Mexico, Part One

Bienvenido, loyal reader. Please join Bruce and Mary as they explore the capital of Mexico, commonly called simply Mexico by locals or Ciudad de Mexico or D.F. (Day Effe) for Distrito Federal. Do I look like I’ve been up since 5? We’re flying VivaAerobus for the first time as they had the cheapest tix (that we could find) from our home, Puerto Vallarta, to DF at only $112 USD per round trip. But there are no frills. They are about to weigh our carry-ons, we are barely under the 10 kg weight limit.

We have passed through security and I am enjoying a 140P Bloody Mary. What the heck, we’re on vacation! In this lounge we are surrounded by spring breakers from Detroit. Our server, an older guy, shares with us that these situations are a nightmare for him, big tables all asking for individual checks. So, naturally, when we get our check, I say, “Las cuentas separadas, porfa.” He threatens to strangle me and then offers me a job.

Our flight took off an hour late but made up a half hour in flight so we find ourselves at this taxi station, inside the airport, a little after 11. This is where we purchase our ticket for a taxi ride to Hotel Cartagena. Mary had researched and found that this taxi outfit is highly regarded.

We’re a little early for check-in so after stowing our luggage we visit the hotel restaurant for beers and…

Grub, this is Mary’s sopa de cebolla, all yours Mary: Look at all those onions! This onion soup is slightly different than the classic beef broth base, and I approve. Very tasty, and the onions are covering up a piece of bread covered in cheese, I find this bread and have at it. Wonderful.

This is my tuna stuffed avocado. It is amazing how filling this appetizer is.

While we are eating we’re told that our room is ready. Let’s check it out.

This is a pretty nice room, it’s big with a king size bed and the cost is only 600P about 30 bucks/night at current exchange rates.

After settling in we go for a walk and try to get our bearings. When Mary had booked this place, Google gave her the impression that Centro Historico was walk-able from here. I don’t think so. We end up taking a taxi to Centro and it is about a half hour ride, for 100P. We are fortunate in that our taxista is a well read man and we get a heck of a tour in the process.

We arrive at the Zocalo, the main park, and as it is beer thirty we allow ourselves to be hawked up to this third floor bar/restaurant. At 35P/beer the prices are a little higher than we are used to.

This is our view of Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de Mexico from La Terraza.

On the horizon is the PalacioNacional. To the right is the northern edge of Plaza de la Constitucion, second only to Red Square as the largest square in the world. This weekend there is a “buy local” fair, featuring arts, craft and of course food.

At this point, late in the afternoon, on a day that started at 5am, we decide that this is where we need to stay. So the search is on for a hotel, here in centro. We check a lot of hotels and in the process we find that a 400P hotel is pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Finally we find El Principal, an older but well maintained property. With an upgrade to a king size bed the cost is 800P. Sounds good but Mary wants to check one more hotel that intrigued her, online. We do find it and like many hotels, as this is the weekend, it is booked. So back to El Principal but wouldn’t you know, I got turned around. How that can happen walking a grid, I cannot explain. Finally we find it again and book it for tomorrow, Sunday night. Next course of business, supply our hotel room. With beer and vodka, that is. We find an Oxxo a half block away and stock up. We quickly hail a taxi and are on our way back to Hotel Cartagena.

Mary’s beer and my vodka are on ice, back at the room, it is time for food. All yours, Mary: Again with the soup, but I do love it. This version of the quintessential Sopa de Tortilla has the addition of pasilla peppers. Deliciously smoky, sweet and slightly spicy.

Despite the length of the day and all our running around, I don’t have much of an appetite. This very tasty Chicken Consomme fills the bill just fine. We have found that consomme down here is not the clear broth you would see NOB, it is packed with chicken, rice and vegetables.

Back in our room we binge watch Modern Family until a little later than we intended so we sleep in the next day. We are on holiday, after all. After an excellent breakfast it is time to…

Taxi to El Principal in Centro Historico. We see that DF, just like Vallarta and Merida, also has the Sunday Biciruta.

Remembering that I have a fish eye lens, here is our room at El Principal. It is beautiful and super comfortable. Check in was pretty simple. We told them our names, they gave us a key. After settling in we head down and reserve this room for the next three nights.

After a light lunch we find this trolley car tour just northwest of the Plaza. At only 30P it seems like a pretty good deal so we hop aboard. It is about a 20 minute tour, following are some of the sights.

This is the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

This is Mexico’s House of Representatives.

And this is the Tomb of Presidente Benito Juarez, the father of the country. Mexico celebrates his birth today, Feliz Cumpleaños Benito.

Our tour is concluded. This is a street view of the Catedral…

We are inside the Catedral. That is quite the set of pipes on that organ, eh?

After freshening up back at our room we have walked a half block to a restaurant row and settled on Restaurante Antonella. This is my Filete Pescado ala Diabla. Our server, Raul, was concerned that it might be too hot a dish for a gringo but I assured him that I love picoso. Little did I know that I had issued a challenge to the chef. This is the spiciest fish fillet I have ever had. But very tasty!

Mary has the Filete Empanizado. Let’s hear about it: Not a big fish fan, this is the one dish I am safe in ordering. Breaded, nicely crispy and huge. This feeds me and Bruce!

After dinner we stroll back to our room and, guess what? Binge on Modern Family, once again.

