Mexico City in a Weekend (Part 1)

It’s that time of year again! My “Weekend in México” just became an annual thing and it just so happens that for the second year in a row, I traveled on the first weekend of April. No, I did not plan this. Apparently I just get restless and adventurous in early April every year.

This time I went with a girlfriend of mine, N, and we had so much fun! We were the perfect travel buddies. It’s good to travel with someone you have fun with, but it should also be someone who gets you when you’re stressed or cranky. You want to be able to be honest about “I need a nap/snack/five minutes on the swings over there.”

Because we’re twentysomethings and don’t believe in prioritizing sleep (mostly because it’s hard to take a lot of time off work), we took a red-eye flight Friday night and flew back Monday morning in time to go straight to the office. I don’t recommend this, but if it means having an awesome weekend adventure, why not?

We arrived in Mexico City around 5:00 Saturday morning and spent a few hours charging our phones and drinking coffee in the airport (what else are we going to do at that hour?) and observing the many people sleeping on the floor (travelers, not homeless). Around 8:00 or so, we decided it was late enough in the day that we could take a taxi into the city and see about our hotel. They told us we could check in around 13:00 and sent us in the direction of Chapultepec park, also known as “Chocolate Toothpick” when you’re tired and can’t process foreign languages. Go on, try to pronounce that word. You can’t tell me it doesn’t sound like chocolate toothpick. Don’t worry, I learned the proper pronunciation eventually.

We walked through our neighborhood and took a left down Paseo de la Reforma, a sprawling boulevard modeled after those in Europe like the Champs-Élysées. It was so beautiful — a wide avenue lined with trees, old stone benches, and beautiful modern landscaping in the middle. All around us were new developments and tall commercial buildings, not unlike DTLA or any other major city but set apart by the beautiful 100+ year old fountains and statues like El Ángel – officially called Monumento a la Independencia (Angel of Independence / Monument to Independence).

When we reached the Angel of Independence, we received our first lesson in crossing the street in Mexico City. El Ángel is in the middle of a traffic circle with no lanes and no crosswalks to get to the statue itself. After observing others for a moment, we walked (ran) across the middle of the traffic circle. Our philosophy for crossing the street became “Do like the locals do and hope we don’t die.” It worked out pretty well, and by the end of the weekend we were walking confidently across streets with no hesitation, instead of running across in a panic, sending out a FOREIGNERS signal to everyone around us.

We continued walking along the beautiful boulevard and found ourselves at the entrance to Chapultepec park. There were many families and couples going for a stroll, and the happiest man I’ve ever seen in roller skates dancing his little heart out. We wandered through the park, amazed by how beautiful it was – and how clean! They had four trash cans for organic and inorganic trash, recycling, and something else(?). There were also public restrooms for $4 pesos which were very clean – although the toilet paper was outside by the sinks, not inside the stalls.

We continued wandering through the park and found ourselves in front of one of the most impressive and beautiful war monuments I’ve seen.

Monumento a los defensores de la patria (1846-1847)

A few minutes later, after wandering through the botanic gardens, we found ourselves in a different part of the park with beautiful little ponds and benches, playgrounds, swings, art installations, and several museums. We walked over to find the Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Museum of Anthropology) which was absolutely beautiful.

Next, we wandered over behind the Museo Rufino Tamayo where there was an interesting art installation and a bright orange swing set. Naturally, we stopped to play on the swings for a while. There was also a lovely organic market by the swings.

Finally, it was 12:30 and we could walk back to the hotel to check in.

After checking in and taking a much-needed nap, we went to get lunch at Lucerna Comedor which we had read about in an article about Colonia Juárez – our neighborhood for the weekend. The restaurant was really a collection of several different restaurants with communal picnic tables in the middle, not unlike a little food court, but with table service. It was a bit overwhelming and the servers didn’t really speak English, but it was a good dining experience. They had delicious ice cream in the back too if you ever go! Seriously, just go for the ice cream.

Lucerna Comedor

Food was our last adventure for the day. By the time we left lunch, it was well after 17:00 and we spent the rest of the day wandering our neighborhood, resting, and going out to find dinner. It was an early night for us since we planned to get up at 6:00 the next morning to venture out to the pyramids.

To be continued…

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