Whilst we enjoyed our time in Panama, tacos were calling and giddiness fell over us as we landed in CDMX. Welcome to Mexico! And this week specifically, Mexico City.
The last time I was here, I was 23-years-old with a huge backpack about to meet my best friend for an unplanned couple of months to explore. With my ridiculous hair colour (bright henna orange) and her enthusiasm for adrenaline inducing activities we had a blast.
Fast forward ten years – With six nights up our sleeves we based ourselves in a quaint little airbnb in Roma Norte district. Condesa district was a strong contender, but I couldn’t turn down this chic, minimalist abode. Both of these areas are buzzing with art, shopping and of course – plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars. Feeling the need to research fell to the wayside, so rather than scour review sites for the best places to eat, we followed our noses.
Getting around was pretty simple, we used the subway/buses a few times ($0.50 AUD per ride) but mostly we got around by foot.
Below is a little list of all the things we did in Mexico City except one, the free walking tour. It’s the only thing we did that I wouldn’t recommend. We really didn’t enjoy the historical tour of the city centre, or maybe it was the guide? Other than that, it was unreal!
First up I need to thank my buddies Tarryn and Noni for their amazing lists of recommendations. A few of which are mentioned below! And thank you to Mexico City for a much needed dose of culture and unbelievably good food.
Things to do in Mexico City
frida khalo museum
Not just a museum, this was Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera’s actual home. Once you step through the front doors of the blue abode, an oasis awaits inside. Luscious plantlife, ponds and patios lay in the centre and the two-storey house circles the greenery. I can only imagine what it would have felt like when the home was occupied, back in 1950.
What I love about Frida Khalo was her personality, she was fiercely opinanted and tenacious especially after a pretty serious road accident. Everything she painted was a moment captured from her daily life, an extension of herself. Nothing is sugar coated, nothing is particularly peachy, it’s raw, honest and it’s pretty bad ass if you ask me. Her love for Diego was blatant and despite his wandering eye (and quite often hers too), she expresses her love for him throughout her art. She may be one of the world’s most recognised artists, but to me her art itself is personal, unique and intimate. As if I’m stepping into a page of her diary.
I went with the audio tour option for an extra $7 AUD and took my time wandering each room. The space isn’t designed for the masses, so make sure you allow plenty of time. Lastly, if I could give everyone one piece of advice – book online in advance. I’d heard horror stories from friends who waited an hour in the queue, and on arrival myself, sure enough, the queue round the block.
Palacio Nacional (National Palace) to see the murals by diego rivera
Sure, not everything is about Frida Khalo (although I was desperate to see as much of it as I could.) In the 1920’s muralism in Mexico was a salubrious way of displaying political messages as well as a recount of Mexican history after the Revolution. Diego Rivera is still to this day one of the greatest muralists of all time.
Famous mostly for his astonishing 70 meters by 9 meters high murals. It’s going to take me much longer to decide whether I prefer Diego’s cubism and renaissance style compared to Fridas painstaking surrealism. However, what I enjoyed most about Diego’s work were the clean lines, the clear messages within and the constant reference back to Mexican history before and after European dictatorship.
The National Palace is situated right in the heart of the city centre and is free to enter! Guides linger around the front entrance, but I was more than happy to amble my way around. It provided a much needed break from the hustle and bustle, plus the murals were easy to find with plenty of literature.
lucha libre show
Ok this was a bit of fun. Similar to that of WWE, the Lucha Libre wrestling includes the same theatrics, choreographed moves and crowd pleasing flips, the biggest difference being: face masks. Whilst we couldn’t understand the emcee, it was easy to follow along and before we knew it, we were cheering and boo-ing with the rest of them.
The best part about this show (other than the relaxed nature of the venue with constant calls for food and drinks) was the fast paced nature of it. Contestants would come out back to back to do their bit without any breaks, half time ‘entertainment’ or time wasting advertisements. They simply got on with it, and frankly I loved it. Tickets are reasonably priced at $21 AUD each.
Mexican folklore ballet at the Belle Artes
Honestly, we have been trying to see a performance at all of the national theatre’s we’ve come across since the beginning of our trip. Greece, Italy, Brazil – every time we go to buy tickets they’re either closed for the autumn, they’re sold out or there’s nothing on while we’ve been there. But finally, here in Mexico City, we were able to see a show in the stunning Belle Artes venue.
The Mexican folklore ballet was incredible and a truly emblematic representation of Mexican history. Full of colour, culture and typical clothing, every dance tells a different story while integrating traditional music in each act. Including Mariachi!
Keen to see some decent jazz, we ended up at Casa Franca for their speakeasy atmosphere and renowned reputation for good music. While we didn’t love the service, the cocktails were taken seriously and the wine (oh how we’ve missed you!) was a nice treat. The jazz itself was remarkable and only made us more excited to visit New Orleans later this year.
Bosque de Chapultepec (the largest park in the city)
It was massive. We kind of regret going on the weekend, where crowds are a-plenty and street vendors congregated to make a relaxing stroll impossible. But there is one perk to visiting on sunday: entrance to the Museo de Arte Moderno (Modern Art Museum) is free! I was keen to see more Frida and here houses the famous dos fridas painting.
eating and drinking
We had unbelievably good food during our time in Mexico City and while there are literally hundreds of options, what we enjoyed most were the street tacos. *Newsflash* Moo is going to publish his first blog on avaycay this week! It’s all about the delicious street tacos we sampled, so definitely keep an eye out for that. We also tried Pulque (a low in alcohol beverage made from agave, pictured above.) Worth a mention was (pricy, but) delicious Loup Bar for perfectly curated wine, the wait staff were excellent at finding that divine bespoke drop just for us.
Our trip to Mexico City wouldn’t have been complete without a day-trip to see the ancient Mesoamerican pyramids of Teotihuacán. In order to beat the crowds (and the heat) we caught an early uber out to Teotihuacán and caught the local bus back.
The ancient complex includes two massive pyramids, Pirámide del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) and Pirámide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Moon). I’m not sure how the Aztecs would appreciate the ‘place of the gods’ now riddled with hawkers selling their wares, but it was a pretty majestic site nonetheless.
So there you have it, a dose of culture, great food and an eclectic mix of locals and expats dedicated to looking cool and seriously pulling it off. It was just what we needed to experience and honestly, since Rome, it has been our favourite city so far!
After a cancelled flight, we eventually made our way over to La Paz, on Baja California Sur. See you next week for the full scoop on this sensational place!
Until then xo