Mexico City’s had more than its fair share of bad press recently. Being at the heart of the swine flu outbreak – prompting worldwide images of people staying at home or wearing thick masks – as well as a growing reputation for violent crime has done the city no favors, but venture out into this massive capital and you’ll find a city that makes it easy to look past its well-publicized issues.
It really is a mammoth capital, and can be an intimidating place to navigate. Start at the Plaza de la Constitucion, which is the second biggest square in the world, and bang in the centre of the city’s historical quarter. A colossal Mexican flag dominates the centre, while the periphery is home to fading old buildings and often hosts protests and lively festivals. Both the architectural mish-mash of the cathedral Metropolitana and the National Palace – home to the treasury and murals depicting thousands of years of Mexican history – sit on the flanks of the square, too, making it a tourist must-see.
For Mexico’s own version of Thailand’s famous river markets, head to Xochimilco, where you can hire a mariachi band to serenade your loved one, or float amongst the brightly colored boats snapping up souvenirs for the mantelpiece. Outside the capital you’ll find what was once the largest city in the world, the ruins of ‘city of the Gods’, where you can scramble over the pyramids of the sun and moon, stroll along the avenue of the dead and be overwhelmed by the stature of the old city’s ancient architecture.
Back in town, wallow in the heat with a magarita, sample the blood red ‘vampire juice’ (don’t worry, it’s made of beet and carrot) in the markets, or sip on a uniquely Mexican spicy hot chocolate with your affordable stall-side comida corrida menu.
For all its bad press, Mexico City is still an inspiring spot to grab a taste of the Mexico of the past hidden amid all the traffic, and throw yourself deep into the sumptuous cuisine, before heading off to the coast. Whatever you do, don’t forget your sun hat.
Teotihuacan is a must see. If you only have time to visit one ruin during your visit, this is the one to visit. Occupation began around 500 BC and reached its peak around 500 AD. The maximum …