It starts early… the sun rising over the skyscrapers; there is a momentary peace as you see how breathtakingly beautiful that sight is, the sun glinting off the mirrored buildings, a momentary silence as you step outside with a scalding hot café de olla and you inhale the city, just a moment before the hustle and bustle of Mexico’s magapolis wraps you up.
If you only have a day in Mexico City or ‘el DF’ as locals call it or a string of days to explore here are three perfect itineraries direct from a local.
Day 1: Historic Mexico
Start the day at one of Mexico’s most beloved & recognized historic restaurants ‘ The House of the Blue Tiles’ is the flagship store and restaurant for one of Mexicos famous department stores Samborns. The house has a history dating to 1773 originally belonging to The Count of Orizaba, it is a beautiful historic site. Here you will get breakfast along with a history lesson and if you feel like early shopping they also have a bookstore. La Casa de Los Azulejos
After breakfast you can walk off the calories by heading down to the main plaza square. El Zocalo is Mexicos most historic downtown. Here you will find The main Cathedral, the National Palace where the senate meets, the Federal Buildings, the main post office (also house in a beautiful palace) and blocks and blocks of stores of everything you can imagine.
To complete a historic Mexico walk you can walk back down Avenida Reforma which will take you the Angel de la Independencia. The Angel was built in 1910 and it resembles the July Column in Paris, which is only nessary since Avenida Paseo de la Reforma is Mexico’s answer to Champs Elysesses and was design by Ferdinand Rosenzweig von Drauwehr to resemble the French boulevards.
On the way, since it is a somewhat long walk I would recomend a stop at a hidden museum gem.
El museo Franz Mayer is a quiet art museum. It houses various collecions of European Art, Photography pieces of Franz Mayer, as well as being an active space for conventions, photography contests and art involvement.
And if by the time you’re done with the art exhbits you’ve racked up an appetite they have a wonderful al fresco cafe where the it’s so peaceful you will hardly believe you’re in Mexico City!
After finishing your walk and admiring the Angel take a cab down to the National Auditorium where you can take a guided tour of Mexicos historic cantinas for a night of safe fun, traditional drinks and the legends that go along with them. Touribus Mexico
Day 2: Posh Mexico
To ease up from all the walking and discovering an all food & shopping day is always necessary in Mexico.
Start with sweet bread, nata and hot chocolate at El Cardenal in Mexicos upscale San Angel neighboorhood. El Cardenal
After breakfast and before any shopping starts a visit to Mexico’s art diva Frida Kahlo’s home is a must.
It is a short exploration of her personal life, art and tumultuous relationship with muralists Diego Rivera.
Once done you can head over to another of Mexico’s chic neighboorhoods Polanco. Polanco has long been a business hub and place for both politicians and enterntaiment personalities to stay and play.
Here you will find all the major designers from Hermès to Tiffanys, if you want something more authentic to Mexico, many famous Mexican designers are also located here from Sergio Bustamante (sculptures), Pineda Covalin ( scarves and dresses in colorful prints) and Daniel Espinosa ( jewelry).
Wheather you window shop or shop till you drop you can end the day with a late dinner at the famous Hotel Presidente’s restaurat El Balmoral famous for home made pastries and aged steaks.El Balmoral
Day 3: The Views
Mexico City is all about perception, about the sweeping views, the contradictions and the history after all the Aztecs built the ‘Great Tenochtitlan’ believing it was the center of the universe.
What better place to see that than the Pyramids of Teotihuacan. Only about an hour from the city and a wonder to see and ponder it is a must in Mexico. http://www.teotihuacan.inah.gob.mx
If you dont want to make the day trip ~
Option two is the Castillo de Chapultepec hiddend in the Chapultepec forest. It is a beautiful building, dating back to Spanish Colonia times, now converted into a museum and smack in the middle of Mexico City.
Here you also get mesmerizing city views and quiet to wonder why you have leave Mexico.
Castillo de Chapultepec
Whichever option you choose you won’t be dissapointed and you’ll make plans to come back and finish exploring the city.
Fiish your trip with dinner at Mexicos only rotatory restaurant Bellini 50 floors avobe the city at the World Trade Center Tower. ( Reservations Highly Recommended) Bellini
From time to time I wonder what it would be like to live somewhere were nature was abundant, where green could be seen for miles and the space around us wasn’t concrete grey.
