Estamos en Ciudad de Mexico (Mexico City)

We're just finishing a week in the beautiful Mexico City and thought we'd roll up what we've been up to so far. From beautiful churches and open air markets, to ruins from an Aztec empire with a 30-foot blooming agave, the city was a whirlwind of culture and flavor.

Getting around:

To get to Mexico City, the easiest way is to fly into Mexico City International Airport. "MEX" is a major hub in the region and accordingly has a variety of flights coming and going. While touring the city, we met folks who bused from El Paso, but it's more expensive and takes 24 hours, so we can't recommend it. Once you get to the airport, you can easily catch a taxi (make sure it's a verified taxi), bus, Uber, or walk to the Metro station to get to your lodging. Our Airbnb was 15 kilometers from the airport so we opted for an Uber, and even at rush hour the total cost was 160 pesos (~$8), and it felt worth it. Both of us were glad we did not have to drive in the chaos that was the city center at that time. It was like 6 lanes of traffic were somehow driving in 3 lanes, with lots of merging.

Once you're in the city, you have the same options to get around. We opted for lots of walking and taking the Metro to further destinations, since fares are 5 pesos each way (25 cents!). In general the Metro was fast and easy to get to all of the major spots in the city. A really interesting part of the Metro was that the first cars of each train were reserved for women and children only; since Wes has a Y chromosome we couldn't take them, but if you're a woman traveling alone it's a great way to feel safer getting around the city. A helpful app we downloaded was the Mapway App for Mexico City, which made it easy to plan subway routes wherever we needed to go.

Where we stayed:

A friend recommend we stay in La Condesa or La Roma, which are the hipster/artsy districts on the west side of the city. They're filled with cute coffee shops, taco stands (where isn't in Mexico?), and shops that sell interesting things (like a cereal bar with any variety you could want) and local beer. We also loved Coyoacán in the south, with cobblestone streets and a bustling market, we found it to be an adorable town. I don't have enough data to recommend other places than these.

How to buy goods:

Our general plan about money was tested here and went as smoothly as we hoped! For most major purchases (full week of groceries from a supermarket, entrance to major museums, etc.) we used a credit card with no international fees. For smaller purchases, we took out cash using a checking account that reimburses international fees and allows you to take out local currency at any reputable ATM. It's a one-time charge (~$4 per withdrawal), so we took out all that we would need for a week or two and haven't needed to go back.

We cooked most of our breakfasts, occasionally supplemented by pan dulce, and ate out for lunch/dinner about half the time. In our new-traveler paranoid states, we didn't eat raw produce out or at home and only ate fruit that could be peeled (mandarins, mangos). Our water was purified by our SteriPen Ultra (UV light), and we boiled water for coffee and tea for at least one minute. Some sources will say that the water in Mexico City is safe to drink, but the pipes are old so you're never sure. *Knock on wood* we haven't gotten sick yet, but I'm sure we will somewhere soon. It's just the life of a traveler, or so we've heard.

What about the language/safety?

Some people speak English, but it's much easier to get around if you know basic Spanish (how to order, numbers, etc.) 

We haven't felt unsafe in our time here, but as in any big city with a temperate climate, there are quite a few beggars that are intimidating, but none that are overly aggressive. As a general precaution, on the Metro we carry our backpacks on our fronts and tuck wallets into the bottom of our bags, and we never walk alone. Friends that we've met here say they walk alone all the time, even at night, and haven't had a problem. But we're not that brave.

Weather/what to wear?

Here in early March, it hits about 80F every afternoon and drops to ~50 at night, and this varies only by about 10 degrees at other times of the year. We've been wearing shorts and t-shirts the entire time. It's at higher elevation than we realized (7300 feet)!

Fun things: 

The city's shorthand is CDMX, and residents refer to themselves as "Chilangos". We played on a trivia team at an American bar, and our team name was "Grilangos", ha!
Like most non-US countries, the eggs here are not  washed and hence not refrigerated.

What we did, divided by day:

Day 1: 
  • Check into Airbnb and unpack
  • Find an ATM to withdraw pesos
  • Go to a grocery store (Superama, the Walmart of Mexico apparently) to stock up on groceries
  • Eat our first set of tacos at Tacos Nacos

Day 2:
  • Walked around the expansive Chapultapec Park
  • Museo Nacional de Antropologia (80 pesos) - a LOT of history, we enjoyed this museum and it had many signs in English
  • Saw Danza de la Voladores, the traditional flying dance right outside the Museo
  • Zoologico de Chapultapec (free admission) - saw hippos, giraffes, a Siberian tiger, and more cool animals
  • Booked our next trip!

Day 3:
  • Took the Metro to Coyoacán
  • Jardin Centenario
  • San Juan Bautista Church - very old and pretty
  • Coyoacán Market - love the market scene in CDMX, we bought some mangoes, bananas, and had the BEST tostadas of ceviche
  • Casa de Cultura Jesus Reyes - was relaxing inside, but not much to do
  • Casa Azul - Frida Kahlo's old house. The line was really long and the cost was high, so we opted not to go in. We googled some details about the interior and it looks fun, but not worth the cost to us.
  • Went to Trivia Night at an American bar next to our Airbnb (our first time venturing out at night!) for some social fun.

Day 4:
  • Slow morning, we try to build these in once a week at least!
  • Walked ~3 miles to Museo Nacional de Historia (29 pesos) - a well organized museum with a lot to learn and some interesting exhibits. Much of it was in Spanish only, but we were able to understand everything either by our own knowledge or Google Translate
  • Bought Mezcal on the way home (living our best lives)

Day 5:
  • Took the Metro to the Zócalo, the main city square in Mexico City
  • Walked through Plaza de la Constitucion - very crowded but beautiful, we were able to see:
  • Templo Mayor - we opted not to go inside because we were tired of reading signs... but we were able to see the ruins from Tenochtitlan (destroyed by the Spanish in 1521). This is where we saw the 30-foot flowering agave!
  • Palacio Nacional - (free! Just have to leave an ID at the entrance) Saw the Diego Rivera murals, which are way more beautiful in person, a garden filled with a huge variety of cacti, and a room full of historical documents ranging from declarations of independence to the Mexican constitution
  • Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de Mexico - beautiful and giant church. Gold frescos, and an organ in the middle that went all the way up to the ceiling.
  • Post Office Palace (Palacio Postal) - sent a postcard, which was an experience
  • Tacos at El Hequito - our favorite so far!
  • Pastries/Pan dulce at Pasteleria Esperanza (40 pesos for 4 giant pastries, ~50 cents each!), ate them by the Palacio de Bellas Artes
  • Took a minute to relax and read at Alameda Park