Next time Stay at: Red Tree House B&BEat at: Pujol
1 USD = 19.25 pesos Weather: 84 F / 50 F
We were originally booked for Denver but a major snow storm canceled all flights for the next 3 days. 3 hours after our flight was canceled we switched gears and repacked for a long weekend in Mexico City, somewhere neither of us have been but have always wanted to explore.
On Thuraday we woke-up at 3:30am and drove to Houston International Airport. A short 2 hour flight later we landed in Mexico City. We walked a mile through the airport to the metro where we took the yellow line to the pink line to the blue line, getting off at Zocalo. The steamy non-airconditioned ride cost us each 5 pesos ~ 25 cents.
Our Airbnb was located on Republica de Peru 87 in the Quinceria and Baptist gown district in the Historic Center of the city. A small 1 bedroom in a the only modern building in the neighborhood.
After checking in we ventured out first heading to Plaza Garabaldi. The plaza is normally bustling with mariachis but it was quite on a Thursday. We sat down at a local street vendor for a traditional tamarind chili michelada and spicy peanuts. Afterwards we walked around the Historic City Center district. For dinner we grabbed al pastor tacos and a ham torta at Taqueria Tlaquepaque, a street vendor. Behind the street cart and up a skinny spiral staircase we ate in a tiny room (with maybe 6ft ceilings) on tiny stools.
Friday morning we grabbed a fresh squeezed OJ on the street (15 pesos) and a fruit cup (25 pesos) on our walk to the Palace of Fine Arts. The museum featured an exhibit of the Parisian photographer Brasaii. The floor above was lined with gigantic colorful murals each depicting some form of capitalism versus communism.
After the museum we walked to a bank to exchange money. The bank teller sent us to Ci Bank where we were told we need a passport to exchange. Unfortunately we did not have a debit card on us either so we walked back to the Airbnb. This roundabout errand took us 2 hours – Mexico City is huge.
By the time we headed back out with cash it was too late to go to another neighborhood so we wandered around for a few hours. We had an elote from the street market in the Park Almeada Central and Nick bought a fanny pack.
For a real afternoon snack we stopped at El K-Guomo, a local seafood cantina near the Palace of Fine Arts. There are two locations around the corner from another- both the same. We ordered an Octopus tostada (40 pesos each), shrimp cocktail (90 pesos), a michelada and a Corona for (35 pesos each)- $10. They started our meal with a complimentary large saltine covered with fish cocktail.
Afterwards we stopped into Karsapan bakery (one of the best local bakeries) and picked up some pastries for home.
Before dinner we went for cocktails at Gin Gin in the La Condesa neighborhood, the trendy hip gringo part of town. We took an 30 minute uber for $10.
I somehow managed to get a last minute reservation at Lorea in La Condesa for dinner. The restaurant is on the Conde Nast must-try list as well as many others. The menu is different every day and is prefixed featuring 13 courses. 1500 pesos ($75) for food and 890 pesos ($44.50) for drink pairings which is optional. We the full experience. Our daily consisted of regulars like soft shell crab, sea bass and steak, but also included lettuce soup with dried shrimp, corn fungus and zucchini flower tempura filled with ice cream. The drink pairings ranged from beer to a green tomato cocktail. Overall we were impressed by the food ingredients but underwhelmed by the flavors.
Saturday morning we took the blue metro to Tasquena then transferred to the train to Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Total time was about 1 hour. The train to Xochimilco cost 3 pesos each and the only way to get a ticket is to pay a local and use their metro card. The train is only a few cars and a tight pack. For a good 20 seconds on the journey the train slowed and we were on a full tilt. At one point there was a teenage boy standing next to us with a bouquet with a live butterfly on it; we’re guessing the bugs legs were glued. We passed what looked like refugee camps.
We followed the Emparacado signs to the dock filled with identical primary colored boats with neons name plaques. The maximum captains are allowed to charge is 450 pesos per hour per boat though most tourists do not know this. The captain started with 1500 pesos for 2 hours but Nick haggled down to 850 pesos.
