Published: January 5th 2012January 4th 2012
Who knew that it could be so cold in Mexico City? Our first day back from sultry Havana was also the coldest day of the year in Mexico City due to a cold front, and it was a very chilly 13 degrees. Brrr! This is not what I'd signed up for!
Apart from spending the day trying to keep warm, we took ourselves on a walking tour of Coyoacan. Coyoacan and San Angel are in the south of Mexico City, and were once separate villages which have now been engulfed by the city, but still retain a small village feel. Our little B&B is on a very narrow cobblestone lane, and is only a few minutes away from the town square, and of course the church, which was a surprisingly elaborate with a beautiful Baroque 17th century altarpiece. Coyoacan is also in a very wealthy part of town so we had fun peering through gates at the huge mansions behind them.
It was a grey old day, and we'd just discovered that all the museums we'd planned on seeing were closed on Mondays, so we were in our best Pollyanna modes trying to see the positive. However it actually
Teotihuacan - The Pyramid of the Sun
There were a lot of steps up there I can assure you!
wasn't too bad, as we discovered quite by accident that because the previous day, Sunday, was New Year's day, the Frida Kahlo museum was going to be open after all. And what a treat it was. Mexico has a number of museums dedicated to different aspects of Frida and Diego's lives, be it their houses or their art, and being located in Coyocan was the perfect place to experience as much as possible.
First thing Tuesday morning Lucy and I were off to Teotihuacan, a massive pyramid complex north of Mexico City. We were very proud of ourselves, as we took the metro and the local bus to get there, and it was completely effortless and also pretty cheap - all up about $4.00. Rather ominously Lucy had read of armed robberies on buses to the Pyramides, so we packed light, but it did explain the curious and rather random security bag searches en route. Anyhow for us it was a perfect day. The sun finally shone, but not too strongly, and we got there before the crowds.
Not much is really known about the purpose of the pyramids or even the city that they were part of,
but they are an impressive sight. It was once an ancient city housing around 200,000 people, but very little is known about what went on and why they all left. It is a massive complex, which includes the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, the Avenue of the Dead and various other sights. The Avenue of the Dead itself is about 4kms long, so after traversing this at least once, and climbing nearly 250 steps up the Pyramid of the Sun and yet more steps on the Pyramid of the Moon, Lucy and I were ready to leave the "pile of stones" and head back to the city. We got a work out that day for sure.
On arriving back in the south of the city, where we were staying, we decided to have a local lunch, and head towards San Angel and find the Museo Casa Estudio Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo. It was stunning - the studio and house was designed in the 30s by a friend of the couple, and included two separate studios / houses joined by a bridge. While the house showed Diego's studio virtually untouched since he'd last been there, it
was not a museum of Rivera and Kahlo's art, but more about the architecture of the studio. It was simply gorgeous, both Lucy and I were in awe. However it also included an art exhibition, which was a fabulous photographic exposition of Lola Alvarez Bravo, a contemporary and friend of Frida's.
We then walked through the very upmarket San Angel neighbourhood, stopping off for a late afternoon tipple and something to eat. A day very well spent!
On our last day in the big city we went further south again, this time to the Museo Dolores Olmedo. She was a friend and patron of Diego Rivera's, collecting his art, and some of Frida's too. Her house and grounds are now a museum. The grounds themselves are huge and as well as large park like surrounds, includes peacocks, geese and some Mexican pre-hispanic dogs called Xoloitzcuintle (Mexican hairless dog) which were gorgeous creatures who looked like statues. The museum itself was huge and included her collections of antiques and all sorts of other treasures. It was a real treat.
The last stop for the day was the Leon Trotsky museum. He had been granted exile in Mexico in
the 1930s and was assassinated there by Stalinists in 1940. It was absolutely fascinating! I realised that I know absolutely nothing about Lenin, Stalin or Trotsky, but I learned a lot more.
So that was Mexico City. It's a massive sprawling best and I could have spent weeks there and still not seen everything. I enjoyed the taster that I did have. But now for somewhere new - next stop, Oaxaca.
There are more photos below