My daughter Ryann and I are the adventurous ones in our family. We're always ready to explore a different city and experience something new.
Between the two of us, we've been to a dozen countries in Europe, parts of Asia and South America. This summer, when Southwest had a sale on tickets to Mexico City, we impulsively decided to take a father-daughter trip south of the border for Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead).
Even though it is close, cheap and one of top destinations to see in the world, we had trouble finding friends who had actually been there.
Although we at first had our concerns about safety, Mexico City is absolutely worth visiting. It is truly a world-class destination, with an abundance of quality restaurants based on thoughtful concepts and inventive menus.
We read a few travel journals and the “36 Hours in Mexico City” from The New York Times to prepare for the trip. We did not strictly adhere to these publications, deciding that the limited time we had would be spent discovering the everyday culture of Mexico City.
First let's talk about the food. When you only have eight meals to devote to a city with some of the best restaurants in the world, the pressure is on to choose wisely. All of the restaurants were above average to excellent; service was prompt and courteous, with a variety of foods, wines and desserts offered. Meal choices ranged from gourmet to street food.
As for lodging, our hotel was on a tree-lined street with a pedestrian promenade down the neutral ground. Uber provided the desired transportation when the walk was far. But this is a city of 9 million people, and we were there on one of the most crowded weekends of the year, so we almost always tried to walk to our destination. Even though the subway runs every two minutes and is only a nickel a ride, except at siesta time or early morning, there are too many riders to make it an enjoyable experience.
With its centuries of history and myriad cultures coexisting with its trendy new neighborhoods, this city is unlike any other.
But the more we learned about it, the more it reminded us of Louisiana, our home. People and families are the focus of daily life. Like us, they take pride in their heritage. Festivals interrupt the daily grind. One local joked that there are 365 days in the year but 400 festivals in Mexico City.
We enjoyed our random, unplanned tour of Mexico City, although there was occasional inconsistency with WiFi.
The city is vast, and we could have stayed there for a month and not covered all the ground we wanted to. An extended weekend trip introduced us to this unique place and left us wanting to come back for more.
We recommend that anyone with a sense of adventure, an appreciation of good (and inexpensive) food and a desire to learn about different cultures visit.
If you go:
Use common sense, use Uber, learn basic Spanish and know how to access cash from an ATM.
Neighborhood: We stayed in Roma, known as a ‘trendy’ neighborhood. Other good areas to stay are Polanco and Condesa.
Restaurants: We enjoyed a fantastic meal at Huset, in the Roma neighborhood. Make sure you have enough cash to pay; their credit card machines don’t always work. If you plan your trip far enough in advance, try to get reservations at Pujol, considered to be one of the best restaurants in the world.
Breakfast: Panderia Rosetta on Calle Colima
Museums: If you are going to the Frida Khalo museum in Coyocon, get ice cream at Helados Siberia on Hidalgo Square and coffee at Jaracho (local chain with multiple locations).
Markets: Markets are a great way to immerse yourself in the Mexican culture. We visited the Mercado Jamaica, the country’s only 24-hour flower market. Other suggested markets are Roma and Meddellin.
Outside the city: If you have enough time, visit the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan, about an hour outside of the city. You can arrange your own transportation or use a tour guide service. Your hotel can probably help set this up.