Mexico City: Final 3 days (for now)

The last half of our week in Mexico City was, thankfully, a little slower paced. Though we walked our tushes off exploring neighbourhoods and parks.

First up was Condesa, the neighbourhood next to ours (Roma Norte). There is a bit of a blurry line between Roma Norte and Condesa, and the two are often referred to together (Condesa/Roma Norte) when being described as the best areas to stay in for a visit to the city.

We enjoyed our visit to the Condesa but weren’t blown away by it. There are pretty areas and loads of tree-lined sidewalks (or center walks) but, for some reason, nothing struck us as unique. We did stop at Tacos Don Juan, a shop that is purported by some to provide the best tacos in town. Each taco is piled high with your choice of freshly chopped meat, and then you add the sauces and extras. We had only one each and were full. The tacos stood up to their reputation–they were delicious. There are no seats inside the shop, only a few benches outside, and everyone just hangs out and eats before paying and moving on. This is not a place for vegetarians.

We were far more intrigued by our next day’s outing to Coyoacán. I had populated a map with several potential stops of interest, but we didn’t really know what to expect of this neighbourhood that has been described as colourful and vibrant. We took the Metro from Roma Norte and then walked about one kilometre to get to our first stop, La Casa Azul (The Blue House), Frida Kahlo’s former home and now the Frida Kahlo museum. We were surprised to find an entry queue wrapping around the building and tour buses everywhere. We had read mixed reviews of the museum and, once we checked the price list out front and found that tickets cost more than three times any other museum we had visited so far (and should be bought online ahead of time), we decided to snap a picture of the outside of the building, and move on.

We walked to the Mercado Coyoacán, a colourful and busy market filled with fresh foods and dry goods.

As you walk deeper into the center of the market you reach the restaurant food stalls. We were on a search for Tostados Coyoacán based on blogger recommendations. Keep walking until you find lots of yellow and, confusingly, lots of stalls with giant Toastados Coyoacán signs, all bearing photos of the same dishes and prices. We found out later that, though they appear to all be the same restaurant, most stalls are run as independent businesses. More importantly, all have the most wonderful platters of food from which you choose your tostada toppings. We sat at the first booth we saw (and a couple of English speakers who had just finished confirmed that the food was wonderful), and it really was delicious. Ceviche on a tostada for me–I was in heaven! As we left, we discovered even more yellow Tostada Coyoacán stalls, and some of them seemed to be serving up smaller, taco-sized tostadas, where ours had been luncheon-plate sized. Ken managed to eat two, but one was plenty for me.

We also happened upon a tortilla machine and watched it for a few minutes, trying to figure out where the tortillas were going.

After following the path of the marching tortillas with our eyes, we finally figured out their destination. A second machine behind the first was spitting them out and a young man was peeling each one off and piling them high.

After strolling through the little art market across the street, we moved farther into the village to Plaza Hidalgo, which joined onto Jardin Centenario. Enormous event tents and screens were being erected, blocking some of the views. Even with the disruptions, there was still a festive atmosphere in the whole area. We were there on a Saturday, which likely contributed to this (we had seen warnings about avoiding Sundays due to the crowds). All around the plaza and gardens are restaurants, cafes, churrorias (churro shops), and panaderias (bakeries). Even the plaza right in front of the main historic church (Iglesia de San Juan Bautista) was filled with merriment.

The focal point of Jardin Centenario is the Fuente de Los Coyotes, coyotes having a connection to the town’s name and Aztec history.

After eating at one of the restaurants, we wandered through the surrounding neighbourhoods and were quite taken with the beautiful streets and homes.

Before catching an Uber back to Roma Norte and our AirBnB, we had to stop at the panadería on the corner across from Plaza Hidalgo. As big and beautiful as it was, there are just so many amazing panaderías throughout the city, that it really wasn’t that special.

Our final day in the city was a Sunday, when one of the main roads, La Reforma, is closed to car traffic for six hours in favour of bicycles. We thought we would pick up Ecobici bikes and join in (if there were bikes available), but we decided instead to walk the route to give us more flexibility to stop and gawk. (Surprisingly, there were plenty of bikes available at many bike stations along the way.)

We still had one more thing we wanted to check out, so we continued walking into Chapultapec Park, a park that we had visited a few days before. What we didn’t realize is that there are two parts to this park so the park that we thought was huge, turned out to be almost twice that size.

When we got to the entrance of the first section, just below the castle, yet another big event was in progress. The exhibits were sophisticated and large, and people of all ages were playing games and having fun learning how to better handle their finances.

We walked several kilometres to the other section of the park and finally reached our target. Fuente de Tlaloc (god of rain) is another Diego Rivera piece, which he created as part of a project, begun in 1952, to improve the city’s water system.

Other than a few stops for tacos and margaritas, we were done with Mexico City. We will be back again in a couple months as this is from where we will depart the country, but we’re not sure if we’ll have the time nor inclination to spend more time exploring. We found this city to be really interesting, full of sites to check out, and easy to get around with Uber, the Metro, Ecobici and our feet. It is definitely worth several days’ visit should you have a chance.

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