I’m a city girl at heart, but it takes a certain magic combination to win me over. If you asked me to define it I’d say vibrant, colourful cities full of music and culture always have a certain appeal. I like quirky places that have their own soul as well.
So I’m starting an occasional series to celebrate the cities that I love, that intrigue me and that I really hope to return to one day. In some cases I may have only spent a day there, but that’s enough to make a return visit essential some time!
Mexico City used to been known mainly for its smoggy, polluted streets. The arty, colourful side to this mega-city didn’t reach far enough to dispel the myth that this was somewhere to avoid.
After heading out of town to visit the Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacan, we had only a few hours to get a brief taste for Mexico City before our flight back home. The vast Plaza Mayor seemed as good a place to start as any, although its size was hidden by the military music festival taking place in the centre of the square. The crowds were thick as we came out of the metro, so it pays to watch your bag as you would anywhere. Impressive baroque churches are one thing that Central and South America do really well, but the intricately carved front of the cathedral and its sheer scale stopped me in my tracks. While the solid gold altarpiece inside was striking, I liked just wandering the cool aisles of a working cathedral, looking at the different chapels.
Head down the side of the cathedral and you’ll come out on a quieter pedestrian street with a handful of bars and restaurants. On a warm Saturday afternoon it was the perfect part of town just to wander around, get an ice cream and see what we stumbled across. Along Calle Tacuba dozens of drummers were performing, maybe part of a festival.
Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of the sunset dome of the Palacio de Bellas Artes, striking in orange and yellow glass. Inside were Mayan masks, murals by Diego Rivera and much more.
So why did Mexico City grab me so much in just a day? It wasn’t what I expected. It was only a stopover on our way back from Colombia (flying with AeroMexico), and the only research we did was on how to get out to Teotihuacan. It was February, so warm but not too hot, the architecture was right up my street (I love Art Deco/Art Nouveau), even the metro stations were filled with art and a light installation for a nearby museum.
I’ll definitely be back some time for a proper visit…any tips for places not to miss?