Wednesday, March 29, 2017


The Thrillist says, "Here's how you know a city is a food capital: when you return from a visit and the first question your friends ask isn't what museums you visited, what beaches you loafed on, what mountains you climbed. Nah, you know it when they blurt, "What did you eat?"

Mexico City, Mexico A world-class hub of food and culture, so close and so very cheap

Why you should go: Clued-in travelers have long headed to this pulsing metropolis of 21 million souls, where they've explored world-class museums, a vibrant independent art scene, and stunning colonial architecture. And while Mexico City's profile is definitely on the rise, the Ciudad de Mexico, or CDMX as it's known locally, remains an overlooked destination in comparison to the shining stars in the firmament of international travel. That's a downright shame: with its warm, welcoming culture, leafy, tree-lined colonias, and wonderfully delicious food, there are endless reasons to visit Mexico City. It can go head to head with the world's more touristed cities any day -- and at a fraction of the price.

What you'll be eating: Few places in the world take eating as seriously as Mexico City. Street food reigns supreme, and you can hardly walk a few steps without being enticed by the aromas wafting from the little carts where hard-working, immensely talented cooks serve up delectable (and cheap -- we're talking less than $3 for a complete lunch) snacks all day long. In the morning, visit a tamalero, a vendor who serves hearty, corn-based breakfast items: in addition to tamales, he'll offer sweet cinnamon-and-vanilla-scented cups of atole, a hot, smooth corn drink. Ready for lunch? Seek out a tlacoyo, an eye-shaped disc of blue corn masa griddled and stuffed with creamy mashed fava beans or porky chicharron. Mexico City's tacos are equal to all the hype, available all day in every neighborhood, and filled with a huge range of meats. For a taste of the ultra-local, look for tacos al pastor, little corn tortillas folded around seasoned pork and warm, juicy bits of sweet pineapple. Said to be brought to the Mexico City area by Lebanese immigrants in the 19th century, the style has proliferated across the country but reaches its apex in CDMX.

If you're the type of diner who prefers an unhurried, sit-down meal, take note. In recent years, the city's fine-dining scene has exploded: star chef and CDMX native Enrique Olvera's Pujol, located in the tony neighborhood of Polanco, is probably the best-known example. It more than merits its many accolades, plating refined fare that demonstrates an intimate knowledge of traditional Mexican ingredients deployed in surprising ways -- and at about $100 for a seven-course meal, it won't blow up a vacation budget. Other excellent white-tablecloth restaurants include nearby Quintonil, where Jorge Vallejo creates Instagram-worthy dishes that taste as good as they look, and Maximo Bistrot, a cozy little corner spot in Roma with an excellent wine list.

What to do between meals: The vast expanse of Mexico City is divided into diverse neighborhoods known as colonias, and one of the most rewarding activities is to stroll among them, leisurely taking in the bustle of the city. Architecture buffs should check out Roma Norte, where expansive early-20th-century mansions now house cultural centers, bookstores, and art galleries; nightlife lovers can bar-hop around Condesa, the city's most tourist-friendly area, packed with cafes and clubs. The art of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Mexico City's famed twice-married couple, is on display all over the city, but for a more unusual glimpse into the life of the former, visit the Museo Anahuacalli in Coyoacan, which houses Rivera's unparalleled collection of pre-Columbian art and artifacts. Gallery enthusiasts can hit up Kurimanzutto, which represents pan-media modern artist Gabriel Orozco and relative newcomer Labor. For local color, CDMX's main square, the Zocalo, is always fun to walk around, and Chapultepec, the city’s Central Park, offers an oasis of green apart from the packed and frenetic streets of Downtown. -- Lauren Rothman, Thrillist contributor

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The 10 Best Places in the World to Retire in 2017

There’s a new best country in the world to retire, according to the experts at International Living (IL), an authority on global retirement and relocation opportunities. In its Annual Global Retirement Index, Mexico — one of the most popular countries among U.S. expats — has edged out last year’s No. 1, Panama.

But truth be told, Mexico (which was ranked No. 3 in 2016), Panama and Ecuador are within a hair of each other in the new International Living rankings. “There’s just a tenth of a percentage point difference in their total rankings,” said Dan Prescher, an International Living senior editor who lives with is wife Suzan Haskins in Cotacachi, Ecuador.

See the whole article at NextAvenue.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Mitch Altman / Flickr Guadalajara, Mexico 12 of 16 There’s no hotter art scene right now than in Guadalajara, which has impressive museums and jaw-dropping murals. The creative crowd has been flocking to the new design-centric Casa Fayette hotel, but you’ll also spot them at the Traversia Cuatro gallery and Julia Y Renata, a fashion boutique run by two sisters.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Well I'll Be Darned

Well I'll be darned. I set down on the end of a bench in the Jardin after having a wonderful breakfast at La Vanda. I had my favorite Omelette Marguarite, which is like having Caprese in an omelette. Sitting on the other end of the bench was a woman with big strawberry blond hair. We struck up a conversation while we sat in the sun on a beautiful SMA day. She has been in SMA for sixteen years to my year and a half. She blogged. I don't know how that came up. I guess when I mentioned I was a freelance writer. Anyway, I was talking with Babs. Yes that Babs, that you see on the right on my blog roll. I have been reading her blog for many years before I ever lived in SMA, when it was just a glimmer of a hope to someday retire here.

