Shimmering Soumaya Museum

Modern and present earthlings’ visit and holiday to Mexico City would now no longer be complete without visiting the Soumaya Museum.  Hailed as a new landmark, this weird looking building in the city is a private museum owned by the richest living earthling Carlos Slim. 

Named after the wife of the owner who passed away in 1999, Soumaya Museum building is one of the weirdest-looking modern architecture that I have ever seen!  It is so weird that I could not actually ascertain its geometrical shape.  Add to its weirdness is its being windowless and that the whole building glimmers and sparkles when hit by the rays of the sunshine!

And since the owner is filthy rich, admission inside the museum is free. Only the blind would miss the bronze cast of Rodin’s The Thinker upon entering the open airy lobby.  There’s also a colorful mural (considered to be one of the last works) done by Diego Rivera pointing toward the restrooms.

the lobby!

 

la puerta del infierno (the gates of hell) Ang taray ng title!

look at how tiny the people are at the bottom of this photo

Art collections found inside Soumaya Museum are all so grand and ostentatious.  It is dominated by the great works European artists, including El Greco, Van Gogh, Degas, Matisse and Picasso.  There are also a spectacular section of religious art which includes the Mexican portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Spanish painting of the Virgin of Toledo and surprisingly intricate ivory sculptures of Jesus hanged on the Cross done by Filipino artisans.

And like in any other museum, it has been my tradition of choosing a collection that I am most impressed with.  Soumaya Museum had three amazing collections that enticed, engrossed and charmed my wits.

El Pansador (The Thinker by Auguste Rodin). I need to have a photo with this masterpiece
Joven de Bou-saada (Young Girl of Bou-saada). It looks so real, it scares me!

If art feeds the soul, Soumaya Museum would definitely have you so full! This was indeed a very enriching adventure! 

Hugis ano?

Castillo De Chapultepec

A castle is the last thing I am expecting to find when I decided to tour and visit Mexico City.  But expect the unexpected because I found Chapultepec Castle or Castillo De Chapultepec which is also unexpectedly located in the middle of a very huge park, the Chapultepec Park.  This park is so big, it is even bigger than the famous Central Park of New York City.    

The funny thing is, while roaming around the castle area, I am reminded by a number of things and I am telling myself that I have seen such place in the past.  And then I realized that this was the place where some scenes were shot in the 1996 movie Romeo & Juliet starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes.  It was the set of the Capulet Mansion in that movie! 

The castle has been home for different purposes throughout its long history.  It has been a military academy, a presidential home, of course the royal residence, as well as an observatory.  Now it houses Mexico’s National Museum of History.      

It is the only castle in North America ever actually used as a royal home.  It was the residence of Emperor Maximilian I and his wife Empress Carlota.  And during such time, it was still considered to be in the outskirts of Mexico City.  This emperor then wanted to connect his castle to the main city.  He then ordered the construction of a road so as to link it to the energetic city.  That road now is known as the bustling and affluent Paseo Dela Reforma. 

paseo dela reforma

 The construction of the castle started in 1775 and in 1806 it was purchased by Mexico City’s municipal government.  It was mostly abandoned during the Mexican War of Independence.  But it rose to prominence again with the story that is probably the most famous event that has taken place in that castle, the Niños Heroes (or Hero Children). 

Niños Heroes are six Mexican boys who defended the castle against the U.S. soldiers invasion of the castles in September 13, 1847 during the bloody Mexican-American War.  These boys are now permanently honored throughout the grounds of the castle through massive sculptures, artifact exhibits and a commemorative mural painting.  

Besides the beauty of the castle itself, there are lovely gardens and grounds.  You also got fantastic view of the city and the park’s surroundings.  And since it is now the National Museum of History, there are also historical artifacts, exhibits and furnishings that I really enjoyed seeing.

Chapultepec Castle caught me in such a big surprise, that it is one site that I would recommend seeing when in Mexico City.  It was one lovely and surprisingly enriching visit.

