You can’t imagine all the (horror) stories I’ve been told since I said I was going to Mexico for my summer vacation with my boyfriend. Usually ending their anecdotes with “… but I’m sure it won’t happen to you.”
The weeks leading up to our flight I had panic sweats and anxiety attacks thinking we’ll be mugged, raped, sliced and diced, sick from the water, sick from the food, kidnapped… all the things you should not be thinking off before heading off to a well deserved vacation.
The thing is, pick where you want to go wisely. Avoid the north part of Mexico, being a tourist. And do enough research!
Well I must say that we loved Mexico! We had a fantastic time, too short a holiday even! Mexico and Mexicans are beautiful. Or we were just that damn lucky.
We went for about 2 weeks (give or take, with respective 11 hours flights to and from Europe, so those are lost days) to Mexico-City and Guanajuato city. Stayed at such nice B&B’s. And ate delicious Mexican meals.
Our first day there and we found ourselves immediately in a demonstration. In June the Mexican people had to elect a new president and this brought with it that people took to the streets to voice their concerns. The demonstration itself was a peaceful one with a lot of banners and such. But not at all disruptive, as I’d imagine. The fun part was, that because of this manifestation, many of the main roads were blocked so cars could get through. So you could walk in the middle of the streets and have a look around the city, without being run over. Excellent to visit this huge city. But we heard that the mayor of Mexico-City often had these car-less Sunday, also for pollution reasons. When pollution ratings are too high, this car-less day is put in action. Cool.
One thing I was so grateful for is that we bought the book Lonely Planet Mexico-City. I never was such a fan of Lonely Planet, cause so much text and no pictures. But I have turned into a big fan, because it brought us to such nice places and discoveries, that the other books we had consulted never even mentioned!
Mexico-City, you could say, is divided into boroughs (though it’s even more complex than that). We almost – such a pity – , almost did them all. If only we had more days!
- Centro Historico – with the Zócalo or Plaza de la Constitución. Aztec Templo Mayor is a museum that is modern, extensive and in no way boring. It’s located just next to an open-air site which shows excavations of an Aztec temple. The Zocalo is the largest square in Latin America and it’s worth to go watch the military parade that puts up or removes the Mexican flag (which is humongous). Our B&B was not far from Colonia San Rafael, about 5 metro stations away. Ideal.
- Chapultepec – has a park, a zoo, a castle with the anthropological museum in it and several other museums in it. It was actually the place we visited on our last day. We only did the park, cause that day there was a visit at the monument by a delegation from Britain and the security guys made it impossible to get where you wanted to go. So we stuck to the park itself. Its name in Nahuatl means grasshopper hill, and the grasshopper is represented everywhere: on the benches, bins, the market stalls… One tip: squirls look cute, but these guys here might jump you and take whatever you have. So look at them, but best from afar, you know what I mean?
- Zona Rosa – well as you can guess, it is kind of the gay district, but also the more touristic area with shops, many restaurants and snack bars such as Burger King, Wendy’s… It’s known as the Reforma district because it’s right along the Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, so you can easily walk from Chaputepec to the Zona Rosa, towards the Centro Historico by just following the Reforma Avenue.
- Coyoacán – is so worth a visit! When you get there you almost have the feeling you’re in a small town and no longer in Mexico-City. It’s the place for students, art and museums. Here you have the Blue House where Frida Kahlo lived, which is now a museum. Inside you are not allowed to take pictures but in the gardens it’s ok.
- Condesa and Roma – we did a walking tour from our Lonely Planet guide here, but a short one. The neighborhoods are on opposite sides of Avenida Insurgentes and again another feel to the rest of the city.
Art and archeology have dominated our vacation. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are national treasures and you will bump into their art and murals on many occasions throughout the city. Especially Diego’s work is to be admired in the Palacio Nacional just off the Zócalo. In the Teatro Nacional de Bellas Artes. There is a mural museum and even in the Secretaría de la Educación Publica, which houses the city’s public services: 3 story’s high and all along the court-yard murals, murals, murals.
I’ll leave you with some pictures of the murals.