Journeys » Mexico City (Journeys) » Mexico City - 2018

MEXICO CITY  -  A PHOTOGRAPHER’S PARADISE 

This was not a Photo trip, but my Nikon d500 came along. The bad news is that I discovered that Nikon d500 doesn’t like Fujifilm cards. It slowed down and skipped frames. 

Mexico City referred to by the locals simply as Mexico, is a big city, very easy to visit and quite safe. The Zocalo (Historic Centre) having been built on a lake is sinking in parts. If your photos show a leaning bell tower, think again, it’s not you…. Our excellent Hotel on the Reforma Avenue was right in the heart of the beautiful Financial District.

The City is big but "doable". Plenty of taxis, buses, metros, walkways. We used the same taxi-man all the time, recommended to us by our Hotel, Casa Gonzales. He even drove us to the Butterflies Sanctuary.

Zocalo is full of shops selling jewels, the Cathedral is big but not terribly interesting. the square was taken over by Indian dances, incense-smoke, markets, Mayan vendors, food stalls, skaters! It was Christmas time, after all. 

Eateries around Zocalo narrow streets were plentiful and packed. 

We stayed in the financial district, right on the Reforma Avenue. 

Known locally as simply Reforma, the thoroughfare takes you from the downtown area all the way to the famous Chapultepec Park. The original avenue was built by Emperor Maximilian as a route from his residence at Chapultepec Castle to the National Palace in the city center, where the affairs of government were conducted. Its original name was. Following the defeat of Maximiliano, the name of the avenue was changed to Reforma, in honor of the reforms carried out under President Benito Juarez.

Some of its more famous landmarks, particularly the Angel of Independence, were built during the long dictatorial rule of Porfirio Diaz.  The Angel was built in the first decade of the 20th century and inaugurated in 1910 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the war for independence. Others include the monument to Cuauhtemoc—the last Aztec emperor—and one to Christopher Columbus.

It is quite safe to venture out on Reforma's side streets. Look out for the Jardin des Artistes, not far from the US Embassy. Murals, paintings, market, cafes etc. Not to be missed.

Our Hotel Casa Gonzaleswas right opposite the British Embassy, next to the Japanese Embassy and behind the US Embassy.....dead safe!!! Right on the opposite side of Reforma, there is a very good Italian Restaurant. Well worth a dinner, good food, and good heating. We tried various restaurants around the hotel, all very trendy but so cold it was hard to enjoy a meal out!

The Museums are only spectacular, Frida Kahlo's was not free, being private, and packed at all times. Interesting but one should buy a ticket online. Our taxi driver made us join a bus tour parked at Frida's house. The ticket got us Frida's and River'a private museum of Mayan artifacts. All very enjoyable and it is in the grounds of the latter that we had our first taste of crickets! 

The Magnificent staircase in the Central Post Office in the city center is not to be missed. You can have a very English cup of tea in the Belles Artes Building overlooking the park right beside the Post Office Building. 

From the Nord Bus Station in the City, we took long-distance Buses. They are reasonable, beautifully run, on time, clean, with good entertainment on board, good security and strict luggage rules. Toilets on board. You are handed water and a snack before boarding. Tickets can not be bought online. The Stations are very good, safe, plenty of cafes, and you can pay in advance your taxi fare for an extra few pesos. Well worth for safety. 

There is so much to see in Mexico City that we decided to take a break and travel to the Colonial Towns by bus. Casa Gonzales, took care of our spare luggage.

 

Sanctuario del Rosario - Monarch Butterflies 

A climb of good 4 Km up 668 steps is necessary to experience the arrival at the Sanctuary del Rosario of the Monarch Butterflies migrating from Canada. Take a horse ride. Faster!

Sierra Chinchua is also a Monarch Butterflies Sanctuary. On the day we were told that the bulk of the migrating butterflies was heading for el Rosario. So, El Rosario, it was.

WHERE TO STAY

  • Mexico City, Casa Gonzales, Excellent. Good meals, hot shower, luggage room facilities.  

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • In December-January village squares fill with children’s toys in celebration of the 3-Kings Day.
  • Living cribs, children, costumes, food, cakes, a feast of bubbles and balloons.

MY TIPS

  • No matter the price your Hotel room could still be very basic.
  • Earthquake damage is widespread affecting road surface.
  • Wear good walking shoes only.
  • Long-distance buses are exceptionally comfortable, well run, and safe. Toilet on board.
  • You cannot book bus tickets online.
  •  Hotels around/on the Zocalos - Historic Centre - are best. but am not sure about  Zocalo in the City 
  • Museums are free at weekend but NOT private museums i.e. Frida Kahlo’s, book  early
  • If staying in the Financial District in Mexico City, look for the Garden of the Artists. 
  • Avoid the metro. Remember 1st and 2nd carriages are for women and children only!
  • Often there is a charge for cameras or for taking pictures..
  • If you carry a tripod  you will face high professional charges 
  • We found that booking on the internet with payment on arrival means that you get whatever room is available when you arrive. Best is to phone the hotel directly.
  • Meats are finely shredded, so you never get to taste the real thing. 
  • White corn, yellow corn, brown corn, black corn…..no wheat.
  • Cold tea, cold coffee, cold showers because water boils at 75degrees due to altitude.
  • No glass but plastic is on windows of restaurants. Possibly for a safe and quick evacuation in case of earthquakes, but unpleasantly cold at night.
  • Blankets are supplied.
  • You can pre-pay your taxi ride at airports and bus stations and be guaranteed safety.
  • Be prepared for massive Police presence heavily armed. Right through the country. Every few meters! Scary.
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