Mexico City and lunch at the San Angel Inn

Happiness is…chilling out at the San Angel Inn

I visited Mexico City on my way back from a wonderful trip to the stunning resort of Grand Velas Los Cabos. You can read all about my time on the beach there by clicking here. I was excited to be seeing my friend Lupita who I met on a cruise of the Baltic a couple of years ago and who had promised to show me around her home town.

Mexico City is a sprawling, bustling metropolis with a population of over 21 million which makes it the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. As you fly in it seems to go on forever and when you’re on the ground so do the traffic jams – there are a lot of cars in Mexico City and I mean a real lot of cars. Consequently, be prepared to spend time in the traffic – it’s certainly part of the city’s personality.

Mexico City: landing

Coming in to land in Mexico City

The city certainly has a unique energy – somewhat frenzied but with a laid-back, Spanish undertone. The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming and there’s so much to see and do. Oh and the food is incredible!

It also seems like a grand city with wide avenues, a stylish mix of old and new architecture – some of which is simply dazzling. And it’s great to walk around with monuments and statues around every corner.

Mexico City: Angel wings

Me and the angel wings

We took a slow meander through the magnificent  Chapultepec Park. Mexico City has plenty of trees and green spaces making it easy to get away from hectic city life and chill out. This strikingly enormous structure is the Monumento a los Ninos Heroes – honouring six young men who were killed while defending Chapultepec Castle – the last major resistance to US troops who invaded Mexico in 1845.

Mexico City: Monument

The striking Monumento a los Ninos Heroes

This stunning monument perfectly lines up with Chapultepec Castle down the Paseo de la Reforma to the Angel of Independence. The Angel is a tribute to the heroes of the Mexican war of independence from Spain.

Mexico City: angel of independence

The beautiful, shiny Angel of Independence

There’s so much to discover in this glorious city. I also explored the stylish Polanco neighbourhood which is where I stayed. It’s often called the Beverley Hills of Mexico City and is a  joy to walk around with the seemingly endless upmarket shops, hotels and restaurants.

The San Angel neighbourhood

On my second day in town we headed somewhere completely different. San Angel is a short drive away in the south-west of the city but it  feels like you’ve been transported to another world. The quaint, narrow, cobblestone streets are lined with elegant homes and an abundance of trees and flowers. There’s very little traffic, making it a joy to meander around.

Mexico City: San Angel

There are many beautiful homes in San Angel

There are plenty of lovely shops to browse through and the incredibly peaceful ex-convent of El Carmen to visit.

Mexico City: El Carmen covent

Take time out to enjoy the tranquility of this covent

You’ll also find Frida and Diego’s house, where famed Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera lived and worked. It’s been left as it was when they lived there and is fascinating to explore.  Plus you get the chance to see some of their work.

Mexico City: Frida and Diego's house

The brilliant blue that is Frida and Diego’s house

The San Angel Inn

One of the reasons for visiting San Angel was to have lunch at one of Lupita’s favourite restaurants, the San Angel Inn.

It’s loved by locals and tourists alike and you can see why as soon as you walk in – It’s the sort of place that instantly lifts your heart. The hacienda dates back to the 17th century and was originally a Carmelite monastery. A beautiful courtyard is surrounded by an expansive verandah and you’re basically in a tropical garden. I can think of no place I’d rather have lunch.

San Angel Inn: verandah

The beautiful verandah, the perfect spot to spend an afternoon

When in Mexico, drink margaritas. And this could be the best margarita in the world. Served in a little jug nestling in a mini bucket of ice you pour a little at a time ensuring your drink is always super cool. Heavenly.

San Angel Inn: margarita

The best margarita in the world? Possibly

As we sat on the verandah sipping on our margaritas we snacked on a delicious bowl of crunchy vegetables which we dipped into the beautifully creamy, cheesy dip.

San Angel Inn: crudités

Deliciously crunchy snacks with the creamiest of dips

What’s on the menu

As we pored over the menus soft warm rolls were served on one of their beautiful blue plates. I loved all the crockery here so much – how I would have loved to slip some into my handbag! No, of course I didn’t.

