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Visiting Mexico City and confused...

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
St. Louis, MO
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Visiting Mexico City and confused...

I'm visiting Mexico City next week for the first time. I'm booking a last-minute deal I found that's really, really good. I have my choice of several hotels, etc.

I'm really confused as everything I read puts me into a further state of confusion.

One, I'm looking at the Hotel Galeria Plaza. It's located in Zona Rosa, which I thought would be great (those of us going are into culture, clubs, restaurants, things like that... all in our mid-20's). But I'm reading otherwise -- is there a better hotel we should be looking at? Price is no problem.

We want a safe place to stay, within walking distance to nightlife, restaurants, shopping, and reliable transportation to cultural sites and other parts of town. But like I said, I'm more than confused at this point.

Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

Thanks!

Whittier, California
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1. Re: Visiting Mexico City and confused...

Mix,

I don't see the why are you worried. I had the idea this was a good hotel (even it's now promoted here in LA area) and reading the reviews are avobe average. The hotel is also located close to the Paseo de la Reforma few blocks fron the Turibus stop (http://64.78.37.75/turibus/recorrido_turistico_df.html) and between equal-walking distance to the subway stations Insurgentes & Sevilla. Many shops and restaurants in the neighborhood, etc.

If you tell us the reasons of your concern we can give you other ideas. Also, if you do not have a pre-paid hotel reservation it'll be easier for you to move to another hotel.

KM

Clearwater, Florida
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2. Re: Visiting Mexico City and confused...

Galeria Plaza is a good hotel - and, compared to staying in Centro Historico (which I advise against), it's considered a safe location.

St. Louis, MO
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3. Re: Visiting Mexico City and confused...

In terms of safety, any reccomendations other than your normal street smarts that I'd need anywhere? (Keeping in mind I travel for a living so I'm used to most big cities, just never been to Mexico City).

From where the hotel is, any reccomendations on nightlife, dining, shopping within walking/short taxi distance? And as far as nightlife and dining, what should we avoid?

I really, really want to visit Plaza Garibaldi, but I keep hearing it's really unsafe, despite what I've seen on the travel documentaries... any reccomendations?

Acapulco, Gro.
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4. Re: Visiting Mexico City and confused...

KarlosMiguel has extensive knowledge of Mexico, and you can count on him. Spell out your concerns and he can surely help.

Mexico is the oldest, highest, largest and possibly the most cosmopolitan capital in North America. If you travel extensively, I think you'll like it and I see no special safety precautions over other major cities. Here in Acapulco we generally think Rome and Naples are more danterous.

Treat yourself to a stroll along Paseo de la Reforma to the Zócalo in the "historic center" of the city and/or to Chapultepec Park. Hop on a Turibus and see Presidete Masaryk street for international shops.

The "Zona Rosa" (actually Colonia Juárez, was "hip" in the 1960's but is a little seedy these days. I prefer the "Historic Center" which the Chicago tourist seems to be afrid of. You might like the art deco elegance of the Gran Hotel, the 30's style of the Majestic, or the economy of Hotel Catedral in that area.

Plaza Garibaldi might be fun, but it's usually crowded. I'd recommend you hire a driver at the hotel, have him wait and return you to the hotel, and hold on tight to your camera and bags.

Clearwater, Florida
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5. Re: Visiting Mexico City and confused...

I’ll offer the opinion that Mexico City is a bit more dangerous to maneuver – in many parts of the city – than your average large city (i.e., Chicago, New York, London, Paris, etc.). But, if you’re an experienced traveler you should know the signs to look for. Centro Historico is considered a zone that’s not considered one of the safe areas of the city, after dark, however. Crime there is something the local government and business owners there have warned about. Most of what there is to see/do in the city for most tourists is located away from that zone, and that’s another reason many people find it less-desirable. If you’re a colonial architecture buff, however, it might be a place to consider if you’re looking to change hotels.

Commenting on what to see/do isn’t easy when people you ask don’t know your likes/dislikes. So, I’ll recommend you check-out some other resources available here on the TA website, such as attractions, etc., which can be found by entering “Mexico City” in the search box at the upper left corner of this page. And both Lonely Planet and Moon publish guidebooks which I think are very helpful. These guides contain reasonably good maps which will help you maneuver the area. When you get to Mexico City stop at any newspaper stand and pick-up a copy of the weekly publication “Tiempo Libre” to learn of things of interest happening that week (it’s published every Thursday, if I’m recalling correctly).

I’ve probably been to Plaza Garibaldi 40/50 times during the past 15-years (I lived within an easy walking distance) and I’ve enjoyed it each time and, when one takes appropriate precautions, I think it’s okay to visit. You’ll find hundreds of local residents (and some visitors to the city) there on any given day. It does become more visited after dark as compared to the afternoon – and I think a nighttime visit would be best to experience it at its fullest. There will be few times, I think, that one would consider it “crowded,” however. There’s no other place like it in Mexico. There’s a good local market adjacent where you’ll find approx. 30 small restaurants offering everything from full meals to just dessert – you might want to check it out.

