A day in Mexico City is like experiencing three seasons in one year. Foolishly arriving in a light sweater and yoga pants, my body went into shock when I walked off the airplane to find there wasn't much of a temperature change between Toronto and the otherwise known "tropical" destination. It definitely didn't help that it was 4am. I dragged my tired self through customs and out into the terminal where I discovered a bus that would take me into the city. Again, foolishly thinking the sun would rise in the next hour or so, I thought to maybe just hang out in a park until I could grab breakfast. The bus dropped me off in the downtown core, next to the gorgeous Palacio de Bellas Artes. As I quickly walked through the park, clenching my shivering arms together and teeth chattering, I directed myself into the first open café in sight. It was poorly decorated, with waitresses dressed in traditional Mexican wear. Marta, my beautiful 30-something waitress, couldn't speak a lick of English but was thrilled that there was a Canadian dining on her shift. I sat there for a good few hours, still shivering as they blasted the air conditioning, slowly chipping away at a slimy egg covered in salsa, sipping a black coffee. I got to the end of my book by the time the sun was up, and was thrilled to jump back outside to explore. I wondered down Cinco de Mayo road (ha), watching shops and cafes slowly begin to open, making my way to the Cathedral Metropolitana. It was so beautiful to see such early risers inside, with beautiful music playing lightly in the background as they started to get ready for Sunday service. The entire square outside of the Cathedral was still decorated for Christmas with a massive, craft tree in the centre.
9AM was fast approaching and I needed to get to Casa Azul before the line up went around the block. There was no way I was making Frida wait for me. After being mislead by two police officers, I found myself on a city bus (for two pesos) heading towards Coyoacán, a neighbourhood south of downtown and what I would believe to be Mexico City's hippest neighbourhood. I walked through its streets filled with cute cafes, restaurants, and shops, and stopped for my first churro ever! Mmm breakfast. The young señor tending the stand, pulled it fresh from the fryer, rolled it in a nice layer of cinnamon sugar and filled it with warm caramel. I'm surprised I didn't get it all down the front of my white shirt chowing down on it like a freaking wolf.
As I approached Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera's home, I couldn't help but smile at just how blue it really was. There is no other appropriate name other than the Blue House. Entrance to Casa Azul is 150 pesos, including the camera fee. The staff have formed a route to follow within the house that starts with a collection of Kahlo's early work in their living room, then onto her work after her accident, followed by Rivera's early works - more of his work can be found in the Diego Rivera museum of murals located near the Cathedral. Following this is another room dedicated to Diego's sculptures, a room full of photographs of the pair, along with works by other South American artists in homage to the duo. You then get to see their adorable kitchen, pictured below. Upstairs is a little emotional, filled with all the reminders of Kahlo's accident including all the materials she used during that time from the comfort of her wheelchair. The tour inside the home ends with Kahlo's day bedroom where she would rest throughout most of her recovery. The stairs then descend outside to a beautiful scenic garden filled with a collection of various sculptures. An additional museum tucked into the back of the garden includes a curated collection by Vogue Mexico, with a look at Kahlo's style defining her many characteristics. She really was the original hipster, full of lust, love, frustration, and creativity.
The colourful streets outside kept me wandering for a while until I found a place to sit for a real breakfast and coffee. When I saw a sign for vegan food, I jumped at the chance to try it. Although a small, random entrance on a side street, I found myself in a really modernly decorated marketplace. Inside was a collection of food stalls, artisan shops, and two floors of communal seating with televisions and WiFi available. I definitely could have spent a whole day there; cool people, and a great spot for creative thoughts. I sat down to eat a seriously unreal oatmeal dish from Aura Vegana, topped with pecans, ginger, berries and honey. I'm not exactly sure why it was so good, but it was, and it cost me less than $5CAD! Coffee was from the vendor across, serving up flavourful blends from Mexico. Before heading out, I stopped in at the cutest boutique selling all locally made, artisan jewelry. Since I'm weak for artisan markets, and jewelry over all, I walked away with two beautiful new pieces that I can't wait to show off at home in Toronto! Another big budget breaker for me, next to travel, really seems to be jewelry. Oh well, two new additions to the beautiful jewelry box my mother gifted me for Christmas.
With time to kill, I made my way through Mercado de Coyoacán - Coyoacán market - now bustling with vendors and shoppers, the sun finally warming up the city. I continued to walk until I found myself inside the Pop Culture Museum, which I was quite excited about, until I realized I was in a room full of the history of corn, in Spanish. I did come across a cool picture made completely from corn, as well as some incredible street art!
With a connection to Medellin leaving at 6pm, I slowly made my way to the airport, not realizing how fast the morning had gone by. To continue warming myself up, I walked the very lengthy eleven blocks to the nearest metro, taking in a good dose of how cool Mexico City really is. And with the friendliest people! No matter what I was looking for, or even if I just looked lost, someone was there to lend a hand and take me along with them. Like the older gentleman on his way to a family gathering, with a box full of sweets in hand, who helped me get on the right platform and off at the right stop before switching lines to the airport.
I'd say for a fourteen hour layover, I got an awesome glimpse of a city frequently overlooked due to the countries very beachy, tropical destinations a little more south. I would most definitely enjoy a longer stay to be able to taste more creative foods, experience the fun nightlife and music, and to walk around with a coat on.