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RooFlyer

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The visit today was non optimal - given the weather, and the trade show littering the floor of the main display hall, but I'm glad I went. I remain very surprised at the outdoor displays and the seeming lack of maintenance of the hardware. The facility is owned by the government of Alabama and is 'Smithsonian affiliated'.

Tomorrow, airline and weather Gods permitting, I'm off to Mexico City which is forecast to be mostly sunny and low '20s.
 

RooFlyer

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How long did you spend at the centre?
A couple of hours. If the weather was nicer, and the hall not full of tradies, then I might have stayed another hour. The 'program' recommends a day! I did skip a lot of the displays in the first, entry museum and I didn't read every panel in the main hall. I'd say no more than half a day. There is a big parking lot and you access the place directly off I 565 for anyone driving there. Its about 15 mins from the airport, again, along I565 and 15-20 mins further to downtown Huntsville.

The tours of the Marshall Space Flight Center itself, by bus, is limited to US citizens, as it goes onto the Redstone Armory area.
 
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JohnM

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Thanks - I'll be driving about 2h from Nashville, doing the centre, overnighting in Huntsville before a 5h drive to my SC destination the next day.

I wasn't sure whether to leave Nashville early to maximise time at the centre, but I can be quite cruisy.
 

RooFlyer

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I got an Uber from the hotel to the airport, and arrived in plenty of time. The ride was there (CRJ900), but no Admiral's Club, of course :(

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We boarded on time and it was about 80 mins to DFW, where i'd connect for the flight to Mexico City. Another smooth ride across the US mid-west.

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1-2 in J and I was back in 2A; same snacks and drinks service as on the way over.

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We arrived at terminal B, so it was a quick Skylink ride to Terminal D and the Flagship Lounge for lunch. I think this is one of my favourite lounges outside of Australia. The lunch buffet spread was very good and a good selection of booze - except no tonic water to go with the gin. :( GThe attendants kept directing me to the (plain) water cabinet ... oh well.

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The ride to Mexico City was leaving from Terminal D, then B and finally A, with a delayed in-bound. Annoyingly, the AA app and the gate agent kept insisting that there would be no delay, even though the inbound was scheduled to arrive when we were due to board. :mad: .Everything updated when we started boarding, 30 mins late.

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RooFlyer

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It was a B737 with 2x2 in J on the way down to MEX; drinks and an 'antipasta' dish.

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I have no problems with the AA service so far - the airline has gone through some horrors with strikes etc in the past year. Hopefully its behind them. The FAs were fine; refill offers always there. Pay for internet, but there are a ton of free movies and TV shows through the AA app.

Immigration at MEX was pretty easy and quick; I didn't time it but maybe 45 mins from de-planing to exiting customs. I had read that there were 'official taxi' booths in the customs hall, but nope. Landside had the usual mix of touts, FX places, ATMs (2 were broken) and 'official taxi' stands. I approached one but it was obviously not 'official' at all, so I backed off. Found an information counter, who directed me way down the RH end (as you exit). Yes, these were what I was after - fixed price to certain locations, pay at the counter and get into a good clean taxi with a uniformed driver.

Traffic on Thursday afternoon was heavy but kept moving and we were at the Hilton Reforma quite soon. Its about 30 mins walk from the central square and lots of shops and restaurants in the area, also banks and ATMs, including a Citibank.

I didn't remember booking an Executive Club room when i checked in, so I thought I must have been upgraded, but on checking, no I had booked it. :rolleyes: They put me on the 27th floor, the top. Room is pretty good:

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Happy days, I was just in time for happy hour in the lounge - it was a pretty good spread (pics didn't do it justice, as it soon got crowded).

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craven morehead

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I got an Uber from the hotel to the airport, and arrived in plenty of time. The ride was there (CRJ900), but no Admiral's Club, of course :(

View attachment 207094

We boarded on time and it was about 80 mins to DFW, where i'd connect for the flight to Mexico City. Another smooth ride across the US mid-west.

View attachment 207095

1-2 in J and I was back in 2A; same snacks and drinks service as on the way over.

View attachment 207096


We arrived at terminal B, so it was a quick Skylink ride to Terminal D and the Flagship Lounge for lunch. I think this is one of my favourite lounges outside of Australia. The lunch buffet spread was very good and a good selection of booze - except no tonic water to go with the gin. :( GThe attendants kept directing me to the (plain) water cabinet ... oh well.

View attachment 207097

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The ride to Mexico City was leaving from Terminal D, then B and finally A, with a delayed in-bound. Annoyingly, the AA app and the gate agent kept insisting that there would be no delay, even though the inbound was scheduled to arrive when we were due to board. :mad: .Everything updated when we started boarding, 30 mins late.