Mapapa-biba Meksiko ka sa ganda!

Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa and the Internet

How did people travel before the Internet?  This question I guess would be too much to ponder about.    Imagine trying to simply pick out a restaurant where you want to dine simply in random.  Or booking for an airplane ticket without the assurance that you will be seated along the aisle. What about packing for your travel?  Without the internet, how would you know what sets of clothes to pack when you would have no idea on the upcoming weather forecast in your travel destination?  Pinoy travelers in the past (being from the tropics) I suppose suffered from hypothermia when they do travel at the northern and southern temperate zones of the planet. 

Imagine going to a place that has long been written in your bucket list without a hotel accommodation reservation?  How can a traveler budget a travel expense without the internet? Planning for a trip before the advent of an Internet would I guess been so difficult that you would rather stay home. It must have been some sort of a nightmare then. 

Thanks to internet, travelling to a different country nowadays has been so easy.  And thanks to internet, I found Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa, the hotel where I stayed while I was in Mexico. 

clean and colorful lobby
bar & dining area 
instagramable clock inside the room.  this is so mexico!
dining area

 I initially found Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa through AccorHotels.com since I am an Accor card holder.  My membership gives me the privilege of being offered a discounted member’s rate.  But I did not booked my stay in Ibis Style via this website because surprisingly Booking.com (which I am a member also) offers a much reasonable price inclusive of breakfast.  I opted of course to the website that offers cheaper pricing. Who would not want a bargain?!

Ibis group of hotels has always been a reliable group of hotel brand that I have stayed at.  Though it’s not grand nor luxurious, this hotel simply provides what I need in terms of facilities, services and security.  Ibis Styles Mexico Zona Rosa is no different because I enjoyed my stay in this hip hotel.  It is clean, quiet and comfortable. 

clean, quiet & comfy
super hip! i love the colors and the modern set-up 
will definitely not feature this hotel if i was not impressed

Aside from being in such an excellent location in Zona Rosa area of the city, I particularly love the aesthetics of this hotel.  It is young, it is vibrant, it is happy! 

Without the internet, how in the world would I know and enjoyed staying this hotel?  Thanks internet!

Komportabol!

The Spectacular Teotihuacan

One of the beautiful highlights of my recent trip to Mexico was my visit at the magnificent ruins of Teotihuacan.  It is about an hour bus ride from the modern-day Mexico City.  And because there are massive information available online on how to get to these ruins by commute, I decided to do the adventure by following the instructions indicated on various blogs and web write-ups.  I could have simply joined a tour group but as usual, I challenged myself. 

courageously doing a commute at the bus station armed with a lot of things

I learned from my first few days that majority of Mexicans do not really speak English.  Thus, before I left for this ancient city, I armed myself with adequate internet data, the proficient Google Maps and reminded myself the simple steps to communicate, i.e. (i) speak English slowly; (ii) drop the articles as they only cause confusion; (iii) repeat the main concept two or three time; (iv) gesticulate; and, (v) smile a lot.

Teotihuacan was really overwhelming!  And based on various write-ups, no one knows who built this humongous ancient city.  It was so old that it was already in ruins before the ancient Aztecs were able to discover this old puzzling metropolis.  In 1987 this ancient city was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.  And since it is so close to the modern-day Mexico City, Teotihuacan has been the most visited archeological site in Mexico. 

on my way to the pyramids via calle de los muertos
pyramid of the sun
strike a pose! it’s one of the largest pyramids!
unbelievable! I had to pinch myself!
cleverly called… the avenue of the dead
mysterious!
i need to have a selfie! on top of the pyramid of the moon!
photo taken from the pyramid of the moon
i love this shot!

What for me is so cool about Teotihuacan is how spots in this ancient city were named and labelled.  Mexicans’ naming of the interesting places of Teotihuacan gave it more appeal and character.  Whoever tagged or named the places inside Teotihuacan are so smart and imaginative.

