Part 2: Killing two birds with one stone in Mexico: Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s day.

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Today I am going to Cuernavaca to surprise my mom at tomorrow’s Mother’s Day luncheon at Las Mañanitas ( www.lasmananitas.com.mx ), she has no idea I’m in Mexico and no clue I’ll be spending Mother’s day with her. My brother is picking me up at Eugenio’s home for the 1:30 minute drive to the “City of eternal spring”; yes, that’s what they call Cuernavaca. I’m not quite sure why, since every time I go to this city, it is scorching hot, humid as hell and most definitely not what comes to mind when I think of spring! In order to succeed in my surprise, I can’t stay at my mother’s home, where I usually lodge; instead, I am spending the night at a local hotel in the center of the city that I found on the internet that looks really adorable and suitable for my 48 visit: Las Casas B + B Hotel (www.lascasasbb.com). It’s a converted private villa with a dozen rooms, 2 pools and what appears to be a “happening” restaurant and bar scene; maybe I can make a few new local friends.

Once I arrive at my destination I am pleased to discover that today is a lovely Spring day in Cuernavaca, clocking in at a mild 102 degrees, with a very comfortable 100% humidity…just screams Spring, doesn’t it? Being the world traveler that I am, I knew what weather I was walking into so I made sure to pick a hotel with AC in the bedrooms…don’t laugh; a lot of them don’t have it in these areas; you got to do your homework possums! The Hotel looks lovely; they did such a good job decorating it in a simple, yet chic colonial style. No surprise there…turns out the owners are a gay couple from NYC!!! I make a dash to my AC room and out of the elements to slip into a bathing suit and spend the rest of the afternoon poached in the swimming pool like a hippo at the Serengeti. There is nothing else one can do with this kind of heat…at least not this “Gringo”. Later in the evening one can venture out in the town for some drinks and snacks and a tour of the beautiful Palacio de Cortes and the charming center of town, with it’s open markets, cafes and Mariachis everywhere.

 

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Entrence to Las Casas B + B Hotel

 

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Lobby

 

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Pool area

 

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Another pool area

 

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Kass relaxing

 

By 8pm I’m ready for a little excursion around town; the heat has subsided a little and the world comes out to celebrate anything they can think about. My hotel is literally 1 block away from the center square where the impressive Cortes’s Palace holds reign in all its glory. The Palace of Cortés in Cuernavaca is, at almost 500 years old; the oldest conserved colonial era civil structure in the continental Americas. The famous conquistador’s former residence is now a history museum with murals by Diego Rivera and the town’s center where all the locals hang out in the evenings, eating and drinking and listening to Mariachis.

After walking around for a few hours, I am famished and I think I’ll be checking out the “Happening” scene at my hotel’s restaurant and bar. The place is packed with a totally different crowd then from the outside walls; here the clientele is quite chic and obviously well off financially. I ask for a table for 1 and I’m told they are fully booked…wrong answer! 3 tantrums and 1 meltdown later, I get a lovely table by the pool and complimentary tequila on the rocks…SNAP!

The food is a modern interpretation of Mexican classic dishes and quite good, though I’m definitely not blown away. The crowd is very trendy and the place definitely has a great energy; I love the old black & white movies screened on the side of the building…nice touch! Having dinner with yourself has its limits, so after an hour of eating and drinking alone and NOT meeting anyone…I’m off to my freezing cold room for a good night sleep so I can be ready for tomorrow’s Mother’s day extravaganza.

