When I was invited on a Press trip to Mexico City I was intrigued and also very excited about what it would be like. I had visited Cancun and its beautiful beaches before, which was very different to the capital city.
Everyone I spoke to prior to leaving for the trip shared their concerns about safety, crime and corruption and warned me to reconsider or if I was still going ahead, to be careful not to be kidnapped or to not get myself embroiled in a drug case.
Therefore I wanted to share my personal experience of Mexico City with you in the hope that I can clear up any pre-conceptions of it that there may be.
I did travel to Mexico City by myself, which was a major thing for me, especially as my knowledge of Spanish extends to Hola and Gracias (thank you Geri for being the best translator) and given the chance, I would go back in a heartbeat. My opinion is that the media makes it seem worse than it actually is.
The Stereotype of Mexico City vs Reality
When I arrived in Mexico City, the first thing that struck me was how lovely the people were, how clean and modern the city was and how it was just like any other city in the world. It is massive and is the one of the biggest cities in the world as well as the biggest in Latin America.
Just like any other city, as long as you stay sensible and in the safe areas, and in groups, you will be absolutely fine. At no point during my stay did I feel scared or unsafe! In fact I wished I had more time to explore as it was such a massive city with so much to see and do.
A city made for Instagram
In Mexico, you are allowed to paint your house any colour you want so it was a very colourful and bright city! I loved how all the different neighbourhoods were just made for Instagram, and enjoyed the pop of colour and vibrancy everywhere.
I certainly enjoyed snapping away and observing all the different house types in their different shades.
So much Culture
Mexico City has the most museums in the world with more being added. We visited the Tequila museum, as well as the Museo de Arte Popular, which was my favourite.
At the Tequila Museum, we had a tequila tasting, as well as learned all about the process to make Tequila, and the upcoming Mescal, as well as enjoyed a wonderful Mexican meal on our last evening. I have seen Tequila bottles with a worm inside, so imagine my shock at seeing a snake! Safe to say I was not brave enough to try this.
At the Museo de Arte Popular, we looked at colourful artefacts, art, designs and it offered an alternative way of learning about Mexico during the different times.
There are also art galleries, theatres and concert halls dotted across the city.
We watched a Folklore ballet show at Palacio de Bellas Artes (Bellas Artes Palace), which I highly recommend. We were captivated in the three hours of entertainment with all the different beautiful folk songs and dances, the colourful costumes and the mariachi music.
Housed in the same building are many famous murals and paintings too, so a good place to visit for some culture and especially to see the art as it was just amazing.
Ancient ruins – The Pyramids of the Sun and Moon
I love that there is so much history in Mexico, and last time I visited Cancun, I was fascinated by the Mayan ruins.
This time I was fortunate enough to visit the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon at the ancient pre-Columbian city of Teotihuacán, which was only an hour outside the city and well worth the visit.
I mean, how incredible is it to say you have climbed the third biggest pyramid in the world!
Even though climbing the pyramids highlighted how majorly unfit I was, when looking down from the taller of the two, having climbed 234 steps up the Pyramid of the Sun, all I can say was it was just epic. I did freak out when the guide said we still had to climb the Pyramid of the Moon but I was a happy trooper and tried my best!
It is so worth doing especially for the views as you get an amazing 360 degree view of the site and all the Mesoamerican pyramids. It is just breathtaking and it makes you ponder and marvel at the hindsight and intelligence of the early settlers in Mexico!
Calm within the Chaos at Xochimilco
Mexico City, with its hustle and bustle is a pretty chaotic city. It was so surreal to find an oasis of calm at the ‘Venice of Mexico City’, known as Xochimilco.
You can hire a Trajinera and go along the canals, whilst eating delicious food, and taking in the beautiful surroundings.
I have dedicated a full blog post to Xochimilco, which you can read here.
The Food Scene
The food scene in Mexico is so special that UNESCO even recognized this in 2010 and named Mexican Cuisine a “World Heritage.” I feel so fortunate to have tried Mexican Cuisine during my press trip to Mexico City and it opened up my eyes about how different it was to the stereotypical Tex Mex vision of it.
The food was always beautifully presented, cooked with the freshest of ingredients and I definitely fell in love with it.
We were lucky to try several restaurants which are featured on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which you can read about here.
I was also happy to have had a go at learning how to make Tamales myself at Casa Jacaranda, after a wonderful food tour at a local market – an experience I highly recommend and you can read about here.
Yes. A subtitle I never imagined I would have in a blog post but hey! Life is short and you got to try everything once. Thanks to Geri, I was brave enough to try two types of insects at two restaurants on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list. I know insects are probably not a priority ingredient when flicking through a restaurant menu, but in pre-Hispanic times, they were considered a valuable source of protein and still feature highly on many menus today.
Grasshoppers – Chapulines
At Azul Historico, Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita’s (who is considered as one of the pioneers of Mexican cuisine) third restaurant and one of the first high end restaurants that opened at the Centro Historico district, we tried Guacamole topped with Chapulines.
If no one pointed out that they were Grasshoppers I wouldn’t have even known as they added a nice umami flavour to the dish. They tasted perfectly edible and I would eat this again!
Ant Larvae – Escamoles
At Quintonil, which was my absolute favourite of all the restaurants we dined at in Mexico City, I tried Ant Larvae, known as Escamoles. The restaurant itself is a must visit and the chef, Jorge Vallejo and his wife Alejandra Flores, source lots of the ingredients from their garden.
Chef Vallejo cooks the Escamoles in garlic and butter, and serves it alongside charred, whipped avocado. This is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes and after plucking the courage to try it, I can say it was delicious and not slimy, creepy or weird at all! The larvae is so small and not easily identifiable in the dish which is a really good thing!
I really hope that more people visit Mexico City, as it is a truly incredible city and you have to #Liveittobelieveit
My trip to Mexico City was complimentary but all views and photos are my own.