Isn't it the worst when you've had a layover someplace, a place that actually comes up in conversation and people actually ask about, but for years and years and years after your layover you don't actually visit the city so then whenever it comes up, which seems to be, like, all the time, you have to say, "No, I haven't been there. I had a layover..." and then you just sound like an idiot who actually thinks having a layover equals visiting a place, which, no, you don't think that at all but you just want to somehow convey that you have passed through that space on the globe and...it's just the worst. My Mexico City layover was in 1997. (Even longer ago than Tokyo-Narita, which gave me five years of fits every time someone asked if I had been to Japan, and which I remedied during 2011 by traveling for reals twice to Japan, which, by the way, is the greatest country in the world.)
Fun fact: Brian and I have now been to seven world capitals together! We have also been to one same world capital separately and each of us has been to a few world capitals the other hasn't visited.
In short, Mexico City is awesome and it was really nice to be in a large city again. It reminded me that Querétaro is in fact a small city, which I don't really think about when I'm here in the Q, but which I thought about in comparison. Querétaro has a million people and nearly that many industrial parks and all, but here are a few things the Ciudad de México has that Querétaro doesn't have:
- A subway. More on this in a sec.
- Vegetarian items on most menus.
- A giant Plaza de la Constitución (aka the Zócalo) where giant protests continue against the upcoming imposition of Enrique Peña Nieto, the president-(not-)elect (according to the AMLO -- Andrés Manuel López Obrador -- supporters, who were out in full force crying "Fraud!" and video taping the police who carried riot gear shields). Hey, I adore our cute little plazas here in Querétaro's Centro - ADORE them - but I'm just pointing out the difference. The Zócalo/Palacio Nacional even reminded Brian of Beijing a bit. (I saw his point. Tiananmen Square is bigger, but I could totally see it.)
So anyway, the subway. Three pesos. THREE! That's, like, a quarter. Less than a quarter, right now. I was in heaven. I cannot stop marveling at its three-peso-ness.
We stayed in a nice hotel (thanks, Agoda!) in the Zona Rosa area, just a hop skip and jump from Reforma, the wide boulevard dotted with sites and on Sundays filled with bikers and joggers and skaters and dogs. We had lots of wandering time, and we saw Bellas Artes (magnificent), the Bosque de Chapultepec (paddle boats!), and many an old building. We had a Saturday night out in the Coyocán area, all trendy and nightlifey, but not disco-nightlifey, just with throngs and restaurants and bars and snacks and coffee and down-to-earth-ness. My new favorite bar in Mexico is there: El hijo del Cuervo. It's a bar with a cute raven logo (did you know "cuervo" means "raven"? well, now you do) and loads of witty literary quotes on the menu.
The *only* problem (not Mexico City's fault or anything) was that it rained sometimes, although even that wasn't like our recent Querétaro rains wherein the sky opens up for four-hour deluges, but rather, just little sprinkles that would stop after a few minutes, during which time we'd pop into a restaurant for tacos or something. However, I would like to address something: the rainy weather was cool weather. I had to wear layers and never even wore the shorts I brought for our weekend trip. There has also been cold rain of late in Querétaro. Well, I have a problem with this. Mexico, as careful readers will recall from my last post, has cockroaches. Cockroaches that are tormenting me by daring to show up in our apartment occasionally. I have already acknowledged that the dastardly insects/creatures of the devil are the price you pay for tropical paradise (see, e.g., Cuba and Phuket) but tropical paradise is also WARM. Mexico, listen up: you can either have cockroaches or be cold, but you do not get both. Pick a side.
Aaaaaaand, the day we headed from Q to Mexico City was the day Mexico beat Brazil to win the gold medal in men's Olympic soccer, so the streets were even more lively, filled with people and flags and hats and painted faces and horns and cheers and happiness.
Indeed. Viva Mexico!