Mexico City Foodies

After regulated Cuba, it was strange to jump into a city fueled by capitalism.  The streets were full of delicious things to eat and there were way more than four different vegetables.  We found a hostel (Hostel Home) in the Roma district close to a metro station.  Our layover was for about 30 hours so we had time to see some new things.  Four years before we had flown into Mexico City from Tijuana for a long weekend, we had checked out the most famous tourist sites in the city and the pyramids of Teotihuacan on that trip.  This time we would just eat and do a lot of walking through the city.  Making your way though the neighborhoods you never knew what you will come upon.  Maybe such wonderful things as the most delicious gorditas ever right around the corner from the hostel!  We loved pretending to be Mexico City Foodies!

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One of my favorite spots I’ve ever eaten.  I will find you again someday!
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A gordita with potatoes, nopales, grilled onions, y muchas salsas deliciosas!

There was a large political demonstration in a neighborhood park nearby.  Every few minutes there was canon fire in response to the speeches that echoed through all of the downtown area.  We got as close as a few blocks, then our ears couldn’t take the explosions.  All the locals saw it as pretty normal.

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Political graffiti of the Mexican President.

Continuing our Mexico City foodies adventure, there were some very good vegetarian options in the city.  We found a super busy vegan taco cart called Por Siempre.  We got some “pastor” tacos with some kind of homemade fake meat and grilled pineapple.  The flavors were strong and delicious; the texture perfect!  The best part was the toppings bar with salsas, potatoes, beans, and grilled onions and such.  The cart blared metal music and had a spot to park your bicycle– super hip.

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Por Siempre Vegan Tacos

Another place we ate was called Vege Taco in the Coyoacan neighborhood.  This small restaurant had a three course lunch option of salad, soup, tacos, and a healthy drink for around 100 pesos ($5).

Coyoacan is a beautiful, artsy neighborhood with an amazing crafts market.  There was something new and exciting around every corner and I couldn’t taste half the things that I wanted.  It would take years to do a proper eating tour.  We also found the same amazing coffee roastery we went to last time, Cafe El Jarocho.

Back in the Roma area we found another taco restaurant (we walk a bunch then eat a bunch) and had second lunch.  This is when I officially decided that pineapple was a very underrated taco topping.  Man, being Mexico City foodies was sure a hard job.

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Later on we stumbled into a bar in the Roma after walking a long ways.

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I’m pretty sure the skulls where real.  Couldn’t convince myself otherwise.

Want to read more about Mexico and Latin America? Click HERE for more Aventuras!

 

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Mexico Zipline in Barrancas del Cobre Adventure Park!

Today was the day to go to the famous Mexico Zipline, the biggest in the world.  We set up a driver to take us to the Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon) the night before but after waking up early and waiting around for him, we ended up having to call him and wake him up.  Once there he drove us to the center of town where we switched to a different car with a different driver.  This guy was a real Mexican cowboy with white hat and pointy snake skin boots.  He drove fast out of Creel on the road which follows the famous tourist train, El Chepe, into the the deeper parts of the canyon.  The views were magnificent as we passed through small towns of tiny log cabins and indigenous people looking for rides.  This area was home to the Tarahumara (or “Raramuri” as they call themselves) people, famous for trail running (check out the book Born to Run) and the women’s colorful skirts.  Supposedly it is also a hideout for many narcos, as we were advised by our Mexican friend from the area keep to the main road.  We headed for Parque de Aventura Barrancas del Cobre, the adventure park, and stopped about 10km out to check out a mirador (view point).  The view was grand, reminding us of the US southwest with its pines and high desert colors.  There was a family of indigenous people selling pretty jewelry, woven blankets, and baskets made from maguey leaves.