You see I grew up in big cities, from the megalopolis of Mexico City to the metropolitan charm of Long Beach and everything in between but I’ve never lived in a rural town. Those I believe become a rarity more and more.
But here I was over two hours away from Boston in rural Massachusetts in one lane roads and gravel pathways. Here I was in green fields, small towns and peace that I only ever imagine.
The Berkshires a rural and touristic community in western MA is the type of place the exudes country sophistication, like the Hampton’s would be to New York, it is the type of place that drips American History and outdoor entertainment
It’s New England enchantment intertwines with history like they are meant one for the other. Here you can see the home of Herman Melville where he wrote most of Moby Dick, you can see the birth site of W. E.B Du Bois right by what he called the “Golden River” or if politics is more your cup of tea the birthplace and museum of Susan. B. Anthony ( www.susanbanthonybirthplace.com ) is also here in the town of Adams.
I can only imagine that all this natural beauty inspires art, if the scenery does not make you want to write a sonnet or sing a mimic of the birds it sure will make you paint, bright colors of green and blue and shades that hide the drudgery of city life and the noise of traffic. Here in this green enclave you will also find the Normal Rockwell museum www.nrm.org and also in Stockbridge the ‘West Stock bridge Artist Guild’ where you can learn about art, meet the artists, even open air model.
There in all this abundant greenery is of course opportunities to absorb it for as long as you’re here, as long as you’ve got to spare before you have to go back to bricks, cars, jobs and the reality of life. Here you can zip line, camp, adventure walk along the canopy or take, as I did, a leisure walk along the forest. Stopping time for a second there was a majestic chaos in broken branches, rocks, falling leaves, bird calls and wild squirrels that have been unfettered by human determination to destroy. This was perhaps my favorite part, the streaming river, the wooded patches made me a silent plea to come back. I have to admit that when my mother suggest a day in the Berkshires, so that she could visit her long time wish of seeing the Divine Mercy Shrine (www.thedivinemercy.org/shrine) I was not sold on the idea. But upon further reflection and after spending some quality time in the open air I had to agree it was one of my favorite vacation days. There was no paying for parking in a foot traffic infested city, no crazy drivers, no trash on the sidewalks, no endless walking looking for food. Here the walking was endless but you didn’t care, because it was a sort of calm we don’t really experience often.
I can’t wait to go back. The Berkshires turned to be a beautiful hidden gem at the edge of the state. And if at the end of the day you need some more refined activities they have a vibrant music scene, the Berkshire symphony, the chorale, even a theater group. And the food is well balanced with anything from old town beer pubs to new wine bars and tapas.
Nestled in unassuming San Juan Capistrano lies what is one of the biggest and most beautiful Catholic missions built during the Spanish Conquest of Mexico & California.
It is often called the Jewel of the Missions and it has many stories to tell. From the legend of the swallow to the earthquake that almost destroyed it this old building it has put Capistrano on the map has a special place in my heart.
Although it was the 7th mission Fr. Junipero Serra built in his Camino Real road (link); it was the first mission that my mother and I visited in 2009 and it was the one thats sparked our own journey of visiting all the California missions!
This past week I returned to visit this beautiful place, I guess they say the 2nd time it is always different and so it was.
I learned more about the actual mission rather than the Spanish history behind it and it was a beautiful treat even if you’re not a devout Catholic it is a good place to learn about our history as a state and as a nation.
My favorite story is the legend of the swallows:
It is said that one of the first Frs. of the mission was walking around town and he saw a shopkeeper trying to bring down a swallow nest.
“what are you doing?” He asked
“These damn birds they dirty everything” the shopkeeper answered
“But where will they go?”
“I don’t care as long as they leave me alone” the shopkeeper kept saying.
” come over to the mission there is room for everyone” the Fr. said and the very next morning they were building a nest in the mission.
Truth or fictional story the swallows do return every spring to the mission & Capistrano in their famous festival.
There is a lot of history here: im the church, in the town, in the surrounding area.
If you stay half a day or a week there is enough foodie, restaurants, two area winerys and art to keep you going!