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The return of Mexico’s national nectar

03 May 2011 | By Daniel C Schechter, Lonely Planet

To the crowd of young Mexicans carrying on behind the swinging doors of a pulque parlour one Saturday afternoon, participating in a cultural revival is perhaps the last thing on their minds. They are simply basking in the humble camaraderie of that uniquely Mexican institution, the pulquería. Frida Kahlo, an early post-modernist who embraced indigenous kitsch, would approve.

Pulqueria menu
No drink is more Mexican than pulque –
not even tequila or mezcal. (Daniel Schechter/LPI)

No drink is more Mexican than pulque, not even tequila or mescal. Pulque has been consumed by Mexicans since Aztec times and no fewer than four Aztec deities are devoted to the beverage. Though it is made from the same plant as tequila (the magical maguey), pulque is not distilled.

Sometimes called drool, Babylon, bear soup, vulture soup, white face, moustache broth, chalk and nectar of the gods, pulque is the sort of drink you have to learn to like, if only because you have never tasted anything like it before. In its natural state, the white, viscous liquid slides down your gullet with an earthy tang. Not a strong drink, it has an alcohol content similar to that of beer and some even say it has healthful properties. “Pulque is a step away from meat” on the nutritional scale, said Arturo Garrido, the kindly proprietor of Pulquería Las Duelistas as he dispenses a greenish version of the beverage into a couple of tall mugs.

Pulque is a private quaff, an old-fashioned one at that, and it remains largely unknown to the public palate. You will not find it in the nightclubs of Mexico City or even in cantinas. Of the 70 or so pulquerías that remain in Mexico City, most are extremely rustic places with bathroom-tile facades and institutional green interiors. Sporting sassy names like The National Nectar, Ancient Rome, The Hen of the Golden Eggs, Firing Line, The Worst Is Nothing and Men Without Fear, most of these dives are patronised by a handful of elderly men who tote their own containers to be filled. But in certain pulquerías that demographic is changing. Mexican youth have collectively rediscovered the virtues of pulque and the happy, scruffy vibe of the pulquerías.

One such rediscovery is Pulquería La Risa (Mesones 75). Housed in a tiny colonial structure on the south end of the city’s historic core, La Risa retains its rustic, minimally hygienic ambience, with a urinal behind a greasy curtain. But it has been adopted by students who engage in intellectual pursuits like playing chess or reading history as they sip their pulque. Sitting on a shelf above the bar are barrel-shaped urns of the drink in an array of colours, like sweets in a candy shop. Old timers generally like their pulque straight up but to make the beverage somewhat more palatable, most pulquerías “cure” their pulque with various natural flavours, and the resulting milkshake-like concoctions are called “curados”. The menu may include such flavours as tamarind, guava, walnut and strawberry, and from time to time, beet (“for the heart”) and celery (“for diabetes”) make an appearance.

Most popular with the pulque renegades is Las Duelistas (Aranda 30), near the San Juan market. Going for at least 90 years, it has undergone a startling makeover. Walls and ceiling are covered with psychedelic pre-Hispanic imagery: maguey plants, Aztec gods and goddesses, plumed serpents and skull racks. On any given afternoon, pierced, black-clad youth crowd around tables sharing mugs of pulque from pink and blue plastic buckets. A row of painted barrels, delivered earlier that day from Hidalgo, stand behind the marble counter, where a few older patrons sit, lifting mugs of pure pulque to their lips. The jukebox plays rock en español at a tolerable volume. The atmosphere is relaxed rather than aggressive.

“Many identify pulque with the climate of camaraderie of the pulquerías,” said Alberto Felipe Ramírez Aldama, who belongs to a group of pulque enthusiasts devoted to finding and trying out pulquerías. “One is nourished there. You have your buddies, and your enemies too, but no one causes any trouble with a glass full of octli,” he said, using a pre-Hispanic term for the drink. Ramírez Aldama’s group, Colectivo El Tinacal, also organises tours of Mexico City’s pulquerías, and visitors are welcome to join them. Information about upcoming pulque tours is posted on http://pulquenuestro.blogspot.com.

The pulque resurgence has spilled over to a few bars. Bósforo (Luis Moya 31, at Independencia), located a block south of the Alameda Central, is an earth-toned lounge that embraces mexicanismo. In addition to such iconic items as mescal — another previously disdained drink that is regaining cachet — and toasted grasshoppers, they keep an urn of pulque behind the counter. Revueltas, the tall, pony-tailed owner, makes a mean peanut curado. Having graduated from the grunge, pulque seems poised for broader acceptance.

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© 2011 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘The return of Mexico’s national nectar’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

The article was taken from: http://www.bbc.com/travel/feature/20110429-return-of-the-national-nectar?OCID=twtvl

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The Mind-Blowing Museums of Mexico City – Mexico City, Mexico

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Article taken from: http://trans-americas.com/blog/2010/10/themuseums-of-mexico-city/

The Mexican government has recently started bragging that Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world. We haven’t done a scientific head count, however, we are inclined to agree.  Here’s our roundup of the museums we’ve visited in Mexico City, a few we still hope to enjoy, a helpful tip and one burning question.

 

The only place in Mexico where you’ll see a sculpture of Chac Mool, the Mayan god of rain, of this quality is in the Museo Nacional de Antropología.

Museo Nacional de AntropologíaThe mother of all Mexico City museums (and one of the largest, most comprehensive and most respected anthropology museums in the world) sprawls over 100,000 square feet and includes eye-popping artifacts from every epoch of Mexican cultural development. Fuel up for the culture onslaught at the Super Tortas stand near the museum entrance. Just follow the crowds for a great sandwich. Note: this is one of the few museums that does not allow foreigners in for free on Sundays—just Mexican nationals.

