Chapter Eight – Chapultepec Castle & It’s Another Tequila SunsetAugust 8, 2023
Epilogue – Marvelous, Magnificent & Memorable Mexico CityAugust 31, 2023
Chapter Nine: Conchas, Churros, Crisscrossing & (Near) Catastrophe
Days Nine & Ten: Thanks Eva, Exploring Roma Norte, Murals Murals & More Murals, Taco Shut Out, The McDonald’s Of Tacos?, Walk Till We (Almost) Drop, Not A Straight Arrow, Near Monument-al Fall, A Churro Made In Heaven, Einstein Finally Appears, Worthless Slip Of Paper and Saying Adios To Magical Mexico City
Our final full day in marvelous Mexico City was upon us, and just like Chuck Berry, we had no particular place to go. So, in honor of Tim and Sheila, we decided we would ambiance our way through some CDMX neighborhoods. As we exited Hotel Villa Condesa (highly recommended as a place to stay, as were all of our lodgings) …
… we noticed something that had been prevalent throughout our stay in Mexico City. No matter which neighborhood we visited, locals cared about its appearance. On this day, nearby our hotel, we witnessed a gentleman sweeping the sidewalk and taking pride in his dwelling. I wish some of my neighbors took this much care of their own surroundings.
Well, we did have one plan. A few weeks before we left on the trip, we watched Eva Longoria: Searching for Mexico. The first episode explored Mexico City and mentioned Tomasa Condesa as a place to enjoy some of the best conchas in town. When a former Desperate Housewife recommends something to three desperately hungry travelers, we listen. As always, it was a pretty colorful Condesa stroll.
Our destination would be Tomasa Condesa (C. Atlixco #74, Colonia Condesa).
We didn’t know at that time but we would soon be eating something that would become the second favorite thing we ate on the entire trip (and #1 would only be about six hours from now). Its website states, “Tomasa is inspired by proudly Mexican women, who get up every day at dawn to knead delicious shells. Soft, sweet and spongy, they remind us of the Mexico of yesteryear in which they prepared their bicycles and placed their basket full of shells and dreams on their heads.” Walking inside we were greeted by a number of the traditional Mexican pan dulce delicacies known as conchas.
We watched as they were being made and finally it was time to order. Decisions. Decisions.
Stephen ordered the pecan conchas, Tracy tried the vanilla while I finally decided on the orange/almond (naranja con almendra). As Stanley Tucci says at least a 1,000 times in each of his Italian food show episodes, “Oh, my God!” I’ve had a number of conchas in my lifetime, but none have ever tasted like this. Our conchas, Tracy said, “tasted like eating flavored air.” Wow!
Three fabulous cappuccinos, and the three of us were happy campers to start our day.
This was just another peaceful spot in charming Condesa, a part of CDMX that I had already fallen in love with. Let the ambiancing begin!
We started roaming through Roma Norte, admiring its interesting buildings.
Being gluttons, we went in search of a shop in Colonia Roma that also offered some delectable pastries (what’s an extra few hundred calories?). But we weren’t the only people looking for Panadería Rosetta (Colima 179, Roma Nte.), because upon arriving there was a line stretching to Centro Histórico (slight exaggeration). Another place to stop at the next time in CDMX.
We were now on Roma Norte’s main drag, Avenida Álvaro Obregón, a street that dates back more than 100 years. It is named for the general of the Mexican Revolution who later became the 46th president of Mexico in 1920. He was re-elected in 1928 but as president-elect, he was assassinated while dining at La Bambilla, a café in San Ángel, a neighborhood on our list for the next Mexico City journey. One of the many statues found in the pedestrian median (best place to capture the feeling of this street) is Satiro y Amor.
Avenida Álvaro Obregón contains a number of beautiful, historic buildings. One of those is El Parian (130 Avenida Álvaro Obregón), more than 100 years old, where the stone portal entrance leads to a passageway containing a number of interesting stores selling crafts.
I thought Stephen might purchase the cactus candle holder.
Nearby we ducked into Librería Ático (Av. Álvaro Obregón 118-B). It seems bookstores have become a part of our vacation itineraries, which speaks volumes about our travels.
