December 1 – 4
We departed at our the Insurgentes Metro station and as we walked back up the pedestrian mall, felt inexplicitly drawn into a bustling Churro shop. As in Puebla and quite a few times in Spain, one gets a portion of chocolate to dip the little bundles of fried goodness into. Add a cup of coffee and life couldn’t get much better.
Back at the hotel we began to straighten up for the journey home but without much urgency as we had an late afternoon flight the next day. For our last dinner in Mexico we’d made plans to visit La Naval, the wine bar and market we’d purchased food from earlier in the trip. A stop the day before for a meal was disappointing as we’d misjudged the hours of service and arrived after they’d stopped serving food. So, this time around we materialized at the correct time.
Seated outside on a pleasantly warm evening (its early December and still very nice outside) we started off with a glass of white for me and Cava for Joanna and ordered our first dish, the Ceviche de Pescado, a delightful mixture of fish, calamari, shrimp, avocado, and bits of melon in a light sauce that let the brilliance of the ingredients speak for themselves.
Add another glass of white for me to accompany our next two plates, the Patatas Bravas and Croquetas de Jamon. Nothing about these dishes was exotic and yet their execution was all one could ask for, the potatoes bathed in a tomato sauce with just enough heat to tingle your mouth without searing its top off.
We paid our tab of 700 Pesos ($36) including the tip, yet one more delicious meal of drinks and food for under $40. We ventured inside to pick up a bottle of wine for the room and some small bottles for Loren in Charlotte, who would we see in a few weeks, and made our way back the hotel. We’d chosen a bottle of Sangre de Toro, a wine from the Catalunya region of Spain that we became familiar with when we hiked on the Camino de Santiago in 2017.
Back in the room we settled in and arose the next morning to again forgo the hotel breakfast for the short walk down to La Raclette for another satisfying tall latte, yoghurt and tasty pastry. As we had an afternoon flight with limited food options, we decided to linger in the morning in our room and then around noon walk down to Aventura for lunch.
We were seated outside and ordered a drink apiece, the Mezcal Pepino for Joanna and the Centenario Reposado for me. One constant we encountered during our stay in Mexico was how good and strong the cocktails are, and these were no exception, Joanna’s mezcal enhanced by the cucumbers, mine a delicious mezcal margarita.
Joanna ordered the Chicken Enchiladas Verdes, a large portion swimming it a tangy green chili sauce accompanied by a mound of refried beans and thick tortilla chips.
Along with helping her a bit, I tried out the Molletes, little pieces of toasted bread with a mild melted cheese on top accompanied by fresh pico de gallo.
It was a great finish to our time and after settling our bill, 347 Pesos ($18) including tip we started back to the hotel, but got distracted by La Cupcakeria, you guessed it a storefront devoted to cupcakes, and after some anguished decision making, settled on one that made all of the indecision worthwhile. We then returned to the hotel where after attending to some last-minute preparations, carted our luggage to the front patio, and I went in the office to check out and call for a taxi.
The tab for our three-night stay, a breakfast for two and three beers came to 4,566 Pesos ($235), roughly $75 a day for a nice room in a major city. I’m sure we will return to Mexico in the future and likely use Mexico City as our gateway. I can think of no better place to stay than Casa Gonzalez, particularly as they mentioned, as other places have, that we should book directly with them instead of going through the web (Booking.Com, Expedia, etc.) as the rate would be less.
Our taxi arrived and we made it to the airport without a hitch, checked in and made our way to the Duty-Free store to do some Mezcal shopping. A friendly salesperson took us from display to display giving us samples from a number of brands. We were looking for something to remind us of the stuff from the plastic bottle at Azucenas and honestly, nothing came really close. After quite a few samples, our heads beginning to spin, we settled on two bottles from different houses and walked, somewhat unsteadily, to our gate.
As I sit here writing this, six months after that experience, thinking back to the excitement and satisfaction we felt from a very good trip coming on top of the one before, our Egypt venture. Who could guess that for less than a couple of weeks of travel in January, we’d end up looking out of our windows from home?
Mexico’s charms will be remembered though, and we will return there soon, the lure of good food, reasonable prices, interesting sites, and friendly people too strong to ignore. Our average cost per day for this trip was $154, a bargain by any standards for two weeks of hotels, eating out every meal, transportation and sightseeing costs included.
For the time being we’ll look forward to someday crawling out from underneath our rock and encountering the world again. Until then, please stay safe and keep your loved ones close.
La Naval: https://www.lanaval.com.mx/
Sangre de Toro: https://www.sangredetoro.com/node/15
La Raclette: https://www.laraclette.com.mx/
Hotel Casa Gonzalez: https://hotelcasagonzalez.com/
La Cupcakeria: https://www.facebook.com/lacupcakeria.mx/?rf=943049839090184