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“Highly recommended”

Journeys Beyond the Surface Popular Culture Tours
Ranked #2 of 107 Tours in Mexico City
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Custom tours in Mexico City, Oaxaca and now IRAN!! Together, we create a private tour to expose you to the many social, political and cultural facets of Mexico City, exploring streets and neighborhoods in a way that is engaging and safe. By the end of the day, you will come away with a deeper and more complex understanding of this city that we love so much.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Activities for older children
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Highly recommended”
Reviewed September 6, 2012

My first review on Tripadvisor! Prompted by our gratitude to Mojdeh and Alvaro for making our visit to Mexico City such an unforgettable one. We've never used a city guide before either, but with just two days to explore a city as big and unfamiliar as Mexico City, and feeling slightly nervous about all the warnings about safety etc., we decided to contact Journeys Beyond the Surface. It was absolutely brilliant. Mojdeh helped us plan our two days by email beforehand, and then Alvaro our guide met us at our hotel the first morning and for 48 hours we walked through markets, travelled across the city by metro and bus, visited museums and sights, and learned so much about Mexican history, culture, and politics from Alvaro. He was always there to point things out, answer questions and discuss so many interesting aspects of Mexico City life, but never overbearing, a pleasure to be with from start to finish. And Mojdeh met us for breakfast on our second day and then took us around the neighbourhood she lives in at the end of the day; again experiences that we would never ever have had without JBTS. Worth every peso! If you're planning a trip to Mexico City, contact Mojdeh NOW!

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank Jill R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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442 reviews from our community

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  • English first
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English first
San Francisco
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Terrific Travel Tours!”
Reviewed September 4, 2012

My husband and I visited Mexico City for the first time and we both loved it! What an extraordinary metropolis, overflowing with culture, history, art, generous people, and great food. Its reputation as dangerous and smoggy is unfounded at least by our experience. I have to say that our good times were due in large part to Mojdeh and our two guides, Alvaro and Fernando. Mojdeh set us on the right path and provided good tips and suggestions. Alvaro took us on a city walking tour and opened us up to Mexico's culture and art. Fernando put into context the Pyramids of Teotihuacan and the many artifacts of the Museum of Anthropology. My husband and I learned so much more than if we had done it alone. They were both great guides and I would definitely recommend them. Two thumbs up!

Visited September 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Lily Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“ABSOLUTELY LIFE CHANGING!”
Reviewed August 29, 2012

My husband and we traveling to Mexico after Holidaying New York. We had done quite a few tours by then. This was by far the highlight of our trip. (even after spending another week on the Yucatan Peninsula).
Sergio was a wonderful, knowlegable guide who had a sense of humor. He is so passionate about his country and for me I got great enjoyment out of this. I had never been to Mexico before and have fallen completely in Love with Mexico City. So full of art, history and wonderful people. Sergio walked us through Diego Rivera's Murals and explained the panels one by one. This was a great way to understand the vast history of Mexico. HE also took us to the Square where he let us try street food, we went into the subway and saw some traditional dancing. One of the highlights was going to a market place and having lunch with him & a lot of mexicans, eating in a communal style. We let him order for us and the food was delicious. Our trip had been very efficiently organised by Mojdeh who was prompt and gave us trips for when we arrived which were invaluable.Mojdeh let us customise the trip and do the things we wanted to do and filled and also added places which we wouldn't of known about. One of the things on my bucket list was to Visit Frida Kahlo's house, which we did. I was so emotional about the whole experience that I'll never forget this tour. We really wanted to take Sergio with us on the rest of our holiday as he was a wonderful, passionate person who we just adore. Muchas gracias.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Lady_Rose_Oz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Fantastic guides and worth every penny”
Reviewed August 26, 2012

My wife and I are both incredibly satisfied by our hiring Journeys Beneath the Surface. We visited Mexico City in early August for 12 days (first time in Mexico and in D.F., el Distrito Federal, the sprawling capital of this enormously complicated and fascinating country). Neither of us speaks Spanish and we spent many hours beforehand on Tripadvisor and other web sites, poring over reviews and recommendations. For our first two full days, we decided to use a private tour guide and opted for Journeys Beneath the Surface, given that we have a special interest in art and we like the idea of looking for more than the usual tourist commentary.

From the beginning of contacting the owner, Mojdeh Hojjati, in early July and through several back and forth rounds of emails as Mojdeh dealt with our insecurities about not wanting to surrender control of our itinerary, wanting to see as much as possible, and not knowing what to leave out given that we only had two days in Mexico City (before we left to visit two towns in Guanajuato state), through it all Mojdeh dealt with our confusion and anxiety in good humour, and arranged for us to spend one day each with Alvaro Aréstegui and with Fernando Ledezma.

