November 19 – 22
We arrived home from Egypt the afternoon of the 17th and spent the rest of that day and the next doing laundry, opening mail, and taking care of the few things we could do in that short time frame. The next thing we knew, we were on our way to LAX for our flight to Mexico City, this one a bit shorter than the one two days earlier.
Landing in Mexico City for our four night stay we smoothly made our way through passport control and after picking up our luggage, had our first pleasant experience of the trip and one that would be repeated throughout, that is engaging with a taxi. As we would travel by bus between the cities (Oaxaca and Puebla) of our visit, we’d find that often at these terminals, as at the airport, you’d go to a taxi booth, describe your destination, be charged your fare based on the zone you’d be traveling to and then give a card to hand to your driver. Next stop, your destination.
Thus, for 384 Pesos ($20) we rode from the airport into town in a Chevrolet Suburban with an engaging driver who gave us lots of tips and information. We would stay twice at Hotel Casa Gonzalez (on our way in and way out of town) in the Zona Rosa, a neighborhood known for its shopping, nightlife, gay community, and recently established Korean community and is located just west of the historic center of Mexico City.
We discovered the property by our usual method, that is perusing recommendations from our Lonely Planet Guidebook and then comparing them against those in Trip Advisor. So far, we haven’t been disappointed with our choices. This is a lovely place, consisting of four older homes built in the traditional Mexican quinta (authentic colonial) style, surrounded by courtyards and gardens.
The two original homes were built by the current owners’ grandfather in the mid 1920s. One of the houses belonged to a famous Mexican movie star, Lupe Velez. The latest addition was built in the early 1940s by architect Roberto Buenrostro, as his private residence. The guest house started operating in the early ’30s by the grandmother and great grandmother of the current owners.
Compared to our later stops in Oaxaca and Puebla, Casa Gonzalez would be more expensive at about $90 a night, but we’d booked a much larger suite (two rooms with beds) than necessary and would spend less on our return visit by getting a smaller room. And given its great location, friendly and helpful s staff, nicely appointed rooms, and desirable patios and courtyards, less than $100 a night sounds like a good enough deal.
We got a couple of beers from the office and settled in, then ventured out to see what the neighborhood looked like. We would end up eating a number of meals at three restaurants within a block or two of the hotel on Calle Rio Lerma and frequent a Circle K as well where we could buy beer for as little as 50-cents a bottle.
The number of restaurants at first seemed overwhelming and still somewhat full of the meal we’d had on the plane, we opted to pick up a pork cutlet torta from a cart nearby, one of many that populated the area. This leads to my first observation about our time in Mexico City, that is given the number of carts, stands, and other mobile conveyers of food along with established restaurants, It would appear that few people there ever cook.
Our torta for 50-Pesos ($2.73), featuring a juicy pork cutlet, dressing, lettuce and tomato, was huge and still warm when we unwrapped it in our room, a delicious but messy meal that proved entirely satisfactory. Feeling drowsy and complacent after a long day of travel, we crashed early, ready to hit the streets the next day and fully start our adventure.
The hotel offers a very reasonably priced breakfast which we would take advantage of numerous times.
That first morning I’d enjoy a vegetarian omelet which was accompanied by rolls, juice, coffee, and a plate of ripe fruit while Joanna enjoyed the Divorced Eggs, two fried eggs on a corn tortillas with red and green sauce (along with some nice refried black beans, each for 125 pesos ($6.50). Also offered was a continental breakfast for much less, but we generally ate the larger offering to get us through the morning.
We set out that first day to visit the city’s large and famous Museo Nacional Anthropolgia, situated less than two miles from the hotel. We started out walking two blocks down to Ave. Paseo de la Reforma, a major thoroughfare that for that day was lined with police, the roundabout at the Angel of Independence statue festooned with scaffolding and bunting. We would later come to find out that it was Revolution Day and festivities were planned to celebrate the 10-year revolution that began in 1910 to end the struggle against dictator José de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mori.
We walked up the boulevard, taking in the scene, still wondering what it was all about when we ran into an Apple Reseller, where we stopped in to see if we could get some assistance for Joanna, who was having trouble getting her iPhone 7 to connect consistently to a cell phone carrier. While trying to explain the problem I discovered the solution (isn’t that the way it often works out?), one of her settings was off and flushed with success, I bought a replacement case for my phone, a nice leather one at a sale price.
Our first day in Mexico had gone well, a smooth flight, easy transfer to a nice hotel, filling food and a good night’s sleep. We were ready to see what the place was all about and given our recent time in Egypt, compare the two countries. One difference readily apparent was how much cleaner Mexico City was compared to Cairo. We’ll explore those differences and similarities as we move through the next posts.
Hotel Casa Gonzalez: https://hotelcasagonzalez.com/
Museo Nacional Anthropolgia: https://www.mna.inah.gob.mx/