City of Culture, Churches, Synagogues & Streetlife
Trip Start Jan 23, 2011
195Trip End Feb 14, 2012
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
That Mexico City, I am delighted to report, no longer exists. Today, Mexico City is a vibrant, exciting, cultured city filled with people having fun while others are going about life and work; the skies were blue by day and the sunsets rate in the spectacular cityscape sunsets; there is an abundance of museums, galleries, magnificent architecture, colourful markets, and places oozing culture and history; the subway system and streets of central Mexico City are clean, patrolled by police and large weapon toting subway guards, and we felt pretty relaxed about it all
We had opted for the Mundo Joven Catederal hostel at the edge of the main square, just behind the main Cathedral and, by the time we had been on the metro, seen some of the guards standing on raised platforms with their giant guns protecting us passengers, changed subway lines, walked through the square, and checked into the hostel, we knew we were going to have fun here.
City hostels seldom have "that" feeling or atmosphere but this giant, 7 storey building, with 164 or more beds, was a definite exception. On the top floor was a kitchen with a balcony overlooking the main square, excellent coffee on tap all day long. While there were few English speaking travellers (they apparently mostly stay in the safer, trendier suburbs - I think they are missing out), there was a great bunch of South American musicians who we chatted with, cooked dinner around each other, and were all late night owls enjoying our high-up viewpoint.
Our first day was our self-designed architectural "tour". We had a sort-of route to follow, which we deviated from regularly :-) and saw some incredible buildings. Two of the most impressive were across the road from each other, one the Gothic-style Post Office, the other the Art Deco marble Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), so completely different from each other and yet both designed by the same architect! They were wonderful to walk around, inside and just ogle at their incredible detail and décor
Our next “tour” day was completely different yet equally excellent; this was to be the day of murals and markets, religion and relics, and, of course, coffee and conversation :-) Annie had read about the murals painted by Diego Rivera in the 1920s in the Secretaría de Educación Pública Building. First, a quick diversion into an art gallery next to out hostel that had an exhibition of paintings and sculptures of skeletons, we thought it must have been for the Day of the Dead which had been not too long ago. Then off to the Secretaría de Educación Pública Building we went. The entrance was not too obvious and was crowded with police or uniformed officials. We asked for the murals, "Frescos" as they are in Spanish, were shown in and a lady was asked to show us where to go. Now, when hearing about murals we think a big painting or two on a couple of walls. This was incredible, three floors of a GIANT building around a double courtyard and every space had another depiction. Some told the story of a revolution, others were coats of arms for the regions of the country, one area was all religious, another depicting daily life, and so it went on and on and on... Quite incredible! We wandered along our planned route, stopped in at a local eatery for a bite to eat, had a look inside the remnants of an old and interesting theatre building (Teatro Del Pueblo) with more murals, and then went to find the market, Mercado Abelardo Rodríguez.
As it was our last night, we had already extended our stay (not bad for a city I thought we would just pass through!), we headed for the supermarket. Wow, we got caught up in something going on in the main square and a pedestrian cordon-diversion. There were MASSES of people trying to get anywhere and it made a busy London Oxford Street feel quite calm and relaxing :-) The police were also out in force to ensure we all obeyed the rules, their presence seemed to work very well. Quite an experience!
After we were finished in the supermarket we went to admire the Christmas decorations shops, they were incredible! Lights that made anything we have seen before pale into insignificance. These were brilliant - round things with lots of circles of little lights that flashed, flickered, danced and changed colour. There were shops lined one after another filled with these and many more varieties and jam-packed with people admiring and buying - just wonderful :-) Actually, the lights on display in the main square were quite spectacular too - a giant tree with lots of lights, all the buildings covered in more than each other, and an ENORMOUS "Feliz Navidad" sign that flashed on and off in different stages and patterns
One last stop was required at our favourite shop; a department store called Liverpool. I am sure it has a lot of really nice stuff as it had a fairly sophisticated feel but we were only interested in the only department we has visited, where we could act like the big kids we are; the best "Pick 'n Mix" area we have ever been in :-) There was everything from sweet to savoury, chilli to chocolate, and much, much more. We had seen other people taking tastes so we did the same, just to check what we liked of course :-) We also only took a few small selections as it is just such fun and a treat and would be easy to get carried away. On this visit I had our grocery bags with us so the security guard followed us around as we must have seemed very suspicious :-) I went and stood in an open area away from everything while Annie finished up, which made him happier :-) Hilariously, on the way out and really completely unintentionally, I was walking ahead of Annie and went the wrong way for the doors, heading for a glass pane instead and walked straight into the same security guard with my White Cane :-) He very kindly and politely helped me in the right direction (and must have realised were not the great thieves he had first thought we were :-) We laughed a lot when we got out of the shop :-)
And that brought us to the end of our Mexico City meanderings, we would be back on the metro to another bus terminus for a LONG bus journey to take us to Copper Canyon. Wow, I can hardly believe where we are heading off to, this is yet another dream destination of ours.
A fellow traveller back in Bogota in Colombia told us that Mexico City is his favourite city on earth, I can understand why.