Journey with Jo

Follow me as I blog about my various journeys across the globe, making budget travel look luxurious!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

For my first official day in Mexico City I decided, in advance to book an excursion in which I was able to see a lot in one shot. 

I found this excursion on for $40. In my opinion the price was a steal because we got to see so much, and it also included round trip transportation in a climate-controlled coach bus. 
Palace of Fine Arts

I met the bus at the Palace of Fine Arts Building, and from there we were transported to our first stop, the town of Coyoacán. 

Our visit to this town first included a walk to the Fuente de los Coyotes. It is a fountain located in the middle of a small park with two coyote statues in the middle of it. 
Fuente de los Coyotes

Coyoacán was named by the Aztecs and means “place of the coyotes”, hence the statues being in the middle of the town. 

As we walked around the area close to the fountain, we stopped inside a massive church (Parroquia San Juan Bautista) and an adjacent garden that I thought we be a perfect place to sit and reflect before/after a church service.

Inside Parroquia San Juan Bautista 

The garden outside the church

From there we took a leisurely stroll over to Mercado de Coyoacán, where we given free time to browse the market and make any purchases we desired. At the market I was able to get a smoothie with 4 different fruits for 15 Mexican Pesos, which is the equivalent of $.80 USD. Yes, EIGHTY CENTS!!!

My steal of a smoothie
Not too far from the market, was La Casa Azul (The Blue House). This was the home of famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, which has been turned into a museum after her untimely death in 1954. Read all about my experience at the museum here.

National Autonomous University of Mexico
We took a quick 20 minute stop to visit the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Founded in 1910, UNAM (as it's called) is a public research university and is ranked as one of the top universities in the world.

Felt awesome being back on a college campus
As we entered the main lawn of the campus, we were immediately taken aback by the beautiful mural painted on the outside of the building that houses the library. Created by Mexican artist Juan O'Gorman, the mural entitled Historical Representation of Culture is one of the most iconic buildings in the entire country.
Outside of the library
Our last stop of the day was a visit to the borough of Xochimilco, which is known for the canals that flow through the area. 

Our guide told us this borough is affectionately known as the City of Flowers, because of the floating garden of flowers that surround the waterways. 
Each of us got a flower as a souvenir before boarding the trajinera
Xochimilco also served as the site for our lunch. We boarded gondola-like boats called trajineras. The trajineras were extravagantly decorated with bright colors and a name painted at the front of it. Kind of like the same way you see boats and yachts   named.
The trajineras

While on the trajineras, smaller boats came up alongside us to sell various crafts. There was also a even more special boat that came pulled up next to us...our chef! 
The lovely woman who cooked our food

All fresh ingredients
After all of our orders were taken, yet another boat pulled up with a mariachi band for our entertainment. They boarded the two trajineras our group inhabited. They started off playing a couple of songs and then took some requests. 
Boarding our boat

Dressed to impress!
It was nice to have live music as we ate and drifted down the canals. We also bypassed others on their trajineras having their own fun. 

We were told that many people boarded these boats to celebrate special occasions or as a way to switch up a regular evening with the family.

Once our food and entertainment commenced, we got off and were given some free time to check out the market. I knew that I didn't want to spend any coins, so I walked around the area, browsed the goods, and took some nice photos.

One of our two tour guides, Alejandro

Unfortunately the latter part of my free time was marred by one of the Mexican vendors. I saw him towards the beginning of my walking around, where he tried to beckon me to check out his items for sale. I politely declined and kept it moving. On my way back around the loop of vendors he spotted me and came back over to where I was standing. He claimed he had something special to show me and pointed to some nicely made throws with pretty pattens.

I told him in my best Spanish that I would just look, but won't buy. He grabbed my hand and proceeded to bring me to a secluded area of the stand that was surrounded by the throws in all four corners. Basically to any person that was standing on the outside, you couldn't see/would know that people could be inside of there. 

The little man, and I'm calling him that because I stood a bit taller than him in the heels I was wearing, grabbed both of my hands and started to compliment me on my looks. I thanked him, and tried to walk away, but he grabbed my hands tighter and embraced me in a very sudden and way too friendly hug. You know that kind of hug where hands start moving a little too low...