 

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Restaurant is happening

 

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Restaurant

 

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Entrance at night


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Entrance

 

IMG_9122Lively alleys in the center of town



IMG_9128Palacio de Cortes

 

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Statue of Cortes

 

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Lively scene

 

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Restaurant filled streets

 

My morning starts with the most amazing interpretation of a Lox & Bagel I have seen in this country; such a beautiful presentation. The heat is starting to rise so I spend the next few hours back in the pool until it’s time to get dressed for the 3PM Mother’s day lunch (they eat lunch very late in Mexico). I was going to wear a suit for the occasion, but I will have to re-think my outfit due to the 100-degree weather….perhaps I’ll just go in my Speedos. I am pleased to learn that Uber service has started in Cuernavaca 3 weeks ago, so I go to my favorite App and low and behold, a white car, the size of a truffle, arrives with the most charming and kind driver I have ever experienced in Mexico. A very welcomed addition to this country if you have any idea how awful the Taxi drivers are in Mexico and how they rip you off as soon as they smell “foreigner” or Gringo.


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Just though this was pretty

 

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My very well presented Lox & Bagel dish at Las Casas B + B Hotel

 

I finally arrive at the famous Las Mañanitas, a favorite of my family for over 30 years. This Relais & Chateaux Property is one of Mexico’s best hotels and restaurants, not to mention the most amazing tropical garden I have ever seen, complete with flamingos, peacocks and other tropical birds roaming around freely in all their beauty. My mom and bother, along with a few friends, are already seated at the table, so I go around my mom, lean in and whisper in her ear: “Excuse me Ma’am, can I join you for lunch?” My mom turned around and practically jumped off her seat with surprise; for a moment there I thought she would have a heart attack!!! Note to myself: probably not a good idea surprising your 82-year-old mom in the future. Shock is followed by tears, hugs and kisses…I would say the surprise is a big success (also thanks to my brother who helped me arrange the whole thing). Lunch is amazing, as usual and goes on for hours, as they do in this country; no wonder you need a siesta after eating and drinking for 4 hours! After lunch we go back to my mom’s home and spend the rest of the day catching up and enjoying some well-deserved family time.
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Exterior of Las Mañanitas


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The stunning outdoor dining area at Las Mañanitas

 

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The tropical birds roaming around the property at Las Mañanitas

 

IMG_9148 My delicious Chile Relleno

 

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A very loud Flamingo visiting the dining area

 

I’m feeling very good about this trip and the successful Mother’s day surprise! Thank you so much to my darling brother David and my Mexican brother Eugenio Lopez for a wonderful stay in one of my favorite countries in the word. Tomorrow is back to LA and back to work…I feel so blessed!!!!

Last jammed-packed day in Mexico City before leaving for Peru…Dios mio!

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Today is my last day in Mexico City before I leave for Peru tomorrow and I have a jammed packed 15 hours in front of me! I start the day with 100 laps in the underground pool (an absolute must, considering the amount of calories I am consuming these days!!) and it’s off to Cuernavaca to have lunch with my mother. Cuernavaca is an hour and a half outside of Mexico City and it’s a beautiful weekend escape for many DF Mexicans who need a brake after a long week. It was famous in the 60′ and 70′ among all the jet-setters including “Poor little rich girl” Barbara Hutton and many European royals; that is of course until the Mexicans kidnapped the son of the Italian King, Umberto di Savoia and murdered him…that was the end of Cuernavaca amongst the world elite. They did, however, leave behind a collection of extraordinary estates that still shine today as private residences or museums open to the public.

They call it the “City of Eternal Spring” because of it’s unique climate: never too hot and never too cold (though I find it hot as hell most of the times). My Formula 1 driver Jose Luis, gets me there in just over an hour, just in time to pick up Mom and go to her new favorite hideaway: Casa Manzano (www.casamanzano.com.mx). I order the Huevos Devorciados (Divorced eggs…Humm) which are delicious and my mom’s favorite smoothie: a blend of Parsley, fresh Pineapple, fresh Oranges and cactus (nopales); though reluctant at first, I end up loving this concoction so much that I had it made every morning from there on. After the lovely lunch it’s time to go back to DF.

 

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Casa Manzano’s Menu

 

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The beautiful courtyard at Casa Manzano

 

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Enchiladas de Guajillo con Requesón

 

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Huevos devorciados…I love the analogy!

