Ciudad de Mexico: First Impressions

I was looking forward to my short stay in Mexico City. More like two stopovers, really – one en route to Veracruz for our Cortés research project, the other at its end and before flying back to Spain. 


I’ll say it up front: as much as Veracruz state blew my mind, Mexico City didn’t deliver as expected. Some fantastic sights, for sure, but too few and far between, and an overall atmosphere that I wouldn’t write home about, even in acclaimed neighborhoods such as Roma or Condesa.

No Spanish Bangkok, as perhaps I was expecting it to be. Maybe next time. 

Still, some moments were thoroughly enjoyable. The Museo Nacional de Antropología, especially after visiting the Totonac ruins of Cempoala and Quiahuitzlan, was perhaps my biggest tourist highlight.  

Looks like Yucatán! Museo Nacional de Antropología.

I also enjoyed discovering pulque and pulquerías, and the light in the streets in colonial Coyoacan neighborhood. 

Another round of pulque, pease!

But perhaps the most enjoyable moments happened in unexpected places and, why not say, out of several maladjustments. 

My first full day in Mexico I woke up at 4 am. Oh yes, jetlag – of course. After failing to fall asleep again, I decided to head out to explore. I had running gear, but the temperature was down to 8 degrees Celsius, so I decided to put on my jacket and go for a walk. A long one. 

Alf on Paseo de la Reforma. Chilly!

I walked toward the famous Zocalo, hitting some interesting sights on the way. The famous Palacio de Bellas Artes or the Casa de los Azulejos.

Casa de los Azulejos, early chilly morning
Palacio de Bellas Artes

But also, interesting urban architecture that reminded me of Buenos Aires, as well as an Editorial Porrúa outlet. What Spanish or Latin American graduate student in the Humanities hasn’t read a book published by them!

Close to the Plaza del Zocalo, I encountered a tacos stand. Of course I had to oblige!

First tacos in Mexico had to be on the street!

Finally, I got to the world famous Plaza del Zócalo. Not particularly scenic or atmospheric, but then again it was only 8 am. One thing that was interesting, however, was seeing the ruins of the Mexica Templo Mayor right next to the Catholic Cathedral.

The cathedral from the Mexica ruins. Two civilizations side by side
Physical model of Tenochtitlan, right next to the Temple ruins

I kept walking. More people on the streets, until I decided to stop for what seemed to be a proper Mexican breakfast which I truly enjoyed. That’s the thing with solo travel – you just have to be alert to opportunities to stop, take a break and get your stuff together.

And then there was more walking, more people, less cold on the way back to my hotel in Roma Norte.

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