Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dos Cervezas Por Favor

I believe this post on our first full day in Mexico City is going to be more of a photo essay than commentary - especially since there are no wines to add to The List this time around. Boo and simply set off on foot to experience the city and take in a museum or two since Mexican Lou told us that his home was quite close to many of the major sights.

We initially made our way up to Paseo de la Reforma - a wide avenue, modelled after the great avenues of Europe, that cuts diagonally across the capital. It is the home to many of the city's most notable monuments - including the Angel of Independence and Monument to the Revolution. It is also lined with jacaranda after jacaranda tree. We were thrilled to find that the trees were still in the final stages of full bloom as the brilliant purple flowers are among our favourites to see but the trees aren't able to grow at home in Vancouver. Buenos Aries is awash in jacaranda as well but we'd missed their flowering season by a couple of weeks when we visited a few years back. Jacaranda in bloom could be a destination all on their own - much like visiting Washington D.C. during cherry blossom season.

Reforma leads straight into Chapultepec Park - one of the world's great urban parks - and Lou recommended it as his favourite place for a jog. Neither Boo nor I was game for the running part but the fact that many of the city's top museums are located in the park was a definite draw.

Although it hadn't been on our radar at all, Lou heartily suggested that we climb to the top of Chapultepec hill in the park to take in the panoramic view of the city. A bit of a hike, I heard Boo grumbling "God must hate me" on more than a couple of occasions. Mind you, that statement has pretty much become de rigeur for him if he encounters more than a dozen stairs. So, I'd have been surprised if he hadn't exclaimed his issues with the climb.

Little did we realize that the city view came with castle and museum. Chapultepec Castle was built in 18th Century as a summer retreat for ruling Spanish viceroys. It later became the residence of for Mexican heads of state, including Emperor Maximilian, following the country's independence. The castle is now part of the Museum of History and the hill climb even seemed worth it to Boo after we'd toured around a bit.

I think we could easily have said that we'd put in a full day already but our real goal was to make it to the Museum of Anthropology - considered one of the greatest archeological museums in the world. Its 25 exhibit halls are devoted to major pre-Hispanic civilizations in Mexico, including Aztec, Maya, and Toltec and is awe-inspiring. We barely scratched the surface of the offerings available. Not that it's a fact that needs to be pointed out but, if you didn't already know, the Museum makes it abundantly clear that the past civilizations of these lands were advanced and interesting beyond the imagination. I completely understand why guide books say that you really need to allow two to three days to do the museum justice.

Our feet were passing their own judgment on the day, however, and we decided to take a brief wander through one of the very fashionable neighbourhoods and make our way back to Lou's. We hadn't counted on getting lost on the way home though. I made a miscalculation on a route and sadly learned that guide books don't always warn you about not being able to get across freeways and that you can't always get there from here.

It didn't help that none of the streets in Lou's neighbourhood are on a straight grid either - they all curve here and there. Makes for a marvellous feel to the area but it was a nightmare for these tourists - especially as it was getting dark and we couldn't really understand any of the directions we were being given by any of the locals nice enough to try and help us.

We readily agreed that our circumstances - and lack of ability to simply find our way home - didn't bode well for our ever winning The Amazing Race. We were only dealing in Spanish - and Boo can speak basic Spanish. Imagine our having to cope in Chinese or Arabic.

It should come as no surprise that we both needed a drink as soon as we finally made it home. That drink was a martini, however, and I was too spent to even think about a photo since it was never making it to the wine blog anyhow.

When Mexican Lou got home, we commiserated over our sore feet and celebrated the excitement that is Mexico City. It was then on to tacos and cervezas - Negra Modela and Montejo to be exact. We asked Lou to take us to a tasty, simple, authentic taco joint in the hood. He came through in spades. We just kept letting him order, saying that someone needs to come to Vancouver and open a restaurant like this in Vancouver.

If only we'd fit some wine into the day - other than our whining about sore feet and getting lost.

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