As we stepped out of the store, the Edificio Balmori stood out. It was originally built in 1922, then demolished and finally renovated. It originally contained a cinema that held nearly 2,000 people, or enough to see the premiere of Barbie. It looks like a building you might see when visiting Paris.
I believe this high-flying mural was done by an artist who goes by Los Nook.
It wasn’t long before we hit Plaza Luís Cabrera, a small Roma Norte community park. It was named in honor of a lawyer, politician, diplomat, critic, essayist, and poet, who was an advocate of peasant rights. The plaza has a fountain that spurts water out of tourists’ heads (not purposely) and is surrounded by restaurants.
More Los Bronces de Obregón (bronze statues of Obregón) caught our attention along Álvaro Obregón.
Also catching our eye was a restaurant I had read about that supposedly had some of the best tacos in Mexico City. At about 12:20 we approached Taqueria Orinoco (Av. Álvaro Obregón 179, Roma Nte). According to the foodie website Infatuation, “their tacos al pastor (are) arguably the best in all of CDMX.” They just may be, but we had arrived 40 minutes before opening, and as usual we were hungry.
Nearby was Taquería El Califa (Av. Álvaro Obregón 174), which had also been recommended “as one of the best taco restaurants in town.” Tracy had read a review that stated it is “the McDonalds of taco places.” We would soon find out. Our review is neither of the above comments are correct. The tacos were fine, but not special. The best one was a chicken with burnt queso on it. The worst was the al pastor taco complete with no pineapple, which kind of defeats the purpose.
We decided to leave room for more tacos, and since it was now just a little after 1 pm, scurried back to Taqueria Orinoco to try their tacos but the line now rivaled the line at Panadería Rosetta. Note to self, arrive early and wait. We ambled through more of Roma Norte. Along with a number of colorful buildings, the area also has many old, abandoned buildings that are just waiting to be renovated. Right now Roma Norte seems like the hip Mexico City neighborhood that could resemble Condesa in the next decade after these buildings are restored to their former glory.
Tracy asked what I thought we should do next. Pondering for a minute, I made the fateful decision that we should walk to the Monumento a la Revolución & Museo Nacional de la Revolución as it was only a half hour away. We would pass more murals …
… and even more murals …
… while checking out a variety of other buildings. as we walked (hopefully) toward the monument.
It was obvious we were taking a rather circuitous route, because in a half hour we were still 20 minutes away when we saw the giant Monument to Cuauhtémoc. It was built in 1887 and commemorates the last Emperor of the Aztec Empire.” In the background was the billboard for the upcoming San Diego Padres – San Francisco Giants series that would be played here the following weekend. Cuauhtémoc’s name translates to “Descending Eagle.” Coincidentally, since that series, my Padres have been known as “Descending in the Standings.”
We weaved by a market that I’m sure spins many a colorful yarn.
One of Tracy’s favorite murals of the trip was next.
The building was constructed over time and its dome was eventually completed. There are a couple of revolutionary presidents entombed in two of its pillars and a couple of later ones are buried here, too.
After some deliberation, we decided that since we had walked all the way here, we should go up and check out the views from the top. We were less than 24 hours from departing Mexico City, and so far I had done nothing to put myself in harm’s way. That would change in about ten minutes.
The area had black walls and we followed the yellow line as instructed. It got a little confusing when the yellow line stopped, but we noticed the line again with the arrow pointing to the left. The photo below was taken from the bottom of the staircase looking up and illuminates the area with more light than we could see as we were following the yellow line, so when I made the turn I had no clue that there was a down staircase. As our friend Mary always jokingly says, “That first step is a doozy.” Well, this was “doozy to the 10th degree.”
Not realizing there was a staircase I unwittingly descended that first step as my body thrust me forward into the black abyss. That’s where my luck (or perhaps my angel friend Michael) saved my life. As I lurched downward I listed rather violently to the right like the S.S. Minnow on a three-hour tour and smashed my arm into the glass or hard plastic wall lining the staircase. As I was completely off balance for that split second, the collision kept me from plummeting down the steep, metal staircase, and Tracy from collecting on my minuscule life insurance policy.
