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I don't know if I'll like Mexico City--your experiences

I don't know if I'll like Mexico City--your experiences

Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 05:05 PM
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I don't know if I'll like Mexico City--your experiences

We are thinking of visiting in a month, and I've done quite a bit of reading about the place. Frankly, I don't know if we'll like it. We've done a lot of international traveling and huge, bustling metropolises are just not our particular favorites. Can you give me some feedback please?

We are middle-aged and we like to just walk around and soak up ambience. Museums are great but not a trip of nothing but museums. We generally try to include a cultural venue such as a concert or dance performance once in our trips. We enjoy great gardens and parks. We like charming architecture. We prefer small family-run type casual restuarants and b & b s or inns. We like to visit local markets for the color, not particularly to buy. We enjoy historic sites and authentic culture. We are not shoppers and we aren't looking for nightlife.

We were not particularly enamored with Saigon and Hanoi. Barcelona and NYC were ok but not our favorites. We really liked Paris, Prague, Budapest, Seville, Washington DC, San Francisco, Vienna, Istanbul.

What do you think? Would we like Mexico City? Thanks.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 05:23 PM
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I have been to all of the cities you have listed, and have enjoyed my time in all -- I have also been many times to Mexico City, which I count among the world's most interesting cities. But, if you don't like huge, bustling metropolises, Mexico City may not be the best destination for you.

There are several areas you can walk around and soak up the ambience -- my favorites are the historic center and around Coyacan (sp?), the latter of which was where Trotsky and Frida/Diego Rivera lived.

The Bellas Artes has excellent cultural shows, and I'm sure there are many other venues offering cultural events.

Chapultapec Park is a nice place to walk around, but its very large, closer to NY's central park than, say, Luxembourg Gardens.

Architecture -- its not for nothing that Mexico City has four UNESCO sites (and that's not counting the pyramids around 40 minutes away). Two of the UNESCO sites (Barraga's house and the University are stunning examples of modern architecture, and the city center feels European, similar to Madrid).

Lots of great restaurants, and plenty of markets (my favorite is Merced, the largest, but its very photogenic).

So, while I think DF meets your requirements, it is huge and bustling.

Its one of my favorites, but its not as charming as the cities you prefer.

You may be happier in one of the smaller Mexican cities, like Puebla.

Michael
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 06:02 PM
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Well, you have very poor -- by which I mean only, different from mine (joke) -- taste in cities. With the exception of Paris and Istanbul, your favorite destinations are second rate backwaters -- especially Washington DC (not joke).

I love Mexico City. It is filthy, dangerous, ugly, polluted, teeming and chaotic. They do have a market and a famed dance revue. Luckily for you, there is only one major museum.

Its culture is tres authentique (if that should happen to be the French), full of historic sites, such as the Templo Major of the Aztecs, and the nightlife is not really a draw. I prefer a drink in a local bar.

So, my advice would be to visit Mexico City for about three days (this will help you build up the immunity necessary to enjoy truly great cities such as New York and London), then head off to a tamer, more provincial locale. Puebla, mentioned above, is an excellent choice, you might also think about Oaxaca, Cuernavaca or Guanajuato.




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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 06:29 PM
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I second Fra Diavlo's advice (even is he(she?) DID malign my city - Washington DC a backwater? harumph!

We love Mexico City - so much to see and do - including some of everything you like! Nice park and garden, interesting old architecture, great market (Coyoacan?), Ballet Folklorico at the fabulous Bellas Arts bldg, great food/restaurants. .. We never shopped and we never discoed. We're middle-aged ourselves and like just what you do.

Though you could spend a week, why not do what Fra Diavlo suggested and spend 3 nights or so there and then hop a bus and go to Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende, or Oaxaca, or Puebla, or Morelia/Patzcuaro.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 06:41 PM
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If you hate crowds you will HATE Mexico DF. Trust me it's not for you.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 06:45 PM
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Hi JulieS

Analyzing what you've written I frankly don't know if you'd like el DF or not either; paragraph 1 leads me to believe that you wouldn't; paragraph 2 leads me to believe that you would.

"huge, bustling metropolises are just not our particular favorites." You don't get more bustling and huge (at times chaotic and crowded) than Mexico City... NYC seems quiet in comparison. Mexico City is unique though with a very different feel from NYC though, more raw/organic, and is not at all generic North America.

"Museums are great but not a trip of nothing but museums. We generally try to include a cultural venue such as a concert or dance performance once in our trips. We enjoy great gardens and parks. We like charming architecture. We prefer small family-run type casual restuarants and b & b s or inns. We like to visit local markets for the color, not particularly to buy. We enjoy historic sites and authentic culture"

Everything about this part leads me to believe you might like (possibly love) Mexico city. Some great museums (Museo de Antropologia is an incontournable), but museums only tell some of the story. Historic sites and authentic culture that will defy your imagination. Markets with more colour than most any I've seen north of the Rio Grande. Plenty of family-run restaurants & inns replete with charm. Architecture of incredible variety, from pre-Aztec to Aztec to Spanish to modern. Some terrific parks & gardens too...

