I spent a week hanging out in and around Mexico City prior to heading off to a longer project in San Luis Potosi. I was not sure what to expect as I had heard a lot of differing opinions about the capital. In short, I found it to be busy, crowded, and smoggy, but with plenty of interesting things to offer. Like the rest of Mexico, it is full of contradictions – traditional indigenous ceremonies in front of a huge shopping mall, an incredibly efficient metro system and old fashioned market stalls.
A friend had warned me not to stay more than a few days in the capital, and a week was definitely more than adequate time to spend there. I had also heard that you can’t take backpacks on the metro – which turned out not to be true. I wouldn’t recommend it during the morning or evening rush hours, but it was no problem for me to bring it on. Actually the metro system is extremely easy to use (even if you don’t speak Spanish- it’s color coded) and it is definitely the quickest way to get around. Not to mention it only costs 20 cents for a ticket (good idea to buy several at a time as the lines at the ticket counter can get long at certain times of day).
Highlights of my stay were the Anthropology Museum, taking a river boat through the floating gardens of Xochimilco, and wandering through the neighborhoods in the outskirts of the city. If you go to Mexico City (the D.F. as Mexicans call it) make a point to stop by the vast archaeological expeditions in the Zocalo to see the thousands of years of history that is being painstakingly uncovered. I also loved visiting Frida Kahlo’s blue house, especially after watching the movie Frida. It was definitely an interesting place to visit but I’d say there is a 3 day expiration date on exploring. Finally, the city turned out to be much cooler than I expected, so bring layers.