Mixed Mexico

Sunday was to be our day for seeing some of the city-centre sites, and we started with a delicious breakfast at another neighbourhood gem, Forever Vegano – I didn’t take any photos of the food but the building was just as lovely, and quite typical of the architecture in that part of the city.

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Suitably fortified, the first stop on the itinerary was the Palacio de Bellas Artes to purchase tickets to that night’s performance of the Ballet Folklórico.

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That done, we strolled past some other grand and beautiful buildings, including the Palacio Postal:

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the Casa de los Azulejos:

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and the Catedral Metropolitana:

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before finding ourselves at the Templo Mayor.  This fascinating site was built in seven phases between the early 1300s and 1500s, with successive rulers apparently each adding a layer to the structure left by their predecessor.

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The conquistadors substantially destroyed the temple and then built over the top of its remains, and it was rediscovered thanks to a find by electrical workers in the late 1970s. We were surprised by how extensive and fascinating it was, and by the excellent museum on site as well.

We could have spent much longer looking around it all, but the schedule was calling – our plan was to find something to eat and then head out to the anthropology museum, which was one of the few fixed goals of the weekend. Sadly, that was the point at which it all started to go wrong… For lunch we ended up in a tapas bar by mistake, which would have been perfectly nice for drinks but unfortunately the food was mediocre, and then Tom got his wallet stolen on the subway. He was carrying our train tickets, all the remaining cash (around $30US) and his ATM card, but luckily I remembered a nearby Starbucks where we were able to access the free wifi, block the card online, and order an Uber back to the hotel. Thankfully I was looking after our ballet tickets, and had persuaded T to leave his US dollars and credit card in our room safe.

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Once we’d regrouped, withdrawn a little more cash with my card, and called the bank to explain the situation, we hopped in another Uber to finally go to the museum. (I wish we’d thought about Ubers earlier in the trip actually – they were safe, efficient and super-cheap – although we hadn’t prearranged a mobile data plan so could only call them where wifi was available. This will become relevant later…) According to various guidebooks, not to mention the museum’s own website, it was due to stay open until 7pm that night, but we arrived at 5pm to find it had just closed.

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So we consoled ourselves with a walk around the Bosque de Chapultepec, one of the nicer city-centre parks I’ve seen, and a stroll back to the hotel. It was actually very pleasant to be outside – warm and sunny, with a nice breeze – so at least that was something. A little later on, changed and ready for the ballet, we selected a bar for a pre-performance cocktail, called up another taxi, and arrived to find the bar was shut… At that point I was completely ready to give up on the day, but we persevered, and eventually tracked down some drinks in the theatre bar.

The building was quite spectacular, with Diego Riviera murals in the foyer and a Tiffany glass curtain on stage.

And thankfully the ballet was excellent too – a series of different dances inspired by various moments in Mexican history and folklore, with some earlier tribal-style pieces as well as ones which were clearly influenced by European styles. It was beautiful and interesting to watch, and we enjoyed it very much indeed.

Sadly the return to the hotel was another source of stress. Lacking mobile data we couldn’t call another Uber, we had read everywhere that the city taxi service is apparently not safe for foreigners, and we couldn’t find a licensed taxi rank. Eventually we got the receptionist at a central hotel to call us a taxi, which was clearly the sensible option, so at least we got back safe and sound.

Our final morning took us back to the gluten free goodness at La Otilia for a hearty breakfast, and from thence to the airport and our flight home. Even after the drama of the previous afternoon (and truly I don’t remember ever having such a mishap-filled trip, let alone day!) we decided that Mexico city is very much on the will-visit-again list. It really is the perfect long weekend destination – a charming, chaotic and colourful city – and I look forward to returning some day.

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(As usual, just in case you haven’t seen enough photos yet, you can find my album from the trip over on Flickr.)

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