Trip Report: Mexico City
March, 2018

15 days in Mexico City

I had an excellent vacation in Mexico City, a huge and fabulous city with lots to see and great food. And CHEAP. More than 50% off San Francisco prices! US$50 a night for a modern hotel with free wi-fi, $13 for a fabulous buffet dinner — 4 kinds of oysters! I enjoyed several tasty malted milkshakes ($2.60) in the hotel's restaurant. Cups of sliced mango were about $1 from street carts and very refreshing in the 70 to 80 degree F heat.

It took some courage, but I mastered the subway system. It's inexpensive, about 50 cents. Twice I saw young women give up their seat to an older woman — a rarity in the U.S.

The pyramids at Teotihuacan were impressive.

The Mercado Merced offers merchandise from over 15,000 stalls! It is a mass of pulsating commercialism — very exciting!

My favorite tourist site was Maximilian’s castle, in Chapultepec Park — bigger than San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. There is an appealing myth of Los Niños Héroes, students from the military academy there, who gave their lives to protect the flag against an onslaught by U.S. Marines in the 1847 Battle of Chapultepec during the Mexican-American war.


We're a vulnerable, befuddled, language-limited, bunch of transients — and we carry money. I've revved the jet engine enough times now to have seen a few of the risks first hand. See my Italy report 6 months ago.

Who wants to cheat you? All kinds of people tap the vein of the tourist flow. Mostly taxi drivers! So far, my list includes: 'helpful' passersby, travel agents, taxi drivers, waiters, shop-keepers, ticket booth attendants, grocery clerks, and ice cream vendors.

But Mexico City, frankly was a breath of fresh air. No pickpockets visible! No hint of the alleged problem with kidnappings from gypsy cabs. I never felt followed (like once in Rome). I think I always got sincere service and accurate change. Never noticed air pollution there (though I saw 3 or 4 bicyclists zip by with face masks).

Only once was there a hint of a problem, compared to 4 stories from Naples. I sought a taxi as I exited from the famous Blue House (casa azul), which houses the Frida Kahlo museum (way too little of her good stuff, and they charge if you want to take photos!). I was offered an 'authorized' taxi for 150 pesos back to my hotel. But, I decided to do it myself by flagging down a regular puce-painted city taxi. After 5 minutes waiting at a good street corner, I was able to flag one down. I got in, saying 'Taxi metro?" and saw the digital box flashing. I gave him my hotel card and off we went. After a few blocks, I realized the driver had not reset the meter, which had started at something around 30 when I stepped in. The 'drop' in CDMX, I later learned, is 8.74 pesos. I figured it could have been a mistake. Or I was cheated out of $1.25. No problema.

In the shuttle home from San Francisco airport, I chatted with a traveler who shared this story (location unknown): Paying for a restaurant meal, it was discovered that the date had been written at the top of the bill and included in the addition! The waiter claimed it was a mistake.


  • Admission to the National Palace is free.
  • Diego Riviera murals are everywhere
  • Frida Kahlo liked to paint watermelons. They are composed of the same colors as the Mexican flag: red, white, and green.
  • There is no sales tax.
  • Sliced limes are served everywhere as a condiment for use with seafood, meats, soups ...
  • Favorite souvenir: black T-shirt with gold outline of the Teotihuacan pyramids.
  • A “marisqueria” is a restaurant with a seafood specialty (mariscos) — yum!
  • In ancient days, the resource they fought over wasn’t petroleum, it was obsidian — to make blades to edge their weapons.
  • We all scream for helado (ice cream).

Happy travels,

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