Even after our action-packed first two stints in Mexico City, we still had a full itinerary for our third visit. The city is absolutely huge, and along with its incredible history and artistic culture, there is never a shortage of things to do. Once again we booked into the Mexico City hostel (next to the Zocalo) and were faced with what seemed like a never-ending list of activities to tick off our list.
Having walked past the garish CDMX hop-on/hop-off bus every day up until now, we finally decided it was time to take a tour. The buses cost only £6 for the full-day ticket, and several routes are available, all leaving from the Zocalo. We opted for the Orange Route, which would take us down Avenida Hidalgo, passing by the Monument to the Revolution. This stands at 67m high and has an observation deck accessed via a glass elevator.
We also passed the Angel of Independence statue which is also a mausoleum, and the remains of the Heroes of the Mexican Independence (such as Miguel Hidalgo) are buried beneath the base. There is also a viewpoint on top of the column, with the steps equivalent to climbing 14 flights of stairs in one go!
After slow progress on the bus, we hopped off to check out the Polanco area, which we’d heard was one of the city’s more affluent areas. The rumours were true: we entered what was easily the most upmarket shopping centre we had seen on our trip, with an unbelievably good food hall. It made Wholefoods look like Aldi!
After dreaming of buying up the Argentinian wine stock, we checked out a food court with a huge balcony overlooking the city. We were not really dressed appropriately for this area or even the on-site Starbucks (which goes some way to demonstrate just how nice it is) so instead headed back out to walk through some of Polcanco’s other streets.
After finding some excellent markets selling quality jewelry and handicrafts, we stopped for a few beers in a Mexican-themed bar on Avenida Presidente Masaryk, a street which is a tourist attraction in itself. This was right next to what is probably the ultimate place to live in Mexico City: Pasaje Polanco. If we ever had the money, an apartment here is the place we would buy.
The bus back from Polcano took an impossible two hours, as we waded through heavy city traffic. Bearing in mind the distance was only around 5 miles, it is not a city for driving around. Realising we could walk quicker, we jumped off at the Palacio de Bellas Artes building and walked back to our hostel from there via our favourite local eatery; Sanborns.
Chapultepec Castle, located in Chapultepec Park, is another yet another main attraction we were still yet to visit after what was now our ninth day in the city. There really is an incredible number of things to do in Mexico City, so if you are thinking of visiting, you need at least a week to do it justice. After catching an Uber in an attempt to use the backstreets and beat the traffic, we began our walk through the beautiful park grounds.
In the fantastic weather that Mexico continuously spoilt us with, we climbed the winding path to Chapultepec Castle, which sits atop a hill overlooking the whole city. Originally a sacred place for the Aztecs, buildings on the hill have been used for a military academy, imperial residence, a presidential home, observatory and currently, the National Museum of History. Costing a mere 59 pesos (around £2.50) to enter, we explored the perfectly manicured grounds and the preserved rooms of the castle itself. Completed in 1863 following various adaptations, the castle contains information on its colourful past – including its setting for the Battle of Chapultepec, in the Mexican-American War in 1847. The buildings and grounds are stunning and are an absolute must for any visitor to the city.
The most beautiful area is the courtyard on the upper floor, which contains a large watchtower with a Mexican flag waving above. It doesn’t take much imagination to see why emperors and presidents alike wanted to live here.
After strolling around the castle for a few hours, we took an Uber to the biggest shopping mall in Latin America: Centro Santa Fe. With over 400,000 square metres of shops, restaurants and bars, as well as a 22-screen cinema, the place is colossal. We didn’t have barely enough time to visit all that the mall offers, such as the anchor tenants of Liverpool, another El Palacio de Hierro, Sanborns, Sears and a Saks Fifth Avenue. Following a look around the vast complex, Kate bought a few pairs of shorts in H&M then we were off on our way again.
We headed back to the Polanco area for dinner. As luck would have it, there is a Fogo de Chao in Mexico City – our favourite restaurant (possibly ever?!) from our travels in Brazil. With time running out, we had an hour to attack the buffet and enjoy as much of the steak and salad bar as possible. Dining next to us were an American couple who needed some help working out how to use the all you can eat buffet. After spending a few minutes explaining to them the pretty simple process of taking a plate up and helping yourself as many times as you want, it made us laugh when they finally asked whether we were Mexican. Even allowing for my sun, do we even look and sound remotely Mexican?? Americans do amaze us sometimes with their guesses at where we are from!
Stuffed and satisfied, it was time for Kate and I to grab our things and get ready for our 18-hour night bus to Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s west coast. Adios, Mexico City – we are heading for the sea!