One of the many treasures in the Museo Nacional de Antropología is this Aztec Sun Stone (Piedra del Sol). This 25-ton intricately carved basalt slab describing Aztec life is 12 feet in diameter and was carved in the late 1400s, then lost until it was discovered buried beneath the Zócalo in 1790.

The Olmecs created some of the most distinctive art including this emblematic colossal head, seen in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City and practically nowhere else.

 

Museo Rufino Tamayo – Not far from the Anthropology Museum lies this tidy museum houses the artist’s collection and rotating modern art exhibits. When we were there only one small, thin exhibit was open but when all the exhibition spaces are in use this is a great place for cutting edge contemporary art.

 

Museo de Arte ModernThere’s not an artifact in sight at this museum, also within walking distance of the Anthropology Museum, making it a nice way to look into the future after you’ve gotten your fill of gawking at the past.

 

This partial reconstruction of the massive Temple of Quetzalcoatl from Teotihuacán is a highlight of the Museo Nacional de Antropología. For scale, note the young girl walking past the display in the lower right hand corner.

 

Museo Mural Diego RiveraDiego Rivera’s famous 15m x 4m mural “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park” is displayed here along with a small collection of surprisingly traditional and contemplative religious art.

Diego Rivera’s famous 15m x 4m mural “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park” is displayed at the Museo Mural Diego Rivera in Mexico City.

 

Museo Templo Mayor – Located just off  the Zócalo, Mexico City’s main plaza, this indoor/outdoor museum takes visitors along a series of walkways over, through and around areas of excavation which reveal a treasure trove of  Aztec artifacts found beneath what is now modern Mexico City. In fact, this was the great city of Tenochtitlan, the seat of the Aztec empire, and the very reason why Cortes and the conquistadors built their church (the Catedral Metropolitana which still stands) and their main city (now Mexico City) on this very spot. It’s an unusual feeling to be admiring ancient artifacts and art with the modern Mexico City skyline all around you.

 

Mexico City’s Castillo de Chapultepec Museo Nacional de Historia looks like a European castle for a reason.

Castillo de  Chapultepec Museo Nacional de Historia – The Castillo de Chapultepec (castle of the grasshopper) is eerily European looking, and for good reason. Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph of Austria lived here with his wife after being put in charge of Mexico by the French (who were angry that Mexico had refused to pay its debts) with the support of Mexicans eager for better government. Now the hilltop castle is a wonderful history museum with fantastic views over Chapultepec Park and right up Avenida Reforma into the city center. The archduke’s swanky living quarters are a treat to see too.

This “Retablo de la Independencia” mural by Juan O’Gorman adorns one of the walls inside the Castillo de Chapultepec Museo Nacional de Historia in Mexico City.

 

Galeria de Historia  Museo del Caracol – Just below the Castillo de Chapultepec National History Museum this clever building, which curves in on itself like snail shell (hence the name), is full of chronologically arranged dioramas depicting major moments in Mexican history. Great for kids and anyone (like us) who could use a crash course in Mexico’s complicated past.

 

Museo del Palacio de Bellas ArtesThis beautiful theater in the centro, worthy of a visit just for its architecture, is also a wonderful place to see some of the most iconic works from some of Mexico’s most iconic muralists (including Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros) which adorn the theater walls.

 

This wall gives you some idea why the other name for the Museo de Frida Kahlo, in the artist’s home in Mexico City, is Casa Azul.

Museo de Frida Kahlo (Casa  Azul)For every one thing that Frida Kahlo revealed about herself in her art she seems to have hidden 10 more. Walking around the house she lived in, including her bedroom, almost feels like an invasion. The collection includes  pieces of Communist propaganda that Kahlo and Rivera did in addition to the work we know and love. Tickets include entry to the Museo Anahuacalli (see below).

 

Museum of Mexico City – When we were there this small central museum had an awesome retrospective of memorabilia from the world of lucha libre including information about early female lucheras. There was also a great collection of models and photos chronicling some of architect Luis Barragan’s work in the city.

 

A whimsical modern take on classic catrinas at the Museo Arte Popular in Mexico City.

Museo Arte Popular Playful takes on classic Mexican art forms and iconography make this museum, near the Alameda, the perfect antidote if you’re suffering from artifact-overdose. The museum gift shop is also full of affordable and adorable gifts as well as collectible investments in silver jewelry or handmade shawls and other traditional fabrics.

We like to call this piece “Frijole Jesus.” It’s just one example of the playful take on Mexican artistic techniques and imagery on display at the Museo Arte Popular in Mexico City.

 

Museo Franz Mayer – In addition to the stunning and wide-ranging personal collection of Franz Mayer, when we visited this museum was also exhibiting the 2010 World Press Photo Award winners including awesome work from from photojournalists around the world.

 

An art car version of Mexico’s national car, the Volkswagen Beetle, at the Museo Arte Popular in Mexico City.

 

Museo Casa-Estudio Frida Kahlo & Diego RiveraThese connected houses/studios in a lovely affluent neighborhood of Mexico City were both home and workplace to the power couple of Mexican contemporary art. It’s full of atmosphere plus you get to see things like Frida’s bathtub–one of the few Frida moments that feels truly intimate. Diego’s studio is bohemian enough to inspire even the most un-artistic among us. Maybe it’s the power of his size 14 shoes left on the floor in the studio…

The exterior of Museo Casa-Estudio Frida Kahlo & Diego Rivera in Mexico City.

 

Museo Nacional de la Estampa A collection of historically and artistically important pieces of graphic art (estampa means print in Spanish) are housed in a gorgeous building near the Zócalo. We loved the collection of tiny illustrated children’s books.

 

The sculpture-filled grounds of the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Mexico City.

