Made it to Milan

Made it through immigration and navigated the ticket machine and got to the central train station in Milan. Now to get to Varenna.

Well, the adventure continues. We are on an earlier train – too weary to do any sight seeing in Milan; although the train station is quite spectacular. I will try to get some photos on our next stop in Milan. And, we cannot get all the way to our next stop, Varenna. There was a landslide that took out the train tracks. If I understand the conductor correctly, we go to an intermediate stop and get a ferry to Varenna. Never a dull moment. This will at least be good for some stories. One thing – the mountains are spectacular.

Ferry ride to Varenna was an unexpected treat
View from outside the place we are staying

First Day

Using my patented means to get to JFK: CT Rail to New Haven, Metro North to Grand Central, LIRR to Jamaica, Air Tran to terminal. Yes, a lot of stops but what an adventure. We are currently in the Hartford train station, I will report along the way.

To New Haven $4.00 senior discount.

Six people in the car plus the conductor. Two of the passengers are obviously nuts. That’s thirty percent.

To Grand Central: $11.75 senior discount off peak. No crazy people – what fun is that?

We are certainly creatures of habit. We came to the same Italian restaurant in Grand Central that we always go to, Prova Pizza. Familiar and good.

New LIRR terminal at Grand Central. On our way to Jamaica Station – $5.25.

New LIRR Station

Made it to our terminal Air Train $8.50 + $1.00 for a Metro Card. Looks like this is an oversold flight – they are offering $2,000 and a guaranteed seat tomorrow. Tempting

Looks like they got takers for the delay $2,200 per ticket. Tempting but it would probably cost that much for an extra day in Manhattan.

In route, will try to get some sleep – 7 1/2 hour flight.

Time to Get Ready for the Next Adventure

Tomorrow Tina and I start our next adventure. Traveling to meet Jim in Italy. We are in a whirlwind of activity around the sale of CT house so the trip to Italy crept up on me. It will be great to get away for a while before we have to get real about packing. Lots of preliminaries are set but, I am sure it will be quite a flurry when we get back. I told a neighbor to call the fire department if he sees smoke and, if he sees furniture being stolen, stay quiet – less to pack.

Now we are at the day of departure. Last minute things go in the bags, pajamas, first aid kit – take out the after shave because the last one was confiscated by security in Mexico City.

Check the train schedule out of Hartford. Don’t forget the security belt for credit cards and passport – I still remember being pick pocketed in Athens. Get rid of parrishables in refrigerator – don’t want to come back to a rotting mess.

We are on our way

Reflections on Mexico City Trip

Looking back on our visit to Mexico City and the great time we had there has made me reflect on the expectations of the trip.

General: The main purpose of the trip was to visit our daughter Emma and her husband James. The trip was made greater by the addition of son Jim who came to Mexico City after visiting friends in California. When planning the trip we planned to visit some of the attractions that the city has to offer. As you know, we did visit the Anthropology museum and the Frida Kahlo/Diego Rivera museum/house and studio. Looking back, these were interesting but not the highlight. Having the family together and enjoying the vibe of the city and the great cuisine of Mexico were truly the highlights of the trip. When we embarked we were somewhat apprehensive of visiting Mexico. There had been some Americans kidnapped and killed at the border, the US State Department issued an advisory, and there are stories of drug cartels and violence in the media. Although there are, I am sure, sketchy areas in Mexico City (as there are in all large cities); I never did not feel safe in the areas we visited. I came away losing apprehension that I had for our daughter living there.

Politics: Before leaving I renewed my conviction to not discuss politics with anyone in a foreign country neither their politics nor American politics. I leave politics at the boarder and I feel that it not polite for a guest to discuss political figures or policies in a country that I am visiting. I am glad that I pretty much followed through with this position. We have a tremendous problem with drugs flowing across our border with Mexico. Interdicting those drugs, I have come to believe, is only part of the solution. I do not believe that managing supply alone can solve the problem. We need to do something about demand. I do not have so much as a suggestion as to how to approach this, it is well beyond me. But, I do not believe we can only blame Mexico alone.

Although I will not discuss politics, I do hear political comments. The Mexican people are fearful of visiting the US. We had a long conversation with the young owner of The Red Tree House. He does some business in the US. His family is concerned for his safety when visiting here. He is admonished to not go to malls and entertainment venues.

Another Americanism that I found interesting is that the Mexican people don’t like the fact that we refer to ourselves as “Americans”. After all, they are also part of the American continent, as are South Americans and Canadians. I did not hear a suggestion as to what we should call ourselves. I will have to think about that. In the meantime I believe that I may start saying that I am “from the US” and leave it at that.

Going Back to CT

This is going to be a morning full of activity. James had to leave for work early so we said our goodbyes last evening. Emma walked Noodle past our hotel this morning so I was able to say goodbye early.

The first to leave for the airport is Jim as he has an earlier flight. We met at our hotel for some breakfast.

