So here we are, we finally made it after a 16 hour trip with a few minor panics, but we made it! We arrived at our hotel just after 10:30 at night and went straight to sleep.
For our first full day we set out to explore the historical centre of Mexico City on foot. We started by taking a short walk up to the Zocola, which is the main square in the city with the biggest flag we have ever seen in the middle of it. We then turned our attention to our empty stomachs. For breakfast we went to a Mexican restaurant called El Cartenal and what a choice it was. As soon as we were seated we got a choice of coffee or hot chocolate and a selection of pastries. For the main breakfast we picked two dishes, the first scrambled eggs in a bowl of spicy red salsa, served with corn tacos and a black bean stew. The second dish was a Mexican omelette (chilli, onion, pepper and coriander) served with frijoles refritos (refried beans) and crispy corn tacos. All in all we had 4 x coffees, 2 x fresh juices (grapefruit and mango) and all of the food which set us back 430 pesos (including tip) = £16.44. Back home this would have set us back around £35 for brunch. We won’t be spending this everyday as it was a first day treat. The best part was we were the only gringos in sight!
With our traditional Mexican breakfast out of the way we headed down towards El Palacio de Las Bellas Artes. What more can we say other than what a beautiful and stunning building this is. The dome, the attention to detail, the stone used, all makes it incredible. Later on in the afternoon we decided to go in and there was an exhibition of the forms of human hybridization.
After taking in the exterior of the building and having a chill out in the adjacent park, we headed down to Plaza de la Revolucion. Again this was just incredible. We decided to go into the museum about the history surrounding the plaza and the monument which also included a lift up to the dome . Niamh being a bit scared of heights got a bit scared (ok, very scared!), but once we were at the top we had the most sensational views of Mexico City. The building has a really interesting history about it and was completely closed off to the public from 1970 to 2010. This was due to it needing a massive amount of renovations and not getting the funding to carry the works out until a group of public bodies joint with some private investors keen to restore it to a new glory. Following on we decided to have a random walk through another part of the city before heading back towards Bellas Artes.
For dinner we wanted to find some cheap street food, luckily for us there was a great street just 5 minutes walk from the hotel! This street was buzzing, with bars sprawled out onto the pavements and taco shops every other pace. We opted for tacos from ‘Tacos Tripa Suadero Longaniza’, where we got 5 x tacos for 45 pesos (£1.73). The meat was trimmed from a hanging kebab and onions and coriander added to the top. On the table was chilli sauce and limes to add for your own taste.
Our second day in Mexico city still slightly jet lagged, we arose early to make our way to the famous Teotihuacan pyramids. We travelled by metro to Autobuses Del Norte and jumped on a bus for 200 pesos return. Beware that there is no such thing as overselling tickets, so make sure you get there early and first in queue so you actually get a seat rather than sit or stand in every possible gap. The drive out of Mexico City showed the sheer scale of the population in and around the city. Every mountain top we drove over would look across valleys of multi-coloured houses all packed together in beautifully disordered patterns.
The bus dropped us outside the main exit and again like in many other places students got in free, for the older ones like Stu, entrance was a mere 70 pesos. Getting into the site brings you straight onto the ‘Avenue of the Dead’ with the ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ to the right and the ‘Pyramid of the Moon’ straight ahead. We decided to tackle the big beast, the ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ first. We took a breather at each platform on the way up and we made it to the top in good time. The views from the top offered panoramic views of the whole site and surrounding countryside. After descending the steep steps down we immediately headed off to the ‘Pyramid of the Moon’. You can only climb half way but that half seemed harder due to how deep the steps are. Once down we finished off by checking out the rest of the site including inside the surrounding buildings before getting a bus back to Mexico City. We were stood up half the trip on this one.
That evening we went back to the same street for food but this time got a cerveza and tacos de canasta, each of these folded over tacos were filled with 4 different fillings (refried beans, shredded pork, shredded chicken and potato). After food we got two 1 litre beers for 65 pesos each which seemed to be the top choice by locals.
We headed to the bus station (TAPO) to get our travel sorted for Saturday to Oaxaca. This ended up being much cheaper than booking online so we would recommend always going to the station to book. The total cost was 775 pesos for a 7 hour trip.
For the rest of the day we decided to walk around Chapultepec Park. We walked around the park which was full of towering trees and a huge lake. We stumbled across an open air theatre which was playing jazz under the shade of trees, where people were sleeping and reading. No talking was allowed in this area. After we headed to the Condesa area which seemed to be the more laid-back area of Mexico City. Here there were multiple parks with children playing everywhere while adults sat in the shade talking. We stumbled upon Col.Roma and a small bar full of locals where again we ordered 1 litre beers and our first mezcal, which is sipped not down all in one and came with slices of bitter orange. This went straight to Stu’s head!
We got the metro back to the central area (the metros are always packed so be ready to push your way on and off). That evening we queued outside a pizza restaurant which you see on every other corner in Mexico City and shared a massive pizza while listening to bands playing Mexican music.
We arose at 5:45AM to get the bus to Oaxaca, we got to the metro which was already packed full so decided to get a taxi as there was no way we would get on with our huge rucksacks. Finally on the bus (ADO) we started the 7 hour journey to Oaxaca. Stay tuned for our next post on Oaxaca!