Wow - What a Big City You've Got! All the Better to get Lost in :)

Mexico City Travel Blog

 › entry 21 of 21 › view all entries
On the bus from Oaxaca to Mexico City.

We got the early bus from Oaxaca to Mexico City, getting in late in the afternoon.  We made our way on the metro system to a central station near the Mexico City Hostel, which had good reviews.  First impressions are quite impressive, however the dorms (or at least the dorm we ended up in) was cramped and cold, plus the bathrooms for ladies and gents were on alternating floors.  The hostel is massive and just didn't have a very warm and friendly feel to it.  We stayed for one night.

After grabbing some food we wondered around the main square which was dolled up in garish Christmas decorations.

Me and my Magnum Devotion - triple choc and strawberry!
  The main square was totally geared up for the holiday festivities with a free ice-rink, plus many other activities such as kids snowmobile rides and I'm not sure what you call it but it looked like a slip-n-slide but on snow.  We sat in the stands and watched the ice-rink for a short while, hoping for some live entertainment, but all we witnessed were youngsters (don't I sound old) going round on their skates... occasionally falling.  So, we went for a walk and ended up at the cinema, I ate a Magnum Devotion on the way - honest to goodness ice-cream heaven on a stick.  We watched 'New Moon'... I liked, but then I really enjoyed 'Twilight'.

The following day we moved to the hostel - Los Amigos - much smaller and friendlier, we even managed to get a private room for the three of us for our first night there.

Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul - me.
  Once relocated we went on a mission to find the Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul, which is actually the old house that she once lived in.  The museum come art gallery was really interesting and gave a lot of insight in to the lives of Frida and her husband - Diego Rivera - both of whom were half jewish on their father's side... something I never knew.  They had a very turbulent relationship, and both produced artworks that were political and challenged the times.

After the museum we went back to the cinema as the movie - Avatar had just come out on 3D and we were keen to catch it.  I know it has been said a million times already - including by myself - but what an awesome movie.  I really enjoyed it immensely and had a moment of wanting to become a Navi.

The mural in Hospital De Jesus.
.. lol.  Didn't everyone?

There are many free walking tours you can join through the hostels in Mexico City, and Los Amigos had a City Walking Tour which we decided to go on.  Our first stop was the very first hospital of the Americas, built in 1524 - Hospital De Jesus.  Our guide - Monica - talked us through the mural painted in the hospital during the 60's to record Mayan culture and how it integrates with the land, and how it changed when the Spanish arrived.  As we were walking around Monica pointed out a random sculpture, which was once part of a Mayan temple and now formed part of one of the more modern buildings.  Monica explained that this type of incorporation of Mayan sculpture happened often post the destruction of the Mayan temples.

The courtyard in the Palacio Nacional.
  We also walked passed a statue depicting Mexico's emblem, i.e. an eagle standing on a cacti with a snake in its mouth.

From the hospital we walked to the main square - Plaza de la Constitucion, to visit the Palacio Nacional, where Monica showed us the murals painted by Diego Rivera - Mexico's history... very political and confronting.  At the Palacio Nacional Monica also explained how Mexico City is sinking, as the area that the city is built on was once a lake with lots of islands, she explained that when the Spanish conquered the area they bought with them disease and in order to help combat the spread of disease they filled in the water ways.  The land was filled in with destroyed Mayan ruins and general rubble, so the ground was not solid and compact when they built on it.

Diego Rivera's mural in the Palacio Nacional.
  As a result, the land over time has been settling and sinking causing buildings to crack and sink - evidence of this can be seen by the "leaning" of some buildings, and by the cracking of concrete floors - such as those in the entrance to the Palacio Nacional.

The murals were fantastic, first depicting the struggles of the Mayans against the Spanish, through to the modern day struggles of the local peasants.  Diego makes a particular point of depicting the Catholic Church as a prostitute - i.e. collecting money from the poor who have nothing themselves, only to find that money is being distributed by the Pope to other aristocrats.  We were at the murals for some time, as they main mural was so large and needed to be viewed in three sections, in addition there were other smaller murals around the Palacio Nacional which Monica talked to.

