Mexico City: My 6-Day Itinerary
I prepaid for a cab from the airport to an Airbnb in Coyoacán for a cost of $30 plus tip (about 10% for cabs if you liked the service, but it's not expected in Mexico). The daylight being short, and threat of rain high, I dropped off my things, and headed out to to the main square right away for dinner. Preparations for the local Dia de los Muertos Carnival were going on all around the square, which was perfect as I deliberately planned this trip for late October in order to take part in the festivities, and was happy to find out that one of the larger street fairs took place near my Airbnb.
Staying in the spooky spirit, I took the metro out to the Sonora Market in search of love potions, shrunken heads, and cursed dolls. The market is enormous and very crowded, as are the surrounding streets. I found it difficult to navigate and, to be honest, I'm not sure it was worth it. It might be less overwhelming at other times of the year. Late October had a pretty booming business of costumes, candles, piñatas, and other tchotchkes. Due to the crowds, it took me forever to get out of there and even longer to find the correct entrance to the nearby Merced Metro station. It's not an area for those who are claustrophobic or uncomfortable in crowds, that's for sure. My anxiety might have started kicking in.... The delay in getting out of that area meant abandoning my initial plans to visit some of the museums in the center of town and instead took the train back down to Coyoacan to wander the (equally crowded!) local street fair that was happening at Halloween. I learned that Mexicans had taken on the American trick-or-treat traditions, but with a twist. Kids in costume would walk up to any adult at the festival, myself included, and ask for candy. I wasn't prepared for that, and had to disappoint a few children. On the plus side, I learned what atole is, as the hot chocolate-like drink was sold everywhere. And for 50 pesos, you could get a drink and keep the very nice ceramic mug
I started the day with an amazing brunch at La Pause near my Airbnb. I then hopped a cab for about $20 USD to the fascinating Dolores Olmedo Museum to see Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's artwork plus the gardens, which are full of peacocks and Aztec dogs, the descendants of those that lived in the area in the preconquest era. Since it was November 1st, I also got my face painted to resemble a Catrina doll for free! The museum was conveniently on the way to the canals of Xochimilco, where I took a 4-hour canal trip to La Isla de las Munecas, easily the highlight of the trip.
Not having done enough research, I thought November 2nd would be a perfect day to check out some of the highly regarded museums in Mexico City. Fun fact: November 1st and 2nd are both national holidays and most of the museums are closed. D'oh! After sadly peering through several doorways, I did end up finding my way to the small but fascinating Museum of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit, which was open, free, was selling edible sugar skulls, and allows you to view the side of one of the Aztec pyramid that the Zocalo was built around.
I took a sunrise tour of Teotihuacan through Viator. Despite the fact that my group had to drag our butts to a cab to get to the Zocalo at 6:30am, it was fantastic. Being up there the day after a holiday weekend meant that we had the site largely to ourselves that morning. Our guide was informative and fantastic. The Viator planning was not. A lot of tours, mine included, stop at tourist trap lunch stops as well as a long stop at a gift shop to try and get you to spend more money. As I also experienced, our specific tour had a drop-off policy that somehow lead to three very long and full-bladdered hours spent in the van to drop off one couple in a far, far west district (about 30 miles from downtown) prior to letting any of the rest of us out. I kept thinking about how the relatively nearby Coyoacán was way too far for them to pick up from, and how we were required to get a cab. My complaint email to Viator about this poor drop off planning fell upon deaf ears. We finally arrived back at the Zocalo at 4pm, just in time to see the murals at the Palacio Nacional before they closed for the day. I highly recommend stopping there as they're gorgeous and free!
Being in Coyoacan, I wasn’t leaving without visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum. Being a fan of both her art and her life, I loved it. However, my cohorts who came with me confessed afterwards that they were underwhelmed so… go if you like her art. And be prepared to either buy your ticket in advance, or to show up early to avoid the worst of the line. From there, I hopped a cab back to the airport to return to the States.