A Travellerspoint blog

January 2012

Mexico City

A big blog entry for a big city...

sunny 25 °C
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I spent the last 6 days exploring Mexico City. The city is really huge and there is so much to see!

Of course I went to a lot of museums while in the city. Here a list of the ones I visited:
- Palacio de Bellas Artes: a good museum in a great building. The expositions were just not as big as I thought they would be.
Palacio de Bellas Artes

Palacio de Bellas Artes


- Museo Mural Diego Rivera: shows Diego Rivera's massive mural Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central. The rest of the museum is interesting, too.
- Museo de la Caricatura: shows mainly political caricatures.
- Museo de Sitio de la Secretaría de Educación Pública: 3 floors full with amazing murals, most by Diego Rivera.
Mural in the Secretaría de Educación Publica

Mural in the Secretaría de Educación Publica

Mural in the Secretaría de Educación Publica

Mural in the Secretaría de Educación Publica


- Museo Archivo de la Fotografía: small free photography museum.
- Museo Nacional de Antropología: an incredibly big museum on anthropology, evolution, pre-hispanic cultures and indigenous peoples' lives today. I found it very interesting, but also tiring towards the end.
Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museo Nacional de Antropología


Museo Nacional de Antropología

Museo Nacional de Antropología


- Museo de Arte Moderno: a nice modern art exhibition.
- Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño: houses an interesting collection of Diego Rivera's and Frida Kahlo's work among others.
- Museo del Estanquillo: had a large exhibition on old Mexican movies.
- Museo de la Medicina Mexicana: shows the medical knowledge of pre-hispanic cultures and the evolution of medicine after the colonisation.
- Museo Nacional del Arte: very big and interesting art collection.
That's a lot of museums, I know, and I'll spare you more details on them...

Obviously I did do other things as well. I walked around the Historical centre quite a few times, enjoying the nice architecture and the good atmosphere. I saw the Casa de los Azulejos and walked through the Alameda Central park. I also went to the Cathedral, which is massive and beautiful inside. The Palacio Nacional is also striking inside and its walls are decorated with several amazing murals as well.
Casa de los Azulejos

Casa de los Azulejos


Cathedral

Cathedral


Palacio Nacional

Palacio Nacional


Mural in the Palacio Nacional

Mural in the Palacio Nacional

On Tuesday night, we went to see a Lucha Libre fight with a Canadian couple from our hostel. The wrestling show was pretty ridiculous, but very funny. You should definitely see this once when in Mexico. It's a shame we were not allowed to take our cameras in.

On Wednesday, I visited the Templo Mayor, which was a main temple of the Aztecs. A very interesting site.
Templo Mayor

Templo Mayor


Templo Mayor

Templo Mayor


Templo Mayor Museum

Templo Mayor Museum


Templo Mayor Museum

Templo Mayor Museum

On Wednesday night, my English friend took a flight back home to England. I could not believe it was time for her to go home. It just made me think of the end of my trip even more...

When I was at the anthropology museum, I saw Voladores de Papantla outside in the park. 4 men climb up a pole and then wind themselves down on a rope in 13 turns, making them look like they are flying. It is a very impressive show. It looks very scary the way they are turning around up there.
Danza de los Voladores

Danza de los Voladores

Walking around the Bosque de Chapultepec and along the Paseo de la Reforma with its statues in every roundabout was very nice too.
Monumento a la Independencia

Monumento a la Independencia


Mexico City sunset

Mexico City sunset

On Friday, I went to the neighbourhood of Xochimilco, where I took a boat ride on the canals. The colourful boats are called trajineras and are a lot like the gondolas in Venice. The funniest thing about the whole ride is that on the big canal you can find anything being sold off boats. Food and souvenirs are on sale, but there are also mariachi and marimba bands floating around and offering to play you a song for money. Although it was not very busy that day because it is low season and it was a weekday, it was a unique experience.
Trajineras in Xochimilco

Trajineras in Xochimilco


Mariachi band on a trajinera in Xochimilco

Mariachi band on a trajinera in Xochimilco

That night I went out with the Canadians and my Spanish roommate. We went for a few drinks, then met some other foreigners and ended up going to a club with them, which was absolutely packed and where we were the only non-Mexicans. You could barely move, but the music was alright and we enjoyed the experience.

