Trip Report -Veracruz-Puebla-DF part 5 - Mexico City
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Jan 24, 2013 4:55 AM Last Post By: Madamebulli
Jan 22, 2013 2:48 PM
Trip Report -Veracruz-Puebla-DF part 5 - Mexico CityWe woke up on December 21st in Puebla. The world had not ended and we had a bus to catch to Mexico City. (photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152360885690273.944311.504220272&type=1&l=68983bd69b)
It's an easy taxi ride out to CAPU and a small line to get our tickets for the 1st class ADO bus. At the terminal we ran into the same guy who helped us figure out the tickets and seating at the Lucha Libre match our first night here. It is amazing how many Mexicans you meet who will say "I lived for a while in..." and name some US city like Miami or Duluth. Most tell us how they are glad to be home.
The ride to the city is quite beautiful. First, on a clear day at least, you see the towering volcanoes of Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl to the south. Then you descend through the pine forests of Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park. Eventually you enter the Distrito Federal which continues for miles. Traffic was heavy and the last few miles took a long time before we eventually arrived at the TAPO terminal.
Now, like all major Mexican bus terminals, there is a right way to get a taxi and a few riskier ways. I knew this but... When we got off the bus there was a sweet older gentleman with a "Taxi Authorizado" crest on his sweater who offered to help us get to the taxis. My travel senses were tingling but we were anxious to get out of there so away we went. Even as we passed the lineup for the actual authorized taxis and my inner voice was saying ditch the guy, we kept going. When we got outside, he said we should wait which seemed odd considering how many cabs were there. In a minute or so a cab came up and a guy jumped out. We put our bags in and got in. That's when my wife noticed our erstwhile guide passing the driver a 100 peso note. The driver walked away and our guide took the wheel. Even before we started off I was asking how much. He eventually handed us a list of prices and said "Zona Cinqo" The price was 300 pesos, which seemed way too much wheen a cab from the airport runs 150. So I laid into him with my best Spanish. We got the trip for 150 and we tipped him 50 as the traffic was horrible. Can anyone confirm whether 300 is the right price for rush hour from TAPO? That was the driver's excuse.
We stayed at the Casa de Luna on Bolivar, right in the Centro and very close to the new Metrobus Linea 4. A nice place for the price of just over $50 CDN, pre-booked through Expedia. We'd previously stayed at the Isabel, which we liked as well. The Centro was way busier than on our previous visit in October 2011. Christmas crowds jammed every sidewalk. We headed straight to the zocalo to confirm there was actually an ice rink there. There was. Unfortunately we were too late to get on the ice (typical Canucks, eh?) but we had a good chuckle at the snowmobile rides and skidoo jumping as well as the artificial ski hill the kids were trying out. We were also right on time for the flag lowering ceremony. Finally there was a countdown and all the Christmas lights around the zocalo were switched on.
We'd worked up an appetite by this point so we headed over to the Salon Corona. One wall is covered with three photos taken in quick succession of the bar patrons' reaction to Mexico's loss in the 86 world cup. We sat at the bar and had tacos and beers and had fun people watching, including the women behind the bar cooking the food and the carver of the Pastor meat.
The next day was Saturday so we headed south to San Angel for the Saturday market (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152362663680273.944576.504220272&type=1&l=4857136757)
We used the Linea 4 Metrobus to get to the main Insurgentes Metrobus. It was pretty easy to do, but ill-advised. Better to take the long trips on the Metro and add a Metrobus trip if required. It was a long time standing on buses that stopped frequently.
Our trip had been designed to avoid areas of high gringo tourist concentration but they come in droves to San Angel for the market. The goods and artworks on display were high-end and the valet signs at most establishments reminded us that we were in one the more well-to-do areas of Mexico City. We did find a few things to buy for Christmas presents but we were not as comfortable here as in smaller markets like the Ciudadela or the markets in Oaxaca.
From San Angel we decided to go to Chapultapec Park for a stroll and a museum visit. This led us to our first ever DF local bus ride. Again, a helpful local with impeccable English confirmed which bus to take. Taking metros in large unfamiliar cities is one thing, but buses are usually less approachable. But one you try one you're no longer as intimidated. The bus took us to the Barranca del Muerto Metro station and we got off at Constituyentes which looked like the perfect stop to access the park. But the entrance there was blocked with military vehicles and we had to walk a considerable way along Avenue Constituyentes before we could get in.
