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The Art of Mexico

7 days from £1,844pp

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The Art of Mexico:
Trip Dossier

Over the following week, based in a couple of Mexico’s most luxurious hotels you have the opportunity to gain an in depth insight into  Mexico’s artistic heritage with visits to museums, palaces and art galleries in just two of the most important artistic centres, Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende.

Mexico’s size, diversity and eventful history has produced a vast heritage of culture and art. From the sculptures and carvings of the various pre-Columbian civilisations to the politically inspired artwork of the 20th century post-revolutionary period Mexican art has always embraced its national roots. 

Local Criollo painters were recruited by the Spanish rulers to adorn churches and convents, interpreting the religious themes through Mexican eyes and latterly re-evaluating pre-Conquest art with the aim of portraying a real national identity.

Political commentary, often from a leftist viewpoint sympathetic to perceived injustices against the poor has been a theme of the visual arts in Mexico since the revolution of the early 20th century. This can most obviously be seen in the work of the muralists, among whom is internationally revered Diego Rivera.  He and his wife Frida Kahlo have left an indelible artistic commentary on Mexico’s identity, and many of their works are on show in museums around the country.  You will see their work exhibited in some of the most elegant neighbourhoods of Mexico City.

 You will also visit the art galleries of colonial San Miguel de Allende, a gorgeous little highland town which is a draw for artists from all over the world to this day.  You will also visit Taxco, a town which is famed for its intricate silver jewellery and other works of art created from the silver mined nearby since colonial times. Cuernavaca, one of the oldest towns in Mexico, is also on the itinerary.     

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Transfer to your hotel on the boulevard Paseo de Reforma.

Day 2

Guided private art tour of Mexico City.

Day 3

Private guided tour of Taxco and Cuernavaca.

Day 4

Private road transfer to San Miguel de Allende.

Day 5

Tour of the art galleries of San Miguel de Allende.

Day 6

At leisure in San Miguel de Allende.

Day 7

Transfer to Mexico City airport for your international flight.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Transfer to your hotel on the boulevard Paseo de Reforma.
 
Bello Artes, Mexico City

Mexico City's Spanish origins date back to 1521, when it was founded on top of the site of the old Aztec capital. The city lies in a basin at 2,250m, rimmed by the Sierra Nevada mountains, and is home to some 20 million people. Unsurprisingly given its size the capital is composed of a number of contrasting neighbourhoods, from the monumental baroque architecture of the public buildings in the historic centre through the more homely colonial quarters such as tree-lined, cobbled Coyoacan with its galleries and museums, the canals and kitchen gardens of the city's larder at Xochimilco, or the vast leisure area that is Chapultepec Park, featuring exhibitions of pre-Conquest Mexican culture.  

Your hotel, the sumptuous Four Seasons, has an illustrious location right on the city’s most stately boulevard, Paseo de la Reforma. 

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Bello Artes, Mexico City

Day 2

Guided private art tour of Mexico City.
 
rivera mural

Mexican art is nothing if it is not relevant: a commentary on the life of the nation, a narrative of its political and artistic history, it is embodied in all the artistic media from paintings through pottery, artisan craft work, architecture, photography and especially murals. Mexico City is especially rich in this heritage, and on your art tour you will be introduced to the most notable examples of it.

Among the most famous and influential of 20th century Mexican artists were the socialist muralist Diego River and his wife Frida Kahlo, who worked in the capital in the 1920s-1940s. Their home, designed by architect Juan O'Gorman, now houses a museum - which you will visit - dedicated to the couple and filled with memorabilia.

The Blue House, the part of the residence which was Kahlo's home, sits on a quiet street in the smart yet Bohemian Spanish colonial district Coyacán, with exhibits of works by Kahlo herself, artefacts from her private collection and works by other artists as well as personal items in what was her bedroom and workshop, including the wheelchair and easel where she worked when incapacitated. 

You’ll see the wider collection at the Museo of Arte Moderno at Chapultepec Park which exhibits canvasses by other 20th century Mexican artists and the Palacio de Bellas Artes in the historic centre which features vast murals by Rufino Tamayo, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera. (These murals are only available for viewing during dance performances of the Folkloric Ballet on Wednesdays and Sundays which you will attend if you are in the city on those days).

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rivera mural

Day 3

Private guided tour of Taxco and Cuernavaca.
 
Taxco taxi

Just 70 years ago, the week-long, 160km journey from Mexico City to Taxco was made on horseback. Today, using a modern motorway the exquisite Spanish colonial town can be reached from the capital in around two hours. The trip takes you through rugged mountains and agricultural land before a sea of whitewashed homes with red-tile roofs and the filigree spires of Santa Prisca church suddenly rise into view.

 In the 1930s Taxco was declared a national monument, ensuring the preservation of the beautiful mansions built by the city's early silver barons. Taxco is famous for its silver craft work. Shops line the main plaza and all the streets leading to it, and you will find beautiful silver jewellery, traditional and contemporary designs.