I went to visit the Basilica de Guadalupe the next day. This is the church most visited by pilgrims in Mexico. It was a Saturday so it was very busy when I was there. There is the beautiful old church, which was being used for a wedding that day, but you could still go in and look around. Next to it a new church had been build. It is a huge building holding up to 40,000 people. It is a modern round building, built in a way so that everybody has the best possible view. The whole complex around the church is much bigger though. There are 4 more churches and a very nice park with different sculptures, a waterfall etc. You can also visit a museum in the back of the old church which shows religious art, mostly related to the story of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who the church is dedicated to.
Beautiful old Basilica de Guadalupe

Beautiful old Basilica de Guadalupe

Ugly new Basilica de Guadalupe

Ugly new Basilica de Guadalupe

The Mercado de la Merced is said to be the biggest in the Americas. I had a walk around and it is definitely very big! You can find everything here, food, clothes, electronics, make up... Just like it any Latin American market really, just with much more choice.

The Mercado de la Ciudadela sells handicrafts from all over Mexico. It was a good place to buy some souvenirs because you can find everything in one place and the prices are fixed, so no need to bargain.

On my last day in the city, I visited Coyoacán, another neighbourhood in the South of the city. It is a very pretty and lively place, especially on a Sunday. The 2 main squares just next to each other are beautifully decorated with trees, sculptures and fountains, and are surrounded by nice little cafés, restaurants and ice cream shops. By coincidence, there was a Fiesta del Tamal going on while I was there. Since I like tamales a lot I had to check this out of course. There were many different stalls offering different types of tamales, both savoury and sweet ones, from different regions of Mexico and even from other Latin American countries. I tried a Tamal con Mole Amarillo, which was very good and different from the ones I had had so far.
Coyoacán

Coyoacán


Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares

Museo Nacional de Culturas Populares


Tamal con Mole Amarillo

Tamal con Mole Amarillo

While in Mexico City I had street food for most meals except breakfast. You can find it anywhere and it is really cheap. I tried my way through the different types of tortilla dishes on offer: the freshly filled tacos (your choice of filling and the tacos are freshly heated on the frying plate and then folded up; you also have a choice of salads and sauces you can add yourself), tacos al guisado (tacos filled with stews of different types), tacos de canasta (pre-prepared tacos with simple fillings such as potatoes, beans or pork, sold out of a basket or bucket), tacos dorados (deep-fried taco shells filled with salad and potatoes beans or meat), quesadillas (tortillas filled with cheese and sometimes other ingredients before heating so that the cheese melts inside them), tlayudas (like in Oaxaca, although here they were oval shaped and made out of green maize) and garnachas (I am not quite sure what the difference is between these and the freshly filled tacos...). I also tried a couple of tortas, Mexican sandwiches filled with various types of meats and cheese. What makes them so delicious is that tomatoes and avocado can always be added. Elote is the word used for corn and this is sold on the cob on the street. When the corn is removed from the cob and sold in a cup it is called esquite. Both have mayonnaise, cheese and different sauces added.

And the conclusion is: I had a very good time in Mexico City and liked the place a lot. I am sure there still is a lot I missed though.
Mexico City Busyness

Mexico City Busyness


Izcoatl

Izcoatl

Posted by sarahm_lux 19:37 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico_city xochimilco coyoacán Comments (0)

Teotihuacán, Monarch Butterflies & Puebla

3 amazing day trips

sunny 25 °C
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We decided to base ourselves in Mexico City for a while and see the city but also do some day trips from there. When we got to the city on the morning of 21st January, we decided to start off with a few day trips.

