Despite the poor introduction we’ve had with Mexico City, I still love it and would seriously consider moving here someday (semester abroad?).
So, what were the highlights of the city? And, more importantly, how much did I spend?
#1 The Food (La Comida)
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Travel. Is. Affordable (if you just suck at saving, I feel you. Check out my mind-tricks here). As Americans, it can seem expensive because it is so hard for our brains to comprehend a $1 meal that didn’t come from a dollar menu. Coupled with the expensive flights to make it over the pond to the rest of the world, I know it seems like you’re off to an expensive start. But seriously, once you get there, SO affordable!
Thanks to said affordability, we got a little crazy and ate our faces off in CDMX. Most meals were about $1-$2. Even the sushi dinner wasn’t that bad, coming in at about $20. We ordered things we recognized to see the authentic take on them (tacos, quesadillas etc.) and they are nothing like back home. In short, Taco Bell is ruined for me and I can’t wait to come back here someday and have even more time to try all the food – we barely scratched the surface.
#2 The Locals (Los Locales)
Its obvious by our dress, attitude and accent that we are American. Haunted by the terrible policies of the Trump administration and the issues going on at the border right now, I wasn’t sure we would be overly welcomed in Mexico city. Aside from being teased once about being here to “visit or invade”, everyone has been very nice. While we interacted with a lot of locals, there are three interactions that I won’t be able to forget.
In the US, Mexico City seems to be surrounded by a negative stigma that its this super dangerous place. Just like any major city (P.S Mexico City is the biggest city in the world), there is crime – theft, murder, rape – but Mexico City is doing a great job at taking steps to combat that. Upon one of our first train rides, a Metro employee approached us and offered his assistance. He led us to the train platform that we needed to be on, explaining that at the end of every train platform is a designated safe area for women and girls where they can board train cars specifically for ladies.
While I was in Japan I noticed a similar system. While it’s sad to acknowledge a need for this, Japan and Mexico are setting wonderful examples that America could follow.
Standing in line at the McDonald’s ice cream window, a kid comes up and begins speaking to us in Spanish. Between the three of us, we decipher that he is asking for money. We chatted with him for a bit, learning that he was 7 years old and that his mom was at home. He was a nice and funny kid who looked well fed and was just hoping to get some spending money. We didn’t want to support the begging habit, but ended up buying him a twisted ice cream cone which totally made his night! What a random thing.
While visiting the ancient Aztec city of Teotihuacan, the sound of jaguar noises echoed across the plain. It turns out they are made from a tiny toy being sold by the local merchants. I wasn’t confident I’d be able to make the same sound, but after a little lesson and a purchased toy, I’m a pro! Check out the video below.
#3 The sights (Las Vistas)
Mexico is famous for its ancient Aztec history. So naturally, Mexico is chock full of interesting sites. It was hard to choose which attractions to see, so we opted to do a blend of touristy and non-touristy.
Pyramid of the Sun
Guys, I’ve always wanted to see a pyramid.
Before planning this trip, I didn’t even realize that there was any outside of the infamous Egyptian pyramids. Doh! Counting “ceremonial structures”, Mexico is home to hundreds. My tribe visited one of the most popular, The Pyramid of the Sun, located in the old Aztec city of Teotihuacan (pronounced “teo ti hu can”).
The Pyramid of the Sun is one of the largest pyramids in Mesoamerica and the third largest in the world. During its life (200 BC – 750 BC), it was used for ‘religious, administrative and community tasks’. At a height of 65m (195 ft), it takes about 250 freaking-steep stairs to reach the top. If your kneecaps and lungs can take it, its an incredible view from the top.
Museo del Juguete Antiguo
This is one of those “non-touristy” things. I often reference Atlas Obscura to find unusual things to do. Here in Mexico City, they did not disappoint. Hayden and I visited Museo del Juguete Antiguo – a “freak toy” museum….and freaky it was! First, it looks like its just in some random guys’ house that is nowhere near the touristy part of town (sorry mom). Second, its filled to the brim with thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of obscure, weirdly positioned, and [sometimes] freakishly common, toys.
In the tech industry, we have a motto. DRY: “Don’t repeat yourself”. Basically, don’t do work twice. In the spirit of DRY, if you’d like to read more about Museo del Juguete Antiguo and support Atlas Obscura for helping me find it, you can read their wonderful article with all the history here.
¡Adios (but not to my budget)!
Just like our time in Mexico City, its time to wrap. But before I go, I’d like to share with you just how affordable this trip could be for you:
Expenses (in $USD)
Now, these numbers are representative of my share of things. If dinner for 2 was $20, I’m logging it as $10 because that is what I paid. These numbers are totals for the entirety of my time in Mexico City.
Food: $78 You can tell where my priorities are. This is for all my meals, snacks, drinks, treats and “oh I just have to try one bite”‘s. It also includes a sushi dinner which was $20 and boozy Olive Garden (hey, I was homesick).
Lodging: $53.25 My share of 6 nights at our hostel in a private room, including a free breakfast that I ate every day.
Entertainment & Souvenirs: $16.20 This includes the Pyramid of the Sun (includes round-trip bus fare), a festival, several museums and a few hands of blackjack at the casino.
Transportation: $10 With an amazing infrastructure, trains were the transport of choice coming in at $1 per ride. Uber is also insanely cheap and a great alternative after I got pickpocketed on the train.
Misc (tips, donations etc): $5. Unlike Asia, tips are welcome in Mexico. Honestly, I like it better this way – its more like home. Tips are appropriate for cab drivers, waiters, or warrioresses who choose to pose with you or bless you. Total I spent $10 in tips (I know, I know, it sounds so cheap but I promise it was the appropriate amount).
Total Spent: $162.45 for one week.
Not too shabby, right?
I hope you’re enjoying the information so far – what do you think? Would you ever visit here, why or why not? Please leave any opinions, questions or comments in the comment section below. 🙂