Culture and the city: Mexico City

Two weeks ago I have visited Mexico City for the second time. I spend a fantastic couple of days exploring the city and this time seeing it through different eyes. (Find impressions from the first visit here!) It’s always great coming back to a place; things can be quite overwhelming when you visit a massive place like this one for the first time. But besides getting a better sense of the city I also managed to see places I have always wanted to visit.

First, I’d like to share a picture taken from a skyscraper that shows the impressive vastness of Mexico City. Flying in, and the airport is really “central” (if such a thing exists in this case), it took a good ten minutes from the first settlements to actually landing. It was already dark and therefor one could even get a better idea of how busy it was – the cars on the ground were moving like ants in an ant colony. EVERYWHERE!

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The city just goes on, and on and on and on and on….If I wouldn’t have had a guiding hand I would have been totally lost. However, I have to admit that it was just good to hear from my chilango- (citizens of Mexico City) friends that even they do get lost. This certainly made me feel less like a tourist.

One of the long anticipated stops was at Carlos Slim’s private art collection. Should I stress this even a little more? Carlos Slim is the richest Mexican and the richest man in the world. The Museo Soumaya has a collection of over 66,000 pieces of art. The majority of the exhibits consists of European works from the 15th to the 20th century. It also holds Mexican art, religious relics, and historical documents and coins.

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Right next to the museum is a shopping mall (owned by Slim, too) that features a couple of Dali’s on the ground floor, too. (I assume they are not real, but who knows?) One thing is for sure, that’s the fanciest accessories a mall can have!

We then jumped into the car again and basically crossed town until we ended up in Coyoacán to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum. I wished I had more time to explore the neighbourhood. Coyoacán seems to be like an oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Mexico City. It felt like a quiet village, far away from everything. The streets were neat and clean and colourful houses and flowers and trees were simply eye-candy.

It was great to explore the Frida Kahlo Museum and to dig a little deeper into the life and mindset of this fascinating woman.

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I think I’d like to end this post with one additional thought. There is no doubt about the many challenges cities like these face. And there is inequality – it’s visible! You just need to open your eyes. But as with so many things, it’s a fascinating place with so many faces. Of course, having lived in London for some time and having been brought up in Austria I am used to things just working smoothly and hell, signs everywhere (you need to have been on the roads in Mexico to know what I am referring to). But there is a reason why it’s not only the capital of Mexico but also the capital of Latin America: Arts, culture, music, festivals, food, lifestyle – you name it.

– Catherine

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5 thoughts on “Culture and the city: Mexico City

    • I want to start off by saying that my experience with Mexico City is probably different to those who go there as “tourists”. I have very dear friends there who took me around. But I also spoke to them and other foreigners who live there about how dangerous it is and if they have ever had troubles. One thing is true there too, there are places you just don’t go to. I think the centre is quite ok and there are even tourist buses that take you from one place of interest to another. I think as with everything, as long as you do it responsibly it’s going to be ok. My friends for example never take public transport because it’s not safe. But most taxis are. Hope that helps!

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