Trip Start Apr 16, 2010
Trip End Jun 01, 2010

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Where I stayed

Flag of Mexico  , The Federal District,
Sunday, May 2, 2010

The first bite of real Mexican is a taste to savour. So many interesting dishes and tastes, I think I'm turning into an enchilada.

That feeling
Our first night in Mexico I had a familiar feeling which I can kind of describe as excitement at falling in love with a place. I can't recall where I've had this feeling before but it is a homecoming, and I got it in Mexico City.

I had expected it to be extremely smoggy and polluted, but I was surprised. Yes there was a haze on the horizon, but I didn't feel choked by it and it didn't make my eyes sting as I'd heard in some reports.

First bite
Okay, so I have a confession to make. My first food in Mexico was at a Sanborns restaurant. It is a fast foody type chain restaurant that bizarrely combines a small department store with an eatery. See by the time we got to our hotel and checked in, it was late and I was hungry.

The Centro Historico was fairly quiet, nothing like the noisy barrios with loud music and delicious smells wafting from street vendors cooktops. We walked past one Sanborns, only to find another a block and half away, aah, the McDonald's or Starbucks philosophy. So, being not much else happening in our street, I relented and went the chain option. Yes, I sold out because I had really wanted to pick up some street food.

I ordered Enchildas Suiza, Swiss Enchiladas, that came out bathed in a creamy cheesey topping that was just a bit too much for me. Mum had ordered the other option I'd been looking at, the tacos, and that was when I discovered that Mum doesn't really like spicy food. This could be a little problem on our journey through Mexico, but at this point it meant that I could swap my non-spicy enchildas for her delicious and only a little bit spicy tacos.

Labour Day Rallies
Venturing out on the first of May we discovered the streets closed to traffic as waves of marching workers headed towards the Zocalo, shouting ditties, waving banners, banging saucepans and hefting slabs of soft drinks through the crowds.

We followed to watch for awhile as all the entry streets to the Zocalo became pedestrian thoroughfares. One of the funniest things was seeing a lucha libre competitor (wrestler with full face mask) rev a big meaty motorcycle at the start of one group of people.

Eventually my hunger took over and we abandoned the Zocalo for a quieter side street for a meal.

What's the time Mr Wolf
I left my watch at home meaning to get myself a cheapie while away because I never travel with my normal watch. I usually pick up a cheap n nasty digital that I don't care if gets lost or stolen. So I've been travelling for two weeks without a watch and without a phone to check either. So I've been asking Mum the time constantly. And for some reason she will not change her watch to our current time zone. She wants to keep it on Australian Eastern Standard Time. I'm not sure what use that is, but she then takes forever to do the maths to give me the current time.

It has been driving me absolutely bananas, so I finally picked up a Casio digital watch with alarm clock, stopwatch and back light for about AUD$40. What's even better is that I have a dual time zone option where I can click it and find out what time it is in Australia, after I figure out how to set it that is. Still, Mum keeps her watch on Aussie time. Maybe it helps her feel closer to Dad. But now I have my own watch it is one less thing to argue about.

Up on the Cathedral Roof
Starting our Lonely Planet walking tour around the city, we joined a line of people at the Cathedral who were going up a little rickety set of temporary steps and through a timeworn old metal door which ended up being a tour up to the cathedral roof for M$15.

The stone spiral staircase with carved handrail was quite a delight, but required a breather for Mum. We didn't get to go right up into the belltower, but the narrow wooden staircase with major dips from wear as the bellringer would run up or down them were quite amazing.

You walk over the curvy roof (underneath on the inside are elaborately painted domes) and can get a fabulous view of the Zocalo. I must say I was a little disappointed at the Zocalo. It is just a massive massive square of paved area with a ginormous flagpole and the biggest flag I've ever seen flying from it. I wondered what people were lining up for below, but then realised they were so hot they were lined up in the shade of the flagpole.

There were also some good views of Templo Mayor, a major ruin in the middle of the city that's been excavated.

A lot of the city is behind scaffolding and I think they are renovating for Mexico's bicentennial which according to the huge countdown clocks in the Zocalo, will occur in 136 days. I didn't ask, but I'm assuming that's when they celebrated independence from Spain.

Templo Mayor
Wandering around these ruins at midday on Sunday was an exercise in stamina. Whilst they are not large compared to other ruin sites, the beating sun is nasty. Thankfully there were some shaded and covered bits to stop and rest awhile before going back out in the stinging sunshine. Adding to the dehydration of it all was that you couldn't take in a bottle of water, so we'd sculled ours before ditching it.

The ruins were interesting, and the boards were also in English, so that was good. I'd recommend it as a good start to your ruin run in Mexico. Admission M$51 includes entry to the site museum which is jam packed with lots of interesting bits and pieces.

I want to emulate Frida Kahlo's style
Sunday afternoon we took the metro to the lovely and shady suburb of Coyoacan to vist the Frida Kahlo Museum in the house she was born in, lived in and died in, the Casa Azul. It is a popular museum with lots of people lined up at the ticket booth.

Inside there are many of Frida's paintings, including quite a few unfinished ones from 1931, and some of Diego Rivera's. As you move from room to room, you finally get to the brightly coloured kitchen and then the study and studio and then Frida's room.

Also on site were many of Frida's photographs which were very interesting and also a little giftshop that you could hardly move in because everyone wanted a piece of Frida.

The most gorgeous little cafe
Is called El Cafe de la Hija de Jarocho and is on the corner of Mexico and Bruselas in Coyoacan. If you take the metro to Frida´s museum, you can walk past it. On our way back we stopped on one of the padded wrought iron benches on the footpath under many hanging pots filled with geraniums. There we tucked into our iced coffees and huge donut. Delicious, interesting and delightful.

Things I Learned
* Bottomless coffees are dangerous. They lead to heightened excitement and heart palpitations.
* The street vendors selling food around the Zocalo are doing so illegally and hurry to pack up when the cops come around, but it would be shame if they weren´t there because yum yum in my tum tum.
* Many of the ruins, before being built over by the Spaniards, were added to many times over by the ancient civilisations and some display different building styles in the different stages.

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