Off the Beaten Track in Mexico City

It is impossible to describe Mexico City in one word, sentence, paragraph or even article. Love is what first brought me to the city thirteen years ago to visit my girlfriend, Sandy, who was from Mexico City. Lucky for me, I got the girl, we got married, and we visit the city every year. Each visit is a revelation, and we continuously find new things to do. Here are a few discoveries from our most recent trip.



Off the Beaten Track in Mexico City

Los Pinos

Imagine 24 Sussex Drive or the White House completely opened to the public.   This is what happened in Mexico when the most recent president, Andres Lopez Manuel Obrador (AML0) was elected as president on December 2018.  Los Pinos had been home to Mexican presidents from 1934 until 2018. Obrador decided for a more modest accommodation and opened up Los Pinos as a cultural space for the public.

Grounds of Los Pinos Photo Stephen Johnson

Grounds of Los Pinos Photo Stephen Johnson

The day we visited Los Pinos, the lineup was mercifully short,  a welcome change from the long wait times when the facility first opened. The immaculately groomed lawns and trees left an impressive first impression, along with the sculptures of former Mexican presidents. At first, it felt like we were crashing some presidential function, and I was fully expecting security to kick us out. Once I spoke to the guards in my halting Spanish, I realised they also doubled as tourist guides.

In the Presidents Office Photo Stephen Johnson

In the Presidents Office  Photo Stephen Johnson

We visited three main buildings at Los Pinos and the president’s residence was the most impressive. While mostly devoid of furniture, the chandeliers and large rooms allowed one to imagine the opulence.  The home also featured a cinema with reclining movie theatre style seating and an underground presidential bunker with soundproof walls.

Located in Chapultepec Park, a visit to Los Pinos can also be combined with other attractions like the Museum of Anthropology or the Museum of Modern Art also situated in the spacious park.  One of the best features of Los Pinos is that it is free, allowing everyone to access the space.

Los Diablos Rojos

I find a great way to experience local culture is to take in a sporting event.  The local professional baseball team, Los Diablos Rojos (The Red Devils), recently moved into a new state-of-the-art stadium so we took in a game with our extended family. The atmosphere in the arena felt different than at any in Canada or the United States.  There were vendors outside the stadium hawking everything from Diablos Rojo’s t-shirts to wrestling masks, and this being Mexico, there were sculptures and murals with a baseball theme found throughout the entire facility. Much of the artwork also had Mexican references like a mural of Day of the Dead skeletons playing baseball.  You won’t see that in Canada.

Murals at Los Diablos Rojos Stadium Photo Stephen Johnson

Murals at Los Diablos Rojos Stadium Photo Stephen Johnson

Besides the artwork, the stadium is as nice as any I have been to in the world. A modernist canopy roof provides shade to a large part of the stadium giving relief from the Mexican heat.  An open concourse allows fans to enjoy the game from multiple vantage points even while buying concessions.

Los Diablos Rojos Stadium Photo Stephen Johnson

Los Diablos Rojos Stadium Photo Stephen Johnson

One other noticeable difference was the passion of the fans who were making noise and having fun the entire time. Anytime I told a fan where I was from,  they responded with chants of “Canada! Canada! Canada!” I felt like the star of my own beer commercial! Los Diablos Rojos won 13-3 against the Olmecas de Tabasco and fans were serenaded out of the stadium by a mariachi band.

Parque La Mexicana

Parque La Mexicana is one of the most spectacular parks in the world. Located in the tony Santa Fe district, the park is flanked on one side by skyscrapers and office buildings that could easily fit in New York City or Hong Kong, and by the sheer face of a cliff on the other side. Besides its stunning location, the park itself is impressive, with beautiful landscaping. The playground blended in perfectly to the water park which transitioned into a series of coffee shops and restaurants. There was even a cycling path on the roof of the restaurants.

View of towers from Parque La Mexicana Photo Stephen Johnston

View of towers from Parque La Mexicana  Photo Stephen Johnston

Our ten-year-old son, David and his eight-year-old cousin Alex immediately bee-lined to the playground. It was similar to a lovely playground we enjoy in Canada except for one thing; there was a zip line built for kids. David and Alex spent at least a half hour going back and forth on the zip line. There were park staff on hand to ensure the kids’ safety, and everyone had a great time.

Stunning playground at Parque La Mexicana Photo Stephen Johnson

Stunning playground at Parque La Mexicana Photo Stephen Johnson

After finishing at the playground, David and Alex were craving ice cream while Sandy and I wanted coffee. There were all different levels of restaurants ranging from the ultra-expensive to the family-friendly. We found a traditional Mexican neveria (ice cream shop) where David and Alex enjoyed a lime nieve while Sandy and I shared a cappuccino. With moments like this, I have no problem coming back to Mexico City for years to come.

Restaurants at Parque La Mexicana Photo Stephen Johnson

Restaurants at Parque La Mexicana  Photo Stephen Johnson

 

If You Go to Mexico City:

The elephant in the room when it comes to visiting Mexico City is safety.  As mentioned, I have been visiting the city for the past thirteen years and have never felt nervous.

Some obvious precautions are worth taking. It might be a good idea to leave your 10,000 dollar Rolex watch or giant diamond at home. I also generally travel around only with the amount of money I will need for the day.

It is also good to heed the advice of locals you might encounter at the hotel or Air BnB about which areas to avoid. And always be aware of your surroundings56

Always take a taxi from an authorised taxi stand. We have also used Uber and felt safe.

The vast majority of local residents I have met have been very polite, considering it is one of the largest cities in the world. It is incredible the number of times you will hear people say excuse me.

Most importantly, have fun. Mexico City truly is one of the great cities of the world.

For more information about Mexico City, visit www.cdmxtravel.com/en

 

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