Traveler: Hayal Koç – Business Owner, Art & Travel Enthusiast
What is your most unforgettable escape? I travel often and always find something I really love about each location. But a few of my trips stand out, and Mexico City was one of them. Most people just go to Mexican beaches and skip the major cities, but this one is worth seeing!
What was the purpose of your travel? Fun and adventure 🙂
With how many people did you travel? I was with 2 close friends whom I travel with often.
Where did you stay? At an Airbnb apartment in the up & coming and hip Roma/Condesa Area neighborhood. It’s a centrally-located neighborhood with Art Deco buildings, cool restaurants and bars and a relaxed atmosphere.
What did you most like about the trip? I loved the warm and friendly people, the color and culture evident everywhere and of course, the food! I was also pleasantly surprised by all the different neighborhoods, each with a distinct vibe and character, and the diverse architecture– grandiose in some areas, and more subtle in others. Although the city unfortunately grew too quickly, resulting in a chaotic feel at times and lots of traffic, the laid-back attitude of the locals seemed to lack the grittiness common in other large cities.
6.Could you share an unforgettable memory about the trip? We spontaneously decided to stop in Xochimilco on our way back from the Teotihuacan pyramids and it turned out to be such a fun detour! Xochimilco is a unique area just outside Mexico City that’s made up entirely of canals and chinampas (artificial mini-islands). The canals connect Mexico City to the smaller villages in the Valley of Mexico and enable farmers to sell their goods. Today, brightly painted trajineras (gondola-like boats) also take both locals and tourists on cruises of the area.
The best part is that it’s become a popular spot for celebrations and parties, so we sailed by many other boats with people dancing alongside mariachi bands, drinking and generally having a great time! We joined along, buying drinks and snacks from the many vendors along the canals. We had so much fun and laughed the whole way!
Your most surprising find during the trip? The art, especially the murals, were incredible. There are so many beautiful murals all around the city and the artwork is colorful and vibrant – just the way I like it. The sheer number of museums was also impressive – apparently Mexico City is the city with the most museums in the whole world!
Favorite restaurant(s) or food you have tried during your trip? I love Mexican food and because I was raised in California, I’ve been lucky to try many different dishes and flavors. I can honestly say the food in Mexico City was just delicious! A few of our favorites:
El cardinal – authentic Mexican food (Centro Historico)
San Angel Inn – beautiful garden courtyard, great food & nice ambiance (Coyocán)
Romita Comedor – excellent craft cocktails in a cool, lofted space (Roma/Condesa)
Maximo Bistrot – great neighborhood spot with a menu that changes daily (Roma/Condesa)
Novacento900 – popular, trendy restaurant in a beautiful setting (Polanco)
Gran Hotel de la ciudad de Mexico – A little touristy, but a perfect view of the main plaza
What are the must tries of the city? Definitely see the Chapultepec castle (also a nice view of the whole city), explore the Coyocán neighborhood (and of course visit Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul while there!) and bar-hop the Roma/Contesa neighborhood. Also make sure to relax in Lincoln Park in Polanco after browsing all the boutique stores and cafes.
Any hidden gems you could whisper to us? I’m not sure if it’s hidden gem, but Mexico City has so many different types of wine, tequila, mescal and pulque– I’d recommend trying at least a few of each!
Would you go back? Yes. Next time I’d like to spend a few days in Mexico City and then head to Holbox or Tulum on the coast.
Could you list a few of your favorite finds you came back with? A couple small prints of the beautiful murals we saw, a Taxco silver locket necklace, a colorful tablecloth from a local market and El Yucateco Hot sauce 🙂
Any tips that might be useful to know before going there? Check the weather – May-October is the rainy season. We went in late May, so our first day we were shocked when it started torrential raining out of nowhere. But we quickly realized that it only rains for 2-4 hours at a time (almost daily) but then clears up immediately afterwards. So we’d plan to be outside in the mornings and do indoor activities in the afternoons before it cleared up again to go out again at night. I’d also suggest using Uber and not hailing taxis on the street – many street taxis don’t use proper meters.
Next stop you would like to visit? So many! India, Iran, Japan, New Zealand…
What does traveling mean to you? Travelling means freedom, learning, growing and most of all fun! Travel also brings about acceptance and compassion – two things we desperately need in the world today. There’s a quote I really love – “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us”.