My primary reason for hitting Mexico City, to meet Fausto Alzati and be a part of his project to tattoo his book of poetry on people so it travels the world in a unique way. I first heard of his project and immediately got in touch with Fausto to start scheduling a visit.
This trip was a total spur of the moment, let's do it and not look back kind of trip for me. It took me a few days to sort out details, but once it was booked I started looking at the other things I would do while in the area.
Why You Should Visit Mexico (Mexico City and Puerto Vallarta top the list for me)
Mexico is an insanely inexpensive place to visit. After spending a full week in Puerto Vallarta (I'll write more about this soon) in January, I was prepared for the reverse sticker shock this time around. I recommend tipping above and beyond for great service because you can support individuals earning a living without breaking the bank. And you should.
Mexico City looks like any American city from the air. High rises and buildings blanket the city from a sky eye view. The flight in, however, showed that the city is surrounded by mountains. I was lucky enough to see this beautiful view before landing.
The vibe is relaxed, but busy. The primary area that I stayed in and explored is Roma Norte. It offers a wide variety of authentic Mexican food - not to mention trendy and upscale offerings from different cuisines including Sushi, American food, marvelous coffee, gelato, juicery, and more.
One note: if you plan to come here and want to take a tour, give yourself more than 3 days. I wish I'd stayed another day so I could make my way outside of the city to see Popocatépetl (which you can see in the distance in the above photo). Popocatépetl is an active volcano and a beautiful sight. I'm already scheming a return visit for this alone plus lucha libre matches in the city. These are two things you shouldn't miss.
Day 1 -
Staying in Roma Norte made it easily walkable to most places. There are taxis everywhere. And I do mean *everywhere*. This area wasn't full of tourist and I'm not sure if I saw another person visiting, to be honest. The neighborhood is very lively and friendly.
I used AirBNB for this trip and couldn't have been happier with the place I chose. Tip: Always read the reviews, always talk to the host prior to booking, and keep a list of common questions you ask to send in advance.
My first stop after dropping off my luggage was finding coffee (natch!) and if you visit Mexico City, I'd highly recommend you find the closest Almanegra Café and take the time sit for a while. They take great pride in every cup of coffee they create. (Always buy fresh roasted coffee in Mexico to bring home. Especially if you go to Puerto Vallarta. Ask me about the markets there sometime.)
I had both this lovely cold brew and a latte while visiting.
After coffee refresher, I took a walk around the neighborhood and down to meet Fausto for the first time. He was working on a tattoo piece on this lovely lady. His walls are covered with art that he has tattooed over the years, including pieces of his book. He regularly posts his drawings and art on Instagram.
Here are some of my favorite images from around the city the first day.
Day 2 -
The next day I had a tentative plan. Breakfast, seeing local attractions, and dinner/drinks at a local speakeasy I found on Eater. Lunch was unplanned but was such a great find. <3
One great thing about Mexico City is there is a huge park that houses Chapultepec Castle, Zoológico de Chapultepec and the Museo Nacional de Antropología. Sadly, the Castle was closed the day I visited, but I was able to visit Zoológico. Zoológico is free admission. I saw my first panda bear in person on this trip. I'm not normally a fan of zoos but I was happy to see my favorite animal in person.
I had these phenomenal rib eye tacos for lunch and for the life of me I cannot remember the name of the place or find it online. :P I shall hunt these down and report back because they were out of this world good.
Here are some of my favorite photos from the day.
In the photos above you'll notice a menu from Hanky Panky. This is a Mexico City speakeasy whose location is private. The only way to get a reservation is through their Facebook page. Once you've made your reservation you'll get rather vague instructions that will, if followed closely, lead you to the right place to gain entrance.
My lovely bartender and I talked a lot about Raicilla which is produced near Puerto Vallarta and isn't widely available yet.
The bar was a great experience, full of people learning to make drinks, having a good time. Beautiful settings, elegant bar and fantastic cocktails. You'll learn a thing or two and can request a unique drink to be made. Definitely a top of the list to visit if you go.
Tattoo experience & Fausto
On Wednesday, the day had arrived. I took it easy that morning as getting tattoos usually drain me pretty significantly and I wanted to have a bit of energy after for exploring a bit more before my flight home.
Fausto has a process with his book. Before arriving on Wednesday, I hadn't read any poetry that he had composed except online. I had no idea what my tattoo would be nor what it would say or where it would go.
Reading through each poem I found one that I'm still madly in love with titled "Math". I seriously wanted the entire poem tattooed on my body. It was difficult to pick one line, but it wasn't as difficult as I feared it was going to be.
Here's a shot of one of three tattoos I ended up with. Yes, three.
I chose another line from another poem because I couldn't let it go. Fausto was kind enough to indulge me. No photos of that at the moment. ;) Finally, I had some cranes added to my forearm. While they weren't in the style I was hoping for, they are beautiful and lighthearted.
Additional photos from the trip can be found in my SmugMug Mexico City gallery here. I'm interested in going back to the city sometime soon as I mentioned and if you have any recommendations, please let me know. If you know of any hosts or touring companies who would love to work with me, I'm interested in talking to them.