Mexico City: being vegan

As I’ve written before, I wasn’t feeling really great during my stay in Mexico City, so I don’t have many recommendations of places to go here. Let’s start with the vegetarian one, Los Vegetarianos (Avenida Francisco I Madero 56).

I don’t know if it’s always like that, but this restaurant seemed quite busy, a little bit noisy and had waiters constantly running from one place to another. But with a live piano player, vegan options for me and free wifi, who cares about the rest. Look, this is what I had for lunch:

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Salad with vegan dressing

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Veggie soup

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Vegan albondigas + rice with vegetables

I found the food very tasty and the service was very attentive with my vegan picky questions. And, as always in Mexico, it was quite cheap.

On my first night, I went with some friends to eat at La Bonita (Tamaulipas 104). This is a pulquería, a place known for selling pulque, a Mexican sweet alcoholic beverage made of agave. But they also had some food. My friends helped me to find some options on the menu that could be veganized. First, a quesadilla de huitlacoche, which was some kind of fungus on a tortilla-bread,

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and, as that hadn’t been enough, a tlacoya de frijol, which could be described as a pizza where the bread is filled with a bean paste:

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That green vegetable that you see there is called nopal. Do you know what it actually is? A cactus. The nopal is very common in Mexican cuisine and I really liked its texture and taste. Sadly, I’m not good at describing tastes. Sadly, nopal is not that easy to find outside of Mexico. Ouch.

The rest of the time either I forgot to eat (happens more often than it should while travelling) or I cooked at the hostel I was staying at (Hostel Catedral, I highly recommend it). In Mexico it’s quite easy to find canned beans, tortilla bread and vegetables at almost every supermarket, so there you have your daily protein, carbohidrates and green things. And the hostel I stayed at had a lot of fruit to choose from for breakfast, so I always had my morning energy boost. For my trips, I managed to find a health store where tofu was sold (I think it was in 5 de Febrero with República del Salvador) and I would just fry it for a few minutes in the pan and then wrap it in a tortilla.

Mexico is over! Next post will be about Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.

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Mexico City: tour to Teotihuacan

I’m in Las Vegas Airport waiting for a flight to my new destination and I still didn’t finish writing about Mexico City. Ahhhhh. Let’s make it as short as possible.

On Saturday, I went in a tour to see the pyramids of Teotihuacan, close to Mexico City. First, there was a quick stop at the Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, still in Mexico City.

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I’m not a fan of religious buildings, but it was impressive to be there just to see how seriously some people take religion. Do you see that man on the right of the picture? He probably promised the Virgin of Guadalupe that, if she helped him to achieve something, he would pay her a visit walking on his knees for 100, 200 metres, or even a couple of kilometres. There were many people doing that there.

You can’t see it clearly in the picture, but due to earthquakes and to the fact that Mexico City is continuosly sinking, the old Basilica, on the left, is leaning, which makes it even difficult to walk inside without feeling a little bit dizzy.

Then, there was a stop in a big handicraft shop near the Pyramids (they are always trying to make you buy things on these tours) where we would also be able to see some Aztec dogs, a breed typical from Mexico. What I saw there makes me recommend everyone who loves animals not to book an organised tour to Teotihuacan if it includes such an activity.

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These poor dogs had very little space to move, they almost had no shadow to be protected from the sun even though their skin is very sensitive because they have no hair, and their cage wasn’t clean at all. Very sad to use them as a tourist attraction 😦

Finally, the pyramids! We started at the temple of Quetzalcóatl.

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Then we were left alone to walk the Calzada de los Muertos (Avenue of the Dead).

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This avenue goes along 2 kilometres until the main attractions, the Pyramid of the Sun:

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And its smaller sister, the Pyramid of the Moon, here in the background:

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If you go there, you HAVE to climb the Pyramid of the Sun. It’s the third largest pyramid of the world, please. And the views from above are breathtaking.

Next and last post about Mexico: how to be a vegan in Mexico City!

Mexico City: what to do

Let’s start with what you should be prepared for when coming to Mexico City.

First, altitude sickness. Due to the fact that Mexico City lies 2,240 meters (7,350 ft) above the sea level, it is quite common for travellers to experience headache and general fatigue in their first days in the city. This can ruin your trip if, like me, you are only planning to stay a few days.

