Two Weeks in Cancun

As if we hadn’t already spent enough time in Mexico this year (and not nearly enough time in countries other than the U.S. and Mexico), we returned to Cancun, Mexico for two weeks in August. The grand plan was to snorkel (repeatedly) with whale sharks. What is that they say about the best laid plans?

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Final Thoughts on Mexico City

Yeah, yeah, we were only there two weeks and we will definitely be going back, but you just know we have thoughts.

Mexico City can be done very cheaply. You can get amazing street tacos for a mere seven pesos each (currently about 34 American cents) and two or three would easily make a filling and delicious meal. But, you can also easily spend $150 dollars (or more) on a meal for two. A very vivid demonstration of income disparity.

Robert enjoying a taco at one of Anthony Bourdain’s favorite spots. Yes, that is tongue. A huge ass piece of tongue.
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Two Weeks in Mexico City

So, we recently spent two weeks in Mexico City. It was fantastic. Clean, safe, and plenty to do. So, what should you do there? Well, here are a few of our favorite things.

Eat. Yes, eat. The food is fantastic. You can go low-end and eat amazing street tacos at places like El Huequito. You can get slightly more elevated street tacos at places like El Auténtico Pato Manila (duck tacos) or El Habanerito (cochinita pibil tacos). You can get high end Mexican at places like Azul Condessa (where Robert had amazing enchiladas in mole sauce) and Aleli (which would have been Robert’s favorite restaurant if only he wasn’t suffering from food poisoning when we visited) and Limosneros. And, you can get really good Italian at places like Belforno. But, you know what you don’t seem to be able to get? That is right. Really good pizza. Oh well, the amazing tacos we had nearly daily made up for the lack of pizza.

Cooking up the al pastor at Taqueria Alvaro Obregon.
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Two Weeks in Cabo

So, way, way back in February, we spent two weeks in Cabo San Lucas. A friend was getting married there, and we, of course, took the opportunity for a longer visit. I’m not sure why it took me this long to write about it, as our lives just aren’t that busy, but it did (probably because we weren’t huge fans of Cabo). A return trip to Mexico in May (more on that later) finally gave me the impetus to put the figurative pen to paper. So, here goes.

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Final Thoughts on Spain (2021)

We had final thoughts on Spain back in 2019 when we first visited. But you just know that, after spending over two months there in 2021, we had more thoughts. So, away we go.

A wild parakeet in Seville.
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Sightseeing in Spain

Although we spent over two months in Spain, much of what we did wasn’t blog worthy. (And, as you well know, my standards for what is blog worthy don’t even come close to Elaine’s standards for what is sponge worthy . . . . .) For the most part, we just hung out. We saw friends, we ate, we walked, and we almost forgot about covid for a little while. But, we did see quite a few things that are worth a brief mention, even if they aren’t individually worth entire blog posts. So, here goes.

The Alhambra in Granada seen from the gardens.
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The Art of Madrid

Madrid is a city absolutely chock full of amazing art. Art is everywhere.

Some of the art is just plain fun. Like the 80 “Las Meninas” (Ladies in Waiting). The Meninas are apparently based on the ladies in waiting to the Infanta Margarita in a painting by Valazquez. (Nope, we didn’t go see the painting.) An artist named Antonio Azzato designed the underlying Menina sculpture and then recruited various artists, singers, chefs, designers, and the like to decorate the Meninas, asking the artists to reflect on what Madrid meant to each of them. 2001 was the fourth year that the Meninas were scattered around Madrid. I think Cows on Parade in Chicago was better (because, come on, cows), but the Meninas were pretty cool too.

Compromiso at the Plaza de Santa Ana by Anna Maria Simon.
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Day Trip from Madrid to Segovia

So, we already told you about our day trip to Toledo. Now, let us tell you about our favorite day trip from Madrid. It was to a town called Segovia.

The building of the Junta de Castillo y Leon.

Segovia is a small town (about 50K people) about an hour (by high speed train) north and a little bit west of Madrid. The train station is quite a ways from town, but there are buses that run from the train station to the heart of town and, at least when we went, there were buses waiting when the train arrived. Just make sure you check the bus schedule (posted on the road across the street from where the bus drops you off) so you know what bus you need to get back to the train station.

A statue on the Segovia Cathedral.

Segovia is known for four things.

A statue at the Segovia Alcazar.

The first is the aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The aqueduct was built in the 1st or 2nd century — it seems historians can’t quite agree on the exact date.

The Segovia Aqueduct.

While I haven’t confirmed the veracity of this, on-line sources tell me the aqueduct is made of over 24,000 granite blocks (held together without mortar), spans 818 meters (that is roughly 2700 feet for our American readers), reaches 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) in height, and has over 170 arches that weigh something like 20,000 tons. Believe it or not, it was used to provide water to the city into the 20th century.

The Segovia Aqueduct.

The second is the cathedral. The cathedral was built in the mid-16th century and, at least from the outside, is one of the more impressive cathedrals we have seen. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and didn’t get a chance to go inside. It is supposedly quite nice inside.

The Segovia Cathedral.

The third is the Alcazar, another UNESCO World Heritage site. Apparently, there has been a fortress of one sort or another on the site of the Alcazar since Roman times. The current building was largely constructed during the Middle Ages, but it sounds like there has been a ton of remodeling and rebuilding over the years.

The Segovia Alcazar.

The royal court resided at the Segovia Alcazar until the 17th century. After that, the Alcazar was used as a prison for a bit. It then became the Royal Artillary School in the 18th century. Today, it is a museum. At least some people think it was one of the inspirations for Cinderella’s castle.

One of the many impressive stained glass windows at the Segovia Alcazar.

And the fourth, and by far the best, is roast suckling pig. Sweet baby pig. Known as cochinillo asado in Spain. There are a ton of rules for a real cochinillo, although the internet doesn’t completely agree on the scope of those rules. The general consensus is that the baby pigs can’t weigh more than 4-6.5 kilograms, they can’t be older than three or four weeks, they can’t eat anything other than milk, and even the mommy pig has to eat a special diet while nursing (rye, oats, cabbage, and potatoes according to one source). The pigs are brined in salt water, dried, and cooked in a special oven. The resulting product is so tender that it can be cut with a plate. If you visit Segovia, make sure to make a restaurant reservation in advance so you are sure to get a chance to taste the cochinillo asado. It isn’t cheap, but it is worth every penny.

Not the best photo, but look at that crispy skin. Yum!

We would go back to Segovia in a heartbeat.

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Final thoughts on 2021

Well, we still have a few posts on Spain, but 2022 is here, so it must be time for our final thoughts on 2021.

A bird (maybe a little blue heron?) in Barataria Preserve outside of New Orleans.
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Day Trip from Madrid to Toledo

So, due to a variety of factors (stupid covid, Spanish holidays, etc.), we ended up spending something like twelve days in Madrid during our seven or so weeks in Spain. Which is a lot of time in Madrid. A lot.

Statue of Charles V inside the Puerta de Bisraga
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