Now that I have a big girl job, I don’t technically get a “spring break” per se, but I do choose when I take vacation and I decided to take a vacation during the classic spring break period. We went to Mexico City! I went with my bff Sam, who lives in Illinois still. I don’t get to see her very often, so it was awesome to get to see her…in a foreign country! It was my first time planning to travels in a foreign country so I have lots of advice to give for traveling in Mexico City!
Mexico City isn’t a huge touristy city for Americans, which I liked. I really had the opportunity to practice my Spanish and experience the culture. However, since it is a major city there still were a fair amount of people that spoke English who were able to help us get to places.
Here is what we did for our week in Mexico City and some tips I have for you if you go there!
Day 1: Outdoor Market
On my first day I got to the airport in the afternoon. I was a little terrified because I was traveling alone and my friend wasn’t getting in until the next day.
When I got to the airport, I updated my phone (Sprint had free texting and data for Mexico) so that I could tell everyone was ok. I then wandered around the airport for a million years trying to figure out how to exit, because I was scared to take a taxi, but I eventually just opted for taking one of the airport taxis, which are a safe option as you pay before hand so they will not rip you off.
Her dad used his Hilton points to get us a beautiful hotel in the district. We had an amazing view and a huge hotel with great service.
I was super exhausted, so I took a nap. After, I decided to wander the streets for a little bit. We were staying in a touristy part of town, so I felt safe. Across the street from the hotel there was an outdoor market. I wandered around and ended up getting pulled to dance with someone. I was a little embarrassed, but he was very nice and taught me how to dance. They were amazing and beautiful dancers.
I had food next door at Taqueria El Caifan. I had a huarache which was a flattened tortilla with beans, lettuce, cheese, and salsas.
Day 2: Polanco
On day 2, Sam was planning to run a half marathon in the morning in Dallas, fly to Mexico City, then run the half marathon there at night (she’s a little nuts).
In the morning, I decided to Uber to Polanco, where the half marathon was taking place. I ate at this little breakfast place called Cosecha Natural. I ordered an omelette (they had a difficult time understanding me) with mushrooms and cheese. I also had a pink smoothie called Barbie and papaya with honey and a cream sauce. It was freaking amazing. I love that the omelette came with beans and avocado. Food makes me so happy.
I then walked around and the Polanco area. This area is very nice and updated. I went into the Soumaya Museum, which has a very interesting building shape. There was various art and it was interesting to look at some of the history of Mexico. I wandered around some more and got lunch.
Then as it got closer to the race I found where I wanted to stand. It was a Rock and Roll series, so there were lots of bands which were awesome! I saw her run by at the beginning and then I found her at the end. She killed it and I’m so proud of her!
Plan out some of the museums here and look at what’s free and how much cash you should carry!
Day 3: Floating Gardens of Xochimilco
After my friend had run her half-marathons, we decided to try to take an easy day by taking a ride on the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco. I was a little nervous because when I had looked at reviews online and there were a bunch that said they were overrated, PLUS they could scam you. My friend visited Mexico City a few weeks before me though and recommended it (but she did say you could get scammed, so be careful), so I went for it!
I went in preparing myself to pay 350 pesos per boat per hour. If they try to get you to pay more, then go to someone else! We got really lucky and the guy came up to us and said the price on the board, so no negotiating needed. But if you have to, just remember “Tres cientos cincuenta pesos”. Don’t forget to bring extra for a tip!
We ended up going for 2 hours, which was 700 pesos and we had a blast. Our navigator told us various things about the gardens and the colors of the mexican flag. I didn’t pick everything up because I am definitely not fluent, but I understood some of what he was saying.
While on the boat, people will come by asking if you want food or drinks. You can even get a mariachi band! We opted for a few coronas and enjoyed the floating down the creek.
Bring plenty of cash for the boats and snacks. Know how to negotiate just in case!
Day 3: Walking around the City
After we were finished, we walked around to try to find some food in the area. There are some right by the gardens, but we wanted to try something else. We found this little shop on the side of the road and had chicken taquitos! (Yes, I cheated and had some chicken). They were absolutely delicious! I loved the food in Mexico.
