By Chris K
- arrive bright and early into Mexico City
- take a tour to see the pyramids of Teotihuacan
- chill out in the beautiful Museo Soumaya
- tuckered out? Not yet – there’s tacos to be eaten
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An overnight flight brings us all the way from the serene grace of Japan. Borrowing some of those zen meditation techniques we’re well rested and ready to dive into what Mexico City has to offer.
Located high above sea level, some visitors to Mexico City are said to have trouble breathing. All of our research is telling us the same – so much to do there will hardly be time to catch our breath!
From the huge variety of it’s cuisine, to cultural history, to the sheer scale of the city (think New York with more chaotic traffic), Mexico City is pulsing with life and great things to do.
The Road to the Gods
But today we’re studiously ignoring all of the interesting and exciting things to do in Mexico City proper (or Ciudad de México) and going on a little half day trip.
Mexico City takes its cultural influences from many different cultures but the oldest influence that remains visible is from the Aztecs, and we’re going to visit an ancient city started in around 100 BC.
Teotihuacan is just 50 kilometres from Mexico City and is serviced by many tour operators – but it is just as easy to get a bus, and much cheaper too. As an added positive, we won’t have to spend most of our day visiting tequila shops, which leaves some time in the afternoon for a visit to an impressive attraction.
We head down to the bus terminal called Autobuses del Norte Station and head to Gate 8. Buses leave every fifteen minutes or so and it will take us roughly an hour to get to our destination – that’s plenty of time to think ahead to the destinations that are coming up on our calendar, or just watch the landscape slide by as we head well out of Mexico City.
Where the Gods were Born
When all that is left of a culture are the monuments they made with backbreaking labour, a visit is full of wonder and awe mixed with a sense of loss. We have the relics, art, and architectural creations of these ancients but sometimes you’re compelled to wonder, at what cost to the ordinary people building these monuments. It’s important to appreciate what the legacy they have been left behind.
Teotihuacan covers some 80 kiliometres square, and in addition to being named a UNESCO World Heritage site, offers one of the most accessible locations for exploring the Aztec history.
According to Visit Mexico, there are several entrances and choosing the right one depends on how long you want to spend wandering this vast space.
For those with a full day, they recommend the first entrance. Those with less time can use the second or third entrances.
The road running through the center of Teotihuacan, charmingly named the Avenue of the Dead, is set slightly off alignment from North to South – some theories suggesting it represents a model of the solar system, others that it is there to align with the setting sun on a particular day of the year.
By the far the most impressive structure, and the one requiring the most energy to take advantage of, is the Pyramid of the Sun. At almost 60 metres high, it is quite a climb, particularly if Mexico is turning on the sunshine. But the view from the top is definitely worth it, as you turn to see the whole of Teotihuacan laid out before you.
Modern Monuments and Mexico Culture
From an ancient monument to a modern one – we’re heading back into town to discover what billionaires spend their dimes on.
We also ask the question – just what does a billionaire do in their spare time? When they just need to relax and unwind and not have to worry about all of those piles of money sitting around waiting to be spent?
They collect coins. Which maybe explains the billionaire thing.
Carlos Slim’s contribution to Mexico City is the incredibly beautiful museum, the Museo Soumaya. Named after his late wife, the musuem contains the largest collection of Auguste Rodin casts outside of France, and also houses his impressive coin collection – the ones he collected in his spare time.
We. Love. Tacos.
And to eat them in the place where they were invented is the perfect way to finish our first day in Mexico. For Taco recommendations, we look to Conde Nast Traveler.
Mexico City Tip
Use the Metro! It carries around 1.2 billion passengers a year and at 2-3 pesos for a ride, it the smartest way to avoid the grinding traffic on the roads.
What else chould we do in Mexico City? What’s your favourite taco place?
Give us your tips in the comments.