Museo Dolores OlmedoDolores Olmeda is said to have been one of Diego Rivera’s lovers but her eponymous museum and collection reflects a love of Mexico, not just a love of Rivera. The gorgeous and tranquil home and grounds are bursting with pieces from Rivera (and Frida Kahlo) and other classic Mexican artists as well as a pack of  Xoloitzcuintlis, an ancient hairless dogs, and a fabulous and informative collection of top-shelf examples of crafts from around Mexico. For us, this museum provided a better (and certainly much more relaxing) overview of the work of Rivera and Kahlo than any other museum we visited in the city. The gift shop is exquisite.

Diego Rivera maintains a commanding presence at the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Mexico City.

One of these hairless Mexican dogs, called Xoloitzcuintlis, at the Museo Dolores Olmeda in Mexico City is a statue. Can you tell which one?

 

Labortorio Arte de Alameda Near the centro you will find an old church which is now a cutting edge temple to boundary-pushing multi-media art installations that gleefully tackle taboo subjects.  It’s by far the most avant-garde museum we visited in Mexico City and it feels like a gallery/art space that would fit right into the Manhattan or Brooklyn art scenes.

 

Ones that got away…

Though we’ve visited Mexico City three times (for a total of over three weeks) on our Trans-Americas Journey, most recently to take part in the Bicentennial celebrations including fireworks, President Felipe Calderón’s Grito and other highlights, we have still not manage to visit all of the museums we want to see in the city.  Here are a few that got away but which we hope to get to one day!

Though we visited the Guadalupe Basilica (more on that in an upcoming post), the Museo y Santuario de Nuestra Señora Virgen de Guadalupe was closed by the time we got there.

We never made it out to Museo Anahuacalli, the dramatic pyramd-inspired museum designed by Diego Rivera to house his collection of more than 50,000 pieces of pre-Hispanic art.

We managed to be in Mexico City in between shows at the La Coleccion Jumex. The ubiquitous Mexican juice company has an impressive private art collection and hosts temporary shows that are open to the public in a big space just outside central Mexico City as long as you make a reservation and time your visit to coincide with one of their temprorary shows. Otherwise there’s nothing to see as their private collection really is private. We hear Jumex is planning a new museum in town which will be more easily accessible.

And we didn’t call to make a reservation far enough in advance (they require two weeks notice) to gain entry to Casa Luis Barragán which is famous as much for the architecture as the contents. This UNESCO site is the former home of ground-breaking architect Luis Barragán and it’s a must for art and design buffs.

We didn’t make it to the new museum from the world’s richest man (Mexico’s Carlos Slim) for one very good reason: it’s not open yet. But we did drive by the construction site and get an eyeful of the enormous mushroom-like shell of the structure (being designed by Slim’s son-in-law) in the chi-chi Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City. The $750 million new branch of Slim’s Museo Soumaya, named after his deceased wife, is expected to open in November though that seems ambitious to us.

 

TIP

At most museums in Mexico Sunday is free day for all citizens and often even for foreigners. Pro: the chance to save some money. Con: huge crowds at the most popular museums.

 

And now, the burning question we promised you: Art or commerce?

Post a comment and let us know what you think about the fact that the Mexican government just issued a brand new 500 peso note—picturing Diego Rivera on one side and Frida Kahlo on the other.

 

Article taken from: http://trans-americas.com/blog/2010/10/themuseums-of-mexico-city/

Travel Experiences: Mexico City

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

by Dave Stanford

Mexico City is truly one of the most amazing cities in the world with a mixture of both the old and new world. From the moment your plane starts to descend into this vast city with millions of inhabitants, historical locations, and wonderful scenery you know that your trip will be quite an adventure.

It’s important to always use authorized taxi’s when leaving the airport and of course make sure that your driver knows exactly where you’re going before you leave. Once in your taxi and the moment you leave the airport you are amazed at the massive amount of traffic and the seemingly non-existent traffic laws. The speed of traffic isn’t high, but the sheer volume can be stressful to some.

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The “Paseo de la Reforma” is one of the major tourist and business areas in Mexico City with many high quality hotels only walking distance from great restaurants and other tourist attractions. The only problem you will have is trying to see all of these sites during your vacation time.

When you arrive at your hotel the first thing you should always do is lock up your valuables in you room safe and only take as much money as you need for the day.

One of the most popular attractions in this area is the National Museum of Anthropology. There are thousands of artifacts on display showing the history of the area and numerous items found from the many Aztec sites in the area.

Across the street from the museum is the Castillo de Chapultepec (Chapultepec Castle) which was once inhabited by Emperor Maximilian and Empress Carlota. It later became a Military Academy which was a prominent site in the Mexican-American war. It’s also a good idea to take the train up the hill to where the castle is located as the hill is steep. It’s important to keep in mind that Mexico City is over 7000 feet above sea level and some it difficult to breath when walking.

The Mexico City zoo is also located along Reforma is a great place to spend an afternoon, just be careful not to carry too much cash or credit cards as the children that wander around the zoo are often pickpockets.

If you want to visit a traditional Mexico market you can take a taxi to the Coyoacan market during the evening on a weekend. It’s a great place to get some cheap souvenirs to bring back home and to enjoy some traditional Mexican cuisine such as tacos al pastor. These are tacos with pork, onion and pinapple. However, make sure you are careful where you eat and that the meat is well cooked and there is refridgeration on

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Article taken from http://www.helium.com/items/902950-adventures-in-mexico-city

Mexico City unmasked – 20 insider tips demystify the gleaming metropolis

April 6, 2010 1 comment

Mexico City unmasked

These 20 insider tips demystify the gleaming metropolis

Article taken from NBC for further or more information go there

Image: Centro Palacio de Bellas Artes
The view of Centro’s Palacio de Bellas Artes from Torre Latinoamericana.

