Guest Post by Travis Wooten
Hello! Allow me to introduce myself… My name is Travis Wooten () and I’m a friend of Grant and Rachel’s. We met through Grant’s brother after I moved to San Diego back in 2016. Similar to Grant and Rachel, I have a gypsy soul myself. And while I haven’t garnered up the courage to quit my day job and travel quite they are doing, I make the most of my very flexible vacation policy and weekends! I’ve been all over Europe, the Caribbean, many cities throughout the US, and many many music festivals around the country and even internationally.
How to Get To Mexico City
Back in February I decided to surprise my girlfriend, Allison, with a trip for her birthday. I decided on Mexico City. Why? 1) We love Mexico. Whether it’s popping down to Baja for the weekend or spending the week in Puerto Vallarta we love the chill beach vibes every time we go! 2) We had a friend staying in Mexico City on a work trip and wanted to go visit. 3) Most importantly: Volaris, a Mexican airline, was having a MASSIVE sale (70%off!) on flights. As any good traveler will know, being smart and frugal on your travel costs is what allows you to live the gypsy lifestyle!
We were able to take advantage of Volaris’ sale because we were able to fly out of Tijuana, only a short Uber ride away! The Tijuana airport makes it SO EASY for you to fly out of there from the US by way of the Cross Border Express (CBX). CBX is a special pedestrian border crossing that puts you right into the Tijuana airport terminal. It’s relatively new, clean, and very safe. The only drawback is that you need to purchase a special, additional ticket in order to use it. But, at $30 per person for a roundtrip, it’s more than worth it, rather than cross the border elsewhere and taxi over to the airport.
Where to Stay in Mexico City
Fortunately, our friend already had an Airbnb booked, so we didn’t have to find a place to stay on our own. However, his place was located in the San Rafael neighborhood, just a 5 minute walk down the street from the Plaza de la República. While the exact area we were staying in didn’t have much to do in the immediate vicinity, it was fairly central to every other neighborhood we visited, making it a great location!
What to Do in Mexico City
Bars and Restaurants
I’m not sure what I expected when arriving in to Mexico City (CDMX). The first thing I realized was that CDMX is HUGE. With a population of the entire metropolitan area being 21.3 million, it is the largest city in the Wester Hemisphere! With that said, it became clear that our two day trip was barely going to scratch the surface of this massive cultural center.
By the time we landed and found our way to your friend’s place via Uber, we were starving. Utilizing the myriad of public transportation (this time, by bus), we made our way to the Centro district to eat at Coox Hanal, a Yucatan restaurant. We ordered a couple margaritas a some family style cochinita pibil, a plate of marinated pork served with fresh made tortillas and pickled cabbage. We stuffed our faces it was sooo good.
Experiencing an Earthquake in Mexico City
From there we made our way to the Plaza de la Constitucion, in the attempt to go to a rooftop bar overlooking the square. However, while walking across the square, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake shook the city!
Luckily, the epicenter of the quake was over 200 miles away in Oaxaca, but with it being that powerful, we still felt the ground beneath sway and witnessed lamp posts and signs rattle back and forth. To me, it felt like being on a cruise ship.I could feel the ground beneath me moving, throwing off my balance, but couldn’t see the movement with my eyes, making me feel a little dizzy. Standing in massive square full of thousands of people collectively standing completely still and silent as we braced ourselves for potential disaster was surreal.
Thankfully, after a few minutes, the quake and aftershocks stopped. An announcement over the cities alarm speakers notified the citizens that no major damage had been reported. Whew. After the quake, we decided not to go to the rooftop bar. Which I don’t think we would have been able to anyway as almost every building in the city had been evacuated. Businessmen and tourists were pouring into the streets from everywhere. Our original plan had been to take the subway back to the apartment from the Plaza, but we decided going underground after an earthquake was probably not the best decision. We decided to look for a bus instead. Well, with 21 million people now in the streets, buses were slammed and traffic was at a stand still. We ended up having to walk a couple miles back to the apartment. We made it back safely and sat for a bit to relax and catch our breath after all that had just happened.