The adventure begins. Uber dropped us at the wrong terminal, security went through my bag twice (they didn’t like my aftershave and were concerned about my cork screw). But, we made it to the plane and boarded without further issues.

Beware the duty free store at the Mexico City Airport. Bought a bottle of baking vanilla. It was put in the wrong kind of bag and confused in Atlanta. The flight to Atlanta was great. We met Jim in Atlanta without a hitch (And without vanilla). The flight to Hartford was great. Uber home with a pleasant driver.

Last Full Day in Mexico

Today is a local holiday in Mexico City. That being the case, we are not planning to go to any local sights. Planning to spend the day with the James’s and Emma. And, of course, Noodle.

Cruising around shops in the Amsterdam neighborhood.

Noodle is having the best time of all
Statue of David

I finally tried a street quesadilla. Evidently this is a good place because we met a couple from Virginia who had researched street vendors and came here before checking into their hotel. They were really good.

One was chicken the other squash flower

Short informal dinner. I think everyone is tired out. 13,000 to 20,000 steps each day the last four days.

Frida Kahlo Day

This morning we went to the Frida Kahlo museum. Actually it was the house she and Diego Rivera lived in. There was not very much of her and Rivera’s art work. Even though, it was very interesting and well worth the stop.

Looks like she didn’t think much of Uncle Sam

The James’s went to a soccer game while Emma Tina and I walked around the shops in Coyoacan. Then back to Condesa and our last hotel in Mexico City, The Red Tree House. The Red Tree House is a really nice place.

Greeted by Romeo

Went to an Italian restaurant with Emma and the James’. Afterwards we got together with a number of their friends from James’ school and others that we had met when we went to England with them. Another late night, glad to call it a night.

Some Tango in the park.

On to Coyoacan

Today we are leaving Mexico City and traveling to Coyoacon. First, we will meet the rest of the gang at Emma and James’ apartment. Son James is staying with them. We will be able to see Noodle as well. Evidently Noodle has been extra excited to have Jim as a companion the last few days. Coyoacan is supposed to be a beautiful area. Coyoacan was also the home of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. We are planning to visit the Frida Kahlo museum tomorrow. But, first we will have to say goodbye to our little hotel.

One thing that I am reminded of here is that the altitude is around 7200 feet. It makes for heavy breathing on inclined terrain.

This is the art market area.

We met a friend of Emma’s who gave us an impromptu tour of the area and took us to the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo studio.

Had a late lunch at a great restaurant

At our B&B for one night. I think all are pretty bushed. I for one plan to have an early night. Then on to the Kahlo museum tomorrow.

I find the images that Frida Kahlo paintings to be unsettling. I am hoping that they have some Diego Rivera as well. It seems to me that Frida Kahlo has risen in popularity while Diego Rivera has waned. We have tickets to the Frida Kahlo museum tomorrow so I guess I will find out if they have any Rivera.

One thing that fascinates me is the preoccupation with death in this culture. Even the motif in some bars.

Another B&B with a strange entrance.

We continued eating across the cultural and historic landscape by having dinner at a traditional Mexican restaurant. I had a great mole dish.

Afterwards we walked around the plaza that was crowded to overflowing. The James’s went to a sports bar to watch a soccer game while the rest of us retired after a long day.

First Full Day in Mexico City

The place we are staying is a really nice small boutique hotel in the Roma Norte neighborhood. It is where the movie “Roma” was filmed a number of years ago.

Started the day with breakfast at the hotel. As usual we will likely eat our way across historic and cultural sites of wherever we visit.

On the way to the Anthropology Museum noted a shop that looked interesting.

It’s a dress shop “Psycho Bunny”?

Made it to the Museum of Anthropology. The place is huge. Well worth a visit but I would suggest getting a guided tour. One is immersed in the rich Mexican history and culture. Some descriptions are in English but most only in Spanish. The transition software on my phone made the visit much more meaningful. I did come away with the impression that the pre-Columbian cultures were fixated on human sacrifice. Hard to relate to that.

Always thought that this was a Mayan Calendar, it’s another place that they sacrificed folks.

Next we walked through one of the great parks here.

Dog walking taken to a new level

Went to dinner with Emma James and James to a trendy Mexican/Indian fusion place.

Masala y Mais
Salad with crickets was interesting

Ended the evening at a jazz club.

Jazzatlan Club

Estamos en Camino a Mexico

Well we managed to get up early, the Uber driver “Krishna” was on time and we made it to the airport.

On the first leg of the journey. Air travel certainly hasn’t improved over the years. A pretty scruffy bunch of people in the airport and on the plane. My observation is probably highly influenced by my age. It is certainly a fact that I don’t miss being in an airplane most every week as was the case when I was working. However, all that being said, the seat is comfortable, leg space good and there is some nice jazz on the entertainment system.

Flight to Atlanta was packed and the one to Mexico City is overbooked. Airlines must be doing well.

We made it to Mexico City, Emma met us at the airport and we had a long Uber to the hotel.

Had dinner with Jim and Emma. Staying with Mexican food. This was a seafood place – really good.