Mexico City often takes a verbal beating from Americans as a place no one would ever want to spend on a vacation. From what I’ve heard and read, yes, there was a time when the city was a hellish cacophony. Now, not so much, especially if you stick to the areas recommended in guidebooks.
But, keep in mind, even with a strong economy and tight pollution controls, it’s still not a relaxing place, it’s an exhausting place, but in a good way. Like New York. The reason I’m blabbing about this is I just read an article from SFGate.com today entitled “Smile: You’ve Got 10 Great Reasons to Visit Mexico City.”
The writer did an excellent job at nailing down the spirit of the city…here’s a few of the passages I especially endorse:
“The oldest part of Mexico City compresses 700 years of history, including Aztec ruins, Spanish colonial grandiosity, Art Nouveau showplaces and avant-garde experiments.”
Indeed, the centro should be a must-see for every tourist. Be sure to visit the Aztec Templo Mayor.
“Take a detour into leafy Colonia Condesa, a happening place with trendy bars and restaurants, and a mix of classic architecture and sleek lofts and apartment buildings….The centerpiece of Colonia Condesa is the oval-shaped Parque México. The one-time horse-racing track makes for an especially beguiling stroll in spring, when lavender jacaranda drift to the pathways.“
For sure, come to my neighborhood! And grab a fruit juice at Frutos Prohibidos on Calle Michoacan (I recommend the strawberry) and rest your feet in beautiful Parque Mexico.
“Geography, disparate civilizations and an international roster of conquerors and immigrants have produced an almost infinite variety of Mexican cuisines.”
Anyone who has read my blog before knows I get practically weepy and misty-eyed whenever I discuss the food here. Before long, I will start bursting into song.
“The village of Xochimilco, now a southern colonia, is a living museum of pre-Hispanic Mexico City, offering a unique opportunity to join Mexican families on outings to the last remains of ancient canals and chinampas (floating gardens) that predate even the Aztecs.”
We took my Minnesota in-laws to Xochimilco in February, and I can only imagine, for them, that it was the complete opposite of the St. Paul winter climate. They don’t believe in muted colors in Mexico, and Xochimilco is one of the most colorful places in the world, if not the most colorful.
What I wouldn’t recommend that was mentioned in the article: The Alameda Central. It’s gotten a bit down-around-its-heels-lately, and its utterly cramped and dirty on the weekends. As the author mentions, Bosque de Chapultepec (Mexico City’s Central Park) is a better bet, and you must — must — walk up to the castle for terrific panoramic views of the city.
And what the writer didn’t mention, but many tourists enjoy: the ancient, sprawling ruins of Teotihuacan.