Mexico City is unto itself, so no one can tell you whether you'd like it based on the cities you like and dislike. For me, it was one of the most eye-opening, amazing trips I've taken. Good luck deciding....

DAN
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 07:23 PM
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I really appreciate all your thoughts. It is just so hard to know before one experiences a place. Gritty does nothing for us, but I know some people like this aspect of big cities. It is not that we hate crowds, it's just that the place itself has to be interesting enough to make battling crowds worthwhile. Istanbul certainly was crowded, and we loved it because it was such a unique place with so much to do.

I am also using your responses as a way to gauge how much time I should schedule there if we do decide to visit. The sugestion for three days might be just right so we could get a taste but not limit ourselves to this. Or, if we do this last-minute trip, we could also just fly into MC and then leave for one of the smaller places you have all mentioned. I've also been reading about a number of these other places that sound very interesting to us and may not be quite so overwhelming. Thanks again!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2007, 08:48 PM
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Well, I hate crowds, too, but I LOVE Mexico City, which I have often described as a tropical Paris to friends who have never been. Yes, it may take a little more work to navigate, but it is SO WORTH the effort. It certainly has all the elements--and more-- you describe in your second paragraph.

A few years ago we invited friends to come to a black tie party for my husband's birthday there--most couldn't figure out why we would want to go there, but a dozen came and had an absolutely fabulous time.

My recipe for a visit to Mexico City usually includes 4-5 days there, followed by a few days in a lower pressure place such as Cuernavaca, Oaxaca, or Guanajuato.
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Old Dec 4th, 2007, 04:30 AM
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Of the cities you liked only one was not "first world" - ie, Istanbul. Whether you call it second or third is a moot point. I'm wondering what you did there and where you went and where you stayed. And what your definition is of "authentic culture".

I'd say Mexico City was closer to Istanbul than Hanoi, although it was in Hanoi and not in Istanbul that I managed to plug in to some western style "culture". I guess I just got lucky - the orchestral concert advertised at Bellas Artes was cancelled whereas the "Opera and Ballet Gala" at the Hanoi Opera House was not.

Why not go and see for yourselves?
I found DF a fascinating place - there's certainly plenty of history and some 'safe' markets to visit - try a trip out to Coyoacán; you could visit the Frida Kahlo house while you are there.

For accommo try Casa Gonzalez,
Rio Sena 69 - a family run posada with a garden!

Happy travels.
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Old Dec 4th, 2007, 05:03 AM
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Hey Julies, Thats going back a bit now !! I am sure I did write about MC at the time.

Anyway, in a nutshell we felt very unwelcome in Mexico City. We are a very tall blonde family so we stick out like the proverbials!! In Oaxaca people stared and pointed and smiled !! In Mexico city the stared pointed and scowled. We were staying somewhere nice but the hotel staff suggested we shouldn't go out at night to eat. We were probably overly cautious but we had the kids with us.

PS We loved Mexico , some wonderfull culture and history.
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Old Dec 4th, 2007, 05:45 AM
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Chimani--

You ask what we liked about Istanbul and Turkey since this was another 2nd or 3rd world country. In Istanbul we rented an apartment in a real neighborhood just outdside of Sultanahmet and frequented the local grocers and hole in the wall restaurants there. In addition to the things most tourists see and do, one day we took the bus and went over to the weekly market in the neighborhood around the mosque in the most conservative part of Istanbul. We had five days in Istanbul and would return in a heartbeat.

Casa Gonzalez is the place I had already chosen for us to stay if we decide to visit because it sounds exactly like the type of place we usually like.

Marilynl--a tropical Paris. That does sound quite good if it really is an accurate description. Our last trip to Paris was in a chilly time of year but we really enjoyed out 12 day stay in our rental apartment and plan to repeat the experience in a warmer month.

I think one of the reasons I am asking this question is that looking back on our trips many times we enjoyed the smaller more provincial rural areas more than the huge cities. WE are quite adventuresome and often do things that the usual tourist wouldn't. And, with the exception of Vietnam where we hired guides for the extremely remote areas we visited, we always do it ourselves. We've rented gites in the country in France; taken week-long bicycle trips in France, Germany & Vietnam (remote reaches of the Mekong Delta); hiked in Romania; spent several days in a real Mayan village in the Yucatan; stayed in a converted farmstead in a small Turkish village; hiked back in and did a homestay in a Hmong village in the remote regions of northern Vietnam. So, super touristy isn't our thing.

Once again. Thanks to all of you.
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Old Dec 4th, 2007, 06:01 AM
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Well, that was my first impression (30+ years ago), based on the wide boulevards, extensive street activity, wonderful cafes, and beautiful historic buildings, but with palm trees! We also like to do things some tourists wouldn't, such as going to American movies (in English with French subtitles) in Paris.
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