Hola from Mexico! I’M FINALLY HERE!
I have arrived safe and sound in Mexico City, which I’ve now learnt is more commonly referred to as Distrito Federal (Federal District) or just DF (De-efe) by Mexicans. I was so excited by what I saw as we were landing, that I couldn’t wait to arrive at my hotel and get posting to tell you all about my journey. Neither the lengthy queue at immigration, nor the bumper-to-bumper traffic heading into the city could dampen my enthusiasm!
For anyone travelling to Mexico City, make sure you get a window seat! I was left speechless by the view coming into the city. I woke up just on time to gaze dreamily at the peaks of snow-capped volcanoes, before descending through the clouds to see this colossal metropolis stretching out to the horizon on every side; its sprawl only slightly hindered by the green mountains that surround the city – which reminds me – I must find out if there is good hiking in any of them! As we got closer to landing, I could already make out the infamous traffic jams slowly snaking their way towards the city and was pleasantly surprised by the vast green spaces I could see dotted around the landscape. Stepping off the plane into the cool morning air reminded me that I was 2,250 m (7,380 ft) above sea-level and I was glad of the heavy sweater in my hand luggage. Thanks Mum!
Be prepared for a bit of a wait once you get to immigration! It gets hot and sticky so I ended up changing yet again. Check my tips section for information on how to get through this process as smoothly as possible. Once I got through immigration where the cheerful official asked me about my reason for coming to Mexico and the length of my stay, it was on to baggage, then customs where I had to queue again. I was amused by the traffic lights system that randomly selects passengers for searches. On the upside they were carried out pretty quickly as long as the person didn’t have a trolley piled high with suitcases.
I was met by my friend Alicia in arrivals. Alicia is from Mexico City where she is an experienced travel writer and video blogger. When I first had the idea for this blog, I contacted her for tips and advice and we ended up becoming friends, which is great because she was able to give me useful, insider tips to help me prepare for my trip. If any of you need tips or advice in preparation for your trip, I’d be happy to pay it forward! Just contact me. Check out her advice on money exchange in the tips section.
The airport is really well connected and I noticed you can take buses from there to many major cities. The city’s vast metro system extends to the airport and at under $0.50 USD, it is incredibly economic. However, I’m told the stations were not designed to accommodate those of us prone to excess baggage fees!
I was glad of Alicia’s help when it came to getting a taxi too. As you are leaving the airport, you are greeted by a cacophony of screeching taxi vendors in little booths, each trying to convince you to use their service. I found it weird that you have to buy your ticket from one of them before boarding your taxi, rather than simply flagging one down outside. The journey gave Alicia and I time to talk about another important issue related to taxis in the city. There is a difference between street taxis and taxi ranks or sitios in Mexico City. Unfortunately taxi crime does exist and as such, visitors are strongly advised not to hail taxis in the street. For tips on how to stay safe using taxis, see my tips section.
I hadn’t even left the airport before I spotted my first palm tree and I immediately felt that I was somewhere warm and exotic. The sun coming up over the mountains in the distance completed my transition into holiday mode and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the notorious traffic jams as they gave me extra time to soak in the atmosphere. I wound down my window to take it all in and was immediately immersed in the sound of contrasting Latin rhythms simultaneously floating from a variety of car windows. Impressive and vibrant graffiti painted on the sides of colourful, tumbling houses made for a fabulous backdrop to the tropical flowers and vegetation that lined the streets.
It took us about an hour to get from the airport to the Maria Condesa hotel. I arrived exhausted but the friendliness and enthusiasm of the staff made me forget my tiredness and I was thankful for the famed Mexican hospitality that made me feel immediately at home. Having offered to take the open-top tour bus with me in the next few days, Alicia then left me to plan to-do list before getting some well-deserved rest.
During the next week I plan to: