This was our fist international trip since December 2019. I had initially planned a trip to Mexico for March 2020 and another one in August 2020 but those trips never materialized, for obvious reasons. So, the first international trip we took had to be Mexico. We spent 5 days in CDMX and 5 days in Oaxaca. I’ve been looking forward to trying pulque, grasshoppers, worms, consommé, pozole, cabeza tacos, and so much more. I’ve never met nicer, more laid-back people than in Mexico. It’s very cheap to visit, especially when you convert USD to Mexican pesos. Mexico also has the best food ever. I didn’t have a single bad meal during our 10-day visit. Of all the places and countries I’ve visited, the food in Mexico was second to none. I would go back just for the food in a heartbeat.
Our basic plan for the 10 days was to walk until we got hungry, eat, then walk off the food, and repeat. The good thing is CDMX is a very walking friendly city with lots of museums, parks, pyramids, and delicious food at every street corner. We got an apartment for the duration of our stay in La Condesa neighborhood. It’s a safe area with many nice restaurants and bars and is very conveniently located. It’s a very touristy neighborhood with lots of Americans living there now that work from home is the new norm.
There are lots of options to get around the city, including buses and trains. I thought we might need to take the train once or twice due to traffic but it turned out we didn’t really need it. We just walked everywhere or took an Uber which was very cheap. The apartment we got in La Condesa had a beautiful rooftop with comfortable seating, and it’s open 24 hours. The staff was very friendly, helpful, and gave us tips of what stores to avoid because they have “touristy prices.” It was also walking distance from Chapultepec Park.
One important thing to note is that CDMX is at about 7,300 feet elevation. It’s actually at a higher elevation than Denver. I didn’t know this until we were actually there. It’s something to keep in mind if you are prone to altitude sickness. I found myself getting tired faster than expected but that was about the worst of it for me. Also, because of the elevation, nights can get chilly. We visited in January so days were perfect with temperatures in the 70s and low humidity. Nights did get cold and a sweater or a jacket was definitely needed.
Day 1 – Chapultepec Park
Chapultepec Park is huge and you can easily spend an entire day or two at the park. We started our day by walking around the park but it was too early for shops and restaurants to be open. So we visited the Chapultepec Castle first. The 15 minutes of walk from the ticket office to the castle is pretty and peaceful but uphill. After the ticketing office, there is a check point where they’ll make sure you are not taking any food or snacks up to the castle. Once you get up to the castle gate, they’ll make sure you don’t have any water on you either.
We took our time going up to the castle. They had guided tours of the castle but we like going at our own pace. Almost all the information was in Spanish and English so it’s easy to navigate if you didn’t want to go with a tour guide. If you do choose to go with a tour guide, you don’t have to reserve in advance. There were a few tour guides at the entrance that you could talk to and decided who you wanted to go with. The views of the city from the castle are worth the $5 per person entry fee even if you aren’t into history.
After spending a few hours walking around the castle, we decided to get an early lunch and explore the park. By this time, restaurants and shops had opened but the lunch rush hadn’t started yet so we got a table very easily. After eating a few tacos and pozole, we walked around the park. There are lots of stalls selling food, trinkets, clothes, snacks, etc. One of the many CDMX sign is also at the park where you have to take an obligatory picture. There’s also a lake where you can rent paddle boats and row boats. The cheapest paddle boat costs about $4 an hour to rent and the most expensive covered row boat costs about $10 per hour.
Because of the elevation, the UV can be high which can drain you of energy. We went back to our apartment to rest for a few hours before dinner. If you are into fine dining, then dinner at Pujol is a must but you have to make a reservation months in advance. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to get a reservation at Pujol but I did get a reservation at Azul Condesa, and it was absolutely worth it. Those who’ve been following our travel adventures for a few years know that when we travel international, our goal is to eat and drink whatever is traditional to the country and the region as much as possible.
Azul had pulque so of course I had to order it. Pulque is an alcoholic drink made from fermented sap of the agave plant. It’s alcohol content is similar to beer and looks milky white. It can be sour in taste. We also had escamoles, ant larvae cooked in an earthen pot, with guacamole, and tri-color corn tortillas to make tacos. It was one of my favorite dish. I would go back to Azul just for their escamoles. We also had duck fritters and jumbo prawns, both were exquisite. The salsa they give with everything was smoky and perfectly spiced. I wish we could get salsa this good at a Mexican restaurant in the US. This was definitely one of the best meals I’ve had.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s no such thing as a bad meal in Mexico! After such a filling and delicious meal I was ready to change into my pajamas and enjoy the rooftop of the apartment we were staying at.
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