And since the term “Teotihuacan” meant as “the birth place of the gods” or “the place where men turns into gods”, it is but fitting that this ancient city has the Pyramid of the Sun (the third largest pyramid in the world) and the more gracious-looking Pyramid of the Moon.  There was even a location that is sensationally called the “Temple of the Feathered Serpent”! 

feeling happy & feeling blessed! pyramid of the moon at the background…
will definitely not forget this adventure

The coolest actually was how the main road leading to the pyramids was called.  The central 2.4-kilometer main road is called Calle de los Muertos or “the Avenue of the Dead”.  So when I was walking on this runway, it felt dramatic! I felt like I was being transformed by some creative spirit from being a human being to some sort of a god!  It was really amazing! 

Teotihuacan, built hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, will remain a mystery.  Little is known about its first inhabitants and why this magnificent place was later abandoned.  Whatever is the mystery behind the ruins of Teotihuacan, it remain to be something so pleasing and imaginative.  Its mystery definitely adds up to its awesome charm. 

Ispektakular! Ang galing!

China Has Yet To Discover The Colors Of La Ciudadela

In my past travels abroad, one usual reference for me to know if I am in an actual tourist destination or near it are the hordes of Chinese tourists.  This group of tourists has always been my basis to ascertain if I am on the right spot.

And once I see a bunch of Chinese tourists (usually loud and boisterous), I am somewhat glad that I am actually at the correct tourist destination and that Google Maps did not fail me.

However, in Mexico City, there seem to be a lack of Chinese tour groups.  I don’t miss them but I was left wondering how come they are not around.  The Chinese touring population seem to have yet discover the sites and beauty of what Mexico City has to offer.    

To confirm and with hopes of bumping into this touring Chinese clusters, I set a date of going to Mercado De Artesanias La Ciudadela, a colorful 16,000 square meter market that sells traditional Mexican handicrafts and regional specialties like textiles, ceramics, silver works, embroideries, handwoven blouses, blankets, guitars, etc.

I know that Chinese loves to shop and splurge their wealth every time they go on tour out of their country.  La Ciudadela would definitely be the best tourist-location to find them.  But to my surprise, they however were not around.  I even thought that I was not at the correct La Ciudadela that I even asked a German-sounding tourist shopper if I am indeed in the right artisanal market.    

Well I guess, Chinese tours has yet to discover Mexico City which for sure they would eventually will.  I instead enjoyed my shopping at La Ciudadela, took a lot of photos and got myself some colorful trinkets of memories of this wonderful Mexican adventure.   

Wala ang mai-ingay!

Templo Mayor & Piedra Del Sol

In my recent travel, I spent all my visiting days in Mexico City.  I opted to stay in the city and not move out or visit other places in Mexico because I prefer to completely immerse to the city’s rich culture.  This of course is beside the motive of giving myself a reason to go back to Mexico. Hahaha!

Mexico City is too vast to fully explore in two weeks and it’s seem impossible to see and experience the city in just a couple of days.  And what is good about staying in Mexico City is that visitors can still see and experience the old Mexico because right at the city center exists a very cool ruins called Templo Mayor.

templo mayor ruins  
the city beneath mexico city
a massive ancient metropolis 
portions of templo mayor

The incredible thing about Templo Mayor is that it is right near Zocalo, the center square of Mexico Ciity.  And that the existing and present city of Mexico was actually built on top of it.  Its like Templo Mayor ruins is just beneath the grounds of the present modern city.

Here’s one cool lecture and quick history lesson!  When the Spaniards arrived in Mexico City, it was actually an Aztec city at that time.  The Aztec people known as Mexica people had a huge beautiful city.  And basically the Spaniards (though they did not destroyed it), built over and on top of this Aztec City a new and modern metropolis.  So the huge Catholic cathedrals in downtown Mexico are actually built on the foundation of an ancient ruin.  And this ruin is known as Templo Mayor.

