With a long day planned to drive towards big ‘ol Mexico City, known as the districto federal or DF to the locals, we knew a stop was needed to grab some food. In a random small town we stopped and made our way to a standard market and found ourselves looking for something prepared and not just groceries. Finding ourselves all the way in the back, a promising stand with cocteles stood in front of us. We sat down and one of the friendliest couples happily served us some delicious shrimp coctel and some fish and chips. It was just what we needed before our afternoon drive.
The food was delicious and they were thrilled to meet us to talk about our trip and our home in Colorado. After being engulfed in good conversation, we eventually left so we could make it to the Teotihuacan ruins north of the big city. We wanted to stay a night there and spend the better part of a day hiking around prior to plunging headfirst into the 21.2 million person megalopolis of a sprawl. We pulled into a large fenced in grass field used for picnicking and overnight parking for RV’s. The price was right and we had the place to ourselves. Matt was excited to have some space to stretch out and use one of his prized items for the trip, una pelota de futbol.
Up early to beat the crowds, we were completely blown away by the shear magnitude of the ruins. The archaeologists had done a spectacular job on the excavation, restoration and upkeep on these amazing ruins, once encompassing a large city where over 100,000 people lived at its peak. The site is still being excavated by archaeologists. We stopped to talk to one gentleman who said they discovered a room 16m below the surface that was 30m long! There is so much history here that even with a long visit to the museum, we didn’t even scratch the surface.
Now, on to Mexico city, the DF, the big one, the bad one, the almighty sprawl that is Mexico City. With legs stretched and bellies full, it was time to plunge our way in with our beloved Koru. Having lined up an AirBnb for two nights while visiting, we felt good about keeping the van safe and easily exploring the city via the metro. About and hour and half of white knuckling our way through city congestion we showed up to our intended spot.
We had nervously observed the parking situation as we drove through the city unfit for cars or trucks larger than six feet tall. As we arrived at our AirBnb sure enough, the van would not fit in its intended spot cozily behind a locked gate and fence. Having done our best to avoid scrambling for a hotel in the city with parking to accommodate our 2.8 meter (9ft.) high van, we found ourselves doing exactly that. The narrow one-ways and sharp turns were not to be taken lightly, but alas, we finally did find a hotel with a large enough entryway to fit the van. The van safely tucked away, we went out for a quick bite to eat and called it for the night with plans to use two full days to explore the city, which in reality is not nearly enough for all that Mexico City has to offer.
Our first experience included a free guided walk through the city, and it was in English! It was nice having a Mexico City native showing us a handful of the major sites while also explaining a lot of the history involved. The top picture below is the post office!
Mexico City was first founded by a nomadic culture who believed that they would be a great nation and found a great city when they saw and eagle with a snake in its mouth on top of a cactus. This foretelling came true and where Mexico City now sits, started as a large lake back in 1325. That vision adorns the center of the Mexican flag. Building a city on a lake comes with many problems as you can imagine, and it is very apparent in some the buildings that are separating from each other. Fun fact from our walking tour; the city is sinking 4 cm per year.
Our walking tour left us wanting to explore the Palacio Bellas Artes a bit more, so we entered the beautiful building to discover incredible murals by the most famous muralists in Mexico, Jose Clemente Orozco, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Diego Rivera. We tried our best to capture this beautiful place in our photos, but if you are visiting Mexico City you must see this for yourself.
Along with beautiful art, Mexico City also had some of the best pastries we have ever tried and Matt’s sweet tooth couldn’t have been happier.
With almost a full day under our belt, we decided to see one more site very important to Mexico, the Basilica de Guadalupe, before meeting up with one of Sarah’s friends for dinner. Being one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the world for Catholics, there is a lot of history in this place. We don’t want to go into too much detail, but there is an old and new Basilica due to the city sinking and we have a few photos below to show. To learn more about this important pilgrimage site, please visit this link.
The old Basilica:
She’s a sinkin:
The new Basilica:
The revered Virgin de Guadalupe:
The next day, we visited one more major site before searching for another adventure away from the city, the Castillo de Chapultepec. This incredible house, castle, military site, government building and now museum had an amazing view of the city and is located in the largest park in the western hemisphere, the bosque de chapultepec.
After grabbing some tacos, we decided to head out of the great never ending city to find the nearby mountains which were calling us!