Second, earthquakes. Friday morning I was in the lift with my hostel roomate when I noticed it was starting to move from side to side.

– How weird, this lift moves like, you know, a lot – I told her

Then the doors miraculously opened at our floor and a hostel worker told us to get immediately out of the lift and stay outside of the building.

– It was not the lift, it was the earth – I finally understood.

Sometimes it takes me a while to process new information. I’m blonde.

Luckily, it was a minor earthquake, just 7.2 in the Richter scale, and no one in Mexico was injured. If you want to have an idea of what it was like, take a look at the short video I recorded where you can se the dancing lamps at the entrance of the hostel:

And now, this is what I managed to do despite sicknesses and earthquakes:

– Monumento a la Revolución (Monument to the Revolution). I visited it at sunset, when there is a light show in the fountains in front of it:

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– Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Art). Not only the outside is stunning, the inside is also worth the visit. There are usually some exhibitions in the museum inside, I saw one of Picasso and another one of Robert Doisneau.

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– Chapultepec park. Surrounded by so many high buildings, it reminded me of Central Park. Except for the fact that there were a lot of kids, kids, kiiiids everywhere.
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– National Museum of Anthropology. Close to Chapultepec park, there are lots of things about the history of Mexico to learn from and a big central square inside where you can sit and relax in the shadow if you suffer an overdose of culture:

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When I go to museums, somehow, I enjoy taking pictures of weird looking things/animals. Look at the cute babies I found here:

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– Torre Latinoamericana. I really liked this building, it reminded me of the Empire State and you can see it from almost everywhere in the city center. I had planned to go up to the top to have a look at the panoramic view but, after a 7.2 earthquake? No thanks.
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My tour to Teotihuacan, on the next post.

Querétaro

I spent two nice and calm days in Querétaro this week. I decided to go there because, to be honest, my Lonely Planet guide for Mexico suggested it on its tour of Central Mexico and, moreover, the historical center of Querétaro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And I secretely enjoy adding new UNESCO sites to my personal list 🙂

This was by far my favourite city on my Mexico trip. Charming streets at sunset:
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A promenade by the river:

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One of the biggest acqueducts of Mexico:
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And fountains, fountains everywhere:

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Puppies throwing up water. Isn't that cute?

The best thing to do in this city is to get lost without a map in the centre and enjoy every street, every building and every captivating square, so I prefer not to give general travel recommendations. Plus, I’m in Mexico City now with a big headache, laziness and swollen calves and I don’t feel like writing.

Weeeell, this is a vegan bloooog, I have to mention the fooood. I tried Alcatraz (Avenida Universidad 21 between Ocampo and Guerrero), a vegetarian restaurant. They only had one menu, but they were able to prepare it vegan for me. Have a look:

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Salad

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Lentil soup

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Rice & Zucchini filled with vegetables

It’s a pleasure for me to have (vegan) lentils when I’m eating out. Despite the name of the blog, I’m actually not a big fan of tofu and I would rather eat lentils, chickpeas or beans instead to get my protein. So I was happy in Alcatraz. Hmmm, that phrase sounded better in my head…

By the way, that zucchini dish? It seems quite easy to prepare and looks tempting even for non-veggies. I’ll definitelly try to cook that myself!

And all that for 45 MXN (~2.5 EUR, 3.45 USD). These prices are crazy, really.

As for accommodation, I stayed at Blue Bicycle Hostel, one of the best hostels I’ve ever been too: helpful staff, clean big rooms, well located and with a nice and welcoming courtyard:

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Beds in dorms starting at 175 MXN (~9.7 EUR, 13.4 USD). Again, these prices for such a good quality are crazy.

My head is asking me little by little to go to sleep because I have to save a lot of energy for the next days. If everything goes as planned, I won’t be updating from Mexico next time… muahahahaha. Ha. Ha. Ha…

Morelia, Janitzio and Pátzcuaro

Wifi is working, cellphone is charging, head is freezing… yes, I’m back on the road!

