December in Mexico City

Tags: Coyoacan, Gran Hotel, Mexico, Mexico City, food

Date: December 13, 2023

From Bahia Chamela we sailed to Puerto Vallarta where we had arranged to have the boat hauled out and stored on land during the Christmas holiday. Upon arrival at the storage facility we sailed directly into the haul-out slip and Amanda was sitting on land within 30 minutes. We stayed around in Puerto Vallarta for three more days to get the boat ready for storage. During that time we stayed at a large hotel right next to the boat yard.

The hotel had a most impressive Christmas "tree" in the lobby, not made out of fake plastic plants as we initially thought, but made of an assortment of ferns and red and green real live plants mounted on some kind of tree shaped scaffold:

It wasn't until we saw a number of women tending the "tree" and watering all the plants every morning that we looked close enough to see that the plants were genuine.

From Puerto Vallarta we traveled on to Mexico City where we stayed at Gran Hotel in the historic center of the city. We arrived quite late at night and found this to welcome us to our room:

Gran Hotel is an impressive example of the Art Nouveau architectural style, with its huge stained glass ceiling and the organic cast iron banisters and railings:

The ceiling as seen from the lobby:

The building was originally a department store and opened in 1899. The stained glass ceiling was imported from France in 1908. The original elevators at each end of the lobby were the first of their kind in Mexico City. They are still in use, however only when guests first arrive to the hotel and are taken to their room accompanied by the bell boy.

The hotel also has two modern elevators which are the ones we used when we were on our own. The building was converted to a hotel in 1968 in time to host visitors to the Mexico City Olympics.

The Christmas trees at Gran Hotel were maybe a little less classy than the ones at the Puerto Vallarta hotel but on the other hand here they had illuminated deer:

The hotel is right in the historic center of Mexico City with balconies and the hotel restaurant opening up to the central plaza, the Plaza de la Constitucion. The plaza is also called el Zócalo and houses the cathedral ("Catedral Metropolitana de la Asunción de la Bienaventurada Virgen María a los Cielos", built in sections over 250 years from 1573 to 1813) on one side:

On a second side, seen here in the distance, is the Palacio Nacional, which is the seat of the Mexican government and since 2018, the residence of the Mexican president:

The Zócalo was placed right where the Aztecs had their sacred great temple before the Spanish conquistadors came and the Palacio Nacional (built 1521-1530) as well as the smaller original cathedral (built 1524-1532) were built from stones taken from the Aztec temples.

The cathedral seen in daylight behind a gigantic flag pole flying an enormous Mexican flag. In the front, wooden huts are being erected as part of the preparation for Christmas on the Zócalo:

The buildings on the perimeter of El Zócalo had also been decorated:

The lighting of the Zócalo christmas decorations happened on our second night in the city. The view went from this:

To this:

We visited other parts of the city as well. Here Felicie is standing in front of the entrance to the "Bellas Artes" station of the Mexico City metro system:

The style may be recognizable to anyone who has visited Paris and seen the many art nouveau metropolitain entrances designed by (or copied from the designs of) the French architect and designer Hector Guimard. Indeed the metro entrance was a gift from France in 1998, given in return for a mural by Mexican artist Santos de la Torre gifted by Mexico to the Paris Métro in 1997 (the mural is on display at the Palais Royal — Musee du Louvre station).

The "Bellas artes" station is named for the nearby Palacio de Bellas Artes opera house and museum:

We came by this Christmas diorama, that at first glance looked quite classic:

However, tucked away in a corner were these guys:

The devil himself (BTW look at his feet!!) is sitting in some kind of red hot glowing lava cave drinking from a green bottle with two X's on it. One of the most popular beers in Mexico is called "XX" pronounced dos equis (= two X'es).

We passed by the house where Mexican painter Frida Kahlo was born, lived a large part of her life and which was turned into a museum after her death in 1954:

We did not go in since we had not bought tickets beforehand.

Felicie in front of a McDonald's Dessert Center:

The Dessert Centers are tiny McDonald's kiosks that sell only (you guessed it) desserts. They are quite widespread in Central and South America as well as in the Philippines and Turkey. In Mexico there are more McDonald's Dessert Center kiosks (530) that actual McDonald's restaurants (400).