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Livia Corona
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By Mario López-Cordero

updated 1 hour, 46 minutes ago//

1. It’s actually not impossible to navigate
Known locally as D.F., for Distrito Federal, Mexico City sprawls across almost 600 square miles—it’s roughly the size of Houston but packs in four times as many people. Still, if you plan your itinerary by colonia, or neighborhood, it’s easy to get a handle on things. Some of the most popular sites are in perpetually thronged Centro as well as in hipper districts southwest of it, like Condesa and Roma.

2. Art appreciation is an all-ages affair
At the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo, you can expect to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with students, young families, and skeptical-seeming abuelas, who examine the mixed-media installations as carefully as they do melons at the market. Insurgentes Sur 3000, Ciudad Universitaria, 011-52/55-5622-6972, muac.unam.mx, admission $2.25.

3. Traditional textiles are getting a new life
Designer Carmen Rion was working with artisans in Chiapas five years ago when inspiration struck. With a few creative modifications, they could turn the beautiful fabrics the weavers made on old-fashioned waist looms into modern, one-of-a-kind garments. Rion’s sliver of a shop in Condesa shows off the results: black evening dresses covered in elaborate pleats, and floor-length gowns swirling with hand-painted prints. While a few pieces top $3,000, there’s something in here for everyone, such as woven-fabric handbags with leather straps (from $117) or necklaces made of brightly colored needlepoint circles knit by one of her salesclerks ($28). Michoacán 30-A, Hipódromo Condesa, 011-52/55-5264-6179, carmenrion.com.mx .

4. Real margaritas that don’t have umbrellas
Don’t be deceived by the thimble-size glasses: The Fonda El Refugio‘s decidedly potent signature drink is one of the city’s best. (The perfect ratio of fresh lime to tequila accounts for the dangerously smooth sipping.) Fortify yourself with regional dishes such as huachinango a la Veracruzana (red snapper in a spicy-tomato-and-olive sauce) before ordering a second round. Liverpool 166, Zona Rosa, 011-52/55-5207-2732, fondaelrefugio.com.mx , entrées from $18.75.

5. Day-after medicine that goes down easy
Contramar, an airy, white-walled lunch spot in Roma that’s favored by businesspeople and creative types, has a valuable secret of its own: the caldo de camarón, a rich broth bobbing with shrimp. According to lore, it’s a surefire cure for a hangover. Durango 200, Roma Norte, 011-52/55-5514-9217, contramar.com.mx , soup from $4.25.

6. Down-home snacks in a swanky setting
On sidewalks all over the city, you’ll see vendors selling fried chapulines, or grasshoppers—a salty, crunchy treat doled out of grimy plastic buckets and doused with fresh lime. For those who want a less dodgy source of pre-Hispanic finger foods, there’s Restaurante El Cardenal, which has uniformed waiters, stone columns, and stained-glass windows. Escamoles, served in a mortar, look like grains of rice swimming in butter. Spread them across a warm tortilla, add guacamole, and take a bite. You’ll never guess that the slightly sweet granules erupting in your mouth are ant larvae; they taste just like popcorn. Palma 23, Centro, 011-52/55-5521-8815, restauranteelcardenal.com , escamoles $9.25, entrées from $13.25.

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7. A Mexican design hotel done right
Wherever Grupo Habita goes, a scene is sure to follow. And the splurge-worthy CondesaDF outpost from the country’s champion of hip hotel design is no exception: Weekend brunches in the turquoise-walled breakfast room draw local aesthetes looking to unwind on cowhide-covered banquettes. And the 40 mostly white guest rooms are equipped with iPods loaded with indie rock (from Cat Power to The Killers) and have sliding walnut screens for extra soundproofing. But the design doesn’t come with attitude. Don’t be surprised if staffers start calling you by name 15 minutes after you arrive—and the resident chocolate Lab, Conde, stands at the ready to welcome you. Veracruz 102, Condesa, 011-52/55-5241-2600,condesadf.com , doubles from $195.

8. A chain-hotel alternative with style
Bridging the gap between cookie-cutter franchises and tiny B&Bs is Hotel La Casona, a 29-room inn in a 1923 beaux arts mansion just a few blocks northeast of Condesa. Polished details such as black-and-white-checkered marble tile, framed architectural engravings, and crown moldings show off the inherent grace of the high-ceilinged structure. Plus, the included breakfast (cappuccinos, cooked-to-order omelets) puts the old banana-and-a-roll routine to shame. Durango 280, Roma Norte, 011-52/55-5286-3001, hotellacasona.com.mx , doubles from $140.

9. Candy you can’t find anywhere else
The recipes for the handmade sweets at Dulcería de Celaya—itself a confection of mirrors and swirling belle epoque paneling—were handed down by the original owners of the shop, established in 1874. Six generations later, the Guízar family sells the same sugary treats that lined the shelves on opening day: crumbly jamoncillo made from milk, candied-sweet-potato-paste rolls called camotes, and suspiros, chewy, multicolored coconut bonbons. 5 de Mayo 39, Centro, 011-52/55-5521-1787, candies from 50¢.

10. A befitting home for Diego Rivera
There’s no shortage of places to see Rivera’s paintings, but only one destination showcases his lesser-known architectural achievement: the Museo Diego Rivera Anahuacalli, completed to the artist’s plans in 1963. A hybrid Aztec-Mayan pyramid reimagined through the lens of mid-century modernism, it’s made of glass and black-lava stone and spans 12,916 square feet, looming over a reproduction 10th-century Toltec ball court. Inside, a maze of shadowy rooms showcases Rivera’s own vast collection of pre-Hispanic pottery, sculpture, and artifacts. Museo 150, San Pablo Tepetlapa, 011-52/55-5617-4310, museoanahuacalli.org.mx , admission $1.50.

