Rush hour, Mexico City
Securing a gate at Benito Juárez International is almost as difficult as finding a perch for your feet during rush hour in Mexico City – and the rush starts early, very early! The Metro system is thoroughly efficient though – trains arrive every couple of minutes – and at 2 pesos a ride, it is also one of the cheapest in the world! The airport is located just 5-km east of the city centre, and so even on a short layover, it is perfectly feasible to make a trip downtown – one that’s bound to whet the appetite and make you want to come back for more.
Mexico City, as we know it today, was built by the Spanish on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec Empire. As it was in Aztec times, the city is centred upon Zócalo, the sprawling main square, Latin America’s largest! The Metropolitan Cathedral, a stunning baroque structure, defines the square’s northern boundary. To the east sits Palacio Nacional, which, due to an ongoing protest, has been closed to the public since May! Two near-identical Federal District buildings make up the southern periphery, and to the west are a series of neocolonial commercial buildings. In the centre of it all, a larger than life national flag flutters in the wind. With the first few rays of sunlight piercing through, Zócalo is a sight to behold!
Located just west of Zócalo, the Art Nouveau lobby of Gran Hotel de la Ciudad de Mexico is absolutely stunning, and worth a detour from the main square. Formerly a department store, and presently a hotel, it was featured in the film “Frida”. Their rooftop restaurant doesn’t open till lunch, unfortunately, so if you’re looking for an al fresco experience, you have to make do with the nearby Holiday Inn. Thankfully, the price for a buffet there is a steal, and the views irresistible. The breakfast, as it turned out, wasn’t too shabby either!
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