Seeing Mexico City through the eyes of the Broad
To be honest, Mexico City was never one of the places on my must-visit list. I often find that I want to get out of the big cities when I’m travelling, and it being one of the most highly populated in the world meant it wasn’t on my radar. When Macca suggested we fly into the city as the start of our journey, I began my research. I realized that the city has incredible things to offer, from countless museums to ancient ruins, and I got excited to explore it.
Walking off the plane late at night, I was greeted by Spanish bank ads and the fluorescent glow of the airport lights. It seemed surreal that after nearly a year of planning, the three of us we were here. In fact, Mexico City was the only place we had set in stone and we were leaving the rest up to how we felt. This sense of infinite possibilities is why I travel.
Our first day was spent wandering the streets, getting a taste for street tacos and a sense of this sweeping city. Taking the metro was fairly simple given that we had a metro map outlining the 11 different lines running across the city. So simple that we only had to double back twice, and jump over a barrier once. By the end of our five days in the city, one might call us metro pros.
Mexican tourists from all over were coming to the city for Independence Day, which was being celebrated on the 16th of September. Decorations were going up in red, white and green, and street vendors were set up on every corner selling various Mexican trinkets.
Like the city itself, The Museum of Anthropology was massive and packed full of culture. We spent three hours wandering the museum; from ancient cavemen to Mayan ruins to current Mexican philosophy. We just as easily could have spent three days.
About an hour bus ride outside of the city tourists from all over the world visit the pre-Columbian ruins of Teotihuacan and the famous Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. We went on a Friday, and were happy to find it not too crowded (apparently on Sundays you have to wait in a cue just to climb to the top).
Looking down from the taller of the two, the Pyramid of the Sun, was epic. The 360 degree views of the site seemed to reach on forever. The afternoon clouds began to roll in and so we headed back to catch the bus home. Raindrops fell right on cue, at 4pm, as we loaded onto our coach bus.
After our day at the ruins, we met up wth Macca’s friends for Lucha Libre (the Mexican equivalent of WWE wrestling) and we got to experience the nightlife of Mexico City. Later on, over drinks (and a few Tequila shots) in a swanky Gastown-esque bar, we chatted with our friends about where else to visit in Mexico. Every town we mentioned, they reacted the same; “Oh yes, you must visit! It’s beautiful,” and I’m sure they weren’t lying.
The Canadian and American view of Mexico is somewhat narrow; it consists of beach town resorts, drinking all day and doing some shopping in strip mall settings. But speaking to these city dwellers who have lived all over the world made me realize how big the country is and how much lies beneath what the Western world labels it as. There is culture, class and incredible heart and soul bursting from this developing country, and nowhere is it more present than in Mexico City.
Seeing Mexico City through the eyes of the Brit
It’s not often you find yourself crying with tears of laughter at a man with sweat dripping off his perfectly defined body wearing nothing more than speedos and a gimp mask, but for some reason it seems perfectly acceptable when he is accompanied by a 20-stone Ron Jeremy look-a-like nicknamed ‘Porky’ and a 3-ft midget dressed in a bright blue monkey costume.
There aren’t many places around the world where you can see something as strange as this, but Lucha Libre, otherwise known as Mexican wrestling, in the city of the same name is one of them. Even though this wasn’t exactly politically correct, it was extremely funny.
This wasn’t the only surprise of Mexico City. With an estimated population of 22 million people, I was expecting it to be a sprawling mess, which in many respects it is, but at no point did it feel cramped or cluttered. If you’re expecting a dense city like those of China and India then forget it; you won’t find that here.
Another surprise. Whenever you tell people you’re going to Mexico they’re always quick to give advice on something they know absolutely nothing about.
This advice usually consists of “don’t get drunk, don’t travel around late at night and don’t take your camera out; it will be robbed.”
Well, I got drunk, I travelled around late at night, and I barely had an opportunity to put my camera away as there were so many things to take photos of.
In my eyes, in the little tourist bubble I was in, Mexico City was a safe city, which is a good thing as there’s a whole heap of things to see and do there.
If there’s another thing Mexico is famous for its pyramids, and I was extremely excited to learn that the ancient pre-Columbian city of Teotihuacán was only an hour outside the city.
Teotihuacán was first built around 350 BC and it was once the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas with a population of approximately 150,000 to 250,000 people (more on this in a separate article).
That evening we met up with some friends who live in Mexico City for Lucha Libre (huge shout-out to Karla and Maggie for making us feel so welcome and putting us in a taxi when drunk). Let me tell you one thing – drinking beer, eating popcorn and shouting out “puto” (a rough translation is arsehole) every five minutes can never get old, and Lucha Libre beats a Christmas pantomime any day of the week.
The last thing we did in Mexico City was to go to Xochimilco on the weekend. Xochimilco is a town made up of canals an hour’s south, and it is extremely popular with people looking to escape the city for the weekend.
At Xochimilco we hired a barge for a couple of hours (150 peso, approximately €9 per person) and drunk the whole experience in.
Also on the canals were a floating mariachi band entertaining everyone, and whenever you wanted a beer all you had to do was shout out for one and someone, usually an old lady, would row over and give it to you.
Forget everything you’ve heard about Mexico City and get yourself there. You will be pleasantly surprised.