Close up of the mural - the depiction of the church as a prostitute.

Our guide - Monica, made an interesting comparison between the physical similarities between the Mexicans and the Asians, noting that they both have very similar genetic codes to those of the ancient Mongolians.  Monica also highlighted that the backs of their heads are flat, whereas Europeans tend of have more rounded heads - which she demonstrated on one of the guys in our group.  Monica also explained that when the church was introduced by the Spanish, they used a plain cross without Christ - because the number 4 is symbolic to the Mayans and the cross has effectively 4 points.  Furthermore, when they did introduce Christ he was made of darker or stained wood to represent the local population.

Once we'd finished viewing the murals Monica told us about the cactus gardens at the back of the Palacio Nacional - which were worth a quick visit.

Plaza Templo Mayor.
  I actually expected to see a lot more cacti in Mexico then what I did see.  The most cacti I saw was on route from San Cristobal to Oaxaca. 

From here we headed back out to the plaza and made our way over to the Plaza Templo Mayor, which was accidently unearthed when works were being done to try and rectify the sinking of the surrounding buildings - highlighting clearly how once the Mayan temples stood in the place of the modern day Mexico city.  Apparently this is where the Mayans are thought to have seen their symbolic eagle with the snake in its mouth standing on a cactus - they believed this was the centre of the universe.

Our next stop was the Grand Catedral Metropolitana - as impressive as any European cathedral.  The main organ in the cathedral was donated by Spain.

The Grand Catedral Metropolitana.
  Monica explained that the most ornate section of the cathedral is at the back, and that this is because like a man you work your way from the feet to the head... hence the entrance is like the feet and the back is like the head.  Monica pointed out that the hand crafted images were not proportional as Mayans were not used to making human effigies.

In one section of the cathedral was located a stand covered in padlocks and written messages - gossip and secretes.  Monica explained that every day people come to the church to leave a note about the gossip and/or secretes that someone else is sharing about them.  They then attach a padlock to help close that person's mouth to stop them from gossiping.  The locks and notes are cleared at the end of the every day, and every day the stand fills right back up!

We then walked passed the oldest pastry shop in Mexico City before stopping at a little quesadilla stand for lunch.

Me and my choc covered, cream filled pastry! Nom nom nom...
  We learnt that Mexico has three types of corn - white, yellow and green!  Yip... green corn = green tortillas!  I ate mine with cheese and mushrooms :).

Our last stop was the most amazing Pasteleria ever!  The designer cakes were incredible to look at, but then the actual pastries, breads, cakes and cookies were to die for!  It was most definitely like being kids in a candy store, wanting one of everything.  I used my restrain and settled on a chocolate muffin and some evil cake covered in chocolate, topped with custard, which looked like it could be almost as big as my head :).

We ended our epic day with a group trip out to watch some Lucha Libre - Mexican wrestling.  Our guide was the crazy bar owner from the hostel - Jerry, who poured tequila down everyone's throats before we headed out.

The floating gardens - colourful boats.
  Needles to say it lived up to its reputation as being a spectacle not to be missed, and probably not to be repeated!  The highlight was the 'midget wrestling', you had to be there...

For my last day in Mexico City we decided to mission to the floating gardens (i.e. the Embarcadero Belem), which are just outside or on the edge of Mexico City itself.  Mexican families tend to go to the gardens for a day out, as you can hire a boat and bring your own food, or buy your food and drink from local sellers on the canals.  I guess a bit like a floating picnic.  Well, we joined forces with some other gringos, to keep the costs down, and enjoyed our hour and half ride along the canals.  We floated past loads of mariachi bands playing for parties, or anyone really who wanted to listen.

