Sunday, October 14, 2018

Travel the Ages... From ancient Oaxaca to the lavish culture of Mexico City

I have put together a phenomenal thirteen day guided tour 
in Oaxaca City, the Oaxaca valley and Mexico City.
October 6 - 19, 2019.


For those who have been on my San Miguel de Allende tours and my Artisan and Architecture tour in the state of Michoacan, I know if you join me, Oaxaca and Mexico City will also capture your heart.  The first part of the tour starts in Oaxaca City.

The main plaza, the zocalo, is one of the most spectacular in all of Mexico with its gazebo that usually has mariachis or a marimba band playing in it at night, vibrant cafes and restaurants lining the plaza on the main and second floor, the Cathedral on one side, towns people visiting...  We will be staying right in the heart of the historic center of Oaxaca City at the colonial Hotel Parador San Miguel.

One morning we will explore Monte Alban, the Zapotec ruins that was founded around 500 B.C..  At its grandest, over 25,000 people lived here.
Another morning at Mitla, ruins that date back to 100 A.D. with its distinctive geometric mosaics.

The architecture in the Oaxaca valley is diverse from this brilliant painted church in Ocotlan,

to the 16th century monastery in Cuilapan de Guerro,
to the Baroque Santo Domingo Church in the historic center of Oaxaca
and off to one side is the amazing ethnobotanical gardens that exhibits hundreds of live plant species, all native to Oaxaca
to the Contemporary Art Museum that is in a beautiful colonial mansion dating back to the late 17th century.

We will take in a cooking class one day which includes a shopping tour of the market. 
Oaxacan cuisine is some of the most interesting and colorful in the world.
It is known for its use of Queso Oaxacan (string cheese), chocolates, tlayudas (shown above), empanadas with squash blossoms...
Famous for its numerous and diverse moles.  And its mezcal.  We will visit the city of Oaxaca market, the true spirit and soul of Oaxaca with the indigenous people dressed in their colorful clothing.  A real stimulation of the senses.
Comida at Origen, known for its creative regional-fusion cuisine to
Comida at the fabulous, colorful countryside restaurant, Azucena Zapotec, where everything is made fresh.
And my favorite dish, Azucena Zapoteca.  Squash blossoms stuffed with cheese and vegetables in a egg batter and tomatillo salsa.  Divine!  Besides a gorgeous presentation.
Dinner (cena) at Asador Vasco, a revered old restaurant specializing in Basque and Oaxacan cuisine seated on the second floor balcony overlooking the main square.
And even breakfast one morning at La Merced market where we will have a tamale tasting, some of the best in the world.  Each day we will be a dining extravaganza.
Our farewell dinner in Oaxaca at Casa Oaxaca El Restaurante where we will dine up on the rooftop terrace overlooking the Santo Domingo Church and enjoy the cuisine prepared by Chef Alejandro Ruiz, one of Mexico’s best chefs.

