The Zócalo is the main plaza of the historic center (Centro Histórico) of Mexico City. My colleagues have been telling me to visit this place and on my third weekend in the city, I finally managed to see it.
I was pretty sure that taking a cab would cost me a lot because it is quite far from my hotel, so I decided to just take the Turibus. It cost me MX$165 and I got to see the whole city. I didn’t hop off the bus, though. I wanted to, but the bus interval is quite long and on the stops, there were always long queues. I didn’t want to lose my good seat so I just stayed on the bus for 3 hours to complete the whole route.
The Turibus’ Circuito Centro passes by many interesting places that I can’t squeeze everything in here. For now, I’ll just show some photos of the Zocalo.
A photo as we approached the Zocalo: The building on the left is the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary of Mexico City (Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de María).
The huge Mexico flag tells you that you are indeed, at the Zocalo:
True to its name, this part of the city has many buildings of historical importance. Most of these historic buildings were constructed between the 16th and 20th centuries.
If my memory serves me right, the buildings on the photo on the left house some restaurants and shops. The building on the photo on the right is the National Palace.
Below are some photos taken a few blocks away from the zocalo. The traffic was bad but I didn’t get bored because the area was bustling with activity. It was a good opportunity to observe the Mexicans. ^^
I actually got to visit this area again to view some ruins but I’ll save it for another post.
The Museo Nacional de Antropología of Mexico showcases a lot of archaelogical and anthropological artificacts from the pre-Columbian era. Too bad I couldn’t identify from which collections my photos are from. The only exhibit categories that I can recall are: Maya and Teotihuacan. You may want to take a look at this page for the museum layout. It has a beautiful architecture and the impressive “el paraguas” at the entrance convinced me all the more that I was going to enjoy my time there:
The museum is so huge that I had to take breaks before going to another collection. You may want to take advantage of the eat-all-you-can buffet at the restaurant there. The food was OK but trust me, you need to fill up before going around.
The entrance fee was MX$57.00 but free admission for citizens and foreign residents. If I do have a chance to live in Mexico City, I’ll definitely visit the museum as often as I can!
Now let’s start with the ones outside.
Most of the signs/descriptions are in Spanish so I couldn’t get the details.
The building on the left, I assume, has some sort of bedrooms and the ceiling was adorned with the following:
Too colorful for me, yet undeniably amazing.
Now, the potteries and stone slabs with carvings. These were really beautiful when I saw them with my naked eye. I wish I had a great camera~
I’m not sure if the items below were just used as ornaments. But how about the figurines? Maybe these were the “dolls” at that time?
I normally don’t like taking photos of skeletons but this post would be incomplete without it. Plus, this tomb was so intriguing:
House replicas and footwear are also in my favorites list:
Aren’t the small sandals cute? ^^
I already took out a lot of photos from this post yet I still have to write the 4th part to cover the exhibits on the second floor!
Taxco de Alarcón (Taxco), is about 2 hours from Cuernavaca. A few minutes after leaving Cuernavaca, dubbed as the City of Eternal Spring, we have noticed many small stands selling roses of different shades. The tour guide told us that a dozen of roses only cost MX$10 (S$3)! It’s even cheaper than in my country.
I love the sceneries on the way to Taxco that I didn’t fall asleep. The photo on the right side is just one of those beautiful views. And no, it’s not a real bull. It’s just a billboard shaped like one.
Taxco is famous for silver mining and of silver crafting. It is known as one of Mexico’s “Pueblos Mágicos” (Magical Towns) because of the high-grade silver pieces, the colonial buildings, and the sceneries. As the city came into view, I knew that I’m going to love it. From afar, Taxco reminded me of Baguio City.
Aside from the beautiful yet cheap silver crafts, the Sta. Prisca Church is more than enough reason to visit Taxco. It is one of the most beautiful churches that I’ve ever visited. Its exterior and interior designs are just jaw-dropping (at least for me).
Just click on the photos if you want to see them bigger.
And here’s more of the Sta. Prisca Church’s carvings:
Gotta share some photos of me and my tour mates. There were three Vietnamese and two Mexicans and everyone was really nice so I enjoyed this trip a lot.
Unfortunately, I forgot all of their names. >_<
Here’s the town plaza, brimming with people and activities.
Also, a nice-looking restaurant seen from the plaza.
Adding to the “colonial atmosphere” of the place, all taxis are just Volkswagen’s beetles.
It’s also a wise choice because the streets in Taxco are so narrow.
The cobblestone streets reminded me of Portugal…
Holy Week in Taxco must be elaborate, having found these figures at the back of the San Bernardino Church: an “Animas penitente”, a “Flagelante penitente”, and an “Encruzado penitente”:
More photos showing why I am making such a big fuss about this place, including a “colonial-looking” petrol station:
The Christ monument from afar and another charming street in Taxco:
If you want really feel what it’s like exploring Taxco, you may view the following videos:
Rice is only an appetizer or side-dish
I know that in many western countries (probably all?), rice is not commonly served in restaurants. In Mexico, you can ask for rice but then it is not served the same way as in Asia. It is just treated as a side-dish or a starter.
