Well it’s official, I’m a slow traveler. I guess this what happens when you don’t have a fixed itinerary and you fall in love with a place (and its people). I originally thought a week in Mexico City would be enough. Well, I ended up staying almost a month in the national capital. There is simply this vibe about Mexico that makes you want to stay longer… ☺️
La Ciudad de México is the capital and also the largest city in the country (8 900 000 residents). A big city with a lot of character. Each neighborhood has its own charm: El Centro Historia is the financial district and the heart of the city (you can even still see ruins from the Aztec empire!), La Roma is the hipster central where you can find contemporary art galleries, vegan restaurants, and cool coffee shops at every corner, La Condesa a is pretty leafy bohemian district that attracts dog walkers, young professionals and foodies, La Zona Rosa is the Mexican version of Sainte-Catherine Street (the gay friendly hub of the city), Polanco is the fresa (Mexican slang for ‘snob’) neighborhood where all the rich brats live and finally Coyoacán is the colorful, family friendly suburb which was once home of the famous artist Frida Khalo.
Not to say that I was not bored visiting this wonderful city. Here are a few of my highlights:
-Street Food: I still cannot believe how cheap and tasty street food is here! Tacos, churros, juice bars are found EVERYWHERE. You can easily have a proper meal for less than 4$. My two fav vegan places: Por Siempre Vegana and La Pitahaya (both located in La Roma).
-Green Parks and Bike lanes: I originally thought of Mexico City as big, dangerous and polluted. Let’s say I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the numerous parks and bike lines surrounding the city. Every day I was renting one of those Mobike (a bicycle sharing system that I was also using in China) to get to my next museum or restaurant. Who thought I would be (safely) riding a bike around the largest city in North America?! This was an initiative of the city to reduce traffic and pollution. It is surely working.
-La Casa Azul: “The Blue House” was originally the home of the iconic Mexican artist: Frida Khalo. Today, her house is a museum where you can learn about the life of this incredible woman. My visit to La Casa Azul was very moving and empowering. Despite all of the misfortune she faced in her life (sickness, bus accident, miscarriage, challenging relationships), she remained strong and turned her pain into purpose by painting and being politically active. Her message to us: “Viva la Vida” (Live your life. Don’t let anything stop you from being happy.)
-Teotihuacán: Teotihuacán (meaning “the place where the gods were created”) is an ancient Mesoamerican city built 400 BC. It was once the most powerful empire in Mexico (apparently over 100 000 people lived there) until its collapse around 700 AD. Teotihuacán’s origins, history, and culture remain a mystery. Today we can still admire the colossal pyramids of the Sun and the Moon as well as the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Teotihuacán is located about an hour from Mexico City, making it a perfect day trip.
-Meetup: I got introduced to Meetup groups by a friend of mine. Meetup is actually a world-wide used website where events of all sorts are organized for people sharing the same interests. It didn’t take long until I joined my first Meetup event: a Spanish-English language exchange night. What a perfect way to practice my Spanish in a laid-back environment, while meeting locals and enjoying a cold Modelo.
-Bahidora Carnaval: This was a last minute weekend plan and what a weekend indeed! Bahidora is an eco arts and music festival located in the magical place of Las Estacas, a magnificent natural reserve. I’ve been to many festivals before but nothing like this: a two kilometers crystalline river to swim in, multiples stages offering all range of music, artworks displayed all around the site, yoga, meditation and body paint stations, amazing local food kiosks, gigantic pools where the beer flows… good vibes only! ✌🏻
-Mexicans: My last but not my least highlight was all the Mexicans that I met. I did travel quite a lot and encounter other cultures but wow, I have never met warm and genuine people like the Mexicans. They are social, laid-back, generous and don’t they love to have a good time! This is enough to make me want to travel even more in this amazing country! Gracias por todos amigos! 😉
Well, I believe this justify my extended stay in the city! Now I am off to Puebla where hiking, hiking, and more hiking will be on the itinerary. Hasta luego!