Bienvenidos!! It's Mexico City !!!

Mexico City or el Distrito Federal often astounds first-time visitors with its disarming combination of Old World charm and New World sophistication.

Bienvenidos!! It's Mexico City !!!

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by dcdc75 on June 29, 2006

The spectacle of Aztec dancers in their colorful finery, chanting and energetically dancing to the beat of ancient drums in the world's second largest square is an exhilarating experience. Being pushed and shoved by throngs of sweaty human bodies as you are carried along with the crowd in the tiny streets of downtown Centro while being deafened by the clamor of vendors is something to be experienced at least once in your lifetime.

For some peace and quiet, and trust me, you will need this after a few days in Mexico City, walk along the beautiful cobblestone streets of San Angel and Coyoacan, where you can visit the childhood homes (now museums) of Mexico's most prolific artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera. Amidst squalor and poverty, Mexico City offers world class museums, art galleries and colonial mansions. Marvel at the beauty and mystery of Teotihuacán, learn about the Aztecs at Templo Mayor and witness the fervency of the Catholic faith at Basilica Guadalupe. Be sure to sample the hot chilies and ‘queso fresco’ at the Merced market, consider buying love potions (!) at Mercado Sonora and appreciate the craftsmanship of local artist at La Ciudadela. ${QuickSuggestions} Some of the museums offer free admission on certain days of the week so be sure to check at the museum entrance before paying or call ahead at these numbers. Additional discounts and coupons are pretty hard to come by unless you can read Spanish and find deals in the local newspapers.
You must also bargain for the goods that you buy at open air markets as competition is stiff among the vendors. Aim for about a third of the sellers opening price. Although prices are not as cheap as those found in other developing countries-maybe due to the influx of generous American tourists here!- but prices are still pretty reasonable compared to what you would have to pay at home. A beautiful hand-made ‘sombrero’ would set you back about 10USD, even after patient bargaining. You may have better luck if you can haggle in Spanish but be aware that you also get what you pay for as the cheaper items reflect their price in terms of quality.
${BestWay} Despite Mexico City's reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, it is very much possible to travel solely by using public transportation. Actually I think taking the Metro is actually safer than a cab as you have lots of people around you at all times. Just be vigilant and carry your backpack in front of you although you will look decidedly unfashionable. If you want to carry your pack behind you, make sure someone literally watches your back. There were a few times my husband was shoved from the side but I was always in between his backpack and the masses so I guess there were many attempts at pick pocketing! I would not recommend the public buses as they are often very crowded and you will have the added hassle of finding out the bus routes which are often changed without much notice.
Also while walking, know where you are going as there are areas in Mexico City which are extremely crime-ridden and dangerous. We took a wrong turn once and found ourselves in the street known locally as the 'Thieves Den'! Luckily it was in broad daylight so nothing bad happened. Basically a good rule of thumb is to always know where you are going and remain watchful at all times.

La Ciudadela Artisan Market

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by dcdc75 on June 29, 2006

La Ciudadela was the best place in Centro to find a great variety of Mexican handicrafts in one place. You will find lots of ceramic pieces, fashioned into brightly colored human and animal shapes, which are everyday folk art throughout the country. Other than leather goods, silver jewelry, and blankets, you will also find elaborate bracelets and necklaces, strung together from bone and onyx, which have been popular ever since artist Frida Kahlo painted herself wearing preHispanic creations. Bargaining is pretty much expected here but be aware that the quality of merchandise here is not really the best although they are pretty adequate if you are just purchasing trinkets as souvenirs or gifts.
Mercado de la Ciudadela
Parque De La Plaza De La Ciudadela Centro Histórico
México, Mexico, 06040

