Archive for March 11th, 2018

March 11, 2018

The land of the Aztecs et al, Mexico!

Hard to come up with a title for a country with so much to offer and many still untapped for other reasons. I have been coming here since 1994 and for a time ,every month to DF; later moving to France had the opportunity to continue visiting and even going to other areas. Of course ,the country is Mexico. Of course so vast and rich one blog post won’t do justice to it, but its my small contribution to a country from where now have family ties, twice! As well as many friends.

A bit of history I like.

Mexico is officially the United Mexican States and is a federal Republic in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico.

Mēxihco is the Nahuatl term for the heartland of the Aztec Empire, namely,the Valley of Mexico, and its people, the Mexica, and surrounding territories. This became the future State of Mexico as a division of New Spain prior to independence. After New Spain won independence from Spain, representatives decided to name the new country after its capital, Mexico City. This was founded in 1524 on top of the ancient Mexica capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. The declaration of independence signed on November 6, 1813 by the deputies of the Congress of Anáhuac called the territory América Septentrional (Northern America). On two occasions (1821–1823 and 1863–1867), the country was known as Imperio Mexicano (Mexican Empire). All three federal constitutions (1824, 1857 and 1917, the current constitution) used the name Estados Unidos Mexicanos ,all of which have been translated as United Mexican States.

Ciudad de México or CDMX (Mexico City) is the capital of Mexico. Founded early on the 14C by the Mexicas (Aztecs) on the island lake of Texcoco, the pre-Columbian town of Tenochtitlan was replaced by the conquering Spanish when the Aztec empire perished in 1521, becoming the first big city of European origin in the Americas in 1522,when Hernán Cortés took the decision to built on the same spot the capital of New Spain, called Mexico.

Mexico has traditionally been among the most visited countries in the world according to the World Tourism Organization and it is the most visited country in the Americas after the United States. As of 2016, Mexico was the 8th most visited country in the world and had the 14th highest income from tourism in the world which is also the highest in Latin America. The vast majority of tourists come to Mexico from the United States and Canada followed by Europe and Asia. A smaller number also come from other Latin American countries. In the 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, Mexico was ranked 22nd in the world, which was 3rd in the Americas.

It has an elaborate excellent cuisine base on the Spanish colonization and the indigenous population ,this meeting of millennia old two culinary traditions, were born the pozole, mole sauce, Mexican barbecue and tamale , the chocolate, a large range of breads, tacos, and the broad repertoire of Mexican street foods. Beverages such as atole, champurrado, milk chocolate and aguas frescas were born; desserts such as acitrón and the full range of crystallized sweets, rompope, cajeta, jericaya and the wide repertoire of delights created in the convents of nuns in all parts of the country. There are many beverages typical of Mexican cuisine such as mezcal, tequila, wine, tepache, charanda, and tejuino.

Some of the areas to see the best of Mexico city are here:

The Basilica Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, with its feast day on December 12; The old colony of Santa Maria la Ribera in the district or Delegation  of Cuauhtémoc; The Alameda, a Moorish building used for the universal exposition of New Orleans as the Mexico pavilion in 1884-1885.  The historic center with wonderful old squares such as Plaza de la Constitución, as well as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico ; Palacio Nacional, Templo Mayor, gardens of the Alameda Central,this near the Palacio de Bellas Artes (fine arts) and the Plaza Garibaldi; The wide wonderful Paseo de la Reforma, and my IN area every time no matter what you read (been coming here since 1994 and as late as 2017) the Zona Rosa district.  You head over to some upscale areas such as Polanco ,and the great dept store there Liverpool; The Soumaya museum with a collection of Latin American art and one of the most important collection outside of France of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin ; modern shopping galore center district of Santa Fe, and the district of Tacuba with it’s tree of the sad night or Arbol de la Noche Triste,and the modern mansions found here. The bicentanial park or  Le Parque Bicentenario, second biggest green space in Mexico DF. The wonderful green area, biggest and so much arts with museums galore ,Chapultepec. The district of San Angel where you find the house of Diego Rivera. Xochimilco, the water source of  DF built by the old lake of Texcoco. Coyohuacán district has the huge architecturally good Autonomous University of Mexico or UNAM .

Some webpages to help in your trip planning are :

Tourism Mexico city:

Tourism of Mexico:

Tourism of Jalisco State :

Tourism of Quintana Roo State:

Hope you enjoy this small wrap up on Mexico . The choices are unlimited and the welcome always warm. Enjoy Mexico as I have over the years. Have a great Sunday , Cheers!