I jokingly said, “Well, that will leave a mark,” and when we got to the bottom of the stairs we inspected the damage I had inflicted upon myself. A monument employee rushed over to provide aid, while Tracy applied the only thing she had available … some hand sanitizer … which caused me to utter a word that I hope our Mexican friend didn’t comprehend, but I believe it translates into any language. She said, “We really need Mary’s medical purse right now.” To add insult to (literal) injury, that wasn’t even the way to the elevator, and we had to walk back up, only to find Stephen, who was wondering where the heck we had gone. He looked at my band aids and realized he had joined the “Traveling with Tom Getting Injured Club,” a club that grows at a faster rate as the years progress.
The elevator takes you almost to the top, and upon exiting we were told a steep staircase would take us into the dome. Discretion being the better part of survival, I decided to head down to a viewing area while Stephen and Tracy went up to “The Summit,” located between the two copper domes.
Reviews of the visit to the tower by Stephen and Tracy were about the same with Stephen adding, it was a good idea I didn’t try to traverse the stairs as one near-death experience a day is his limit. Tracy said it was stifling hot inside the narrow stairwells …
… but at least both of them took some nice photos from above.
Tracy also took one of the interior dome, where she decided she had gone far enough and headed back down in search of her wounded husband (well they do say “for better or “worse.”) Stephen continued on to the very top.
Back outside the monument (only a flesh wound, albeit a painful one) …
… we decided to Uber back to Condesa, where Tracy had a specific destination in mind. Churrería El Moro (Av. Michoacán 27, Hipódromo Condesa) has been serving the “world’s best churros and chocolate since 1935″ in quaint white and blue tiled locations. It’s also where Tracy enjoyed perhaps the best thing she ever ate.
I ordered the regular churros rolled in cinnamon and sugar, while Stephen tried a Consuelo sándwich de Churro with chocolate ice cream. A consuelo is a churro ice cream sandwich. It takes a few minutes for your order to come up as you have to wait for the churros to be cooked and then pressed on either side of the ice cream which causes it to soften. Tracy waited patiently as Stephen and I ate our churros.
But it was Tracy who found churro nirvana. She ordered the mini Consuelo sándwich de Churro y helada fresa which was three mini consuelos encasing strawberry ice cream. Tracy usually take a couple of bites of a dessert item and then she’s done. It took all my spousal powers (which are limited) to coerce her to share this strawberry ice cream churro celebration of flavors with Stephen and I.
Churrería El Moro has five locations in Mexico City (the original is in Centro Histórico, don’t know how we missed that) and if you visit, do not miss one (or three) of these fabulous churro ice cream sandwiches.
We took one last amble through Condesa. We eventually ended up at the bronze bust of Albert Einstein in Parque México, which we looked for on our first day. As it turned out, you didn’t need to be a genius to find it.
To show that murals can be found everywhere in town, this is the one we saw on a garage door as we walked to dinner. To me it looked a little like a futuristic Homer Simpson.It was about a ten minute walk to our final dinner in Colonia Condesa. La Vineria (Fernando Montes de Oca 5), as the name would suggest, is an intimate neighborhood French-inspired wine bar with a varied menu.
Amazingly, after a day of consuming more calories than any human should consume, we were still hungry (ten miles of walking will do that to you). Warm, crusty bread was a great start.
Although the restaurant was French-inspired, I started off with a goat cheese and tomato salad with pesto balsamic dressing, followed by some very good flank steak tacos with cilantro, onion and serrano peppers served with guacamole and refried beans. Mon Dieu! Stephen ordered the Pasta Diábolo; fusilli with chipotle, portobello and shrimp, while Tracy enjoyed her fish & chips. Italian, Mexican and British… how cosmopolitan. It was a pleasant way to end our week of mini-gluttony.
One last good night’s sleep, and we awoke with only one thing on our minds … conchas. After another colorful walk, we met up with Stephen at the terrific Tomasa for one final Mexico meal of conchas and cappuccinos.
At the airport, the moment of truth had arrived. Did we really need that slip of paper we received upon arrival that stated you needed it to depart Mexico? Sheila texted us that on their flight (with a different airline), they hadn’t mentioned anything about it (sort of like our Covid test when we left Scotland last year). At the American Airlines counter, it was the same story, no one seemed to care. I’ll drink to that!
Another wonderful journey was over.
Next: Epilogue – Marvelous, Magnificent & Memorable Mexico City