Xochimilco and Universidad

Mexico City Travel Blog

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Plaza de Santo Domingo

I had pretty good sleep the previous night and was raring to go come Friday morning. Albeit the plan was a bit less ambitious this time around - going around in the city and not for the full day. One thing that I learnt about Mexico is that, don't ever ever book for trips from websites but instead, go to your hotel. They usually have better deals (easily 20-30$ cheaper) than online. So that was what I did for Friday - booked a trip to the floating gardens of Xochimilco and a quick tour of the University.

As usual, they picked me up by 9am although I was disappointed at how long all the transfers take. I mean, we properly started on our route ONLY at 1130am! It's a huge waste of time, although I can believe they don't start earlier to avoid traffic which is horrendous in the city.

Boats (trajineras) lined up at Xochimilco
Anyway we got on the bus and got going. I just realised what a popular tourist destination Mexico City is and not by Americans or Europeans, but by tons of Latin Americans who kind of blend in with the locals to the foreign eye such as myself.

Xochimilco is located south of Mexico City is better known for its extended series of canals, all that remains of the ancient Lake Xochimilco. Xochimilco has kept its ancient traditions, and all inhabitants travel in colourful trajineras (Xochimilco boats) between chinampas covered with flowers. Agriculture is its main activity. Apparently it was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. The name means "flower field place".

My ticket included a trajinera ride so it looked exciting on the outset but I must say it was the most touristy and more cheesiest and boring thing I've ever done in my life.

I mean the Watsai floating markets in Thailand were at least fun, this was plain boring. And it was so crowded. Turns out that apparently a lot of Mexican families come here on weekends for boat rides complete with lunch and music. The icing on the touristy cake was a mariarchi band that also sails a boat on the canals, and if you pay money will sing a song for you AND also jump into your boat and pose with you for pictures. It was kind of funny, but also very cheesy. But the problem with this day so far is that I was just getting bored. Very bored.

We finished the boat ride by about noon, went around the shops till about 12:30p and headed to our next stop - the University of Mexico City. Now we didn't go for a walk around, but we did see the building from afar and enjoyed what I saw.

It looked a lot like a US university. The guide spent time explaining the murals on the building - the 2 suns and their significance (which sadly I forgot already!).

After I reached the hotel around 4pm, I popped into Starbucks for a veg sandwich and walked around the city. I must say I'm surprised at the lack of variety of Veg food in Mexico. A "veg sandwich" here doesn't mean a sandwich made of only veg and cheese, it means a meat sandwich WITH vegetables. LOL, seriously! What a pain... thank God discovered the turkey before I started eating.

I spent the rest of the evening till sunset walking around the city centre, or Zocalo. Believe me, this part of Mexico City wouldn't look odd in a European city centre. It's a huge square, and it's one of the most charming things I've seen in a long long time.

A Mariachi band at Xochimilco
This is also the heart of Centro Historico, and was built by the Spanish. Today it houses the banks, the posh hotels and fine dining. The Mexicans continue to be a strong Christian community and were bringing in a tall Christmas tree and setting it up. It was just very nice seeing all of it... so much of life, people here, there, everywhere. I also noticed how secure it is - so many policemen all around you - foot, car, horses, you name it, you have it. The Zocalo contains the Catedral Metropolitina, the Palicio National and tons of other buildings that are now hotels.

I got back to the room around 8pm, actually studied (yep, had final exams the week after!) and slept by 1030pm for 2 reasons - I wasn't feeling too well, and I had a long day ahead on Saturday. All in all, another nice day in Mexico. I'm not only beginning to like this country but also already planning my next trip. Beware England, you've got competition!

montecarlostar says:
LOL about the vegetables... well in south mexico they do have a lot more vegetables than we do in the north, but most dishes are meat and vegetables...

But still if you go to North Mexico (like Chihuahua, my city), it will be even harder to find veggie places, there are only two in Chihuahua city and are small (though tasty). We are crazy about beef!
Posted on: Apr 13, 2009
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Plaza de Santo Domingo
Plaza de Santo Domingo
Boats (trajineras) lined up at Xoc…
Boats (trajineras) lined up at Xo…
A Mariachi band at Xochimilco
A Mariachi band at Xochimilco
The leader of the band and me, LOL!
The leader of the band and me, LOL!
Universidad de Mexico
Universidad de Mexico
View of the Zocalo from the terrac…
View of the Zocalo from the terra…
The Zocalo (city Centre)
The Zocalo (city Centre)
Palacio Nacional
Palacio Nacional
Christmas tree in the Centro Histo…
Christmas tree in the Centro Hist…
View of the Catedral Metropolitina…
View of the Catedral Metropolitin…
View of the library from the hotel…
View of the library from the hote…
Donceles Street where my hotel was…
Donceles Street where my hotel wa…