A visited to Frida Khalo’s Casa Azul, lunch at Los Danzantes in Coyoacan then a long trip to go see the floating gardens at Xochimilco.
We all woke early which was a good thing because our itinerary for today was pretty full on. We were off to visit Casa Azul first thing, then we had a reservation at one of the restaurants recommended by Doron after which we had the very long trek to Xochimilco where we would find the floating gardens. The idea was we would use the metro to Cocoyacan where we would find Frieda’s Casa Azul, walk to the square and have our lunch at 12 and then take a taxi to Xochimilco.
Given lunch was going to be a full meal we popped into Starbucks in the hotel round the corner for breakfast. Easy enough and familiar despite Julia’s intolerance for the place. Once high on caffeine we walked to the metro which was not far from the Hilton Hotel where we had our meal the night before – I think the metro station was Hidalgo. From there we took line 3 and followed all the advice to get off at Vivaros. Given we were early we hung out in the park people watching. Yoga, runners and then the little groups of bull fighters appeared with cloaks and horns and the trainers even snorted like the bulls. I could not help but chuckle. Little did we know that as we sat in the sunshine half of Mexico was queuing up at Casa Azul so when we got there expecting to buy tickets at the door we were faced with a 3 hour wait!
TOP TIP. If you want to visit Casa Azul book tickets. This is the site we eventually used. You can book a timed slot. If I were to do it again I’d book the first slot in the day as the queues into the house once inside were a nightmare!
Needless to say we did not wait the 3 hours, instead we walked to the restaurant with the aim of having an early lunch, working out when we could come back and then going onto the floating gardens at Xochimilco. Lunch turned into a late breakfast which was great as we all loved the Mexican breakfasts. Thankfully they had wifi and Josie and I managed to rejig the itinerary and book the tickets for later in the week. All whilst some pesky musician was playing rather loudly at our table. Trying to concentrate and have a conversation was challenging to say the least.
Food & Drink. If you are a vegetarian than the biggest selection of meatless dishes seemed to be at breakfast, however, be careful the Mexican’s seem to put ham with everything. Be VERY clear about not wanting ham (and don’t refer to it as carne as that is seen as different from ham which is jamón.
Given the early lunch, or late breakfast, we decided to forego the taxi and head back to the metro to get to Xochimilco. We got totally muddled and walked for miles ending up at a totally different metro. It was here things went slightly squiffy. As the three of us were descending the stairs to the platform a train pulled up. Josie, who was in front, started to move FAST. It took me a moment to realise she was going for the train and alert Julia who was just in front of me. We increased our speed but sadly were too slow. Josie jumped on but the doors closed as Julia and I were about to pounce. NO THEY CANNOT BE FORCED OPEN! Julia and I looked at each other realising we had no idea what station we were heading to and Josie had the guidebook. Josie, in the meantime, travelled three stops before she realised we were unlikely to follow and returned to meet us. When we clocked her coming down the stairs, laughing her head off, we had actually worked it out but were still resolute in not moving so were glad to be reunited.
Some sensible advice. If travelling in a group agree a plan should you get separated. After this incident we agreed the person(s) with the instructions/guidebook has to be the one to find the others. The others had to just stay put where the separation happened.
The trip from Cocoyacan to Xochimilco was long. When we arrived the area was alive with people and traffic but there were these delightful guys on bikes who appeared from nowhere and lead you right to the boats. Once there you have to haggle. We read that it would cost 300 Pesos and the first request was for 1000. Julia and I walked away refusing to even engage. But the guy haggled with Josie until she walked away. In the end we got an hour for 500 Pesos. There was, however, a point where they seemed to trap us on a boat going nowhere demanding the money. Again Julia and I started to stomp off leaving Josie to tell them in her bestest Spanish (thank heavens she spoke the lingo!) to sod off! They got the message and we moved to a boat that was actually able to get out and handed over the money. Asking Josie why 500 pesos, “It was a quantity I knew how to say in Spanish” she replied! So don’t expect there to be any rationale behind what you pay.
BE AWARE. There are no real floating gardens anymore but this has to be a tourist attraction like no other so I would strongly recommend you make the effort to find the boats and take the trip. It was a lovely way to spend the afternoon even if the only gardens we saw were a small little nursery of plants. Oh and look out for the floating river food – try the corn on the cob – it is NOT sweetcorn but delicious nonetheless – go easy on the salt!
The lad who was our boatman was delightful and watching him make space so that our boat could get right up to the place where we got off was mesmerising. For that he got extra :-). Walking back I could not help but be amused at the fact that there were tables and chairs across the road with a kids party in full swing. I could not imagine how that would go down in Oxford. We caught the metro back to our hotel and I smiled as a busker hauled his pan pipes and guitar out of his bag. He was very, very clever and the panpipes made me think of my Dad who I lost a few years back. I’ll leave you with a little video I took of him. Enjoy because that night we spend by the pool and had an early night.