The Fusion Market.
  Each boat was brightly coloured and named.  The 'floating gardens' werent' exactly what I had expected, there were gardens along the canal edges but not really floating.

After the floating gardens we decided to find these Christmas markets that Maree had heard about called 'Fusion', which turned out to be less of a Christmas market and more of a local artists crafts market - not much in the way of knickknacks.  We therefore decided to head back to a cool market we'd stumbled on the day before, called the Centro de Artesanians La Ciudadela.  I spent money... I bought a cool silver ring with amber stones.  I even did the test that Monica had told us about i.e. how it doesn't heat up that quickly if it's real silver and makes a certain sound when you drop it.

Party at Hostel Amigos - Maree and me.
  I did these tests post buying the ring, as I didn't think the jeweller would appreciate me putting his property through all that... it was a risk I was willing to take... trust me the ring is divine.

When we got back to the hostel I had to get out of the room, as technically I was no longer checked in - my flight wasn't until 7am, but having to leave around 4am... couldn't see the point on a Saturday night of paying for a room.  So I sorted out my things and put them in the hostels storage, as the hostel was hosting a party - which turned out to be quite a send off.  We started our evening with some 2-4-1 drinks, and a crazy local cover band playing some cool tunes.  The highlights of the evening were crazy bar owner - Jerry pouring tequila down everyone's throats again.

Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls Tequila shot... Jules... what can you say really.
.. and the pinata smashing.  Tequila was first, with Jerry starting with the boys and moving on to the girls - he literally poured tequila down your throat... no one was allowed to escape without some tequila!  By the time they got out the pinatas everyone was pretty revved up.  The boys went first and Al was the man who destroyed the pinata... such anger... he smashed the cr*p out of it.  Next up were the ladies... I went before Maree... and I'd like to believe I cracked that bad boy, and she came onboard and smashed it to smithereens!  After experiencing that pinata madness I'm not sure I'd wanted to meet any of us in a dark alley with a bat, a blind fold and a pinata!  The pinatas were filled with goodies, not only lollies but little freebies, such as free mescal shots and discounts on hostel rooms - Maree got a 50% off a room.
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls and the Pinata... Maree... see the ANGER!
 

The party ended after midnight and most people moved on.  I stayed because my bags were in lock up and my taxi was booked for 4am... didn't want to miss my flight back to London.  It was a long, freezing cold wait in the hostel lobby... poor Maree and Al waited to see me off, and Jules got back just in time.  Mexico City airport is nice and shiny and new... but confusing... and I ended up queuing in ques that I'm sure I didn't need to be in.  I flew back via Atlanta and got delayed due to blizzards in New York... my next port of call.  Thankfully the very helpful Delta helpdesk lady managed to get me on a direct flight later that evening.  Now I'm back in London dreaming of my next adventure.

