Endless cultural activities, talented local artists/artisans, some of the best food in the world, twenty-one million people to befriend all with great weather? Welcome to Mexico City – not so far away from Canada but far enough to give you a refreshing culture change. Put this place on your list of travel wish list now! This city has SO much to offer and contrary to some areas outside the capital, is safe as long as you use general common sense (like in any big city!).
What do you know about the history of Mexico? A place founded by the Aztecs 800 years ago, it seems to be misunderstood in many ways. This isn’t Cancún vacationing – this is a cultural immersion in a country where the people are very proud of their distinct roots.
Let’s start with our experience on learning more about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera – Mexican artist royalty! This famous couple made headlines throughout their life in the 20th century primarily for their undeniable talent as painters but also for their intriguing romantic relationship. (Have you seen the movie Frida Kahlo with Salma Hayek? ) Muralist Diego was known for his political outreach in his artwork during the revolution. His murals were mesmerizing but also always told a story of society’s current situation. They couple was part of the Mexican Communist Party during the Mexican revolution. We had the chance to see some of his murals and artworks at Palacio Bella Artes. One of the most beautiful buildings in all of Mexico.
His wife, Frida, only gained serious international fame after her death in 1954. Her work was recognized for the emotional self-portraits she did that showcased her state of mind and life struggles. Visiting her house in “Coyaocan” neighborhood was an inspirational experience. You really got a sense of knowing her through the different creative outlets in her home. From her fashion choices (they showcased her dresses/jewelry) to the decor on her walls – her artistic expression was evident and abundant. No wonder, she is so loved by the Mexican people!
As you can imagine, there are plenty of other Mexican artists worthy of discovering. In fact, Mexican art has always been very popular in the USA but unfortunately, has not made its way to Canada in the same manner. The Ciudad of Mexico has dozens of museums that showcase their art, culture, and history. It is an endless journey of discovery and inspiring, to say the least. They are evidently very proud of who they are and what they represent.
The Anthropology Museum is considered one of the most beautiful museums in the world. It showcases their native’s history in a beautiful and peaceful setting. The architecture alone of the location was enchanting. The way the building is nestled inside a beautiful large park, we couldn’t help but be reminded of the MET in NYC in Central Park. A must see for anyone (i.e. you don’t need to like Anthropology!)
What about contemporary Mexcian Artists? Well, we visited the popular bazaar in San Angel on Saturday that showcased artisans and craftsman work. We were thoroughly impressed. Funny enough, we ended up buying pieces from a Father and Son (by accident!). Two distinct artists with unique work. In fact, they collaborate with the same gallery in Mexico (SoHo Galleries Merida). It is a family affair when it comes to Art within their family (the wife/girlfriend of both are also artists!).
JAAR (artist name) is the son of Juan C. Breceda, and we just loved their colorfully vibrant abstract artwork. They both studied fine art at university. Juan has been exposed in galleries around the world while the son was recently showcased at Miami’s Art Basel. A memorable experience to have met this talented family!
Artisans work in Mexico is widespread, colorful and beautiful. It is a visible part of their culture. What is not to like with handcrafted, durable, colorful items you can use and admire? We ate at a restaurant, El Bajio where they hung a mixed variety of some of Mexico’s best artisans work, and we just loved it. An inspiring way to wall decor!
Another awesome activity was the Ballet Folkloric that we admired at Chapultepec Castle. What a beautiful experience it was to be at the top of a hill (you have to be driven to the outdoor performance of the chateau) where you admire twenty dancers (male and female) express “Viva la Vida” in various culturally inspired costumes. It might sound touristy, but it was a lovely traditional experience that locals attend too.
Mexico city has endless neighborhoods to discover and enjoy. People are lively and friendly and seem to enjoy life. Even in the evenings, you can see them walking around as families enjoying the weather, eating, and shopping. If you are looking for something a little different – there are many day trips you can take just outside the city. We visited the famous destination of Teotihuacan – where 174 pyramids lie to be discovered. We had an exceptional guide who explained some of their histories which helped appreciate the experience.
Food ? Well, you probably know that Mexico is known for its fantastic food… Tacos, quesadillas, mole, it just does not end. We thoroughly loved our experience discovering the gastronomy from high-end restaurants to their traditional street food. But be careful with the hot sauce! If you are lucky, you might even get to hear mariachis during your dinner!
All and all – Mexico is comparable in size to NYC but also in spirit and abundance in cultural things to do. From the art to the food to the lifestyle; there is enough to keep you going and yearning to come back. Don’t hesitate to plan a trip to go!