November 19 – 22
We left the Museo and found ourselves a place to sit and view the procession now coming down Ave. de la Reforma. Much to Joanna’s delight, we’d hit that portion of the parade featuring legions of horses, the riders all decked out in costumes saluting their region, or the occupation they might be engaged in.
We hung out for a time and then walked through the park, crowded that day because of the national holiday and eventually landed at Chapultepec Castle, built in 1785 as a summer house for the viceroy. It has served various purposes, including as the official residence of Emperor Maximilian I and his consort Empress Carlota during the Second Mexican Empire (1864-1867). In 1882, President Manuel González declared it the official residence of the President. With few exceptions, all succeeding presidents lived there until 1939, when President Lázaro Cárdenas turned it into a museum.
It had been a long day and combined with an modest admission fee, but just enough to dissuade us, we decided to visit it on another day when we had more energy. Leaving the park we passed by the Monumento a los Niños Héroes, which honors six teenage cadets who died defending Chapultepec Castle from invading U.S. forces in the September 1847 Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican–American War. According to legend, in an act of bravery, Juan Escutia wrapped the Mexican flag around his body and jumped from the top of the castle in order to keep it from falling into the hands of the Americans.
As is often the case, the walk back seemed shorter than our passage in the morning and not far from the hotel, we stopped in at the local Circle K for some cold beers, which helped us recover in our room.
Later, dinner on our mind, we walked a few blocks away on Rio Lerma to La Chimampa, a taco house we’d spotted the day before. It’s a fairly modern looking establishment, one of dozens of shops like it in the neighborhood.
We ordered a couple beers to start and guacamole, which came quickly and nicely presented in a stone serving dish with large crispy tortilla chips. Sitting outside on a pleasantly warm day, the combo of liquid goodness and delicious dip made the day almost perfect. Joanna ordered their version of a Chicken Tortilla Soup while I got two soft tacos, one chicken and one beef.
This is not fancy food but quite satisfying; the tacos accompanied by a plate of sauces and condiments, the soup rich in flavor and full of meat, maybe more than was needed for it to be well rounded. After a long day of walking it was just the right amount of food for the two of us and as we would continue to discover in Mexico, at 325 pesos ($12), as affordable a meal as one could hope for.
The next day would be another full one as it would start with our first foray into the city’s Metro System, the second largest in North America after the New York City Subway. In 2016, it served 1.662 billion passengers, placing it as the ninth highest ridership in the world. Its inaugural line was 7.9 miles long, serving 16 stations, and opened to the public in 1969. The system has expanded since then and now 12 lines, serving 195 stations, and 141 miles of routes.
Ten of the lines are rubber-tired; instead of traditional steel wheels, they use pneumatic traction, which are quieter and cope better with Mexico City’s unstable soils; importantly, the system survived the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. With frequent service, a broad network, and best of all, incredibly low fares of 5 pesos (20-cents) per ride, yes, 20 cents per ride, we’d use the heck of the metro during our stay.
As it would be a long day of sightseeing and we wanted to try someplace different for breakfast, we started off for the metro station at Glorieta Insurgentes for Line One, a walk of less than fifteen minutes. This would become our regular metro stop and we’d become quite familiar with all of the businesses along the way. It’s a lively area with loads of bars and restaurants and after looking at a number of menus, we stopped in at Aventura as it looked promising and best of all, was open for business.
We were seated inside, and as our waiter approached us, he ascertained we were Americans (our we that obvious?) conversed with us in inflection free English throughout the meal, suggesting possibilities and making the experience quite pleasurable. Joanna ordered the Tostada de Aguacate, fried eggs with beans on two corn tortillas along with a cup of hot chocolate while I went for the Chilaquiles with chicken and green sauce that included as much coffee as I could drink.
The portions were sizable and tasty, although I ran out of enthusiasm for mine the more I ate, no fault of the restaurant, more my appreciation for the preparation. Joanna thoroughly enjoyed her meal though and we settled our tab, again a reasonable 233 pesos including tip ($12). We left to walk the final few blocks to the metro, impressed with the food and service, so much so that we would return a couple more times in the following weeks.
We found the entrance to the metro, stood in line to purchase our tickets, and then found our platform, making sure we were headed in the right direction. It would take a couple of rides for us to figure out the signage, which is name and symbol based; our station, Insurgentes is assigned a bell, which depicts the church bell of Dolores Hidalgo, a symbol of the start of the Mexican War of Independence (1810) and the eleven-year-long insurgency that followed.
Our initial destination that day was the bus terminal so we could buy our tickets for Oaxaca, followed by the Palacio del Belles Artes, the prominent cultural center in Mexico City. It has hosted some of the most notable events in music, dance, theatre, opera and literature and is perhaps best known as the home of murals by Diego Rivera, Siqueiros and others. It would be a full day and full of good food, we were ready for the adventure.
Mexico City Metro: https://mexicometro.org/
Monumento a los Niños Héroes: https://www.expedia.com/Monumento-A-Los-Ninos-Heroes-Mexico-City.d6074212.Vacation-Attraction
La Chimampa https://www.yelp.com/biz/la-chinampa-m%C3%A9xico