Since I left home at the start of the year my plans have been all over the place. I started wanting to go to Argentina and Bolivia and I instead went to Colombia. I wanted to go to Europe and now I’ve ended up in Mexico City.
Coming to Mexico City was pure coincidence. While looking for cheap travel tickets from Colombia, I found that it was a bit cheaper to go through Mexico than to book a direct flight. Saving money made sense and it would give me the opportunity to see some friends, so I booked the flight and I was on my way to visit Mexico for the second time!!!
If you read my Medellín post you know by now that me and big cities do not go together. So even though spending time in a huge city like Mexico’s Distrito Federal (DF) wasn’t my first choice, I still found things to see to keep me occupied until my departure 4 days later.
Mexico City Is Sinking!!!
No, I wasn’t drunk when I wrote this……the city of Mexico is actually sinking. You can see it everywhere in the city, especially in the center. The city has already sank more than 10 meters in the past century, and sinks at an average of 3 feet per year.
You just need to head inside the Catedral Metropolitana de México right on the historical center, the Zócalo. The left side of the church, right by the Templo Mayor, already tilts towards the outside. Head inside the church for more evidence of this.
When the Aztecs built their great city, they built it on top of a lake. They took the water out in order to build the city of Mexico. Subsequently the Spaniards filled the lake to bring water from the underground. Lastly, the idea of building skyscrapers all over the city and a huge underground metro only makes the problem worst. All in all…a clusterfuck of events.
So while there is a Mexico City to visit, here is my List of Things To Do in Mexico City:
Mexico City’s Historic Center
Although you might have to tilt your head to one side to see a structure straight, the city’s historic center has much to offer.
The Zócalo, the DF’s mayor plaza and the biggest in all of Latin America, is surrounded by landmarks and colonial buildings.
Head inside the Catedral Metropolitana de México and visit Templo Mayor, a museum and archaeological site right by the cathedral.
You can also take the 2-deck “Turibus” from behind the cathedral, which drives to all of the below and other Mexico City landmarks.
If for whatever reason you’re looking to hire a mariachi, head to Plaza Garibaldi. The plaza is the mariachi mecca of Mexico City, even housing a Mariachi school.
At night, mariachis fill the plaza soliciting patrons to hire them for a song, or for the night (not that kind of night). They are also present, in a lesser number, during the day.
Take the Zócalo metro to Bellas Artes station and walk up on Lázaro Cardenas until arriving at the plaza. You will know you’re close by the number of mariachis “hitchhiking” (soliciting) on the road.
At night, be careful and remain aware around Plaza Garibaldi as many pickpockets roam around the place looking for drunk or unsuspecting victims.
Castillo de Chapultepec
The only castle in North America, this one is a beauty….from outside.
The castle sits on top of a hill, to which in order to get there one must pass through the “Chapultepec Forest”. The gates to get into the forest were closed, so I asked the guard lady “is it close today?”, to which she replies “read the sign”.
The sign says that Monday the forest is only open to people in bicycles, so I ask her again “is there no way to get to the castle?”, to which she replies “did you read the sign?”
So I did what anyone in my situation would do…….I looked for any other way to sneak inside the park. Any open gate with a distracted guard would do, after all, there were people working inside…….any guard would do, one distracted talking, or on a break, or one who simply doesn’t care about their job.
As I walk around I finally notice an open gate and, NO ONE THERE!!!
So I go inside Chapultepec Forest, and I have the park all for myself!!! All I could hear were the noises of nature….animals, birds, and the wind.
I walk around towards the castle, and even though I knew I couldn’t get it, I still made most of my time there.
As I’m heading out, I come across the guard lady. I tried to avoid her but she recognizes me and:
– “Hey, I told you the park was closed today”.
– “No, you told me to read the sign, twice”.
– “How did you get in?“.
– “Through the gate”.
– “Which gate?”.
– “One of them, it was open”.
– “Why did you get in if you knew the park was closed?”
– “I didn’t know the park was closed“.
– “The sign says it’s closed”.
– “The sign says it’s open to bicycles. It doesn’t say it’s closed for anyone else”.
– “You need to leave”.
– “I’m leaving”.
Walk Down Paseo de la Reforma
From the Chapultepec castle it is an easy walk to Paseo de la Reforma, the most important avenue in Mexico City. This avenue is the often at the center stage of both protests and celebrations in the city.
Many famous landmarks adorn the avenue, most notably the Ángel de la Independencia, which also serves as a mirador.
The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, the first arts museum in all of Mexico, is also by the Paseo de la Reforma avenue.
I was pretty excited to see the pyramids again, and this time get some decent pictures (the first time around I appeared in all of them, and I’m sure no one wants to see that). But as I got there, I see the most annoying sight every traveller fears……
Yes, a sea of tourists!!!!
Oh. My. Freaking. God!!! Waves and waves of tourists EVERYWHERE!!!!!
Selfies here! Family pictures there! And worst of all….not a spot where I could snap a photo of the damn pyramids without at least 100 people in front 🙁 There were sooooo many people, that there was a 1 hour long line up to go up to the Temple of the Sun pyramid (the highest one in Teotihuacan (1 hour unless you tip the guard and get in through the exit).
Teotihuacan is an amazing sight which left me in awe both times I visited. The first time because of the pyramids themselves, the second time because of the amount of tourists in the sight.
To get to the pyramids head towards the Autobuses del Norte metro station (bus terminal), and head towards the left inside the bus terminal. The second counter before the end goes towards the pyramids, it is a 1 hour ride for 50 MXN.
Towns Near Mexico City
Although I did not go myself, the following towns near Mexico City are supposedly very nice and worth a visit:
- Cantona (archaeological site)
Where I Stayed
Mundo Joven Hostel: If you want to stay in a shit hostel, book here. Even though the hostel is in the heart of the historic center and it offers amazing rooftop views, it has many down sides. The hostel has a rooftop bar which blasts music until very late almost every night. The way it is built, noise travels throughout the hostel to the point that you can hear every conversation going around. WORST. HOSTEL. EVER!
Have you been to Mexico City? What are your favorite things to do while here?