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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in mexico city
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Mexico City (Spanish: México, Ciudad de México, or DF (de effe)) is the capital of Mexico, and one of the world's largest and most populated cities.
Mexico City is so large that it is best to think of it in terms of several smaller regions. Many older towns like Coyoacán and Tlalpan got merged into the urban sprawl, and each of these still manages to preserve some of its original character.
Mexico City, one of the world's largest and most populated cities, forms a rough oval of about 60 by 40 kilometers, on the dry bed of lake Texcoco, surrounded on three sides by tall mountains. It's a massive urban sprawl, stretching from the state of Mexico in the north, through the federal district (Distrito Federal), and into the state of Morelos in the south. Estimates place the population of the full metropolitan area at somewhere between 25 and 30 million people.
The Distrito Federal part of the city, which is where most tourists will spend the majority of their time, is divided up into 16 delegations, similar to the boroughs of New York, which in turn are divided into "colonies" (colonias), of which there are about 250. Knowing what colony you're going to is essential to getting around, almost all locals will know where a given colony is (however, beware that there are some colonies with duplicate or very similar names). As with many very large cities, the structure is relatively decentralized, with several parts of the city having their own miniature "downtown areas". However, the real downtown areas are Centro, the old city center, and Zona Rosa, the new business and entertainment district.
Mexico City has a (partly undeserved) bad reputation, both in terms of crime statistics, air pollution, and more contrived issues, such as earthquakes. However, crime levels are down over the last decade. Today, crime rate is about that of cities in the US, but skewed away from violent crime and homicide. As in most large cities, there are areas that are better avoided, especially at night, and precautions to take, but Mexico City is not a particularly dangerous city. As for air pollution, Mexico City is considered one of the most polluted in the world - some days it may choke your throat; other days (particularly on Sundays) it is barely noticeable. Pollution is at its worst in the hot, dry season in spring, from February to May, when there are days when it becomes bothersome even for people without respiratory conditions.
Mexico City's night life is like all other aspects of the city; it's huge. There is an enormous selection of clubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, and variations and combinations thereof to choose from. There is incredible variation, from ultramodern lounges in Santa Fe and Reforma, to decades-old dance halls in Centro and Roma. There are also pubs in Tlalpan and Coyoacan and clubs of every stripe in Insurgentes, Polanco, and the Zona Rosa.
Many famous places are dominated by the middle and upper classes in a very clear-cut way, which might be a good or bad thing depending on your outlook. Prices and location are a good key to who is allowed in; expect to be waved off at the door if you don't look like the crowd. Many places have an unwritten dress code and will discard you in a minute if you speak or act "naco" (low-class). Looking like a foreigner, especially if you look American, Canadian or European will usually get you into the expensive places, if you're dressed right. Once inside, people might be curious about you as a tourist, but expect to be left alone if you came in alone and are unable to draw a crowd by charm, ability, or generosity. Girls are conservative when one gets down to it, and guys draw crowds by attitude and by joining up with friends in the crowd.
Most travellers arrive to Mexico City by air, to Benito Juárez International Airport (http://www.aicm.com.mx) (MEX), located in the eastern part of the city. There are frequent flights to and from most larger cities in the Americas, as well as Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, and Frankfurt.
In the arrival hall, be prepared for a lot of people. Families often pick up their loved ones at the airport and the hall is rather small for a city of its size. Carriers will offer you to carry your luggage. This is a service supported by the airport officials and is safe - they will be uniformed with white shirts and dark blue pants, and carry a wheelie (or keep it nearby) with the union logo on it. There is no fixed price for this service, but 15-25 pesos should be fine. The airport has a system of licensed and secure taxis (yellow with black airplane symbol), where you buy a ticket inside the airport (ask the wheelie guy for a "Taxi Seguro", or "Boleto de Taxi" and he'll take you and your luggage to the ticket counter), and hand it over to the cab driver outside. Be sure to get the detachable piece of the ticket back. Prices range from 5 to 25 US dollars for the taxi service, depending on the size of the car what zone of the city you are going to. Although the official airport taxi service is safe, be sure to check that you get a ticket for a proper sized car. A drawing of a car on the ticket will tell you what type of car the ticket is valid for. The ticket vendors are known to sell more expensive tickets for huge vans to single persons with moderate amounts of luggage. The airport is not located in the best area of the city, so it is not recommended for tourists to walk out of the airport area to look for cheap taxis. Despite this, the alternative Taxi sitio can be reached by using the overpass located outisde of Sala D. The taxis here are about half the price of the official taxis and are considered secure - this is the sitio that is set up for the airline employees. Another option if you are looking for a more economical means of transportation and you're not carrying too much luggage, is to take the Metro which is next to the airport terminal (to the left when coming out). Realize that the Metro has it's own risks - muggings and robbery are a danger so be aware of your surroundings.
