Posts Tagged ‘holiday inn express mexico city airport

04
Jun
17

Mexico: 23 Hours in Mexico City


Mexico City is the largest metropolitan center in the western hemisphere. With its third world modernism, colonial spirit and Aztec vibe rolled into one, it is one of the most interesting urban centers in the world so I did not think twice about stopping there briefly. My recent Cuba trip gave me the chance to explore Mexico City as I chose to take Aeromexico.  As I was comparing the prices and timing of the flights in Aeromexico’s website and third party travel websites, I chanced upon a flight in cheapoair.com with good connections giving me exactly 23 hours to spend in Mexico City on my way back from Havana to New York.  This is how I spent it.

Day 1 08:25 Airport Arrival

MEX AIRPORTArrival at the Aeroporto Internacional de Benito Juárez from Havana was fast and efficient. I was out in 15 minutes. I bought coffee and a breakfast sandwich from one of the fastfood outlets in the airport terminal and then called the hotel where I would be staying requesting for the free shuttle.  In 10 minutes I was on my way to the hotel.

Day 1 09:00 Baggage Drop At The Hotel

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I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Mexico City Airport, which is less than 15 minutes drive from the airport and to the city center. I arrived several hours before the allowed check-in time so I left my things at the hotel, rested for a few minutes in the lobby and took a hotel taxi to Zócalo, the city’s main square.  I would later learn that the hotel taxi was almost double the price of an Uber ride.  Lesson learned: Do not take any hotel offers on taxis.  Book via Uber or Lyft.

Day 1 09:20 Entrance to Zócalo

DSC_0953It was an early Sunday morning so offices around Mexico City’s main square were closed but it was teeming with visitors like me and locals spending their time in and around the square. This was my first glimpse of Zócalo, the city’s main square  The giant CDMX in the southern part of the square stands for its Spanish name, Ciudad de México.

DSC_0948I spent around 15 minutes at this signage as visitors took turns to have their photos taken.

DSC_0951A visitor from Turkey obliged to take several shots for me.

DSC_0955I then walked across the square into and past the giant Mexican flag which is ceremoniously raised and lowered each day and carried to the National Palace. It would have been better if it was windy and the giant flag was stretched out, flying high.

Day 1 09:40 Checking Out The Cathedral

DSC_0956The Roman Catholic cathedral is one of the plaza’s most significant structures and it is the largest cathedral in the Americas.

DSC_1027It was built in sections from 1573 to 1813.

DSC_1025To the cathedral’s right is the Metropolitan Tabernacle.

DSC_0964As I veered into the right of the tabernacle, its side became evident. At this vantage point is where I did the next activity.

Day 1 10:00 Watch A Street Show

DSC_1023As I stepped away from the cathedral area to the right I chanced upon a group of five people donning Aztec customes doing a drum-beating show.

DSC_0973Their customer were colorful indeed!

DSC_0974And donations were accepted.

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DSC_0971I spent around 15 minutes watching the show and taking photos and then I moved on.

Day 1 10:15 Exploring A Stretch East of Zocalo

CSC_0961I walked eastwards where the Templo Mayor Museum and the Nacional Palace are located. I did not enter these places as the queues were very long.

DSC_1022I continued to traverse the long stretch of Calle Moneda.

DSC_0980Taking snapshots of the scenery on both sides of the street.

DSC_1020There were a lot of shops selling really good and cheap items.

DSC_0996The murals did not escape my camera.

CSC_1004Even underpasses were filled with murals.

DSC_0998Restaurants also abound.

DSC_0993There were also some smaller kiosks selling food that were bought by locals munching on them with their bare hands sitting along the street.

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DSC_1006This was how I far I have walked from the dome of the cathedral in the square center.

DSC_1011I made a turn to discover a compound that was attracting a tour group. Honestly, I chose not to take a travel book with me or use my phone to check where should I go. I just wanted to stroll leisurely and took photos.

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DSC_1013The white statues surrounding the east portion of the compound were eye-catching.

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DSC_1016Colorful buildings…….

DSC_0992….and schools too.