 

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The famous Cactus Smoothie

 

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More courtyard beauty

 

Once again, it’s museum time…I just can’t get enough and in Mexico City there is never a shortage of possibilities! Today we will go to the Museo De La Bellas Artes to see the Henry Cartier Bresson photo exhibit, the cathedral and government palace and the Chapultepec Castle (www.castillodechapultepec.inah.gob.mx). The castle is located on top of Chapultepec Hill in the middle of Chapultepec Park in Mexico City. The site of the hill was a sacred place for Aztecs, and these buildings have served several purposes during its history, including that of Military Academy, Imperial residence, Presidential home, observatory, and presently, the Museo Nacional de Historia. It is the only royal castle in North America that was actually used as the residence of a sovereign: the Mexican Emperor Maximilian I, and his consort Empress Carlota, lived there during the Second Mexican Empire. Though not as opulent as it’s counter parts in Europe, there are many beautiful rooms and art pieces to look at and most of all, amazing views of Mexico City. I don’t suggest walking up the long driveway on a hot, humid day as I did; once I arrived at the top gasping for air and wet as a rag, I realized there is a little choo-choo train that goes up and down the long walk transporting smarter visitors…argh!!!

 

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Palacio de las Bellas Artes

 

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The stunning iron gate at Chapultepec Castle

 

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Side view of Chapultepec Castle

 

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The beautiful stain-glass windows at the castle

 

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The dramatic “Affresco” at the entrance stairway

 

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The jade imperial door

 

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The viewing tower

 

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The view form Chapultepec Castle

 

Alright…I am done with museums, get me to a bar!! My ever-so-resourceful driver Jose Luis doesn’t waste a moment and quickly whisks me through the infernal city traffic to the famous Cafe de Tacuba (www.cafedetacuba.com.mx), just off the Zócalo; here I have a Cafe con Leche (turns out it’s to damn early for a drink…Misery!) and a Trés Leches cake (one of my favorites…though my Mom’s is much better). This Mexican classic opened in 1912 in a section of an old convent; at the entrance to the main dining room are huge 18th-century oil paintings depicting the invention of mole poblano, a delicious Mexican classic sauce featuring a variety of chilies and chocolate that was created by the nuns in the Santa Rosa Convent in Puebla. Though touristy, this place is a must see with it’s stunning pre-colonial decor and it’s classically uniformed waitresses…chic-diner-hat and all…ya’all.

 

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Cathedral at the Zócalo

 

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Zócalo Square

 

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Mexican flag standing proud at the center of the Zócolo

 

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Cafe de Tacuba front window

 

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Mariachi’s playing in Cafe Tacuba

 

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Our lovely waitresses

 

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Cafe Tacuba interior

 

I now have been going strong for 8 hours straight and I’m officially dead to the pulp!!! I’m going home.

After a well-deserved siesta and a foot massage, its dinnertime with the handsome, Venezuelan, telenovela super-star: Raul Olivo. I’ve met Raul at Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles almost 15 years ago and we became instant friends; I’ve watched his career, in both film and music, grow through the years and I am so happy with his success. He takes me, Raphael and his beautiful girlfriend to his favorite steak house: Puerto Madero from Buenos Aires, Argentina (www.puertomaderorestaurantes.com).

 

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Puerto Madero Menu

 

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Puerto Madero’s signature potatoes

 

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My delicious Ribeye

 

The place is definitely on the stuffy side and très expensive. Raul suggests the lobster tacos, which are the best I have ever had in my entire life, so much that we order another round so by the time my enormous rib eye steak arrives, I am too stuffed to enjoy it…what a waste! I did however manage to eat 35 puffed-up potatoes…a house specialty. The day is definitely taking its toll on me and by dessert time I am literally falling asleep at the table; it’s most definitely time to go to bed.

Buenas noches amigos!