November 6, 2006

Mexico City at a Glance

Mexico City is a pleasant assault on the senses of its visitor. The unique sights & sounds, tastes & smells can overwhelm you, and at the same time make you feel at home. As we drove around the city, I was surprised by how much I was reminded of Madrid in some places, and of Manila in others. It also has to be the most colorful city I've ever had the pleasure of visiting.

a Mexican Starbucks, isn't it so cute?!

This is a city of extremes. Which is expected from a country that is a product of a collision of two cultures that occurred when the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs in the 16th century. As time passed, the ancient civilizations of Mexico fused with the European culture of Spain. However, the local people’s struggle to regain its own identity is still evident to this day.

Boy, Mexico City is HUGE! It is home to 8,700,000 people and is currently the world’s third largest metropolis (after Tokyo and New York city). There are over 350 neighborhoods, most of which are overcrowded which inevitably leads to somewhat impoverished living conditions in most areas.

It is also the highest city in North America, with an altitude of over 2,200 meters above sea level. For this reason, many of us had difficulty breathing. I found myself almost gasping for air sometimes. This kinda freaked me out at first until I found I wasn’t alone and was told it had to do with the air being so thin and polluted.

So here I was in Mexico, I couldn’t believe it! I shared a room in the Camino Real hotel in Mariano Escobedo with my friend Katia, the bride-to-be. I was very impressed with this ultra-modern sprawling hotel that sits on 7 1/2 acres of land, and boasts of some of the best restaurants and bars in the city, as well as large rooms and excellent facilities. The hotel was massive, over 700 rooms in just 4 floors.

Businessmen taking an ice-cream break

So first order of the day was to grab some breakfast with Katia for some catch-up time, before going for her trial hair and make-up. We talked excitedly about the days to come; the plans for the wedding and the travel itinerary for the wedding party. Of the wedding party on her side I was the first to arrive, followed by about 15 other guests who flew in from the Philippines, Canada and England.

Each of us had a basket of typical Mexican dulces (candies) waiting for us in our hotel room, which was a thoughtful present from the groom’s mom. I dove into it like a mad woman, but not before I took this picture! I sampled all of them and picked my favorites, there were tamarind balls covered in sugar similar to our sampaloc, peanut balls (like a less-sweet version of choc-nut), polvoron, what looked and tasted like pastillas de leche (milk candy), and an assortment of nut & sugar clusters, marzipan, chocolate and dried fruit. What a treat! :)

Up next: Museum of Anthropology


joey said...

Looks great! I love hearing about your adventures :) And that collage is definitely colorful! Feels so festive there...

More, more! :)

p.s. it's great to have you back! I missed you!

wysgal said...

*SIGH* Last year my extended family was deciding on a cruise destination for the summer. My immediate family voted Mexico, but my cousins, aunts, uncles preferred Alaska in the end. Alaska is gorgeous, but I would have preferred to experience the flavors and colors of Mexico --- as can clearly be seen in what is likely just a small fraction of all your photos. =)

Anonymous said...

1300 photos? Wow, I haven't taken that many in my whole life. Probably not HALF that many. Oddly enough I am proud of you for limiting yourself to just those.


christine said...

Jo, I super missed you too! I'm looking forward to our afternoon of trading stories over chai. :)

Wysgal, I SO want to do an Alaskan cruise! But I figured I would save that for when (IF) I move to Vancouver. So you'll just have to do Mexico another day while I do Alaska and then we can trade stories too. :)

BD, seriously, I thought I would have like at least 3000! I was always worried about running out of memory and not being able to free more space so maybe that's why I didn't take as much as expected. :)

kat said...

nens, bitin! more pics and stories please!

now i have to add mexico to my list of places to see!!!

Anonymous said...

wow, very vibrant... i never thought of mexico city as a place to go. that starbucks is the cutest.

christine said...

Kat, you have to go, you would love it! And relax ka lang hehe, I'm trying to do one post a day at the least. There is so much to post about that I'm afraid this is going to end up more like a photoblog than anything. :)

Ana, It's such a vibrant, festive city that you would be hard pressed not to enjoy it. Seriously! It was more than what I hoped for. :)

MrsA said...

Hi Nens! Welcome back! You havent missed much except for the Eb that everyone else (but me) went to. Lets hang out soon like this weekend k? I want to hear everythang

Katrina said... was the FOOD?! ;-) Seriously, I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories. The most I've seen of that country is the border at Tijuana, which doesn't count of course.

Anonymous said...

The Starbucks is so cute! I can't wait to read about Mexican food(as my experience with it is confined to our local Mexicali) Hehe.. :)

christine said...

Hi MrsA! Yes, let's! What about Saturday, same place as last time? Or anywhere. I'll call you to plan it. :) You gotta see the pictures of the wedding.

Katrina, I'll post about the food soon hehe. What was Tijuana like, is it true it's more like San Diego than any other town? I guess most border towns suffer from some level of identity crisis, no?

Hi Candish! Ok ok, I promise to write about it soon! :)

Leah said...

Nena! You have the wonderful gift for words, the
sensitivity of a child and the passion for travel that I can literally taste!

Bravo to you and your blog! I wish I had discovered this a long time ago.

When I'm down and depressed (as I am now), I have something to look forward to!

Now a fan,

christine said...

Wow, Leah, im so touched! Thanks girl, that gave me warm fuzzies. :)

Did you see the Macau post? Click on Index and scroll down for it. It's fun actually, this blog thing, it's like my online playground :).