What a great day today. Where should I start? Moises and Sandra picked us at around 9 AM. We had previously had coffee downstairs in our hotel. The hotel”’ serves Mexican coffee. What is Mexican coffee? The coffee is black and made with cinnamon. It is put in a big clay pot and you use a ladle to scoop it out. I loved it and it got me going. Our room is small, but the bed is very soft and comfortable. It feels like you are going into a cocoon when you lay down.
We first stopped off for breakfast at Restaurant El Lago. The restaurant is located in one of the sections of the Park El Bosque de Chapultepec. This is a huge park that has a beautiful lake. The restaurant is right on the lake. We were told the park is larger than Central Park in NYC. Breakfast was amazing. I had a great avocado omelette. Avocados are grown here locally and very fresh.
After breakfast we boarded our private van and Moises’ driver dropped us off to start our walking tour of old Mexico City, at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Translated as the Beautiful Arts Palace. The palace was built at the end of the eighteen hundreds by the order of General Porfirio Diaz. The marble was brought over from Austria. He was the last dictator of Mexico. Moises told us he did some great improvements in the country such as underground sewer and water systems and lots of building.
We then continued our walking tour and visited the Palacio Postal or Postal Palace. This was a huge post office built in the eighteen hundreds that was magnificent. The metal staircases and ancient lights with the marble floors were so beautiful. Currently there is a holiday in Mexico that ends tomorrow. The holiday is named “The Three Kings Day”. The children get gifts from the Kings. Imagine giving more gifts just two weeks after Christmas. The old and magnificent post office was packed with a long line of children and parents waiting to drop their letters to the Kings to tell them what they wanted. The line extended far into the street. The old section of Mexico City was packed with people walking and enjoying themselves. We saw very few tourists and foreigners.
The architecture of downtown Mexico City is extraordinary. The buildings are in the old Spanish architecture of the colonial time. Many of the buildings had long balconies. The architecture reminded me of Madrid. How beautiful it is to see buildings like this still being used and preserved. Along our walk we stopped at the oldest pastry and candy store in Mexico City. It has been open since the eighteen fifties and is still being operated by the original family. The inside looked like the store belonged in the eighteen fifties and the pastries were not like any of those we enjoy today. We bought some samples and continued our walk.
We finally arrived at the main square of Mexico City. Mexico City is built over a big lake and is sinking over one inch per year. You can see some of the buildings are not straight and they have curves. There was a huge Cathedral at the side of the square. This Cathedral was supposed to be built in Puebla and the one in Puebla was supposed to be built in Mexico City. Puebla had been chosen to be the capital of Mexico but he architects and engineers got the building plans mixed up. Puebla was supposed to be the capital of Mexico, but instead Mexico City was given the honor. We are visiting Puebla next. We saw the original steps of the cathedral underground and how much the Cathedral had sunken down since it was built over two hundred years ago. The Cathedral has the largest organ in the latin American world and the music vibrated over this huge structure.
After we left the Cathedral, we walked into people who were watching local Aztec people doing traditional dancing on the street. They were wearing traditional dress of huge feather head dresses and not much clothing. People were lining up to be blessed by some other Aztecs with smoke and some king of large leaves. I hope my pictures do this justice.
It was then onto the National Palace. The National Palace is a three story structure with balconies around a rectangle building on the inside. The inside has a large water fountain in the middle. We walked up to the middle floor and half way up, there was a large mural painted by Diego Rivera covering three walls heading up the staircase. Diego Rivera is one of the most famous Mexican artists of all time. This mural depicted the history of Mexico. I called it the Cistine Ceiling of Mexico. The middle floor had more Rivera murals of Colonial and Aztec life. He spent from 1927 to 1958 painting it. It was a deal he made with the Mexican government to repay his tax debt rather than go to jail for tax evasion.We also visited the first meeting hall where the first Mexican Constitution was signed two hundred years ago.
We further walked to some recent ruins of a pyramid base that was found under a parking lot. How amazing it was to see these ruins in the middle of old Mexico City.
Our driver then picked us up for a long drive to the floating gardens known as “Canales de Xochimilco”. My feet were so tired that I fell asleep and was woken up as we were arriving. I can never describe the floating gardens but everyone must add this to their list of must see places. It is a designated Unesco world heritage site.You board hand made boats that are brightly colored. The boats have a long table in the middle with chairs around the table. A man with a long stick then pushes the boat through the canals. The canals were built by the Aztecs. Before you board your boat or Trajinera, you buy food and drinks from local vendors to take on the boat to eat. Moises took us to two stalls that were selling fresh pork and goat meat. Of course, the vendors gave you samples to eat. No rubber gloves were used and Olivia was hesitant to partake, but finally did. I ate Cow Brain Quesadillas and found them to be very tasty. We bought meats that were purchased by weight and all sorts of corn breads and fillings to make tortillas.
We then witnessed a traditional Aztec event that was truly amazing. Four men, dressed up in Aztec costumes, climbed up a long pole and attached themselves to ropes. They then fell over and started to spin around as they got lower to the ground and finally landed on the ground. They were wearing no harnesses but just a rope looped around one foot. One of them was beating a drum and playing a flute as they spun around. That is the best way I can describe this amazing demonstration.
We then boarded our Trajinera. Olivia and Sandra put out all the food. We made our own tortillas. Some of the best meat I have ever had. I can never describe the log jam of Trajinera’s on the canal. Some of them had bands on them and they sang and played songs. Other small boats were also around selling corn and a local drink named “pinque”. Lots of people were on the Trajinera’s drinking and having a great time. What a scene that should not be missed by anyone.
I can write so much more about today and I am sure I have left out some others. My pictures will have to tell the story.