MEXICO CITY

The New York times recently named the top 52 places to visit for 2016. The number one was: Mexico City. A recognition, that in my opinion, is well deserved. I have been to Mexico City a few times already. I am going to tell you about each little trip so that you can understand why I’m very excited about the recognition this bustling city has received.

Mexico city and I, have had an affair for many years! I can’t deny it, I love this city and it loves me back as it always calls upon me. Growing up I watched Mexican movies from the 1950s. This time is known as the golden era of the Mexican movies. These films belong to my grandmother’s time so I always watched them with her or by myself. They are black and white remnants of the mid century. My grandmother and my mother had the opportunity to visit Mexico City in the early 1970s. They never forgot their visit, my grandmother still talks about the grandeur of the city, how big everything was compared to our country. She wanted to come back, but because one thing or another she never could.

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“Telenovelas” or mexican soap operas are extremely popular in Latin America. A lot of countries produced them but Mexico produces and exports them world wide. My friends and I grew up watching telenovelas. Seeing Mexico in the small screen made me curious about this city and its surroundings.

May 2008- First solo trip ever 

I wanted to travel, and I was looking for airfares. Mexico City came up at $250 round trip with taxes, a deal hard to refuse specially because it was during the long weekend of memorial day. I had to make it happened.  I asked several people if they would like to come along, but I got answers down the line of: “Mexico city?? Are you crazy?? It’s so dangerous, you can get mugged!”. Nobody wanted to go with me so I decided to embarked on my first solo trip. I won’t deny it, I was scared. I have never traveled completely on my own to a different country, even tough my grandmother always said the best way to travel was on your own.   Mexico City  is huge and it can be dangerous. To keep myself safe I did an extensive online research.

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Upon my arrival to the airport in Mexico city, I took a taxi that took me to the city center. After 30 minutes riding it, the taxi turned around the corner and for the first time in my life I am seeing El Zocalo (enormous city center) with my own eyes….my jaw dropped immediately…it’s so big,  so old, so beautiful. I almost cried. Countless times I saw it on the small and big screen, now it was right before my eyes.

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The first thing I did was to go into a double decker bus around the city. On the bus, I met a dietitian from Paraguay, she was on her own as well.  We visited the Chapultepeq castle, which is really pretty and it’s high on a hill so you can see the city from here. My new Paraguayan friend and I, had lunch at La Condesa, an affluent neighborhood with lots of restaurants and bars. We were both stricken with the splendor of the city.

I visited the Guadalupe virgin on the Tepeyac hill. I went on the Latin-American tower with an american girl that was also traveling on her own. When this building was inaugurated (back in the 50s) it was the tallest skyscraper in all of Mexico. It has an observation decker from where you can see the entire city. It truly is a landmark situated in the historic center of Mexico city.

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In 2008, I had completed one of my photography classes and I had bought my first digital DSLR. I was ready to document this new adventure.

From Mexico City you can make day trips to various destinations. I decided to visit Taxco, in this trip I met a DA from Peru and a super friendly older couple from Argentina. We’re all friends up to this day.

I visited Teotihuacan,  It’s a one hour trip from Mexico City. Teotihuacan was founded prior to the Aztecs, they though that the city was built by Gods and so they named it Teotihuacan which means city of Gods. I took a bus from the North bus terminal and went on my own. On the bus, I met a Taiwanese that was traveling on his own as well. I have no idea how we communicated, he hardly spoke any English, and unfortunately I am no fluent in Chinese.

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My dad has a friend, whom at the time was living in Mexico City with her family. I made it to their apartment, don’t ask me how. I had dinner with them and automatically fell in love with their cute little apartment. I secretly wished I could live in such a bohemian neighborhood.

On Sunday’s mornings a lot of the streets are closed, so that people can ride their bikes, walk, run or whatever they preferred. I think this is pretty cool, but it gets complicated if you’re staying close to El Zocalo on a Sunday, because there are no buses or taxis.

Traveling alone to Mexico City is possible, you just have to be extra careful and keep your eyes open, as well as avoid the notoriously dangerous areas.

December 2008- Backpacking in Mexico

I had decided to go backpacking with my dad in Mexico for two weeks. Our first stop was Mexico City itself. After my first visit in May, I wanted to show it to my dad. I discovered that you haven’t really seen Mexico City until you visit it around Christmas time. It’s like the city is on steroids.  It was amazing to see El Zocalo with all the Christmas lights. So many people!! Mexicans from all over the city flock to the historic center. It’s so alive and you can breathe the happiness in the air. During Christmas time the temperatures are low, specially at night so make sure to bring a jacket.

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Paseo de la Reforma is an avenue that runs diagonally across the heart of Mexico city. In December, each municipality puts up a nativity scenes along Reforma; some of the ones we saw were hand made, and almost life-size. They were beautiful and certainly made a stroll on Reforma super entertaining. It gets cold on December so be prepared!

During this visit, I decided to see the places I didn’t get to see my first time aroud: Xochimilco, the house of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

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Frida Kahlo’s House

September 2010-After Acapulco

Unfortunately, not much to say here. I visited my cousin in Acapulco and I had a layover in Mexico City, my flight  from Mexico city got canceled so I had to spend one night here (with everything paid for, of course). I thought about calling the friend I met in Puerto Vallarta in 2008, since she lives in the city but I decided to sleep instead (lazy me!).

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Xochimilco

July 2015-With my hubby

As I mentioned earlier, Latin Americans see Mexico City in the big and small screen, actors from different countries want to move there and make a career in the Mexican soap operas or in the film industry; this is because Mexico is the biggest platform to all of Latin America. Latin Americans typically want to visit Mexico City and my husband was not the exception.

My husband’s father traveled to Mexico when he was younger so my hubby heard (just like me) how wonderful this city/country was while growing up; so he wanted to see it for himself. and therefore we decided to travel to the city during our vacation this past July.

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View of the city from the Latin America tower observation decker

It’s unbelievable that 7 years have passed after my last official visit to Mexico City, but the city preserves the same charm that captivated me the first time. We rode the double decker, visited the Chapultepeq castle. On a lazy Sunday afternoon we took a stroll on the Chapultepeq park, we went to their marvelous museum of anthropology.  We walked in the historic center, hitting several restaurants with authentic Mexican food. It doesn’t get boring, it doesn’t get old. It continues to be the cosmopolitan megalopolis city that I remembered.

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View of Mexico City from Chapultepeq castle

December 2015-after Costa Rica

Our latest adventure. After spending 12 days in Costa Rica, our flight got canceled and we came into Mexico City to spend New Year’s Eve here. We took a taxi from our hotel in the airport to the Angel of Independence where a free concert and fireworks were happening. So many people congregated here, and not only Mexicans. We saw Indians, Muslims, Asians, Americans, and we all celebrated the new year in peace.

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The pope visited two weeks ago, he brought Mexico City back to the light. I am really delighted that Mexico City is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

It doesn’t matter how many times I visit Mexico city, I will still discover new and amazing places, and that’s why I am pleased that other people are starting to notice this City. I want to make an open invitation for anybody that is thinking about going, GO!! Don’t even think about it, you will have the time of your life!

 

 

Helpful links:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/07/travel/places-to-visit.html?_r=0

http://www.visitmexico.com/en/mexico-city

 

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