Mexico City from Above

Mexico City (or Ciudad de Mexico or CDMX) is the capital of Mexico and the most populous city in North America. The city itself has a population close to about 9 million while the metro area is home to about 21 million people. It is an ancient city founded by people called Mexica – dating back to the 1300 and was built on an island in the center of a lake in the valley of Mexico. It also became the capital of later Aztec civilization, after which also it became the capital of New Spain when the Spanish conquered the country.



To have an idea of the vastness of Mexico City, on the last day of my vacation in Mexico City (June 19), I went up the Torre Latinoamericana, an architecturally significant building, not only in Mexico but in the world, because it is the first major skyscraper built on highly seismic land and has survived several major earthquakes. It was the tallest building in Mexico until 1984.


Torre Latinoamericana, one of the tallest (and safest) buildings in Mexico City with 44 floors and an observation deck (Mirador) on its top floor.

Here are some views of the city from the observation deck. On this particular day, you can actually see the towering white peaks of the legendary Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes.



Best. Day. Ever. No. 1 Part 2

I had to divide Day 1 into two parts because of the number of pictures I wanted to post. This post is part 2 of my first full day of touring Mexico City.

Part I – Templo Mayor, Metropolitan Cathedral, the zocalo
Part II – Beyond the zocalo, Bellas Artes, Chinatown, Mercado de San Juan, Alameda Central and Diego Rivera Museum

My first full day in Mexico City was a tour called “Hidden Mexico City” with Urban Adventures that specializes in small-group tour in many cities around the world. It is a division of an Australian company called Intrepid Travels that is known to deliver sustainable, experience-rich travel. Urban Adventures “are for those who want to get away from the tourist crowds and really connect with a city, with a local by their side. The experience can be as short as a couple of hours, or as long as a whole day, but in every case our Urban Adventures tours take travellers to interesting places to experience local culture and see what makes a place unique. Join us for the Best. Day. Ever.”



Here’s my review for the Hidden Mexican City Tour:


Eve

Our guide was Evaluz Espejel (Eve), a vivacious young-at-heart who was not only very knowledgeable about the places we visited, but also very passionate about Mexico, Mexico City and travel as a whole. She offered personal insights that may or may not be part of the “script” which made the tour less clinical, less observational and somewhat more participatory given the time constraint. She even sometimes, I felt, included her own little “side trips” (like stopping at a corner of the city, pointing out small detail of architecture or explaining some events currently happening on the street). Our group was small (3 including me), so the tour was quite personal and intimate. I didn’t feel hurried at all, especially that I photograph almost anything that interests me. There was enough time to absorb and understand the “sensory assault” (how else could I call it?) that is Mexico City – visual, auditory, smell, taste, touch, even movement, guided expertly by Eve. Consider this: the tour went through exploring ancient history in Templo Mayor, and the Spanish occupation in the zocalo and Metropolitan Cathedral with a pause for refreshments in a charming outdoor food stand, through strolling on the pedestrian only shopping streets full of people, to walking through a restaurant housed in an architecturally significant building, to viewing modern art in Bellas Artes, through to gawking at shops in Chinatown, to tasting various traditional and not so traditional food at the Mercado de San Juan, walking through the lovely French style Alameda Park, and ending in closely examining the famous “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park” mural at the Diego Rivera Museum. Yup, the tour was certainly stimulating all the senses. As an added health benefit: I walked close to 6 miles (just a little under 10 kilometers), 13,764 steps and climbed an equivalent to 9 floors during the tour. No wonder Eve looks so fit!!



Best. Day. Ever. No. 1. Part 1

Templo Mayor and its surroundings

Part 1: Around the Zocalo and adjacent areas – Templo Mayor, Zocalo, Metropolitan Cathedral, shopping at Cinco de Mayo Ave etc.

My first full day in Mexico City was a tour called “Hidden Mexico City” with Urban Adventures that specializes in small-group tour in many cities around the world. It is a division of an Australian company called Intrepid Travels that is known to deliver sustainable, experience-rich travel. Urban Adventures “are for those who want to get away from the tourist crowds and really connect with a city, with a local by their side. The experience can be as short as a couple of hours, or as long as a whole day, but in every case our Urban Adventures tours take travellers to interesting places to experience local culture and see what makes a place unique. Join us for the Best. Day. Ever.”



Here’s my review for the Hidden Mexican City Tour:


Eve

Our guide was Evaluz Espejel (Eve), a vivacious young-at-heart who was not only very knowledgeable about the places we visited, but also very passionate about Mexico, Mexico City and travel as a whole. She offered personal insights that may or may not be part of the “script” which made the tour less clinical, less observational and somewhat more participatory given the time constraint. She even sometimes, I felt, included her own little “side trips” (like stopping at a corner of the city, pointing out small detail of architecture or explaining some events currently happening on the street). Our group was small (3 including me), so the tour was quite personal and intimate. I didn’t feel hurried at all, especially that I photograph almost anything that interests me. There was enough time to absorb and understand the “sensory assault” (how else could I call it?) that is Mexico City – visual, auditory, smell, taste, touch, even movement, guided expertly by Eve. Consider this: the tour went through exploring ancient history in Templo Mayor, and the Spanish occupation in the zocalo and Metropolitan Cathedral with a pause for refreshments in a charming outdoor food stand, through strolling on the pedestrian only shopping streets full of people, to walking through a restaurant housed in an architecturally significant building, to viewing modern art in Bellas Artes, through to gawking at shops in Chinatown, to tasting various traditional and not so traditional food at the Mercado de San Juan, walking through the lovely French style Alameda Park, and ending in closely examining the famous “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park” mural at the Diego Rivera Museum. Yup, the tour was certainly stimulating all the senses. As an added health benefit: I walked close to 6 miles (just a little under 10 kilometers), 13,764 steps and climbed an equivalent to 9 floors during the tour. No wonder Eve looks so fit!!



Photos from Templo Mayor including inside the museum, Metropolitan Church, the Zocalo and Avenida Cinco de Mayo and surrounding streets.