He started to say all these other things (that had nothing to do with him selling his merchandise) but by that point I was too taken aback and wanted to get away from him fast. It clicked to me that this little private area he dragged me to wasn't an area for which he wanted to sell me his products. I knew from the way he was looking at me that he had other intentions in mind, so I pushed him away and made a super quick beeline back to the main aisle of the market and back to the bus. 

Besides this little situation, my day was a super pleasant one. My $40 went very far and I got to see/experience a lot in one day, which was my original intention. If you want to get some bang for your buck and learn a lot of Mexican history, I highly suggest this activity.

Friday, November 24, 2017

As part of an all day excursion I booked, a visit to the Museum of Frida Kahlo was part of the itinerary. Frida Kahlo is a famous Mexican painter, known mainly for the self portraits she created and being married to renowned muralist Diego Rivera.
The entrance to the Museo Frida Kahlo
The Museo Frida Kahlo is housed in the actual home in which Frida grew up in and subsequently lived in with Rivera. The house is also know as La Casa Azul, because of its stark blue appearance.

Inside of the home are some of her paintings as well as work from her husband and other artwork the couple collected.

"Mi Familia" by Frida in 1949

"Portrait of a Girl" (Unfinished) by Frida in 1929

"Viva la Vida" by Frida in 1954
As you enter the various rooms, we learned it did not differ much from when it was inhabited by Kahlo and Rivera in the 1950s. Her bed, medication, wheelchair, and unfinished paintings are some of the many items that have remained untouched.
Frida's wheelchair and area that she painted in
The dining area
Her daytime bedroom 
Her nightstand
I don't consider myself an art enthusiast by any means, but I did appreciate seeing her work up close and personal. It makes it even better when it's the real thing right in front of you.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Anytime I get an extended amount of time from work, I jump at the opportunity to get away. Holidays are no exception to my self-proclaimed rule, so when I saw a $375 roundtrip deal to Mexico City during the Thanksgiving holiday, back in July, I jumped on purchasing it. Fast forward 4 months later and here I am, safe and sound in Mexico.

Since I had no bags to check in, I got to the JFK airport about an hour before our scheduled 3PM departure. After quickly getting through security (thanks TSA Pre-Check!)
TSA Pre-Check: Always a game-changer
I proceeded to my gate. As I was walking, I had to stop in my tracks, because I noticed something in an area that I've walked by tons of times. In the middle of Terminal 4, there was a pop-up movie theater! It was sponsored by Atom Tickets, which is a movie ticketing app and website.
Complete with popcorn stand and movie ushers.

People were literally standing in line to receive complimentary popcorn and then proceeded to grab seats inside of this makeshift theater. This was so great to see and I was a bit jaded that I didn't get there earlier, because they were playing Home Alone and I would've loved to plop down on a comfy seat and relive some of my childhood memories with that film. After doing some research, I learned it will only be in Terminal 4 for Thanksgiving weekend (the biggest travel holiday weekend), but they plan to host another pop-up theater on December 17th in lower Manhattan.
Looking super comfy and relaxed before the flight
I flew via Aeromexico as a first-timer. Anytime I fly with an international airline, I get a bit excited because generally the experiences (in my opinion) are superior to that of American-based airlines. The plane was huge, a 3 by 3 by 3 model. We had an ample amount of entertainment via the screens in the seats in front of us.

In flight entertainment 
All in all, the 5 hour journey was very smooth. The economy seats were very spacious and I didn't feel cramped by my window seat. One thing that is always nice about flying with international carriers is that they feed you food with substance to it. I was pleasantly surprised with the pasta dish I had, complete with real basil and thyme inside of it.
Delicious Spread

After getting through a seamless customs process I went out side to order an Uber. Yes, Uber does work out here in Mexico and it is super cheap! I paid $109.15 MXN for my 20-ish minute Uber ride to the hotel, which is the equivalent of $5.85 USD. What a steal!

After getting settled into my room, I headed right back on my phone to order some dinner via UberEats. I was so thankful that I can do this, because I was exhausted after a long day of going to work and then traveling.

I am now here, unpacked, and ready to start my 3.5 day adventure here in Mexcio City. Stay tuned for some more updates, and of course, thanks for reading!!