Monday, January 27, 2014

Mexico City and Teotihuacán, Mexico

We decided to take a weekend trip to Mexico City to celebrate my birthday last week. I've never been to Mexico before, and as a Texan for over 15 years, this is a little shameful. This was also our first time flying Southwest's acquired airline - AirTran. We even got upgraded to First Class!!

Take a look at the picture I took upon arrival. Mexico City is HUGE, but it has some really gross smog because of it. We were definitely having some trouble breathing by the time we left.

We arrived right around 2 on Friday afternoon. We stayed at the JW Marriott right next to Chapultepec Park and the National Anthropology Museum, so we spent the afternoon exploring this area. We walked around taking in the street vendors and performers. We headed to the Museum when it started getting dark. The museum was definitely worth a visit (for about $4) if only to see the artifacts of Teotihuacan and the Aztec calendar.

The next morning, we ventured out to the pyramids of Teotihuacán about 30 miles northeast of Mexico City. We are definitely the type of people that will take public transit over a tour (i.e. really cheap), so we jumped on a subway to Autobus del Norte (for 5 pesos or about 40 cents) and then bought a $7 round trip ticket for our 1 hour bus ride.

This site is a pre-Columbian city that was once one of the largest in the world. The word Teotihuacán is actually an Aztec word for "the place where gods are born". Much about this place is a mystery as not much is known about the people who lived here or why they ultimately abandoned the site.

When we arrived, we walked down the Avenida de las Muertes in order to reach the 3rd largest pyramid in the world - the Sun Pyramid. You don't think about it before, but the altitude and the steps definitely get to you! Not helped by the intense smog...

Pyramid of the Moon at the end and Pyramid of the Sun on the right

Pyramid of the Sun

The moon pyramid is the 2nd tallest pyramid here and is located at the end of the Avenue of the Dead. It is thought to be dedicated to the goddess of Teotihuacán, who represents water, fertility, earth, and creation.

After we did a little souvenir shopping, we caught a bus back into the city.

After a little siesta, we caught a Turibus (double decker bus) around the city. It was nice to see different areas of the city and we found our favorite - La Condesa!  Below you can see the Angel of Independence, Palacio de Bellas Artes and a few parks around town.

Zona Rosa is named because of the pink buildings like below:

We got off to explore in the Zócalo area. This Centro Histórico was literally built from the stones from Teotihuacán making this plaza very impressive. In this plaza is the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Palacio Nationales. It was fun to walk around the vendors who were selling everything from trinkets and ice cream to Aztec cleansing rituals. It was a happening place!

Our last day, we had time to eat some huraches, tortas and tacos from random street vendors around Chapultepec Park and drink some tequila before we had to head out. We went back to our hotel to pick up our bags and then caught the metro to the airport for our flight home.

Mexico City gets such a bad rap and to be honest, I don't know why. We felt totally safe here taking public transportation and walking around. As with any big city, I'm sure there are bad areas, but I feel like if you use your common sense, you'll be fine. Another positive - we didn't get sick! The only precaution we took was drinking bottled water the entire time - even to brush our teeth.

Mexico City was such a fun and vibrant city and I would encourage everyone to make a trip here. Since it is one of the largest cities in the world, I feel like we barely scratched the surface. Even with our limited Spanish, we were able to get around and communicate fairly well!

Up next: We will both be heading somewhere for a weekend of relaxation before I start my new job on Monday!

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