as well, but the esquites won me over. 

After our final day of meetings, we walked through more of the park, took a wrong turn, and eventually landed at the “Castillo de Chapultepec” – or the President’s Castle.  Unfortunately, we really didn’t have time to go into the castles, as our driver was picking us up shortly back at the hotel to take us downtown.  So, in the pictures below, you’ll only find what the outside of the castle looks like.  Sorry!

Our driver picked us up and drove us to downtown Mexico City slowing down at some of the more important highlights along the way – El Angel de la Independencia and the Palace of Fine Arts, while also pointing out the US Embassy.  Once we got to the square downtown, it felt like I landed in Europe.  That’s a compliment by the way.  The Parliament building was beautiful, as were the surrounding cathedrals and museums. 

We made our way through the Parliament building and the exhibits within it.  The murals on the walls are amazing.  Before heading over and into the cathedral in the square, we took a quick look at the ruins that are positioned between the two buildings.  The cathedral itself is very impressive and you can see how the building has moved from the 1985 earthquake that shook the city.  (Read that Wiki page, absolutely ridiculous amount of damage.)

Our final dinner of the trip was downtown at Azul Historico.  This restaurant is an outdoor patio in the middle of a number of small, local shops.  There is a retractable roof for inclement weather, so no worries there.  This was a fitting end to our trip and my digestive system as I was able to order the plainest item on the menu – a piece of fish and white rice.  Yes, please!  I completely messed up the tip and put it in American dollars (or just recalculated it completely wrong in my head, you decide) and had to go back in and ask them if I could fix that.  I’m sure they thought I was trying to pull a fast one or was some slime-ball American. 

On our way to the airport the next morning, our driver was kind enough to stop by the “Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe” – an enormous complex of churches and national treasure to Roman Catholics.  People trek from all over to see this town, particularly on 12/12 of each year.  There are old and new churches and they each have their own style and d├ęcor to them. 

So that was my trip to Mexico City.  I obviously missed a lot, but do feel like I got to see a good amount of the history and culture of the city.  I would love to go back to see more in the future!  Any recommendations?  

Pictures:

Viva Mexico!

Anthropology Museum:

Mayan exhibit:

El Paraguas:


President's Castle:

El Angel de la Independencia:

Palace of Fine Arts:

Cathedral in the main square:

Parliament building:

Murals within the Parliament:

La Basilica:

La Basilica:

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