Our first morning in Mexico City was pretty busy. Our itinerary still had gaps that had to be filled. We booked a Oaxaca van through Mexbus online while still in New York City, but they cancelled the last minute. So at 8am we took our first Metro ride to the TAPO terminal to buy tickets to Oaxaca. There are no buses running on Christmas Day so we settled for 11:30pm tickets on December 26. We picked the first class UNO bus which cost us about $45 each one way.
Back at the Zocalo we decided to visit the Palacio Nacional, which houses various government departments. The National Palace takes up the whole eastern side of the Zocalo and it has the facade of tezontle, a red volcanic stone. Once you step inside, it's like a whole different place. The noise outside is blocked out and everything is serene. Most of the walls are decorated with Diego Rivera's murals but the staircase leading up to the first floor has the most impressive, known either as the La Gran Tenochtitlan or the El mercado de Tlatelolco. The central panel depicts the history of Mexico from 1521 to 1930. The right side shows pre-Hispanic Mexico while the left shows El mundo de hoy y de manana, The World Today and Tomorrow.
Since most places were closed, we just went back to the hostel and idly passed the afternoon by drinking beers and having our first sample of the local firewater: mezcal. We decided to skip the free Christmas Eve dinner provided by the hostel and finding dinner became a challenge. We walked around a lot looking for places that were open. We found Aguas Frescas which had excellent tortas and fruit juices. Tortas are like Cuban sandwiches, with buns pressed and grilled, only better. They put all kinds of stuff in there, avocadoes, onions, bell peppers, cheese, and eggs with either your beef or chicken. Right next to Aguas Frescas was a rotisserie called Molino's. We bought half a grilled chicken to eat later after midnight.
We went to the Cathedral at 11:30pm but to our chagrin, we had misunderstood the time and watched as people filed out of the church. We stood in the middle of the Zocalo where the giant Christmas tree was and greeted each other Merry Christmas right there instead. We went back to our room and devoured the pollo ranchero with some wine to celebrate my birthday. I received my present and given our surroundings, I couldn't have been happier with our noche buena.
Open everyday for free. You have to leave an I.D. with the guards.
Cinco de Mayo Avenue and Rep de Chile.
A Torta Combinar, meaning everything they've got, is worth every penny. Try their melon ice drink. The Torta Cubano is also excellent. Two tortas and a drink cost us P69. Try looking for a very good sandwich in New York City that's $7.
Half a pollo ranchero, grilled chicken, was P21.50. The price made me so happy I wanted to laugh.