San Angel Inn: bread and butter

Bread and butter served on crockery in beautiful blues

I started with the Aztec tortilla soup. A rich tomato-based soup with crunchy crumbled tortilla and fresh chopped avocado sprinkled over. A wonderful combination of flavours and textures – and even more of those delicious Mexican avos.

San Angel Inn: Soup

Wonderfully rich soup topped with tortilla and avo

The caesar salad is for two and is made table-side. Quite a ceremony with the dressing also lovingly mixed in front of you. Seeing it being made with such love and focus makes it taste even better as a result.

San Angel Inn: Caesar salad

There’s plenty of activity as your salad’s prepared at the table

San Angel Inn: Caesar salad

Even the dressing is freshly made in front of you

Flaky white fish came with a hearty tomato and olive sauce.

San Angel Inn: Fish

The sweetest of local white fish in a rich tomato sauce

I tucked into the flavoursome grilled Mexican steak served with savoury rice, a sticky sauce and guacamole. Yes I am getting as much avocado in as possible while I’m in the land of the avo!

San Angel Inn: Mexican beef

Tasty beef with a side of extra guacamole

After mains the dessert trolley appears. What joy to see all those delectable dishes laid out – making it almost impossible to choose.

San Angel Inn: blackberry pie

Pie made with the plumpest of blackberries

San Angel Inn: chocolate cake

Chocolate cake to indulge in

I went straight from the San Angel Inn to the airport to catch my flight home. Which was all a bit surreal. It certainly was a whirlwind trip. Thank you Lupita for showing me around your wonderful city, I fell in love with beautiful Mexico and know there’s so much more I’d like to explore. Take me back soon!

Mexico City: Lupita

Here we are, reunited after two years

The San Angel Inn is at Diego Rivera No 50 y Altavista, San Angel, Mexico City.

Where to stay in Mexico: Grand Velas Los Cabos

Loving life at Grand Velas Los Cabos

I’m still slightly reeling from my fabulous year of travel in 2017. I visited eight new countries, two new continents and completed my full house of seven continents visited when I set foot on magical Antarctica. What a trip that was, you can read more about it by clicking here.

And one of my new countries was fabulous Mexico. An overnight flight to Mexico City, a short hop to the little airport of Cabo San Lucas on the Baja Peninsular and a drive through the cactus-lined desert and we arrived at the glorious Grand Velas Los Cabos.

This five-star all-inclusive resort overlooks the sparkle of the Sea of Cortez and has everything you could possibly want for a heavenly beachside escape.

Here’s what I loved about it.

The views

The hotel is designed so that no matter where you are there’s always a stunning azure sea view, punctuated by the blue sparkle of the pools, the greens and vibrant colours of tropical plants and palm trees and of course the perfect white sandy beach. What a combination!

Grand Velas: pool and sea

Views in different shades of blue

I even found myself up early in the morning (extremely early) watching the golden sunrise from my balcony and taking endless sea vista pictures. Views don’t get better than this for beach babies like me.

Grand Velas: balcony view

The stunning view from my balcony

The beach

The beautiful white sand was perfect for early morning meanders – especially as often I was the only person around. How I loved leaving the first footprints of the day in the sand.

Grand Velas: beach

The pool leads on to the quiet beach

And little cabana-style beds on the beach are the perfect place to chill and enjoy a cocktail or two.

Grand Velas: Beach beds

Chill out on your private beach bed

Grand Velas: Beach

My footprints on the beach early in the morning

The pools

There are plenty of beautiful lounging opportunities at the cleverly designed beachside infinity pools with their tempting, comfy beds. And of course the chance for an instantly refreshing dip any time of day.

Grand Velas: pool and sea

Escape to a land of blue sparkle

My personal concierge

Grand Velas Los Cabos is all-inclusive and that includes all food and drink and your own personal concierge. We swapped mobile numbers at check-in and I was instructed to text or call her if I wanted anything. Not that I ever needed to as she seemed to appear as if by magic every time I even thought about asking a question. These angels will make all your wishes come true, bring you food and drink anywhere on the resort, book spa sessions, print out boarding cards (and anything else you may need printed)…generally make sure you want for nothing. Superb.

The suites

The rooms are beautifully decorated in shades of blue and white with huge beds, a desk and seating area, great wifi and a large balcony with totally stunning sea views.