Your first stop will be a silver shop where we will learn everything about the silver mining process. The Spaniards were drawn to the area in 1522 by Aztec tales of rich mineral deposits, and the subsequent silver boom lasted until the 19th century. Take a walk through the town which clings to a steep hillside, its narrow, cobblestone streets twisting and turning between colonial buildings and opening onto pretty plazas.

Earlier in the day, en route to Taxco, you’ll stop at Cuernavaca, inhabited since 1,200 BC and one of the oldest cities in the country. You will visit the Robert Brady Museum, named after the American artist and collector who lived there for 24 years, and his home, a former cloister, hosts the museum. There are several paintings by well-known Mexican artists, including Frida Kahlo, but the main attraction is the sheer size and diversity of the collection.

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Taxco taxi

Day 4

Private road transfer to San Miguel de Allende.
 
san miguel de allende

The agreeable climate and picturesque hillside setting of historical San Miguel Allende, 1900m, have persuaded many artists and American retirees to make it their home. Its elegant colonial buildings and cobbled streets are certainly picture perfect. There is also a good selection of art galleries, boutiques and restaurants to enjoy.

Settle in at your exquisite hotel, a work of art in itself composed of several adjoining 18th century colonial mansions and refurbished to accommodate a wonderfully romantic property where you can relax in pretty flower filled patios or stretch out beside the pool, discretely positioned in its own secret garden. 

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san miguel de allende

Day 5

Tour of the art galleries of San Miguel de Allende.
 
Atotonilco Gallery

San Miguel de Allende is defined as a town of artists - painters, sculptors, craftsmen and jewellers from all over Mexico and abroad have been attracted by the exquisite colonial architecture, shady plazas and gorgeous mountain setting, the mellow sunlight enriching the colours of the ubiquitous flowers. The result is a clutch of galleries featuring the work of both Mexican and international artists.

Your guided tour takes you around the exhibits in various galleries, the artisan market and also the attractive main square, used for cultural events such as concerts and which is embellished with laurel bushes. From the imposing Institute of Fine Arts through galleries specialising in contemporary art, Mexican folk art, textiles, and artisan craft work, you will be taken on a journey through Mexico’s artistic heritage as well as some of the country’s  collection of art created by both expat residents and artists from around the world.    

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Atotonilco Gallery

Day 6

At leisure in San Miguel de Allende.
 
San Miguel De Allende

You can relax and enjoy the facilities of the town, maybe return to a favourite gallery or make some artistic purchases.  Explore the 24 blocks of peaceful streets, cobblestone lanes and alleys, lined with tempting boutiques and souvenir shops; discover  the striking pink limestone gothic church Parroquia de San Miguel Archangel,  the tallest building in town; stop off to eat a selection of street food or a scrumptious meal in one of the gourmet restaurants; enjoy a sunset cocktail in a rooftop bar with views over the rooftops to the mountains beyond.  

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San Miguel De Allende

Day 7

Transfer to Mexico City airport for your international flight.
 
Mexico City Street

Or continue your holiday in Mexico – a self-drive around the other nearby arty colonial towns such as Guanajuato and Morelia, or take a hire car down the Pacific coast, maybe..

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Mexico City Street

Essential information

Transport

2 road journeys, approx 3 hours 15 minutes each, depending on traffic. 

Accommodation

For this trip we have selected well located first class hotels with plenty of character and well equipped rooms, private bathroom and air-conditioning. 

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch day 3.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 30 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

• Guided art tour in Mexico City.
• Full day private guided tour to Taxco and Cuernavaca. 
• Private guided tour of the art galleries of San Miguel de Allende.

Summary of nights

7 days, 6 nights: Mexico City 3; San Miguel de Allende 3.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land transport within Mexico.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• Tips and gratuities.
• Flights to and from the UK 
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket.
• Optional excursions.

Currency

The unit of currency in Mexico is the Mexican peso.

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$70 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. 

We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Tipping

Tips are welcomed and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page. 

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

Generally this holiday is suitable for most adult visitors with an interest in art including families with older children who share this enthusiasm. Should you have a disability, please contact us.

Climate

In Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende the climate is temperate all year round and, because of the altitude it never gets too hot - temperatures average around 24°C in the capital, a little higher in San Miguel. 

he best time to visit Mexico City and San Miguel de Allende is November through April, months which experience less rainfall than during the summer.

You may feel a little breathless upon arrival in Mexico City which is located at  2,250m above sea level.

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear in the highlands you should go prepared to encounter a UK summer-like climate.  It may be chilly in the evening. If you plan to eat in smart restaurants, although clothing is not formal (no need for jacket and tie), something quite smart would be appropriate. 

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring sun block and sun glasses.
Please get in touch with the office  or on live chat before departure if you have any doubts. 

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following; typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website. 

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the Mexican consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online

This costs $14 per person, and must be done by you personally.

Passports must also be e-passports with a digital chip.  Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

Water-To-Go

We’ve partnered with Water To Go to offer Journey Latin America clients a 50% discount on 7cl filtered, reusable water bottles with every booking. The bottle can be refilled at any water outlet and has a filter that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, allowing the water to be safe to drink.
Contact your Travel Consultant for more information and to include the purchase in your booking.
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