The afternoon we arrived in Mexico City, Mojdeh arranged to meet us at our B&B and took us around the streets of the Centro Historico for several hours, talking about the city where she has lived for the past 20+ years, and talked about her understanding of the dynamics of Mexican society, what I now see as a rich mix of different native cultures and ethnicities, overlaid with the enormous weight of sometimes brutal colonialization by the Spanish and the Catholic Church.

The following day, Fernando Ledezma, arrived to show us more fully around the Centro Historico. Fernanado has an incredible passion for Mexican history and has an encyclopedic knowledge of what seemed like every building, what it was originally built for, the role it played in Spanish colonial life and whether it played a role during the following centuries, during the the complicated history of Mexico's independence in the early 1800s, the foreign interventions by the French and the United States, and the tragic and stillborn struggle of the Mexican Revolution in the early years of the 1900s.

Fernanado then took us to Palacio de Bellas Artes to see the building whose construction began in the late 1800s as a Parisien opera hall, but was interrupted by the Mexican Revolution and finally completed in the 1930s in Art Deco style. We saw a range of murals on the 3rd floor, from Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, painted between the 1930s and 1950s. From there we went to the Palacio Nacional to see the very complex Rivera murals that told the story of Mexican history since the Spanish Conquest almost 500 years ago. Fernando went into all the murals in some detail, explaining the importance and story of each character, the relationship to other work by the artist and to the artistic and especially the political climate in Mexico at the time.

After a quick walk around the Zocalo to see the Museo del Templo Mayor and the Catedral Metropolitana, we had a delicious lunch at a seafood restaurant that Mojdeh recommended (who knew that Mexico City and Mexico generally would have such great seafood!). We then took a taxi to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, and spent our remaining time looking at three pavillions, the Mayan, Aztec and Coastal civilizations.

Fernando then took us back to the Centro Historico and graciously helped us find a herbal phamacy to deal with what seemed like a touch of altitude sickness.

Day 2 was spent with Alvaro Aréstegui, a different personality from Fernanado, but just as knowledgable about the country's rich history and art. We started at the Museo de Arte Popular, a museum of crafts and indigenous art from around Mexico, housed in an Art Deco fire station just below the Alameda park. This is one of the best museums that I saw in our brief two days in Mexico City and it was enormously more valuable for us to have a knowledgeable English-speaking guide like Alvaro to explain it to us. Alvaro trained as an artist, and his mother is indigenous, and he obviously enjoyed explaining the huge variety and uses of ceramics, textiles, wood, religious icons, etc., giving it all a context that humanized it and brought it alive to us.

We then took the subway to Coyoacan, the historic subway in the southern part of the City, which we happily report was a very easy experience. It was mid-afternoon and the collection of people and families, seemed no more scary than the Toronto subway on a weekday afternoon.

In Coyoacan, we had lunch around the Jardin Centrario and then spent the afternoon at La Casa Azul, the Museo Frida Kahlo, which seems to be a must-see for every tourist, us included. Not sure what to make of the cult of Frida, but there sure are hordes of Mexican and American tourists making the pilgrimage there. Again, Alvaro as a native Mexican who went to art school, was able to share the different perspectives that educated Mexicans have towards Frida and Diego, and their promotion of indigenous art.

Finally, Alvaro took us back uptown to our B&B, and we finished our 2nd full day in Mexico City.

In addition to paying Mojdeh for arranging the tour, we paid each guide 1400 pesos for an 8-hour day and we also paid for cab fares, meals, etc. It was a great bargain given what we received. As first-time tourists with no knowledge of Spanish, it makes so much sense to hire a knowledgeable guide to make smart use of your time help and find your feet in this fascinating and overwhelming city. We appreciate very much the chance we had to talk with Mexicans who are intelligent and willing to share their reflections on what culture, race and religion mean to the various strands of Mexican society today.

Mexico City no longer seems as forbidding and unknown as it did a few weeks ago. We look forward to returning to Mexico in a few years (after we work on our Spanish) and we will certainly happily consider using the services of Mojdeh and Journeys Beneath the Surface once again.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
Thank Andrewin0ttawa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California Hot Springs, California
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“" A great cultural experience"”
Reviewed August 17, 2012

This was my first time to Mexico City, although my husband had toured with Mojdeh two years ago. I had been aprehensive about visiting Mexico, but both Alvaro and Mojdeh put my at ease. I found both Alvaro and Mojdeh very professional and and informative. Alvaro was a wealth of information about the history of Mexico, its art, political figures and the struggles of the Mexican people. He took us to the Aztec ruins and the museum, explaining in detail about each mask, Aztec god, and the aspects of their culture. Moshde designed her tour around what aspects of Mexico City I would enjoy. We went to two local food markets and I was able to see how the local people live and go about their daily lives, even sampling the local fruits and having a blue corn tortilla filled with zucchini flowers from a local food vender. Mojdeh's and Alvaro absolutely made this trip a memorable experience. I would highly recommend this organization to any of my friends or family.

Visited August 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank Barb32140
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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