Grand Velas: Room

How I loved my beautiful, spacious room

The mini bar

And a mini bar…worth a mention on its own. Constantly restocked, it has a wide choice of liquor and soft drinks, tea and coffee making facilities (with a wide range of beautiful teas to choose from) and a stylish bottle of local tequila. Delicious it was, too!

Grand Velas: Mini bar

Happiness is…a fully stocked mini bar

The fabulous food

Grand Velas Los Cabos is culinary heaven. It has seven restaurants – yes seven, and eating at all of them is included. You’ll find Mexican, French and Italian cuisine as well as fabulous seafood and steaks. Cocina de Autor does an amazing tasting menu with some truly inventive dishes inspired by local ingredients. The presentation was a sight to behold and the flavours so beautiful. Plus we had the chance to try plenty of Mexican wine – a first for me. I’m now definitely a fan.

Grand Velas: Cocina de Autor

Delightfully exotic dishes at Cocina de Autor

Grand Velas: sole

Delightfully sweet sole in a delicate foam

If you can’t drag yourself out of your stunning suite you don’t have to! Of course you wouldn’t have to – Grand Velas Los Cabos is that sort of place. It’s like they have anticipated every wish you could have and are ready to make them all come true. The 24-hour in-suite dining menu offers so many choices. I couldn’t resist this beautiful tuna tartare served with guacamole, salsa and tortillas. Every fish dish I sampled was out of this world – and as for the guacamole. Mexican avos rock.Grand Velas: Room service

Room service for tartare and guacamole

The food by the pool is also fabulous. There really is something special about lying on a sun lounger looking at the ocean and tucking into a fabulous fresh ceviche while sipping a mango daiquiri. Really – does life get better than this?

Grand Velas: poolside food

More fresh tuna, this time at the pool

The breakfast spread in Azul is jaw dropping. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a bigger array – it’s seriously a three-course breakfast type of place. And with more spectacular views it’s the ideal way to start your day.

Grand Velas: Azul

Sunny breakfasts on the terrace at Azul

The spa and gym

After all that breakfast feasting it’s just as well there’s a superb gym. Large, packed with equipment and with blue views over the sea to keep you motivated to work off some calories so you’re prepared for your next foodie treat. And yes, I did use it.

Grand Velas: Gym

The view from the gym makes exercise more enjoyable.

There’s also what the hotel describes as a lavish Water Ceremony. It’s basically the biggest jacuzzi I’ve ever seen with plenty of clever ways to massage different parts of your body and loungers to relax on if it all gets too much for you!

Grand Velas: Spa

The best jacuzzi in the world in the stunning spa

And the spa is like paradise within heaven. We had amazing massages and lay back afterwards with warm pillows and the softest of throws. Boy was it difficult to get up off that bed.

The sunsets and sunrises

How I love a good sunset (or rise), though being more of a nighttime sort of person I don’t see many of the rises. However at Grand Velas Los Cabos I found myself awake and ready to witness the dawning of the day before my early-morning walk on what felt like my private beach.

Grand Velas: sunrise

The best sunrises and sunsets ever

The excursions

Grand Velas Los Cabos is halfway between the towns of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Both lovely places to visit with trendy shops and boutiques, bars to try and lots of water-based activities to enjoy. We went sailing out into the blue, saw amazing jumping manta rays leaping all around us, plunged into the balmy waters for a swim and sipped myriad cocktails as we sailed into the wind. Tequila Sunrise anyone?

Grand Velas: Sailing

Sipping cocktails while sailing the ocean blue

Grand Velas: Arches of Cortez

The Arches of Cortez against the azure sky

The Spanish-ness

Okay here’s a different one. Of course I was aware that Spanish is the language of Mexico but I guess I hadn’t computed that it would remind me very much of Spain. And my love of Spain is well documented – I visit at every opportunity I get. So I immediately felt so at home in this beautiful Spain-like country on another continent. And fell in love with its people too.

I really, really loved the paradise that is Grand Velas Los Cabos. Here’s my happy, sun-kissed  selfie to prove it.

Grand Velas: Beach selfie

And of course…a beach selfie

I flew to Mexico with AeroMexico, direct from London to Mexico City with an easy connection to Cabos San Lucas.

Check out the website at grandvelas.com