The park was an oasis of calm. The perfect place to catch our breath. We decided on the Modern Art museum so we headed that way. The peace and quiet didn't last. We were approaching the Colegio Militar pathway and it was jammed with sellers and strollers. We veered around it and eventually came to the road up to the castle. We considered heading up but they wanted us to leave our bags behind so we continued to the museum.
The Museum of Modern Art was really nice. There was a temporary exhibit of female surrealists including some Frida Kahlo originals including Las Dos Fridas. The main hall was also wonderful. Nothing like an art museum to slow you done to a more human pace.
Afterwards we took the Metro to Isabel Catolica and headed to the San Jerónimo alley. I don't remember the name of the bar though it is right in front of the brass bench in the shape of a hand. There they happened to have a big batch of Paella, a giant serving of which we split. Funny thing that happened there. We had our phones and cameras on the table and we were politely asked to put them away. No idea why but they also requested the same of apparent locals
Our last day was Sunday, December 23rd. (photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152367132145273.945170.504220272&type=1&l=47168721d7)
First stop, if such a massive thing can be called a stop, was the Mercado Merced. We took the Linea 4 Metrobus again. When traveling east the route goes along streets with lots of stalls along them. Many people use the roadway to get around them and they are constantly stepping off the street just in time to avoid being smacked by the bus, the driver of which seems to pretend they are not there.
How can I adequately describe the Merced Market? Massive, humongous, vast, sprawling? It is all that and more. But there's little I like better than a market like this. To just wander, turning whatever way suits you, a surprise around every corner is a joy. I finally found some tacos canasta. The guy making them was very funny. He gave us a calendar as a souvenir that never made it home. We came across a snake charmer who was using a small constrictor around which he'd drawn a chalk circle. A smartly-dressed Mexican man was giving him a hard time, apparently saying the snake couldn't hurt anyone, which I had to agree with. Their argument had attracted a larger crowd that the snake guy was probably used to
We found the veg and fruit area, and we came across the meat section. Each felt like a city block. We had killer cheese quesadillas from a small stall. We found the perfect packaging for gift earrings we'd bought in Puebla: a package of ten colourful match boxes. And so much more. The pictures give some idea but it is a not-to-be-missed place in the DF
Later we headed back to the Centro looking for a place to sip a beer and watch the crowds. We found it on the Gante pedestrian alley just above Madero and next to another franchise of the Salon Corona. We went for the comida for 50 pesos each and shared a "few" 2 litre pitchers of cold beer (100 pesos) while being entertained by an Asian albino juggler, two guys with backpack speakers doing a fine Santana tune and multiple organ grinders. As we were finishing our last pitcher, we heard Beatles music from up the alley by 5 Mayo. We finished up and had a little dance in front of the band which brought applause from the locals ("few" pitchers translates as "we don't remember") Then we walked over towards the Palcio de Bellas Artes where we found a 10-man drum band and lots of street performers dressed as superheroes and aliens and computer game characters and more. Madero was simply wall-to-wall with holiday shoppers. There had a to be a million people in the centro. Another short stroll took us to Motolinia alley where we found a band playing Celtic music on what looked like homemade instruments.
Another stop at the first Salon Corona was followed by a visit to La Mascota cantina. We'd been there the night before as well. Prices here would probably discourage most tourists. While a normal price for a beer would be 25-30 pesos, here they were 47. A shot of lesser quality tequila was 65. But once you start drinking you could eat anything on the menu of the day. We had a veracruzano fish dish and tacos dorado and finally oysters. Two large oyster shells filled with small oysters. We counted 15 on one shell alone. We met three 20 somethings there who kept the jukebox going a danced in the small spaces between the tables. It was the perfect ending to a great trip to our favorite country. Our biggest challenge now is decided where in Mexico to go next
Jan 22, 2013 3:34 PM
1Have appreciated your series of reports. As always, Mexico doesn't dissapoint.
Jan 23, 2013 7:24 AM
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Jan 24, 2013 4:55 AM
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