Here’s the order of how they serve the food at the family-owned restaurant close to the workplace: soup, rice, main dish, and dessert. The rice is not served as plain. Somehow they put in some peas and other minced vegetables. You can even request for an egg or banana slices to go with the rice.
Many Japanese people live in Mexico
In my two-months stay in Mexico City, I have never met a Filipino. But on my third day and first weekend in the city, I’ve seen these Japanese ladies wearing Kimono at the Basilica. I have heard from colleagues that there’s a huge, closely knit Japanese community in the city. Maybe, they have many Japanese tourists as well, a good reason for them to include the Japanese Yen as one of the 3 currencies they accept. The other two currencies are: Euro and US Dollar.
They don’t have steel candle stands in the churches
In the Philippines, churches have the steel candle stands. But in Mexico, people lit their candles in individual candle holders. I find it surprising simply because they do it differently. I hope this is acceptable enough. The photo below was taken at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica.
They have vending machines for dental kits
It was my first time seeing a vending machine for dental kits (folded toothbrush and a tiny toothpaste tube)! I found this at a shopping mall called “Ciudad Satelite”. Mexican people must be good at taking care of their teeth. I hope airport terminals will provide these vending machines as well.
Just like any other country, I’ve discovered quite a number of interesting things about Mexico. I’ll find time to write a longer list next time.
I took the tour to Cuernavaca and Taxco one Saturday during my stay in Mexico. Cuernavaca is about 2 hours drive from Mexico City. Since the main destination of the tour was Taxco, the Cuernavaca Cathedral (Catedral de la Asunción de María) was the only place we visited in Cuernavaca. The cathedral complex has three chapels. They are not as elaborately-decorated as the other chapels and churches that I visited in Mexico but I was fascinated nonetheless.
The Tercera Orden Chapel
The complex used to be a cemetery so you could still find these tombstones at Tercera Orden Chapel’s door The Chapel of Santa María The Cathedral
I wanted to stay for a while to look at the altar up close and say my prayers.
But there was a wedding at that time so almost every church chair was taken. I just spent the rest of the time exploring the cathedral complex.
What I found most interesting about the cathedral is the skull and cross-bones sign at the top of the door, just right below the cross. According to the tour guide, this was put there to subdue the indigenous populations shortly after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire.
Photos of an open chapel and the monastery, right next to the cathedral:
And, I can’t pass up this opportunity to show a photo of the wooden door up-close. Simply awesome, isn’t it?
The Palacio de Cortés was just a about a hundred meters away from the cathedral complex. I would have loved to explore the palace but we were only given 30 minutes to explore. Cuernavaca was the first place I visited that gave me the biggest impression that I was indeed in Mexico. My first impression of Cuernavaca? The “Mexico” that I imagined, just like in the movies.
For me and for most Filipinos (maybe even all Filipinos), Philippine mangoes are the best in the world. Here in Singapore, mangoes are easy to find but I’ve never found mangoes from my country. I remember seeing Philippine mangoes in Japan and it was expensive.
When I was in Mexico, I was very delighted to see mangoes in the grocery store nearest to the hotel. They looked and smell like the ones from my country. The taste? It’s almost the same as well! And it’s a lot cheaper. Here in Singapore, mangoes are sold at S$10 for 3~5 pieces. In Mexico City, it’s less than S$3 per kilo!
From the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It is also known as “La Villa de Guadalupe” or “La Villa”, a very important place for the Mexicans and for Catholics all over the world. So I was really happy for having the opportunity to visit the place.
It was already past 3PM when we arrived but you still need one of those bolle sunglasses, or a hat, anything to lessen the strong glare of the sun.
As Mexico City was built on a lake, the old basilica is sinking. It is good that measures were done to preserve it, one of which was building the modern basilica.
The old basilica:
Inside the old basilica:
The modern basilica is so huge that it has a seating capacity of 10,000 people. I visited La Villa on a Sunday and believe me, all the seats were occupied and many people were standing even outside the doors just to hear the mass. These photos were taken on a Saturday so it was not as crowded.
Inside the modern basilica:
The original Tilma of Saint Juan Diego hangs above the altar of the modern basilica:
If you want to buy some religious items, I advise you to get them at the store inside the modern basilica. They are better and cheaper than the ones sold outside. Well, maybe buy some just to help the sellers. Then you can head to this area where a priest blesses the religious items. Don’t get too close else you’ll be drenched in Holy Water just like me.
The La Villa is so big but the tour guide didn’t give us time to explore so I went back alone. Will tell you about it in another post.
And these were the items that I bought from the stores outside the church:
After a long walk at the Teotihuacan Pyramids, we were taken to a restaurant named “El Jaguar”. The tour guide didn’t tell us why it is called as such, but it was a very nice place.
There were even performances while we were having a sumptuous lunch and I managed to take a short video:
My colleagues told me to try the cactus leaves dish (I forgot the name) but I was so hungry that I opted to take the buffet. There was a wide selection of dishes and dessert and it costs 200+ Mexican pesos. I only tried the dishes that looked familiar.