“Wow it’s so clean!” is our first spontaneous group exclamation. Of course, any city has its best foot forward in the tourist areas but the crumbling infrastructure of TJ and SoCal is conspicuous by its absence in CDMX. You can actually drive around the city without the constant shocking jolt and swerve of negotiating pot holes.
Even so, I recommend hiring a driver. You’ll avoid the crowded metro and when I say crowded I mean body-crushing crowded like that Star Trek episode “The Mark of Gideon“. Locals say it’s not safe for naive travelers and, if you can’t haggle in Spanish, cheaper than taxis/uber. The typical traffic day in CDMX is worse than the worst traffic day in TJ so tackling it could ruin your trip.
We are staying at Hotel Fontán. Not a luxury hotel by any stretch of the imagination but located on Paseo de la Reforma within walking distance of so many cool sites you could do a walking tour and never need a car. It’s perfect.
We check in, then walk to Café de Tacuba for lunch, passing through Alameda Central park lined with vendors of colorful artesanía (handicrafts). The area is closed to cars on Sundays so it’s a bustling hub of bicyclists, tourists, and families enjoying a day in the park against a backdrop of stunning cultural landmarks too numerous to name. But including, el Palacio de Bellas Artes, el Museo National de Arte, and the park itself.
Getting into Café de Tacuba is our introduction to the ubiquitous crowds. Everything is mobbed. But the Tortilla soup and Enchiladas Especiales Tacuba are delicious and the atmosphere… Estudiantinas (musicians) line the staircase, serenading you as you go up, museum worthy paintings line the walls, along with intricately painted tiles, Spanish arches, and wrought iron touches… is magical.
In the evening, we walk to La Cervecería de Barrio for a few beers. Of course the conversation turns to politics. The United States seems to be on everyone’s mind. Maybe in response to the Trump Presidency, his “Mexican Wall”, and fears it will escalate the U.S./Mexico border humanitarian crisis. Or maybe just because the U.S. still rules the free world despite its problems.
I haven’t even been in Mexico City for a whole day and I’ve already been told three times by three different people how much everyone the world over hates the United States. Gosh thanks. The honesty is refreshing?
Despite the causal throwing about of the H bomb people are gracious and welcoming and my less than great Spanish receives a kinder reception here than in TJ. So far so good.