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OUR 10 DAYS IN MEXICO CITY


The start of 3 weeks in country #5.

When planning our year of travel, we knew we wanted to do something special to ring in the new year. We had several places on our list, many of which are famous for their midnight celebrations. We decided the way we wanted to end our year and start 2023 was in a new country and specifically one that neither of us had visited before. Without hesitation, we booked our flights to Mexico, planning a 3-week holiday starting in the capital city.



DAY ONE


Time for Bec to put her Spanish lessons to the test.

We spent most of our day travelling from the US to our first stop in country #5. We were on our way to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport at 3:15 am. We sat on the first plane for 45 minutes before finally taking off, bound for San Francisco. The next plane from San Francisco to Mexico City was delayed and then sat on the tarmac for an hour. However, despite the delays and our growing exhaustion from the lack of sleep, nothing could squash our excitement over arriving in a new country.


We landed around 6 pm and got through customs quite quickly. We jumped in an uber, checked into our Airbnb and went out to explore the very busy streets lined with food stalls, gift stalls and street performers. Bec was excited to put her year of Duolingo Spanish lessons to the test, but it didn’t take long for our adrenaline to wear off and exhaustion from a long day to set in. We stopped for dinner at Testal – Centro Mexican restaurant, where Bec also drank her first Corona, and then we called it a night.



DAY TWO


The last day of 2022.

We spent our final day of the year being the ultimate tourists around Mexico City. We obviously started with coffee. We found a café called Centrina, where we enjoyed our coffee on a bench in the Plaza de San Juan. We then went to a supermarket and stocked up on some food and essentials for the next few days. We were pretty hungry by the time we got back to our Airbnb, so we made a sandwich before setting off on foot to explore some of the tourist sites.


The first location was the Zocalo, which was absolutely packed with people, a very popular mini-theme park and the largest flag we’ve ever seen. We circled the square, checking out the large number of jewellery stores, the festive decorations and all the beautiful buildings. Next was the National Palace and then the Templo Mayor Museum, which we could only admire from the outside as most things were closed on New Year’s Eve.


From here, we walked down Donceles street, checking out all the bookstores along the way, our favourite being El Laberinto. We continued walking the streets around the Zocalo for another hour, also passing by Casa de los Azulejos (also known as The House of Tiles), the Palacio Postal, the Palacio de Belles Artes and the Hemiciclo a Juarez. It was nearing dinner time, but as we had a long night ahead, we instead stopped for churros at Catrina Churreria.


We bought a bottle of Mexican sparkling wine, some beer and seltzers and headed home to start our celebrations on the beautiful rooftop of our Airbnb. We made an easy dinner at home, looked up where the best place to go in Mexico City on New Year’s was and then started walking back to the Zocalo. When we arrived though, it appeared most people were leaving the area and there were no exciting street parties, musicians or any official events taking place. A little confused by how quiet the area was after the crowds we saw during the day, we tried another google search but found nothing else and decided to head back to our beautiful rooftop instead, where we rang in the new year together.



DAY THREE


Welcoming the new year.

On our first day of 2023, we slept in until close to midday. Not because we planned to but because whoever shared a wall with us last night was partying until the sun came up, and that is when we finally also got some sleep. Once we were up, we took the day slowly. We made breakfast (technically lunch) in our Airbnb, did some work/study we had been putting off over the holidays and reset for the year ahead. As evening approached, we headed out to Alameda Central, walking through the market stalls and watching the dancing at the fountain. For dinner, we enjoyed burritos at El Buen Taco before retiring back home to catch up on sleep.



DAY FOUR


Looking for our Mexico souvenir.

Apparently, our neighbours are still celebrating the start of the new year because yet another party started at midnight and went on until the sun was about to rise. At that point, we finally got to sleep and slept in until way too late once again. Are we getting old?


Once we were up, we had breakfast/lunch, a coffee, and then ran out the door over to Avenue Paseo de la Reforma. We walked down the busy road, through the street markets, to The Angel of Independence. We circled the monument, admiring it from every angle and jumped across to the island during a break in the traffic to get a closer look at the detail on the base. Afterwards, we walked a couple of blocks to grab some churros from Churreria El Moro.


We walked back up Paseo de la Reforma to the next site we were eager to explore – Mercado de Artesanian La Ciudadela. This long-running artisanal marketplace is a giant maze of stalls with an overwhelming number of options. We constantly asked each other, “have we already been down this row” or “where was the stall with the artwork I liked”? We walked around for a long time, narrowed down a few items we liked, compared prices and questioned if we could fit them in our suitcases and keep them from breaking before we got home. Eventually, we decided that although there were some beautiful handicrafts, the prices were way higher than similar items we had seen in the street markets, so we decided to wait a bit longer to purchase our Mexico souvenir.


We walked back to our Airbnb, picking up a snack of fried noodles from a street vendor in Barrio Chino on the way as an entrée to the dinner we would cook at home.



DAY FIVE


Lacing up our sneakers for a big day of walking.

After waking at a slightly more reasonable hour and having a quick coffee and breakfast at home, we put on our walking shoes and hit the streets. We walked for almost an hour, down Paseo de la Reforma, past the Angel of Independence, to Bosque de Chapultepec. This urban park in Mexico City is 1,695 acres, making it one of the biggest city parks in the world.


We spent hours exploring the park, from the Chapultepec Castle to the Totem Canadiense, the Museo Nacional de Antropologia and the Museo de Arte Moderno. We walked the trails, wandered through the market stalls, watched the squirrels, ate at one of the food vendors near the zoo, and relaxed in the shade by the lake. When the evening was approaching, we walked back towards our Airbnb, stopped for dinner at a Japanese restaurant called Matsu and went home to put up our feet.



