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Mexico City

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After a bit more than a week, time has now arrived to start my journey through Central America, therefore heading to the south of the country.
What will I remember from Mexico City in a few words? Huge city, hot and sunny weather (with the sunburns that go with...), friendly people, noise, pollution, history and archaeology...

Depending of what you are interested in, I think a week is largely enough to visit the most important museums, explore the Chapultepec park, Zona Rosa, the Zocalo square with its main cathedral and make a trip to the pyramids of Teotihuacan.

As I said the city is huge and its reputation for being noisy and polluted is not a myth either. Pollution will not be noticed constantly but sometimes I have found myself walking down the streets with my nose suddenly running and my eyes crying, which apparently are typical signs of a highly polluted city. I think the government has been trying to tackle the problem for years but unfortunately this is still not enough.
Also after having living in a city like London, I was expecting not to have any problems with the number of people in the streets of Mexico City but actually I still got a little bit overwhelmed. Especially at the weekends, there are literally thousands and thousands of people in the streets near the center and after a few hours, your only wish is to get back to your quiet hotel or find a nice spot in the shade of one of the parks. But although there are a lot of people, I have to say that all the local people I have talked to have been really friendly and helpful, even with my every poor spanish skills. Finally, in term of safety, well I think the reputation of Mexico City is maybe a bit exaggerated. Of course bad things can happen, like any big city and of course there are more police cars and men than I have ever seen anywhere else but I have never feared for my life. You just have to be sensible, stay in the center or the touristy areas and avoid doing stupid things I guess. I had also heard bad things about the Metro but once again, no problem there, even when arriving at 10pm from the airport with my big backpack and trying to find my way to the hostel.

Apart from that, the city is really filled with history and here are a few things that any new comers to the city will need to visit:

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  • Museo Nacional de Antropolog√≠a

That one is really huge and you could spend easily a few days going through all the galleries, looking at the different civilizations that existed in Mexico, prior the arrival of the spaniards. Mayas, Aztecs, all the pre-columbian populations are all described in details and the collection of antiques and ruins from these periods is really impressive. I have personnaly spent something like 5 hours in it and for those who know me well, that's definitely a record worth an entry in the guinness book! :)
Check out the photos in the gallery to get a better idea.

  • Templo Mayor

This temple has actually only been recently excavated (35 years ago I think) and it was one of the main temples of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is now Mexico City. The temple is located right in the center of the city and that's only when doing some engineering work near it that some engineers started to uncover a massive monolith, just two meters from the surface. I'm not going to replace Wikipedia here but finding something this big and that old right in the center of the city is really impressive. Once again, check out the photos.

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  • Chapultepec park

The biggest park in Mexico city, which has in its center a little hill where you can find the Castillo de Chapultepec. The site of the hill was a sacred place for Aztecs, and the buildings atop it have served several purposes during its history, including that of Military Academy, Imperial residence, Presidential home, observatory, and presently, the Museo Nacional de Historia. The Museo Nacional de Antropología which I have mentioned above is also in that park, with a few lakes as well.

I could obviously go on and on for a while but my overall impression of Mexico city is a good one, although I am really keen now to get to see a bit of nature. I also took the opportunity during this week and a half to take some time to sit down and improve my spanish, see things at a slow pace in order to not rush and try to see as much as I could and as quickly as possible, which would have been a bad idea in my opinion, especially under this heat. Besides that allowed me to meet nice people and have a first grasp of the "backpacker community".

The next stage of my journey will be Puebla and Cholula, about 2 hours drive south of Mexico city.

Posted by manolo84 23:52 Archived in Mexico Tagged museums parks cities trip Comments (5)

Mexico here I am!

Mexico me voici!

sunny 25 °C
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Just a quick post to let you know that my journey has officially started! I arrived yesterday evening in Mexico, after having started at 7.30am from Paris, it was a very long journey...

I started to be a bit worried when checking-in as the woman behind the desk had some doubts about whether or not I would need a return ticket already booked in order to be allowed to enter in Mexico. Sometimes apparently the Mexican authorities can be a little funny and as I had only a one-way ticket with me, it would have been more than annoying to be asked to go back to France.

But luckily this doesn't seem to be the case anymore and the Mexican authorities don't seem to care much, at least for a french tourist who is not planning to stay more than 6 months in the country. The wait in Heathrow T5 airport was a big long (I had to connect there and wait 6 hours because I was flying with British Airways) and the plane was offering the tiniest TV screen I had ever seen on a plane (probably an old one) but we landed without problems at about 2am French time (7pm Mexican time). Going through immigration and getting my backpack back didn't take too long and I was out of the airport less than an hour after.

Took me a little while then to find out where the Metro was, which line I should take and more importantly where my hostel was. Turned out I had completely forgotten to check on a map before the hostel address and after walking for 30 minutes and asking several people (in spanish!) who were sending me in all directions, I managed to call the hostel and find out it was only 30 sec away from the Metro station... doh!

Anyway, I'm a bit jet lagged now so I think I'll spend the next days hanging out and resting whilst trying to establish an itinerary through Mexico for the following weeks. As a surprise, I have just found out a french version of the Lonely Planet to Mexico left in the hostel so I have a bit of reading to do now! The weather is nice at least so the mood is definitely good.

See ya soon!

Posted by manolo84 18:47 Archived in Mexico Tagged trip flights airports Comments (5)

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