BootsnAll Travel Network

Mexico City

February 2013 – Mexico City was not somewhere I had ever wanted to go. It was actually one of those places most likely to be on my ‘avoid’ list. I had a banker friend (with Scotiabank – they are all over Mexico) who had told me that car jackings were a regular occurrence in the downtown core. Mexico City was a dangerous place. That was about 10 years ago. But my mom is now spending part of the year in Mexico and she invited me to visit her. Which meant flying in through Mexico City.

We spent a day and a half in Mexico City. Although that’s not enough to really know a city, I was incredibly impressed by what I saw.

We stayed right next to the Zocalo in the Centro Historico, 2 blocks from the Metropolitan Cathedral (the largest cathedral in the Americas). The area is filled with historical buildings, restaurants and cafes, and some large boulevards. It actually kind reminded me of Paris.

Above: Doesn’t that look like Paris?

We took the double decker Turibus (there’s a stop next to the cathedral) which took us a from the historic center, down the Paseo de la Reforma ( MC’s largest boulevard). The boulevard is lined with palm trees, monuments, and skyscrapers. It then entered Chapultepec Park which is home to the zoo as well as some museums (including the Museo de Arte Moderno and Museo Nacional de Antropoligea). We got out here and had lunch at a small taco place before visiting the Museo de Arte Moderno (very nice building – but I found the art boring). We then hopped back on the next turibus and saw a few more of the city’s better neighborhoods: Condesa (leafy streets full of trendy restaurants and cafes) and Polanco (very upscale and exclusive, home of MC’s very rich).

I know these neighborhoods don’t represent the majority of Mexico City’s districts and I’m sure there are many poor and dangerous areas (I saw some iffy-looking neighborhoods on my return trip to the airport, places where I wouldn’t have wanted to be walking around). I’m still impressed though by much of what I saw in Mexico City – on top of some very unique modern architecture, the downtown core was very clean and organized. There was a bicycle path down Paseo de la Reforma and the city has a bicycle rental program similar to Montreal’s Bixi program. They had green bicycle-taxis covering the Zocalo. I guess I had somehow pictured Mexico City to be like some of the decrepit Latin American cities I had seen, places like Havana, Santo Domingo, or even San Jose in Costa Rica. It wasn’t – you can see money in Mexico City and according to many people we spoke to the city has changed dramatically in the last few years. Anyway, I was impressed by what I saw.

Close to the Centro Historico, and across from the Palacio de Bellas Artes, is the Latinoamericano tower which has some of the best views across the city from the 42nd floor. A few photos I took from there.

Above: Me and my mom

Another thing that impressed me; transportation is modern in Mexico and is very well organized. Bus stations are structured like airport terminals. You buy your bus ticket using your name, you get a seat number and they tell you the gate where you’ll board. Your bags go through x-rays (just like at the airport) and are checked in (they give you a ticket for your baggage). An attendant checks your ticket and gives you a free lunch (I got a ham and cheese sandwich and an apple juice) and you get in your seat on the bus. Just prior to the bus leaving the station a guard comes on the bus and does a video tape of everyone in their seats for security purposes. Also, taxis were plentiful and cheap.


We stayed at the Hotel Rioja in the Centro Historico. Great value for the money; 250 to 300 pesos for a room (that’s $21 – $25). Fantastic location. Not the Ritz but if all you need is a clean room with private bathroom then it is perfect.

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