We took a bus from San Miguel de Allende to Mexico City (using Primera Plus) which is a first class bus complete with bathrooms, movies and comfortable seats. A quick trip to the bus station to reserve our seats was necessary as they were filling up quickly with all the tourists moving between Mexico and SMA for the holiday weekend. Buses are the most common method of travel in Mexico and really is easier than flying. Check out our travel friends blog for great information on bussing around Mexico The Scenic Route.
We arrived in Mexico City to a holiday madhouse. The line for the taxi was 20 minutes long and moving at a good clip. We purchased a taxi voucher inside the station which is a great way to avoid getting taken advantage of. After a quick taxi trip to the Roma Norte neighborhood we arrived at our AirBnB and met up with Heather and Ian. They had flown in from Boston to warm up for the week.
The neighborhood was beautiful with a mix of architecture from old to modern. The sidewalks lined with restaurants and sidewalk cafes and wide boulevards with a park walking path through the middle. It was such a surprising environment. I am not sure what I was expecting, but not this. Perhaps I have spent too much time in Baja Mexico and just expected a giant slum of 8.8 million people. In actuality it was nothing like that and really a much more cosmopolitan city filled with hipsters and green open spaces.
The group of 6 (Kate, Iain, Heather, Ian, Dave and myself) made it out to a local restaurant for a rowdy first night dinner. The sidewalks were packed with diners and dining choices – we chose The Franco which looked yummy and busy but could accommodate our big group. It was a highlight meal of our trip. Great food, drinks, musics and company.
We spent several days wandering the city and dining out. I loved every minute of it. A big change from San Miguel – dipping our toes in the big city. With such a huge population I was surprised to never feel crowded or threatened. My paranoia about Mexico City was completely unfounded. Thats what you get when you listen to others instead of looking into something yourself and creating your own opinions.
Our trip almost didn’t happen due to the earthquake that hit the city in September of 2017. The first AirBnB we booked had been damaged in the earthquake and it wasn’t until just a few weeks before our arrival that our accommodations were confirmed. Due to building damage our host had moved her AirBnB to another location. As we wandered the city we found areas of damage and buildings getting torn down. It was amazing see a building almost completely demolished and another standing right next door with no apparent damage. But even with the damaged buildings, work was happening to repair and rebuild – progress.
For New Years Eve we went to the Angel Tower in the center of the city to see the fireworks display. It was a great display that lasted over 20 minutes and we had a spectacular view. We gathered in the square in front of the tower with thousands of our closest friends – well at least the rest of the city. While it was a huge crowd, there was no pushing or shoving or tight squeezes. The entire evening was a real family affair and we had plenty of space to chat with each other, see the view and interact with our neighbors. Absolutely no fear about our personal safety.
At the strike of midnight we each ate 12 grapes. A tradition that is said to bring us prosperity and good luck for the 12 upcoming months (one grape and one wish for each month). The Spanish tradition is to time the eating of the grapes with each strike of the clock on midnight. This makes for a pretty quick gobbling of grapes. Try it; not for the faint of heart. So imagine the 6 of us stuffing grapes in our mouths as we stand outside with our thousands of new friends celebrating as the fireworks go off. It was a fun and funny experience.
After that great evening we spent the rest of our trip enjoying walking around town and trying various restaurants in the Roma Norte neighborhood. We ate everything from fancy breakfasts, churros and hot chocolate and burgers. This is a food city with TONS of different food options. When not out and about we caught up chatting, drinking wine and playing hilarious online games (jackbox.com).
We loved Mexico City and can’t wait to go back. While family and friends pressed us with details on the dangers, I can absolutely say we did not experience anything of the sort. I understand there is death around the cartels, politicians, police and drug scene. But we are just a couple of tourists, doing touristy things. While we had a little fear before our arrival, once there, we really felt safe. The big scare is the equivalent to skipping Santa Monica because you are afraid of the violence in South Central Los Angeles. Something you would go out of your way to avoid but nothing to keep you away from all of Los Angeles.
So check your fears and make a trip to Mexico City – it is beautiful, wonderful and yummy all at once!