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Mexico City: Day of the Dead and Culinary Vacation Adventure

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Please Make Note of Pleasure Palate Attendance Policies and our 3 Strikes Rule by clicking here (http://www.meetup.com/pleasurepalate/pages/Attendance_Policies_and_3_Strikes_Rule/) before RSVP'ing to this Event. Cancelling your RSVP within 24 hours or not showing up at the event without contacting the Organizer ahead of time will result in a strike. 3 Strikes and You're Out!

Please Note: Read ALL the instructions and information below BEFORE you RSVP 'Yes' for this 10 day long, out of country event.

1) I am hosting this event for both Gay Foodies and Pleasure Palate

2) This is not a professional tour, so keep that in mind. This is more like a 2 week long museum, historic sites, points of interest and restaurant crawl - so like my weekend adventures but for 10 days and taking place out of the country.

3) Only RSVP 'Yes' for this event AFTER you have bought your plane ticket. You MUST prepurchase you plane ticket in advance because the closer we get to the actual date, the more likely they will sell out and I will not wait for you to arrive in Mexico City if you choose a later arrival time than I do.

4) I purchased my airline ticket through AeroMexico, departing LAX on Saturday, October 26th at 8:05 AM and arriving at Mexico City on 1:30 PM. Return flight departs from Mexico City on Monday, Nov. 4th at 2:40 PM and arrives in LAX at 4:50 PM.

5) I strongly recommend getting travel insurance for your plane ticket and even for your entire vacation.

6) Besides your plane ticket which costs around $350, you will end up spending at least another $2,000 on land based transportation, hotel stay, food, professional walking tours and admission fees to museums and points of interest. That's not including mementos you want to take home with you.

7) We will stay 5 nights in Mexico city, 3 nights Patzcuaro, and 1 final night in Mexico City before returning to LA.

In Mexico City, we will be staying at the Hotel Milan: http://www.hotelmilan.com.mx/contacto_reply.htm

In Patzcuaro, we will be staying at Hotel Real Palmira: http://hotelrealpalmira.com/gracias.php

I am waiting to hear back from the hotels on the exact rates and such and will share them as soon I get confirmations

8) Only sign up for this event if you have attended several of my weekend adventures before. If you have never met me in person, then this vacation getaway is not for you. This adventure relies that you place your faith and trust in me in selecting the places we will visit, tours that we will take and restaurants that we will dine at.

9) This event won't work for you if you have physical mobility restrictions, require frequent restroom breaks, and/or are a fussy eater.

10) I will start an FAQ as the questions start rolling in.

Mexico City & Michoacán itinerary

Travel dates: Oct. 26-Nov. 4, 2013

Lodging and Information located at the bottom of the event write-up.

Saturday, Oct. 26

1:30 p.m. Estimated arrival in Mexico City (Plan to be at the hotel by around 3:30 pm at hotel).

Estimated cost for private airport pickup: 4 people, $75 USD; for 5-12 people, $150 USD

Secure taxis can also be paid for directly at the airport, at windows upon exiting customs.

These cost about $20 USD per taxi; each taxi seats 3 people including luggage. These stands do generally take credit cards.

4-6 p.m. Lunch on your own. There are 2 restaurants that we can choose from. Prices will be between $30 to $50, depending upon which restaurant we choose for lunch.

Evening activity suggestions: Walk through Condesa's leafy Parque Mexico at sunset; shopping in the high-end boutiques on Colima Street in the Roma; walk down the lovely Alvaro Obregón Street and admire the early 20th century architecture. You can also walk to Plaza Rio de Janeiro, also in the Roma, which has a beautiful fountain and benches to relax.

8 p.m. Dinner on your own. There are 4 upscale restaurants we can choose for dinner, ranging from $40 to $70 in price.

