In the words of the great Jose Feliciano, I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart! Feliz Navidad is one of the all time great Christmas songs, and Mexico is one of the all time great travel destinations. The culture, food, history, people– everything about this country is amazing.
La Ciudad de Mexico (CDMX) is one of the foremost cosmopolitan areas of the world, with bustling energy, a lively arts and fashion scene, inventive and traditional food culture, and architectural gems galore. There are well preserved alhambras and monuments reminiscent of the grand plazas of Europe amongst a sea of modern skyscrapers and high rise hotels.
Fun fact: I won the Spanish language award my senior year in high school. Another fun fact: my Spanish is terrible. Like muy terible. I have the worst American accent when I attempt to speak, but I do try, y es la intencion es lo que cuenta? Un poquito (read: oohn poke-ee-toe)? En acualmente, escribo mejor que hablar, que lastima! Lo siento, yo se mi espanol no es bueno, pero me humor por favor.
Nota: Todas las photografias en esta blog post son cortesia de mi hermana.
CDMX is having a real moment right now, so brush off your Paso a Paso book from high school…vamos a Mexico! HOLA y Bienvenidos a Mexico!
When you get to Mexico City, the first thing you have to do is take in the crowds and the natural hum and buzz of the city. It’s vibrant, alive, always moving and continually changing. Es una cultura muy rica. Start your stay by immersing yourself in Mexican history at the Museo Nacional de Antropologica, one of the most exhaustive natural history museums in the world.
You may need a whole 1-2 days here, it’s so big, with artifacts basically from the dawn of time. We’re talking Toltecs, Mayans, Aztecs (the Aztec sunstone probably being one of the most popular museum items anywhere)…artifacts spanning eons. I love a city with a lot of museums, and this city has a TON.
This museum is located in the bosque de Chapultepec, the city’s sprawling 1700+ acre park, across from Chapultepec Castle, the ultimate castle on the hill that contains Mexico’s National History museum. The modern art museum, botanical gardens and many large fountains are all located nearby, descansar y cambiar en el parque.
All this exploring is going to make you tiene hambre. And you are in luck because Mexican food (I’m talking REAL Mexican food) is the BEST. Street tacos, Michelin starred dining, this city is your oyster. Like there’s actually an extensive oyster bar and mariscos galore at nearby Morena, si su oyster es su oyster. Pero, cuando en CDMX, necesita tratar una specialidad de la ciudad…Tacos Canastas. Steamed. Basket. Tacos.
If food halls are more your thing, head across the street to Mercado Roma, where there’s a rooftop beer garden (sit right here and have another beer in Mexico — shout out all my Kenny Chesney fans out there…oh just me? Cool cool cool) and fusion cuisine made by young CDMX trendsetters. Honestly, all of the cute little spots, cantinas and restaurantes (Fonda Fina, Casa Virginia, Taqueria Orinoco) along the Avenue of the Insurgents (best street name ever) are worth a gander.
Whatever you choose, make sure you finish it off with dessert. POSTRES! Churros may be the hip food of the times now, but they’ve been doing it right in Mexico for decades, with churreria El Moro at the top of everyone’s must list. Claro que si me amo churros.
Dip those crispy, fluffy fritters into some chocolate Mexicano (menos dulce) o Espanol (mas dulce). There will be lines. It will be worth the wait. Es muy delicioso y esta abierto 24 horas al dia. Churros para desayuno, almuerzo, y cena! Es mi tipo de ciudad.
You should definitely try to stay as close to the Zocalo, the heart of the city. There are always festivals, venders, and demonstrations in this epicenter. Possibly the main attraction in this square is the Catedral Metropolitano de la Ciudad de Mexico, the largest cathedral in the Americas. Es una experiencia religiosa y sagrada.
Art & culture in this city runs deep, and they are certainly proud of their native sons and daughters who have left their mark in the world. Travel to the Frida Kahlo museum, located at her and Diego Rivera’s former casa. Senora Kahlo esta una mujer muy influyente para los artistes y esta una figura muy notable para las gente de Mexico. There are long lines here, so plan and buy ahead of time. The courtyard is open and peaceful, and take the time to learn about this artist’s extraordinary life.
For a charming little side visit, the village of Coyoacan awaits. This neighborhood is like a small town within the big city. The Templo San Juan Bautista sits in the center of the town square. This plaza is a perfect place to grab a bite (Los Danzantes or Tostadas Coyoacan) and people watch. As in any place in the city, there are artisans and souvenir hawkers.
Make your way back into the city center for dinner and a quiet night in. Just kidding, es un chiste, you’re in Mexico City, you best be staying out and enjoying the nightlife. Cuando en Mexico, vive como los Mexicanos! Make tonight Fight Night, and enjoy an evening at Lucha Libre, Mexican wrestling! If you know nothing about Lucha Libre, the best way I could describe it would be similar to a cool AF wrestling Medieval Times, where you root loudly and passionately for your luchador.
If you’re at the Arena Coliseo, you can sample a meal of Chile en Nogada at Hosteria de Santo Domingo, the oldest registered restaurant in the city. It’s located across the street, and may be a nice reprieve from the street tacos and torta stalls scattered everywhere (but obviously you need to get your pastor y lengua on, too).
If you’re looking for something more refined (then you’ve come to the wrong blog ;), perhaps catch a ballet at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. This magnificent marbled building is worth the visit alone, but the city’s Chinatown is adjacent, and most Chinatown’s are always full of characters. Tambien, hay muchas pastelerias en esta ciudad, asi come sus pan dulces y conchas y pasteles y flans a su contento de corazon. Me gusta dulces.
The famed food bonanza that is San Juan Mercado is a few blocks away and will serve up every kind of food from every state of Mexico. And for a pleasant nightcap, the Cafe de la Gran Ciudad is hidden atop the 9th floor of a department store, and provides a sweeping view of the Palace of Fine Arts. Enjoy a coffee or two (decaf?) while watching the buzz below.
No visit to Mexico City is complete without visiting Teotihuacan. This pre-Mayan archeologic and anthropologic wonder is one of the world’s UNESCO sites. It’s about an hour northeast from the city, and it is highly recommended that you hire a tour and leave EARLY to beat the heat and the crowds.
This ancient city was built around 100 BCE and the sophistication of the city planning should put us urbanites all to shame. The massive pyramids that are still standing show a level of engineering far beyond what anyone could imagine possible at that time, with no cranes or elevators. That’s got to be some serious levers and pulleys action.
The city’s main street, the Avenue of the Dead (this made me think of Coco and I almost cried just now) is lined with well preserved murals and hieroglyphs. The art and decorative masks are amazing, and they’ve discovered tombs and sacrificial offerings and tools in excavation of the tunnels under the pyramids. There are two main pyramids, the Pyramid of the Sun (most popular and crowded) and the Pyramid of the Moon and a Citadel area. Hope you brought your hiking shoes because it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock’n’roll.
For your last meal, make it an ultimate memorable one, by visiting the Polanco district, the toniest of tony areas in CDMX. Here you’ll find the ultimate in dining at Dulce Patria, Quintonil, Pujol, Nom, Nosso (all $$$$) while you hob knob with Mexico’s well heeled citizens. You deserve it, you climbed a pyramid or two today, you badass!
So ends a wonderful trip to Mexico, un viaje a Mexico es una adventura muy especial y memorable. La gente es muy amable, la comida es muy sabroso y la ciudad es muy bonita. Es una destinacion perfecta. Quiero te desear una Feliz Navidad de fondo de mi corazon! Buena suerte y buen viaje!