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Up ahead was the park.  We paid 20 pesos each to enter and were left off at the lodge overlooking the canyon.  He was were you found a restaurant/bar, many shops, along with the “adventure” part consisting of a seven-zipline route with hiking, a rappel and ropes course, and the world’s longest zipline that took you three km into a point in the center of the canyon.  From there you rode back to the lodge on a teleferico (cable car).  Edward Abbey would have rolled over in his grave, but this is Mexico and they don’t always have the same ideas about conservation and such.  To our eyes it seemed like the adventure park actually brought many more tourists (hence more money to the area and the locals) to Barrancas del Cobre than would otherwise come.  Hopefully the increase in tourism is helping with conservation.  The ziplines were quite expensive for Mexican standards and few of the locals we asked had actually tried it.  We ended up buying the seven-zipline and rappel course as a package, and were ushered off to get harnessed up.  First up was a 48-meter rappel onto a ledge below, woo!   Next we followed a path which involved climbing rebar steps bolted into the sides of the rock hanging over gaping chasms, then a rope bridge, a Tarzan swing across a chasm, a four-wire bridge, more rebar traversing, a windblown tightrope bridge about 100ft off the ground, then finally up a chimney.  It was way cooler and more thrilling than we imagined, and the guides practiced safe procedures.

 

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Back on top we were told that the Mexico zipline park wouldn’t start for 45 min so we would have to wait, problem was that we needed to leave with our driver before then.  After expressing our frustration, they agreed to let us do the ZipRider, the world’s longest and fastest (2.5 km long and reaching speeds up to 80mph) zipline for the same price, which we were glad to do!  After waiting behind a family of 16 (it went two at a time and took 2.5 min to get to the bottom), and some standard Mexican slowdowns (they had to wait for the cable car to bring the harnesses back up) it was finally our turn.  Here is a video of our ride!

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The view from the end of the Ziprider

Back up top we looked for our driver, who was nowhere to be found.  We got worried cause we were late, but of course he was just later than we were.  We got some delicious gorditas while waiting.  On the drive back to Creel, we stopped at Divisadero, the main train stop with a cliffside hotel and gorgeous view into the canyon.  Back in town we got some chicken soup since it was cold and had a chill night, buying bus tickets and souvenirs, very glad we had came to this place far into the depths of Mexico.

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Crafts market at Divisadero

Hotel Temazcal in Creel, Mexico

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Hotel Temazcal is a cozy refuge in Creel, easily accessible to all the Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre) activities.  The friendly staff can help you arrange tours and recommend local restaurants.  They also offer periodic “temescal” sweat lodge ceremonies, which we sadly couldn’t try out because we weren’t there on the right day.

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Our room had a comfy queen bed, ample storage space, an awesome loft area with a large mattress (would be great for kids!), TV, bathroom, and super-nice floor heating to keep it nice and toasty. The beautiful woodwork makes the whole place feel like a cozy mountain cabin.

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The hotel has a DVD and book library you can browse, as well as a common kitchen for cooking and always-available coffee and tea.  The area is super quiet at night and it’s only a short walk to the main street of Creel.  Added bonus:  two super-cute chihuahuas, Nacho and her baby Hueso, who will follow you around trying to convince you to play!

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Services:

Free coffee and tea

WiFi

Hot water

Heat

Tourist information

Book and DVD exchange

TVs in rooms

Sweat lodge once a week or for groups of 5+ people

Address: Bakusuki S/N
Barrio Campo de Beisbol (Detrás del Centro Avanzado de Salud)
Creel – Municipio de Bocoyna
33200 Chihuahua

Phone: +52 635 4560990

Email: info@hoteltemazcal.com

Website: https://www.hoteltemazcal.com/

Prices:  Single or Double- 500 pesos

Family Suite- 700-1200 pesos

A New Adventure, Day 1: San Diego to Creel

We woke up at the crack of dawn without getting much sleep because we were so excited to finally put our backpacks back on and do some adventuring!

I feel like I’m finally doing what I am meant to do again!  It’s been a long year and half of helping other people travel (my job is Assistant Manager at a hostel), feeling a little bit more bored by the routine of it every day.  I’m happiest when I have a light pack on my back and a plane ticket in my hand!

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There is now a pedestrian bridge (Cross Border Express) from the San Diego side of the border into the Tijuana International Airport.  The cost is $15 per person, but it’s super convenient as opposed to crossing on foot and having to take a Mexican taxi to the airport. I slip in and out of sleep on the flight from Tijuana to Chihuahua, catching glimpses of the turquoise-blue passage over the Sea of Cortez, then dry, craggy, cardboard-brown mountains jutting violently out of the flat, barren desert.

