Zócalo is the main square in central Mexico City, it’s formal name today is the Constitution Square. Today this square is the center of all events in CDMX. During our visit we saw thousands of people celebrating holidays there. The President’s Palace and Metropolitan Cathedral are located there as well. There are multiple shops, museums, and restaurants on the narrow historical streets around the square.
We had our flight at 4 am the next day thus we decided to spend this day in Mexico City and went to Xochimilco. These canals are all that is left of the lake on which Mexico City was built. Many people come here to enjoy a boat tour. Official price per hour is 350 MXN per boat, however, local people do all they can to charge tourists more (they tried to charge us 1000 MXN at first). Other boats will try to sell you overpriced souvenirs or ask money for listening to their songs. You can politely decline everything that is offered and just relax and enjoy the cruise. This place was also declared a World Heritage Site since 1987.
We spent our evening in a famous Cafe de Tacuba that started its operation in 1912!
Teotihuacan is an ancient Mesoamerican city located 40 kilometers away from Mexico City. It is approximately 1 hr drive by bus from the Mexico City (buses leave from the Northern terminal frequently, no need to buy tickets in advance). Everyone knows Teotihuacan as a place of pyramids. The mysterious Pyramids were built around 100 BC in an ancient city and were abandoned centuries before the arrival of the Aztecs, who called this place the Birthplace of the Gods.
The city’s central road is called “Avenue of the Dead”. When you enter the territory first thing you’ll see is the massive Pyramid of the Sun (third largest in the World after the Great Pyramid of Cholula and the Great Pyramid of Giza). Pyramid of the Moon is placed at the other end of the complex. The Avenue of the dead is approximately forty meters wide and four kilometers long.
We had limited time this day as we were invited by a local family to join them for a traditional Christmas dinner thus we decided to spend the first half of the day in Chapultepec park which was within the walking distance from our apartment in Mexico City.
Chapultepec Park (or forest) is one of the largest city parks located on a Chapultepec Hill. Chapultepec Castle was built there in the colonial period. The park is divided into three sections and contains the castle, the Chapultepec Zoo, the Museum of Anthropology, and the Rufino Tamayo Museum. We didn’t visit any of those due to our time constraints (everything was open till 5 pm).
This evening we had our first unforgettable experience of this trip – our friend’s colleague invited us to celebrate Christmas dinner with their family and a very cute dog! We spent an evening talking about different traditions of our countries and getting to know Mexican people better. We’ll never forget the taste of all home-made food that we tried that night. Before even trying the main dishes we were full by eating different snacks including cheeses, salsas, salads and much more. I won’t be able to name those dishes properly but for the main course we had shrimp soup, specially prepared codfish, vegetables in mole sauce, dumplings, spinach bread and much more! And I got that secret shrimp soup recipe for myself! Can’t wait to prepare it at home 🙂
While planning this trip to Mexico we had several concerns. Multiple articles advise against visiting this country, driving there, getting out of tourist places (“you’ll be robbed, kidnapped, carjacked etc”). We prepared ourselves carefully by having a detailed plan, insurances, safety pockets, local contacts etc. However, to be honest, everywhere we went to in Mexico I felt much safer than, for example, in Paris or Brussels. Local people are very friendly and helpful. Every time we got lost somewhere we received help and directions in Spanish most of the time. Mexico City is huge and we walked in different areas there and never felt any threat. We visited some places around Mexico City and also in Yucatan state and each new day brought new amazing experiences. I’ll remember Mexico as a sunny country with friendly people, amazing diverse nature, delicious food and drinks, and unique experiences!
We had an early morning flight from San Diego that landed around 1 pm in Mexico City. It took us less than 30 min to leave the airport and catch an Uber to get to our friend’s place. While in the car we thought that it would be challenging to drive in Mexico City and we were glad that we decided against renting a car. Traffic can get very heavy but the biggest challenge is their roads system – drivers literally need to change lanes every 500 meters. I would definitely recommend using public transportation or Uber. It cost us 5-10$ to get anywhere within the city on Uber with a waiting time 5-7 min.
Since we had half of the day for exploring we headed to the National Museum of Anthropology. It is the largest and most visited museum in Mexico located in a beautiful green area within Chapultepec Park. The museum contains significant archaeological and anthropological artifacts from Mexico’s pre-Columbian heritage and it is really impressive as you can see from the pictures below.
Flight: San Diego -> Mexico City -> Cancun -> Mexico City -> San Diego Duration: 10 days Mileage: ~350 in Yucatán area Starting point: Mexico City Countries: Mexico Budget for 2 people: $2930 ($1500 flights, $215 hotels*, $275 car rental, $125 gas and taxis, $50 buses, $420 food, $90 tickets, $140 snorkeling, $115 airport parking)
Day 1: fly to Mexico City, visit Museo Nacional de Antropología
Day 2: explore Chapultepec park, dinner with local family