Today was our first full weekend day together, and we decided to throw caution to the wind and try to cross some sightseeing off our list. After breakfast this morning, we took a taxi to the Centro Historico, the oldest part of Mexico City, which has some of the city's most significant buildings. The taxi ride was not fun. The taxi itself was fine--Andrew arranged it through our corporate housing and hired the taxi for our whole excursion, paying him to just wait around for us. (Hailing a taxi on the street is probably fine, but not always: you know; kidnappings.) Lucia simply hates riding in taxis. Hates it. I feel for her--she gets motion sick, and the driving in Mexico City is hardly smooth. She was whining and crying terribly by the time we arrived. Fortunately, she rallied as soon as we got out of the car.
Our destination was the Zocalo, the largest public square in the western hemisphere. The effect of its size was diminished somewhat this morning, because a gigantic tent housing a mobile telephone expo took up almost the entire space. We went first to the Catedral Metropolitana, which took 240 years to build and was completed in 1813. We saw a woman was giving her confession in a wide-open confessional right there among the visitors.
Next we went to the Palacio Nacional, built in 1693, to see the lovely arched interior and murals by Diego Rivera. There was a little garden area with a lot of cats milling around, which the girls enjoyed. After looking at the murals, we set them loose in the courtyard for a little while so they could run around by the pegasus fountain. Then it was back into the stroller for the next leg of our trip.
Up to this point, things were totally under control and pretty easy. The girls were happy enough with some snacks, and we'd really wanted to see the Catedral and the Palacio, so we were happy too. But since we'd come all the way to the Centro, we decided we should just push on and see as much as we could. So we began walking up a street called Tacuba, just seeing some city life and loosely heading toward the Palacio de Bellas Artes. I bought the girls each a little doll from a vendor; we bought some pastries at a bakery. Greta fell asleep in the stroller, and the rest of us ate some baked goods outside the National Museum of Art. All was still okay (even though Lucia's lunch today was a chocolate muffin, and Greta had no lunch at all). We let the girls play again outside the Bellas Artes while we waited for our taxi to pick us up.
The girls got lots of stares today--though we were in an ostensibly touristy area, there aren't a lot of Americans in Mexico City, so the blonde-ish girls definitely stood out. Our double stroller, too, drew glances; there were many women simply carrying babies around in their arms--no crowds of Ergos here.
Getting back in the taxi was met with disapproval, not surprisingly, but Andrew and I chose to forge ahead nonetheless to a market called the Mercado de Artesanias de la Ciudadela. Since we had the taxi at our disposal, and had come all that way...There was a lot to see, and the girls were definitely fraying, and we promised Lucia a souvenir, and she took forever trying to choose a little woven purse...And then we had to get back in the taxi.
We pushed them today. We pushed ourselves. We were back by 2:30pm but it felt like we'd been out for an entire day, not just four hours. It was a successful excursion--but we paid the price for the rest of the afternoon, with two tired, cranky kids. There are lots more things we'd like to see here, but it might take us until next weekend to build up the willpower to plan another outing...
Palacio de Bellas Artes: