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Living La Dulce Vida in CDMX

sunny 26 °C

We LOVE Mexico City! This is our third visit to Ciudad de Mexico (CDMX, to differentiate it from the state or country of Mexico), and after just a few days here, we are even more enthralled. If you've never been to Mexico City, I want to encourage you to come. Do you think of Mexico City as huge, sprawling, dirty, dangerous, polluted and prone to earthquakes? You would be right on all counts, but in fact the part of Mexico that most visitors will ever see is a tiny square in the middle of a vast valley, and most of those adjectives do not apply, or at least they do not tell the full story.

You will likely stay in one of three or four neighbourhoods - all of them easily accessible from the airport. Since we weren't quite ready to navigate the city by subway or bus, we grabbed a cab (you buy the ticket inside the airport and it is prepaid according to zone), walked outside to the taxi lineup and 25 minutes and $20 later, we were at our front door.

We rented an Airbnb in an Art Deco building in the Condesa neighbourhood. This is our building - we are on the second floor. We have a spacious 2-bedroom apartment, with high coved ceilings, brass trim on the door handles, beautiful old floor tile and a view of the Parque Mexico from our windows. The tree on the left covers our living room window, and we have the next two windows. The Parque is across the street to the left.


There is no elevator. This is the marble staircase that leads up to each floor.


The Condesa neighbourhood is simply beautiful - parks, tree-lined streets, fabulous architecture, unique shops, and really, really great restaurants and cafes. This is not an inexpensive postal code, but you can eat well for a handful of pesos, and the main attraction - people-watching and gawking at the gorgeous homes - is free.

This wind-up car is a fixture. It never moves and neither does the driver. They were both here when we visited four years ago.


One of the neighbourhood's typical little restaurants.


So many of these homes are blessed with attention to detail and incredible craftsmanship. Former mansions have been converted to spacious apartments.



There are two main parks in Condesa - Parque Espana and Parque Mexico. They are within a five minute walk of one another, and offer city-dwellers twisting pathways, lush foliage, fountains and ponds and other features too numerous to mention. They are the "lungs" in a city like Mexico; the soul and sanity-savers.



In addition to the parks, two long pedestrian paths wind through the neighbourhood, filled with walkers, runners, baby carriages, bicycles and dogs. It is quite incredible that there is so much greenspace in such a small area - residents and visitors are well served.

We are living right across the street from the larger park - Parque Mexico and it is a parade. As I write this, sirens are competing with barking dogs; in a minute all will be quiet again. Right below our apartment is a small cafe where the old gents meet up to gossip.

Waste management in Mexico is a curiosity. There are very few receptacles for recycling and none for compost. Everything goes into garbage bags, and yet - when the garbage is picked up, the workers open each bag and separate right there on the street - cardboard, plastics, etc. - all put into separate containers in the truck.

As viewed from our window:


Thinking perhaps a park bathroom might not be the cleanest? This one is graced with a mural, an attendant and even a snack bar.


There are a number of wooden signs throughout the park, dated 1927 - all of them with sayings that remind people to behave with consideration of others. Loosely translated: This park is made for you and your children. Take care of it as your own.


And the dogs! Condesa is dog heaven. Dog walkers are legion - handling five or six leashes at a time, with every breed imaginable from Great Danes to golden retrievers to little foo-foos - every last one of them well-behaved.

And here is the mystery - the dog schools. For those of you who have dogs, try and imagine your beloved pet in this situation:


Dog owners leave their pets in the care of young men like the three in this photo, and voila: the dogs all lie down quietly, with their leashes extended and do not make a peep. I asked one of the young men how they train the dogs, and he was either disinclined to tell me or realized that my Spanish was not up to the challenge. But clearly, they are dog whisperers - the dogs were mellow, unafraid and obedient.

Churros and chocolate are a big thing in Mexico. Churros are ropy twists of deep-fried dough that are rolled in sugar and popped into a bag. In case that doesn't sound sweet enough, you can get little tubs of chocolate or sweetened condensed milk to dip them in. They are a must-try, and no better place than El Morro, situated on the other side of the park; an institution since 1935.


Kitty-corner to El Morro is another cafe - one of the hundreds to be found on street corners in Mexico City.