Sunday, Oct. 27

8 a.m. Light breakfast on your own at your hotel

9 a.m. to 4 p.m. MERCADO JAMAICA + COYOACÁN DAY TOUR

Tour Mexico City's famous flower and food market, The Mercado de Jamaica, with a local culinary expert. She'll take you into the market's nooks and crannies and you'll learn about the typical Day of the Dead flowers, as well a taste some market snacks such as tlacoyos. After the market, she will take you to Coyoacan, a bohemian, colonial-looking neighborhood south of the city center, where you'll visit the Frida Kahlo museum and some of Coyoacan's beautiful plazas. She can also dine with you at a restaurant in Coyoacan for lunch.

Total price for this day tour: $450 USD - For four people, transport is included.

Please note that this tour price does not include lunch, just snacks at the market.

8 or 9 p.m. Dinner on your own. Fine dining at one of the city’s top dining destinations. It will cost between $150 to $200 per person but it will be an unforgettable meal.

Monday, October 28

9 a.m. to 5 p.m. PYRAMIDS & BASILICA DAY TOUR

On this day you’ll tour Mexico City’s famous pyramids in Teotihuacan, located about a 90-minute drive from the city. You’ll learn all about the ancient culture who ruled here, climb at least one of the pyramids if you like, and eat lunch nearby. Lunch will be on your own account. After the pyramids, you’ll visit La Villa de Guadalupe, a basilica containing a relic ofSan Juan Diego, and the most important religious shrine in the Americas. (This visit really helps you connect the dots about Mexico City’s history.)

Total tour cost for 4 people, including transport: $250-$300 USD

8 p.m. Dinner. Many high end restaurants are closed, so this is a great day to try Mexico City's more casual fare – taquerias!. There will be 2 restaurants to choose from. Estimated dinner price at both places: $9-$12 USD a person.

Tuesday, October 29

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. CENTRO HISTÓRICO DAY TOUR: FOOD & CULTURE

For this tour, you’d join an Eat Mexico guide in exploring Mexico City’s most interesting (and oldest) neighborhood: the downtown historic center. For the culinary portion of this tour, you’dvisit one of the city’s most iconic bakeries and try a handful of street foods, as well as stop by the gourmet Mercado de San Juan for a visit. (This market is very different from Jamaica – the city’s top chefs shop here, and some ingredients are sourced from Baja California and around Mexico.) We will stop by the Zócalo main public square as well, to see what used to be the heart of Old Mexico. We’d end the tour at one of our favorite cantinas in the Centro, where you can kick back a few brews or cold drinks with your guide.

Total price for four people: $400 USD, not including transport to the Centro, or anything consumed at the cantina. This would include all other food and an artisan cheese tasting at the market.

Private transport to/from this tour for four people would be an extra $55 USD.

4 p.m. onward: On your own. My activity suggestions:

*Souvenir shopping at Fonart on Patriotismo, which is the flagship store that carries high-end arts and crafts from around Mexico. Another good pick is La Ciudadela, an outdoor crafts market in the Centro, near the Balderas Metro stop.

We can also have cocktails at a bar and eat at a fine dining restaurant that will average about $75 per person.

Wednesday, Oct. 30

SUGAR SKULL MARKET IN TOLUCA

9 a.m. Breakfast away from the hotel. There are 3 restaurants to choose from and will cost between $15 to $25 per person.

11 a.m. Depart for the Sugar Skull Market in Toluca. This is a bustling outdoor market that’s only open once a year during Day of the Dead. You can find dozens (hundreds!) of locally made sugar skulls with all sorts of decorations, as well as the alfañique, or small animals made out of sugar, and oficios, or skeleton figurines performing various tasks. (You will see some of these items at the Jamaica Market as well, but not on this scale.) The market also hosts a small altar exhibit every year. It’s a really fun trip you can do entirely on your own, if you’re feeling adventurous, by taking the bus from the Observatorio bus station, located right off the Observatorio metro stop. The trip to Toluca takes about 1 1/2 hours and the buses leave around every 20 minutes. The cost to take the bus roundtrip to Toluca is about $15 USD per person.

2 or 3 p.m. AT Toluca, we will have lunch at a restaurant that will average $50 per person.

6 p.m. Return to Mexico City.

8 p.m. Dinner on your own. There will be several restaurants to choose from $40 to $70 per person.