DAY SIX


Wishing we had picked another restaurant for dinner.

Ten days in Mexico City may seem a little too long if you are trying to maximise your time on a holiday. However, we have really enjoyed having the extra time, especially at the start of a new year, to take each day slower than we usually would. We are not having to rush through a packed itinerary each day, but instead, we can just wander the streets, pick a site to see each day and return to places we have really enjoyed. That is what we did this morning, returning to the coffee shop Centrina to buy a good cup of coffee which we enjoyed in the Plaza de San Juan again. We did some grocery shopping and had a slow day indoors.


In the afternoon, we ventured over to the Franz Mayer Museum and spent an hour wandering through the current and permanent exhibitions. Afterwards, we walked across the Alameda, stopped for dinner and ended the night with Bec getting food poisoning.



DAY SEVEN


Food poisoning continued.

Sadly, there is not much to be said for our seventh day in Mexico City. Although we can report that by the end of the day, Bec was able to eat a small bowl of rice and vegetables for dinner



DAY EIGHT


Our rescheduled day trip.

We had booked a tour for yesterday, which due to the circumstances, we were unable to go on. Thankfully the tour company allowed us to reschedule for a small fee, so this morning we woke at 5:30 am to jump on the tour bus bound for Teotihuacan. Bec was feeling slightly better but still not able to eat much, so walking around an archaeological site for a few hours in the sun was going to be interesting.


We arrived at Teotihuacan just before the site opened to the public. We entered through the gate at the Pyramid of the Moon, listened to our tour guide explain the history of the site and watched the last of the hot air balloons from sunrise slowly descend. We explored the site with our group and tour guide for three hours and left just before midday as the crowds were very quickly arriving.


We jumped back on the bus and drove a short distance to Artesanias El Quetzal. Here we did a tequila and mescal tasting, which Bec’s still sensitive stomach really enjoyed. They then sent a slightly tipsy group of tourists in to shop for souvenirs. We found the prices were way higher than any of the markets we had been to so far, so we didn’t make any alcohol-encouraged purchases here. We had lunch across the road at Rancho Azteca Restaurant Grill & Pub, hopped back on the bus and were home in Mexico City by 3 pm.



DAY NINE


Take two at finding a Mexico souvenir.

The first time we visited Mercado de Artesanian La Ciudadela, we left empty-handed after finding the prices to be much higher than markets on the street. However, there were some items we hadn’t found at other markets, so we decided to try our luck again. First, though, we had to stop for coffee. Somehow, we were yet to try the cafe near our Airbnb, so that is where we went. La Ilusión quickly became one of our favourite cafes in Mexico City. Located down the cute and quiet alleyway in Barrio Chino, the atmosphere was lovely, the barista was very friendly, and the coffee was excellent.


Back at the marketplace, we wandered the maze of stalls but found the prices were still higher than we were hoping for. We walked outside to relax in the park for a few minutes, then looked through the stalls on the street. Here we found one item we’d been looking for, but at this stall on the street, it was 100 Pesos cheaper than inside. So we made our first purchase. Back in the marketplace, we found a laneway we had not explored yet, and in this laneway, we discovered our next two purchases, both items a lot cheaper than similar ones at other stalls. Content with our success, we stopped for lunch at Fonda Carmelita, accompanied by the biggest fresh lemonade we’ve ever consumed.



DAY TEN


One of our biggest highlights from Mexico City.

In preparation to travel to a new location after over a week of getting comfortable in our Airbnb, we spent the morning doing tedious adult chores, like washing, re-packing and making room for our new souvenirs. At midday, we walked to The Angel of Independence for the last time, where we jumped on a hop-on hop-off bus. Being ultimate tourists, we took a seat up top in the open-air section and put our headphones in, ready to learn more about the city we had been in for ten days.


We jumped off the bus in Coyoacán, where we strolled through the park, admired the Saint John the Baptist Church and ate chocolate-filled churros from the markets. We walked up to Mercado Coyoacán and weaved our way through the aisles of fresh produce, clothing, souvenirs and artwork. We shared a huge plate of food at Pepe Coyotes for lunch before heading to one of our favourite places in Mexico City – La Casa Azul (a.k.a the Frida Kahlo Museum). We spent an hour and a half admiring every artwork, photograph, artifact, room and garden inside the compound. In our opinion, it was worth the ticket price and the additional fee for photos.


By the time we left, the sun had begun to set. We sadly just missed the bus, so we waited 30 minutes for the next one, then enjoyed the last part of the audio tour back to the Angel of Independence. It was dark by the time we disembarked and much colder than when we’d left home (and sadly, we forgot jackets), so we briskly walked back to our Airbnb, grabbing one last fried noodle snack from Chinatown on our way. What a great day to end our time in Mexico City.



WHERE WE STAYED


This studio apartment was clean, well-located and precisely as described online. The apartment is within walking distance of many attractions, restaurants, cafes, parks, a supermarket and public transport. It felt very safe, and the 24-hour security staff were all friendly and welcoming. We loved having a kitchen, given we were on a budget and in the city for ten days. The only issue we had was with some noisy neighbours hosting very loud parties until 5 am the first three nights we were there. It was over the new years weekend, so we can’t blame them for parties, and although it was entirely out of the host’s control, she was still very responsive and did what she could to help.



OUR NEXT STOP


While we have enjoyed the sites, food and hustle of the city, we are eager to make our way back to the coast. We are jumping on a plane bound, heading east to Cancun.



OUR GOOGLE MAPS


When planning our travel destinations, we pin our bucket list of sites to see and recommended places to eat and drink on Google Maps. We are then never lost for ideas when travelling, and can easily share these lists for our friends and family to use as well.





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