Viva México!!!. I had the opportunity to explore and experience México City by myself recently. The reason why I went to México is for some immigration documents I needed from Philippine Embassy. Though the trip is primarily not for tourism, I grabbed all the chances to learn and understand the city and its culture as much as I can and not be just a tourist passing by.
Though, I pretty much have an idea about México City (including how notorious it can be there), still, before jumping into the plane, I did my research about my destination and meticulously planned how I can hit two birds with one stone (business and pleasure). I also asked my Mexican friends for their suggestions so I can maximize my trip to the fullest. Armed with enthusiasm and ideas of the must things to do, eat, see & learn and off I travelled to México City.
It was a three-day trip, but the fun part only happened in less than 24 hours. And yes, I hustled to cover most of the stuff in my list and surely I achieved what I was hoping to gain from this trip, fond memories, better understanding and deeper respect for México and its people. Here are some of the photo highlights of my trip and may it give you an idea on what you can do in México City in less than a day.
Aerial snapshots of México City
And I’m getting so giddy when finally I can see my destination in sight. Listed as one the biggest metropolitan in the world and joining the list of top 10 highly populated city. Indeed, México City is HUGE!
El Ángel de la Independencia, along Paseo de la Reforma
First stop, Angel of Independence. Since the landmark is on my way to the embassy, I stopped by. A shrine where the remains of some of the most outstanding leaders of the Mexican Independence movement like Miguel Hidalgo, Vicente Guerrero and Ignacio Allende rest inside its base, which also includes the sculptures of said insurgents and a beautiful sculpture of a lion guided by a boy which represents the dominance of truth and intelligence over strength.
Basílica de Santa María de Guadalupe, in Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo (or simply “la Villa”)
While the embassy personnel is preparing the documents I needed, I hopped into the bus heading to the northern neighborhood of Villa de Guadalupe Hidalgo (or simply “la Villa”), about 30 minutes away from the City center. The Basilica and its patron saint are among the most sacred places and miraculous saints in the Americas and highly visited by many Catholic devotees. In this Basilica, Pope John Paul II celebrated mass several times on his trips to Mexico, among them, the canonization of the Indian Juan Diego. It served as a mini pilgrimage for me to give thanks for all the provisions in my life.
Zona Rosa (Pink Zone), Colonia Juárez
Zona Rosa, another area nearby the embassy, checking out local and international restos. The streets of Zona Rosa became a fashionable place and its coffee houses a place to see and be seen, the city’s meeting place. Colonia Juárez was thus invested in by several businessmen, mainly focused on tourism, elegant hotels are located in the area, as well as modern and sophisticated commercial centres like the Jacarandas Mall, with its coffee shops, fashion boutiques, art galleries and exotic personalities from artistic and literary spheres who used to meet there, then latter being attributed with having named the area as Zona Rosa. A Mexican personality once thought the area was “too shy to be red, too daring to be white”. But one far more interesting thing about it, is that during a period of decay in this area in the 1980’s, other social groups saw an opportunity to settle themselves there, such as the Korean community and especially the gay community. Zona Rosa is one of the first places of open respect for the rights of this community. It is quite interesting to know how the acceptance of the third sex evolved in a macho culture.
El Monumento a la Revolución, in Plaza de la República
One of most sumptuous buildings in the city, is El Monumento a la Revolución (The Monument to the Revolution). This monument was turned into a mausoleum which houses the remains of some of the main protagonists of the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero, Venustiano Carranza, Francisco Villa, Plutarco Elías Cales and Lázaro Cárdenas. Also, since 1986, this monument’s basement houses the Revolutionary Museum. Today, in the museum and the great open space which surrounds it (Plaza of the Republic), several cultural activities take place, of which the Tecnogeist stands out, one of the most important festivals of electronic music and of multimedia art in the American continent. It is also a place where local protests are staged. This landmark is just 2 minutes away from the hotel where I stayed in, it is the first landmark I checked out the minute I freshened up and settled in.
Zócalo, El Centro Histórico
Zócalo is definitely a must spot to see in México City. It is a monumental public space surrounded by some of the most emblematic urban landmarks in the city, which together constitute one of the largest and most important public plazas in the world. The main square of the city is called Zócalo, but its official name is Plaza de la Constitución. It takes up a whole city block and is among the largest squares in the world where people gather for civic and cultural events and celebrations throughout the year. Within the square, you can visit The Palacio Nacional (National Palace) where you can admire the murals by Diego Rivera. Also, in the square is the Catedral Metropolitana, which replete with colonial religious art and beautiful gilded altarpieces, Federal District buildings, Nacional Monte de Piedad and on the northeast of the square is the Templo Mayor. Finding the square is quite easy, with its enormous Mexican flag, you’ll know you’re in the right place.
Torre Latinoamericana, El Centro Histórico
My time is running out, last night in México. What is the fastest way to get an excellent 360 degrees view of the city? Well, it is an easy yet tall fix, climb to the once tallest building in México, a classic skyscraper of the city and one of the most important urban landmarks, Torre Latinoamericana. This skyscraper has 43 office floors and an antenna from which radio and television signals are transmitted. It also has a belvedere on its last three floors where one can get an excellent view of the city. And if you still have time, you can also check the museum in the building only few floors down from the viewing deck. The mood up there can get pretty romantic especially if you’re with your special someone and enjoying the big city view.
Televisa & Arena México, last-minute stop
I’m leaving México City and bringing with me are such tremendous and wonderful memories, but it’s not over yet. The morning of my afternoon flight back home, I decided to check out one more place, which is quite close to the heart of Filipinos. I went to take a peek of the television network that made Filipinos fell in love with Thalia with her telenovelas such as Marimar, María del Barrio, Rosalinda, etc. Though I wasn’t able to see Thalia ( of course) or other Mexican stars, but having able to talk to some of the company personnel, it was still such a treat knowing and seeing the place who made that special bond between México and Philippines. Another iconic event in México is the Lucha Libre, the arena is just on the opposite street of the television network, so, I took a look and hoped to watch a real wrestling match. However, I was too early for it, therefore, I was only able to see some wrestlers prepping for the match later that day. It was muscle overload in one day and in one place for me.
And that was a wrap! Will I ever come back to México? One big YES! (hopefully soon). Overall, what made my trip extra special aside from the amazing places that México has to offer is the warmth of its people. For all the Mexicans who gladly gave me a free inside scoop and guide about its culture and history and made me feel at home, I’ll always be grateful and will hold México closer to my heart. And on my last note, México City is definitely not that bad after all, it is about understanding and respecting what is evident and travelling smartly.
So, I shared most of the highlights of my trip to México City, I’ll be sharing as part of this travel diary on my next blog the “behind the scenes” of my trip. I’ll share next time about the food, transportation and other adventures I had in México City. Make sure you stay connected with us. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope that I was able to give you an idea how to experience México City in a short period of time. Please come back, read more and I’ll be happy to hear your comments, feel free to drop me some notes below. So next time you visit a new place, may it be local or abroad, “Don’t be just a tourist, be a traveller”.
Hasta luego amigos!!!
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