After 10 days in Mexico City, I had a lot of feelings for Mexico City. There were plenty of reasons to LOVE Mexico City but there were also plenty of reasons to not love Mexico City.
A little background:
I booked a ticket to Cancun on a whim after a week at the TBEX conference in Fort Lauderdale. After a week at an Airbnb in Cancun, read about that here, I had gotten enough recommendations to brave the big bad Mexico City. I was traveling solo, by the way. Which made it a touch more terrifying.
Luckily, after a weird boarding experience at the Cancun airport, I happened to make friends with a fellow traveler and we were able to meet up and do some sightseeing on my first couple days. (Thanks for hanging out with me Isabelle! Can’t wait for our paths to cross again!) This really helped to ease me into this city that I was very uneasy about. In hindsight, this was a great connection, because my hostel didn’t end up having a ton of people staying there during my time there, so I would have had a tough time finding travelers to explore with.
For the next month or so, I’ll be posting a lot about my experiences in Mexico City. Without spoiling too much for you, I’m starting with the most negative thoughts I have of Mexico City and working from there!
This is a two part series. Check out the other side of the argument: 10 Reasons to LOVE Mexico City! As you will notice, many of the items on this list are also on the other list. Read them both and you’ll see why!
10 Reasons to NOT LOVE Mexico City
I think Mexico City has more Starbucks than NYC. No, I am not exaggerating. This and the presence of American chain stores like Walmart and Home Depot, I found, really took away from the traditional Mexican experience. It’s difficult to get a true taste for a city when you’re surrounded by many creature comforts from home. I prefer to travel to experience local cultures, not to find my go-to spots from home in new cities.
I am going to talk about the safety topic in the next bullet, but this one is purely about the police. No matter how safe you started to feel, eventually you would get to a new street corner. And at that street corner, there will more than likely be a police officer in full riot gear, shield and all. It’s unsettling being bombarded with this idea of “safety”.
Many parts of Mexico City truly felt safe to me, but it was always in the back of my mind, and many times the front of my mind, that I was still in Mexico City. It was difficult to push out the rumors, the news stories, and the notion that Mexico City was and is dangerous. Although, it has had a strong push from the government and inhabitants to make the city more safe, there are still high numbers of crime, violence and other unthinkables. It is important to bare in mind where you are all times; this can really impact your experience.
Stay in the right neighborhoods
Mexico City, like all other major metropolitan areas, have good areas and bad areas. It is important to keep in mind where you are at all times in Mexico City. Having an awareness of your surroundings is extremely important in Mexico City, especially. I consistently had to listen to my gut on whether a street looked safe enough to walk through.
One number that Mexico City does beat NYC with is population. With over half a billion more people than NYC, Mexico City is congested. It is rapidly sprawling outward but much of the infrastructure of the city needs to catch up with its growing population. Although, in recent years, there has been a large push to improve the city’s solution and trash situation, it is still a defining factor of this city.
Some neighborhoods have forgotten they are in Mexico City
I stayed in the Condesa neighborhood, which is located in the same vicinity of the Roma and Roma Norte neighborhoods. These regions of Mexico City are basically Brooklyn copies. Hipsters rome free, everyone has a genetically modified dog, people roller blade, craft cocktails are on restaurant menus and weekend markets have products like home made soaps and quinoa burgers. These neighborhoods have almost lost the Mexican culture.
Quirky museum rules
I have never before seen so many museums that require a second fee to be able to take photos. Just raise the entrance fee and let everyone capture memories.
I never paid the fee, however, and took TONS of photos everywhere. It certainly wasn’t strictly enforced.
Anti selfie sticks
I think Mexico has a thing against selfie sticks. Which, when traveling alone, is a bit annoying. I don’t love handing over my expensive camera or iPhone to a stranger to snap a photo for me. All of the museums we went to either checked our bags for selfie sticks and held them at the front for us to pick up on the way out or we had to check our entire bags before entering.
The city is VERY spread out
With a dense population, this is a problem. It takes an hour to get anywhere. I wouldn’t recommend trying to see the city in a day or two. You would spend a lot of time in taxis or walking.
Beggars touch you
This was a new one for me. In my experience, beggars or street vendors will harass the crap out of you at time but I’ve never experienced them breaking the physical touch boundary. This was not the case in Mexico City. My arm was grabbed and yanked, my clothes were tugged on. I didn’t care for it and it kept me on edge.
Have you ever visited Mexico City? Did you like it? Love it? or hate it?