That day, we went to the ruins of Teotihuacán. The site is incredible although much of it is reconstructed.
Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán


Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán


The main structures are the temples of the sun and of the moon. You can climb the Temple of the Sun all the way to the top, which involves a lot of steps, but is worth it for the amazing views from up top.
Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán


Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán


The Temple of the Moon can only be climbed up to a certain point. From here, you get great views of the rest of the site including along the whole of the Avenue of the Dead.
Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán


Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán


Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán


We had a good guide who explained the site very well.
Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán


Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán


Teotihuacán

Teotihuacán

The next day, we took a trip to the Santuario de la Mariposa Monarca. This is a reserve where the monarch butterflies hibernate every year. They fly down from Canada, a journey of around 4000km. It was a long journey to get there for us too (3 hours each way, not including the time needed to get to the bus terminal), but it was worth every minute on the bus! After a 45 minute hike through the reserve, we arrived at the spot where the butterflies are. We were literally surrounded by millions of them! The trees were covered in them, so much that the branches actually looked orange, and the air was filled with the orange butterflies. It was incredible!! This was definitely another highlight of my trip!
Monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies


The sky filled with monarch butterflies

The sky filled with monarch butterflies


Branches full of monarch butterflies

Branches full of monarch butterflies


Monarch butterflies on a tree

Monarch butterflies on a tree


Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Our third day trip brought us to Puebla, a colonial city at about 2 hours distance from Mexico City. The city is very nice: interesting colonial arhitecture, good weather, a big tree-filled main square, many churches and really good food.
Puebla

Puebla


Coffee cup exhibition in Puebla

Coffee cup exhibition in Puebla


Puebla

Puebla

In fact, Puebla is known for its food and we tried the most famous dish, chile en nogada. This consists of a pepper filled with meat, fruits, nuts and spices and covered with a walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. It was the best meal I had tried in Mexico so far!
Chile en Nogada

Chile en Nogada


Chile en Nogada

Chile en Nogada

We went to some of the churches and walked around the differents parts of the city. We saw a lot of artesanal work being sold and unfortunately stood in front of some closed doors where sites were shut for some reason. I visited the Museo Amparo as well, which is an important museum about pre-Colombian cultures. It has a lot of information about the development of Mexican cultures and shows many amazing artefacts from the different regions. Very interesting!
Puebla

Puebla


Puebla

Puebla

Posted by sarahm_lux 21:36 Archived in Mexico Tagged teotihuacan puebla santuario_de_la_mariposa_monarc chil_en_nogada Comments (0)

Oaxaca

Good food, big markets, nice buildings and a good tour

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I got to Oaxaca on Wednesday morning and spent the whole morning exploring the city's huge markets. The first one is a standard market selling fruits and vegetables, meats, sweets, clothes, some souvernirs etc. All the local specialities could be found here, such as quesadillo, a stringy cheese sold in the form of a ball, mole, a sauce that comes in different versions of different colours, containing very interesting combination of ingredients, and mezcal. The second market is one that mainly has comedores, restaurants selling the typical local dishes and bakeries in it. Here I ate mole negro con pollo, meaning chicken with rice, tortillas and the black mole. The sauce is very special, containing chili, nuts, onions and cocoa beans among others. It was strange, but very tasty! The third market is a handicrafts market where all the typical local artesanal products can be found. I bought some nice souvenirs here.
At the market in Oaxaca

At the market in Oaxaca


Quesillo

Quesillo


Mole negro

Mole negro

In the afternoon I went to the Santo Domingo convent where a museum about pre-Columbian cultures is now being housed. It was very interesting with a lot of information and many beautiful artefacts. I spent much more time there than I had planned.
Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca

Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca

I then went for a walk around more of the town, but suddenly my legs started hurting a lot. I had gotten a lot of mosquito bites in Puerto Escondido (I counted more than 50!) and I seemed to suddenly have a bad allergic reaction to them. My legs were bright red, full with small red dots and burning so much I could barely walk anymore. I went to the pharmacy where the pharamcist sent me to the doctor next door. He was shocked at the sight of my legs and prescribed me some strong medication against the allergy. On top of my legs hurting so much I started feeling very ill, so I went to bed and watched a movie...
Oaxaca

Oaxaca


Oaxaca

Oaxaca


Oaxaca

Oaxaca


Oaxaca

Oaxaca


One of the many foodstalls in Oaxaca

One of the many foodstalls in Oaxaca

The next morning, I was feeling better, although my legs were still very painful and red. I decided to take a tour which would not involve too much walking that day.
We first went to El Tule, where the tree with the widest trunk in world stands. It was massive! An impressive sight.
El Tule