Thanks for visiting, gentle reader. Mexico Part 2 is coming up next. Hasta proximo Domingo!

March 19, 2017 · Bruce · 20 Comments
Posted in: Life in Puerto Vallarta

20 Responses

  1. Lucretia - March 19, 2017

    What a nice Sunday surprise! I will look forward to next week.

  2. Bruce - March 19, 2017

    Hola Lucretia,

    Glad you enjoyed the post.

    And thanks for reading, Cheers!

  3. Peter & Elaine - March 19, 2017

    Mexico City is a fantastic place! Your blog brings back lots of memories. Hope you enjoyed your stay as much as we did.

  4. Bruce - March 19, 2017

    Hola Peter and Elaine, so nice to hear from you!

    We had a great time, but we did not see all we wanted so we will have to revisit like many of our friends have.

    Thanks for reading, Cheers!

  5. Joe Ryan - March 19, 2017

    Bruce and Mary:

    Great to see of your trip to CDMX! I went with my brother-in-law two years ago and couldn’t get enough of the place.

    The first morning in CDMX, I got on the double decker tour bus with the open top with my Inapam card. I believe they gave me a wrist band. Did one whole tour in the morning, jumped off, ate lunch, went on the second tour for most of the afternoon, then had a beer, and jumped on the third bus to the Guadalupe Basilica. All for about $7.00 USD. Wonderful way to get oriented to all the city has to offer.

    Great city; I would like to go back and rent an apartment for a month or so.

    Back up the beach at Playa las Tortugas but headed to PV again sometime this week.

    Still like to buy you two a beer (or three).

    Joe Ryan

  6. Bruce - March 19, 2017

    Hola Ryan,

    Wow, that is an excellent way to get the lay of the land and see so many fabulous sites. I didn’t know it was that cheap (we have Inapam cards, as well). Next time we will do that, thanks for the idea.

    We never say no to beers, let us know when you’re in town.

    Thanks for reading, Cheers!

  7. Cathie - March 19, 2017

    Great report! I am really looking forward to exploring Mexico City after we retire in Mexico. I love the format of your posts – it is almost like we are there with you. Can’t wait for Part 2.

  8. Bruce - March 19, 2017

    Hola Cathie,

    You will love DF.

    Thank you for your kind words and thanks for reading, Cheers!

  9. Linda in Indiana - March 19, 2017

    I suggest Hotel Catedral. It’s I think 1 street behind the Cathedral, inexpensive, has a wonderful tiny restaurant for breakfast and we took beers up to the rooftop open air terrace to view this huge city.

  10. Bruce - March 19, 2017

    Hola Linda,

    Funny you should mention Hotel Catedral. We saw people up on the roof top terrace sipping drinks enjoying what has to be a fantastic view and thought it would be a cool place to check out, but we did not get around to it. We did not realize it was part of a hotel. We will definitely look into Hotel Catedral on our next trip.

    Thanks for the tip and thanks for reading, Cheers!

  11. Robert Lee - March 20, 2017

    Hola Bruce and Mary! Great post! Thanks. Maria Lee

  12. Bruce - March 20, 2017

    Hola Robert Lee,

    Glad you enjoyed the post.

    And thanks for reading, Cheers!

  13. Alex - March 20, 2017

    Haven’t been in La Ciudad for over 40 years, except for a layover and quick visit to Frieda. Did you know that La Ciudad has more museums than any other city in the world? We hope to spend some time there this summer.

  14. Bruce - March 20, 2017

    Hola Alex,

    I did not know that museum fact but I guess I am not surprised as it seemed there was a museum on every block.

    Enjoy your time in CDMX this summer, Cheers!

  15. Steve - March 21, 2017

    So did you only book the first hotel for your first night / had planned to switch off you weren’t satisfied / extend if you were? Is this something you often do when traveling?

  16. Bruce - March 21, 2017

    Hola Steve,

    Yes, we only booked the first hotel for the night. If it had been in a better location we would have stayed there as it was nice enough and certainly cheap enough.

    It’s so hard to tell what a hotel really is from their website. As we were getting to DF plenty early in the day I wanted to go with no reservations and figure that out on the ground but Mary would have none of that even though we did do a back backing trip to the Rivera Maya a few years ago and with the exception of one dump it worked out well.

    In the future I think that will be our MO, book one night and then play it by ear. With that being said, on our next trip to DF we will stay at El Principal again for the entire stay, great location, great value.

    Thanks for reading, Cheers!

  17. Joe Ryan - March 22, 2017

    Hey Bruce and Mary:

    I’m in PV today and tomorrow.
    Are you free anytime?

    Joe Ryan

  18. Bruce - March 22, 2017

    Hey Joe,

    I have your email address, I’ll drop you a line right now.


  19. Lisa - March 22, 2017

    Great blog. It was passed along to me by readers of Reg’s. We were in Mexico City again over Christmas and can also recommend Hotel Gillow, which is the sister hotel of Hotel Catedral. Also with a good restaurant but no roof top patio that I am aware of…

  20. Bruce - March 22, 2017

    Hola Lisa,

    We’re happy you enjoyed the post and glad that Reg passed it along.

    Thanks for the hotel tip, we’ll have to check it out.

    And thanks for reading, Cheers!

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