A layover in Mexico City at jacarandas blooming time

On my return trip from Medellin, Colombia to Vancouver late in March, I had a 12-hour layover in Mexico City. The plane arrived around 5 a.m. and so after grabbing a few hours sleep in a cheap hotel popular with couples, I had a few hours to stroll through El Centro.

My timing was perfect. The jacarandas were blooming. The Alameda Central, a central park, was full of them.

I stopped to visit the Diego Rivera mural of Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central (Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central). This mural from the late 1940s depicts personalities from Mexico’s history all out for a stroll in the Alameda, just outside the door.

The mural survived the earthquake of 1985, but the Hotel del Prado where it was located was destroyed. When I visited Mexico City in 1988, I had an old guidebook from before the earthquake and when I walked to it, I was shocked to find the hotel no longer standing. Fortunately, the mural was saved, restored and moved to its own museum across the street.

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I had 12 hours layover in Mexico City in late March on my return from Colombia. I got in around 5 a.m. and after a few hours sleep, there was time for a stroll through El Centro, where the jacarandas were blooming in Alameda Central and by the Palacio de Bellas Artes. They are flaming purple and could be seen as lilacs on steroids. (Richard McGuire Photo)

I had 12 hours layover in Mexico City in late March on my return from Colombia. I got in around 5 a.m. and after a few hours sleep, there was time for a stroll through El Centro, where the jacarandas were blooming in Alameda Central and by the Palacio de Bellas Artes. They are flaming purple and could be seen as lilacs on steroids. (Richard McGuire Photo)

I had 12 hours layover in Mexico City in late March on my return from Colombia. I got in around 5 a.m. and after a few hours sleep, there was time for a stroll through El Centro, where the jacarandas were blooming in Alameda Central and by the Palacio de Bellas Artes. They are flaming purple and could be seen as lilacs on steroids. (Richard McGuire Photo)

I had 12 hours layover in Mexico City in late March on my return from Colombia. I got in around 5 a.m. and after a few hours sleep, there was time for a stroll through El Centro, where the jacarandas were blooming in Alameda Central and by the Palacio de Bellas Artes. They are flaming purple and could be seen as lilacs on steroids. (Richard McGuire Photo)

I had 12 hours layover in Mexico City in late March on my return from Colombia. I got in around 5 a.m. and after a few hours sleep, there was time for a stroll through El Centro, where the jacarandas were blooming in Alameda Central and by the Palacio de Bellas Artes. They are flaming purple and could be seen as lilacs on steroids. (Richard McGuire Photo)

I had 12 hours layover in Mexico City in late March on my return from Colombia. I got in around 5 a.m. and after a few hours sleep, there was time for a stroll through El Centro, where the jacarandas were blooming in Alameda Central and by the Palacio de Bellas Artes. They are flaming purple and could be seen as lilacs on steroids. (Richard McGuire Photo)

I had 12 hours layover in Mexico City in late March on my return from Colombia. I got in around 5 a.m. and after a few hours sleep, there was time for a stroll through El Centro. I stopped at the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a theatre and cultural centre from the early 20th Century. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The equestrian statue of Charles IV of Spain now stands outside el Museo Nacional de Arte and el Palacio de Mineria in the Centre of Mexico City. Charles was the last Spanish ruler of Mexico. The statue was nearly destroyed during the stuggle for independence, but it was saved due to its artistic merits. (Richard McGuire Photo)

The Museum of the Mexican Army and Air Force is located in a former 17th century chapel. This is the face of the building facing Calle de Tacuba. The entrance is around the corner. (Richard McGuire Photo)

One of Mexican artist Diego Rivera’s greatest murals is Sueño de una Tarde Dominical en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central. It covers people from throughout Mexico’s history on its 15.6 metre width (51 ft). This detail from the centre shows Rivera as a boy left of the skeleton Catrina. Behind him is his wife the artist Frida Kahlo. The mural survived the earthquake of 1985, even though the hotel it was in was destroyed. It was moved to its own museum across the street. (Richard McGuire Photo)