I'm not sure what our expectations were about Mexico City, dirty, overcrowded and most definitely dangerous probably sums it up but how wrong can you be, what we actually found was a clean, green, vibrant City exploding with culture colour and life, which warrants much more than the three days we had to spend there
Friends are visiting from the UK so we are staying in an Airbnb in the Chapultepec area, which is close to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia and home to the City's largest park, making the whole area feel green and open. We are not planning to drive while in the City as the traffic is manic, everywhere is a one way and there are restrictions on what days certain vehicles can drive, plus Uber is cheap enough. When booking the apartment Mr Airbnb had assured us it was ok to park on the street, there is CTV outside the apartment so we are feeling happy with Tigger's resting place for the next few days. But hang on why is that man putting a clamp on Tigger's Tyre!!!!!! Ahh, Mr Airbnb had failed to tell us that it was metered outside the apartment, but luckily the nice clamp people must have taken a shine to Tigger and took the clamp off as we explained our ignorance! Mr Airbnb said don't worry there is a private car park just around the corner you can use, Clearly he had never used it and or were we going to - at a cost of 1200Pesos (around $60) per day!!! Inconvenient as it was we were going to have to feed the meter during the day every 6hrs, but cheaper than $60 a day
Mexico City has so much to offer culturally, spanning from its Pre-Hispanic roots of the Aztecs to its elaborate colonial era in the historic centre, and the 20th-century world-renowned artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, so much to see and so little time - but this is what we managed to fit in
Day One - First stop Centro Historico - No entrance charges to any of the below, but you do need ID to go into the Palacio Nacional
This whole area is full of magnificent old colonial buildings, but don't think your eyes are deceiving you those buildings are wonky! Mexico City is sinking at an alarming rate of around one foot per year in the most extreme places, the Aztecs built the city on a lake and the water for the city is extracted from the aquifer below, which is causing the sinking. In spite of Its wonkiness, the Zocola or main square (which is the largest in Latin America apparently ) is great for a general wander around taking in the street performers resplendent in their Montezuma headdresses you can also pop into the Cathedral for some quiet reflection and a lot of gaudy baroque architecture.
The Zocola and Cathedral and surrounding slighly wonky steets
Incredible Street Performers
Our English friends were fading a bit with Jet Lag, so we didn't get a chance to go into the Templo Mayor, which is reported to be the place where Mexico City originated from the first Aztec settlement. Our main reason to visit this part of town, however, was to go to the Palacio Nacional and visit the Diego Rivera Murals - breathtaking!
Diego Rivera Murals in the Palacio Nacional, these are from the stairwell and are totally overwhelming, note the two people in the top picture to give you some scale
And the Mexicans love a Skeleton!
Day Two- Museo Frida Kahlo (Casa Azul, Blue House) and Coyoacan
Entrance Fee 200Peso plus an extra 30Peso for taking a camera
Frida Kahlo was considered one of Mexico's greatest artists who began painting mostly self-portraits after she was severely injured in a bus accident. Kahlo later became politically active and married fellow communist artist Diego Rivera, she also had an affair with Trotsky
This was top of our "To Do" list and we weren't disappointed, however TOP TIP - book online before you go as we didn't and had to wait for at least 1.5hrs in the sun to get in, even though we arrived before 10 am. It is one of the top tourist attractions in Mexico City so even the booked tickets have to queue, although definitely not as long as the non-booked line Totally worth the wait though -
It was hot in that queue and made John feel quite peculiar!
This is the house where Frida was born, lived with Diego Rivera her husband and died - picture three shows her death mask on the bed
At age 6 Frida survived Polio and then aged 18 she was involved in a tram accident which left her with lifelong disability and pain
Coyoacan is a mixture of cobbled streets, brightly coloured colonial houses and green leafy squares, its where the locals sit for a while in the shade of the trees to watch the world go by. There are plenty of lively cafes and restaurants which all make for a great atmosphere, oh and a super little market, where you can practice your bartering skills when buying that must have Mexican bag/bowl/dress, and all only a short walk from Frida Kahlo's house. We finished the afternoon by eating a late lazy lunch at Danzantes, a great restaurant overlooking one of the squares where we sipped Marguerites and soaked up the Mexican atmosphere - perfect
Trying out the Tamarind Margaritas, well it would be rude not to!
Day Three Museo Nacional de Antropologia
Entrance fee 75Peso, Open Tuesday to Sunday 9 am - 7 pm
Set in a beautiful park this museum is truly world class and is dedicated to Pre-Hispanic antiquities and the Indigenous people of Mexico. Everything is excellently displayed with translations in English. There is much more here than you could possibly take in on one visit, and you need to allow a good half day. TOP TIP - Restaurant very nice and good Cocktails!
Teotihuacan Pyramids - around 50km North East from the city these can be visited in a day trip, but we drove down the afternoon of day three and stayed the night, so we could get up bright and early and avoid the crowds - and believe me, there will be crowds! The campsite was just outside gate 3 and was not much more than a field, but it did mean we could walk to the gate and not have to pay a parking fee. The campsite was only around 50Peso
Once Mesoamerica's greatest City built between the 1st - 7th Century it is known for its two huge Pyramids, Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. You are able to climb up both but they get extremely busy later in the day, meaning you have to queue to get up - which sort of takes away some of the magic, so TOP TIP get there as early as you can to avoid the busloads of day trippers, especially at the weekend. Wandering down the Avenue of the Dead is fascinating, but you will run the gauntlet with the hawkers selling their wares to the chant of " lady, lady look, almost free" When you have had enough of the heat and the hawkers there is a small museum which is worth a look around for the air conditioning alone! Quite a lot of the same stuff as seen at the anthropological museum, but good to see in context
Bottom Picture the Moon Pyramid, top picture taken from the Moon Pyramid looking down the Avenue of the Dead to the Sun Pyramid
The Sun Pyramid, looking at the 248 steps we are going to climb in the heat. Already you can see a queue is forming to get up the steps
We barely scraped the surface of what to see and do in this fascinating City, and since writing this blog I know I want to go back - Consider this Mexico City part one we are planning a return visit