Every Once in A Tile
Did you know that Mexico City is the second largest city in the Western Hemisphere (after NYC) and the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world? Last week, a bit on a whim, I hopped the border down to Mexico City to stay with my friend Carla. She grew up visiting Mexico City and I knew she'd be the perfect person to show me around, so when she suggested the trip to me I figured por qué no?
I may have mentioned it before, but I'm not a very spontaneous person and I like to have things planned down to a tee. So this whole laid back not knowing what we'd be doing thing was pretty stressful but I rolled with it as best as I could and tried to embrace the adventure. I arrived on Saturday afternoon and she met me at the airport, then we headed to the hotel to drop off our bags. We stayed right off of the Paseo de la Reforma near the Centro Historico, a central area of the city with some good hotels. Once we got settled, Carla's cousin picked us up to take us to a local market where we were shopping for some locally woven bags for her cousin's upcoming wedding. We wandered through the stalls of the artisan market for awhile, though both Carla and I were exhausted from our travels and the fact that neither of us had slept the night before. When her cousin dropped us back off at the hotel we slumped into the bed for a nap and it took hours before we got back up and went to dinner.
The main method of transportation in Mexico City is by car, so we Ubered everywhere throughout the trip. There is a subway and a bus system but neither is considered safe at all and the city is way too spread out to make walking all that practical. So we Ubered to dinner at the infamous Casa de los Azulejos, a beautiful old tiled building with a Mexican chain restaurant and store inside called Sanborns. After dinner, led by my insatiable sweet tooth, I asked if there were a place to get dessert and Carla led me to Churreria El Moro for some of, if not the, best churros I've ever had. They're hot and fresh, covered in brown sugar, and I bought cajeta (caramel) to dip them in. Just writing this is making my mouth water. I got a bag to go and we hurried back to the hotel, where I proceeded to eat the entire bag and made myself sick... But it was totally worth it.
The next morning, we headed to a trendy area of the city called Polanco to meet Carla's friend for Sunday brunch at Casa Portuguesa. After some omelettes and chilaquiles (the most popular thing to eat in Mexico, as far as I could tell), we then walked to Theodor Té to grab some tea to wash down breakfast. Pili then drove us to Museo Soumaya, one of the more popular attractions to see in Mexico City and a total contrast to many of the old historic buildings we'd seen thus far. Museo Soumaya, and the Museo Jumex across from it, as well as all of the surrounding high rises, are ultra sleek and modern. Unfortunately they were also packed with people and we didn't bother waiting in line to see inside Jumex, though we walked through Soumaya a bit. The structures are significant in and of themselves architecturally. Next we caught another Uber to the Zócalo plaza to see the Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México, the largest cathedral in the Americas. It was completed in 1813 although over the years the building has suffered significant damage and is currently sinking, along with the rest of the city, into the lakebed below. Much of Mexico City is crooked, in fact, though the residents have just adjusted as needed over the years. After wandering through the cathedral we made our way back towards where we'd eaten the night before, by the Palacio de Bellas Artes (a cultural and artistic center in Mexico City it is a theater where internationally renowned plays, ballets, operettas, and the like have been performed for over a century). We walked down the main street called Diez y Seis de Septiembre, stopped for coffee at Cielito (as Carla called it, "the Mexican Starbucks"), ate some fresh mangos from a street vendor, snapped some photos of the Casa de los Azulejos in the daylight, and wandered into the Palacio de Correos. Ultimately we made our way to dinner at Azul Historico, which has a gorgeous courtyard and delicious food right in the center of town. After dinner we headed to a bar to watch the USA v. Mexico soccer game, which wound up being a pretty slow game in the end as they tied. It was a long day but jam packed with so many great sites throughout and I got a good taste of what Mexico City has to offer.