Even after Pujol, our gastronomic adventures were far from over. We got up early the next morning and went to Saks for breakfast. We had planned to walk, but woke up just a little late and got distracted by Wimbledon, so we took a cab. Like La Chinampa, Saks is a must for any trip to Mexico City. We sat on the patio and enjoyed our three-course breakfast: pastries, because Mexican pan dulces are severely underrated; papaya, mango and figs; and chilaquiles for me and nopal for Jason. We also had fresh-squeezed orange and mango juices and the best hot chocolate. Me gusta comer a Saks.
We walked back to the hotel, picked up our bags, and taxied over to the new hotel. The first place we stayed was great, but we’ve spent a lot of time in that neighborhood (Jason especially), so we decided to try something new for the second half of our trip. It would turn out to be an excellent choice.
As we were checking in, the girl at the desk explained everything about our room in Spanish. I can usually follow conversations for a bit, so I just nodded and smiled. Then apparently things got technical and I was totally lost. Apparently she said to Jason, “Oh, she doesn’t speak Spanish does she?”
He explained that no, I did not speak Spanish, but that I had come down to see him after a work trip and to celebrate my birthday. Her response: “I could tell because she went like this.” Her eyes widened and she looked back and forth, like a crazed Felix the cat. Yep, that’s me.
We weren’t really hungry for lunch–and, it turns out, wouldn’t be hungry for dinner–so we roamed Polanco. It’s such a great barrio. My favorite store was this combination bookstore/cafe whose name I don’t remember. There was even a section of literatura inglés. One Mexican quirk is that the books there are shrink-wrapped, so you can’t preview the inside. It’s kind of funny.
When Jason was here last, he picked up an adorable picture book for his cousin Kelley’s baby (Me Gusta La Naturaleza) and one for our (eventual) children called What Are You For? It’s for a slightly older reader, but still has very cute pictures. The tale follows Leonardo, a city boy who has to accompany his parents to the country. He hates the countryside because there’s nothing to do there. He goes on a walk in the forest and meets a sheep, a cow, and a hen. There’s a great moment when the sheep asks what he is and he says he is Leonardo, and the sheep replies “Leopardo?” Anyway, eventually his animal friends give him to the wolf so he can be eaten, but the wolf thinks he smells bad (like the city, home to dogs and doves) and lets him go. It’s cute and funny.
Still not hungry, we decided to go to the Museo Soumaya in Nuevo Polanco.
Like the Guggenheim, the building is part of the museum experience. Unlike the Guggenheim, the Museo Soumaya is free! Carlos Slim, the so-called Mexican Warren Buffett, founded the museum in honor of his late wife. It is beautiful.
What you don’t get from my picture is how the whole building is twisted. It’s really interesting and kind of disorienting once you enter because you can’t tell how high you’ve gone within the column. The museum levels are stacked, with a curved walkway around the edges, which reminded me of the Guggenheim. Unsurprisingly, Frank Gehry apparently advised on the construction. Also, according to Wikipedia Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose book I brought to Mexico, attended the grand opening event.
The museum sits in a multi-use retail, office and living complex also developed by Carlos Slim. Before going to the museum, we went into the adjacent mall and bought tickets to see Jurassic World. More on that in a bit.
One of my favorite pieces in the museum was on the very first floor. Right as you walk in, there’s a tall, long, two-sided Diego Rivera mosaic on concrete. So cool. We stashed our umbrellas, then headed up to the first floor where we saw Carlos Slim’s personal coin and religious relic collections. There were also some cool prehispanic pieces and military awards. Oh, his first stock certificate is there too, along with a bunch of watches and jewelry.
On the second floor we saw an exhibition of carved ivory. It was awesome, but also kind of sobering.
The third floor houses a collection of European and Colonial Old Masters. There was some great stuff on this level, but it was also where I realized I was quite tired, so we took a break on a bench. I especially liked the altarpieces and this odd painting called “Barbershop with Monkeys and Cats,” which is just what it sounds like. In this instance, the monkeys are the barbers and the cats are the customers. It made me laugh.
There are six levels, but the fifth and sixth were being renovated so the fourth level was our last stop. It houses the Impressionism to Avant-garde collection. There were a couple Picassos and Van Goghs and one little drawing by Mary Cassatt. I think we spent the most time here. It was great.
We perused the museum gift shop for a few minutes, opting not to purchase the chocolate Museo Soumaya (only 100 pesos!). In the main hall they were preparing for a concert, so we leaned on a pillar and waited for the music to start. Turns out there was a Beatles exhibition on the ground floor (which we didn’t visit because the line wove around the building) and the music group was a Mexican Beatles cover band. We listened to two songs, one of which I didn’t recognize at all, then headed out. Turns out a giant spare, curved room makes music REALLY loud.
It wasn’t quite time for our movie, so we walked over to a plaza so Jason could show me the Krispy Kreme store (also: Wendy’s, Subway, and Panda Express. Hilarious.) and Costco. Maybe someday we’ll do our shopping there?
It might seem silly to go to a movie while on vacation in Mexico, but Jason insisted that this would be fun. He was right, which means something coming from a girl who does not like going to movies. I think something about having to watch movies for school ruined them for me. Anyway, we bought our tickets at the Cinépolis VIP. There’s also a regular Cinépolis, but we went for the high-rolling $7 tickets.
Jason had mentioned that this was a nice theater, but I was floored. The seats are literally recliners, not seats that recline, but La-Z-Boy recliners. You can go all the way back to a laying position. Clustered in groups of two, the seats are flanked by a table and a desk lamp. In a pocket on the table, you’ll find your menu. Yes, a menu. You see, this is no ordinary movie theater. The menu is something like twelve pages and includes wings, quesadillas, coconut shrimp, crepes, and, at the very end, popcorn and candy.
Jason and I decided we were probably hungry enough for some popcorn and bottled water. (Aside: it’s tough to drink enough water in Mexico. The tap water is allegedly fine to drink, but we don’t take chances and always consume bottled water. Thankfully bottled agua is much cheaper than it is in the United States, but it’s still hard to remember to cart water with you everywhere you go, rather than relying on drinking fountains.) I thought Jason would head back out to the concourse to order our food. Instead, I was surprised when a waitress came by, kneeling down beside our chairs to take our order. Less than ten minutes later, we had a giant popcorn and two giant water bottles.
Having not seen the first Jurassic Park movie, I enjoyed the latest installment far more than I thought I would. It was fun and funny and everyone was talking and laughing in Spanish so I didn’t feel bad when I jumped and screamed at some suspenseful parts.
We decided that the popcorn was our dinner and made our way back to the hotel. We wanted to try out the seventh-floor jacuzzi, so we put on our swimming suits and headed down.
(At this point it was late, but you get the idea. This is a pretty sweet swimming set up. Seventh floor.)We didn’t realize the pool closed at 10 and it was now 10:30. We were kind of disappointed, but are nothing if not rule followers. The woman at the desk said something to Jason and unlocked the door: they would keep the jacuzzi open for us until 11!
Jason actually saw it first and was trying to figure out if he had ordered a cake without realizing it. Then, he remembered about telling the girl at the front desk that it was my birthday. She arranged for the tray to be sent up while we were out. It was such a great surprise, and the card was very nice!
Obviously we left the wine (with a little note explaining that we were grateful for the gesture). We shared the cake, which was so good. Also, there were figs. We ate more figs this trip than we usually eat in a year and they were delicious.