Andrew Buzzi & Dick Maniace have been introduced many times on these pages. In fact we have spent more time with them in the last two years than we ever did when they lived above us on Beacon Street in Boston. Since we started this beautiful travel saga they have visited us in Paris, Tel Aviv, London,(twice) Prague, Stockholm, Venice, Rome and now México City. They arrived late Wednesday evening after a 12 hour non-stop flight from Frankfurt challenged with no cell phone service and a taxi driver who could not find our address.
They were exhausted, frustrated and hungry. We settled them down with food, drinks and relaxing conversation on our terrace before they retired to our guest suite for the night. Dick is additionally challenged with knee pain due to a yet undiagnosed problem. He is on a strong anti-inflammatory and relies on a cane to walk. This mobility restriction was frustrating for him as they are both avid walkers and enjoy sightseeing on foot rather than driving. Ubers although inexpensive are a sometimes slow way to get anywhere due to extreme traffic congestion in the city. Our first outing with them was to the Museo Dolores Olmedo in Xochimilco where we have visited before and recommend.
It is a small house museum on beautiful grounds and has a nice collection of art by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. That evening we had dinner at MeroToro which features the cuisine of Baja California. We had previously dined here with the O’Connors and enjoyed it but none of us were blown away by it this night as we were in the mood for simpler more authentic Mexican food. The next day we took an Uber to Roma Norte as Andrew and Sandy wanted to check out a vintage clothing store which turned out to be small and expensive. Dick spent an hour sitting on a bench in Plaza Rio De Janeiro talking to a T-Mobile agent, on Jim’s phone, trying to get phone service for himself and Andrew. We ate lunch at ENO and Ubered home. Saturday morning Dick rested his knee and we took Andrew to Plaza del Angel Antique Center which is a shopping plaza located in the heart of Zona Rosa with 50 shops for antiques and collectors items. Every Saturday, besides the traditional flea market, you find the Opportunities Market (Mercado de la oportunidad), which is an outdoor flea market with over 100 vendors. Walking through it is like going back in time as you see china, books, sacred art, furniture, armor and difficult to find unique pieces. Thankfully for Jim, Andrew is a fast looker and shopper.We did walk around the Zona Rosa a bit with Andrew as we have not spent much time here. Early afternoon we took the bus to San Miguel de Allende. The buses in México seem great with numerous choices as to bus companies and times. Our new friend Tom O’Toole had recommended ETN after a lot of research and riding it himself. We were on the upper deck of a very modern double decker bus with personal entertainment screens, wifi, electrical connections at every seat and AC which froze us out both going and coming.
The 3.5 hour trip took 5 hours making one stop in Querétaro. Our friends Ivonne & Miguel had given us a key to their home in SMA to use specifically for our time here with Dick & Andrew. We were indeed fortunate to have them rearrange their plans so that they could join us for this weekend in SMA in their beautiful home as we love spending time with them and having them meet our friends.
We arrived early evening and spent an hour or so with conversation and drinks on their beautiful roof deck before going to a lovely dinner at Mivida, an Italian restaurant run by an Italian man who is married to a Mexican woman. The food and service were exceptional.
Sunday morning we took Andrew for a walk through the park to the center of town, showing him the Cathedral and stopping at Cumpanio, a French bakery, to purchase pastries for breakfast.
Dick was unable to walk around SMA as there are many streets with no sidewalks and the cobblestone streets are very rough and uneven. He has been here before but it was still quite disappointing for Andrew and him not to be able to explore this charming Spanish colonial town together. Andrew met up with a friend that he hadn’t seen for years who is living in nearby Querétaro, Ivonne & Miguel went to a lecture and we spent all afternoon cooped up in our “office” finishing off our lengthy O’Connor blog.
Saturday evening we had Mexican entradas and Margaritas at a rooftop bar in downtown SMA, people watching and enjoying the sunset. There are so many wacky eccentric baby boomers who have retired here.
