We left San Francisco at 1:10am Wednesday morning, and by 5:30am (7:30am local time), we were standing in line at the Mexico City airport waiting to throw our fruit away at customs.
After meeting our driver, and plowing through morning rush hour traffic, we checked into the hotel and took a deep breath. Do we sleep now, or do we power through with no sleep to make the most of our first day in this foreign land? We were filled with excitement, and decided to power through after taking advantage of the complimentary breakfast of fruit, pastries, cheese, salmon, juice and coffee.
Per our typical traveling habits, we sought out the nearest park. Luckily, we could see the largest one in town, Chapultepec Park, as well as the castle that sits at its crest from the breakfast table. With our destination in sight, we strolled down Paseo de la Reforma, the main boulevard that connects the park to the historic center of town, and entered the park at the Monumento a los Niños Heroes. From there, the Gran Avenida circles through a lush landscape dotted with monuments, museums, park benches, and lakes at the base of Chapultepec Hill. Once we made it into our green comfort zone, we set goals. First, we would climb to the castle, and then we would make our way back to the lake.
As we approached the castle driveway, a security guard waited next to a bag check tent. Signs indicated that admission was $47 ($3.50 USD) and bag check was $10 (75¢ USD), but it was not obvious if either was required to climb the hill. After all, our goal was to see the building and the views from the top; not to go to the National History Museum that occupied the interior. Once we figured out that we did not have to pay at the security check point, we struggled to talk to the guard. We thought he was telling us that we had to check all of our bags, including our cameras which didn’t make sense. He actually just wanted to peak inside our bags to make sure we didn’t have any knives. We didn’t, so we made it through and climbed the hill.
At the top, we found a second security checkpoint and a ticket booth keeping us from the castle and its terraces. After purchasing tickets, we approached the second guard who took a more thorough look through our bags. Apparently, gum was not allowed inside, and she made me throw out a nearly full pack. I figured it was sacrifice I was willing to take for the sake of keeping an historic building beautiful.
Within seconds of walking through the entry gates, we were both glad we did. The gardens and terraces themselves were worth $47, not to mention the museum collection (with descriptions only in Spanish), castle building, rooftop terrace, murals, stained glass windows, butterflies and 360˚ views of the city.
By the time we finished at 11:30, there was a line of tourists waiting to buy tickets, and we were thankful that we decided to go early.
On our way out of the park we did explore around the lake a little, but were too tired to enjoy it. We will be here for two full weeks, and our plan is to go back to rent a paddle boat and eat ice cream.
We had lunch enchiladas on the way to our hotel that were delicious, and then fell asleep as soon as we got into our room. For dinner, we had room service while draped in fluffy terry cloth robes and then slept soundly through the night.
For more amazingness, check out Nik’s blog post too: