Mexico City

When I told people I booked a trip for my partner and I to go Mexico City I got two types of feedback, one was praise and re-assurance that the city was a safe and fantastic place to visit and the other was that of concern. I did appreciate the concern people felt for my safety and enjoyment, but in retrospect there was nothing to be concerned about. I planned this trip as a surprise and kept the destination a secret as long as I could, but caved two weeks before departure as we both needed to take Dukoral to avoid any unpleasant stomach situations while in Mexico. One of the most surprising things about booking this trip and reaching out to people who have been to the sprawling metropolis is the amount of misconceptions they or people they know had or have about Mexico’s capital.  From my brief research a few things surprised me, one of them being that it is the biggest city in North America (based on population). The other is how cool the temperature was, even in the middle of July.

Climate

We’ve been to the Yucatan peninsula in July and found the humidity oppressive. Contrasting that with my most recent experience in Mexico City, the temperatures in the mornings were a cool 15 degrees Celsius, and it only seemed to warm up to about 20-23 degrees by mid afternoon. In the evenings the temperature dropped below 20. I primarily wore shorts for the few days we were there, but most people would be comfortable in a t-shirt and pants. I was told that it would rain a lot, and this seemed to be confirmed by the weather forecast that said it would rain every day we were in Mexico. Though, the rain didn’t happen a few days, and when it did it never lasted longer than an hour. Most travel guides recommend bringing an umbrella or rain jacket to Mexico City, which might be good advice if you do end up getting rained on the entire time.

Transportation

The biggest concern on people’s minds whenever travelling to Mexico is safety. People often wonder how safe an area is and what they can do to limit their exposure to unfortunate circumstances. One thing I’d recommend every person doing while visiting Mexico City is using Uber as your primary mode of transportation. Most phone plans have packages that allow for data roaming, or if you want to save a bit of money you can buy a local SIM card at the airport or online. The cheaper option is to buy the SIM card at the airport, but some people will pre-buy them online and activate them a day or two before they depart for their trip. Neither option is wrong, but I prefer to get the SIM card at the airport as it often a difference of $15 (CAD) in person as opposed to $40 (CAD) online.

Aside from feeling safer using an Uber as opposed to the local taxis, I also found the cost was much easier to manage. It cost us 180 MXN ($13 CAD) to get from the airport to our hotel, which was over an hour away from Juarez International. Trips throughout our stay averaged between 30-50 MXN ($2-3.50 CAD). The relative low cost of transportation made it  was super convenient and affordable to see multiple neighborhoods and locations. Another economical and safe option is the subway, which costs 5 MXN per trip ($0.34 CAD). We used the subway a few times, but preferred Uber simply because the majority of the areas or places we wanted to go weren’t directly located near or by a subway station.

Another great idea is to use your mobile phone to rent any of the electric scooters that are littered throughout Mexico City.

Neighborhoods

There’s plenty of lists online of the best and hip neighborhoods in Mexico City. There’s even a few lists of areas to avoid. All this information is useful and worth reading. We spent most of the days in Mexico in the following neighborhoods: Roma Norte, La Condesa, Juarez and Polanco. La Condesa and Roma Norte both have a very European vibe with plenty of boutiques, interesting  food options and tons of quaint parks. One of our favorite finds was a multi level vintage store called Goodbye Folk Vintage Boutique in Roma Norte. It’s worth a browse, even if you don’t end up buying anything.

Enjoying the breeze at the Frida Kahlo Museum

Food

Aside from the culture and beauty of Mexico City and Mexico in general one of the biggest draws for us is the food. Mexico City has a very interesting culinary scene, with restaurants such as Pujol dominating Michelin star lists to become the highest rated restaurant not only in Mexico but in all of North America. Pujol is a culinary delight, and we recommend everyone trying it at least once. It might be the most expensive meal you eat in Mexico City, but it is important to remember that to eat at a restaurant of this caliber would cost exponentially more money if it were located in New York or Los Angeles.

For us, the best part of Mexico City food scene was visiting the Mercados where food stalls offer culinary delights at ridiculously affordable prices. If you’re looking for some good vegetarian food options, we recommend adding the following places to your list:

  • Gold Taco Roma
  • Por Siempre Vegana
  • Yug Vegetariano
  • Molino El Pujol (meat options available)
  • El Cardenal Alameda (meat options available)
Enjoying a five course meal at Pujol

Culture and Art

There’s a few musts I think every person should do in Mexico City, these include:

  • Museo Nacional de Antropología
  • Chapultepec Castle
  • Palacio de Bellas Artes
  • Frida Kahlo Museum
  • Diego Rivera Museum
  • Museo Soumaya
Umbrella waterfall at the Museo Nacional de Antropología
Enjoying the architectural beauty that is the Museo Soumaya

This is only a fraction of what Mexico’s capital has to offer.  Some things I would like to do next time in Mexico City is to spend an entire afternoon on a boat cruising the canals in Xochimilco and a booze filled night cheering on some lucha libres at a local wrestling match. I’d also consider going in October, as the Day of the dead parade looks like a ton of fun for those prone to ghouls and goblins. One pull factor for Mexico City was and is the relative affordability of the city for us, given that most high end hotels were only $100 (CAD) per night and the flights were direct and only a few hundred dollars with return per person. The city’s affordable and largely accessible, which is why there’s a chance you might strike up  a conversation with someone at a cantina or taco stall only to realize they’re an expat.

Rooftop pool at the Hotel Plaza Galeria Reforma

Mexico City is an interesting place for those who study or are interested in architecture, public policy and art as the city is massive and has its struggles, such as as the conundrum that the city experiences massive flooding but also experiences extreme water scarcity. The city has its challenges, but it also has beauty, culture and people who have a mindset to overcome these challenges. It is a beacon/safe place for many Latin Americans who have or will escape environmental and social persecution. It is no wonder that Mexico City has gained a ton of traction over the past few years as it is working towards becoming a staple destination for international tourists.

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