Mexico City: An enormous melange of great restaurants, museums, people, and smog!
Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal Everyone kept asking us "Why Mexico City?" Originally my answer was "Because that's where our plane lands." It wasn't until I read about this fantastic city that I actually had a good answer: "Becauase Mexico DF (what Mexico City is called locally) is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in North America." With a boat load of museums, that it is. But with a population of over 24 million, it is also one of the smoggiest cities of the world. We got lucky, in that we arrived in the middle of xmas break and the pollution was under control for the most of our DF stay.
Museo Nacional de Antropologia Mexico City has over 300 museums and countless exibitions. The mother of all, this HUGE museum is organized by era - though I think we did some of them backwards - and it is both fascinating and overwhelming.
El Zócalo & Templo Mayor Unfortunately we didn't get to experience the immensity of Zócalo and the center flag; the mayor had decided to setup an ice rink in the square to aid the Christmas festivities. All we could see was the back side of these gigantic bleachers. So we quickly popped into Catedral Metroplitana - Dan was looking for Jesus - and headed over to Templo Mayor.
Turns out in the early 70's the electric company was digging around and boom! They come across these temples, smack in the middle of town. Yes, the spanish saw the temples, and decided that they would make a great foundation for their cathedral. No wonder we didn't find Jesus!
Zona Sur, San Ángel & Coyoacán This neighborhood located in the southern part of Mexico City used to be a separate village, now gobbled up by Mexico City. It is a maze of narrow cobble-stone streets and beautiful old houses. We meandered (read: got lost) the narrow roads after spending the morning at the market at San Ángel.
Teotihuacán Another amazing site accidentally discovered, this time by the railroad workers. The most amazing fact was that all of this site was covered, purposely about a thousand years ago, in the hopes of some day returning. The Pyramind of the Sun is the largest of its kind in Mexico. We climbed both Pyramids, and the views from the top were worth it!
The Colonial Heartland "Good brakes, good horn, and good luck." This is what you need to drive in Mexico City. We had ok brakes and a flimsy horn, but luck was with us: our tour guide, Arturo, "guided" us out of the city. As we said our good-byes in the gas station, his last advice to us was to stay in the toll roads, and not to drive at night so we can avoid the bandits. Alright then! Dan did a great job driving - I was doing my best to not distract him with my screeches of fear as cars cut us off left and right.
Our first stop was Querétaro. This was our first glimpse into the colonial world. There was the ever present main square, and tiny streets around it. Unfortunately, we didn't really like the xmas decorations: it looked like tinsel threw up on the whole town.
San Miguel de Allende was everything we had read about: quaint, adorable, and full of Americans. Fortunately these are not your put-your-feet-on-the-table-tourist kind: they are the artsy type... and allow San Miguel to maintain its charm. We also spent a day at Guanajuato, but San Miguel was by far our favorite.