Mexico City – take three.

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We returned to Mexico City in preparation for our flight to Panama. We felt that we had done the touristy things and just wanted to walk around and look for the unusual.

It didn’t take long.

Throughout the main part of the city are organ grinders, without a monkey. These are guys, and they are all men, dressed in a khaki uniform, who expect to be paid for winding a handle. Many have an assistant who holds out the organ grinder’s hat for donations.

I guess they are in fact the monkey.

There are many murals painted on the city walls, one that took my fancy was funnily of a monkey. He was the only one we saw in Mexico City, apart from at the zoo that is.

The Museo Nacional de Arte is housed in a beautiful neoclassical building in the historic centre of the city. It was completely renovated in 2000 and has a large collection of Mexican art from the mid-sixteen to mid-twentieth century.

It was a Sunday and the museum was free, even for the Gringos.

As we left there was a Beatles cover band playing all the classics. They were rather good and a large crowd gathered around.

I wondered if any of the crowd had ever seen the Fab Four perform live.

Another delightful building is Palacio Postal or Main Post Office. It was built at the beginning of last century and renovated in the 1990s following the earthquake of 1985. It’s a mixture of many styles and can best be described as eclectic.

Casa de los Azulejos or House of Tiles is an18th century palace that was built by Count del Valle de Orizaba. It was taken over by the Sanborns brothers in1903 and is now their flagship restaurant.

Shooting had obviously finished on the new Bond movie so the Zócalo was free of barricades. We wandered around late in the evening. The buildings were tastefully illuminated, showing off each of the building’s classic features.

It’s no wonder that the Zócalo is regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful squares.

We had dinner at La Opera, an old world restaurant with high ceilings, waiters in white coats and an aging Mariachi band that wanted $7 to perform three songs.

Surprisingly they got a lot of gigs.

Mexico City Zoo is the proud owner of a number of Giant Pandas having developed a successful breeding program since 1980.

I am not a great fan of zoos and this one was reminiscent of the old style, with dingy enclosures and animals that look very much out of place.

Chapultepec Castle was started in 1775 and has the honour of being the only royal castle in North America that has actually been used by a sovereign.

The post Hispanic art of Mexico, that we have seen at both the Museo Nacional de Arte and Chapultepec Castle, appears to be more a record of history and story telling than decorative.

The Renaissance art of 16 century Europe told stories but only with pictures whereas in Mexico art is more like a graphic novel, combining words, story telling and decorative art.

Many of the painting and murals have an accompanying text. Some even have a legend with people and places.

Our last night in Mexico started off as drinks but turned into dinner. This was at the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México, which had an excellent roof top bar and restaurant that overlooks the Zócalo.

The building was originally the Mercantile Centre, built in 1899. It has a highly decorative Art Nouveau interior.

It was a fitting end to our third stay in Mexico City.

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