It´s kind of weird, but originally I would have been right now on Hurtigruten´s oldest ship, the MS Lofoten, sailing up the Norwegian coast to Kirkenes and back to Bergen, but the voyage that I have been waiting for over half a year was cancelled a day before departure due to an unexpected mechanical failure of the ship´s engine.
Bad luck? I would say so! Anyways. I guess it could have been worse. Like the failure happening on the second day of the cruise.
But like sometimes in life, in the end this misfortune would lead to something even better: Like a Mediterranean cruise together with my beloved partner and spare time to finally sit down and write about my 3-days Mexican adventure!
After already two highlights this April, an unrequested flight to Miami and the short cruise aboard MSC Preziosa, my last pattern before my month off was a Mexico City rotation with three and a half days to explore one of the world´s most colorful metropolis.
Ironically, Mexico City is not too popular amongst my colleagues and bidding for the longest rotation currently in the network does not ask for too much effort. Good for me. Mexico in general is a rising star in the travel industry and I will give it 2017/18 the latest, when it will experience a maximum boost in popularity for European tourists to go there.
So reason enough to travel there now! Mexico City is full of life, full of art and history and an amazing place for foodies to feast on the uncountable offerings. And the Mexican cuisine is so much more than just tortillas and empanadas!
Our flight arrived in the early morning hours on a Monday. Mondays in Mexico City are a little bit like Sundays in Germany. Museums and quite some shops are generally closed or open up rather late during the day. So after sleeping in till noon, what´s there to do on a Monday in Mexico City?
Well, I can reassure you, you won´t be left disappointed.
Mondays in Mexico City are particularly suitable to take a tour of the city´s lively street and food markets.
Our hotel lies in the beautiful district of Polanco with the metro station “Auditorio” around the corner. I always travel by metro. It is a reliable and most of all the cheapest way to get from A to B. For only 5 Mexican Pesos per person (0,24€/0,28 USD) you can go anywhere in the extensive network. Trains run on a very frequent pattern (every three to five minutes) and chances that you get stuck in traffic are close to none.
And it is safe. Even during rush hour. People in Mexico deal with each other in a very friendly and respectful way, not matter how cramped the train should be. On top during peak hours, the first carriages are reserved for women and children only.
Most people still think that Mexico City is one of the most dangerous cities in the world. From my personal experience I cannot confirm this. Sure, it is a big city with big city problems, but you wouldn´t go promenading with your Rolex and in Lacroix in the Bronx either, would you?
Like in every large city on the planet, keep an eye on your valuables when using public transport. It could easily happen to you in Milan or Rome to get pickpocketed in the metro. Of course, this can happen to you in Mexico City, too.
But back to the subject! Take a printed map of the subway system along with you. It´s not only quick at hand when you need to change trains, it is also a great opportunity to get in touch with the local people. Mexicans are very helpful and we have been asked many, many times if we needed help in finding our way!
Our first stop is the sprawling “La Merced“.
The metro station is located right in the center of Mexico City´s largest retail and food market. It is also the oldest market in the city with its commercial activity dating well back to the colonial period.
The market is divided into different sections: Food, clothes, shoes, housewares, etc. Personally, I particularly enjoy walking past the beautifully decorated candy stands with traditionally handmade confection, elaborately decorated popsicle and the amazing array of self-made pinatas, containers usually made of papier-mâché and filled with sweets and candy.
Prices on the markets are pretty much fixed. Price negotiations may be possible, but bargaining like on markets in Thailand or China is NOT appropriate!
After some time and because I find the eats much better at Coyoacán Market, after some time (and the purchase of a traditional cast iron tortilla press) we hop onto the next train.
Mercado de Coyoacán lies in the beautiful neighbourhood of Coyoacán. It was on of the first areas of Mexico City to receive the official Barrios Magicos (Magic Neighbourhoods) designation. And it truly is a magical place.
Coyoacán will surprise you with tree-lined cobblestone streets, colonial-era estates, beautiful side streets and the wonderful central square with artesian markets and impressive architecture.
From Coyoacán metro station take a taxi for the 10 minutes ride to the market.
Mercado de Coyoacán is much smaller than La Merced. Yet it has a wonderful selection of places to eat! Before you decide for a food stand (all of them have seating accommodation), walk the narrow alleys for some visual inspiration and take a deep breath of the various scents in the air. The food here is freshly prepared and you can even watch tortillas being freshly pressed. I simply love this place!
This hotspot is famous with young and old and roasts its own coffee. The ancient benches outside the café are always busy with retirees and you can enjoy listening to the stories that they have to tell while sipping on your most delicate hot or cold drink.
Another spot that I love is the garden of the Centro Cultural Coyoacanense, just down the block. This beautifully appointed small park is an oasis of tranquility. The only noises you hear is the plashing of the water fountain and the bird´s tweets. It is like being in another world.
From here it is only a stone´s throw to the neighbourhood´s main square Plaza Jardin Hidalgo.
The square is a popular meeting point on Mondays for the locals to socialize, skateboard, enjoy a drink on the terraces of one of the many street cafés and bars or simply wander in the shade of the old trees.
Make a quick hop into the Parroquia San Juan Bautista to experience the impressive interior of this monumental church and take a stroll over the small artesian markets in this area before finishing with a delicious Tempus Doble Malta beer in the sun on the plaza.
Head back with the taxi to Coyoacán metro station. But not leaving before taking along a sweet treat from Pastelerias Esperanza – Coyoacán Bajo Puente (underneath the highway bridge) across from the Sanborn branch of Coyoacán shopping Centre.
The final stop for the day is the supermarket of Mexican branch Chedraui. This huge place reminds me a little of a Carrefour and offers everything from food to hardware. The shop near metro “Salta del Agua” is huge and is great for food souvenirs for home, like avocado, lime and different dried chilli.
So, now that you got an idea that Mondays in Mexico City are everything but boring, pack your bags and see for yourself.
Safe travels, folks! See you on the road…