We stopped for takeout pizza for Dick and Andrew as they were enjoying alone time and rest at home. Monday morning we were treated to a Mexican breakfast of Huevos Rancheros prepared by Ivonne and Miguel’s housekeeper Brenda. We have had this before and it is worth returning for. We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon just relaxing and engaging in brilliant conversation on the roof deck.Our bus trip home was much shorter as this driver was absolutely flying and Sunday traffic was lighter. We were still frozen out on the upper deck but Jim discovered that it was much warmer on the very small lower deck. We had a great small dinner at our neighborhood La Cerveceria de Barrio on the corner. We are so fortunate to have a plethora of eating choices right outside our door and the prices are so reasonable that despite having a fabulous outdoor kitchen with all the amenities we choose to eat out more often than not. Tuesday we sent the boys off on their own to see Casa Azul while we completed our taxes and worked on the mundanities. Sandy had a terrible day as she was bored to death. We tried Tennessee Jack’s House for the second time since our arrival in January and were all pleasantly rewarded with some of the best burgers we have ever had. They really take their food seriously here and the freshness, quality and preparation of ingredients continues to surprise us. We wrapped up Sandy’s terribly boring day by allowing her to introduce our now mandatory guest experience of learning to play Buracco.Dick has been to México many times and has driven substantial parts of the country himself. Another place that he wanted to return to and take us along was Cuernavaca which is a 90 minute drive south of CDMX. We called for an Uber and Jim was able to negotiate with the driver, Julio, for him to wait three hours in Cuernavaca and bring us back home. This colonial city, aka, the city of eternal spring because of its climate is the capital of the state of Morelos. It is cradled by the Tepozteco mountains which are home to Popatepetl Volcano which erupted six days ago. The volcano is about 60 miles from Cuernavaca. This city is also the former home of Hernan Cortes. Our first priority on arrival was lunch. Dick spotted a sweet rooftop restaurant called The Pastis Bistro which overlooked the hustle and bustle of the main city street below. The cuisine was French and the food quite good.Sandy researched Cuernavaca on the 90 minute drive and found that the number one tourist attraction was the Palace of Cortes, now a history museum. Unfortunately it was heavily damaged by the 2017 earthquake and has been closed for renovations and restoration since then. Sandy decided on the number three recommended site, The Museo Robert Brady, located in the Casa de la Torres which was a former meteorological observatory of the Franciscan Seminary. This house museum was home of the American artist and collector Robert Brady who lived here from 1961 until his death in 1986. Robert Brady was born in Iowa to a wealthy family. He was very talented and showed an artistic flair from an early age pursuing studies at the Chicago Art Institute, Temple University in Philadelphia and the legendary Barnes Foundation in Merion, Pennsylvania. He traveled extensively and lived in Venice for a time where he befriended the flamboyant art collector Peggy Guggenheim. Over time he amassed an amazing collection of art and treasures from around the world. He left Europe in 1959 and came to Cuernavaca where he was smitten with all things Mexican, especially the bold use of color which is clearly reflected in his home. Everything in the house was meticulously positioned by him and it remains exactly how he left it. We really enjoyed this museum and highly recommend it.
Our next stop was the number two point of interest, The Cathedral de Cuernavaca. This Roman Catholic Church located in the city center is Baroque architectural style. It stands in a large high walled compound and was built in a grand fortress like style so to as impress, intimidate and defend against the indigenous natives. Unfortunately we could not go into the Cathedral either due to renovations from prior earthquake damage. The Cathedral is the main church of what was the monastery of the third order of the Franciscans dating back to the 16th century when it was built by Cortes. We did take a short inexpensive tour by a guide who nabbed us as we walked in.
We couldn’t leave town without a little shopping so Dick picked up some gifts for his niece and nephews before heading back to meet up with Julio for our return trip home.
Our last dinner together was at the Cipriani in Polanco. This worldwide chain started with Harry’s Bar in Venice which we visited briefly with Dick and Andrew last September. We have also had a drink at the Cipriani’s in Rome with these two, so it is becoming a bit of a tradition. Meal was only so so this night but it was still a lovely last day together.
Our last day tradition for guests is breakfast at Matisse which is a local three restaurant chain with the nearest one only a block away. Immediately on being seated you are presented with a plate of pastries and coffee and juice orders are taken. Juices are freshly made and quite large. The breakfast menu is extensive and everything is very fresh and tasty. Dick’s knee is better today so we take an Uber to Chapultepec Park to visit the castle. The first security guard we encountered, noting Dick’s cane, offered the handicapped elevator to take him and Andrew to the top, saving his knee from the long gentle incline up. We spent about two hours enjoying the museums and the grounds.
Upon our return to Condesa we tried another neighborhood street side bar/restaurant for lunch which was very good. While we were there our Beacon Hill neighbor Peggy Scott called and we all enjoyed chatting with her and catching up on what’s happening in Boston. Dick and Andrew left us at 3pm with promises to stalk us again this summer in London.
Andrew and Dick are going on to Las Vegas and Los Angeles before returning to Berlin around the 13th of April.