We first met Donna Quirk at a running event on Beacon Hill about nine years ago. Since that time we have become good friends with Donna and her husband Tom. Tom and Donna visited us in Paris and San Francisco in 2017 and Donna spent some time with Sandy in London while Jim was in Iceland with daughter Emily. We met Donna’s brother Mark Neylon while having dinner with Tom & Donna in New York City in December of 2017. When Donna heard that we were coming to Mexico City she immediately put in her request for a week but she knew that Tom would not even consider spending time here so at Sandy’s suggestion she invited her brother Mark who loves to travel and has been taking a Spanish language course for two years. Donna and Mark arrived here about 3pm on Saturday, the beginning of our 9th week. After a small snack at home we took them on a lovely walking tour of la Condesa and Roma. We showed them our very active street with its restaurants, bars and cafes all with sidewalk seating before crossing Avenida Amsterdam and going into Parque México which was abuzz with family activities.
We crossed over Avenida de los Insurgentes which at 17.9 miles on a north south axis is the longest street in CDMX and is also the dividing line between Roma and its neighbors to the west. Jim led us through Mercado Medellin which at only 500 stalls is relatively small and tame for this city but is nevertheless still quite colorful. It was quietly closing on this Saturday evening. We had to take them by 22 Tepeji, the site of the house in the movie Roma which they had both seen. Mark loved the movie as he learned more Spanish from the dialogue.We then headed north going from the plain but colorful working-class houses of Roma Sur to the Spanish Colonial mansions of Roma Norte turning left on Colima, ending up at Fonda Fina where we have eaten once before. This restaurant has good reviews and is highly rated. Our guests have loved it but we have been underwhelmed on our two visits here. Sunday morning we all ran the 1 mile to Chapultepec Park and we dropped Mark and Donna off at the base of the short road up to the Castle.
They went up to see the Castle while we finished our three mile run and walked home. Sunday afternoon they went to Centro Historico and attended Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral on the Zócalo and attempted to see Diego Rivera’s murals at the National Palace but the long line to get in dissuaded them. On Monday Donna and Mark took an Uber to Teotihuacan and toured the area on their own, the first guests to go without a tour guide.
Their Uber driver stayed at the site and then drove them back to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Well done Donna and Mark.
We had dinner at Lardo, a Mediterranean restaurant that we had tried for a late lunch and really liked. The food is reminiscent of Spanish Tapas and we shared a good selection from their menu. This will go on our recommended list. Tuesday morning we took another run to Chapultepec Park covering 3.2 miles. These two did very well running at this altitude.
After breakfast Mark and Donna went to the National Museum of Anthropology then met us in Polanco for a walk and lunch. Polanco is the main urban upscale district in Mexico City and is often referred to as the Beverly Hills of Mexico City. Indeed it is home to the city’s densest concentration of upscale shopping, hotels and restaurants, embassies, high-end car dealerships and home furnishing shops. As a residential area, the neighborhood is culturally diverse and is home to many super-rich, politicians, celebrities, artists and businessmen.
Our Lunch at Dulce Patria was absolutely spectacular with fancy presentations of drinks, food and desserts. The flavors were wonderful and no one was disappointed in any way. Highly recommended.
Mark had arrived with a list of recommendations from a friend and one that he wanted to hit was breakfast at El Cardenal. This was also on our list from Condé Nast. They are famous for their Hot Chocolate Doña Oliva, their just baked pastries and the thick “natas” which is the cream from fresh milk.
We enjoyed the experience and a much too large breakfast but would not include this on a must do list for México City. We then walked Donna and Mark through our favorite places in the downtown Centro Historico/Zócalo district.
We tried to get into the National Palace to see the Diego Rivera murals but it was closed due to some political events going on at the entrance so we took them on a tour of Templo Mayor and its museum which we had not been in previously. We have walked around the perimeter of Templo Mayor many times but have not entered it until now. These are actually very significant ruins which take one back to the very origins of this city around 1325. Even though it took us many weeks to discover and really explore, this is a highly recommended visit.
After Templo Mayor we walked through the Zócalo to the Gran Hotel Ciudad de México and just rested for a while in their grand Art Deco lobby.
Our last stop of this downtown tour was the Palais de Bellas Artes to see the murals there as Donna and Mark have been unable to get into the National Palace after two tries.
Thursday March 14 was Sandy’s 73rd birthday and it began with a 3.7 mile run to Chapultepec Park, running a 2 mile loop in the park and then part way home with Donna and Mark. On our birthdays we try to some how run our age number, Sandy decided on the 3.7 as the air quality and altitude were not conducive to running 7.3 miles. This has become our favorite route as the park is beautiful and quiet in the early morning and the air is cleaner along the shaded paths.
After breakfast on the deck we took an Uber to Casa Azul. We had timed tickets for 1:30 but went an hour early and they would not allow us in so we had a nice stroll in the Coyoacan neighborhood.
While Sandy and Donna shopped Jim & Mark tried some street food of esquites and tamales. Esquites is made from corn kernels which are steamed in butter with onions, chopped chiles, and salt. It is served hot in small cups and topped with varying combinations of lime juice, chile powder or hot sauce, salt, cheese and mayonnaise. We returned to the museum at 1:30 and got in immediately. Although we have been to Casa Azul before we enjoyed it just as much the second time around. Donna and Mark felt it was one of the highlights of their visit.
After touring the house we enjoyed some relaxation time in the beautiful garden as Sandy took birthday greetings from son Jason and family.
Our next adventure of the day was San Angel as Donna wanted to check out Paulina Y Malinali where Sandy bought a jacket from the Mexican twin fashion designers. Unfortunately the shop was closed so we opted to have lunch there. In the evening we had reservations for a birthday dinner at Rosetta which is in the top 10 best restaurants in México City. It did not disappoint. Set in an outdoor courtyard under the stars it was a lovely way to end a perfect birthday.
Donna and Mark’s last morning we took them to our local breakfast favorite, Matisse. This has become our traditional last morning meal before our houseguests take their leave. Matisse has great coffee, fresh squeezed juices and an extensive selection of Mexican breakfast dishes. Mark’s Spanish instructor from Boston had flown into CDMX the night before and joined us for desayuno. It was a real pleasure getting to meet Professor Marco Mena who is originally from Costa Rica but has lived in the Boston area for many years.
We had a great time with Donna and her brother Mark although we missed her husband Tom a lot. We will welcome any members of this family visiting us anywhere, anytime in the future.