11. Lunch can last until 7 p.m.
Chilangos, as locals are known, have a continental sense of time: Work begins at 10 a.m., no one thinks about lunch until 3 p.m., and once they sit down to la comida, it can take hours. Although many restaurants are technically open only for the midday meal, it’s not unusual to walk by at 7 p.m. and see people still huddled around what must be a 10th round of drinks—turning tables means nothing to Mexicans.

12. Independent fashion has a suitable site
With its glossy black-steel-and-glass exterior, Sicario may seem out of place on a grungy strip of Roma, but inside, the tightly edited selection of distressed jeans and blue-suede shoes from Mexican labels like Yakuza and Paola Hernández is a natural fit. Adding to the ambience: plywood displays, street art, and a lively soundtrack (the collective that runs the place also promotes emerging DJ acts like Beat Buffet and The Wookies. Colima 124, Roma Norte, 011-52/55-5511-0396, sicario.tv .

13. Even bread has its own institution
Follow the smell of baking bread wafting down a Centro sidewalk into Pastelería Ideal, founded in 1927—a vast, chandelier-lit room where tables are piled high with every Mexican pastry imaginable. It’s self-serve, so grab a tray and load up on goodies like cochitos, gingerbread cookies shaped like pigs, or the sugar-encrusted buns known as conchas, which locals like to eat for breakfast. Be forewarned: When a baker emerges from the back with a batch fresh from the oven, stand back or risk being trampled. República de Uruguay 74, Centro, 011-52/55-5512-2522, pasteleriaideal.com.mx , pastries from 25¢.

14. The best view $3 can buy
Just above the wood-paneled Librería Porrúa downtown, El Mayor, a sunny rooftop café bordered by succulents, provides a crowd-free vista of the Aztec-era Templo Mayor and the bell towers of the 18th-century Metropolitan Cathedral. Take it all in for a minor fee: the roughly $2.75 cost of a michelada, beer spiked with lime, salt, and, often, spices. República de Argentina 15, Centro, 011-52/55-5704-7580, porrua.com/elmayor .

15. A gourmet meal at a taco-stand price
Get beyond the school-cafeteria vibe and you’ll see that Café Azul y Oro, in an institutional 1970s-era building on the campus of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) in Coyoacán, serves some of the best meals—and deals—in town. Food writer and chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita is on a mission to make high-minded food affordable to students (and anyone who values taste over atmosphere). With dishes like salpicón de venado, a vinegar-laced venison salad, and duck ravioli stacked in a pyramid and strewn with blackberries and mole sauce, you’ll eat as well as you would at any of the city’s top restaurants—all for well under the $15 mark. Insurgentes Sur 3000, Ciudad Universitaria, 011-52/55-5623-3500 ext. 1065, entrées from $6.50.

16. You never know what’s hidden in an office building
Walk through a perfume shop, up three flights of stairs, and down a deserted, fluorescent-lit hallway to find the capital’s best source for native handicrafts. Founded in 1944 by artist Víctor Fosado Contreras, Víctor Artes Populares Mexicanas is now run by his daughter, Pilar Fosado Vázquez. She stocks colorful, museum-quality pieces, such as beaded Huichol bowls from Jalisco, papier-mâché Day of the Dead dolls from Guanajuato, and hand-painted glass pitchers from Puebla. Francisco I. Madero 10, Suite 305, 3rd Fl., Centro, 011-52/55-5512-1263, artespopularesvictor.com.

17. Unparalleled people-watching
The patio tables at Vucciria, an Italian restaurant across from the Parque México, look out on a compelling weekly parade: yuppies in Barbour coats walking Weimaraners, hipsters in skinny jeans, fashionistas with messy hair tottering by in heels. Get there by 3 p.m. on a Sunday to score a spot and settle in for an afternoon of grazing on carciofi fritti, a perfect cure for taco fatigue. México 157, Hipódromo Condesa, 011-52/55-5564-7441, entrées from $10.

18. The other flea market
You could easily skip La Lagunilla, the famed blocks-long market, in favor of the weekend stalls at Plaza del Ángel, set up in the arcades of a Zona Rosa shopping plaza. Easier to manage, it’s the go-to spot for many of the city’s antiques dealers, who come for the wildly varied selection of antiques and pop culture souvenirs, from lucha libre piggy banks and busts of Aztec princes to folding wooden klismos chairs. Arrive by 10 a.m. to get a shot at the good stuff. Londres 161, Zona Rosa.

19. There’s more to the design scene than handicrafts
Gurú, a graphic-arts gallery and store, is ground zero for objects by up-and-coming Mexican artists, especially ones with a sense of humor. Think patchwork stuffed animals by Toloache Peluche ($40), cartoonish vinyl figurines from Francisco Herrera ($59), and geometric ceramic rings by El Uno y el Todo ($27). Colima 143, Roma Norte, 011-52/55-5533-7140, gurugalleryshop.com .

20. The Mexican Starbucks
A café, gallery, and bookstore in a century-old town house, Conejo Blanco is a popular meet-up spot for all, including families drawn to the former nursery for its fitting focus on kids’ books. Ámsterdam 67, Hipódromo Condesa, 011-52/55-5286-7430, coffee from $2.

GETTING AROUND

On foot: As in any urban environment, it pays to take commonsense precautions in Mexico City. Be aware of your surroundings, avoid walking alone at night, use ATMs inside banks during business hours, and leave the flashy jewelry at home.

By cab: Outside of their own local shopping districts, residents don’t really walk. Fortunately, taxis are cheap and plentiful. Just avoid hailing, as rogue drivers have been known to mug their passengers. Instead, call a taxi de sitio (one from a private company). Taxi Mex is among the best, with metered cars, quick pickups, and registered drivers (whose license and photo should be on display). 011-52/ 55-5634-9912, taximex.com.mx .

