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Why I'll be heading to this sprawling, sleepless city once lockdown is over

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 26/05/2020 Geoff Dyer


The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a national shrine in Mexico City and one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Catholicism. © Getty The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a national shrine in Mexico City and one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Catholicism. We're all fantasizing about our first holiday after lockdown. For Geoff Dyer, it will be a trip to this Central American behemoth

There were two reasons why I never visited Mexico City. It was too big and too far. Small cities lend themselves easily to visits. You arrive in Amsterdam or Paris and start having a good time almost instantly, and feel you have got the hang of the place, geographically, by the end of the first day. However, these megalopolises seem impossible. 

Will you spend the whole of the first day just getting from the airport to your hotel? How do you get anywhere in Mexico City? Well, the answer is that, after a 12-hour flight, you get straight on another plane and fly somewhere more manageable, such as Oaxaca or Puerto Escondido. 

Gallery: 10 holiday destinations to have on your radar for your first post-lockdown escape (Harper's Bazaar UK)

After I moved to Los Angeles, all this changed. Mexico City was no longer too far; now it was too near. So near, in fact, that it was always getting put on hold while we went to more distant places – until my friend Joanna Hogg and her husband told us about the fabulous time they’d had there, after flying all the way from London. 

The size of the city doesn’t matter; you stay in Roma – as in the film. They even told us the exact room of the exact hotel to stay in. That settled it. We booked flights for three nights over Easter this year. 

Then the flights, like everything else in the world, were cancelled. There is a moral in this. Don’t live as if you are immortal!

Panoramic view of Guanajuato historic center with typical colorful architecture and cobblestone narrow streets © Getty Panoramic view of Guanajuato historic center with typical colorful architecture and cobblestone narrow streets How to see Mexico City, according to our expert

Our expert, Chris Moss, gives his top tips on how Geoff should explore Mexico City when he finally visits.

Visit an Aztec temple

According to legend, the Aztecs were told by a god to find a place where an eagle stood upon a cactus with a snake in its beak, and build their capital there. The Templo Mayor site, unearthed in 1978, might well have been the place. Its museum is superb and labels are in English. See the website here.

Calm, villagey Coyoacán

© Getty Much of Mexico City is overwhelming, but Coyoacán retains a calm, villagey feel. At weekends, craft markets and artists take over but its colonial-era streets are perfect for a stroll. Grab a late breakfast at the neighbourhood mercado (market) at the corner of I Allende and Xicoténcatl.

Frido Kahlo's birthplace

While you’re in Coyoacán, visit the Casa Azul (Blue House), Frida Kahlo’s birthplace and her home at various stages of her life. The colourful 10-room shrine-cum-museum displays some of her embroidered dresses, along with household objects and a few artworks. The queue can be long – book online for an allotted slot and stroll right in. See the website here.

Mexico City, Mexico - January 23, 2019: Wall by the entrance of the Blue House (La Casa Azul), a historic house and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. © Getty Mexico City, Mexico - January 23, 2019: Wall by the entrance of the Blue House (La Casa Azul), a historic house and art museum dedicated to the life and work of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Stroll along Roma's buzzing avenida

Avenida Álvaro Obregón in Roma is choc-a-block with funky bars and restaurants. Licorería Limantour is one of the best places for a tipple, being famous for its tequila-based cocktails. There are also several lively, cheap and cheerful taquerías, including Chetito. See limantour.tv and facebook.com/chetitomx.

Mexican cuisine at its best

Enrique Olvera is Mexico City’s superstar chef of the moment. His relocated Pujol is airier, brighter and a little bit greener than the original, with the same slick service and informative staff. Opt for the moles (sauces) and the seven-course tasting menu featuring ceviche, sea bass and spiny lobster zinged up by Mexican sauces, chillis and innovative elements such as habanero ink. The taco bar is cheaper if you don’t want to break the bank. See pujol.com.mx/en

Geoff Dyer’s many books include Paris Trance and Yoga for People Who Can’t Be Bothered to Do It.

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