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Chihuahua at first glance seems like the Wild West of Mexico.  Lots of men wearing owboy hats and giant belt buckles, very few gringos.  We had  to use an ATM to withdraw pesos because there was not even a “casa de cambio” in the airport.

Chihuahua is close to Juarez and the landscape reminded me of the scary, violent scenes from “Sicario” as we rode into town on a taxi.  I think it’s much safer, although not very touristy.  Our friend from here warned us to stay in the main tourist town of the Copper Canyon (Cañon del Cobre), Creel, and not spend any nights in the small villages, as that’s where we could get kidnapped.  Creepy.

Our taxi quickly dropped us off at the office of Autotransportes Turisticos de Noroeste.  The ticket saleslady said something about our trip being slow but our Spanish was not up to par enough to understand why at that moment.  On the bus, the city ended quickly and we rolled through open desert with mountains in the near distance.  About an hour outside the city at the first toll plaza we saw the protest.  People and trucks were blocking the highway in both directions.  Apparently the price of fuel had been raised 20% overnight and everyone was mad.  We had to wait about an hour before they let our bus through.  The bus was slow and we had to wait at another roadblock; the mountains got bigger and trees started replacing the cacti as we got higher.  It looked a lot like northern Arizona.

After roughly seven hours (should have only taken 4.5) we rolled into Creel, a cold and sleepy town after dark.  Hotel Temescal was welcoming and warm, with super-cute Chihuahua pups to play with!  Some authentic food at Restaurante Veronica was exactly what we needed.  Zach got “El Norteño”, a cast-iron skilled of beef, cheese, and veggies, a traditional local dish.

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Hueso, the cutest little Chihuahua in Chihuahua!

We dropped into bed early, happy to have made it through our first big travel day and ready for more adventures!

Teotihuacan: An Ancient City

TeotihuancanAs interested as I try to be, I’m just not a big “ruins” person.  Most archeological sites I’ve visited have held my attention for about, say, an hour.  I feel kind of bad, as most guidebooks devote pages and pages to how important some of these fallen monuments are to human history.  Some travelers seem capable of wandering through mazes of half-built stone walls gazing at faded etchings for days.  Not me.
I think it’s because I’m not really a detail person.  When I experience beauty in the world, I experience it through grand landscapes, like a mountain view and a clear blue sky, rather than minutia, such as one small flower.  It’s just the way I perceive the world, I guess.  (And yes, Machu Picchu was awesome, but I think I enjoyed the scenery on the whole Inca Trail just as much as I enjoyed exploring the ancient city.)
That being said, when we planned our trip to Mexico City we figured we’d visit the pre-Colombian site Teotihuacan.  It was too close to the city and too famous not to go.  Thankfully, Zach is on the same page with me as far as ruins, and we planned to only spend a couple hours there.
The bus ride from Mexico City to Teotihuacan was about an hour.  We both fell asleep on the bus, tired from the previous day’s exploration.  After 48km through suburbs and desert hills, we arrived.  After entering through the gate, what we saw was really cool.  Teotihuacan was established around 100 BC and covered an area of 32 square miles.  The site is huge!  You could easily walk around all day if you wanted to see everything.

1962846_10101069564456240_214516505_nWe focused on the main attraction, the Pyramid of the Sun.  Sunny it was, haha, and we sweated as we hauled ourselves up the 200 super steep steps to the top of the highest point in the park.  (Make sure you bring water!)  The view from the top was pretty epic and much more fitting with my landscape mentality.  You could see all the way over to the Temple of the Moon and out to the edges of the old city.  Pretty cool!  Climbing was hard with the elevation and heat and I was actually kind of worried watching some of the less-fit gringos trying to pull themselves up.  I wonder how many accidents happen???

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1908256_10101069564645860_747947755_nAfter going back down, we made our way through another small area, looking at a fresco of a puma and walking through some residential chambers.  We made our way out and found some lunch at a nearby restaurant.  Pretty easy and painless!

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Mmmmm enchiladas!
Mmmmm enchiladas!

