Offering alternatives to overcrowded destinations.
Expect long lines and wait to pack into Kahlo’s Blue House
Tell anyone you’re headed to Mexico City and the reaction is inevitable: “Are you going to Frida’s house? It’s a must.” And for many travelers, it’s true: Nothing will keep them away from La Casa Azul (the Blue House), the home shared by artists Frida Kahlo and husband, Diego Rivera. They yearn to inhabit the intimate spaces where she spent hours spinning the details of her anguished life into art that has captivated millions. They imagine visiting the sunlit studio where her wheelchair still sits next to her easel and seeing the mirror she hung from the canopy of her bed so she could paint even while bedridden. These details animate the painter’s daily life in a way no museum exhibition ever could.
So, no true Frida fan is likely to skip a visit to Casa Azul entirely. But I’m here to tell you to ratchet down your expectations. As much as the museum tries to keep the experience as intimate as possible, lines are long, and the weekend crowds can be a nightmare for anyone with a hint of agoraphobia. To make the most of your visit, plan to go midweek (except Mondays, when the museum is closed), and be sure to buy your timed-entry tickets online in advance, to cut down on waiting.
Location: Londres 247, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, 011 52 55 5554 5999, museofridakahlo.org.mx
Find more room and history at Trotsky’s underrated abode
For an even fuller Frida experience, pair your elbow-to-elbow tour of Casa Azul with a less congested visit to the easy-to-miss Museo Casa De Leon Trotsky (Leon Trotsky House Museum), located a few blocks away. Behind its thick walls unfolds a dramatic tale of espionage, murder and intrigue involving Frida’s friend and lover, Leon Trotsky.
Kahlo and Rivera pulled strings to get the Mexican government to grant asylum to the exiled communist revolutionary and his wife, Natalia, in 1937. For two years, the couple lived at Casa Azul, during which time the 58-year-old Trotsky and 29-year-old Kahlo had a brief affair. By 1939, the Trotskys had worn out their welcome and moved into a nearby compound, which was guarded day and night against hit men sent by Joseph Stalin, Trotsky’s Communist Party rival. One of these would-be assassins was celebrated artist (and devoted Stalinist) David Alfaro Siqueiros, who botched an attempt in 1940. The home still has the bullet holes to prove it.
Today, visitors can see photos of the gulag where Trotsky’s family was imprisoned, as well as the desk where he finally met his end, his skull bashed in by an ice ax wielded by Stalinist spy Ramón Mercader. The bunkerlike house is just as Trotsky left it, offering a similar experience to that of Casa Azul, but without the crowds and at a fraction of the price. Call ahead to make sure an English-speaking guide will be available when you visit.
Location: Av. Río Churubusco 410, Del Carmen, 011-52 55 5658 8732, museotrotsky.com
Kroth is a writer based in Mexico City. Find her on Twitter: @theemaya.
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