Thursday, August 3, 2017

Our First Trip to Mexico City

July 25th was our 25th wedding anniversary! And they said it wouldn't last. I re-upped for another 25 years. If Bev will have me. So far, so good.

We spent four nights in Mexico City at the Red Tree House (RTH) a BnB in the Condesa Colonia. The place was highly recommended by friends here in San Miguel and received the #1 rating for BnBs in Mexico City. There are 27 rooms in the buildings, and it is a delight to stay there. Included in the price is breakfast in the morning and cocktail hour in the evening from 6:00 to 8:00. There are tables and sofas in three or four rooms, a fireplace and we all gathered to discuss the days sight seeing, what restaurants to go to, and find out where everyone is from.

Bev and I were unusual because we weren't just tourists, but we actually lived in Mexico and thus were asked many questions. Of course, there were many of the guests considering moving to Mexico.

The first night we dined at Roberta Trattoria. The food was very good and just three blocks from the RTH. I had Aglio olio capellini, and Bev had fettuccini with shrimp. She liked mine better. Bev's dish was pretty rich and bland. So she added red pepper flakes to give it some zest. The waiters no hablas ingles so we had a hard time getting them to bring pepper. I thought I heard them say peppino for pepper. That information led to an interesting story.

Sunday we went to the museos. We toured the Museum of Modern Art, Chapultepec Castle and tried to find the Museum of Anthropology. We walked eight miles that day. The Museum of Modern Art is a real asset to the city. It is a beautiful building, and the art is outstanding. I would go back again and again. With our INAPAM cards, for residentes, we got in free. Chapultepec sits at 7685 feet above sea level, and the site of the hill was a sacred place for Aztecs. The buildings atop the hill have served several purposes during its history, including that of Military Academy, Imperial residence, Presidential home, observatory, and presently, the National Museum of History. I was impressed with vases in one room that are taller than a tall man, made from malachite. I didn’t know you could get pieces of malachite that big.

The months of July and August bring the rainy season and usually about 4:00 mas o menos, the thunder begins. Soon you need an umbrella. We scurried for the RTH, a nap and then we would head down to the lobby to meet new friends. Sunday night we dined at Café Gloria. Again, within walking distance.

We ordered Grilled Shrimp for Bev and Caprece for me. Man was it good. Then we ordered pesto pasta, and Bev added some her shrimp to her pasta. Both restaurants were great, but we practically dined alone.

Monday, we took Uber to see Carlos Slim’s art collection. We were told it was worth $15 million. An aluminum sided modern structure houses his collection and inside the walkway winds upwards like the Guggenheim in New York City. Across the street from the Slim, the museum was the museum showing the Campbell Soup artist, Andy Warhol. However, it was closed on Monday.

Monday, night we went to another place nearby: La Capital. The menu is on the wall above the kitchen. It is large and filled with young and old, Mexicans and tourists. I ordered a roasted white fish seated on a bed of puree de papa, mashed potatoes, and covered with a delicious chipotle sauce. Bev ordered shrimp tacos. She loved hers, and I found the fish good, but it was pretty dense and very chewy, not flaky. We both would go again.

Bev wanted salt and pepper. We called the waiter over, and I ordered Sal y Peppino. He looked at me strangely and called over the captain of the front of the house. I told her we would like sal y peppino. They shook their heads. Soon the waiter approached with a shaker of salt and three slices of cucumber in a little dish. Peppino is a cucumber. I needed to order chile or la pimiento.

We dedicated Tuesday to Pablo Picasso and Diego Rivera. Near the Zocalo, downtown was a museum with a side by side comparison of their work. Picasso was five years older than Rivera, but their styles were similar until Rivera concentrated on Mexico and the indigenous people. Sometimes it was difficult to tell them apart when they both were in their cubist periods. We left there and went to the Diego museum at the end of Almeda Central, a park a little like Central Park. There we saw the painting that covers one whole wall. Local writer Beldon Butterfield received permission to use the painting on the cover of his book “Mexico Behind the Mask.”

We took a cab from the downtown to Colonia Roma. We scouted out the restaurants there for our anniversary dinner. After looking at many restaurants we decide on Maison de Famille. It was beautiful in a French way. We ordered Escargot to start then tomatoes sprinkled with olive oil. The waiter said the tomatoes were Mexican grown but from French stock. They tasted as they had just come off the vine. As great as any we had in Italy. Finally, the waiter brought us tenderloin in a black pepper sauce. Bev didn’t know if she would like the sauce, so the waiter brought her a small dish to taste test. Magnifique!

Wednesday, we had to go home but not before visiting the Frieda Kahlo house. Here the fee for entry was for us 31 pesos with our INAPAM card. Without the cards, it was 438 pesos. So bring your card. I was feeling like I was coming down with something. Maybe the food the night before was too rich. Bev went through the museum mostly by herself, while I sat in the shade under a tree. She came away with new appreciation for all the health problems suffered by Frida and her courage to live life regardless. For 25 years she was married to Diego Rivera. She died in a young woman in 1954.

I was impressed with Mexico City. You don’t see the raging poverty we know is there on the bus trip into the city. One of the largest in the world. It doesn’t seem that large. There is mucho traffico, and John Scherber calls the driving style “freestyle driving.” There seems to be free use of the horn. But the parts of the city we saw, remind me of the upper east side of New York. Tree-lined streets, lots of apartments, lots of pedestrians. The city works well with tour buses you can hop off and on; city buses, and subways. There is so much to see. Our next visit will take us to the pyramids and the floating gardens.

One last thing: the owners and employees of RTH are special. Extremely helpful who really care about their guests.  I would recommend the Red Tree House for your next trip to Mexico City.