Friday, March 15, 2013

A city of contrasts – Mexico City

Monument to Independence
How can a person really get to know a city of 22 million inhabitants within a three-day span?  It can’t be done.  Historically Mexico City has always had a wealthy elite population, and a large, extremely poor population.  More recently a middle class is emerging, affluent enough to shop in the many designer-label stores and drive upscale cars or fancy Harley Davidson motorcycles.  It is a diverse and fascinating city.

Fuente de Tlaloc - with ADO Turibuses
Before our visit to Mexico City I checked the internet for itinerary ideas for a three-day stay.  One website listed a minimum of twelve attractions with a recommended tour time of between two and three hours each.  In three days?  Never going to happen!  That plan didn’t take into account shopping, eating, and people-watching, all very necessary activities when Lawrie and I travel.  We did print the list of locations to give us a starting point for investigating the metropolis.

Monument to the Revolution
We decided that once we had checked into our hotel we would ride one of the ADO Turibus vehicles and do a quick overview of the city’s centre.  The cost was $165.00 pesos per person, or $85.00 pesos with our handy-dandy Mexican resident cards.  The tour buses continually circulate past twenty-five interesting locations.  They operate from nine in the morning until nine at night allowing passengers to frequently hop on and off.  

There are two easy rules for using the Turibus system: Rule #1 don’t stand up on the open-air level as countless low hanging electrical wires will try to decapitate you.  Rule #2 at nine in the evening the buses stop operating, no matter where they are in the circular route, and the passengers must disembark.  Get off.  Shoo!  Go away.  

As it turned out we enjoyed this method of getting around so much we used the Turibuses two days out of the three, returning to our hotel just before the witching hour of nine at night. One of our first stops included the newly completed Soumaya Museum featuring the largest private collection of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin’s work.  

Soumaya Museum 
Owned by the Carlos Slim Foundation the museum is named after his recently deceased wife – Soumaya.  

Costing more than seventy million dollars to complete in 2011 it is a stunningly beautiful cloud-shaped structure.  Or perhaps it resembles a shiny pliable cube, twisted in the middle.  Either way it’s a gorgeous building housing an impressive collection.

Olmec colossal head

The following day we walked a short distance from our hotel to the Museum of Anthropology located in the massive Chapultepec Park.  Built in 1964, the museum houses hundreds of thousands of items depicting the many indigenous cultures that make up the complex fabric of Mexico.  

My favourite exhibit was the Olmec colossal heads - dug up in the Veracruz area of Mexico.  The heads date from 1500 to 400 BC. (Or BCE if you prefer). They weigh between six and fifty tons, and stand between five and eleven feet tall.  Impressive!  

I must confess.  I enjoy museums – a lot.  But, after two hours my brain hurt from visual overload.  We exited the museum and headed to the Turibus stop just a few feet away.

Lunch at Monte's Bistro in Condessa colonia
Our next stop put us into the stylish Condessa colonia with dozens of interesting stores and gourmet restaurants, just in time for a late lunch.  We disembarked to share a leisurely meal and a tasty bottle of wine at Monte’s near the Fuente de la Cibeles.  

Another beautiful fountain, in a city with thousands of fountains, this one is the exact replica of the original located in Madrid Spain.  Surrounding the park were numerous Jacaranda trees, at the peak of their blooming season as purple trumpet-shaped flowers clotted their winter-nude branches.  A few stray blossoms had begun to fall, drifting towards death.

Fountain of Cibeles
At a third stop, in the historic centre of the city, we prowled past the imposing Metropolitan Cathedral, the Museum of the Great Temple and the Palacio de Bellas Artes.  

The variety of architecture in the city is amazing – showcasing styles from the 16th century Spanish colonial National Palace, to the ultra-modern Soumaya Museum.  

Time Out !!
After a few hours of gawking and taking photographs we had to take a time-out.  We sat in a café with a cold beverage, letting the humanity stream past us in a never-ending river of colour, sounds, and body shapes. 

People-watching is one of our favourite pastimes.  In Mexico City the residents wear a wide range of conservative business attire.  A few wear casual western jeans, checkered shirts and polished leather boots, and others are dressed in colourful traditional clothing from the various segments of the country.  

The range of jazzy footwear for the women made me jealous; stiletto heels trimmed with babbles, glitter or fur, in a rainbow of colours versus my serviceable sandals.  

Shoe envy!
And then it was time to leave.  Three days seemed long enough when we planned this getaway.  

But it sped past quickly, and we were left with the certainty that we had missed many interesting sights in this huge and culturally diverse city. 

Young photographer taking picture of her parents

Another time.  Another adventure.

Hasta Luego          
Lynda and Lawrie


Life's a Beach! said...

Sounds like a wonderful city escape from Isla life. I'd love to visit some day!

Lynda & Lawrie said...

We really enjoyed Mexico City - but, Becky, there are no beaches and I know how much you enjoy our beach time. LOL Cheers Lynda