View attachment 207102

No Tonic Water surely this is an aberration ? :eek: I note the Aviation Gin at the bar. Have you tried it? I'm a fan although probably not without Tonic Water. I could entertain substituting with a dash of Soda Water for emergencies ;)
 

RooFlyer

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No Tonic Water surely this is an aberration ? :eek: I note the Aviation Gin at the bar. Have you tried it? I'm a fan although probably not without Tonic Water.
I poured just a Bombay Sapphire but absent any tonic, I left it on the bench. :(

Bit of a disaster overnight. After only an hour or so of sleep I woke up to an aching back - something I thought I had got. I couldn't take anti-infammitories oin an empty stomach so a couple of sufficed but couldn't get comfortable and had a crap night. So my major walking day got very curtailed. After brekky in the exec lounge (good, with anti-inflammatory!) I walked into the historic centre, about 30 mins.

The Hilton is next to 'Alameda Central', the city's oldest park, with fountains and many monuments, including, at one end, a memorial to Beethoven, given by the German government to mark the centenary of the 9th Symphony..

Hmmm ... trying to post pics but it keeps failing. I'll come back to this in a short while.

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The Palacio de Bellas Artes has been called the "Cathedral of Art in Mexico" and sits at the end of the park.

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In fact, I can see it from the Executive Lounge right now, during Happy Hour :p . Jacarandas in the park also.

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Carrying on walking towards the historic center ...

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Its a fine morning and the city has a nice vibe - wide footpaths and the streets aren't as clogged with cars as I expected.
 
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RooFlyer

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The certre of the old city is heavily pedestrianised, making walking easy.

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The center of the old city is the Plaza de la Constitucion, or the Zocalo. At the moment there are a bunch of kid's things there (tents, rides etc) so I couldn't investigate it. Its bounded by a number of important buildings, the most obvious is the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico City.

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The place on the right is a separate church.

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The vast majority of the old buildings in Mexico City, and also the pavements etc are made of dark grey basalt, much like Melbourne. This makes the whole place quite somber
 

Drakecula

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Heh, seeing your photos and thinking 'I've been there, I've been there!' How lovely is Mexico City though? I hope you continue to enjoy it :)
 

RooFlyer

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Heh, seeing your photos and thinking 'I've been there, I've been there!' How lovely is Mexico City though? I hope you continue to enjoy it :)
Yes, its a lot more pleasant to walk around than I expected - broad footpaths (in the touristy areas), not as much traffic jamming and honking etc. If only my bod was up to a bit more getting around!!
 

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After the Cathedral, I wandered around the corner to the Templo Mayor , the site of the main pre-Spanish temple/pyramid in what became Mexico City.

From Wikipedia:

Templo Mayor was the main temple of the Mexica peoples in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. ... It was dedicated simultaneously to Huitzilopochtli, god of war, and Tlaloc, god of rain and agriculture, each of which had a shrine at the top of the pyramid with separate staircases. The spire in the center of the adjacent image was devoted to Quetzalcoatl in his form as the wind god, Ehecatl. The Great Temple devoted to Huitzilopochtli and Tlaloc, measuring approximately 100 by 80 m at its base, dominated the Sacred Precinct.Construction of the first temple began sometime after 1325, and it was rebuilt six times. The temple was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521 to make way for the new cathedral.

By rebuilding, they mean enlargement by adding to the face and sides to grow the pyramid up and out.
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The museum complex consists of excavated and largely reconstructed foundations of the pyramid in an open-air walk-around, and a large museum of artifacts and interpretive panels.

The pyramids were almost as tall as the cathedral which was built on their destruction:

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Some fragments of original cement and colouration remain, but mostly is reconstruction.

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The museum exhibits were mostly only in Spanish. The mono (local) lingual format of these 'world class' museums around the world is a constant frustration to me.

This chap looks like he's enjoying the football on the hill:

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This is about 5m across, viewed from several stories up. Can't tell you what it is, sorry.

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RooFlyer

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My back was giving me hell by this time, so I made may way back to my hotel.

via the Palacio des Belle Artes:

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and some other memorials in the adjoining park. They do like their memorials here.

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OK, cue strong medications, a lie down and two hours later, a look at a continuation of my walk, the opposite direction to the historic center. The arch-way to the pink and black 'Barcelo' building in the mid-right 1s the dome and arch at the Plaza de la Republica and the museum of the Mexican Revolution. Who could resist?

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Streets on a week-day after lunch still not very busy, but look at the queue at the ATMs at the Santander bank. I don't think I've seen an ATM without a queue like this during my stay here.

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A photo of a big yellow thing.

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The Plaza de la Republica. You can see there is an elevator going up into the dome. That was for me!!

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RooFlyer

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You can see there is an elevator going up into the dome. That was for me!!
Oh, dear. I eventually found the ticket office and bought a ticket to the very top of the dome. Or so I thought. I was directed underground, which turns out to be an elaborate museum about the Mexican Revolution and the history of the domed structure. It was to be a much longer visit than I planned.

First, the T-shirt shop. I resisted, although if I wanted some spaghetti-western memorabilia, this would be the place.

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Then, multiple (oh, God, multiple ... ) corridors back and forth with exhibits etc about the Revolution and the history of this structure. I just wasn't in the mood.