She is a very pleasant woman, well known with 30,000 followers of her blog. While we sat and chatted many came up to chat with her. Seems like a small world sometimes here in the city. You never know who you will meet just sitting on a bench in the Jardin on a day before the Dia de Muertos, the square mobbed by people with nothing to do but enjoy the sunshine.

Babs, mucho gusto, I'm sure I'll see you around now that we've met.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The World’s Best Cities for Food

No matter where in the world you’re traveling, you’re going to eat. And if you plan to make that a very important part of your trip (which we suggest you do), consider heading to one of the world’s best cities for food.

7. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

But this year, says Melanie Lieberman of Travel + Leisure, lesser-known destinations received accolades for their restaurants and cuisine, including the colonial city of San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico’s central highlands. Travelers will find bars serving small-batch mezcals from Oaxaca, and (believe it or not) a croissant at Cumpanio that will rival any ordered in Paris.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

An Aljibe or Underground Water Cistern

The majority of Mexico is not served by pressurized water systems, requiring some ingenuity to regulate the water pressure in your home

On our way to Zacatecas two weeks ago, one particular view from our bus gave us a view of the roofs of a housing development. I noticed on every roof was a black, round cylinder called a tinaco. You'll notice that most houses have a tinaco on the roof. I asked a number of expats how the system works. Few could tell me.

Here's how it works. The city delivers water two or three hours a day to each house. In order to have water whenever it is needed, each house has an aljibe or underground water cistern. The aljibe has a float that shuts off intake when it is full. Then a pump sends the water to the tinaco on the roof and it has a float that shuts off intake when full. The system is now pressurized and showers, sinks, water heater, and toilets can draw on the water from the roof. It is gravity fed and that's why we have pressure when we take a shower. If power fails, as it can here, we still have water from the roof.

Sometimes you will see the tinaco on stilts, to give additional force of gravity to an upstairs shower.

Every house has an aljibe. Our house on Umaran had a had a cistern in the guest bedroom. It was just a cover in the floor by the bed. Here on Huertas, our cistern is off the terrace outside the kitchen, near the BBQ.

Raise a glass to the wines of Guanajuato

I think we have become snobs when it comes to Mexican wines here in SMA. We turn up our noses at wine from here in favor of wines from Chile. It reminds me of the time in Oregon when everyone raved about California wines vs. Oregon wines. My, how the times have changed! Well now things are changing for Mexico.

By Meagan Drillinger at Travel Weekly Guadelupe on the Baja peninsula. But this is not Mexico's only wine region worth knowing. In the heart of Mexico, in the central state of Guanajuato, is another burgeoning wine country that is poised to make a name for itself.

You may know Guanajuato as the state that is home to San Miguel de Allende, Dolores Hidalgo and Comonfort, and these are all fantastic places to know and explore. But Guanajuato also has a rich wine-growing tradition that dates to the 16th century, when Spanish conquistadors brought European grapes to the region. Back then the production of wine was strictly for the use of the church; today the country is reviving its wine culture and making it a very vital part of experiencing Guanajuato. Americans may be unfamiliar with the wine tradition of the region because Guanajuato, like Switzerland, does not export any of its bottles to the U.S.

There are about 25 ranches in Guanajuato devoted to producing wine, but there are three that are must-visits. The first stop for oenophiles in Mexico is the Wine Trail, known in Spanish as the Circuito del Vino, which stretches from Dolores Hidalgo to San Miguel de Allende.The first stop on that trail is the Vega Manchon winery, which produces the much-acclaimed Cuna de Tierra label, winner of 31 medals in three years. This winery is located along the highway from Dolores Hidalgo to San Luis de la Paz. At Rancho Santa Gloria, travelers have the opportunity to make their own wine with familiar European grapes, like montepulciano, tempranillo and grenache. At the end of the circuit is Vinicola Toyan, with a wine cellar built at a depth of 82 feet. Mysticism is at play here as general manager Martha Molina marks the entrance to the wine cellar with meteorites she found, believing that they help to enhance the wine's organic properties. Wind your way down a dark ramp that is flanked with 24 strategically positioned pink and black stone monks, lit up in blue and violet.

But a real gem of a winery in Guanajuato is the Caminos D'Vinos, the highest vineyard in Mexico at 7,200 feet above sea level. The winery spreads out around a gorgeous, historical hacienda, Sangre de Cristo, that also serves as a boutique hotel. Also on site are a spa and a restaurant, El Tronco.