For me, arriving in Mexico City had a buzz like no other. I took comfort in the friendly voices around me and was so excited to come back to what is fast becoming one of my favourite countries.
The lights, the colours, the festivals, weather and the warmth of the lovely Mexican people set it apart from any other city I’ve been to. We had decided to stop for a few nights in Mexico City given that we had a companion voucher with British Airways, and our flights stopped there on our way to Puerto Vallarta. I’d been so excited about being in one of the culinary hot spots of the world. What resulted was a seriously inspiring holiday which has me looking for my next culture contrast as soon as possible.
Whilst it was due to be just a stopover on our way to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City quickly became one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. It’s taken top place for my favourite city break and it’s made me so inspired to get back to Latin America as soon as possible.
I can’t wait to share with you, these five top things that inspired me about Mexico City!
The insanely good food
We didn’t have one bad meal for the four days we were in Mexico City – every dish was incredible. From the Spicy Chilaquiles or Amaranth granola in our hotel breakfast, flavour-packed tacos from the street, little family run restaurants, to some of the best fine dining in the world, which is worth coming to Mexico for in its own right! The flavours are incredible, aromas unrivalled and any foodie would get super excited. From eating our weight in fresh zingy guacamole to experiencing true Mexican haute cuisine at Pujol, voted 25th best restaurant in the world – I’ve never tried such incredible food. It certainly isn’t the one-dimensional Mexican food we get in the UK and there were just so many dishes I’d never tried that I would love to eat today!
The warm, kind people
Despite the negative press about safety and drugs in Mexico, the people are wonderful! Mexico gets a lot of bad press but honestly, our experience was contrary to so much of this. I found it safe, warm and friendly. We took the local metro and found that people were happy to help direct us. I loved practicing my Spanish as I felt everyone was only ever happy to help me.
When we visited Mercado San Juan, we bought a small wheel of my favourite Oaxacan cheese to snack on. We happened to have it with us when we visited the Taqueria next door, where the smell of fresh tortillas was irresistible.
We perused the menu and quickly realised that there wasn’t much for us. The Doc is allergic to shellfish and I was struggling to translate some of the meats in Spanish (they are grouped by part of the body!) The lovely lady understood my predicament (which I explained in broken Spanish) and that we didn’t really want to take a risk. She grinned, reassured me that she’d make us something special, took the cheese and came back with the best quesadilla I’ve ever tasted. Stringy with cheese, hot and full of flavours with fresh greens and the most incredible flavour packed salsa. It was sensational (I’ve never had my mouth water as much as when writing this!) Where else in the world would someone do that!?
Romance is not one of the words I associated with Mexico City before we visited, but now I can totally see how romantic it is. I agree that taquitos aren’t the most attractive things to eat on a date, but Mexico City certainly surprised me with how romantic it felt.
From dining in candlelight at Azul Historico or strolling through the many city parks like Chapultepec or Alameda Park – you see couples everywhere. Music plays everywhere and it is so atmospheric. Each weekend in Plaza de la Ciudadela, couples of every age can be seen dancing to music with a Cuban influence. It’s beautiful and incredibly romantic and it absolutely is a wonderful day to enjoy the company of your loved one, hand-in-hand, whilst seeing the sunset over Paseo de la Reforma.
The passionate but tumultuous love story of two of Mexico’s most famous artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, is the most captivating I’ve heard and oddly one of my favourites. Reading Frida’s exquisite love letters to Diego at the Frida Kahlo museum felt like peeking into someone’s diary. Bizarre as it sounds, reading about her intense love for Diego, their open relationship, the highs, the lows and the challenges they faced, was actually one of the most memorable parts of the trip! It was so lovely to experience this together too and I can’t recommend it enough.
The ever-present art (it’s everywhere!)
This beautiful city is an art-enthusiasts dream (and also incredibly Instagrammable!) Everyday there are long winding queues outside the home of Mexico’s most famous artist, Frida Kahlo. Apparently, this is always the case no matter how early you visit. Vivid blue walls and terracotta aren’t just for this museum though, Mexico City is the most colourful place I’ve ever been to. Houses are painted in the most gloriously bright colours and honestly, it’s so stunning and put a smile on my face every single day.
The artwork in Frida’s home is incredible – if you go it’s definitely worth getting the audio tour to really bring it to life! I love that in Mexico City you walk through any street and almost have to force yourself not to take photos of everything. The street art is so pretty!
Much of the art I loved best was testament to Frida and Diego. Diego’s murals at the beautiful colonial Palacio Nacional cover the walls with the history of the Mexican civilisation, from the arrival of Quetzalcóatl, a god of the Toltecs, Mayans, and Aztecs, to the post-revolutionary period.
Palacio de Bellas Artes has exhibitions and theatrical performances as well as murals from some of Mexico’s greatest artists!
Diego Rivera and Frida symbolise the wave of the communist movement and I love that art, history, romance are woven together through their art.
The Teotihuacan History
The history of Mexico is so vast and rich and incredibly interesting. I loved the museums and would have loved more time to explore more of them. Just north of Mexico City are the Teotihuacan pyramids, an archaeological complex built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D; known to be one of the largest urban centres of the ancient world. It had existed for thousands of years even before the Aztecs! Relatively little is known about the “city of the gods” except that Teotihuacan was the capital of an ancient empire whose impact stretched as far as Guatemala. I loved exploring these pyramids and learning about the way of life. It was incredible to stand somewhere steeped with so much history. I’d love to learn more about Mexican history (perhaps grounds for another trip soon!)
Mexico City inspired me in so many ways and I definitely want to go back as soon as possible! If you get the chance, you absolutely must go!