Mercado de la Merced and Sonora

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by dcdc75 on June 29, 2006

Mexico City has been a trading centre for many centuries and it is no real surprise that travelers will find thriving shops all over the city selling all sorts of goods for the tourist. Yet a trip to the local markets to observe Mexicans buying everyday supplies and of course, sampling original cuisine is a great way to fully immerse oneself in a city’s culture. Mercado de la Merced, the quintessential Mexico City market, is one of the largest wholesale markets in Mexico and covers an entire city block. The cramped quarters, the chaotic hustle and bustle and the shrill voices of women haggling over colorful household goods and daily staples; is an amazing sight to behold and make for fantastic photo opportunities. You must sample the dark and chewy cactus petals "nopal," which is normally eaten raw or cooked in stew; fried bugs , fresh ‘queso’ (cheese) and of course the Mexican chilies. Sellers are very friendly and would offer shove these samples into your hands even if you decline. Hygiene standards are not exactly very high here but the possibility of a little tummy-ache is a small price to pay for the camaraderie that ensues once you oblige. The market is open from 6 am to 6 pm daily. You have to take the Metro directly to the market even though it is a walking distance from the Zocalo as the neighborhoods surrounding the market are unsafe.

Located just across from La Merced, Mercado Senora or the 'witches market' is definitely not to be missed. Mexicans flock here to buy herbal remedies, love potions, and talismans and other spiritual balms. There is also a trade in endangered animals and plants so police raids are a common occurrence here. Bear in mind that Mercado Senora is considered a somewhat sacred place and as these local markets do NOT cater to tourists, one should be respectful and extremely polite when taking photographs.
La Merced Market (Mercado de la Merced)
East of the Main Plaza
Mexico City, Mexico

Museo Frida Kahlo

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by dcdc75 on June 29, 2006

Museo Frida Kahlo is definitely one of the more popular sights here. This blue house was where the artist was born in 1907 to a German father and a Mexican mother. Now a museum, it showcases the study, living room, and kitchen exactly as Frida kept them and a real highlight are her, done as a youth, still hanging on the walls. Kahlo suffered a crippling injury in her youth and her art suggests a stoic life full of pain. You must leave your bags at the entrance, photography is not allowed.
Museo Frida Kahlo
Londres 247 (Colonia del Carmen, Coyoacán)
Mexico City, Mexico, 04400
+52 5 5545999

Museo de Antropologia

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by dcdc75 on June 29, 2006

One of the greatest anthropological museums in the world, Museo de Antroplogia showcases the crossing of first hunter-gatherers from Asia onto North America. It also has magnificent archaeological exhibits from early Mesoamerican societies. The museum also features ethnological displays on Mexico's current Amerindian groups. Some of the finest pieces of prehispanic art anywhere in the world, can be found here. The museum also has outdoor exhibits. It was pretty fun to poke around typical Mayan monuments. Admission is about $5 and no flash photography is allowed.
National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru
Plaza Bolívar s/n, Pueblo Libre
Lima, Peru
+51 (1) 463 5070


Member Rating 5 out of 5 by dcdc75 on June 29, 2006

One of the most impressive archaeological sites in the Americas, Teotihuacan flourished until 750 AD when it was abandoned. When the Aztecs arrived, they recognized the site's formidable history and named it Teotihuacan which means a place where gods are born. The Avenue of the Dead (Calzada de los Muertos) was named as such because the Aztecs believed the soul travelled in a north-south direction (like the avenue) on its way to the afterlife. The Pyramid of the Sun measures 225m on each side and 70m in height, almost as large as the Great Pyramids of Giza (231m base). At the north end of the Avenue of the Dead, lies the Temple of the Moon which was built directly over a cave in 2nd century AD. Caves were generally considered places where gods and ancestors emerged, as well as doors to the underworld. Only 46m high, it still affords great views over the city and countryside. It is easiest and cheapest to go with a tour guide. Bring food and lots of water and slather on the sunblock.
Pirámides de Teotihuacan
Carretera México Teotihuacan Km. 46 (zona Arqueológica De Teotihuacan)
San Juan Teotihuacan, Mexico, 03010
+52 5 9560052

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