Mexico City the full story

Published: May 20th 2009
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As the first blog was "details lite" we wanted to write a bit more about what we have seen and done in Mexico City. We have summarised our stay in Mexico City below:

Day 1 = Centro Historico and Chapultepec Park

In the morning we set off into the manic city in search of breakfast and some historic sights. After a traditional Mexican breakfast feast we headed to the Zocalo, the main plaza in MC, where the Presidential palace, the oldest cathedral in Mexico (which is sinking every day) and the 700 year old Aztec ruins of the ancient city are located. We donned our face masks like good tourists and entered the ruins. It's interesting being in Aztec ruins in the middle of a modern city! The Zocalo was awash with Aztec (imitator?) dancers in large feather head dresses beating drums and turning in crazy circles, just another of the many sounds of this city.

Having refuelled with some tasty freshly squeezed fruit juice (plentiful here) we headed to the largest park in the city, which was thronging with locals out for a Sunday afternoon in the sun. We visited the zoo, where we found that being relative giants compared to Mexicans was handy for seeing animals over people's heads. We got home to discover we were more than a little pink with sunburn despite the repeated cloud cover that hangs over the city.

In the evening we had an authentic Mexican meal accompanied by a Mariachi (think guitars, sombreros and moustaches) band, along with the 2 other tourists in the city!!

Day 2 = Xochimilco

We headed to one of the outer suburbs to take a punt on the tranquil man made canals where Mexico City grows its fruit and veg. We have to admit we were a little underwhelmed by this day out. The canals were no Venice (more like the Kennet and Avon, in a bad stretch!!) and the cost of the canal boat was pretty expensive relative to the cost of other things in the City.

The lack of value for money continued in the evening as we had a Spanish meal that was fine but not worth the money and it was at this point we decided to change tack and focus on street food and large breakfasts.

Day 3 = Teotihuican

We made a break from the city and set off to see the ruins at Teotihuican. These date back as far as 300BC and were originally created by another civilisation before being taken over by the Aztecs in c.1500. The ruins are set over a large site and are very impressive, including the 3rd largest pyramid in the world, which we climbed to the top of. We must have walked about 5 miles in total around the site being constantly approached by vendors trying to sell a variety of souvenirs. Needless to say, "No gracias" got a bit tedious after the 300th time but we understand they need to make a living and tourists are light on the ground at the moment. In their defence, they are not as pushy in the way other nations can be.

Day 4 = Coayacan

A beautiful sunny day so we decided to visit the oldest part of the City, which has a colonial feel to it and is certainly much more aesthetically pleasing than the rest of the City with cobbled streets, garden plazas and plentiful trees. We enjoyed a helado (ice cream) and caught some rays (i.e. more sunburn, but at least we attempted sun cream this time). This was a very pleasant day and it is nice to escape the hustle and bustle of the City centre.

Tomorrow we leave Mexico City to head to Ecuador for the much anticipated Amazon and Galapagos tours. In summary, Mexico City has its highs and lows. The lows include: as with any major city, it's noisy and smelly and full of people, just more so. Also, crossing the road is a real nightmare as motorists don't seem to get the concept of a red light, but then they dont need a licence to drive so maybe its understandable. These are outnumbered by the highs, this place is a true assault on the senses and a real experience being in one of the most populated places on earth. The people are really friendly and forgiving of our rubbish Spanish (even saying it is good!!!). We havent experienced the crime so often associated with the City, nor have we had any side effects from the delicious and cheap street food. Overall, it is not a great destination in itself but a good place to stop for a couple of days if in transit elsewhere and certainly an unforgettable experience.

There are very few tourists here at the moment and this is a real shame as we can see that Mexico really needs the tourist pound/dollar.

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