Sunday, 4 November 2012


Tomorrow morning Leana, my cycling partner, leaves on a vacation to visit her family in South Africa. She flies off from Mexico city, so we left our bikes and stuff at the Pacific coast in Acapulco and took the bus over the mountains to the centre. She had to leave last week already, but her flight was via the USA and due to the storm her original flights were cancelled. Mexico city is huge (population 20 million), and is also interesting in various ways. At the height of the colonial era, Mexico City was seen as the “Jewel of the Spanish Empire”.
In keeping with this status, the largest cathedral in Latin America (1573) stands in the city centre, facing the expanse of the Plaza De La Constitucion (the 3rd largest city square, after Tienamen Square in Beijing and Red Square in Moscow). Facing the square (commonly known as the Zocalo) on the other sides are more colonial buildings such the the Palacio Nacional. There seems to be a constant hum-drum and commotion around the large attractive historic centre. There are scores of beautiful historic buildings and monuments in the area, also the Palacio De Bellas Artes and the Monumenta A La Revolucion.
However, there is also a modern aspect to Mexico City, and historic architecture is often reflected off modern glass structures.
Whenever possible I like to check out the metro rail systems in large cities, and this city has a modern underground rail (also partly above ground, and sometimes overhead) with about 10 main lines criss-crossing the city. During our time in the city we went all over the show on the metro, travelling on about half of those Metro lines. Quite incredibly, one can travel the whole day on one ticket, changing lines at junction stations, as long as you don't exit a station (then you have to buy another 3 Peso ticket (1 US dollar is 13 Pesos).
When we arrived in Mexico city we booked into a nice "fairly economic" hotel (thanks to Leana), with a room overlooking the happenings on Calle 5 De Mayo. We quickly took cameras and started roaming the streets amongst the festive weekend crowds. Before long one of the street clowns caught sight of Leana, and fooled around with her a bit, much to the amusement of the locals.
When Leana's flight was cancelled we spent the extra time by taking a trip down to the city of Veracruz, on the Carribean coast. Veracruz was the first colonial town established by the Spanish in Mexico. It is a sizeable port, with a fort at the far side of the harbour which history has shown to be quite ineffective. The place also has some nice colonial buildings in the historic part of town, where we stayed.
Along the way our bus took us past the highest peak in Mexico, the vulcan Pico De Orizaba at 5 636m. So, when Leana leaves I will make my way back to my bike and things in Acapulco, and carry on alone from there. I wish her a happy holiday.

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