On Friday afternoon I arrived to Morelia. The only word that came to my mind when I entered my room in the hostel I stayed at was creepy. An old house, bad lighting, a big room with four beds for me alone because there were almost no other guests, every kind of insect making every kind of noise outside of the window… But it was cheap and, as we say in Spain, sarna con gusto no pica. And the breakfast was quite vegan! Crudivegan actually!
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Bananas, orange, watermelon, pinneaple… That’s a good way to start the day. There was also bread, but I had the feeling it had been made with milk. I didn’t bore to ask, because I would only trust the answer if I was speaking directly to the person who cooked it, and this was not the case. This is how I proceed with bread:

– If it looks fluffy and too white, it might have milk
– If it looks shiny and too yellow, it might have egg
– Else, eat it

This is only when I’m travelling or eating out and I’m very very hungry. Else, I don’t usually eat bread. Too much bread makes me look pregnant and that’s not cute.

On Saturday, I wandered around Morelia. But first, lunchtime:

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This is what I ate in a vegetarian restaurant, Govinda’s (Av Madero Oriente 549). I asked like five times and the waitress told me they use no milk or eggs, so I was happy. And all that for just 47 MXN (~2.6 EUR, 3.6 USD). But remember that in Mexico you should always leave a tip of at least 10% in restaurants!

Afterwards, I went to see the acqueduct of Morelia:

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Earlier in the morning I had found out that every Saturday there is a firework show in front of the cathedral at exactly 20:45. It was nice to see, nothing spectacular, but nice to see:

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And Sunday I met my friend E. from Morelia, who took me on a day trip. First, we went to see Janitzio Island:

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I think the most beautiful part of going to Janitzio is actually the trip. You travel by boat to the island and see it getting closer and closer while some Mexican musicians play Mexican songs.

Just before arriving to the island, there were some fishermen using nets with a butterfly shape typical from here. I curse the day I decided not to bring a decent camera with me on this trip:

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I can’t like any activity that implies killing animals, but nowadays, it’s not only fish what this men are looking for. They approched our boat and asked every passenger for some coins. And well, I don’t find fishing tourists so bad.

In the island there are, again, as in every single town in Mexico, many handicraft shops. On the highest point, you can find a big statue of José María Morelos, a hero of the Mexican War of Independence (Wikipedia, what would I do without you?).

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Inside this statue, the walls are painted with murals depicting the life and adventures of Morelos. You can see them while going up some stairs until his right hand-viewpoint while getting dizzy. Great!

I forgot to mention, on the way to the island we saw a cow looking at us and probably thinking Moooh, more tourists

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I just get too excited with every animal I see, sorry.

In the afternoon, it was time for Pátzcuaro, a little town near the island we had visited. One special thing about this town is that every building has to be painted in black, white and red, like this courtyard:

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No more colours are allowed, so it’s easy to get lost in the streets because all the buildings look exactly the same.

For lunch, we were in a restaurant on the main square where I had a salad with some fried vegetables:

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Just for 62 MXN (3.4 EUR, 4.8 USD) including a bottle of water. Cheap cheap cheap.

Then we went for a walk in the city. It was Sunday, and also the begin of the Holy Week, so it was quite crowded. We also had the chance to see some typical dances of the region:

And then back home hostel to pack for today. Morelia is over, see you on the next post!

Guadalajara

On Wednesday I arrived to Guadalajara. I was curious about the city and, moreover, my friend A., whom I hadn’t seen in 5 years, happens to live there.

About the trip, I have to say that I was amazed by the quality of the Primera Plus buses. A lot of space between seats, free snacks and drinks, wifi (well, not always working…), air conditioning to make you feel like a freezing penguin (usual in buses and planes here), power outlets every two seats, two toilets… and what I find most important, you get a ticket when your suitcase is put in the trunk. That way, only you can collect it afterwards. I’m always afraid of someone stealing my belongings while travelling. Or while everything. So this ticket system is like heaven for me. And all this for 16 EUR (~22 USD) for a 3 hour ride.

In the afternoon, I went for a walk in the city. There were a lot of painted bulls everywhere.

