Monthly Archives: January 2013

My Mexico City hotel review

I reviewed my hotel in Mexico City for Orbitz. You can read it below, or check it out on the Orbitz site, it posted the other day:

http://www.orbitz.com/hotel/Mexico/Mexico_City/Hotel_San_Diego.h980061/#reviews

I was happy with this place for my first stay in Mexico City, but I’ll also make this an honest review. Firstly, the Internet is extremely nice to have if you have devices to help plan and map out your trip. However at times it faded in and out. One night it was frustratingly in and out and streaming video didn’t work, but otherwise it works well enough for e-mail and social media. Ask the front desk for the password (contrasena), before heading to your room. The location of this place is a bit odd. All of the people I know in Mexico City were a bit puzzled as to how to get to this place in a car. If you’re going by yourself and plan on using the Metro, it’s fine, but trying to drive a car through the tiny, narrow streets in this neighborhood can be a time waster. Luis Moya is a nice enough street to walk despite narrow sidewalks. You can walk north to Alameda Park and the Juarez Monument, and then swing over to the historic center and Zocalo, or you can walk south to Arcos (a lively strip with a bunch of streetside food and magazine vendors) on your way to Balderas, which was my Metro stop of choice. Balderas is only two stops east of Insurgentes, a convenient way to get to tourist area Zona Rosa, and the Paseo de Reforma, which has a big American style mall at 222. The room was always clean, and the bathroom was nice and modern. The sheets have a few holes in them, but that’s not a big deal. Unfortunately, they were cleaning and renovating other rooms around mine for a couple of days during my stay, but they were only making noise during the day. The staff is nice, they give you a free bottle of water everyday. There appears to always be someone at the front desk. When you leave, they ask you if you need a taxi, which was considerate. Overall, if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay, this place doesn’t disappoint. The city sort of comes down to neighborhoods. This one is interesting because it sits between the historic center and its stunning architecture and the more modern, Euro-influenced Zona Rosa. Colonia Centro is more working class and blue collar. It has a bunch of hardware stores and streetside vendors. If you want to see that sort of everyday life, by all means stay here and walk or use the Metro. If you want something right in Zona Rosa, the historic center, or in some other westside neighborhood (Condesa reminded me of nice Brooklyn), then look at hotels there.

Photos from Mexico City

This was outside of Insurgentes Metro Station, two stops west of my hotel. It provides easy access to tourist area Zona Rosa.

This was outside of Insurgentes Metro Station, two stops west of my hotel. It provides easy access to tourist area Zona Rosa.

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Metropolitan Cathedral on the north side of the Zocalo. Tours for 13 pesos allow you to climb to the top and take photos from the roof.

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She was taking a walk through the park with her friends, looking for a boyfriend. I couldn’t resist.

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This was taken from the top of the castle in a large park that anchors a portion of the western edge of Mexico City. The main artery heading northeast is Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s effort at a Champs Elysees.

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Adventurin, or tourist trappin’ as my brother in law calls it, at Teotihuacan. It’s about a half hour drive northeast of the city.

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Glass curtain at Palacio de Bella Artes.

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Ivonne and Ivan drove us to Xochimilco with help from a hitchhiker, who provided directions. I’ve never been over so many speed bumps, they are everywhere on snaky roads through the southern portion of the city. Here we are at a cafe in Ivonne’s delegacion, Chalco. It’s about a 70 minute collectivo ride to the city from here. Apparently she uses them frequently, and just prefers to live way outside the city.

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The Mendoza sisters were a huge help showing me museums in the park. We’re taking a little train ride up the hill to the castle which was once called home by Maxmilian and Carlota, who seem to be somewhat still revered in the annals of Mexican history.

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I tried some premium mezcal at a trap restaurant outside Teotihuacan. Yes it had the worm on the bottom and it was very delicious (the booze not the worm). It tasted like extra-aged with smoke and charcoal tequila. Pip Hanson take note.

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These stores are like a cooler Express, and are everywhere in Mexico City. The cool kids go here to shop. Somewhat inexpensive Euro-style.

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The morning in Chalco. This is a little public square with stray dogs and morning walkers. I was about to embark on my harrowing collectivo ride, not just because of the aggressive driving and traffic with no seat belts, but a… let’s say unstable stomach… to boot.

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Clowning at El Castillo.

Video from Mexico

With high temperatures in Minnesota not expected to crack zero degrees today, here are two videos from my recent trip to Mexico City I hope will warm you up. The first was took on my first night after arriving, when I stumbled upon “El Angel.” The second was my first time walking around El Zocalo, the city’s main square, one of the largest in the world.

No First Friday? Well I’ll make my own ‘Fun Friday,’ then.

It seems Lowertown First Friday skips over January (too cold?), but a buddy dragged me from the sixth-floor to street level (and skyway level) last Friday anyway.

Made it in time to happy hour at the new Bullpen Saloon. It was Capital River Council night there, so mover and shakers abounded. I got a chance to meet Councilman Dave Thune in person for the first time. He seems authentic and says what he means. He might also done politicking after announcing this will be his last term. A potential protege of his was there too, who lives sort of by Thune’s Irvine Park neighborhood, but more across the way in West Seventh near Mancini’s. She had a few stories from hanging out there on Friday and Saturdays, where the band plays rock, covers and rat pack stuff to a crowded room.

Anyways, Bullpen Saloon was crowded this night. There was some kind of raffle before I arrived, and Thune was clutching this faded yellow board game box from 1982. I think it was a St. Paul themed game of Life, or maybe Monopoly. But it was good to see the place full, not even a seat when I arrived around 5:30. They have local Flat Earth brews on tap, and the Mummy Train (a pumpkin-y ale that Fred thought too sweet) was $4 on happy hour. On a side note, nice to see Flat Earth penetrating St. Paul stores and bars almost to second fiddle status to ubiquitous Summit.

We were looking for other stuff to do after HH, so we headed to Lowertown proper, and Black Dog Cafe, which was also unpredictably packed because of an art show that awarded some good cash ($750) to the top voter getter in a people’s choice contest. Black Dog’s trying to schlep the last of Bell’s Christmas Ale bottles for $2.75, which I was happy to take advantage of.

Got to be standing room only for a tick at Black Dog last Friday too.

Got to be standing room only for a tick at Black Dog last Friday too.

It was after here that we discovered no First Friday was happening, and the doors to Jax Building were locked, yet, a small flyer was posted to the door announcing a jam session at Sendora studios upstairs. Fred called the number and we were let up to a nice space with four friendly people chatting and eating homemade cheddar cheese with crackers. The studio’s owner, Tara, teachers flamenco, and the strange newcomers (us), were treated to a demo performance. Sorry for the fat fingers for about 10 seconds at the start, I was also trying to pound on the floor to help keep time:

Afterwards, called in a nightcap downstairs at Camp with new-to-Twitter-awesome-sustainability wunderkind Mim Cheng. Give her a follow!