Adventures in Mexico City
Mexico City Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
Melissa and I arrived in Mexico City on Friday and took a taxi to the San Marino Hotel and Suites. The hotel was actually very nice and spacious (this was part of a package deal, so you never know what kind of hotel you might end up in). It was located near Chapultepec, which was a nice neighborhood. After settling into our room, we went across the street to an Argentinian restaurant. The food was delicious, and we definitely ate a lot of it! Unfortunately, we took so long eating lunch that the attractions were closed by the time we were done. So, we spent the evening planning out the rest of our trip.
The following morning we started our adventures in Mexico City! We went to the Chapultepec Castle first, which was really nice. The castle had a lot of European influences, which were definitely apparent in the fabric-covered walls, marble floors, and lavish furnishings (although, not as extravagent as Kind Ludwig's palaces). It was a perfect day to wander around, and the views of Mexico City from the top of the castle were amazing. After the castle, we caught a taxi and went to the other end of Paseo de la Reforma - the historical Zocalo. Using our hand-dandy maps (and looking very much like tourists, including getting a little disoriented), we managed to find the Templo Mayor. We took a tour of the ruins and wandered through the museum, which contains a lot of information. The next stop was the Cathedral, which is the largest in North America. In the plaza outside of the cathedral, we also got to watch native Indians dancing and playing music. It was entertaining, and I guess they do this a lot! We actually walked all the way back to our hotel (I do not recommend this - it was a lot further than we thought), and walked through a park that had a lot of food vendors. We sampled some slushes and corn in a cup (which they season with chili powder, mayonnaise, and lime juice - yummy!!). That night we went to a local bar near our hotel for a couple of beers, but the owner thought we needed to eat, so he kept bringing us samples of various food - that is always the best way to eat!
On Sunday morning, we woke up ready to climb temples (actually, not really because we had walked so much the day before)! We had booked a tour to Tenochtitlan through our hotel the day before, and the price was actually comparable to what a taxi ride would have cost us to get there. So, we boarded our little red van, and headed to northern Mexico City. The other people on our tour consisted of a couple from Asia, a lady from Columbia, a man from Brazil (who was there on business), a man from Ecuador (who seemed to have traveled everywhere), and a lady from Germany (who was touring Mexico before heading to Ecuador to attend a Spanish language school). Our first stop was at the Tres Culturas - we got to get out, look, and hop back in the van. Note of interest: I read an article just last week saying that archeologists discovered a new temple at this site which is older than any Aztec ruins currently uncovered, so now they have to reestablish when they believe the Aztec civilization began!
The next place on our tour was the infamous Tenochtitlan (the main attraction), and most of the people on our tour climbed the Temple of the Sun (I was surprised). It is a rather steep climb, and I was very thankful for the breaks along the way! The entire site was enormous - a lot larger than I had imagined it would be. We didn't get a chance to walk over to the Temple of the Moon (not that we would have been able to climb that one as well!), but I did take lots of pictures! The main downfall of being on a tour are the time restrictions.
Our final stop on our grand tour was the Basilica de Guadalupe. I had never heard of this church, but it is very famous in Mexico, and Pope John Paul II actually visited it five times. There is the old church, which is noticably sinking (there's a tool inside that indicates how much), and the new modern church. Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico, and there is a shrine that was built on the hill above the basilicas, but once again we didn't have time and we probably wouldn't have been able to climb more steps!
Melissa and I were the last ones to be dropped off at our hotel, and our guide told us about this local taco place that he highly recommended. We were starving since our tour did not include stopping for food or being anywhere near food (this tour went from 9am - 4pm). Lesson learned: bring snacks (luckily, we remembered to bring water). The taco place was a little cafe that I never would have thought served food, and literally the only thing on the menu were about 15 different kinds of tacos. But, they were sooo yummy!
That night, we headed in the opposite direction and went down to Xochimilco. We had read about this show called La Llorona (Melissa was familiar with the story), and decided this was our best chance to see the canals, even if it was dark. We hopped in a taxi...and the driver got lost (felt like I was on The Amazing Race). I will admit that we did have the nicest taxi driver, though. He stopped several times to ask where Embarcadaro 10 was located, and everyone kept giving him bad directions (basically, they didn't really know). We finally found it, and he got out to make sure we were where we wanted to be. When we went to pay the fare (he had stopped the meter once we knew that we were really lost), he quoted us an amount that was less than when he stopped the meter! And, he wouldn't accept a tip (we were shocked and felt bad because he tried so hard). But, he left us, and we continued on to the show. Now, when we heard about this show, we thought it would be on the dock. That was not the case - we got to ride on the boats...down the canal...lighted by candles on the banks! Then, we thought that we would at least be watching the show on solid ground - wrong again! We got to watch the show from the boat! It was an amazing experience! The stage was actually on the ground in a little cove area, and there were about 30 boats positioned in a semi-circle around the stage. The other fun part of this experience were the food boats! They would pull up next to us selling hot chocolate, candied tamales, corn, and other goodies. It was a little chilly, so we indulged in some delicious hot chocolate. And, the show was really entertaining, too.
On Monday, our final day, we stumbled upon a parade on Paseo de la Reforma. So, we stood on the sidelines and watched the floats and colorful costumes. Then, we wandered around taking pictures of random statues and ended up going to Chapultepec Park (which is HUGE!). Everything was closed on Monday, so there wasn't a lot to do. We left that afternoon, but it was definitely a great trip and we got to see a lot of things.