The neighbourhood adjacent to Condesa is called La Roma and in fact they are often mentioned in the same breath, as in " La Roma-Condesa." They are quite similar in appearance, with perhaps La Roma edging out along the hipster lines - a tad younger and cooler. la Roma was a very upscale area that fell into serious decline after the 1985 earthquake which devastated parts of the area, as well as Centro Historico. As is so often the case, it was the artists that first moved into the area and began to revive it and then as it became gentrified, the artist were forced to look elsewhere for more affordable rents.

We decided to sign up for a free walking tour of La Roma, and lucked out as there were just three of us - our fellow walker was a young woman from California. Our guide was an extremely amiable, knowledgable and enthusiastic Mexico City native named Gus, who pointed out a number of notable buildings, provided an overview of Mexico City's history, and gave us a lot of insider tips about the city. We've done "free" - (no actual charge, but you give a tip) walking tours before in other cities and they are usually really fun.



If you saw the movie Roma, you would recognize this style of entrance - the long driveway leading to the house at the back. This is quite common in La Roma.


This building, known as The Witch's House, was one of the buildings that fell into disuse, but has been completely restored.


Speaking of earthquakes, there was an earthquake on September 19, 2017, in which a building collapsed and killed a number of people. In memory of those killed, an artist collective has painted murals of a number of the victims, with this notable one, Noemie Manuel Garcia. She had just graduated from high school, moved into Mexico City to begin work and she was killed on her very first day on the job.


Yesterday we headed south to the neighbourhood of Coyoacan - a lively artistic community that attracted the likes of Leon Trotsky and was home to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, who lived for many years in their bright blue home, Casa Azul, now a museum. We had visited the Blue House on a past visit, and this time just wanted to concentrate on wandering the streets and getting a feel for the neighbourhood. It is a fabulous area - home to the very rich but still steeped in the history of its radical past.
The name Coyoacan is Nahuatl for "place of coyotes", and is so honoured with this fountain in one of the main parks.


The coyotes show up everywhere, on street signs and cafes, and even a yoga studio.


We walked out of the park through this arch and onto one of the main streets.


Avenida Francisco Sosa runs for several blocks and is home to some of the area's beautiful homes, and most impressive tree roots.




We walked past this incredible mansion, and when I asked the two guards what it was, they replied, "A school."


As fabulous as this neighbourhood can be, it also has plenty of more accessible sights - homes like this one:


An old-school pool hall:


A church (one of many):


A museum dedicated to watercolour artists, both Mexican and international, with equally glorious grounds:


And a number of tiny alleyways, impassable by any vehicle larger than a motorbike:


Whew! Long post - and I've left out so much. Still, so much to tell you about - I should have a couple more postings before we're done here.
I will leave with a final photo of the quite wonderful MacStore, set in a grand old building. We replaced our drowned iPhone - updated to a brand new phone and we're back among the living. See you again in a few days.


Posted by millerburr 00:39 Archived in Mexico Tagged espana mexico_city walking_tour art_nouveau art_deco condesa la_roma parque_mexico parque_

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Loved this one. I have spent a lot of time in Mexico city, two of my favourite neighbourhoods are Coyoacan and Condesa. I was in Nanaimo today, when are you coming back? Great to see you are enjoying Mexico!

by Rohana Laing

I had no great desire to go to Mexico City but you have convinced me. It is now on my bucket list.

by linda ogle

Just loved this post Ginny, will you go back with me one day and be my guide?

by laurence blanchard

This is not the Mexico City I imagined ! You certainly have enlightened me & now I wish I was younger and Don was still alive to travel with me.
You describe the places well and I'm so glad you are enjoying life. Keep travelling. by Lyn Morris

by Lyn Morris

Your blog has opened my eyes to Mexico City. It has never held much interest for me; but, judging by your writing and photos, I have overlooked some real beauty! It just goes to show, one should never paint a place with just one brush!

by Heather Scott

Great post & pics. I, too, have never wanted to go to Mexico City! My son had been there some time ago & was shocked @ the crime, etc etc., & didn’t recommend it.
Glad you are enjoying your time. Take care😊, Flo.

by Flo Bender

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