A visual tour of Mexico City (and why I was incredibly impressed)

Flying in ed
Mexico City was not somewhere I had ever wanted to go. It was actually one of those places most likely to be on my ‘avoid’ list. I had a banker friend (with Scotiabank – they are all over Mexico) who had told me that car jackings were a regular occurrence in the downtown core. Mexico City was a dangerous place. That was about 10 years ago. But my mom is now spending part of the year in Mexico and she invited me to visit her. That meant flying in through Mexico City.

We spent two days in Mexico City. Although that’s not enough to really know a city, I was incredibly impressed by what I saw.

We stayed right next to the Zocalo in the Centro Historico, two blocks from the Metropolitan Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the Americas. The area is filled with historical buildings, restaurants and cafes, and some large boulevards. It actually reminded me of Paris.

Below: The Metropolitan Cathedral

Cathedral

Cathedral 2

Palacio Nacional

5 de Mayo

Above: Doesn’t that look like Paris?

We took the double decker Turibus (there’s a stop next to the cathedral) which took us a from the historic center, down the Paseo de la Reforma which is MC’s largest boulevard. The boulevard is lined with palm trees, monuments, and skyscrapers. It then entered Chapultepec Park, home to the city zoo as well as museums including the Museo de Arte Moderno and Museo Nacional de Antropoligea. We got out here and had lunch at a small taco place before visiting the Museo de Arte Moderno. We then hopped back on the next turibus and saw a few more of the city’s better neighborhoods: Condesa (leafy streets full of trendy restaurants and cafes) and Polanco (very upscale and exclusive, home of MC’s very rich).

Turibus

Paseo de la Reforma 2

Mexico City towers

architecture

Below: Job I don’t want. Think these guys getting laid anytime soon? I don’t think so.

job i dont want

park

Below: Palacio de Bellas Artes

Palacio de Bellas Artes

I know these neighborhoods don’t represent the majority of Mexico City’s districts and I’m sure there are many poor and dangerous areas; I saw some iffy-looking neighborhoods on my return trip to the airport, places where I wouldn’t have wanted to be walking around. Still, I’m impressed by much of what I saw in Mexico City; on top of some very unique modern architecture, the downtown core was very clean and organized. There was a bicycle path all the way down Paseo de la Reforma and the city has a bicycle rental program similar to Montreal’s Bixi program. They had green bicycle-taxis covering the Zocalo. I guess I had somehow pictured Mexico City to be like some of the decrepit Latin American cities I had seen. It wasn’t – you can see money in Mexico City and according to many people we spoke to the city has changed dramatically in the last few years. I was very impressed by what I saw.

Centro Historico

Close to the Centro Historico, and across from the Palacio de Bellas Artes, is the Latinoamericano tower which has the city’s best view from the 42nd floor. A few photos I took from there.

Latinoamericana tower 2

Latinoamericana tower (1)

Latinoamericana tower (3)

Latinoamericana tower (5)

Below: more images of Mexico City

Church
Museo Nacional de Arte
Another thing that impressed me; transportation is modern in Mexico and is very well organized (better than in either the US or Canada!). Bus stations are structured like airport terminals; you buy your bus ticket using your name, you get a seat number, they tell you the gate where you’ll board. Your bags go through x-rays (just like at the airport) and are checked in (they give you a ticket for your baggage). An attendant checks your ticket and gives you a free lunch (I got a ham and cheese sandwich and an apple juice) and you get in your seat on the bus. Just prior to the bus leaving the station a guard comes on the bus and does a video tape of everyone in their seats for security purposes.

Below: Bus Station

bus station

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We stayed at the Hotel Rioja in the Centro Historico. Great value for the money; 250 to 300 pesos for a room (that’s $21 – $25). Fantastic location. Not the Ritz but if all you need is a clean room with private bathroom then it is perfect.

 

For more on Mexico, visit our Destination Guide page HERE.

 

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Comments

  1. Lovely post! So many photos shared – I feel like I was there with you in your visit :)
    Lori recently posted…International Mosaicultures 2013 Special Exhibition at Montreal Botanical Garden in PhotosMy Profile

  2. I’m surprised at how clean it looks! Granted, my experience with Mexico is long weekends away in places like Rosarito and Tiajuana when I was in college, but Mexico has also been on my avoid and never want to return lists.
    Jennifer recently posted…Rome’s Borghese Gardens and Villa BorgheseMy Profile

  3. I loved DF, I think it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico and Central America by far. And sooo sooo huge and so much to do.

    My favorite part by far was the Zocolo.
    Marina K. Villatoro recently posted…Best Neighborhoods In Boston to VisitMy Profile

  4. Lewis Moreno says:

    Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I too was really impressed by Mexico City, and I totally agree, some parts very much reminded me of a European city. I particularly loved spending time in the National Museum of Anthropology and eating at many a street stalls…absolutely love Mexican food! I very much hope I return one day so I can discover more great things about this awesome place!
    Brigid recently posted…Sailing Panama to Colombia Aboard the African QueenMy Profile

  6. Great post. Before my visit, everyone told me I would return as one of the city’s biggest fans. It’s true!
    Helen Anne Travis recently posted…My Crazy Rich Neighbors: Halloween EditionMy Profile

  7. Great! At least you could see with your own eyes this time! I don’t know where the hell did you think you were going! You sounded like a friend of mine many years ago wondering that we had Walmart in Mexico! Damn! Don’t take me wrong, in that case sounded so ignorant from her, but at least she wasn’t a “traveler of the world”…

    • Serge, the truth is that many people will not travel independently to places like Mexico, the Dominican Republic, or Colombia because of the reputation or the way these countries have been portrayed in the media. So yes, even if you are a ‘traveler of the world’ I think it is important to visit and see places with your own eyes. I’m appreciative of all the support you always give on my FB page but am a little surprised by your comment – especially since I’ve said nothing but great things about my experience in Mexico.

Thanks for reading! Any feedback is always appreciated!

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