Feeling refreshed and unstressed after those two weeks in PV, we steeled our nerves and got on a plane to Mexico City for our very first visit there. Sarah had meticulously researched the area and decided on Coyoacán as our first dip into the most populous city in North America. She found a great place for us to stay five nights in Casa Tamayo in the heart of the borough.
Our first night was basically just the arrival; we were exhausted by the airport and taxi activity (even though we started the day unstressed and refreshed!). Casa Tamayo recommended taking a taxi from the airport, which we did, but we waited in line over an hour for our turn to get a ride. The drive itself was less than half an hour with kind of dense traffic, but at least it kept moving. We had the opposite of that on some bus routes back towards our home base from the anthropology museum…an hour bus ride (due to traffic) for something that would have been 15 minutes at most under moving traffic conditions.
Mexico City is a big place. This is not a surprise. We tried various modes of transportation:
They each have their benefits and disadvantages.
- Walking is cheap and good for you…unless you wipe out on cobblestones, broken sidewalk, or (plenty of!) other hazards.
- Uber is variable in price, but not fast.
- We were warned by our hotel not to hail cabs from the street.
- The bus network is extensive and cost-effective, but you need to be prepared for traffic jams.
- The subway is fast (and frequent!), but you may have quite a walk to the station of your choice, and it is densely-packed with everyone who has learned lessons 1-4 already.
I am so glad we never even considered renting a car.
There were plenty of places to get breakfast, have a snack, get dinner, go out for ice cream, etc. all within a few hundred meters of our hotel. A guy we “met” online about 20 years ago who lives in Mexico City came to Coyoacán for an afternoon with much of his family to meet us in person for the first time. And they were delightful people. We’re looking forward to visiting them again on a future trip — either to Mexico City again, or maybe to one of their other home bases, like San Miguel de Allende.
You can spend so much time there. We went on Christmas Eve, and it was pretty much deserted. We reached our museum limit for the day and thought “oh great, let’s just do this again in a couple days to get the rest of the way through it.” When we came back on the Tuesday after Christmas, it was mobbed. The line to get in was several blocks long. But at least it moved rather quickly; I think our total wait in line was less than 45 minutes.
Also, lunch in the restaurant there on Christmas Eve was excellent.
Mucho Chocolate Museum
This was a little harder to find, but worth a visit none the less. It’s a small museum covering the historical and cultural influence of chocolate around the world, with a particular focus on early 20th century European consumption. Nothing in the gift shop really appealed to us, so we sat down outside for a delicious Sacher-like torte and cup of hot chocolate.
The Trip Back
Around the time we departed for Newark on the way to Puerto Vallarta, Europe was just waking up to the Omicron variant threat. While we were in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City, reports came flooding in of flight cancellations to, from and in the USA. I guess were lucky in that our route back to Germany didn’t take us through the USA. We were as vaccinated as possible. We had all the documentation for that in electronic and old-school paper (signed in ink by pharmacists!) form. Stepping off the plane in Munich, there were border patrol agents waiting for us at the gate, who took a preliminary glance at our residence permits and then waved us through (and that didn’t excuse us from the normal border patrol and passport check at all). We were holding our breath the whole time that we wouldn’t get stranded somewhere, and … we didn’t. But we’re still pretty sure it’s going to be a while before undertake so much travel in the space of a few months again.