"Heighten your senses in Mexico City" Top 5 Page for this destination Mexico City by acemj

Mexico City Travel Guide: 2,143 reviews and 4,407 photos

Mexico City is almost as known for its crime and its pollution as it is for being the capital of Mexico and one of the world's most populated cities with well over 20 million inhabitants. After spending some time here in November of 2005, I can verify a few of those things. Yes, there is pollution, however, I found it to be similar to Los Angeles or any other big city that is crowded with cars, people and situated in a valley snug up against some mountains. Walking around on a sunny day, you notice the sun, not the smog, or maybe both. The important thing is that you are noticing. I can also verify that it is crowded. It is said that nearly a thousand people a day move here and wandering around the historic center or using the Metro at rush hour will reveal that it is indeed jam-packed with people. Big people, little people, rich people, poor people. I tried to notice them all. Of course, I also noticed that there were places to get away from the crowds and enjoy some solitude, some grass, a cold beer overlooking a quiet cobblestone street.

Locals are likely to refer to their city as "El Dey Efay" (or DF for "distrito federale") and the detail-rich buildings surrounding the city's main square, the Zocalo, are sure to impress and reveal that this is indeed the political center of the country. Other neighborhoods such as Polanco and San Angel make it obvious that there is a thriving upper class that can afford to eat sushi and shop at Italian clothing stores. The sidewalks are swept and the flowerboxes are neatly placed in the windowsills. However, it won't take much legwork to uncover other aspects of Mexico City. You'll see homeless people in the streets and dirtier parts of town where old ladies with yellow teeth and leather hands sell tortillas on the sidewalk and children of seven and eight years old work all day pushing bootlegged DVDs on passersby.

There are world class museums here too. There's great dining and plenty to occupy a traveler interested in the city's Aztec and Spanish colonial roots for at least a week. However, a little grit to go along with all of the glam is what makes a place feel genuine to me. The need to be cautious at night, to watch what you eat and to be prepared to deal with horrible traffic keep you alert as a traveler and to me, that alertness heightens your senses and makes the good things you encounter a bit more enjoyable.

I was fortunate enough to meet two VTers while in D-F. Thanks to both Laura (Laura_Mexico) and Carlos (claubarsa) for their friendship and hospitality during my time here. I also spent some time visiting my friend Adriana whom I met while traveling in Poland ("it's a small world after all . . . "). As much as I love traveling solo, it's always great to have locals who can show you a city and my trip would not have been the same without the companionship of good friends.

  • Last visit to Mexico City: Nov 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (63)

Comments (21)

  • eriksson977's Profile Photo
    Jan 7, 2010 at 6:04 AM

    Hello Mark, Nice pages. Thank you very much and happy new year. Tomas Eriksson :)

  • Arkeolog's Profile Photo
    Mar 17, 2009 at 12:21 AM

    Great page with good photos and useful tips here. thx for sharing. I liked tips esp all the best.Bora

  • Jan 26, 2009 at 6:10 AM

    Great page about Mexico city! Full of information

  • Nov 28, 2007 at 1:00 PM

    Im english and i ate street food in mexico city twice a day for five years and I got sick ONCE. I got sick in one of mexico's oldest and supposedly best restaurants too.... the reason why many of the middle class "locals" avoid it is cos they are snobs.

  • Carguja's Profile Photo
    Dec 12, 2006 at 8:07 PM

    not anymore my friend,we copied a system from colombia which is a combination of buses with mtreo stations,weird, the name is metrobus and runs from indios verdes to Ciudad Universitaria

  • cherylll's Profile Photo
    Sep 15, 2006 at 5:16 AM

    Your Mexico City tips are great! The best info I've read yet...Thanks. Also your tip on the different types of Tequila is really good to know...I love Tequila...lol Cheryl

  • shrimp56's Profile Photo
    Aug 8, 2006 at 7:39 AM

    Wonderful restaurant tips! But corn icecream? I think I'd like to follow you around when you travel ;)

  • alza's Profile Photo
    Jul 19, 2006 at 9:44 PM

    What a page! Very helpful for my next visit to El D.F., soon I hope! It was also nice to read about the friends you met there. Thanks Mark!

  • DPando's Profile Photo
    May 12, 2006 at 2:57 PM

    wow!! very instructive page...great suggestions..excellent quality pics!! impressive mate!!

  • jumanuel's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2006 at 5:55 PM

    Hey - How are you doing? I enjoyed visiting your page, I agree with you, in the way you describe the huge diference between the people - it's a pitty isn't it? I'm glad you had a fantastic time. I love your "blue" picture. Greetings - Juan Manuel


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