Hitting the streets of Mexico City (literally)

Jetlag, altitude, tiredness and beer are a dangerous combination: in my first hour of being out and about in Mexico City, I managed to trip over the uneven pavements twice, the second time sending me sprawling onto the pavement and leaving me with a painful two inch long scab down my forearm. Still, after being delayed by an hour on the way out and having my card blocked (for forgetting to tell the bank I was going abroad), the knowledge that I’d completed my run of three pieces of bad luck meant I could start my first full day without any worries.

Being met by two friends was a great way to ease me into the start of my trip, and the next morning we headed out to the Bosque de Chapultepec, the city’s biggest park. Originally a forest on the edge of the city, I’d have to say it’s the nicest city park I’ve ever been to, full of trees, and with Chapultepec Castle sitting on a hill right in the middle.

The castle was formerly the home of Mexican presidents, before becoming a military academy and now a museum, and gives fantastic views right across the city, especially on a day with such clear blue skies.

Butterfly in the Bosque de Chapultepec

Butterfly in the Bosque de Chapultepec

After wandering round the park all morning, we headed into the districts of Condesa and Roma, two of the cities nicest areas, each with its own character – Condesa has lots of well-preserved art deco houses, whereas Roma is home to French-style villas, many of which have been left leaning at odd angles thanks to the 1985 earthquake. Both are full of nice cafes and restaurants, and the peaceful streets are totally at odds with many people’s image of the city as being dirty, manic and dangerous.

Today was my friends’ last day before heading back to the UK for a holiday (I’ll be seeing them again on their return to Mexico in three weeks’ time), so we headed down to the suburb of Coyoacan, which was formerly a separate villlage to the south of the city before being engulfed by the urban sprawl. The whole area has a similarly laid-back, sophisticated charm to Condesa, and is most famous for being the location of the former homes of two of the city’s most famous residents, Frida Kahlo & Leon Trotsky, and we visited both. Kahlo’s home, the Casa Azul (or blue house), is now a museum filled with her artworks and sculptures, and is really quite stunning. All the exterior walls and the walls round the garden are painted in a blue that looks glorious under the Mexican sun; it really must have been an amazing place to live. Trotsky’s is quite a contrast: much shabbier, with quite pokey rooms, with armoured doors and few exterior windows because of the risk of assassination. Even these weren’t enough to protect hm of course, and he was killed in his own study just three years after beginning his exile in the city.

Kahlo skeleton at the Blue House

Kahlo skeleton at the Blue House

It’s nearly a year since I first posted about by Mexican plans and after all that time it’s such a fantastic feeling to finally be here. It’s an amazing country, and the next six weeks are really something to look forward to. Now that my friends have gone back to London, I’m now on my own, and it feels like the travelling is properly starring now. Tomorrow I’m off to see the pyramids of Teotihuacan, before leaving the city behind on Friday, heading north to the colonial city of Queretaro.


16 responses to “Hitting the streets of Mexico City (literally)

  1. wow – that sounds like a perfect start to the trip, literally! better to fall over with friends than alone. The pictures are incredible, especially the one of the butterfly! Chris looks a lot thinner though……?!

    missing you already

  2. kellyandellie

    Happy to see you made it! We have been following your blog for a little while now and are set to leave on our adventure in 30 days! Look forward to hearing more about you.

  3. I agree with Neal word by word. Can’t add anymore.

    And that blue is so striking.

  4. Sounds like a really brilliant start. You’ve already discovered a place I didn’t know I needed to go to before now (!) – Frida Kahlo’s place looks incredible. All good back here – we miss you of course – thankfully I’m away the next two weekends so won’t be conscious of your absence at Duckie! Just added your blog to my iGoogle page, so will be updated on your trip every time I go to Google. Hmmm, might need to rethink that one if I want to avoid a year of depression! Enjoy! x

  5. …and you’ve only seen the outside, as you can’t take pics inside, which is just as cool. Plus I didn’t get the time to visit the house she had built for her and her husband, Diego Rivera, which is supposed to be just as good if not better.

    I can heartily recommend a trip to Mexico if you’re looking to plan another holiday after your Peruvian jaunt.

  6. Pingback: Carnival of Travel Blogs #16 | Nomadic Matt's Travel Site

  7. Geoff,

    Congrats on the start of your travels! I will follow along and I will be in Mexico the last week in April.

    My journey begins in Feb. 2010, your blog and preperations make me believe my travels will happen as well.

  8. So relieved that the three peices of bad luck are out of the way – can now relax worry free and enjoy your adventures!
    Loved the pictures and and the amazing blue backdrop. Your father’s comment along the lines of ” museums my eye! – is there nothing about feeling the blast of the national groan when Mexico lost to Honduras at soccer!” xx

  9. haha – just round the corner from my hostel was an electrical shop, and there were dozens of Mexicans outside watching on the TV screens. They weren’t looking impressed at all.

  10. We were overwhelmed by our first try at Mexico City — the first destination on our trip (like you!) and such an urban sprawl! It was not what we expected, and we were initially turned off by the trash. We didn’t have long there. We’ve been traveling East in Mexico for two weeks now and have really taken a liking to it. There are so many interesting places, and friendly people there to talk to.

    We’re due back in Mexico City in a little less than two weeks, and we’re excited to give it a second spin after we’ve gotten our Mexico training wheels off.

    For now, though, our sand-floored cabana in Tulum is rather enjoyable.

    What is your itinerary for Mexico, amigo?

  11. I didn’t really warm to the city on my first visit, in 2007, but this time was totally different. I think it helps that I come from London, so the smoggy air, mass of people and trash are something I’m used to. But this time it helped to be their with Mexican-resident friends to help show me around, and I stayed in a nicer neighbourhood (Roma).

    Tulum is indeed fantastic, I won’t make it back this trip but I had a fabulous time there last time.

    My itinerary is (roughly): Queretaro-Guanajuato-Zacatecas-Copper Canyon-Mazatlan-Guadalajara-Puebla-Oaxaca-Zipolite-San Cristobal de las Casas and then on to Guatemala from there. All that should take the next six to seven weeks.

  12. Great site this itinerantlondoner.wordpress.com and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)

  13. Just got back from Mexico–flew out of Mexico City the 3rd. Your Itin looks great. Happy travels and look forward to reading more.

  14. Hey Geoff,

    So glad to hear you enjoyed your time in DF! Very much looking forward to your commentary on Copper Canyon; I’m hoping to make it up there later this year at some point.

    I can appreciate your run-ins with the sidewalks around here… I often feel that I only see about 30% of the city when I’m out for a walk because I’m so busy staring at the ground to avoid falling to my death in an open sewer or the like. ;)
    Best of luck on your travels!!

  15. Pingback: Carnival of Travel Blogs #16

  16. formidable site this itinerantlondoner.wordpress.com formidable to see you have what I am actually looking for here and this this post is exactly what I am interested in. I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)

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