In a rental car: One of the secrets of driving in Mexico City is knowing when not to do it—specifically, on Fridays. Weekends unofficially begin Friday afternoon, and many office workers take off after lunch. Three-hour snarls are an unfortunate probability—even more painful if you’re heading to the airport to catch a flight.

On the subway: For the times when driving isn’t recommended (or even an option), there’s a handy Metro system. But be aware that train cars and platforms can be a hotbed for pickpockets and petty criminals. www.metro.df.gob.mx , 25¢ one way, including transfers.

Article taken from NBC for further or more information go there.

For housing and apart-hotel services please contact us. We have Suites from 1 to 4 rooms and prices from 45 to 140 dollars. Also we give special prices for groups or long-term stays. www.khsuites.com

The Top Ten Tourist Attractions of Mexico City

March 12, 2010 Leave a comment

Experience the Ten Best Things To Do in Mexico’s Largest City

Feb 17, 2010 Charlotte Gordon

These ten must-see attractions give an overview of Mexico City’s art, culture, history and people.

Mexico City is a city like no other. Many visitors come expecting pollution and crime and are amazed to find so much history and culture. Also, for one of world’s biggest cities, it is surprisingly easy to get around on public transport. Mexico City is the ultimate clash of civilisations, where Spanish cathedrals were built literally on top of Aztec temples. Now the people, art, culture and music of Mexico City reflects this mix of indigenous and Spanish heritage.

The Zocalo and the Templo Mayor

In the heart of Mexico City lies the Zocalo. The huge cathedral towers over the square, displaying the might of the Spanish empire. On the weekends, there are indigenous dancers and people performing smoke ceremonies around the exterior of the cathedral, along with many stalls selling clothes and jewellery. Next to the Zocalo is the site of the Aztec’s Templo Mayor, which was the principal temple of their city, named Tenochtitlan. Until recently the temple lay forgotten under buildings, but now it is a museum that allows you to walk among the ruins, close enough to touch them. There is also an excellent museum on the site, displaying some of the Aztec treasures found around the temple.

The Palacio National

The Palacio National on the Zocalo is a collection of government buildings and would be of little interest if not for the incredible Diego Rivera mural inside. In one of his biggest and most ambitious murals, Rivera tells the story of the history of Mexico on these walls. The scope of his vision is truly outstanding and it is worth paying for guide to explain the details of the mural. Entry is free but official ID such as a passport is required on entry.

Bellas Artes

This decadent opera house is a great place to see the work of a variety of Mexican muralists, including Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros. The walls of the opera house give insight into the Mexican muralist movement, with dozens of stunning works painted onto the walls and stairwells. There is free entry to the murals on Sundays, but there are often queues.

The Alameda and the Museum of Diego Rivera

Strolling through the Alameda Park in the historic centre on a sunny Sunday is a great place to see all manner of street performers, food stalls and free concerts. Just to the side of the park is the Museum of Diego Rivera. This is really just one Rivera mural called Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park. In this mural, Rivera depicts the famous figures of Mexican history all together in the park. A key to the mural explains who is who.

Plaza Garibaldi

Garibaldi is the place to go to in Mexico City to see mariachis. visitors will know they are close to the square because on a weekend night because the mariachis can been seen and heard blocks away. It costs around 80-100 pesos a song to be serenaded by a group of about eight exemplary musicians. There are also groups performing banda and norteña music. One word of warning though: some of the bars around the square often take advantage of foreigners with unfair charges to the bill, so be careful.

The Pyramids of Teotihuacan

When most people think of pyramids, they think of Egypt. For this reason it can be starting to learn that the world’s second and third largest pyramids are in fact in Mexico. The pyramids are a day trip, about an hour and a half out of the city. Leave early to beat the heat, wear some sunscreen and take plenty of water and food: there are not a lot of either for sale at the pyramids themselves. There are two main pyramids to climb, the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. Both afford great views of the area and give a small glimpse of the culture that constructed these pyramids so long ago.

Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Coyoacan

No trip to Mexico City would be complete without a trip to the bohemian Spanish-style suburb of Coyoacan. Frida Kahlo’s house, named the Casa Azul, is a short walk from the main square. Paintings aside, the house itself is a work of art. The striking blue is contrasted with the green of the plants and the colours of the paintings and artesian items inside. Frida grew up in his house, and eventually lived with her husband Diego Rivera. Wandering through her living space gives a sense of the Frida’s troubled life and her passion for Mexico. However, despite the title, the museum doesn’t contain many of Frida’s paintings as you might expect. Real Frida fans need to go to Dolores Olmeda museum.

The Trotsky Museum

But for a few mishaps of history, Leon Trotsky would have been the leader of Russia instead of Stalin. However, when Stalin took power Trotsky had to flee and ended up living out his last years in Mexico City, until he was eventually murdered by Stalinists. The museum shows us Trotsky’s humble home and documents his life, including his strange connection to Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. It is a short walk from the Casa Azul in Coyoacan and so it makes sense to visit the two museums in one day.

The Anthropology Museum

If visitors only see one museum in Mexico City, it should be this one. This museum houses Latin America’s foremost collection of pre-Hispanic culture and artefacts. It is organised into a collection of rooms, covering the different periods and civilisations of Mexico. The sheer scope of the collection can be daunting, and so take a break in the café after exploring a few of the rooms. Renting some headsets greatly enhances the museum experience, as it de-mystifies the exhibits and explains the different points of interest in each room. The Aztec or Mexica room is the home of the huge sunstone, displaying the Aztec calendar. This is one of the most impressive rooms in the museum and it is a good room to start your tour.

