Last weekend we decided to explore the city a bit. We started Saturday morning by going to the gym and following that, we ate desayuno (breakfast) at a little café down the street. We both had chilaquiles, which for those of you who don’t know, is basically breakfast nachos. Corn chips with salsa, and then some or all of the following: eggs, cheese, any sort of protein, refried beans, avocado and who knows what else. They are great, filling and the perfect food before our planned death march. Our goal was to walk over to the Bosque de Chapultepec which is a park in the middle of the city. It is huge, about 1,700 acres and is filled with museums, a zoo, lakes, a botanical garden and many monuments to Mexico’s history. The last time we were here, we visited a very small portion of the Anthropology museum which is fabulous.
Today, our target was the Castillo de Chapultepec, which is the former home of the Spanish viceroys, Emperor Maximillian I, a number of the Presidents of Mexico and is now a history museum. Interestingly, the emperor only ruled for three years before being overthrown and executed.
The castle is at the top of (you guessed it) Chapultepec Hill (really a rock formation) that was sacred to the Aztecs and one of the last places in Mexico City to be conquered. Of course, it’s up on a hill with an excellent vantage point.
I know you’re wondering what’s up with all the Chapultepecs, but you’re in luck because I’m about to tell you. Chapultepec means “at the grasshopper hill” in Náhuatl, a group of languages that includes Aztec and is still spoken by about 1.7 million people, mostly in Central Mexico. Nice that the hill, park and castle get an indigenous name since one of its claims to fame is that it is the only castle in North America to have housed royalty.
It is a beautiful building with gardens on multiple levels, lots of open space and beautiful architecture and furnishings. While we wandered in the upper gardens we found a quartet playing classical music, so we sat and listened for a while.
After a couple of hours in the park, we walked back through the city to our apartment. We always enjoy walking in cities, and Mexico City is one of the more interesting ones. There are lots of interesting buildings to look at, cool little shops and many, many, many street vendors selling everything from tacos to toys. We always talk about eating that the street vendors, but have not yet found the time to do so. Our path took us across a couple of other parks, which seem to dot the urban landscape, and they were all filled with people enjoying the beautiful weather.
Once we were home, we put our feet up, complained about how much they hurt from walking 10 miles, and then promptly started to plan on where to walk for dinner. Last week we attempted to find a restaurant called Páramo (sorry the link is to Google maps, because the restaurant has a Facebook page, and I don’t know if everyone has an account); however, when we found the address, it was occupied by a restaurant called El Parnita. We were a bit confused but figured, “What the hell?” and ate there. The food was good and we had a very nice meal. However, this weekend we were determined to find the right place. After reviewing the address more carefully, we realized that Páramo was upstairs behind an unmarked black door. This time we had no trouble finding it, and it was well worth it. We waited at the bar for about 20 minutes, and were then seated next to the couple who ad also been seated next to us at the bar. They, too, were Americans (although she is bilingual — I’m jealous!) and we struck up a nice conversation. The food and drinks were great, and we had a really enjoyable evening.
Sunday, we decided to take it easy by riding bicycles to fancy grocery store about 3 miles away. We have signed up for the rental bike program that the city runs (it is called Ecobici) and there is a bike stand just down the street from us. The way it works is that you scan the bike using an app, the bike unlocks, you ride it to your destination and then return it at one of their bike stands. Sue had used them before, but this was my first time, and lo and behold, I managed to screw it up. I scanned the bike, it didn’t seem to unlock, so I tried another one, but kept getting an error. Then someone else came by and took a bike. After a while (and trying another bike stand), I realized that my app was telling me I had a bike. We ran back to the bike stand but it was gone. It seems that the other person somehow got my bike from the stand and went off with it.
I am proud of myself because there was an Ecobici worker there moving bikes and I was able to communicate with him what the problem was and find out the answer, which, unfortunately was that we had to wait for the bike to be returned.
That caused two issues. First, I couldn’t get another bike so our plans were shot. Second, if the bike wasn’t returned, I was on the hook for it. I would have to report it stolen and fight with Ecobici about it. Using the app, I reported what had happened and waited. In the meantime, we decided to walk to Mercado Medellín, our local open stall market, to do some shopping. Just about the time we finished (and after many nervous checks of the app), whoever had the bike parked it back at a stand, and my app unlocked. Whew! We went home dropped our fresh produce and headed back out to the bikes to try again. I managed not to screw it up this time, and off we went to City Market. We did our non-produce shopping there and grabbed a cab home.
4 thoughts on “European Castle in the Sky”
Maybe you should revisit more places on your ongoing journey.
It’s sheds comparative light as you take a 2nd dip into the destination.
Also, Is the first painting a Diego Rivera?
It is by Arnold Belkin, who was apparently a Canadian-Mexican painter.
I don’t know that name.
How are you doing?
Sounds like another wonderful weekend. Loved the pictures.
Love you forever,