Our very 1st day in Mexico City was all about paying tribute to iconic Frida Kahlo at the Casa Azul, followed by lunch with the locals at Mercado Coyoacan, witnessing afterwards the Aztec sunset glory and flying high with tequila tributes to the aerial view of the bustling mega capital of Mexico from the 41st floor of the Torre Latinoamericana. On our Day 2, we were very much on the ground as we crawled the historic city centre and explored the same points of interest that we had a glimpse of from the astounding altitude. So make sure you’ve followed our trail on Day 1 here before embarking on our eventful discoveries of Day 2 in this vibrant capital city of Mexico.
Day 2 recommended itinerary in Mexico City
– Breakfast with locals at Café El Popular
– Walk around the vast Zocalo Square
– Metropolitan Cathedral
– Templo Mayor
– Lunch at La Opera Restaurant
– Palacio de Bellas Artes
– Sunset coffee at Finca Don Porfirio café
– Biblioteca Vasconcelos
One of the best routes to take to discover a new place is the culinary one. We regretfully tease those who prefer to stick to their ethnic dishes even when travelling abroad. Makes you wonder that if one is not ready to try local food, what good it makes in the first place to set foot out of the comfort of own home and the known meals? Stay in where you are then.
Not for us surely. Our gastronomic plan meant that we arrived nice and early at Cafe El Popular for the breakfast on our 2nd day in Mexico City. Serving countless city dwellers and visitors with freshly baked croissants, bread and an array of desserts to choose from, this café had an all-female staff behind the counter and on the floor. Especially unique was the way the waitress poured the coffee in our cups and the perfect balance of shades it created inside. Ditch the breakfasts in the hotel and start the day at the places where ordinary Mexicans come and eat.
A perfect way to burn the fulfilling breakfast was then to walk towards the iconic Zocalo Square. Early birds, early risers and eager cleaners were happily basking under the Mexican morning sun at the Zocalo Square. Unsurprisingly one of the largest city plazas of the world, Zocalo is officially called the Plaza de la Constitucion. A well-known landmark and iconic location of the Mexican capital, this grand square was once used as the ceremonial hub of the Aztec City of Tenochtitlan before the Spanish arrive.
Unlike many other open squares in other cities in the world, Zocalo has a massive Mexican flag in the middle and important historic buildings lined up along the edges. One such is the famous Metropolitan Cathedral which is the oldest and the largest in all of Latin America. After the Spanish invasion led by Hernan Cortes, the Aztec temples were destroyed and much of the stones from those temples such as from nearby Templo Mayor, was used to build the Cathedral.
Indigenous dance and performance by Aztec dancers can be seen regularly between the space between the Cathedral and the Templo Mayor. Colourful attires, loud and rhythmic beats accompanied with well synchronized steps continue to play a strange tune of sadness and pride. Standing on the very soil of their fore-fathers, contemplating at the turbulent episodes of history, witnessing the change in the vicinity (The Metropolitan Cathedral) and staring at the vast vacuum of the Zocalo itself – a pause to reflect will surely enable any visitor to listen to the unheard beats of history and cultural heritage that these dancers, also known as concheros, portray with their mystical dance form.
A few steps away was the awe-inspiring Templo Mayor (Great Temple) which was considered to be the main temple of the Aztecs in their capital city of Tenochtitlan, which is ofcourse Mexico City now. Unsurprisingly a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this mega-temple was constructed after 1325 and it was destroyed by the Spanish in 1521 so that they could use the material to build the Metropolitan Cathedral.
Aztecs considered the Templo Mayor to be the centre of the universe and the depth and breadth of the layered construction of the site surely makes one wonder about the magnitude and importance of this monumental location. The Templo Mayor is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 09:00am until 5:00pm and there is a fee of $70 Mexican peso per head.
By the time we finished the enthralling discovery of the Templo Mayor, it was time to appease the hunger gods. We did not leave anything for chance because we simply took an easy 10 minute walk towards La Opera Restaurant. Lavishly decorated with red velvet and ornate woodcarvings, this is a historic eatery opened in 1876. Along with the fine food, what makes this restaurant very special is the mark of the gunshot on its ceiling from the pistol of the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. A bit of history while you dine, no shots of bullets ofcourse, but shots of tequila surely!
Enjoying art in a full stomach is an amazing feeling. So we made our way from the Opera Restaurant towards the beautiful Palacio de Bellas Artes which is Mexico City’s most prominent center for arts, performance, exhibitions. We had a special penchant for the Mexican murals and we were beguiled by the marvellous murals by the likes of Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and José Clemente Orozco.
We then went to the 8th floor of the Sears Tower, just opposite the main entrance of the Palacio de Bellas Artes. We settled ourselves for some lovely coffee at the cosy Finca Don Porfirio café, overlooking a fascinating frontal view of the entire Palacio de Bellas Artes. A perfect location to enjoy a sunset while sipping some authentic Mexican coffee.
Last but not the least, there was more in our library of adventure and exploration. So from Palacio de Bellas Artes, we went to the surreal library called Biblioteca Vasconcelos. Covering a whopping 38,000 square meters, this gorgeous mega-library is no less than a scene from a science fiction movie. With bookshelves that look like bee-hives, mismatched floors and transparent walls – the library is certainly one of the unusually attractive locations of Mexico City. The library has five major sections which are dedicated to some of the greatest thinkers of Mexico – Ali Chumacero, Carlos Monsiváis, José Luis Martínez, Jaime García Terrés, and Antonio Castro Leal.
A breakfast with locals at Café El Popular, a walk around the vast Zocalo, Metropolitan Cathedral, Aztec Dancers, Templo Mayor, lunch at La Opera Restaurant, Palacio de Bellas Artes, sunset sip of coffee at Finca Don Porfirio café and some moments of reflection at the gigantic Biblioteca Vasconcelos. Another eventful day in an eventful capital. Keep following us to know more about our terrific experience on Day 3.0