We’ll admit … we were lured in by the extremely affordable round trip flight prices. Mexico City had no beaches to visit and as the capital city of Mexico, we knew English-speakers would be few and far between.
And that didn’t matter. Mexico City was a bustling, beautiful city filled with amazing architecture, a rich history and tons of hidden gems. And we can’t wait to share it with you!
Day 1: Welcome to Mexico
We booked airport transfers ahead of time, which was good because the airport was busy and crowded, and well, we didn’t know much Spanish!
Our hotel was about a 20-minute drive from the airport. The Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico was gorgeous – full of Old World charm and located right in the heart of the city. The staff was exceptional – from check-in, to taking us on the scenic route to our room while giving us history of the hotel (it was built in 1899) and the complimentary around-the-clock champagne!
We were starving by time we arrived, so it was perfect that the hotel had a restaurant and rooftop bar (Terraza) with unrivaled views of the city’s main attractions (Zocalo, National Palace and Metropolitan Cathedral). Their lunch buffet was pretty darn good. We had salads, made-to-order tacos and whatever else caught our eye!
After filling our bellies, it was time to explore this city we’d researched so much about. And because we were in the center of everything, all the attractions were within walking distance. It was Saturday night and everyone was out and about – men, women, couples, old people, children, families, everybody! It did start raining, and though it made things a little messy and picture-taking a tad more difficult, it didn’t stop our exploring. Plus we were prepared with an umbrella and raincoat. (Always check the weather, people)
We found a candy store!!
We wanted to try out Azul Historico, a restaurant that had great reviews, but we arrived to find that it would be at least a 45-minute wait. Click here for our experience! (Note: we ended up not eating here due to the wait). We grabbed some sort of cheesy bread nearby (a sad alternative) and headed back to the hotel to rest up for our full-day tour the following day.
Day 2: Teotihuacan Tour
We had vouchers for free breakfast at the hotel, so that’s where we headed first. There was a cart with breads, pastries, cereal and fresh fruit to choose from and a full menu we could order from as well. We ordered, enjoyed the fruit and pastries and waited … and waited … and waited some more. It seemed as though the kitchen was having problems and the waiter said they had messed up (code: forgotten) our order. Long story short – our French toast and bacon arrived 10 minutes before we had to leave. And it wasn’t good, so no picture – sorry!
We were scheduled to depart for our all-day tour of Teotihuacan at 9:30am. Our tour guide Tony met us in our hotel lobby as did all the other people who would be joining us on the tour. It was so cool to learn that all of us were from different parts of the world (China, Croatia, Spain, England, Bolivia, Paraguay and the United States). Quite the worldly bunch we were!
It was about an hour drive to Teotihuacan. We saw and learned a lot along the way … check it out!
When we finally arrived to the beautiful pyramids at Teotihuacan, it was amazing. The Pyramid of the Sun was four levels and visitors were scattered like tiny ants all around. Tony, the tour guide, told us there was a line to climb the Pyramid of the Sun that could take anywhere from one to two hours. We could wait and go to the highest point possible at that pyramid or opt to climb the Pyramid of the Moon (where there was not a wait) up to the second level (visitors aren’t permitted to pass the second level due to work being done on it). We only had two-and-a-half hours at the pyramids before the tour would head to lunch.
So we had a decision to make.
After taking pictures of the beautiful Pyramid of the Sun, we felt it would be the best use of our time to head on over to the Pyramid of the Moon and climb to its second level. Views were still amazing.
The tour reconvened and we headed to a nice restaurant for lunch. We enjoyed the buffet and left quite full and a bit sleepy. Tony even encouraged us to take a siesta on the ride to our next destination.
On our next stop, we learned about the spirituality of Mexico City. We visited several of the city’s beautiful cathedrals and even witnessed what looked similar to Catholic Mass. Pictures were permitted inside as long as there was no flash, but we decided to take pictures of the outside of the buildings only out of respect.
After a full day, we were dropped off at our hotel. The Teotihuacan Tour was definitely the highlight of our trip and we highly recommend it to anyone planning to travel to Mexico City. If you book as a package like we did through our hotel, it’s about 30 USD per person.
Because it was our last night in Mexico City, we wanted to dress up and go to a fancy restaurant for dinner. Only thing is, it was Sunday, and just about every restaurant closed early or before we were finished getting ready. In this case, we went with what we knew. The Terraza (our hotel restaurant we dined at for lunch the day before) was open until 11pm and literally a few seconds walk from our room.
So we had dinner on the roof (it was quite cool at about 60 degrees) and enjoyed the beautiful views of the Zocalo at night. We were ecstatic that the dessert buffet had cake balls – we love cake balls! No need for us to tell you how many we had …
We ended the night with a champagne toast.
Day 3: La Condesa Neighborhood
We had an early afternoon return flight, so that gave us the entire morning to do a little more exploring, so we decided to venture a little further out of the central part of Mexico City into some of the charming neighborhoods.
After reading up on the food, bars and art, we opted to explore the neighborhood of La Condesa. So we called an uber (seriously, uber is life) and were on our way. La Condesa was charming, colorful and diverse. We saw all races and what looked to be college students. We definitely got a hipster vibe from the area.
We stopped into a quaint restaurant (El Pescadito) that had great reviews for some shrimp tacos – they were superb. The best we’ve had throughout our stay in Mexico City!
There wasn’t a lot of time left to explore, so we caught another uber back to our hotel in order to make our flight. And this is where things got interesting.
As we were riding with our uber driver (our Mexico City drivers were sooooo nice – one offered us bottled water and the other gave us candy), we noticed the streets became increasingly busier and the time to arrival on the GPS kept increasing.
We started to worry a little bit. We had to get to the hotel by a certain time to get our bags and make our transfer to the airport. Our driver tried to explain to us what the holdup was … we heard “congestion.” But, in fact, what he said was “manifestation.”
After another 25 or so minutes in standstill traffic, we had no choice but to hop out and walk the remaining two or so miles to our hotel. We thanked our uber driver for his help – he had literally called his wife to see if there was an alternate route we could take – and walked block after block until we reached the hotel.
While we’re still not quite clear on what manifestation is or means to the residents of Mexico City (protest, celebration, parade) we did see a mass of people in the city’s center and all the streets nearby were completely blocked off.
Which brought us to our next dilemma … how in the hell was our driver going to get us to the airport with all the roads blocked off? Mexico City was awesome, but we couldn’t afford to stay another night!
And then the hotel staff became superheroes! The concierge grabbed our luggage (one in each hand) and walked it and us around the back of the hotel, down a side street and right to our taxi driver who would take us to the airport. We felt like celebrities! But on a serious note, we were very thankful for the hotel’s diligence because we made it to the airport in time to catch our flight back to Houston with no problem … until next time, Mexico City!
Editor’s Note: It’s always good practice when visiting any foreign country to be cautious of drinking their water or eating some of the food. We were careful, but sometimes things can affect you anyway. I (Val) had a slight case of Montezuma’s Revenge (no bueno) but a small price to pay for the wonderful experience we had in Mexico City.
*Additional Note: Several people have reached out wanting to know about any safety concerns. We personally never felt unsafe, though we had been advised to avoid walking around the city late at night. And there were literally numerous police officers on every single corner and block in and around downtown. They weren’t playing any games! But it’s always wise to use your best judgement and common safety sense.
Helpful Hint – If you’re visiting a Spanish-speaking city, learn these basic words and phrases:
- Cuanto es? How much is it?
- Donde es el bano? Where is the bathroom?
- La comida food
- Como se dice …? How do you say …?
- Habla usted Ingles? Do you speak English?