30 September 2011

Mexico City, Mexico: The Grand Tour

Today, Mama Camacho and I took the Turibus around Mexico City.  The Turibus is the classic double-decker red bus that caters to tourists around the world (think London), and though I felt a bit foolish taking it after laughing at the droves of these buses scattered around Europe this summer, it really was a great option to see as much of the massive Mexico City as possible in one day.  Above is the famous Columna de Independencia (or simply El Angel), a victory column in downtown Mexico City that still draws massive crowds for everything from national holidays to big soccer wins.

This is the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary of Mexico City, which forms one side of the Zocalo (the others are formed by government administration buildings), Mexico City's central plaza.  Huge and beautiful inside and out, this cathedral was built in sections from 1573, making it the oldest and largest cathedral in the Americas.

We got off the Turibus to visit the Templo Mayor, or Major Temple, an Aztec construction that was built in seven stages from the early 1300s to the late 1400s.  What is fascinating about this archaeological site is that despite that fact it is nearly adjacent to the Zocalo, it wasn't discovered until 1978, when the building that had been built on top of it back in the 1700s was torn down.  Fortunately, the site was not destroyed in the demolition, and continued excavations are revealing more and more about the Aztec ways of life.

After the Templo Mayor and some lunch, Mama Camacho and I stopped by the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Beautiful Artes) to admire the all-marble, French-style building.  This picture doesn't really do it justice, as it was taken from across the street, but it really is something to see.

After the Palacio, we got back on the Turibus to complete our circuit of historic Mexico City.  Unfortunately, we got stuck in Mexico City's infamous traffic.  My friend Gala tried to explain it to me before I got here, and I am trying to show it with this (somewhat blurry) picture, but it really is indescribable.  Not only do you only move maybe 30 ft. in a minute, but you simply can't escape it--literally every tiny side street and back way has just as many cars.  It's crazy!

Despite the traffic, Mama Camacho and I had a wonderful time on the Turibus, and I really feel like I saw a lot of the city.  After our excursion, we headed back to the house for some delicious dinner and canasta (yay!) with Mama Camacho's friends, who are awesome.  Fun times!

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