After regulated Cuba, it was strange to jump into a city fueled by capitalism. The streets were full of delicious things to eat and there were way more than four different vegetables. We found a hostel (Hostel Home) in the Roma district close to a metro station. Our layover was for about 30 hours so we had time to see some new things. Four years before we had flown into Mexico City from Tijuana for a long weekend, we had checked out the most famous tourist sites in the city and the pyramids of Teotihuacan on that trip. This time we would just eat and do a lot of walking through the city. Making your way though the neighborhoods you never knew what you will come upon. Maybe such wonderful things as the most delicious gorditas ever right around the corner from the hostel!
There was a large political demonstration in a neighborhood park nearby. Every few minutes there was canon fire in response to the speeches that echoed through all of the downtown area. We got as close as a few blocks, then our ears couldn’t take the explosions. All the locals saw it as pretty normal.
There were some very good vegetarian options in the city. We found a super busy vegan taco cart called Por Siempre. We got some “pastor” tacos with some kind of homemade fake meat and grilled pineapple. The flavors were strong and delicious; the texture perfect! The best part was the toppings bar with salsas, potatoes, beans, and grilled onions and such. The cart blared metal music and had a spot to park your bicycle– super hip.
Another place we ate was called Vege Taco in the Coyoacan neighborhood. This small restaurant had a three course lunch option of salad, soup, tacos, and a healthy drink for around 100 pesos ($5).
Coyoacan is a beautiful, artsy neighborhood with an amazing crafts market. There was something new and exciting around every corner and I couldn’t taste half the things that I wanted. It would take years to do a proper eating tour. We also found the same amazing coffee roastery we went to last time, Cafe El Jarocho.
Back in the Roma area we found another taco restaurant (we walk a bunch then eat a bunch) and had second lunch. This is when I officially decided that pineapple was a very underrated taco topping.
Later on we stumbled into a bar in the Roma after walking a long ways.
I’m pretty sure the skulls where real. Couldn’t convince myself otherwise.
As interested as I try to be, I’m just not a big “ruins” person. Most archeological sites I’ve visited have held my attention for about, say, an hour. I feel kind of bad, as most guidebooks devote pages and pages to how important some of these fallen monuments are to human history. Some travelers seem capable of wandering through mazes of half-built stone walls gazing at faded etchings for days. Not me.
I think it’s because I’m not really a detail person. When I experience beauty in the world, I experience it through grand landscapes, like a mountain view and a clear blue sky, rather than minutia, such as one small flower. It’s just the way I perceive the world, I guess. (And yes, Machu Picchu was awesome, but I think I enjoyed the scenery on the whole Inca Trail just as much as I enjoyed exploring the ancient city.)
That being said, when we planned our trip to Mexico City we figured we’d visit the pre-Colombian site Teotihuacan. It was too close to the city and too famous not to go. Thankfully, Zach is on the same page with me as far as ruins, and we planned to only spend a couple hours there.
The bus ride from Mexico City to Teotihuacan was about an hour. We both fell asleep on the bus, tired from the previous day’s exploration. After 48km through suburbs and desert hills, we arrived. After entering through the gate, what we saw was really cool. Teotihuacan was established around 100 BC and covered an area of 32 square miles. The site is huge! You could easily walk around all day if you wanted to see everything.
We focused on the main attraction, the Pyramid of the Sun. Sunny it was, haha, and we sweated as we hauled ourselves up the 200 super steep steps to the top of the highest point in the park. (Make sure you bring water!) The view from the top was pretty epic and much more fitting with my landscape mentality. You could see all the way over to the Temple of the Moon and out to the edges of the old city. Pretty cool! Climbing was hard with the elevation and heat and I was actually kind of worried watching some of the less-fit gringos trying to pull themselves up. I wonder how many accidents happen???
After going back down, we made our way through another small area, looking at a fresco of a puma and walking through some residential chambers. We made our way out and found some lunch at a nearby restaurant. Pretty easy and painless!
If you ever find yourself in Mexico City and have a half day to spare I definitely recommend it. It’s a great contrast to the bustling urban metropolis and lets you see another side of the country, even if you’re not a “ruins person.”
We’re back, people! Sorry it’s been so long since you’ve heard from us! We’ve mostly been living it up in sunny San Diego, saving money for our next big trip. One perk of SoCal life though, is the chance to jet into México cheaply and easily! Coming up are some tales of our recent trip to México City!
We literally ran out of work around 11pm the night of our flight, rushing to cross the border. Delta Airport Parking is a convenient place to park on the US side if you’re going to the Tijuana International Airport. It’s only seven dollars a day and they will drive you to/from the border 24 hours a day. A $12 taxi ride took us to the aeropuerto. Then we had to get $25 tourist visas to go past the border zone. They don’t check if you have them on the way there, but do on the way back. The visas last for six months so hopefully we can use them again. Airport security was different. “WE DONT HAVE TO TAKE OFF OUR SHOES!?!?!” ¡Viva México!!!
Since our flight left at 12am and lasted about three hours, it was still dark when we made our way towards the Metro. Conveniently located right by the airport and taking you all over the city, the Metro is a cheap and efficient way to get around. We grabbed some churros and easily navigated the subway to the Roma, a hip neighborhood where Jaime, our CouchSurfing host lived. The architecture was cool, eclectic and Spanish with crooked walls from many, many earthquakes. Our host was a great tour guide as we searched for early morning food. We ate lamb tacos and tamales with mole. We talked about food. Life was good.
Getting some energy after eating, we let our guide go off to work and walked several miles to the Centro Historico, home to beautiful government buildings, museums, and many cool bars and restaurants. Walking was really nice; its our favorite way to enjoy a new city.
As I said, there are a lot of awesome places to eat and drink in the Centro Historico. One awesome place we found was an old cantina, La Faena, which served dual functions as both a bar and a bullfighting museum. Notice the very complicated matador-themed crown molding. The best thing about cantinas is that with every drink you order you get some free food. The more you drink, the better the food! We started off with some bar nuts here, and after a few rounds were given amazing bean tacos!
I ate grasshoppers.
Pulque. It’s a lightly alcoholic drink made from the sap of the agave plant and flavored with various fruits. Super thick and milky and not for us. The bar was awesome though.
Eventually, all the food and walking, plus the effects of being up all night caught up to us and we took the long walk home to crash for a nap at Jaime’s house. The rest of the night involved some more relaxed wanderings around the neighborhood.
Coming up next: our trip to the pyramids!