A coworker/friend and I spontaneously booked a flight to Mexico City. We first bought our tickets in March but had to reschedule due to a timing conflict (since we canceled within 24 hours, we got a full refund). When we searched again, we found that the flights were cheap and costs were even cheaper even during Memorial weekend! We quickly bought our tickets and we packed our bags and headed off to Mexico!
Race & Sexuality
It’s no secret that Mexico City is an extremely queer-friendly city. We didn’t explore the queer scene at all but with some research, you can easily find some queer bars to visit. I felt very safe regardless of my gender expression and did not feel out of place at all. Although, if Neesha came with me on this trip I might have felt different and most likely would’ve been more on guard.
Much of the anxiety I feel is is from being hypersensitive about being in a same- sex relationship and my gender expression when I’m in foreign places and not necessarily because of any homophobic attacks against us. Sometimes I have to remind myself that while I can be cautious, I don’t have to be paranoid.
It’s totally different traveling with a romantic partner versus a friend – I don’t know if it’s the vibes but it’s obvious when you’re with someone even if you’re not displaying affection. My anxiety isn’t going to stop me from visiting Mexico City with Neesha one day though!
What stood out to me most about Mexico City was the excess of light-skinned Mexicans and lack of darker skinned folks with indigenous features. We saw darker skinned communities when we visited Teochichucan and Xochimilco, miles outside of the city. Whenever I saw darker skinned folks within the city, they were typically homeless. This shouldn’t have been surprising at all since racism and class-ism exists in every part of the world, but it still was jarring to see.
Flight & Accommodation
We found flights with Volaris, a Mexican low budget airline for USD 301.58 each for 4 nights/5 days during Memorial weekend. Our flight left Thursday morning and arrived mid-day Monday so we took off a day and a half from work in total. We felt that we were in Mexico City for a decent amount of time without feeling too rushed or bored.
We were nervous about using a low budget airline because of the horror stories about awful service, timing, organization, etc. We had some bumps coming home but we made sure to advocate for ourselves. Always pay attention! Overall, it wasn’t the worst experience but take at your own risk.
We opted to stay in a hostel to save some money. We found Hostel Home in Roma to be a great fit for us; it was in a cute neighborhood with a very chill vibe. Glomery and I decided to stay in a private room versus staying in the dorms. We wanted to save money, but we didn’t want to be uncomfortable. For 4 nights, we spent USD 139 (USD 69.50/person). If you’re interested in splurging a bit, there are super cute B&B’s in Mexico City as well and will most likely stay in one when I visit in the future.
Mexico City is the biggest city in the western hemisphere and home to 21 million people. Be sure to pick a location that you believe you’ll enjoy. We chose the Roma/Condensa neighborhood because it’s known for the young, artsy folks who live in the area and for their great restaurants and bars.
1 USD = 18 Peso
The USD will take you far in Mexico. If you can, splurge a bit! You most likely will be able to afford it in Mexico City.
Mexico City is known for its really cheap Uber rides. We used Uber for all of our transportation needs and our fares never went over USD 15. If you’re interested in public transportation though, we’ve heard that their system is efficient and extremely cheap.
We got in around 7:00 PM and made it through customs in about an hour. It was easy to find transportation from the airport to take us into the city.
There are some phone plans that will allow you to use data internationally without the fees. I have Verizon, and there were no extra costs using my data in Mexico.
After we settled in, we decided to walk around the neighborhood to find a restaurant. We wanted to dine at Yubon, a high-scale restaurant to celebrate our arrival but unfortunately, we needed a reservation to eat there. We didn’t want to wait an extra 45 minutes for a table to open up so we ventured down some streets in hopes of finding food. While we didn’t find another restaurant, we found A LOT of street food vendors. I kid you not, street food vendors are ALL over the city! Since we were hungry, we went to a street vendor and had delicious, spicy tortas.
Breakfast at Lalo!
Many of the travel blogs I used to research for our trip included heading over to Lalo! for brunch. Since I’ve read about it a bunch of times and it was a ten-minute walk from our hostel, we chose to dine there. I expected their menu to be spectacular or at least be amazed in some sort of way. Don’t get me wrong, Lalo! was a great place for breakfast but there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. My guess is the aesthetic is what made it stand out for some travelers, but honestly, we could’ve easily done with a local restaurant or street food instead.
Frida Khalo Museum
We couldn’t go to Mexico City without visiting the Frida Khalo museum so that was the first thing we did. The museum is located in the beautiful neighborhood of Coyoacán. We walked around the neighborhood a bit before we got on the line for the museum.
We bought our tickets in advance on the website and we are so glad we did! When we arrived, there were two lines – one for the folks who had tickets and one for those who did not. While we did wait for about thirty minutes to enter the museum even with tickets, the wait was definitely longer for those who did not have. The cost of the tickets were 200 Pesos (USD 10.50) and totally worth the wait!
Get on line about 20-30 minutes prior the time your ticket says. If you go too early, they’ll make you wait.