The Dolores Olmeda Patino Museum

This little visited museum in the south of the city is the hidden gem of Mexico City art museums. It takes a bit of organisation to get there but it is well worth the effort. Dolores Olmeda Patino was a prolific collector, patron of the arts and friend of Diego and Frida. The museum was once her house and is full of her collections of pre-Hispanic artesian items and Diego’s paintings. But perhaps the most interesting aspect of the collection are the twenty-five Frida Kahlo paintings, the biggest collection of her work in the world. The house itself is a former Spanish hacienda with huge grounds is home to peacocks and strange pre-Hispanic hairless dogs.

Readers’ Picks for Mexico City

February 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Readers’ Picks for Mexico City

Janet Jarman for The New York Times
Selected reader (of the New York Times) suggestions for visiting Mexico City, compiled from user comments on the Travel section’s Web site.

WHERE TO EAT

Mexico city is an amazing place to eat. From its street food to the fine dining. Try Azul y Oro for a casual meal and Pujol (pujol.com.mx) for a fine dining experience.

Posted by Caseywilliams

Markets, street food and small tacquerias are highly recommended. Usually the tacos/tortas are made fresh and excellent quality. My favorite restaurant was La Toma de Tequila at Centro Médico Metro station. Chihuahua cuisine. The owner and staff went out of their way to please.

Posted by JJbradley3

If you like seafood and shellfish, I would recommend Danubio near the Zócalo (danubio.com). We had a great lunch and the restaurant has a lot of history.

Posted by Rwiggins

I just returned from DF and ate excellent everywhere, but I must say the best was Jaso (jaso.com.mx) in Polanco. Order the tasting menu and don’t miss dessert!

Posted by Avr

For breakfast before touring downtown Mexico go to El Moro, a churrería at Eje Central Lázaro Cárdenas 42 . They have four different kinds of hot chocolate and churros. This place has been around for over 70 years.

Posted by Ji

Bar La Opera (Avenida 5 de Mayo, corner of Filomeno Mata, Metro Allende or Bellas Artes) really is delightful, not just for the lovely dark wood, brass and mirrors, but for a generally comfortable atmosphere. I had probably the best margarita there (45 pesos?) and a very nice flan, an excellent piña colada another night.

Posted by Anonymous

Article taken from the New York Times

36 Hours in Mexico City

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment
Article take from: NY Times Also more info here.

Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

Crafts for sale at the Plaza San Jacinto in San Ángel.

Published: January 24, 2010

POOR Mexico City. Just as it was luring back travelers with cool new hotels, a flourishing contemporary art scene and semi-endurable pollution levels, Mexico’s escalating drug violence became front-page news. Then the capital became a swine flu epicenter. Suddenly, a run for the border didn’t seem like such a smart idea. Ready for the truth? The time to visit this megacity — about 20 million people live in the metropolitan area — has rarely been better. Eager to attract people again, luxury hotels are offering specials that slash room rates by up to 65 percent. More restaurants, hotels and art galleries have sprung up in chic neighborhoods like Condesa and Roma. And Mexico City has probably never been this clean: even the street vendors now cart around big bottles of hand sanitizer.

Friday

4 p.m.
1) AZTEC ASSIMILATION

A stroll through Condesa, the lush neighborhood where Paris Hilton frolicked when she visited (don’t hold that against it), will quickly vanquish the stereotype of Mexico City as an unsafe eyesore. Start at Parque Mexico (intersection of Avenida Sonora and Avenida Mexico), where locals and their dogs mix with hipsters en route to sidewalk espresso bars. A Macarena dance contest (irony included) was in full swing in the band shell on a recent weekend. Atlixco, a side street nearby, is becoming a hub for boutiques. Soho Condesa (Atlixco 100B; 52-55-5553-1730) serves up funky sunglasses on fur-lined shelves, while Milagro (Atlixco 38, www.collection-milagro.com) has colorful handbags embroidered by local artists.

9 p.m.
2) RESTAURANT ROW

The posh district of Polanco, with its leafy streets named after famous writers, is the center of the city’s foodie scene. There are newer restaurants — Astrid & Gastón (Tennyson 117; 52-55-5282-2666; astridygaston.com), the latest from the Peruvian restaurateur Gastón Acurio, opened with a splash about a year ago. But the young, moneyed crowd still flocks to an older favorite: Ivoire (Emilio Castelar 95; 52-55-5280-0477). The French-Mexican menu can be hit and miss (try the lobster risotto with azafrán for 250 pesos, or $20 at 12.5 pesos to the dollar), but the buzzy rooftop bar with candle-lit views makes up for it.

11 p.m.
3) NO WORM, JUST CHICKEN

Mezcal, once spurned as the poor man’s tequila in Mexico and historically sold in the United States with a gimmicky worm floating inside, was embraced by trend setters here a few years ago and the craze continues. La Botica (Campeche 396, Condesa; 52-55-5211-6045; labotica.com.mx) serves up over 30 varieties, including one steeped with chicken breasts during distillation. Locals insist that the chicken softens the alcohol’s smoky flavor, and they are right. Sip, don’t slam.

Saturday

11 a.m.
4) ART INJECTION

Two stars of the contemporary art world — Gabriel Orozco and Miguel Calderón — have been nurtured by the quirky Kurimanzutto Gallery (Rafael Rebollar 94; 52-55-5256-2408; kurimanzutto.com), which moved into a renovated lumber yard in San Miguel last fall. Older galleries are clustered in the adjacent Roma district, including OMR (Plaza Rio de Janeiro 54; 52-55-5207-1080; galeriaomr.com), which handles artists like Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, known for working with electronics and sound.

12:30 p.m.
5) NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Visiting art dealers and collectors often head to Contramar (Durango 200, Roma; 52-55-5514-3169; contramar.com.mx) for lunch, feasting on raw-tuna-topped tostadas and basking in the see-and-be-seen atmosphere. Another lunch spot, which has landed on several best-new-restaurant lists, is Fonda la Veracruzana (Medellín 198, Roma; 52-55-5574-0474). Decorated with white- and green-checkered tablecloths, it serves impossibly fresh Peruvian seafood dishes at bargain prices (44 pesos for a “small” portion of the ceviche, which came in a giant sundae glass). The salty fried shrimp with garlic (110 pesos) was good, too.