If you ever find yourself in Mexico City and have a half day to spare I definitely recommend it.  It’s a great contrast to the bustling urban metropolis and lets you see another side of the country, even if you’re not a “ruins person.”

Mexico City: Day One – Centro Historico

We’re back, people!  Sorry it’s been so long since you’ve heard from us!  We’ve mostly been living it up in sunny San Diego, saving money for our next big trip.  One perk of SoCal life though, is the chance to jet into México cheaply and easily!  Coming up are some tales of our recent trip to México City!

We literally ran out of work around 11pm the night of our flight, rushing to cross the border.  Delta Airport Parking is a convenient place to park on the US side if you’re going to the Tijuana International Airport.  It’s only seven dollars a day and they will drive you to/from the border 24 hours a day.  A $12 taxi ride took us to the aeropuerto.  Then we had to get $25 tourist visas to go past the border zone.  They don’t check if you have them on the way there, but do on the way back.  The visas last for six months so hopefully we can use them again.  Airport security was different.  “WE DONT HAVE TO TAKE OFF OUR SHOES!?!?!”  ¡Viva México!!!

Since our flight left at 12am and lasted about three hours, it was still dark when we made our way towards the Metro.  Conveniently located right by the airport and taking you all over the city, the Metro is a cheap and efficient way to get around.  We grabbed some churros and easily navigated the subway to the Roma, a hip neighborhood where Jaime, our CouchSurfing host lived.  The architecture was cool, eclectic and Spanish with crooked walls from many, many earthquakes.   Our host was a great tour guide as we searched for early morning food.  We ate lamb tacos and tamales with mole.  We talked about food.  Life was good.

Getting some energy after eating, we let our guide go off to work and walked several miles to the Centro Historico, home to beautiful government buildings, museums, and many cool bars and restaurants.  Walking was really nice; its our favorite way to enjoy a new city.

Art at the central palace.
Murals inside the Palacio Nacional
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Templo Mayor

As I said, there are a lot of awesome places to eat and drink in the Centro Historico.  One awesome place we found was an old cantina, La Faena, which served dual functions as both a bar and a bullfighting museum.  Notice the very complicated matador-themed crown molding.  The best thing about cantinas is that with every drink you order you get some free food.  The more you drink, the better the food!  We started off with some bar nuts here, and after a few rounds were given amazing bean tacos!

Cantina/Bullfighting Museum
Cantina/Bullfighting Museum

I ate grasshoppers.

Obviously there are some mixed feelings on the eating of bugs issue.
Obviously there are some mixed feelings on the eating of bugs issue.

Pulque.  It’s a lightly alcoholic drink made from the sap of the agave plant and flavored with various fruits.  Super thick and milky and not for us.  The bar was awesome though.

One of many places to grab a glass of pulque around downtown Mexico City.
Las Risas, one of many places to grab a glass of pulque around downtown Mexico City.

Eventually, all the food and walking, plus the effects of being up all night caught up to us and we took the long walk home to crash for a nap at Jaime’s house.  The rest of the night involved some more relaxed wanderings around the neighborhood.

Coming up next: our trip to the pyramids!

Baja, México Financial Summary

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Exchange Rate: $1=approximately 12 Mexican pesos

Total Money Spent: $1387

Total Days: 9

Per Person Per Day: $77

Wow!  Obviously, that’s quite a lot compared to our previous travel budgets!  However, this was our honeymoon, so we spent a lot more willingly then we did when we were penniless backpackers without jobs!

Transportation is almost all gas, since we were driving.  Gas costs about $3.80 per gallon in Baja right now.  The roads are so curvy and hilly that you don’t get very good gas mileage though.

We also had only one free place to stay on this trip.  If we had had more time to plan, I would’ve tried harder to book hostel reviews or find Couchsurfing hosts, but we just didn’t have the time, what with planning a wedding and all!  Our Cabo hotel we found on Living Social, and it was a great deal.  Other places we managed to find campsites or hotel rooms for $15-30.

You can definitely do Baja cheaper, if you take buses and camp and don’t go out as much.  We had a great honeymoon and feel pretty content with the bang we got for our buck.