So little time, so much to see!
Niek and I had a day and a half in Mexico City between Queretaro and Cancun. Below is what we think you should do if you too only have a short time in the city. You’ll notice from the post that we’re a mix and match couple when it comes to money. We love to eat street food and save some money on accomodation. But we also love cocktails and restaurants with cosy vibes. This itinerary reflects that, and is the best way for us to travel!
Get some photographic inspiration
After breakfast head to Museo Archivo de la Fotografía and check out their cool photography exhibitions. We saw the work of Naoya Hatekayama. His photos document the rebuilding of Rikuzentaka village after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. I absolutely loved his sad, but beautiful photographs. Also on show was a retrospective of Raghu Rai’s work from all over India.
Take in the Diego Rivera murals
After that, take a short walk north to La Secretaria de Educacion Publica to see some of Diego Rivera’s murals. I am not a massive fan of his style, but it proved to be a good decision. The building is enormous and grand. You feel like you’re intruding as you walk through, which is kind of exciting. It is an amazing setting for these murals, which show everyday life in Mexico and document indigenous traditions such as weaving. I strongly suggest just taking a few minutes for yourself, sit in the sun and take it all in.
Eat some tacos
Make a stop for your Mexican breakfast. Mexicans don’t eat this until about 11am and then have their main meal around 4. Right next to the Secretaria de Educacion Publica you will see lots of stalls selling tacos. Find the busiest one and grab some tacos. My favourite is with chorizo and Niek’s are al pastor. Apparently if you want the best al pastor tacos in the country then Mexico City is where you need to be.
Get a concrete fix
I LOVE concrete! So was pleasantly surprised when we stumbled across the Centro Cultural del México Contemporaneo just a few hundred metres walk away. It is a wow building, with a combo of old brick and a whole lot of concrete. There were a couple of exhibitions on whilst we visited, including the fun and playful drawings and objects of Elsa Madrigal. There are also a couple of tables and chairs, so you can also pop yourself there for a while to read or work. The space has dance, music, literature and theatre events, so have a look at their website for what’s on.
Stroll and feast in Condesa
Jump on the metro to Chapultapec in Condesa. Just stroll around, surrounded by lots of trees and people walking their dogs. We spent a few hours here taking pictures of the cool apartment buildings. It reminded us of the French Concession in Shanghai, where we used to live; all the cute coffee shops and bars, as well as the buildings from the first half of the 20th century.
There are so many places to grab food, but we particularly liked the décor of Lardo. Loads of plants and warm lighting make it really cosy and still stylish. They have a lot of wines to choose from and the food is kind of European bistro I guess; sandwiches, salads and pizza. I went for a delicious red from northern Baja California and although we didn’t eat here, the pizzas looked amazing!
Guyaba foam anyone?
Cocktails are one of the things I miss most from Shanghai, so I wanted to check out what Mexico City has to offer. From Lardo head to Licorera Limantour. You can jump in an uber or take the metro to Insurgentes and then it’s about a 10 minute walk.
Licorera Limantour was busy from the moment we got there to the moment we left. So it seems like you’re guaranteed a good atmosphere whatever time you go. As far as the decor is concerned it is quite refreshing as a cocktail bar. It doesn’t have the 1920s theme you often find, but has lots of clean lines and minimal furniture. A kind of contemporary mid-century aesthetic. The menu is extensive, with cocktails by the spirit or specialities of the house. We tried a few different cocktails, and I really enjoyed the ‘Mr Pink’, a gin based cocktail with rosemary. It was the ‘La Morena’ however that we both fell in love with. If you go you have to try it. It is a mezcal based cocktail topped with guava foam and cardamom, yum, yum, yum!
Time to shop
After breakfast head through Lagunilla market towards the metro station of the same name. Even if you’re not going to buy anything, it is worth it just for checking out street life in Mexico City.
Grab one of the street snacks whilst you’re there. I went for slices of green apple with chili, salt and lemon. My mouth is watering writing about it.
Ride the metro to Sevilla and walk to Mercado Roma. This is a covered food market, similar to Borough market in London. It is busy busy at the weekend, with everyone that wants to be seen enjoying brunch there. You should bear in mind that it is not street food, and therefore not street food prices. So take your time and read your book or plan the next bit of your travels over your coffee and gluten free chocolate cake.
For the final leg of your lightning speed trip through Mexico City you’re going to need to jump on the metro again. This time head to Buenavista to visit Biblioteca Vasconcelos. In my opinion this is something absolutely not to be missed. This library is enormous, magical and futuristic, you can’t help but think of films like Bladerunner. Make sure you walk up to the different levels and past the suspended bookshelves to look down to the grand lobby below.
Sadly at this point we had to say bye to the city and grab our bags before heading to the airport. But we’ll be back I’m sure, to search out more buildings, bars and restaurants to head to.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Mexiqui Hostal right in the middle of the historic centre. It is an excellent location for seeing all the sights, such as the Palacio Nacional and Templo Mayor. They can also help you arrange tours.
It is a 5 minute walk to Zocalo metro, which means you can easily access neighbourhoods like Roma and Condesa.
They have mixed and single sex dorms, which are clean and brightly decorated with beautifully carved wooden doors. It includes a continental breakfast in the hang out room, but the real winner is the terrace! Where you can take your beers and watch the sun go down over Templo Mayor.
The one downside was that the water wasn’t very warm, but this didn’t really bother us as we weren’t staying long. Overall we enjoyed staying here; it’s cheap and clean. A bed in the 5 person mixed dorm costs 13 euros, which is pretty decent for what you get. But most importantly for us is that it is nicely decorated, something we are obsessed with!
Extra bit of advice – check out websites of the places you want to visit before you go as some aren’t open on Monday.
It wasn’t easy for us to find a metro map, even on the wall of metro stations. So here’s a link to one.