2 p.m.
6) BIZARRE BAZAAR

You’ve done high art, now go low. Bazar del Sábado (Plaza de San Jacinto, San Ángel) is a Saturday flea market where locals and tourists alike go to haggle for deals on handicrafts (blankets, baskets, jewelry) and chat with street artists. Pick up a glittery, kitschy Our Lady of Guadalupe box shrine (about 155 pesos) and don’t miss the adjacent flower market, a dank but fascinating rabbit warren of cement stalls displaying over-the-top arrangements like a lion’s head made out of yellow spider mums.

4 p.m.
7) OUR LADY FRIDA

Homage must be paid to Frida Kahlo, the seemingly ubiquitous unibrowed painter and wife of the muralist Diego Rivera. Most visitors head to her former home, now Museo Frida Kahlo (Londres 247, Coyoacan; 52-55-5554-5999; www.museofridakahlo.org.mx). In the former home of a socialite art collector, the Museo Dolores Olmedo is a less touristy gem (Avenida Mexico 5843, Xochimilco; 52-55-5555-1221; museodoloresolmedo.org.mx) where some of Kahlo’s famous canvases hang. Look for the self-portrait depicting her spine as a broken stone column.

6 p.m.
8 ) PARADE, FLOAT

Get in touch with your inner Aztec with a visit to the nearby “floating gardens” of Xochimilco (www.xochimilco.df.gob.mx). This network of shallow canals, where early settlers farmed on artificial islands, is a remnant of the lake that once covered part of the valley where Mexico City rests. Locals arrive on weekends for raucous fiestas on trajineras, wooden boats painted in wild colors that can seat as many as 20 people. Hire your own boat for about 160 pesos an hour . Other boats sell food (tacos, circles of jicama on a stick) and beer. Feel like joining the party? Hire a mariachi band (prices vary) to sail with you.

8 p.m.
9) GASTRONOMIC GLITZ

Rejoin the 21st century at Distrito Capital (Juan Salvador Agraz 37; 52-55-5257-1300; hoteldistritocapital.com), a sleek restaurant that opened last year in a skyscraper in the ritzy Santa Fe business district. The chef Enrique Olvera — the force behind Pujol, one of the city’s fanciest restaurants — serves up a more casual menu here of surf (sea bass marinated with guajillo peppers and garlic in a pineapple sauce, 195 pesos) and turf (New York steak with guacamole and prickly pears, 250 pesos). If it’s a clear night, the hotel offers spectacular views of the volcanoes beyond the city.

10 p.m.
10) IT’S (NOT) A DRAG

The Ballet Folklórico? That’s for wimps. Downtown — still a shady area at night, so leave the jewelry behind — is a cabaret show that is as outlandish and bizarre as it is exhilarating. At itty-bitty La Perla (República de Cuba 44, Centro; 52-55-1997-7695), drag queens bedazzled within an inch of their lives entertain a multigenerational crowd of (mostly heterosexual) locals. Couples dance salsa between shows; the cover is 120 pesos. Have your picture taken with the impersonator Lupita D’Alessio, the Liza Minnelli of Mexico.

Sunday

11 a.m.
11) FREE RIDE

After a busy Saturday, unwind on a bicycle: the government lends them free (with helmet) from kiosks along the Paseo de la Reforma, although you may want to skip the line and rent one from vendors set up in front of the National Museum of Anthropology (Paseo de la Reforma at Gandhi; 52-55-5553-6381; mna.inah.gob.mx). The Paseo de la Reforma, modeled in part on the Champs-Élysées, is closed to cars on Sundays until early afternoon to accommodate bicyclists. It’s liberating to zoom through the circular plaza marking the Mexican War of Independence — and not only because it is usually choked with traffic. A good pit stop is the entrance to the Bosque de Chapultepec, the city’s largest park, where vendors sell freshly peeled, spice-covered oranges for a few pesos.

1 p.m.
12) CACAO MEXICAN STYLE

Reward yourself with Mexican chocolates from Princesse Cacao (Fernando Montes de Oca 81, Condesa; 52-55-5211-0276). The newish chocolatier specializes in artisanal candy from Tabasco and Chiapas, the two southern Mexican states where some historians say chocolate was invented, or at least refined (about 13 pesos apiece). Fabuloso!

THE BASICS

Continental, Delta and AeroMexico fly to Mexico City from New York, starting at $434, according to a recent online search. For safety reasons, avoid hailing a cab when you arrive at the airport. Rather, arrange for a pickup from your hotel ahead of time. If you forget, hire a licensed taxi from inside the airport.

The Four Seasons (Paseo de la Reforma 500; 52-55-5230-1818; fourseasons.com/mexico) is the roost of choice for luxury travelers. Aside from its well-coordinated car service, the hotel is known for its azalea- and myrtle-filled central courtyard. Special weekend rates start at about 2,125 pesos, or about $170 at 12.5 pesos to the dollar.

The hipper-than-thou Condesa DF (Avenida Veracruz, N. 102; 52-55-5241-2600; condesadf.com) opened five years ago and is still ground zero for urban cool and celebrities, who flock to its atrium bar. Bring earplugs. Rooms start at 2,066 pesos.

***Also if you need a 1, 2 or 3 room apartment at Polanco, Lomas de Chapultepec, Tecamachalco or Zona Rosa, you could stay with us. Check our webpage www.khsuites.com ***  (Info added by the editor of this blog, but it could suit your needs.)

Article take from: NY Times Also more info here.