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On the bus from Oaxaca to Mexico C…
On the bus from Oaxaca to Mexico …
Me and my Magnum Devotion - triple…
Me and my Magnum Devotion - tripl…
Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul …
Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul…
The mural in Hospital De Jesus.
The mural in Hospital De Jesus.
The courtyard in the Palacio Nacio…
The courtyard in the Palacio Naci…
Diego Riveras mural in the Palaci…
Diego Rivera's mural in the Palac…
Close up of the mural - the depict…
Close up of the mural - the depic…
Plaza Templo Mayor.
Plaza Templo Mayor.
The Grand Catedral Metropolitana.
The Grand Catedral Metropolitana.
Me and my choc covered, cream fill…
Me and my choc covered, cream fil…
The floating gardens - colourful b…
The floating gardens - colourful …
The Fusion Market.
The Fusion Market.
Party at Hostel Amigos - Maree and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Maree an…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls Teq…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls Te…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls an…
On the bus from Oaxaca to Mexico C…
On the bus from Oaxaca to Mexico …
Walking around Mexico City.
Walking around Mexico City.
Walking around Mexico City.
Walking around Mexico City.
My Magnum Devotion.
My Magnum Devotion.
Happiness = Magnum Devotion and no…
Happiness = Magnum Devotion and n…
Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul.
Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul.
Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul.
Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul.
Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul.
Frida Kahlo Museum - La Casa Azul.
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden - …
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden -…
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden.
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden.
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden an…
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden a…
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden.
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden.
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden.
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Garden.
Frida Kahlo Museum - photo of Frid…
Frida Kahlo Museum - photo of Fri…
Frida Kahlo Museum - photo of self…
Frida Kahlo Museum - photo of sel…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Sentiments fr…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Sentiments f…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Photo of Dieg…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Photo of Die…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Sentiments fr…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Sentiments f…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Images of Fri…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Images of Fr…
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Ladies lo…
Frida Kahlo Museum - The Ladies l…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Plant in the …
Frida Kahlo Museum - Plant in the…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Plant in the …
Frida Kahlo Museum - Plant in the…
Frida Kahlo Museum - Plant in the …
Frida Kahlo Museum - Plant in the…
Walking around the burbs of Mexico…
Walking around the burbs of Mexic…
Walking around the burbs of Mexico…
Walking around the burbs of Mexic…
Walking around the burbs of Mexico…
Walking around the burbs of Mexic…
Walking around the burbs of Mexico…
Walking around the burbs of Mexic…
The entrance hall of the Hospital …
The entrance hall of the Hospital…
The gardens of the Hospital De Jes…
The gardens of the Hospital De Je…
The mural in Hospital De Jesus - t…
The mural in Hospital De Jesus - …
The mural in Hospital De Jesus - I…
The mural in Hospital De Jesus - …
The mural in Hospital De Jesus - t…
The mural in Hospital De Jesus - …
Our guide - Monica and the mural i…
Our guide - Monica and the mural …
Mayan ruin incorporated in to a Mo…
Mayan ruin incorporated in to a M…
The modern building with the May…
The 'modern' building with the Ma…
Mayan sculpture depicting Mexicos…
Mayan sculpture depicting Mexico'…
A close up of the eagle, with a sn…
A close up of the eagle, with a s…
The Plaza de la Constitucion.
The Plaza de la Constitucion.
Plaza de la Constitucion.
Plaza de la Constitucion.
The Palacio Nacional.
The Palacio Nacional.
Maree, Al and me listening to our …
Maree, Al and me listening to our…
Diego Riveras mural in the Palaci…
Diego Rivera's mural in the Palac…
Close up of the mural - Mayan spir…
Close up of the mural - Mayan spi…
Close up of the mural.
Close up of the mural.
Diego Riveras mural in the Palaci…
Diego Rivera's mural in the Palac…
Close up of the mural - Frida and …
Close up of the mural - Frida and…
Close up of the mural - revolution…
Close up of the mural - revolutio…
One of the other murals - showing …
One of the other murals - showing…
One of the other murals - Mayan ma…
One of the other murals - Mayan m…
One of the other murals - close up…
One of the other murals - close u…
One of the other murals - wiseman …
One of the other murals - wiseman…
One of the other murals - making c…
One of the other murals - making …
One of the other murals.
One of the other murals.
One of the other murals - depictin…
One of the other murals - depicti…
One of the other murals - indicati…
One of the other murals - indicat…
The sickly Spanish captain.
The sickly Spanish captain.
The Cactus Garden.
The Cactus Garden.
Me at the Cactus Garden.
Me at the Cactus Garden.
