An early morning arrival, dealing with practicalities, check in and familiarisation of the area around our hotel and transport links.
Friday. July 30th and my AeroMexico flight touches down at Terminal 2 in Mexico City. It is some stupidly early hour in the morning and the city is in darkness. Thankfully I have slept almost all the way and even ate the awful breakfast because I had no idea when next food was coming my way and we had a day from hell planned.
Once I got through customs, picked up my luggage I had to find my way across to Terminal 1 and meet Josie who was coming in from New York on a slightly later flight. Then together we were going to the hotel, dropping all our luggage and trying to find the ticketmaster desk where we had to fetch our tickets for the folk Ballet. Once we had done that we had to turn round and head back to the airport to meet Julia who was landing at around 11:30. Once done our aim was to collapse by the pool and not move till the sun went down.
TOP TIP. Although the airtrain is only accessible if you have a boarding pass it is unmanned early in the morning so take your chances and try get on it if you can if you need to travel between the terminals. Josie also blagged our way on it later in broken Spanish, with puppy dog eyes and pleading (no threatening voice) later when we went to fetch Julia.
Josie and I dared to catch the metro bus to our hotel and with the help of the conductor who asked a police officer to let us know when to get off we managed to arrive without a problem. Hauling our luggage the few blocks we arrived at our hotel with a huge sigh of relief. Offloaded our luggage and started to hunt down breakfast.
BE AWARE. There are three exists at T1 arrivals. Try and find out which exit your friend is coming through and don’t stand at the wrong one for ages like I did.
As we left our hotel we turned left and headed for the Plaza de la Republica. X on the map below marks the spot where we found Mexico’s equivalent of a greasy spoon. It was still early and the the restaurant was open but quiet. We grabbed the picture menu and I pointed at the eggs with beans and Josie managed to order an omelette. It came with bread, coffee, fruit and juice all for around £10 if my memory serves me right. Perfect for hungry tourists on a mission to find TicketMaster and work out the metro so we could meet Julia.
I think I was tired because our walk felt like miles and miles. My feet were sore and my head throbbing but the outside air a welcome relief from the air-conditioned cabin of my metal cocoon in which I had spent the last 11 hours. Mexico City was coming alive, noisily. Ticket Master did not reveal itself easily and I shall have to ask Josie to remind me how we worked it out in the end but it was a kiosk hidden behind some desk in the entrance to what looked like a shopping mall. The good news was it was also near a metro so once our tickets had been claimed we were off to meet Julia.
Take note. Two women. Tourists. Walking around the most dangerous city in the world and we were still standing. Now we were about to head into the bowels of the city down below and risk it all on the metro. We’d not even hesitated. Neither of us gave it much thought to be honest. Our first mistake was, however, to think we could go to the physically closest metro and walk to the airport. Yeah right, through the bus terminal which was out of something indescribable. Rickety busses everywhere, people coming and going and no idea whether there was a major highway between us and the terminal. We got back on the metro and headed to the OTHER terminal hoping to find the airtrain I had used early that morning.
Darn it was manned. Not put off Josie engaged her best Spanish and pleaded with the two women who must have felt so sorry for us, or threatened they waved us past. We soon found Julia, grabbed a taxi and headed back to our hotel. Check in was swift. So we headed to our rooms and donned our costumes. We were heading to the pool deck for a drink and dunk.
Earlier in the day Josie and I had also managed to fit in a walk to the Hilton Hotel were our first restaurant was located. I wanted to book a table given I’d been unable to do so by phone. Our booking was for 6pm so we had a good few hours relaxing quietly by the pool and refreshing ourselves in the cool waters of the pool.
El Cardinal was one of the recommendations made by Doran, Josie’s friend. She had promised me he was as much a foodie as I was and so I had high expectations. The view could have been better (there was not one!) but the food, OMG the food! Whilst we were looking at the starters we were brought these sauces and warm wraps with cheese and avocado. So much of it we gave up on the starters. This was our first discovery of the amazing avocado leaf dip. I was in heaven. Julia and Josie were salivating and we were struggling to chose our main dish.
Food & Drink. The El Cardinal we went to was based in the Hilton Hotel and thankfully I thought to walk along there as we found it closed at 6pm and a reservation was advised otherwise we would have arrived far too late for our dinner.
In hindsight I think we could have just eaten the appetisers (or whatever they were) all night. This was an amazing introduction to the delights of Mexican food. BTW we walked from our hotel to the restaurant and back again afterwards. At no time did we feel threatened or concerned. I was beginning to wonder what the fuss was all about, Barcelona was more intimidating than this. Well here we were, day one over and with full bellies we fell into bed and slept.
Josie’s scrapbook page for today: