Saturday, May 27, 2006

Mexico City (El DF)

My bags are packed, I don't have to check out for another 45 minutes, and my friends are running late due to home renovation and car issues. What all that means is that I can kill some time with another blog entry :o)

I've been in Mexico City this past week for work and staying in the busy Hotel Presidente Intercontinental, a great hotel which merits a post in itself. It's only my second time in Mexico City (or "El DF" as some of the locals call it.. short for "El Distrito Federal") but this second visit has reaffirmed my love for Mexico and Mexican people.

This morning I realised that I've been in awe of so many cities now that I almost have a top 10 list of cities I'd love to live in. Mexico City is definitely on that list for the same reasons that the other cities are:


For me true diversity in a city is not about the percentage of foreign nationals or various ethnicity in the city, but about the diversity of the city itself.. areas which are different in their flavour, from their architecture to their residential, commercial, or industrial composition, sleepy suburban streets far away from the noise of traffic and busy nightlife areas heavy with booming sound systems and packs of beautiful people.

Mexico City has all of that. In fact it's bound to given that it's the world's most heavily populated city, full of various barrios, shopping districts and industrial areas stretching from the valley up into the surrounding hills.

I've only seen a small snapshot of Mexico City. I think you could live here for years and only ever see a fraction of the various areas.

One of my favourite areas is the quiet La Condesa, a leafy area of art studios and the peaceful Parque Espana and Parque Mexico which comes alive in the evenings when the area's bars and restaurants start to fill up.

Another nice area is Polanco, home to a lot of embassies as well as the interesting Anthropological Museum which shows the diversity of Mexico's many indigenous people. Polanco has some very trendy bars, a generous helping of Argentinian restaurants, and a feeling of constant activity.

Contrasting with Polanco and La Condesa is downtown, location of the famous zocalo and the arena for many displays of traditional healing ceremonies which people queue up on the zocalo for. It's also right here that the President celebrates Mexican Independance Day, waving the Mexican flag and shouting "Viva Mexico!"

Getting lost

Another thing I love about big cities is that there's always somewhere off the beaten track, always somewhere you can escape to if the 9 to 5 and relentless consumerism gets too much.

For me in Mexico City, La Condesa was that place.. always quiet and full of shops, restaurants and cafes that seemed to fit into the discreet nature of the place, never standing out too much but being there when you needed them. I'm sure there are many many other places that fit the bill in this city but like I said above, I feel like I've only seen a snapshot of El DF.

Nightlife and Cool, Interesting, or Beautiful People

Maybe I'm somehow shallow or prejudiced, but I think an area's image is improved a lot by the image of the residents and hanger outers of the area. In Mexico City there is a lot of diversity in the people and a lot of hip, odd, or beautiful people to awe you or suprise you.

With nightlife, nothing is worse than a place where going out means going to the same couple of clubs or pubs every weekend. I love big cities for the variety and continual development of the nightlife scene. Mexico City is full of clubs and bars for all musical tastes and social groups from posers to goths.


The style of life in international cities can vary because of their weather and geographical location. Unlike other cities on my list such as New York or Delhi, Mexico City avoids the extremes and remains comfortable all year round. The only issue is pollution but I've hardly noticed that in my time here (apart from seeing the smog hanging over the city some mornings from my bedroom window).

Ok it's time to check out now but I hope I've described some of the reasons why I love Mexico City and given a good picture of El DF :o)


Anonymous said...

I am glad you catched the city's spirit. This city is very ambiguos, nice and horrible, quiet and depends what do you want to see or where do you want to be. My favorite for a late late drink...Au Pied de Cochon.

Conor said...

I didn't get a chance to visit Au Pied de Cochon but I did like the lobby bar in the hotel. They have live jazz there regularly as well as a woman who plays tunes from famous film soundtracks on the piano.