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So God bless Wikipedia to give you the Readers Digest version:

The building was initially planned as the Federal Legislative Palace during the regime of president Porfirio Díaz and "was intended as the unequaled monument to Porfirian glory." The building would hold the deputies and senators congress chambers, but the project was not finished due to the war of Mexican Revolution. Twenty-five years later, the structure was converted into a monument to the Mexican Revolution by Mexican architect Carlos Obregón Santacilia. The monument is considered the tallest triumphal arch in the world, it stands 67 metres in height. Porfirio Díaz appointed a French architect, Émile Bénard to design and construct the palace. The government's selection of a Frenchman as architect, who produced a neoclassical design with "characteristic touches of the French renaissance,"points to government officials' aim to demonstrate Mexico's rightful place as an advanced nation. Díaz laid the first stone in 1910 during the centennial celebrations of Independence, when Díaz also inaugurated the Monument to Mexican Independence ("The Angel of Independence"). The building structure was constructed with iron and rather than local Mexican materials used in the stone façade, the design called for Italian marble and Norwegian granite.

Although the Díaz regime was ousted in May 1911, President Madero continued to work on the project until 1913, when he was murdered. After Madero's death, the project was cancelled and abandoned for more than twenty years. The structure remained unfinished until 1938, being completed during the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas.

The Mexican architect Carlos Obregón Santacilia, proposed to convert the abandoned structure into a monument to the heroes of the Mexican Revolution. After his project was approved, the adaptation of the structure began in an eclectic Art Deco and Mexican socialist realism style, over the existing cupola structure of the Palacio Legislativo Federal (Federal Legislative Palace). Mexican sculptor Oliverio Martínez designed four stone sculpture groups for the monument, with Francisco Zúñiga as one of his assistants.


IMG_0480.jpg etc, etc, etc ...

Anyway, by this time I wasn't anywhere near an elevator to the top, but some more corridors led to some stairs up, and the base of the elevator. Up we went.

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Well, that was a bit disappointing .. no where neat the top. How do I get up there? Oh, I had to go down some steps to the observation deck, wander around, and then climb up inside the dome to the upper level. Sucked in ... no elevator to the top!!

Observation deck views. By this time my back was reminding me of its former unhappiness, but with one exception, I've never let a climb beat me. The tan building on the far end of the avenue is the Hilton and the historic centre of the city is beyond that.

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Steps, steps and more steps, up inside the dome.

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Sort of like going up inside the dome of St Pauls, or up the Statue of Liberty:

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Success! View from the top. Very small viewing platform and rather vertigo-inducing. I was the only fool one on the way up, and on the way down.

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So, to get down, just retrace steps, right? Nah, too easy. its the steps all the way to the ground. :mad:
 

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At the bottom, I was OK, and I remembered @amaroo's TR where he raved about visiting a market. His one was a way off, but there was one a few blocks away from me, so off I went.

Lots of nice old buildings, especially churches all over the place. Easy walking, even though I'm now in some of the back-streets.

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Approaching the Mercado San Juan, its obvous that the market has outgrown its building:

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Inside, a great atmosphere and of course totally colourful.

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Some movie was being shot just round the corner from my hotel. I wandered past and was approached to be a 'walking-by' extra (in English ... was I that obvious?). No way, Jose! The Executive Lounge beckoned:

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On my second day in Mexico, I did a tour of Teotihuacan, a huge archaelogical site a little way out of Mexico City. I'd never heard of it until @amaroo's own Mexico TR a year or so ago.

I forgot to book anything until a few weeks out, then, short of time did the easy thing and booked something off Trip Advisor - a 'go early' tour, with pick-up in the city at 6:50am and return about 3 or 4 pm, with 'archaeologist' guide (yes, take that with a grain of salt) and some other stuff - for A$65.

I had a 20 min walk to the pick-up location. Mexico City at 6:30 am on Saturday morning is quiet!

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The roads and freeways were pretty uncongested too - at least heading out of town. Going the other way, they were still busy with commuters.

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We drove for about 75 mins, including a 15 min 'buy water and breakfast' stop. The 'favellas' here are pretty colourful. this is a very small selection.

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Arrived at the site about 8:30am. We were warned that there were no toilets or places to get water in the site, so the entrance gate was last chance!!

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Our guide's English was barely good enough, but even if I had understood everything on the day, I probably wouldn't have retained it. I usually have to look things up.

First stop was the 'Citadel', which is at the bottom right of this diagram from Wikipedia. You can see that its a large complex.

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Views up to the two Pyramids. They are meant to represent the mountain behind them.

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There were a few balloons in the sky. I didn't see anything about these - it would have been a magnificent way to see the site (followed by on-ground).

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Over the back of the platform we were on is the 'feathered serpent' temple - the oldest on the site, built about 200 BC

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Just about everything seen on the site is a reconstruction - mainly done in the 1960's - 70s, but still going on. The Pyramids were in tact of course, but they have been re-faced. The reconstruction is marked by the embedding of small stones in the cement
 

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