Culture Club

September 1, 2004 by  
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Luxury and history are a short journey away in Mexico City

Do you enjoy distinct architecture, fine upscale dining, thousands of years of history, mingling with the people and adventure? Then put Mexico City in your travel plans.

Mexico City, the capital of Mexico and the largest city in the world, is a modern, cosmopolitan area situated in an old lake basin and surrounded by volcanic mountains. Founded in 1325, Mexico City is known as “The City of Palaces.” Some of the natives like to call it “little New York.”

I flew into Mexico City from Houston aboard AeroMexico. In two short hours, I was in another country (same time zone and no jet lag), in a city resplendent with its different cultures and historical sites. Houston is one of the 17 U.S. gateways served by AeroMexico, connecting leisure, family and business travelers to more than 40 destinations throughout Mexico.

Mexico City is known for being the longest continuously inhabited city in the Western Hemisphere. I stayed at the Presidente InterContinental Mexico City, located in the heart of the city. The hotel’s location is very convenient for the tourist who is interested in exploring the museums, cathedrals and historic buildings. The internationally renowned Anthropology and Tamayo museums are located within walking distance as well as upscale shopping areas comparable to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif.

I decided to take advantage of the world-famous spa at the Marquis Reforma Hotel. The facilities were extremely clean, and I was treated to the wonderful smells of lingering aromatherapy throughout the spa. The 16,000-square-foot spa has massage rooms; facial treatment rooms; aromatherapy; multiple purpose rooms with hydro-therapy tubs and Swiss showers; separate ladies’ and gentlemen’s areas, each with its own Jacuzzi, steam and sauna. The Fitness Center, equipped with state-of-the-art cardio and weight training equipment, is in an enclosed area with high windows that give stunning views of the surrounding city. That evening I went to the Hacienda de los Morales with a companion for dinner. When we arrived at the restaurant, the host asked us to enjoy the bar in the beautiful open courtyard. We thought we were being seated there until our table was ready. We were enjoying the lovely courtyard for about an hour and a half and thought that the restaurant must be really crowded because we hadn’t been called to our table. When we inquired about our table, the host said that our table had been ready when we arrived. It is Mexican custom to invite the guests to the bar first and let them relax and take as much time as they want. It is up to the guest to tell the host when they are ready to be seated.

This restaurant is truly spectacular, the cuisine outstanding and the service impeccable. They pride themselves on giving that “extra special” attention to their guests, creating a relaxing atmosphere. There was a small group of musicians playing violins, cello and piano. The music was soft and mellow and allowed for conversation as we were treated to Broadway musicals and Mexican favorites.

The next day we took a “Turibus” city tour. This is a red, double-decker bus with an open top, giving a magnificent view of the sights. At first, I was very disappointed that it was an audio tour, because I prefer a live guide with whom I can talk. However, I began to like the audio because of its practicality – a guide could never be heard above the noise of the traffic.

We got off at the Zocalo, Mexico City’s main square. Don’t miss this exhilarating adventure of walking around the traditional merchants’ arcade. It’s a grand open-air market that stretches for miles on the sidewalks with some of the booths spilling out onto the streets. The market was jammed with crowds of local people walking down narrow streets crowded with vendors, merchandise and traffic. The sights, sounds and smells were like something out of a movie or your imagination. If you love hordes of people buying and selling all kinds of merchandise and foods, you will love this market.

Here people were lined up to see the curandero and curandera. These are people who practice folk medicine using folk remedies, herbal medicine and religious blessings. The curandero and curandera were dressed like Indians and used a container shaped like a chalice with incense smoke pouring out. They blessed the people with this chalice and sprinkled them with water and chanted prayers.

We ended the day with “dining around” in the restaurants at the InterContinental Hotel. We had French, Italian and American cuisine in three of the hotel’s five fabulous restaurants. The Presidente InterContinental boasts some of the finest cuisine choices in all of Mexico City as well as the best in comfort and range of personalized services.

Come to Mexico City and experience the unhesitating hospitality, world-class accommodations and spectacular cuisine that is the vibrant Mexican culture.

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