Mexico City: Art, architecture and a chocolate mousse donut

Mexico City: Art, architecture and a chocolate mousse donut

Mexico City: Art, architecture and a chocolate mousse donut

December 3, 2015 | Travelazzi | 10 Comments

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

Accomodation
I stayed in an Air B&B traditional Spanish property in La Condesa. For short visit stay near Zocalo – the main plaza.

Food
Plenty of restaurants and bars to choose from in La Condesa. Popular cuisine includes traditional Mexican, Italian, Japanese and Burgers.

Walking Tour
Freewalkingtour.com offers different walking tours at various times of the day around Mexico City

Zocalo

Zocalo

Palacio de Correos De Mexico

Palacio de Correos De Mexico

Palacio de Correos De Mexico

Palacio de Correos De Mexico

Pasteleria La Ideal

Pasteleria La Ideal

Organ Grinder

Organ Grinder


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10 Comments

  1. Pete Johnson

    December 3, 2015

    Thanks again Vanessa for sharing your wonderful Mexican adventure.
    A question though? Did you feel safe in Mexico City? I travelled for 10 years but never made it to Mexico.
    I’m sure by now you would have heard about the 2 Aussie Surfers who were ambushed so sad. Wrong place wrong time.

    • Vanessa

      December 4, 2015

      Hi Pete,
      Yes I heard about the unfortunate circumstances on my return. However, I felt completely safe the whole time I was in Mexico City. As you may have read the area I stayed in was quite a lively part of town, there was a large police presence so I felt fine even at night.
      The only time I felt a little out of depth was in the town of Chihuahua but that’s because I walked a little too far. Once I realised I turned around and headed back to the main areas.

  2. peter studley

    December 3, 2015

    Nice evocative description of your Mexico City leg! I like the way you writes aboug yhe small things, the sounds and smells etc. I’ll be there in 2 weeks, so can compare notes. Lets hope I find a Jana who can tell me where the drugs and guns are! (to avoid them of course)

    • Vanessa

      December 4, 2015

      Thanks Pete, Make sure you do the walking tour it’s a great insight into the city. Enjoy, it’s an interesting city.

  3. Ronnie Atlas

    December 7, 2015

    Enjoyed the read Vanessa…. continue to enjoy the holiday and the journey….R

    • Vanessa

      December 8, 2015

      Thank-you Ronnie, stay tuned for further updates.

  4. David Picken

    December 8, 2015

    Enjoyed the Mexico City piece, Vanessa, great!! Took me back a couple of years to the visit of my wife and I. We scored a great deal on hotels.com at the Gran Hotel Ciudad De Mexico. It is on the corner of the zocalo. Did you get to go into the foyer of this hotel – amazing atrium with Tiffany glass ceiling? Our couple of days in Mexico City were an incredible contrast to the ten days down south in Chiapas province. Thanks for jogging the memory. Cheers Dave

    • Vanessa

      December 12, 2015

      Hi Dave, I’m glad enjoyed my article. Yes I saw the ceiling. I think Mexico City is often overshadowed by it’s reputation. For me some architecture was amazing. Have a lovely Christmas.

  5. Chris turner

    December 11, 2015

    Hi Vanessa.
    Looks like you enjoyed your self I hate holidays they never seem to be long enough. Good to see you Back reading the weather missed your smile every morning. Hope you and the abc team have a marry exams and a great new year. I’m going to avoid the hang overs this year I’m not going to sober up.

    • Vanessa

      December 12, 2015

      Hi Chris, it was a fascinating trip and like you say never long enough. Merry Christmas to you too.