My first Mexican encounter in Mexico City
When I left for Mexico to work in a hotel for 3 months people kept asking me whether it was safe enough for me to live and travel. Everyone hears about the Drug Cartels in Mexico and thus considers the entire country unsafe. Most of the locals I met told me that geographically everything below Mexico City is considered safe enough to travel. I travelled a lot in those three months and did not encounter any problems.
Mexico Distrito Federal, or Mexico City, was my first destination in Mexico. This city has over 9 million citizens and is very well know for it slums. Mexico City is often considered unsafe, but first time travellers often find it to be a lot safer then they’d expect. As long as you stick to authorized taxi’s and leave your valuables in your hotel safe. The best part of town to book your hostel is probably Centro Histórico, the old city centre. You will find many places of interest in this area.
Around the Zocalo I found the most important highlight of Centro Histórico. The Zocalo is the main square of the city and its 240 square meters make it one of the largest city squares in the world. When approaching the Zocalo I heard the drums of the Aztec. The Aztec still perform many of their original dances on the Zocalo. Next to the Zocalo I found the Templo Major, the largest Temple of the Aztec. Unfortunately the Spaniards demolished this temple to build their Metropolitan Cathedral yet that made the visit even more extraordinary. I thought about the fact that the Templo Major rose above the highest point of the current Cathedral and was impressed by the knowhow with regard to constructing buildings of the Aztecs. In the Museo del Templo Major I learned a lot about the history of this temple as of reason why Mexico City was build on this exact place. Did you know that the first inhabitants of Mexico City where to follow a bald eagle? The bald eagle sat down on a cactus in the middle of a swamp, and that is where Mexico City was founded, according to the legend.
North of the Zocalo is the Palacio National where the history of the city is explained in an interactive museum. Since I was already there, I walked through the Calle Moneda, where I saw the cat-and-mouse game with the street vendors and the police. While buying cheap souvenirs, I heard a whistle and before I knew it all the street vendors packed up their stuff and left, only to return 3 minutes later. Apparently the police where on their way.
From the Zocalo it is just a quick stroll to the shopping street Calle 5 de Mayo. This street took me to the city park Alameda Central. This parks is over 400 years old, but is completely renovated in 2012. I ended up at the Paseo de la Reforma, the business area that eventually leads to Bosque de Chapultepec, the largest park of the city. The largest tower of Latin America is the Torre Major, the last building before you enter the park. Even though it is the largest tower of the city, I was lost trying to find it, yet it is really easy to find if you just keep walking down the main street.
When visiting Mexico City be sure to visit the Pyramids of Teotihuacan. These pyramids are the remains of the once largest empire of Mexico and are situated only 1hour bus ride from the North Bus Terminal. This bus trip took me past the biggest slums of the city. I could easily spend a day here. The Pyramids are massive! And since I am afraid of heights it took me a while to get down.
All museums are closed on Mondays, of course somehow I managed to include a second Monday during my lay-over to Cancun.
In the early evening you can drink a cocktail in the Torre Latino Americana. The view from the 42nd floor is breath-taking. Don’t be late, because the bar closes at 7p.m.