To be transparent, I didn’t know much about Frida Khalo besides that many feminists, including many of my own friends, adore her. Glomery idolizes Frida and was so ecstatic to go to the museum. I was intrigued by Glomery’s excitement and was not disappointed by what we experienced. I learned so much about Frida and her art! I left the museum with a newfound appreciation for her.
We walked around for a bit and found some great places to drink and eat. We had drinks at La Cayocana, the oldest cantina in Mexico and some snacks at La Celestina. We eventually decided to attend a Lucha Libre, a huge event and a must-see in Mexico City! We tried to buy tickets online but it wasn’t working so we headed off to Arena Mexico to purchase them.
By far, Lucha Libre was the BEST part of my weekend and one of the best events I attended in 2018. We took a cab to Arena Mexico on Friday night, one of the best nights for Lucha Libre (Tuesday and Sunday are the other nights). Arena Mexico and the street right outside it was chaotic with at least a dozen lines filled with people. We “splurged” a bit for our tickets. I use quotations marks because we spent about USD 20 a piece and we sat on the third row. I highly recommend you do this! We had SUCH great seats and I believe we partially had a great time becauase we sat near the stage. We grabbed two large beers and enjoyed the show. When we ran out of beer, our cups were quickly refilled.
If your buy your tickets at Arena Mexico in person, make sure to bring cash! It is cash-only and surrounded by a bunch of local businesses so it might be difficult to find an ATM.
It was hilarious with some very impressive wrestling moves. It’s very similar to the wrestling shows in the United States but so.much.better. There was a ten-year-old dressed up in his Luchador outfit who body slammed a wrestler, and possibly a toddler in the ring. The crowd was infectious, with cheering locals and tourists (mostly locals). If there is anything you do in Mexico City, attend a Lucha Libre match!
We found a tour guide while we were visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum for day two. Our tour included visiting the Teotichucan Pyramids and La Basicila de Santa Maria de Guadalupe. We paid around USD 70 per person for our tour guide. The price was steep and we could’ve visited the two sites without a guide but we didn’t want to worry about transportation to each site.
Public Transportation to Teotichucan: take the metro to Terminal Central del Norte (or Autobuses del Norte metro station). Go to gate 8 at the end of hallway in the terminal. Look for the bus company, ‘Autobuses Teotichucan’. Roundtrip tickets are 100 pesos (USD 6) and buses leave every twenty minutes.
We’re super glad we found a tour guide because we didn’t realize how far Teotihuacan was! It was about an hour car ride outside of the city but there is also public transportation that can take you there as well. On the way to Teotihuacan, our tour guide showed us a favela (Latin American slum), on the outskirts of Mexico City. It’s useful to learn about the history of favelas throughout Latin America to understand the historical context in which they are created.
There was an entrance fee of 70 pesos (USD 3.70). We were shocked when we first walked into Teotihuacan. It was HUGE with multiple pyramids to climb on. If you’re afraid of heights, you might want to sit this one out. The biggest pyramids, the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun, are more than 700 feet tall! It takes over 248 steps to climb up both pyramids with some very steep steps. Don’t worry though, you’ll find your way around large crowds of people and make it to the top while holding on to the ropes at certain parts of your climb. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring water!
La Basicila de Santa Maria de Guadalupe
We headed over to La Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe, a church in La Villa de Guadalupe. There were many churches and religious buildings in the villa. Mexicans (and most of Latin America) are devoted Catholics. The villa was crowded with many families participating in baptisms and all of the churches’ pews were filled. We visited the modern Basilica, which includes multiple private rooms that are used for baptisms which can be performed in any language desired. We also visited the old basilica, which we had to climb up to. The view of Mexico City and the old, sinking basilica was definitely worth the climb!
After resting up from our adventurous morning, we wanted to explore Mexico City’s nightlife. We decided to head over to Mama Rumba, a salsa bar walking distance from Hostel Home. We grabbed a booth in the bar and enjoyed the best salsa music with great energy. The bar was packed and we didn’t see any tourists. We had a great time at the bar, buying many drinks and dancing all night.
Floating Gardens of Xochimilco
We woke up bright and early on our last full day and headed over to Xochimilco. We took an Uber over to the canal entrance and into the market which was filled with street vendors selling food and trinkets. You’ll eventually see the floating gardens, or canals, filled with bright and multi-colored boats. Be prepared for the canal to be FILLED with boats to the point where you couldn’t even see the water beneath them. The boats worked with each other to get through the canals but it looks super chaotic (and can take some time to depart from the dock).
You have the option of renting a whole boat for 500 Pesos but we decided to join at least forty other locals on a boat for 50 Pesos. If you’re traveling to Mexico City with a group of people, I suggest renting a whole boat and bringing along a bunch of alcohol. We saw plenty of boats that were hosting private parties (some wilder than others). Our boat ride was about two hours and we stopped by someone’s house on the canal to have the opportunity to buy some food/drinks/trinkets. Our ride ended at a different entrance than when we started and called an Uber to head back home.