We arrived in Mexico City after the most comfortable bus ride I could remember.
But we were somewhat concerned about our latest destination – we had felt completely safe throughout our Mexican odyssey, but the hype around Mexico City was something else. Quite simply, it was supposed to be extremely dangerous, and here we were arriving at a huge bus station with our three year old in tow. We were really only passing through, with only a couple of nights allocated to this huge city, which could probably easily keep us busy for a week or more.
I had read that we should stay away from one of the ubiquitous green beetle taxis, and so instead we took a more expensive taxi directly to our hotel, which was within easy walking distance from the Palacio de Bellas Artes, one of the city’s masterpiece buildings. Our hotel was a restored three hundred year old religious building, but Gal, our three year old, wasn’t interested in staying in a small hotel room, and we were soon exploring our surroundings. We were right next to the Alameda, perhaps the largest park near the historical district, and since we find that parks are always a great place to take kids, we spent time at the park and walked through it to reach the Bellas Artes building to view some of Mexico’s greatest murals. It turned out that we were hugely popular in the park, as kids from a nearby school were hard at work interviewing passers-by for a project, and quiet a few latched on to us, clearly taking advantage of a rare opportunity to talk to tourists, and with a kid to boot. With our rudimentary Spanish we tried our best to answer all their questions, and this was a great example of spontaneous interaction with locals, something that doesn’t happen often, is completely unplanned, but when it does, offers wonderful insight into something of local life. I find that the opportunities for this increase greatly when travelling with kids – they are great ice breakers, and locals often warm quickly to our kids and by extension to us, and it does make travelling a real joy.
By the time we had finished at the Bellas Artes it was dusk, ,and we made our way back through the park in failing light – in retrospect, probably not such a good idea, but we were fine and it was really enjoyable, as the lighting was very atmospheric and we never thought of ourselves being in any danger.
The following day we took a cab to the world famous Anthropology Museum – one of the great museums of the world. The museum covers all the Pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico, and can be interesting to kids as well – especially the gory accounts of life under the Aztecs.
After some extra time in the park it was back to the great Zocalo, the enormous square at the heart of the city with its great cathedral built on the ruins of the Aztec’s great temple. A real showpiece of the Zocalo is the incredibly huge Mexican flag that is flown every day. As for Gal, our three year old – she had a great time – Mexico City is a huge but fascinating city, and she was never bored.
We did not see many of the great sites of the city – we missed the Pyramids of Teotihuacan as well as neighborhood like Xochimilko, built over the Aztec waterways that crisscrossed the city. But these are reason enough to return one day, and soon we were on our way to the airport, to catch a plane to our last stop, Oaxaca.
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