TravelHoundz mexico

Bienvenidos a Mexico!

July 31st, 2008 · 1 Comment

A month after visiting Mexico for the first time in my life – I now live here with Kimberly and Zookie. After arriving in Mexico City and getting partly settled in our new neighborhood, Polanco – we had our first visitors, James and Christina. We did some major exploring of the city sites and had a great time at the Piramides de Teotihuacán, Coyocan and San Angel, and the Centro Historico.


For photos, click here:
Piramides, Coyocan/San Angel, Centro Historico

Teotihuacan & Tepotzotlan Coyocan & San Angel Zocalo — Mexico City

Our Neighborhood – Polanco

The easiest way to explain: we live next door to the Louis Vuitton Store. So, in general, this area is high-class Mexico City at its best. Ironically we’re also just a couple blocks off of Lincoln Park (like we were in Chicago). Polanco is full of tree lined streets, high-end boutiques, fancy restaurants overlooking the park, and a serious socialite scene for the elite. One of the best taquerias de Carnitas in the entire city is just across the street (we’ll get to the food later).

We have visitors!

A whopping one day after living in Mexico City (or DF as the locals call it), Kimberly’s brother and his girlfriend, James and Christina, arrived from sunny San Diego to check out the scene with us. We spent the first couple days just getting all of our feet on the ground. In addition to checking out the local eateries in Polanco, we set out to explore the major sites that Mexico City offers. The highlights were definitely the Piramides de Teotihuacán, which involved an adventurous car rental trip from the heart of DF to Teotihuacán, about an hour north of the city. We also really enjoyed the southern DF neighborhoods of Coyocan and San Angel where Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo lived and worked.

Driving in Mexico – Own your Lane!

We quickly learned that all laws and regulations related to motor vehicles are simply “rough” guidelines for how you behave while behind the wheel. For instance, stop signs are only heeded if there is another car in your way (pedestrians do NOT have the right of way). The most important rule to embrace was “owning your lane” – if you drive aggresively enough people will respect your presence on the road. Timid drivers never get anywhere in Mexico City. The last fascinating phenomenon is how Mexicans deal with roundabouts. In most countries roundabouts always have three characteristics:

  1. Cars in the roundabout have the right of way
  2. Roundabouts follow a counter-clockwise direction
  3. The roundabout exists instead of a traffic light

In Mexico these rules are thrown out the window. Basically, whoever is going faster has the right of way. Often times these are the cars on the straightaway, since cars in the roundabout have to slow down. Also, at larger intersections cars treat the roundabout as an obstacle going around whichever way will get them past it the quickest. (It’s quite fun to watch in person!) Finally, many roundabouts are combined with traffic lights – an intersesting concept to say the least…but, because the other two rules are not followed, not having stop lights would lead to complete chaos.

Piramides de Teotihuacán

After learning the ropes of driving in Mexico, the four of us ventured north to the Piramides. They are some of the largest man-made structures on earth. The Sun Temple is the 3rd largest pyramid in the world behind (Cholula and Giza). The entire site is stretched out over 2 miles including the Sun Temple, Moon Temple, and Citadel. We climbed to the top of all three structures — exhausting, but worth it for the amazing view!

Coyocan & San Angel

With more of a bohemian feel, Coyocan and San Angel are chocked full of art fairs, tree lined streets, and a number of Diego Rivera sites. We visited Frida Kahlo’s former home in Coyocan with James and Christina — and made a trip to San Angel the following weekend to see the house where both Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo lived.

Centro Historico

The other must see part of DF is the Centro Historico. Surrounding the main plaza or square known as the Zócalo are some major sites in all of DF. First, there is the stately Palacio Nacional of historical and artististic significance. The original congressional hall is kept in its original state. The second floor contains 9 floor-to-ceiling murals by Diego Rivera that recounts Mexican history. Sitting just a few hundred feet away, as you circle the Zócalo is the Catedral Metropolitana, which has been sinking (literally)over the years due to the soft lake bed beneath and 19M Mexico City residents using water from underground sources. (It’s not that we took pictures crooked — the Catedral really does lean to the left!) Finally the Templo Mayor – a major Aztec temple sits just off the square essentially between the Cathedral and the Palacio Nacional. It’s one of the few remaining Aztec ruins in the city — and was discovered only in 1978 by telephone repairmen.

Normally, this part of the post is where we would tell you about the restaurants in the city — but we have discovered so many that we are going to save them up and write a special post just on food in Mexico City. Stay tuned!

Tags: Mexico

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Sophie Hahn // Jan 13, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Hi there Kim and Dan. WOW! You said you had a travel site . . . indeed. This is very impressive. It was fun to hike a few days with you in Patagonia, and an incredible coincidence that you know our next door neighbor back home in Berkeley. Proof again that this is a wonderfully small world . . . unless you are trying to visit the whole thing, which you appear well on your way to achieving. Waiting for your Patagoina photos as well as Turkey. When do you have time to work with all this travel, photo organization and blogging? Continue to enjoy travel and life. It’s inspiring! Sophie Hahn & Family

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