Mexico City or Oaxaca?

Old Apr 26th, 2005, 06:45 PM
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Mexico City or Oaxaca?

Having been helped by the "Board" before, I turn to it again with some questions. We are a family of four, kids ages 10 and 9, heading to Mexico in mid-August. We will spend a week in Cancun or PDC and a few days first in Oaxaca or Mex City.

I think I would prefer Oaxaca but, the airfares are very high and I am trying to use miles - a near impossibility. Perhaps doable, however, if I spend a night first in Mex City airport, then connect to Oaxaca, then go Oaxaca - Mex City - Cancun. Alternatively, I can simply stay in Mex City for a few days and then travel onto Cancun/PDC.

My issue: am I better off simply making life easy and staying in Mex City, saving Oaxaca for the future. We like a city (we live in NYC), I speak Spanish and we do like to see things. I figure they pyramids or floating gardens could keep us a bit occupied plus maybe the Zocalo. We also want to shop for some handicrafts and like good Mexican food. Can we do that in Mex City? Is Mex City simply someplace to avoid?

As for Oaxaca, I am beginning to think that the kids may not be as enamored as we are and, there is only so much pottery we can carry back home. I also fear the trips to smaller outlying villages may not carry the day for them.

Any advice/suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 07:46 PM
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Hello tengohambre! After reading your query (and seeing that you're from Manhattan), I'm pulling for Mexico City on this one (D.F. & NYC are probably my two most favorite places). I was just a little older than your kiddos when I visited Mexico City for the very first time, and I bet that they'll be totally enthralled with the pyramids at Teotihuacan. Lots to do in D.F.: Chapultepec Castle & Park, Anthropology Museum, the Zocalo (including the cathedral, National Palace, and Templo Mayor museum). Mexico City also has the red double-decker bus system for tourists (as in the Big Apple, but less expensive). As far as shopping goes, <<la merced>> is a true Mexican marketplace; great finds can also be found from various vendors in Chapultepec Park, as well as out at Teotihuacan (at the pyramids, various artisans stroll along, peddling their wares---there are also a couple of strands of humble booths toward the entrance/exit).
We are leaving for Puebla in 2 days (I am so excited...trouble sleeping...ha), flying into Mexico City, then taking the bus from there. We, too, are terribly interested in Oaxaca, but for us, that may have to wait (I know what you mean about the miles---Continental's award choice for OAX doesn't look too swift, and the cost is $800+ otherwise). If you speak Spanish, and you're already "big-city-savvy," then I'd opt for Mexico City, in conjunction with your Yucatan plans---sounds like a perfect excursion to me.
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Old Apr 26th, 2005, 08:38 PM
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P.S. In response to your question about food---if you do end-up going to the pyramids, then don't forget to eat at <<La Gruta>> just behind the Pyramid of the Moon. The whole family will get a kick out of it! We didn't eat there on the last visit, and I constantly kick myself for not making the time! (---and the grief from the hubby doesn't help...)
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 08:18 AM
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I agree 100% with talavera_timbre.

There is SOOOO much to see and do in Mexico City that there's no way you'll get bored. Others may disagree, but I also find it a good city to be in for the family with kids: the Papolote Museum is, IMHO, the best childrens museum I've ever visited, and there's lots of other stuff in the Chapultepec area that will appeal to the younger set: including a great zoo (with a very popular panda habitat) and a Six Flags amusement park for the coaster-head in the family.

I'd definitely do Teotihuacan too --- it's such a huge site that the kids can run for hours, plus, letting them climb to the top of a few 1,000 year old pyramids is a sure-fire way to wear 'em out so there's no argument about bed time ;-)

Have fun!
Mark
www.tiogringo.com
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 08:25 AM
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I agree that Mexico City sounds like the right choice. You can always combine Oaxaca with the beach in Huatulco for another visit. August is prime time for vacations for Mexicans (just before school starts back) so that tends to run up the prices in vacation spots.

August in Mexico City will be the rainy season, so plan your outdoor activities for early in the day and indoor things like museums for mid-afternoon. Don't miss the pyramids at Teotihuacan, my nephews loved them.

There are lots of restaurant suggestions on the chowhound international message board. If you are there over a weekend and want to see lots of Mexican families, make a lunch reservation for 3pm on Sunday...it's interesting to see whole restaurants full of parents, kids, cousins, the abuelita, all having a leisurely meal together.
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 04:30 PM
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Thanks for all your input. Oaxaca will have to wait till our next trip; we will head to Mexico City, I booked a hotel today. A couple of other questions:

Do you know a good tour guide for the City? I know the hotel will be able to arrange one for me but, I usually prefer to speak with the guide before I arrive so we can discuss where we want/should go. Also, sometimes I find that hotel tour guides might be jaded from always giving the very same tour.

And, re: Mex City airport, although I've traveled through it many times, I've never really gone downtown. Are taxis plentiful and easy to grab? When I booked my hotel they offered to send a car to pick me up at the airport. $140. Yes, dollars, not pesos. I thought that seemed just a bit on the astronomical scale.

Muchisimas gracias.
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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To be contrary I think kids that age would love Oaxaca and the Oaxaca valley-at least my kids did and still do. Plus you don't have the security concerns you have in Mexico City. As far as getting there take the bus immediately from the the MEX airport to Puebla, from Puebla on to OAX no problem, reduced cost, interesting scenery. Puebla is worth a look too.
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 06:25 PM
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Dude, I would love to hear more about your trip to Oaxaca with the kids, we have made the decision that Oaxaca will be our destination in January so now I want to fill some gaps, did you use a local guide and driver or just wing it yourself ??
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Old Apr 27th, 2005, 06:50 PM
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"Are taxis plentiful and easy to grab? When I booked my hotel they offered to send a car to pick me up at the airport. $140."

No, no, no, no, no. You take *only* the pre-paid "Transportacion Terrestre" taxis. You buy your ticket from a kiosk near the international arrivals area. A few years back the fare to the Zocalo area was about $7.00 US, to Zona Rosa about $10.00, The fare is good for four people and reasonable baggage.

One of the topsy-turvy aspects of Mexico City is that you never hail a cab off the street. They have been known to rob tourists. Get your hotel to call a radio cab when you're in the city, do the same at a restaurant in the evening.

The rules are a little different there, but it's worth the effort.

 
Old Apr 28th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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Marko- Have been going to Oaxaca for about fifteen years now, sometimes more than once a year. Anyway- the first time was a first trip to Mexico for us. At that time my kids were about 6 and 8. We ended up meeting a taxi driver who we hired by the hour. We hired him for two days and went to Monte Alban, Coyotepec, Zachilla, Octolan, Mitla, Yagul,Tule, Teotilan de Valle, etc. He was quite helpful. At this point we have American and Mexican friends there and do some work there so it is quite different. After the trip we got the public transportation figured out and just wing it and have begun visiting places you might skip the first few times. If you are adventurous, and speak some Spanish you could do it all on your own the first time. January is a great time to go. The weather is usually excellent. It can be pretty crowded up to January 6th.
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Old Apr 28th, 2005, 03:11 PM
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Dude , thanks ! any information you may have laying around electronically that you wouldn't mind sending me would be appreciated, the email address as follows feel free to delete the *'s, they are there to confuse the bots. hear*4*[email protected]*.com
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Old May 1st, 2005, 01:49 PM
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Marko, we spent 10 days in Oaxaca last December (our 3rd trip). I've put together a website of the trip which will give you a good idea of what the city and surrounding area is like.
www.rgb3d.com/Oaxaca
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Old May 1st, 2005, 11:07 PM
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Thanks Marilyn, a great site, lots of fun and a great perspective !
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