El Tule

Then, we drove on to Hierve el Agua. There is water bubbling out of the ground on a hilltop, which looks like it's boiling, hence the name. The water creates a pool in which you can go swimming. And where the water runs down the hill, petrified waterfalls have formed. The whole site was incredible. The views from another, higher hill were just amazing. I did not dare to go swimming because of my legs though...
Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua


Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua


Hierve el Agua

Hierve el Agua

After lunch, we went to Mitla, an archaeological site of the Zapotec culture. It is small, but the buildings are very intricately decorated.
Mitla

Mitla


Mitla

Mitla

We continued to a mezcal factory where we got some explanations and demonstrations on the making process of the alcoholic beverage and then got to try different types of mezcal. I especially liked the 8 year old mezcal and the hazelnut cream.
Agave used to make mezcal

Agave used to make mezcal


Mezcal factory

Mezcal factory

The last stop of the tour was a textile factory. We were shown how the wool is spun, died with different natural products and weaved. I had seen this all before on other tours, but the rugs and other products made here were different and beautiful.
Textile factory

Textile factory


Textile factory

Textile factory

That night, the English girl I travelled with for 5 weeks arrived in Oaxaca, so we started travelling together again for a few days. We tried some more grasshoppers that night (she did not like them and I found that they were not as good as the last ones) and then went out to a bar to see some of Oaxaca's nightlife.

In the morning, we took a bus to Monte Ablán, another archaeological site. This is the most important Zapotec ruin. It was big and the buildings were great. It was a good and interesting visit.
Monte Albán

Monte Albán


Monte Albán

Monte Albán


Monte Albán

Monte Albán


Monte Albán

Monte Albán


Monte Albán

Monte Albán

Back in town, we went to the food market and I tried another typical dish, the tlayula. This is one of the many tortilla dishes they have in Mexico, the tlayula being a huge round deep-fried tortilla served with salad, meet, cheese and of course chili sauce on top. It was again a very good dish.
Tlayula

Tlayula

I then went to visit a couple of art museums. Both very nice but quite small. Then I spontaneously decided to get a hair cut, which I had wanted to do for a while already. As usual, they did not just cut the ends and my hair ended up a bit shorter than I would have liked... But it looks good, that's the main things.

On the way back to the hostel I found that a live band was playing on the main square, so I stopped there and listened to them for a while. When they finished I went back home and spent the night there until we had to leave to the bus station to get our night bus to Mexico City.

Posted by sarahm_lux 18:35 Archived in Mexico Tagged oaxaca mole mezcal mitla el_tule hierve_el_agua tlayula monte_albán Comments (0)

Big news

I have booked a return flight!!

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Finally, I have done it! I have booked a return flight! I will be flying back to Luxembourg from Cancun on 6th March, arriving on the 7th. So my trip has an end date now, and it is only 6 weeks away... It is very strange to know that my travels will come to an end soon. But I am looking forward to going home now, too. It will be nice to see all my friends and family again and do all the things I do in "normal life". Until then, I will try to enjoy my last weeks as much as I can. I will keep you updated on how it goes, as usual.

Posted by sarahm_lux 00:25 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Puerto Escondido

Beach time again!

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I went to Puerto Escondido last Sunday to spend some time at the beach and relax. I met up with 2 girls I know from San Juan del Sur as well. So I visited them a few times in their hostel and went out with them and some of their friends on Sunday night. For the rest of the 3 days I spent most of my time hanging out at the beach. The beaches were nice and I just had to cross the road to get to the closest one.
Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido


Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido


Puerto Escondido

Puerto Escondido

I also took a boat tour to see dolphins. We spent about 3 hours on the sea and saw loads of dolphins popping out of the water near and around the boat. It was amazing!
Dolphins in Puerto Escondido

Dolphins in Puerto Escondido

Posted by sarahm_lux 20:02 Archived in Mexico Tagged dolphins puerto_escondido Comments (0)

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