Finally, we grabbed an Uber to head to the Frida Kahlo House, but on this particular day it was a holiday so a lot of the exhibits were closed. We ended up walking about 10 miles to get back to our hotel. It was a lovely day and everything was so beautiful.
We stopped in this pastry shop that had the most amazing looking pastries for 7 pesos each!!!! It was a steal. After we got back, we rested and grabbed some dinner near us that night. It was a blast!
Remember to look for closing on holidays. There are additional holidays than you are used to!
Day 4: Teotihuacan
This day we took our adventure to the pyramids! First, we had to make our way to the autobuses del norte. We got on the metro bus that took us north, but it wasn’t quite the right line. We got off and tried to transfer, but it was too much of a pain. So we called an uber to take us the extra mile and a half. He called us because he couldn’t see us in the crazy 6 way intersection and luckily he spoke perfect English. We found him and he gave us all sorts of stuff to see and told us about is time in the U.S. We were so lucky to find someone so helpful!
We finally made it to the proper bus station and bought our tickets. The bus was about an hour out. We started out climbing up the pyramid of the sun.
We were getting hungry by this point, so we went to La Gruta. It’s a restaurant inside a cave! I had chicken fajitas and crickets on avocado! The waiter hardly spoke any English, but we got to practice with him in Spanish, and he tried to practice some English. We then walked back to the pyramid of the moon.
Then on the way back, we were sure to catch the transportation. Right outside the station there are green buses, that are attached to lines above. These circle around the city, cost 4 pesos, and will take you right to your destination. You can also get on the proper metro line. The metro is right across the street as well and is 6 pesos.
We spent the rest of the night chilling and eating the pastries we got from the previous day!
After reading online, I assumed it would be easy to get there. While it is, you definitely want to be sure you have exactly planned the lines you need to take and where! Additionally, bring money for lots of goodies at the pyramids. Don’t be afraid to negotiate or walk away.
Bonus: Finding La Gruta
I had a really hard time finding La Gruta restaurant. If you are interested what you will do is if you are looking at the front of the Pyramid of the Sun at the base, you will walk to your right around the pyramid. Leave the premises out the back, keep walking, and you will see a sign. If you are unsure, the police are very helpful. A good phrase is “Donde esta el restaurante ‘La Gruta’.” If you don’t understand Spanish very well (or at all), watching where they point is super useful.
Day 5: La Condesa
This was essentially my last day in Mexico City. Sam unfortunately was not feeling well this day, so she stayed behind in the hotel. I ventured off to La Condesa to see some museums. I took the Metro to Chapultepec. I first went to the Museo de Arte Moderno. It was awesome to see some pieces from famous artists.
Next, I went to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. This museum was massive and broke the various parts of Mexico up and talked about the history and culture of each area. There was so much diversity, it was interesting to learn. I loved seeing the different traditions, food, and games!
I walked around the Bosque de Chapultepec and it was a beautiful tree lined park area that was huge. I hung out by the river and just enjoyed watching people spend time with their kids. I made my way up to El Castillo de Chapultepec. The Mexican Emperor Maximilian I lived there during the Second Mexican Empire. It was a beautiful castle (at the top of a large hill). The view was amazing and architecture was beautiful. At this point however, I also started not to feel well, so I slowly made my way back to the Metro and hotel room.
Bring money, these museums cost (50-70 pesos)! If you have a student ID, some of them are cheaper admission or free! Additionally, it was hot every day I was there. Drink lots of water!
Day 6: La Ciudadela
I only had some of the day in the city before my flight that night. I hadn’t bought hardly any souvenirs yet, so I went to this huge marketplace called La Ciudadela. It was a place where people can set up shop and sell all sorts of goodies. I really wanted to find some artwork and was really disappointed when I didn’t see much, but then the last row I went down, I found beautiful paintings, so I snatched up a couple. It was fun to have a conversation in Spanish with the guy working about my vacation and politics in the U.S.
By this time, it was time to head back to the U.S. I was so pleased with the people I met, the food I ate, and the adventures I had! I will definitely be back to visit Mexico City!
Have you been to Mexico City? What was your favorite part?
Do you have any tips for traveling to a new city?
What do you normally do for “spring break”?