When I was a kid, I was introduced to Mexico by this game on the Apple ][ called Montezuma’s Revenge. Apart from this, and the tex-mex style “Mexican” food, there’s not really much that people from Asia know about Mexico, apart from the drug-thing in the news. I was sure that there’s more to it… Mexico is so far from Asia, it is not one of those places that we make up our mind to go for a holiday. It is far…
And now here I am, in the part of the world I never expected to be. Thus I cannot miss the chance to visit Mexico City, what they call CDMX, and find out more about Aztec history and Mexican food. It’s just too bad that the reputation of CDMX is not really that great with all that is in the news, but I figured that if I stick to the right part of the city, I will be fine.
In the 3 days that I have to spend, geography-wise I doubt I will have enough time to cover the entire city. Very quickly I knew that I had to stick to the CBD area, around La Condessa and Roma Norte and perhaps make a trip to the historical center. That should allow me to visit some nice restaurants, spend some time in the museums, etc. Quick Google search tells me to avoid anything north of Tepito, if I want to keep my head intact, so my imaginary border starts north of Centro. CDMX is so big I will not run out of things to do. As for food, I had to see what the fuss is about about Tacos, I need to get deep into Moles and Mezcals.
As for reading materials, I started reading up on “Mexico, Aztec, Spanish and Republican” Volume 1 & 2 by Brantz Meyer. Always a good thing to read up on history and visit the areas of historical interest. I am never a fan of Instagram tourism.
On the map, the international airport looks it is right in the city, a little to the east. Apart from the high altitude, I do know that CDMX is one of the largest cities of the world, so I was expecting a long trip to Reforma, on the western part of the city. No disappointment there.
First place to visit was Chapultepec, with a walk in the park, visit to the hilltop castle and then just close by Museo Nacional de Antropología is. Used it as a survey trip for my morning run as the hotel is close enough. The castle is a nice day walk, museum-wise, I would think that the Anthropology museum is more impressive. Got to remember that the museum closes on a Monday, as I did try to go back a second time as it takes a while to finish the visits. If you don’t know your Mayans from Aztecs, or Tenochtitlan from Mexico City, then spend a whole day here. It’s worth the trip.
Did I also mention that I was there during the week when Day of the Dead was celebrated. Like most people, I thought it was a tradition to have a parade, but little did I know it was invented in one of the James Bond movie and then CDMX thought it would be a good idea to have this annually. Come here, dress up as a zombie and join the parade to Centro. During the week there are displays set up all over the city. Skulls and skeletons never look so normal.
One thing I cannot miss while here is to buy some Lucha Libre masks. I did toy with the idea to watch a match at Arena México, but thought I would not be able to appreciate it anyway, so why bother. They do well the masks outside the Arena, and another good place to get them is at La Ciudadela market. There are at least 2 versions of it. One is neoprene (cheaper) and the other one is Lycra (more expensive, and apparently what the wrestlers really wear).
For Centro, a good itinerary is to talk a walk alone Alameda park, one of the first parks in CDMX, followed by the Palacio de Bellas Artes and then walking the pedestrian streets towards Templo Mayor and the large Plaza de la Constitucion, Cathedral and Palacio Nacional, all the traditional center of the city to soak up some historical vibes.
Along the way, try the street tacos. I can’t rate cleanliness, but they do taste really good and cost almost next to nothing. There are several places to try moles, and I have learnt there are several types of it – mostly originated from Oaxaca. Same thing about Mezcals & Oaxaca- and I’ve learnt that you should ask for 400 Conejos and you’re an expert already. Not all restaurants have Mezcals in their menu, at least not the English version. I would say that it’s like Tequila but smells like someone smoked it real well. They also do nice stews too, I kinda like the Mole de Olla. No cheddar cheese anywhere to be seen at all. Another interesting dish is Chiles en Nogada at Angepolitano at Roma, chicken covered in nutty sauce with drizzles of pomegranate seeds. And all of a sudden the names like Puebla, Oaxaca starts to equate with good Mexican food.
I’m sure there are a lot more to discover in CDMX. But that is about all I could cover in 3 days. Biggest regret was not buying more than a bottle of Mezcal back.