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But it was quite hot and sunny and my brain can’t work properly under this circumstances, so I sat down to write postcards under the shadow of a tree in front of the cathedral:

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And then dinner! I had a hard time finding it, but finally I arrived to Lúcuma (Ignacio Ramírez 100), which is the only vegan restaurant in Guadalajara. I didn’t manage to take a picture this time, but I had a hawaiian hamburger which was quite good. And again, inexpensive. I will try to start writing down the prices of the places I go to. Maybe, hmm, tomorrow…

On Thursday, A. took me to Tlaquepaque. This city is part of the Guadalajara conurbation (thanks to Wikipedia, every day I learn new conurwords) and has a nice street, Calle Independencia, known for its many handicraft shops. I specially liked seeing the sculptures of Rodo Padilla representing happy cute fat people. Like these ones. His gallery is easy to identify, there is always a happy cute fat mariachi bouncer near the door:

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Then I went shopping for dinner in Soriana, a big supermarket chain, and this is what I took home:

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Some vegetables, tofu, almonds, soya sauce for cooking, bread for sandwiches and fruit bars for… for getting as fat as the sculptures of Rodo Padilla. I cooked some rice with vegetables and tofu for A. and a friend of his, who were both not used to vegan dishes, and they seemed to like it. An advice for everyone when cooking for vegan virgins: don’t forget to have some tasty sauce (soya, tomato…) ready to use, so that the flavours won’t taste too new for them.

Then on Friday morning I went to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, an impressive building and UNESCO world heritage site, which was built as a hospital and is now used for cultural purposes.

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At the moment, you can find inside the works of Daniel Buren, which play with the symmetries of the inner courtyards:

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And then I left in another Mexican deluxe bus for Morelia, which is where I am now. See you on Monday with a new post 😉

León and Guanajuato

I’m now in a bus going from Guadalajara to Morelia. This has been a busy week, jumping from one city to another. I’m afraid that for the coming days or even weeks I won’t be able to do very exhaustive vegan reviews for the cities I visit as I did with Playa…

On Monday I arrived to León. I flew from Cancún with Volaris, a Mexican lowcost airline. It’s some kind of a Mexican Easyjet: cheap tickets, you pay extra for the luggage and if you happen to feel thirsty or hungry during the flight, your wallet will hurt. But I found the overall quality good for the 95 EUR (132 USD) I paid for a 2,5 hour flight.

I was lucky enough to have a host family in the two days I spent there, who made me feel as if I was at home again. They even have a supersweet cat named Jimena which reminded me a lot of Grumpy Cat.

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I spent Monday afternoon walking around León. Even the people from León will tell you that there is nothing special to see in the city apart from shoe shops, but I found the city center and its zona peatonal (pedestrian area) somehow charming.

On Tuesday, I went to Guanajuato. Everyone had recommended me to go there, and it was finally worth the trip. Guanajuato is a small town near León where you can spend hours and hours walking in the old streets between colourful houses. To have a better view, I took the funicular which goes up a hill near the center of the town:

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Another thing not to miss in Guanajuato is the Callejón del Beso (the Alley of the Kiss). According to the legend (short version), Doña Carmen, a young woman who lived in this street was in love with a man, Don Luis, whom her father didn’t like. The only way for Don Luis to be close to Doña Carmen was to see her from the balcony of the house opposite to hers. The street was actually so narrow that they could even kiss, just imagine the situation:

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But then one day her father saw them kissing, he got very angry so he killed her and then her beloved became very upset. End of the story.

In Guanajuato, it’s also quite common for tourists to visit El Museo de las Momias, a museum of mummies. I’ve read that some of these consist of people who were thought to be dead and were consequently buried, but then woke up in the tomb and tried to escape without success. Due to a natural process, their bodies became mummified. This way, still today you can see the despair and agony in their faces and gestures. Do I have to explain why I decided not to go there?

Let’s talk about nice things! Lunchtime! After checking Happy Cow (as always), I decided to go to Centro Bharati, in Plaza del Baratillo. They are not vegan, but I asked them if they could do something vegan for me and this is what they came with:

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A little bit of protein, a little bit of carbohidrates, a little bit of vegetables: perfect for me. And not expensive at all.

And in the evening, I wanted to check the only vegan restaurant in León, Lesvia (Juarez 311-B). It’s actually inside a bigger center focused on healthy living, and I was given some brochures about the negative effects of animal and processed products on health, which is always interesting to read. They also gave me a brochure advertising their natural treatments for aaaall illnesses. It was actually written like that in Spanish: “para toooodas las enfermedades”. Oh yeah. Brochures apart, I liked the food, which was presented in a similar way as hours before in Centro Bharati:

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Again not expensive, but I would rather recommend this place to people really interested in alternative therapies and healthy living, or you might feel a little out of place here.

Then on Wednesday morning I left for Guadalajara. That will be my next post.