24 Hours In Mexico City

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Photo Credit: Josh Lesser

A view of the National Cathedral and Latin-American Tower from Templo Mayor. Templo Mayor is the ruins of an ancient Aztec temple and is one of the City’s biggest tourist attractions.

by Josh Lesser, Staff Writer

Since Mexico lunched its war on drugs in 2006, much of Mexico has been deemed unsafe to travel to by the US State Department; however, one city in particular has managed to dodge the violence staying off the State department warnings and becoming an ideal vacation for all of those wishing to see the true Mexico. That city is Mexico City.

As the capital city, Mexico City is Mexico’s cultural, historical, and culinary center.  Its metro area is home to some 20 plus million people making it the largest city in the Americas. Mexico City is also home to the second most museums for any city in the world with museums on art, history and archeology. Besides world class museums, Mexico City also houses some of the world’s top restaurants that serve up a cuisine known for its mixed Native and European heritage.  Mexico City is a city that is constantly pushing barriers, leading Mexico into the future as a major world economy, as well as setting an example on how to deal with the many domestic issues currently facing Mexico today.

  1. A local chain: Friday 8:30 p.m.

After arriving in Mexico City, head over to the Polanco neighborhood known for its upscale apartments, shops and restaurants. In Polanco, grab dinner at a local Mexico City chain called El Bajío. El Bajío is unlike most chain restaurants in America because of its quality, acclaimed dishes and its formal atmosphere. With ten restaurants all within Mexico City, El Bajío serves up dishes from the Mexican states of Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca and Michoacán, providing diners with a wide variety of dishes to choose from.

For an appetizer one should start off with the Plantain Empanada which is filled with black beans. Most traditional Empanadas are made with dough but at El Bajío they use a plantain instead which gives the empanada a sweet taste that will surely make the costumers want to order more. For the entrée, order the Chicken Enchilada in Green Sauce. Although this dish is extremely spicy, it happens to taste unbelievable. The chicken is tender: it just falls apart at the slightest touch and on top of that the green chili sauce compliments the chicken and tortilla perfectly.

  1. Walk around Mexico City’s version of Beverly Hills: Friday 9:30 p.m.

After dinner, walk around Polanco and take in the million dollar apartments and houses that have given the neighborhood the reputation of one of the most expensive in Mexico and the world. Soak up the modern architecture of all the building while walking through some of the cities nicest parks. While walking in Polanco, it is hard not to notice all the upscale stores from Burberry to Bentley Dealers. Polanco has all the upscale stores one would expect to find in a neighborhood of its status.

The residential neighborhood Polanco is a great place to take a stroll. The neighborhood is often compared to Beverly Hills or the Upper West Side.
Photo Credit: Josh Lesser
The residential neighborhood Polanco is a great place to take a stroll. The neighborhood is often compared to Beverly Hills or the Upper West Side
  1. Eating a Mexican breakfast in a renowned French Restaurant: Saturday 8 a.m.

To start off a packed day of sightseeing eat breakfast at LIPP LA BRASSERIE in Polanco. Although the restaurant is known for its French food during breakfast, it is definitely worth getting its Mexican food. The Mexican Breakfast combo allows for the customer to order juice, Mexican Eggs, a fruit platter and coffee all for a great price. The fruit platter contains all different types of fruits from pineapples to papayas. The Mexican Eggs are scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers. This large and tasty breakfast will provide the average tourist with the perfect amount of energy to spend an entire day sightseeing.

  1. One of the World’s best museums: Saturday 9 a.m.

After breakfast walk a few blocks into Chapultepec Park home to some Mexico City’s greatest museums. Out of all the museums, however, one is considered the best in Mexico and one of the best in the world: the National Museum of Anthropology. The museum contains hundreds of artifacts and a dozen exhibits all dedicated to the Native tribes that call Mexico home. The museum is absolutely massive and if done in depth could easily take two days to complete. It contains exhibits on the Maya, Toltec, Teotihuacan, the Native Peoples after Spanish conquest and many more. However, out of all the exhibits its most famous one is the exhibit on the Mexica People otherwise known as the Aztecs. The reason why the Aztec exhibit is the most famous is for two reasons. The first reason is that Mexico City is built on the site of the Aztec capital city, Tenochtitlan, which was once described by Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortés as a “great city” that was “built on a lake”.  The second reason is that the exhibit contains the famed Aztec Sun calendar.

An Aztec statue in front of the Museum of Anthropology. The museum is a missive complex that is home to thousands of important pieces just like this one.
Photo Credit: Josh Lesser
An Aztec statue in front of the Museum of Anthropology. The museum is a missive complex that is home to thousands of important pieces just like this one.
  1. Mexico City’s version of Central Park: Saturday 12 p.m.

After exploring the City’s best museum walk around the park it’s located in. Chapultepec Park is named after a Spanish imperial castle that sits on a hill in the park. After Spain conquered Mexico they made it the capital of their Central American colonies and the castle that sits in the park was built by the Viceroys of Mexico. On top of housing many museums and a castle the park is also just a great green space good for relaxing. The park itself is the largest city park in the western hemisphere. While walking through the park shop at the many vendors lined up selling anything from street food to souvenirs.

  1. Lunch on an ancient canal: Saturday 1 p.m.

Take an Uber to the suburb of Xochimilco. The canals that wind through Xochimilco have been dedicated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for its historical and cultural significance. The canals are built at the base of the mountains that surround Mexico City and once played a crucial role in Aztec rural society.

Today the canals are used by locals and tourists. With over 1000 boats operating in the Canals at once the site can get extremely crowded. However, regardless of the crowds, Xochimilco can still be extremely relaxing. As the boats float through the canals smaller boats stop up along the bigger boats offering anything from souvenirs to cooked meals. It is definitely worth getting lunch on one of these boats because first of all the food tastes amazing and secondly it is cooked on a boat in an ancient Aztec canal which gives tourists an experience unlike any other. A dish defiantly worth getting is the Quesadilla with Squash Flower. After lunch, enjoy taking in the great scenery or hire a mariachi band for some entertainment.

Boats float on the Xochimilco Canal. The Canal is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a local favorite.
Photo Credit: Josh Lesser
Boats float on the Xochimilco Canal. The Canal is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a local favorite.
  1. Mexico City’s main square: Saturday 3:30 p.m.

The Zócalo has been a major urban gathering center since Aztec times and today it functions as a major square that houses the country’s most important structures. The country’s congress and national cathedral are both located in the square and on top of this the square is also the largest one in the Western Hemisphere. The major site in the square is Templo Mayor. Templo Mayor was once the center of the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan and it functioned as the city’s spiritual center. The temple was built in a pyramid shape and was where the high priests conducted sacrifices. Today tourists are able to see the ruins of the pyramid as well as the museum that is now built right next to it. It is amazing to see how advanced the Aztecs were compared to many of the European societies that existed during that time. After visiting Templo Mayor it is only fitting to walk around the Zócalo to see what now stands where the once great Aztec empire once stood.

  1. Vegetarian Enchiladas: Saturday 7:30 p.m.

Yug Vegetariano is located in the trendy neighborhood of La Condesa. Since the Sixties the restaurant has been serving quality Mexican vegetarian food. There is a wide variety of dishes many of which include fake meat. The fake meat happens to taste in some cases even better than actual meat.  On top of the interesting dishes Yug Vegetariano serves they also offer freshly squeezed Juices that go well with any dish. After a long day sightseeing Yug Vegetariano is the perfect way to end a trip to Mexico City, a city which is rich in history and culture.