The recommendation to take a ride on the turibus is a good one. It provides a secure way to see many of the key attractions and you have on/off privileges at about 30 stops along the way. Service runs about 20/30 minutes between busses. There’s a stop near your hotel – adjacent to the Angel of Independence monument on Florencia/Paseo de la Reforma. What you see along the way that especially interests you, you can return on an independent visit to spend more time.

I’ll also offer a different opinion about the Zona Rosa – one more favorable. The zone hasn’t been the “high class” shopping area it once was, since the Metro was opened in 1968. Things then started to shift to Polanco. And, the zone did become a bit tacky in the years following the Metro’s opening. However, there have been two major developments in the past several years that have signaled a revival of the district, which, also, is still home to many corporate/government offices. Firstly, the district is now the city’s center for live entertainment. I doubt there’s another area where so much live music is concentrated. There are some outdoor venues where you can sit, drink/eat and listen to music ranging from Rock to folk to Mariachi. The second change is that the zone has become the center of gay nightlife in the city, and there are probably 10+ venues in the district. For the most part, the strip clubs are closed down and there are fewer t-shirt shops than there were a decade ago. It was a district that once resembled Bourbon St. in New Orleans, but now that’s changed . . . for the most part. It’s a good “people watching” zone – you can sit in one of the many sidewalk café’s and watch the parade of people pass by. There are also many restaurants and some hotels, all of which attract a “mainstream” patronage.

For a look at some of what you might see/experience when visiting Mexico City, including Plaza Garabaldi, have a look at some of the photo’s I’ve uploaded to online albums:

community.webshots.com/album/100625355twgwix

Enjoy the visit!

St. Louis, MO
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6. Re: Visiting Mexico City and confused...

Thank you so much for your replies!

To be more specific, what I'm really interested in seeing:

- Live music. I'm a professional musician and producer, and I would really like to experience as much local flavor as possible. That's why Plaza Gairabaldi came up.

- Nightlife. I'm a big fan of clubs, etc and would like to visit some great clubs that are safe and affordable.

- FOOD. This is a big one. I'm a foodie and really want to try everything I can. I'm not into the really expensive dining scene, but I'm really into trying as much local as I can. Thus markets, food stands, and local restaurants are important to see. I'd like to avoid getting sick but I also don't want to miss out on anything really unique.

- Shopping. Would love to shop for locally made art, crafts, etc. I also would like to purchase some liquor to bring back for my collection, so any reccomendations on markets, etc I'd be really appreciative of.

As far as taxis... How do you arrange for taxis to meet you? Does the hotel arrange this, and what's the cost I need to be looking for?

I do speak fairly good Spanish as it was my college minor... So I don't anticipate a language barrier.

Thanks so much for your information, this is making ahuge difference.

Whittier, California
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7. Re: Visiting Mexico City and confused...

Mix,

Let me try to go over your "checklist":

- Live music - Plaza Galibaldi is the best place to find the three most important musical genres in México: mariachi, jarocho and norteño. Arround 8:00 pm is when everything is firing up, specially Fri and Sat. As Acapulqueño said I'd ask a driver from the hotel to take me to Plaza Garibaldi and wait (IF you feel comfortable you could invite him to have dinner with you). There are some restaurants with music groups and next to the Plaza is the Mercado de San Camilito where you can walk arround and try the food sold there.

- Nightlife. The Zona Rosa has hundreds of places but you can also try Condesa and Roma sections (we call them "Colonias" not sections) for more places to go (maybe TripAdvisor search engine contains more info).

- FOOD. That area is full of places to eat. From national to international and not leaving behind the fast food (in case you miss the "golden arches".. just kidding!) but these are my favorites:

La Fonda del Recuerdo - Bahia de las Palmas 37 (http://www.fondadelrecuerdo.com) Do not miss the visit to that place and do not forget to try the "toritos" and, in case you love them too much, the restaurant has taxi service right there by the exit ;-)

El Café de Tacuba - on Tacuba St but don't recall the number :-( but sure any taxi driver knows!

Fonda de Santa Clara - Paseo de La Reforma 80 (from the original in Puebla)

Restaurante Arroyo - Insurgentes Sur 4003, Col. Tlalpan.

Tel. 5573-4344 / 4211 good Mexican cuisine, call for reservations and show times

Antigua Fonda Santa Anita - Insurgentes Sur 1038

If you want to try some Pre-Columbian dishes the Restaurant Don Chon - Regina 160, is a very famous place where you can find some celebrities.

- Shopping. There are many shops and liquor stores in the zone you'll be staying (Tequila 101: http://www.wpintertrade.com/Spirits/Tequila/el_jimador.htm). The handcraft shops in the Zona Rosa are a little bit more expensive but if you don't mind saving a few dollars and see more variety go to the Mercados de Artesanías (handcraft markets). In Mexico City the three most important markets in this category are Mercado de San Juan (Ayuntamiento St.), Mercado de La Ciudadela (close to Balderas metro station), and Centro Artesanal Buenavista (Eje 1 Norte).

"As far as taxis... " your hotel front desk or concierge can arrange the service for you. Here you have two more options for taxi service:

http://www.servitaxis.com.mx/index2.html (this company has different bases over the city)

http://www.taximex.com.mx/default.aspx

How are you doing now?

KM