Day 1 12:00 Back to the main square.

DSC_1036As I was back in the square center, my attention was focused on the transportation above ground.  Of course there were the basic taxis but the modern ciclotaxis reminded me of the coco taxis in Havana, the tuktuk in Bangkok and the tricycle in the Philippines.

DSC_1035To the left of the cathedral is the station for tourist trolleys….

DSC_1033

DSC_1032….and double-decker buses.

DSC_1028I walked a few steps to the west of the square and suddenly I was approached by a restaurant staff promoting a place overlooking the square at the top of the building shown above.  I just followed the guy and I was glad I did.

Day 1 12:30 Brunch With A View

DSC_1040First, the food truly had Mexican flair.

DSC_1038Secondly, the view of the square from above was breathtaking.

DSC_1037The view of the cathedral also took my breath away.  Mostly, the Catholic locals would come here after spending time in the church.

Day 1 13:30 Back At The Hotel

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I was back at the hotel before 2 p.m. and the front desk finally checked me in. The Holiday Inn Express Mexico City Airport Hotel has huge rooms and reasonable prices so I chose this during my overnight stopovers going to and coming from Cuba.  Since I was already awake at 3 a.m. early that day as I left Cuba I felt I needed to take a couple of hours of siesta.  Well, if I have been well-rested that night I could have used the two hours for other activities such as taking one of the exciting city tours or shopping.  I woke up before 4 p.m. and I booked an Uber ride back to Zocalo.

Day 1 16:00 To The Palacio de Bellas Artes

DSC_1041From the cathedral, you can take Calle 5 de Mayo or Francisco Madero westwards as the imposing Torre Latinoamericana would come into view and serve as compass. The two streets represent the modern Mexico City and they both lead to….

Museo_Palacio_Bellas_Artes_1_2….Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts).

9373486666_32219e09d1_oCalled the Cathedral of Art in Mexico, the Palace of Fine Arts has hosted some of the most notable events in music, theatre, dance, opera and literature and has held important exhibitions of painting, sculpture and photography.

Day 1 16:30 At The Best Western Hotel Penthouse

DSC_1042My day-ending plan would be to spend at a place overlooking the main square during sunset.  From the internet, I learned that the Best Western Hotel located next to the square has a top floor restaurant with sweeping views of the square.

DSC_1044So I went inside and asked the front desk about it and I was told to go to the 7th floor.

https://www.facebook.com/aniban.erwin/videos/vb.1490298170/10212124802743893/?type=2&theater

As soon as I got my table, I noticed everyone’s attention was on the square.  I peeked and I saw the daily ceremony of lowering the giant flag in the center of the square. Click the video link above.

DSC_1045The place offers a buffet of Mexican food and I feasted on anything my palate could take.

DSC_1049It started to get dim, the square was lit up and the night mode was on!

DSC_1053The cathedral right after sunset looked haunting.

DSC_1059Palacio Nacional, the seat of the federal executive in Mexico, looked shimmering as its lights were turned on.

DSC_1060This is the south side of the square.

DSC_1068I spent half an hour more at the restaurant after sundown. As I walked to the elevator I saw this Mexican flag with the lady sculpture.  Mexico, I did have a wonderful day indeed!  Gracias!

Day 1 20:30 Back At The Hotel

holiday-inn-express-mexico-4653979396-4x3I  went back to the hotel past eight in the evening as I had an early morning flight back to New York the next day.  I truly enjoyed the night zzzzzzz.

Day 2 05:00 Departure

IMG_8330.JPGAfter a quick breakfast at the hotel, I took the hourly complimentary hotel shuttle to the airport to board my flight back to New York.

plane-at-benito-juarez-mexico-airportIt was a unique experience for me having to maximize a limited amount of time to check out one of the world’s biggest cities in both population and land area.  Adiós Ciudad de México!  I will be back to explore you more!

[I actually wanted to skip Mexico City and instead go to San Miguel de Allende but the trip would cost me more time and resources so I stayed in Mexico City. I am more than convinced that I made the right decision.]




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