• We’ve been everywhere: Guide to Mexico City

    El centro del Distrito Federal. (Photo by Alvaro Sánchez)

    El centro del Distrito Federal. (Photo by Alvaro Sánchez)

    Kayla Wendorff
    There’s no place in the world quite like el Distrito Federal, or el D.F. — the way most locals refer to Mexico City. Bursting with people, cars, pollution and apartments, el D.F. is the most perfect sensory overload one could ever experience. There’s music on every street corner, and so many places worth visiting that I don’t even know where to begin …

    What to wear: A good rule of thumb is to dress in layers as it gets warm during the day and chilly during the mornings and evenings. If you’re traveling between February and August, keep your umbrella on hand.

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    What not to wear: Nice watches, fancy jewlery (like wedding rings), designer sunglasses or other accessories/clothing that may make you a target. I wouldn’t recommend wearing shorts either, as it will definitely mark you as a tourist. Please note, Mexico City is not the beach.

    Getting around: There are several options, including taxis, the metrobus, the metro and micros or peseros. There is also a public bike sharing system available in the downtown area.

    Carry small bills, and keep your change. Not all taxis, restaurants or stores accept credit or debit cards, and many people expect tips for helping you out.

    Taxis — This may sound like an exaggeration, but the taxi you choose could be a matter of life and death. Only use “safe” taxis to get around Mexico City; DO NOT hail a cab on the street. Some safe taxis in el D.F. are ServiTaxi, Taximex or Global Rent Car.

    Public transport — Be careful; pickpockets are waiting for your guard to be down so they can steal your wallet, passport and phone. Looking like a tourist makes you a target, so don’t ask for directions or look at your map in public. Check out the metrobus and metro maps beforehand so you know exactly where you’re going, and what doors to enter/exit from when you get on/off.

    Don’t miss: The magic of the Coyoacan neighborhood, where you’ll find Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul; Chapultepec Castle, which is close to the Anthropology museum where you can learn all about Mexico’s history and also watch the voladores de Papantla perform their ceremonial rite every hour on the hour; and take in the view from atop of the Torre Latino, then run across the street and check out the beautiful Bellas Artes palace where you can watch the breathtaking Ballet Folklórico de México.

    Chapultepec Castle (Photo by Lion)

    Chapultepec Castle (Photo by Lion)

    Looking for a unique gift? Grab breakfast at El Cardenal, take in the Zocalo and pick up a Tardan hat from the third oldest shop in Mexico City’s Centro Histórico. And if you’re already there, you might as well take a tour around some of Mexico City’s historic bars.

    You have to try: The Camarones Aguachile Verde at Mi Gusto Es — my mouth is watering just thinking about them! If you’re into seafood, you’ll love the rest of their menu as well. There are several locations, or surcursales, throughout the city.

    Feeling brave? Ask someone you trust to take you to a street vendor or comida corrida that they’ve tried before. The food doesn’t get any more authentic than this!

    Be careful. You should only drink bottled water in Mexico City, and be careful about eating ice cream, lettuce, cilantro or other fruits/vegetables that aren’t peeled at places that may not clean it properly.

    Comida corrida — Open over the lunch hour during the work week, these mom and pop restaurants often serve unlimited flavor water and a three course meal for less than US$7. The first course is often rice, pasta or soup; the second is a main dish (you can often choose from three, and these dishes often change daily); and a very light dessert — which will likely be a scoop of rice pudding or a bite of jello.

    Street vendors — Be it tacos, tamales, tortas, fresh fruit or a yummy smuthie — food from a street vendor will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

    Overwhelmed? Don’t let that stop you from leaving your hotel room. Exploring Mexico City is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity — so embrace it. You’ll never look at the world in quite the same way ever again.


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