Dara: Last year Mexico City was the New York Times‘s #1 Destination of the Year, and it SO deserves that top spot. It’s really really cheap, and it’s really really fun.
TJ: Another thing that I love about it in terms of LA asst lyfe logistics is that it’s great for a 3-day weekend – you can get most of the things done in the city in that time and it’s only one timezone away so there’s no jetlag, and no time zone adjustment needed.
Yea, we only took one day off for this trip (Friday) and just committed to what we wanted to do and how we were gonna do it. Our flights were Friday at midnight (Thursday night) and Sunday at like 8pm. So we actually got those full three days in.
Okay backing up to the beginning of planning the trip – Dara’s been subscribed to this email list called Scott’s Cheap Flights for months, and we’ve been waiting and waiting for the right deal to come up.
(Side note: I highly recommend you all subscribe!!! The deals are amazing!!!)
So like a month ago, we were at LACMA on a Sunday for the sole reason that Dara wanted to take pictures in “the noodles” before the exhibit got removed. And as we were waiting in line, she got an email from Scott that was about cheap tickets to Mexico City for the spring.
Now at this point in our discussions about what we wanted to do for Valentine’s Day weekend, we were pretty set on a ski trip because I haven’t gone in a really long time and also wanted to teach Dara.
For the record, I’ve only snowboarded, and I don’t really enjoy snow or the cold so I may have possibly already been looking for a way out of what would have felt like an expensive trip, including ski rentals and lift tickets and an AirBnB. So when I got that email about super cheap tickets to the very warm and sunny Mexico City, for the same weekend we were already planning a trip, it definitely did not take any convincing for me to switch up our plans.
It really didn’t take me any convincing either. The only reason we didn’t immediately buy the tickets right then is because we were, you know, in the middle of LACMA.
But we ended up getting them in the middle of a bar during a Golden Globes party so I guess that really wasn’t that much of an excuse.
Well anyway, we bought the tickets the day we heard about the deal and booked a room at a boutique hotel the next day.
Flash-forward a month and we went straight from work on Thursday to the airport. Our flight left LAX at midnight and landed at MEX at 6:30am. After an hour and a half (god-awful) of waiting to go thru customs, we went straight from the airport to the bus station where we hopped on the first bus to Teotihuacan.
To give credit where credit is due, we are super grateful to travel blogger Becky Pokora for her write-up on visiting Teotihuacan without a guide. We basically just followed it to a tee, including her lunch recommendation of La Gruta – the nearby restaurant in a cave – for lunch.
But anyway, a play-by-play rundown of this trip would last pages and pages and pages so here are some highlights/tips/tricks.
1. Always write something aspirational in your accommodation’s “Special Requests” section when booking. Dara wrote that it was our first time in Mexico City and we were here for Valentine’s Day. As a result, they gave us the penthouse suite despite us only paying for a lower-level suite.
2. Ask the locals for recommendations. We got great advice for food to eat and bars to go to just by asking whatever hotel employees were hanging out in the lobby. Also, if you feel safe, wander off the beaten path. We walked a bit out of the main tourist areas of the city and ended up having a night out at a cool local bar where we chilled on a rooftop patio then danced to Latin house music.
If you’re someone as adventurous as TJ, you may also find yourself in a local, hidden warehouse marketplace eating scorpion.
3. If you are over 21, you MUST go to the Museum of Tequila and Mezcal. It was AMAZING. The price of admission comes with lots of really good free alcohol that they teach you how to sip it properly as you look out over the famous Plaza Garibaldi. It was a relaxing spot for our last sunset in the city.
3. Another can’t miss tourist destination: The Museum of Anthropology. It’s the largest and most-visited museum in Mexico, and an incredible look at humanity. With dozens of life-scale replicas and 100s of artifacts, it’s truly a spectacular place to walk through and I highly recommend for everyone.
4. Just to rattle off a few more recommendations: sunset at the top of the Monument of the Revolution, Night at the Palace of Fine Arts and San Juan Market (eat some bugs!), dinner at Limosneros near Zocalo, an entire day in Chapultepec, and brunch at Contramar in the Condensa (they have incredible Aguachile). There’s so much to do. And if you go for more days, you should definitely go do Frida Khalo things or visit Xochimilco (the Mexican Venice) too, both places we would have gone if we had had more time.
But I would say the most memorable part of the trip for me was it’s ending. Or really about 2 hours before its end when, in the taxi to the airport, I realized I had purchased our flights back for the wrong day. How? No clue, my friends. But neither TJ nor I caught my mistake until I tried to check us in to the flight and couldn’t…because it was more than 24 hours away.
If we were lucky enough to not be assistants, maybe we would have just extended our trip for a day, but that is not the situation we were in. I needed to work the next day.
But luckily for us, we had shown up to the airport early and I was able to exhaust all the Spanish I learned from elementary through high school to exchange our tickets for the flight leaving at the time we wanted that night.
I was honestly and truly impressed with how easily Dara just spoke to the woman in Spanish and figured it out.
And I am honestly and truly impressed that TJ didn’t seem to want to kill me at any point through the whole endeavor. Though, I did buy him a couple nice bottles of tequila and mezcal from the airport to make up for it.
That did definitely help the situation, yes haha 🙂
So yea, everything turned out fine in the end and we got home just in time enough to get 6 hours of sleep before heading back into assistant mode the next day at work.
More pictures in the gallery below!
Cost report: $$$$*
FLIGHT (INCLUDING ALL FEES): $264/EACH
HOTEL: $245 (for the biggest penthouse suite)
Ground Transportation: $25 (Ubers and taxis around town)
FOOD: $100/each (for a bunch of 4-5 star meals… for three days!!!)
Roundtrip bus tickets to Teotihuacan & Entrance Fee: $8.5/each
Tickets to the Museum of Tequila and Mezcal: $10.50/each (including 2 free margaritas and 3 shots)
Tickets to the Monument of the Revolution: $3/each
Tickets to the Anthropology Museum: $3.50/each
Tickets to Chapultepec Castle = $0 in the last hour it’s open
*Though this is about $20 bucks into the $$$$$ category, you could easily do this trip cheaper by not getting a regular hotel room and taking public transportation