Kitties in the cacti!
Kitties in the cacti!
The Cactus Garden.
The Cactus Garden.
The Cactus Garden.
The Cactus Garden.
Plaza Templo Mayor.
Plaza Templo Mayor.
The Grand Catedral Metropolitana.
The Grand Catedral Metropolitana.
The Grand Catedral Metropolitana.
The Grand Catedral Metropolitana.
The organ inside the Grand Catedra…
The organ inside the Grand Catedr…
The ornate back of the cathedral.
The ornate back of the cathedral.
A close up of the back of the cath…
A close up of the back of the cat…
A close up of some of the figurine…
A close up of some of the figurin…
Our guide - Monica talking about t…
Our guide - Monica talking about …
Stand covered in padlocks and writ…
Stand covered in padlocks and wri…
A close up of some of the padlocks.
A close up of some of the padlocks.
The oldest pastry shop in Mexico C…
The oldest pastry shop in Mexico …
The oldest pastry shop in Mexico C…
The oldest pastry shop in Mexico …
The little quesadilla stand.
The little quesadilla stand.
My green quesadilla.
My green quesadilla.
My green quesadilla filled with ch…
My green quesadilla filled with c…
The most amazing Pasteleria!
The most amazing Pasteleria!
Upstairs - fancy cake shop.
Upstairs - fancy cake shop.
Upstairs - fancy cake shop.
Upstairs - fancy cake shop.
Upstairs - fancy cake shop.
Upstairs - fancy cake shop.
Me checking out the fancy cakes.
Me checking out the fancy cakes.
A kiddies cake.
A kiddies cake.
A kiddies cake.
A kiddies cake.
Down stairs - pastries, cookies, m…
Down stairs - pastries, cookies, …
Down stairs - pastries, cookies, m…
Down stairs - pastries, cookies, …
Down stairs - pastries, cookies, m…
Down stairs - pastries, cookies, …
The floating gardens - Embarcadero…
The floating gardens - Embarcader…
The floating gardens - some of the…
The floating gardens - some of th…
The floating gardens - I just like…
The floating gardens - I just lik…
The floating gardens - the guy now…
The floating gardens - the guy no…
The floating gardens - me, Al and …
The floating gardens - me, Al and…
The floating gardens - Our driver…
The floating gardens - Our 'drive…
The floating gardens - one of the …
The floating gardens - one of the…
The floating gardens - me.
The floating gardens - me.
The floating gardens - me.
The floating gardens - me.
The floating gardens - a food sell…
The floating gardens - a food sel…
The floating gardens - a very bore…
The floating gardens - a very bor…
The floating gardens - mariachi ba…
The floating gardens - mariachi b…
The floating gardens - some none f…
The floating gardens - some none …
The floating gardens - some actual…
The floating gardens - some actua…
The floating gardens - some none f…
The floating gardens - some none …
The floating gardens - floating ga…
The floating gardens - floating g…
The floating gardens - too cute no…
The floating gardens - too cute n…
Trying to find the Fusion Market.
Trying to find the Fusion Market.
Trying to find the Fusion Market.
Trying to find the Fusion Market.
The Fusion Market.
The Fusion Market.
The Fusion Market.
The Fusion Market.
The Fusion Market.
The Fusion Market.
Party at Hostel Amigos - Al and Mr…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Al and M…
Party at Hostel Amigos - the cover…
Party at Hostel Amigos - the cove…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Crazy bar…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Crazy ba…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Boys and …
Party at Hostel Amigos - Boys and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Boys and …
Party at Hostel Amigos - Boys and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Boys and …
Party at Hostel Amigos - Boys and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Maree, Al…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Maree, A…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Maree, Ju…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Maree, J…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls Teq…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls Te…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls Teq…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls Te…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls Teq…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls Te…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Maree and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Maree an…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls an…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls an…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls an…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls an…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Girls…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Girl…
Party at the Hostel Amgios - Girls…
Party at the Hostel Amgios - Girl…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls an…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls an…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls and…
Party at Hostel Amigos - Girls an…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Girls…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Girl…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Girls…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Girl…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Maree…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Mare…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Maree…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Mare…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Jules…
Party at the Hostel Amigos - Jule…
14,723 km (9,148 miles) traveled
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