Mexico City’s Roma Neighborhood
Once regrouped and the chaos of the city subsided a bit, we headed to the Roma neighborhood to attempt another rooftop excursion, this time at Balmori. The area around Balmori felt a little more rundown than I was expecting for what the inside of it was like. Inside was a swanky rooftop bar/restaurant with many twenty-somethings dressed to impress enjoying delicious cocktails and gourmet appetizers. If it weren’t for the menu and conversations around me being in Spanish, I would have thought I was at any rooftop bar in a major city in the States. Highly recommend!
Mexico City’s Nightlife
After dinner and drinks we headed out for some night life. Our friend took us to Saint, a club just a bit west of the Condesa district. Saint alternates nights being a regular club and nights catering to the LBGTQ community. This night was the latter and it was so much fun! Every one was very nice, the drinks strong, and the music was great!
The next morning, nursing some slight hangovers, we started out for Teotihuacán. Teotihuacán is an ancient Mesoamerican city thought to be established in 100BC, well before the Aztecs came to power. It hosts many ancient streets and pyramids, including the very popular Pyramid of the Sun. Exploring Teotihuacán was at the top of our list of sites we wanted to see, and it did not disappoint!
Getting to Teotihuacán
Teotihuacán is about a 45 min drive north east of the CDMX city center. There are many tours that you can register for that take you to and from the site. However, being adventurers, we didn’t want to be on a guided tour, so we found our own way there. While getting TO Teotihuacán is relatively easy, as you can just call an Uber to take you there, getting back is not as easy, since Ubers are not as plentiful.
I did notice that there were quite a few taxis there when we were ready to leave, but those could have been reserved. Seeing as our friend we were visiting was a Mexican citizen and fluent in Spanish, he was able to work out a deal with our Uber driver for him to return and pick us up when we were ready to leave. If you decide to find your own way to Teotihuacán, I highly recommend securing a ride back before you start exploring the site.
After paying the 70 peso entrance fee (~$4), we began our exploration of the grounds. The site is roughly a square mile with many pyramids covering the area, all linked together with ancient streets. Being out in a desert like area, it was very warm even in February, mid 80 degrees Farenheight. If you plan to visit during the summer, make sure to bring shade (there is none!) and plenty of water. There wasn’t anyone selling water and there were no water fountains except at the entrances to the site.
There are some pyramids and structures that are roped off to climbing, but for the most part, you are allowed to walk up the steep steps and climb to the top of the pyramids to see what the ancient people who built the city saw thousands of years ago. Hope you are in shape though, the steep climbs mixed with CDMX’s almost 7,500ft of elevation put you out of breath very quickly! However, as you can see, the views from the top are well worth it!
More Restaurants and Things to Do in Mexico City
Walking out of Teotihuacán, we snagged a snack of mango dusted with Tahin (delicious!) and found our Uber driver and made the trek back to the city. There we grabbed some street tacos for lunch before taking a much needed nap! We awoke and headed back to the Roma area to bar hop. After a few places, we ended up at yet another rooftop bar, disguised as a coffee shop, hidden in the top of a bookstore, with a jazz club in the back. Yeah, read that sentence again. Cafebrería El Péndulo Roma was a perfect place to chill and enjoy a beautiful Mexico City Saturday night.
The next morning we headed back to Plaza de la Constitucion to have brunch at the original rooftop place we wanted to try, El Balcón del Zócalo. We enjoyed some mimosas along with our chilaquiles and mole, while overlooking the square.
From there we walked down into the square to tour the Catedral Metropolitana de la Ciudad de México. Inside was an old, beautiful place of worship. Sunday mass was in session, so we stayed only long enough to snap a few flash-less pictures and admire the ornate chapels.
Parque México and the Coyoacan Market
Before heading to the airport to head home, we decided to go walk around Parque México. There was a nice little dog park there and many people just enjoying the beautiful, sunny day. If you are looking for a place to relax and just be outside, this is a great spot! After walking around the park for a while we wanted one last snack before heading home. We made our way to the Coyoacan Market. It was bustling and cramped and fantastic. We sat down at one of the many ceviche booths and had some tostadas. To die for.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it! Hopefully, if enough of you find this helpful, Grant and Rachel will allow me to do another post soon! In the meantime, follow me on Instagram @twooten3 and on Youtube for some cool travel videos!