Mexico City: Art, architecture and a chocolate mousse donut
In a city of over 20 million people, is it any wonder there is so much noise? Over time I’ve learnt the solace of silence, the quietly spoken interaction of a big city. But here it is different. The sounds clash, the need for unnecessary noise reverberates from one sound to another.
The whistling melodies from police, honking of horns and tinkling sounds of organ grinders a gift from the Germans. It’s my first visit to Mexico City and put simply, it’s an orchestration of noise.
Staying in the trendy nightclub, restaurant district of La Condesa I could be anywhere in the world. Vacated after the 1985 Earthquake a resurgence amongst artists and musicians not unlike Berlin, renewed the popularity and price of art deco buildings, cafes and bars. Pampered pooches stroll the streets. Designer stores wave an ambience of wealth. Is this really Mexico City?
On a Saturday morning, an hour stroll away the fashionable countess my opinion alters. Walking towards Plaza De Nationale, the European vibe dwindles. As the buildings become less inhabitable and the façade of up-market restaurants switches to street vendors, each selling freshly cooked corn, tacos and burritos I am reminded of the streets of Asia. A young group of Mexican boys shoot hoops in a fenced off basketball court that doubles as a playground. Right next to it a small pop up market sells pirated DVD’s, clothes and revealing playboy magazines.
An old church signifies the change in architecture. From crumbled buildings to the grandiose of Spanish Colonial. Today, many of these ambitious buildings house museums and surprisingly a flourishing art scene.
Reaching the popular meeting plaza, Zocalo, I team up with Jana for a city walking tour. Old colonial buildings such as the Palacio National (National Palace) proudly hover over an emerging art culture. Underneath the noise and stigma of a violent city, the old clashes with the new. The pulsating vibe quickly lures me in. The conflict of past and present, revolution and politics is largely represented in openly displayed sculptures. Public buildings host murals dating back to the 1920’s, each telling a story of historical value.
Inside the eclectic Art Noveau, Palacio de Correos De Mexico or Post Office, Italian archetict Adamo Boari, who also designed Palacio de Bellas Artes, now the Palace of Fine Arts flamboyantly displays design elements from Europe and Mexico. Beyond the golden staircase take a closer look at the windows, each floor represents a different architectural design and a mural shaped out of stamps proudly displays the Mexican coats of Arms.
The bustling mall is wall-to-wall full of people loitering. Squeeze your way through the noisy crowd and head into the enormous bakery, Pasteleria La Ideal. Greeted by cakes weighing 35 kilos or more, the window display is enough to send your sugar levels soaring. Once iInsdie, join in the chaos. Load your tray with forbidden treats, as many as you can. Overwhelmed, I settle for a mousse filled chocolate donut, what an experience trying to work out how to purchase it.
Despite the hectic street scenes, the blend of European architecture and culture there is still a seedy side.
Jana ushers us right, “if you take a left you will eventually find yourself in unsafe territory where drugs and guns are for sale”. Needless to say we take a right and continue to see the sunny side of a city that is slowly sinking, buildings are slanting under the strain of a water-based foundation and at any moment the next Earthquake could crumble its foundations.
Getting to Mexico City
I flew Qantas from Melbourne to Los Angeles and AeroMexico from Los Angeles to Mexico City
I stayed in an Air B&B traditional Spanish property in La Condesa. For short visit stay near Zocalo – the main plaza.
Plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from in La Condesa. Popular cuisine includes traditional Mexican, Italian, Japanese and Burgers.
Freewalkingtour.com offers different walking tours at various times of the day around Mexico City