Templo Mayor as I noticed is still actually being studied and dug up.  It is a work in progress so as to fully understand the culture, customs, civilization and background of ancient Mexico.  It is so cool to know that the existing city is actually on top of another city!

And one of the major archeological find in Templo Mayor is the Sun Stone or locally known as the Piedra Del Sol.  Discovered in 1790, the Sun Stone now is housed at the National Anthropology Museum of Mexico City and is considered the most famous work of Aztec sculpture. 

piedra del sol (the sun stone)
the usual and common design on mexico souvenir shirts

When I personally saw such a massive monolithic sculpture, my jaw simply dropped!  I could not describe the elation when I saw the Sun Stone!  I could not believe that I am actually seeing the actual figure and image of the most iconic sculpture in Mexico! 

This sculpture is one of Mexico’s famous symbols.  It is basically printed in almost all types of Mexican souvenir items (shirts, mugs, wall decors, keychains, etc.).  I did quite a number of readings about Piedra Del Sol after I have been stunned by the massiveness and beauty of it.  And I have learned that there was even a poem that was composed by a Nobel prize-winning poet because of the beauty, mystery and grandeur of such an epic piece of stone. 

12 feet in diameter and weighs 24 tons
ding ang bato!

There are a lot of different theories that historians and archeologists have about the stone’s meaning, its use and its intention.  Some think it was used as a calendar and some say it has some significance concerning ancient religion, geography, politics or even something else that hasn’t yet been thought of.

But whatever its original meaning, it is arguably now the most important Aztec sculpture that exists in the world today.  As for me, I prefer not to interpret nor even think deeper.  I simply prefer to be marveled by the beauty, intricacy and grandeur of such a massive piece of work.

Parang gusto ko iuwi nung nakita ko yang batong yan!

Wowed by Biblioteca Vasconcelos

If you don’t know me yet, and though I don’t look like one, let me tell you that I absolutely love books and reading.  That is why when I travel, there is always a book that I would bring along with me.

So when I heard that there is a unique mega library in Mexico City and even though it is not included in Tripadvisor’s the top 15 destinations to visit in Mexico City, I know that this would be a place that I have to check out.

It’s Biblioteca Vasconcelos!  I didn’t know really what to expect.  But when I walked in, I literally let go of a massive gasp.  It was so loud,  a bunch of quiet people inside the building knew that there is an elated first timer who has just entered.   

This place is unlike any other places that I have been to.  The architecture is incredibly unique and it is not just like any other library but unlike any other place I have ever seen!  And the more entire I went, the more incredible it becomes.

After the first initial wow impression, the next thing I noticed is just the sheer scale and size of the building.  The uniqueness is that you would see people around: beside you, beneath you and above you.  Some of the floors are actually thick translucent glass.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos opened in 2007 and has over half a million books.  It got its name after Jose Vasconcelos who is a Mexican philosopher, a former presidential candidate and was also the president of the national library of Mexico.   

I noticed that the walls are transparent and that the floors seem mismatched.  It also have very intricate staircases and balconies, it reminds me of the movie Inception in a scene where things were folding on to each other.  I really felt like I was in a sci-fi novel.  It gave me the feeling of being set in the future which not many equally awesome buildings could do.

Biblioteca Vasconcelos is called a mega library because it is actually 5 libraries merged into one.  And each one library is dedicated and pay homage to Mexico’s great thinkers.

One thing that really takes center stage inside this library is the massive white whale skeleton done by an artist named Gabriel Orozco.  The whale’s skeleton, fitted onto a metal armature and inscribed with granite rings and circles, hangs suspended in midair.  It seem visible from almost all sections and every point within the library.

The library is so massive, there are tons of areas where people can sit and work.  Entrance of course is for free and there is free wifi.  And what is best is that Tripadvisor seem to have yet discover this place as one cool tourist destination. 

If you are a book lover like me or an architecture fanatic or just want to see a really unique place within Mexico City, then Biblioteca Vasconcelos is definitely worth a visit.  

Waw as is WAW!