If you get absolutely lost and you are far away from your hotel, hop into a pesero (mini bus) or bus that takes you to a Metro station (http://www.metro.df.gob.mx/red/index.html); most of them do. Look for the sign with the stylized metro "M" in the front window. From there and using the wall maps you can get back to a more familiar place. If you are in downtown area you are always close to a metro station, but the line stops at the National Auditorium, so hotels in Santa Fe are only reachable by car.
The city's subway system (http://www.metro.df.gob.mx/red/index.html) is one of the most used in the world, transporting millions of people every day. It's relatively quick and efficient, especially as an alternative to taxis during rush hours, and extremely cheap (tickets for one trip with unlimited transfers within the system are about 2 pesos). However, trains are often filled to capacity, and it can be hot and uncomfortable. There are also incidences of pickpocketing. The metro is most useful when your destination is on a metro line you're already close to, to minimize train changes. In those cases, the metro can be the absolutely quickest way to travel longer distances within the city.
One of the main disadvantages of the metro system is its lack of information. This is especially true for tourists who don't speak Spanish. Mexico has the bad habit of assuming that everybody knows how to get around without signs or maps. A few stations are not in good shape and their signs have been destroyed, so be sure you get information on which stations you have to use before hopping in.
It's quite likely that you will encounter poor people trying to sell stuff inside the wagons. Act as if you were used to them. Often they advertise their merchandise with songs. It's quite amusing, but don't laugh... they don't know it sounds so funny.
One important thing about the Metro is that, from start to finish, one should look businesslike and look as uninterested as if you had done it every day for twenty years; many people on the system do just that. The place is, after all, a working system and not an attraction.
It`s good but very crowded.
All large avenues in the city have regular buses. There are two general types of buses, the "peseros", or "microbus", and the normal-sized ones. Both types usually use the same bus stops. Generally, the full-sized buses are more comfortable, since the peseros have much lower ceilings. Peseros cost 2 pesos for shorter trips, and 3 for longer (6 km+) trips. Full-sized buses are 3.50 pesos for shorter trips, and 4.50 for longer, with the exception of the orange state-run buses, which are always 2 pesos (note that these don't give change, you either pay with exact change, or more than the actual price).
Buses can be packed during rush hours, and you have to pay attention to your stops (buses make very short stops if there's just one person getting off, so be ready), but they are very practical when your route aligns with a large avenue. If it does not, be prepared to get down at a moment's notice, since you can get very, very lost in five minutes of ride. There's usually a button above or close to the rear door to signal that you're getting off; if there isn't one, it's not working, or you can't get to it, shouting Baja! in a loud and desperate voice usually works.
There are several trolley bus routes. They usually do not get as crowded as regular buses, and they are quite comfortable. There is a flat fare of two pesos (20 cents), and bus drivers give no change.Buses are a regular use of transport in Mexico, especially Mexico city.
The more than 250 thousand registered cabs are one of the most efficient ways to get around, especially outside of rush hours, and prices are low, a fixed fee of about 6 pesos to get into the cab, and about 0.7 pesos per half kilometer or 45 seconds thereafter, for the normal taxis (taxi libre). The night rates, supposedly between 11 at night and 6 in the morning, but this may vary with the cab driver's mood, are about 20% higher. Some taxis "adjust" their meters to run more quickly, but in general, cab fare is cheap, and it's usually easy to find a taxi. At night, and in areas where there are few taxis, cab drivers will often not use the meter, but rather quote you a price before you get in. This price will often be high, however, you can haggle. If you don't agree on the price, don't worry, another cab will come along.
Catching cabs in the street can be dangerous, since free-range cabs are not accountable to anyone. Taxi robberies, so-called "express kidnappings", where the victim is robbed and then taken on a trip to various ATMs to max out their cr cards, do occur, but there are some general precautions that will minimize the risk:
Established in June 2005, the Metrobús operates in a confined lane on Insurgentes. Plans exist for additional routes. It costs 3.5 pesos to ride during the day. After 11:30 or so, it's 5 pesos. There are stops approximately every 500m. Expect it to be very full at any time of the day or night.
Downtown Mexico City has been an urban area since the precolumbian 12th century, and the city is filled with historical buildings and landmarks from every epoch since then. It is also known as the City of Palaces, because of the large number of stately buildings, especially in the Centro. In addition, there's an exceptional number of museums in the city.