Thursday, Oct. 31

DEPART FOR MICHOACÁN VIA LUXURY BUS

8:00 a.m. Breakfast on your own. See my suggestions above.

11:30 a.m. Depart for Pátzcuaro. I’d recommend being in Pátzcuaro at least two days and using this as your home base, while you explore the arts and crafts and Day of the Dead activities in the region.

The bus trip takes about 5 hours, and costs about $70 USD roundtrip per person .

If you don’t have any experience taking luxury buses in Mexico, they are a great way to travel – just make sure you pack a lunch or buy something at an established café for the bus ride, as the bus terminal food tends to be pretty awful.

4:30 p.m. Arrive in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán.

6-9 p.m. Relaxation, evening stroll, dinner in the historic center. Note that the food in Patzcuarowon’t compare to what you’ve eaten in Mexico City, but it’s decent. We will dine at an Argentine restaurant.

Friday, Nov. 1

9 a.m. Breakfast at your hotel, or at Doña Paca, a restaurant with decent Michoacán food.

** Note that if you want to get a very early start on the day, and you enjoy outdoor activities, I would highly recommend hiking up to El Estribo, a lovely trail at the edge of town that overlooks Pátzcuaro and the nearby lake. (Taxis will drop you off at a point near the descent, or you can walk there, if you want even more exercise.) The trail is scenic and filled with locals, although it can be steep in parts. Please wear comfortable shoes if you go and be prepared to sweat! This is best for people used to regular physical activity. **

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ARTIST STUDIOS AND ARTESANÍA DAY TOUR

Michoacán has some of the most beautiful arts and crafts in the state, and many vendors happen to live in the lakeside area around Pátzcuaro. Your guide who has given arts and-craft and Day of the Dead tours for six years, would take you on a tour of these small towns, including Tzintzuntzan (black-and-white pottery and textiles); Santa Clara del Cobre(copper pots, vases, etc.); and Arocutín for wooden masks, among others. You can stop at nearby Quiroga for some truly delicious carnitas for lunch. This is a great opportunity to see the “real” interior Mexico, beyond the shops where the tourists usually frequent.

Cost: $65-$75 USD a person for the day tour, for up to three people including transport. This

price does not include lunch.

4 p.m. onward: On your own. I’d suggest walking to some art shops in Pátzcuaro’s square, or grabbing an amazing scoop of ice cream from the vendors that gather there. Dinner will be at an upscale restaurant.

Saturday, Nov. 2

SIGHTSEEING & DAY OF THE DEAD CEMETERIES TOUR

The daytime schedule on this day is flexible. I’d recommend visiting the Museo de Artes Populares, the excellent local museum of Pátzcuaro folk art. You could also just relax, hang out and rest. The outdoor food market on the town’s Plaza Chica is also an excellent place to wander.

7 p.m. to midnight/1 a.m. Evening graveside visits with Leticia Alcalá to the towns of Tzintzuntzan, Ihuatzio and Cucuchucho, all of which still celebrate Day of the Dead in a traditional way. For this tour, you’d visit each town’s cemetery and have an opportunity to observe, listen and take a few pictures if you like. Leticia said she’s also happy to take you into a few private homes in these towns. Several families traditionally open their doors to the public on Day of the Dead, if they’ve had someone die in the past year. You would be able to walk inside the house, view the private altar and perhaps be offered something small to eat. It’s a unique experience that’s only available once a year.

The cost of this tour is $65 USD per person, including transport for up to three people. A smallextra fee of $40-$50 USD would be required if you’d like to visit the local homes.

Please note these costs do not include dinner, which would be on your own account.

**PLEASE BE AWARE THAT THIS TOUR ENDS AT A LATE HOUR***

Sunday, Nov. 3

Morning on your own.

1:15 p.m. Depart for Mexico City (note that the next departure is not until 5 p.m.)

6:30 p.m. Arrival to Mexico City

8 p.m. Dinner on your own. We can try another Mexican restaurant or for a change of pace Italian! Average cost will be around $85.

Monday, Nov. 4

9 a.m. One last great Mexican breakfast!

12:00 p.m. Arrival at airport for 2:40 p.m. departure

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