We will visit many of the Oaxacan masters in their villages such as the Aguilar Sisters famous for their ceramic figures, 
 the weavers in Teotitlan de Valle where Bulmero Perez Mendosa
will give us a special demonstration on how the natural dyes are created before viewing all the family's beautifully hand-woven rugs to 
the Angles family world renown for their hand-carved wood and beautiful painted Alebrijos (animals).
There is an abundance of museums:  Rodolfo Morales Museum in Ocotlan.  Rufino Tamayo Museum, Museum of Oaxacan Cultures, M. Alvarez Bravo Photographic Center,
and the Museum of Textiles in Oaxaca City.
and Museum of Contemporary Art in Oaxaca with outstanding exhibitions that are constantly changing.  There is even a Stamp Museum that we will visit after our day of cooking.  There are cutting edge galleries in the historic center of town.  Lovely climate and fabulous restaurants.  Oaxaca has maintained its artistic identity.  The culture, folk art, contemporary art, music, native dress, cuisine....
After a week in Oaxaca, we are chauffeured to to the airport for our morning flight to Mexico City where we will be staying at an old gem of a hotel, Hotel Geneve, right in the heart of the historic center. 
After comida, we are in for a treat when we have a tour of the home of one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, Luis Barragán. 
A morning  at the Plaza de la Constitucion, invariably known as the Zocalo, one of the biggest public squares in the world.  We will visit the National Cathedral, one of the greatest religious structures in Latin America, 
and the Templo Mayer, the site of the Aztec teocalli (sacred city). 
A visit to the National Palace, the former site of Hernan Cortes’ residence.  And 2019 is the 500 year anniversary of Cortes coming to the Americas!
The most interesting feature of this Renaissance building is the great mural by Diego Rivera depicting the history of Mexico.  
Comida at El Cardenal, possibly the finest place in town for a traditional meal.  El Cardenal occupies three floors of a Parisian-style mansion and has a pianist playing sweetly in the background.
 One day we will start in the Coyoacan district that is full of colonial charm. 
And where we will immerse ourselves into the world of Frida Kahlo when we tour her home, Casa Azul
and the home and studio of Diego Rivera. 
Later we will have a leisurely dinner at the San Angel Inn.  The San Angel Inn is a long-standing, venerable institution in Mexico City.  Set in a classic, old hacienda (originally a convent), the atmosphere is elegant with blue-and-white Talavera-style place settings and bright white table linens—it has a true Spanish-Mexican colonial feel and is an oasis of calm in the middle of city.
A morning at the Museo Nacional de Antropolgia which houses a world-renowned Pre-Coloumbian collection.  The museum’s large, central patio is almost covered by a 275 foot canopy which sits on a 36 foot pillar, the largest concrete structure in the world supported by a single pillar. 
A visit to the Palacio de Bellas Artes, one of the most beautiful buildings in the historic center.  With its Art Nouveau facade and its Art Deco interior, we will see some murals by some of the greatest Mexican artist of the 20th century. 
Comida at Los Limosneros, a lovely restaurant that puts a contemporary twist on traditional Mexican cuisine.   The walls of this old structure date back to 500 years, part of the fortified walls built back in the days.
A visit to the Museo Arte Popular, housed in a 1920's Art Deco building, to tour the eye-poppingly beautiful handicrafts from across Mexico, while simultaneously covering the country’s history and its many culture.
A visit to the Museo Dolores Olmedo, possibly the most important Diego Rivera collection of all belongs to this museum, ensconced in a peaceful 17th-century hacienda. Dolores Olmedo, a socialite and patron of Rivera, resided here until her death in 2002. 
 On our last day we will have a relaxing afternoon, touring and dining on one of the colorfully painted trajnera boats
at the floating gardens (Chinampa) in Xochimilco.  Xochimilco, meaning the “Place of the Flowers” in Nahuatl is famous for its Aztec-made waterways surrounding the ancient city of Tenochtitlan, which is now modern Mexico City.
Our farewell dinner at 99 Nueve Nueve.  Located on the gorgeous grounds of cultural center Casa Lamm, a Mexican Bistro with Chefs Luis Duran and Monica Beteta in charge of the kitchen where they create fantastic dishes with typical ingredients from all around the country. 

From ancient Oaxaca to the elegant culture of Mexico City, it will be a trip of a lifetime.  Please join me October 6 - 19, 2019.

For more information, please email me your name, mailing address and any other contact information and I will send you a complete itinerary along with pricing, a deposit request form and plane travel information.  I am limiting this tour to only twelve and I already have eight signed on for the trip.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A striking exhibitions of Alejandro Rivera's paintings at the Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende

I recently just returned from spending a few weeks in San Miguel de Allende and the Bellas Artes had two phenomenal exhibitions.  One was by a Mexican artist, Alejandro Rivera.  Interesting that twenty years ago he took his first painting class at this exact institution!
His paintings revolve around the harmony between the body and nature. 
 Even thou this represents two sides opposing each other, I find a sense of tranquility in this painting, OK, except for the two masks.
A great gallery for Rivera's exhibition.
 La Memoria Perpetua - The Perpetual Memory

 Sueno Dentro de un Sueno - Dream within a Dream
A real labyrinthine, pulling you into another world.

 La Pequena Flora - The Small Flower

 El Rapto de Europa - The Kidnap of Europe

 Idolo Guardian - The Idol Guardian

 La Leccion de Anatomia - The Anatomy Lesson
Great painting.  
Wonderful exhibition.