Do visit lots of prostitutes. They need the money.
Mexico City is famous among mexicans for its huge malls, streets like Presidente Mazaryk offer high cotour stores.
You can find almost any kind of food in Mexico City, both specialties from all regions of Mexico, to international cuisine. Vegetarian alternatives are commonly available in most larger restaurants. For those who want something familiar and safe (but probably rather bland in comparison to what else is available), most international food chains have franchises. There are also Mexican chains that can be assumed to be safe and similar no matter where you are, including Vips, Toks, and the most traditional, Sanborns. If you're on a budget, you can also try one of the myriad of "comida corrida" restaurants (set menus). Most of these offer very good food, and it is usually safe. Most office workers eat in these places.
Also there are stands selling tortas (filled bread rolls) or tacos, but caution is advised since some places may lack the necessary hygiene. If you feel like trying this, look for places with lots of people, popularity is generally proportional to quality.
For a quick snack you can always try a tamal bought on the street or specialized shops, accompanied by atole, which is the breakfast of the humble on their way to work. Shopping malls will offer a respite of international franchises mixed with local chains that may offer interesting fare.
Argentinian and Uruguayan food is what happens when Italian cuisine meets large steppes suitable for ranching cattle. The result is some of the world's best steaks, huge portions of extremely tender beef roasted over charcoal, often with pasta, provolone cheese, and various fried potatoes as starters/sides. The traditional condiment is chimichurri - minced parsley, garlic, shallots, and various other herbs and spices in olive oil.
Mexico has seen several waves of immigration from Asia through the last 100 years, and every ethnic group that comes to Mexico eventually makes its way to Mexico City. Asian restaurants are abundant, and the quality is good (Korean, Japanese and Chinese are most common, Indian, Thai and Indonesian can be harder to find).
The typical Mexican place to go to drink is the cantina, a bar where food is usually free, and you pay for drinks (exact policies and minimums vary). These serve a range of Mexican and foreign drinks, prices are usually reasonable compared to prices in the US, and you'll be continually served various Mexican food, such as tacos. If your tolerance for Mexican music (mariachi or otherwise), smoke-filled rooms, and lots of noise is low, however, this might not be your kind of place. Cantinas are open moderately late, usually past midnight at the very least.
In addition, there are bars of the kind most travellers will be used to, many of these play a combination of Spanish- and English-language rock, electronic music, and some Latin/Caribbean music. These also close around 3-4.
There are clubs, falling into three main categories, pop, rock and electronic music. The pop places generally play what's on the music charts, Latin pop, and sometimes traditional Mexican music, and are frequented by a younger (sometimes very young) audience, often more upper class. The rock places play rock in the wide sense, in English and Spanish. Most people are at least over 18 in these places. The electronica clubs, which attract everyone from Mexico City's large subculture of ravers and electronica fans, of all ages. Some of these clubs have a strong upper-class bent, check the crowd outside before you enter to see if it's people you enjoy spending time with. Most clubs close late, 3-4 at the earliest, and some are open until 7 or 8.
Around the Zocalo there's a club called "Pervert Club", which is overpriced and generally quite empty, even on a Saturday night. Your best bet is to head for Zona Rosa, which has a large number of street bars with rock bands playing and a large selection of clubs. One of the best clubs "Africa" is reasonably priced (after the entrance fee) and plays a great selection of latin and English pop. They also provide african hats and balloons for everyone's entertainment!
The other common Mexican-style thing to do when going out is to go dancing, usually to salsa, merengue, rumba, mambo, son, or other Caribbean/Latin music. This is considerably more fun if you're a somewhat competent dancer, but even complete beginners who don't mind making fools of themselves will likely enjoy it. If you are single, this is an excellent way to hook up with someone; Mexicans will generally take pleasure in teaching you basic dance steps. Most dance places close late, 3-4 is common.
Travel in Mexico City is generally safe. Much of your travel within the city will be done via public transportation or walking. Mexico City is an immensely crowded place, and with any major metropolitan area, you can expect a few bad apples.
Plan ahead - know where you are going and how you will arrive. Mexico City is quite hospitable, and people who work for hotels and other hopitality oriented businesses will help. This will help in avoiding confusion, becoming lost or stranded.
Protect your personal information. There are many pick pockets in Mexico City. Purses and bulky, full pockets are quite attractive. Do not keep your passports, money, identification, and other important items hanging out for someone to steal. Use a money belt or place these items in a hotel safe, or or tuck them away inside your clothes.
Do not show money in front of others, this generally atracts pick pockers.