Mexico City, District Federal
Mexico City, or Ciudad de Mexico, is the capital of Mexico, and it is a state in itself. The Mexicans call it DF, for District Federal (It took me some time to understand this …).
During my first stay in Mexico, I ended up not visiting the capital, thinking that it was a megalopolis too dense and too chaotic. People only talked about the violence, systematically saying “be careful not to be kidnapped,” to the point that I became paranoid. However, the reality is that tourists do not get kidnapped. If it really has to happen to you, there’s really no way to avoid it. It is also the fault of the media and movies that focus exclusively on the violent aspect of this country, while it is full of beautiful things to see. It was during my 2nd stay that finally, I followed a friend and I finally went.
Mexico City was a nice surprise. I did not expect that. Of course, it is an immense megalopolis with districts that do not resemble each other. But the city is pretty, aesthetic, clean, and very pleasant. One evening I had the opportunity to drive through a part of the town in the hills, which could be compared with favelas. We had an amazing view of the rest of the city. The whole area was decorated with Christmas garlands, and it was pretty majestic.
That same day, I found myself stuck in traffic jams between the Revolution Avenue, the Insurgents Avenue, and the Liberty Avenue. I loved seeing these 3 names side by side as the main arteries of this city. I thought it really captured the city’s energy.
Since it is the capital, there is something for everyone. Things to see include the historic center with the Palace of Fine Arts, the Church of San Francisco, the National Palace, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Soumaya Museum and the Frida Kahlo Museum.
Street food is very cheap. You really feel that this is an international city. The big difference with the other big cities in the country is that people walk in Mexico City, and physically it shows…
I did not stay long enough to be able to recommend specific cafes or restaurants. I can just say that La Condesa is the cool place to have a drink of mezcal in the evening.
To get around, the Mexico City has a pretty good public transport system: bus, metro, tram. But be aware that on some lines, the first two compartments are reserved for women. Like any self-respecting megalopolis, there are constant traffic jams. To try and deal with this problem, the city created a program restricting driving on a schedule determined by a colored sticker based on a vehicle’s license plate number (remember this when renting a car). While this may be a good idea, it has led to many households buying a second car, cheaper and more polluting, so that they can drive every day of the year. As an alternative, there is always Uber.
To get to Mexico City, or to leave the city, there are flights to all the cities of the country. Moreover, to go from one city to another by plane, it is sometimes necessary to pass through Mexico City. And you will find national buses to get you anywhere.
Bus Mexico City -Guadalajara: about 500-800 pesos (25-40 euros) for a 1st class bus. Duration is about 7 hours. I recommend taking the night bus.