We were served a bucket of coronas before disembarking. On the water way there are boats selling souvenirs, elotes, micheladas, ponchos, flower crowns, tequila, bonsai trees, etc. There are also marichi players. Along the side of the river there are cantinas and flower shops. The waterway was packed with boats as to be expected on a Saturday. Most of the boats were filled with 10+ people Mexican families that brought full-meal spreads with them. The experience was local but very touristy, almost like Disney World for adult.
After the boat ride we walked to the main indoor market in town- Mercado Xochimilco. We walked through stall after stall of fruit, vegetables, raw meats, moles, spices, clothes, shoes, electronics, etc. In the middle are food stalls. We shared a bowl of chicken pozole from Polozeria St. Raul which was fantastic. We also bought a coconut juice and a mamey fruit, which we discovered at dinner the night before.
We then headed back into the city getting off the metro at Pino Suarez. We walked to La Ciudadela, the handmade market. I bought an embroidered clutch and Nick bought a pestel and mortar. Haggling was not to be had here.
We watched the sunset from the roof of our Airbnb and watched Mexican fireworks in the distance that looked like random flashes of sparks in the sky. We had a chilled dinner at Barriga Llena, a local dive located on a square a few blocks from our Airbnb.
Monday we spent the day in La Condesa. In the morning we took an uber to Museo de Arte Moderno but ended up skipping the museum and walking through the park instead. We walked up to Chapultepec Castle but didn’t have enough time to tour.
We had lunch reservations at Contramar, the best seafood restaurant in the city, and it turned out to be one of the best seafood restaurants we’ve EVER been to. We shared the ahi tuna tostadas which are out of this world, the shrimp ceviche in green sauce, the octopus with paprika, the tomato salad, and the grilled whole fish with half red and half green sauce. Nick had 2 beers and I had 2 glasses of white wine. Total meal cost 2500 pesos = $131
Afterward we walked around La Condesa and Roma neighborhoods. We stopped for coffee at Alamangre Cafe, a green beer at McCarthy’s Irish Pub (it was St. Patrick’s Day,) and at the HOP Experience for an IPA. We attempted to shop at a great store called the Happening but all the shoes and clothes were too small.
We kept walking towards Central and stumbled upon streets filled with tents. Most likely refugees. We finally took Lime scooters most of the way back to the Airbnb. Our last night we took it easy and went back to the same food vendor we ate at the first night.
Monday morning we took a 30 min Uber to the airport costing us $15. We went through security at the airport and had our pestel and mortar confiscated as apparently the guacamole maker is a weapon, but bottles of liquor purchasd duty free are not. When we boarded our flight in one of the last boarding groups we were told they needed to check one of our bags because overhead was full so we gave them Nick’s bag. When we got on the plane we saw there was an excessive amount of free overhead space so we figured they were just being pricks. It wasn’t until we landed at 5pm and took the shuttle to the parking lot that we realized they had stolen our car key from the bag. We were targeted.
At 6:41pm we called Hydundai Roadside and paid for a tow truck that was supposed to arrive in an hour or less. At 9:45pm we moved into the parking shuttle office to warm up. At 11:19pm a tow truck arrived, the 3rd company that was dispatched. The driver was a young lady from New York. We spent 4.5 hours total in long term parking, went with the tow truck to drop off my car at the dealership at 11:55pm, got dropped off at a Waffle House, then spent the night near the airport at and Airbnb room. We got back to the Hyubdai dealship at 7:15am and wasn’t able to get a new key and hit the road back to Austin until 9:25am.
$85 tow + $20 tip (after 4.5 hours in the cold I would have given her more if I had it)$48 Airbnb near airport, $24 Waffle House dinner, $6.50 Uber to Airbnb, $9.25 Uber to dealship, $358 New car fob
Unexpected Cost $555.75