March 11, 2018

Castilla la Mancha and it’s Don Quijote!

And back to the travel stories with a region dear to me as well. The part of the Spanish which is immortalized by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and the dreamers story of Don Quijote. The land has reminiscent of this all over and even the windmills. We ride the car here to all the small corners of the region from its wonderful mountain ranges or serranias to the valleys of the windmills, the monasteries, and heritage places, even in non asphalt country roads. The food is fantastic and inexpensive. This is Castilla La Mancha or CLM!!

Well ,will try to keep it short but have many posts in my blog on this region.  I think should be a wealth of information for the visitor to this region.  And of course ,my usual ramblings on the area.

Castilla La Mancha is in the center of Spain, the historic region of Nueva Castilla from where it was detached from the Province of Madrid to become Castilla La Mancha after the Constitution of Spain in 1978; however, it was added the Province of Albacete that belonged to the region of Murcia. It is surrounded by the regions of Castilla y Léon, Madrid, Aragon, Valencia, Murcia, Andalucia, and Extremadura. Currently, it is divided into five provinces, those of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara, and Toledo. The capital is Toledo and the biggest city in population is Albacete.

It is in this area that the worldly story of Don Quijote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was done and putting this region on the world map.  La Mancha is a wide huge area of wind swept battered plateau, it remains a symbol of Spanish culture with its vineyards, sunflowers, mushrooms, olive plantations windmills and ewe milk manchego cheeses. And of course, Don Quijote. The highest altitudes are in the  Montes de Toledo with peaks of La Villuerca at 1601 meters (5253 ft), and Rocigalgo at 1447 meters ( 4747 feet). The Serrania de Cuenca or sierras ranges of Cuenca are where we base ourselves high in the mountains at 1400 meters, and even if not into walks and mountains areas I have to admit this is heaven! highly recommended to all. More in Spanish here:

Main autovias or highways/motoways are the A3 going east to west and into Madrid and Valencia. The A2 Madrid Barcelona, A41 Ciudad Real , AP41 Madrid Toledo; Cordoba, A42 Madrid Toledo, CM42 Toledo to Tomelloso pasing by Consuegra. The car is king still here!  You have national train service  RENFE mainly from Madrid to the major towns in the region like Toledo, Ciudad Real, Cuenca, Guadalajara,  etc High velocity trains or AVE takes you to from Madrid to Ciudad Real, Toledo, Guadalajara, Cuenca, Albacete, etc.Local trains or commuter /Cercanias go out of Madrid into the region. The C-2 stops at Azuqueca de Henares ,Guadalajara and the city itself. The airport have a small one at Albacete but the folks comes to the Madrid or Valencia airports and connects here. In each of my posts I have detail routing on how to get around in this region, heavens!

The history is long and grand  , to keep it short. By the 4C BC the Iberian and Celtic were here, and the end of the 2C BC the Romans came to stayed. The decline of the Roman empire saw many Germanic tribes coming ,and the Visigoths takes over the lands choosing Toledo as their political an religious capital. By 711 AD, the Moors/Arabs came up and stayed for a long period mixing cultures, religions, and languages here. Once they were began to expands in early the 11C or 1031AD, the caliph of Cordoba starts with several caliphs including that of Toledo; of which territory is almost identical to the one you find today. By 1085, king Alfonso VI takes Toledo, followed by king Alfonso VIII taking Cuenca in 1177,and king Alfonso X taking Villa Real in 1255 (became Ciudad Real). Eventuall, all fitted into Spain by 1492 and the Catholic kings of Fernando and Isabel reuniting the Spain as we know it today.

The region is dotted with the most beautiful of Cathedrals such as the ones in Toledo, Sigûenza, Cuenca, Albacete, and Ciudad Real . The castles are many (like the name Castile) too numerous to mention my favorites are those of the Alcazar of Toledo, castle of Alarcon, Almansa, Chinchilla, Consuegra, Garcimuñoz, Orgaz, Sigûenza, Uclés and Zafra.

Some webpages to further help you plan your trip is here:

The Castilla La Mancha region tourist office:

Spain tourism on Castilla La Mancha :

Hope you enjoy the ride, and do visit this region, it is wonderful. One of my places to settle down for retirement eventually, still working on it. A vast land of many wonderful heritage and still to be discovered by many. Enjoy your Sunday. Happy travels and good health. Cheers!!

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