We attended the World Cup 2014 in Brazil last month. We follow the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) and my next few posts will be about the places we visited and activities we did on our journey.
We flew to Brazil via Mexico City. We left in the morning of June 17th and arrived in Mexico City right when Mexico was playing Brazil. The game ended up in a draw which was good news for Mexico!
They had set up a giant viewing area at the Zocalo square in the center of the city. The mania, energy and passion for soccer (or more appropriately football) in Latin America is astounding and soccer is truly a religion here. As they say, you die a thousand deaths watching soccer. Anticipation, anxiety,excitement, joys and disappointments all within the span of 90 so minutes.
We stayed at the Best Western Majestic (Avenida Madero 73 | Col Centro, Mexico City 06000, Mexico) which was a block from the square and right in the heart of the historic center of Mexico City. Our room overlooked the square and yes, it was noisy but the view was spectacular and the location was so ideal.
We visited the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, which is the largest cathedral in the Americas and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico.
The cathedral was built over a span of 2 centuries and combines 3 architectural styles-Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassic. The end result is striking and glorious. You can read more about the cathedral here.
From the Cathedral, it was a short walk to the beautiful Museo Nacional de Arte (National Museum of the Art). It was evening when we got there and the museum was already closed. The elegant exterior of the museum and it’s gorgeous gardens gave us just a hint of all the lovely treasures that must lie behind those ornate doors.
We walked to the pedestrian zone next and got caught in a tropical downpour. We took shelter at a Dunkin Donuts store and witnessed a street brawl that grew to involve 3 police cars and multiple policemen! It never got out of control and we always felt safe.
We ran in the rain to the nearest restaurant and had a cosy dinner. I started the night; in honor of the WC, with a caipirinha -Brazil’s national drink which is made with cachaca (sugar cane hard liqour), sugar and lime.
I had a delicious chicken tortilla soup. It is basically a chicken soup which is combined with roasted tomatoes, onion, garlic, chiles and served with tortillas which are cut into strips and fried. It came with sour cream, avocado, fried pork rinds and cubes of asadero cheese. The cheese was mild tasting and melted wonderfully over the warm soup.
Mark had chicken enchiladas Verde. An enchilada is traditionally a corn tortilla which is rolled around a meat or cheese filling and topped by a chili sauce. Enchiladas Verde (green) gets it’s color from tomatillos (green tomatoes) and green chilis. It was topped with queso fresco (white cheese) and sprinkled with cotija cheese which is similar to parmesan. It was muy delicioso and I highly recommend this especially if you like sourish tasting dishes.
It was not a fancy restaurant; really more of a chain restaurant but the diners were so friendly, the staff so accommodating, the food warm and delicious on that cold, rainy night and it was one of my favorite dinners on our trip.
There was a travel agency in the hotel lobby so we were able to arrange a private tour to the Teotihuacan pyramids the next morning. It was the only feasible way to see the ruins on a tight schedule.
We left at 7 am and it took us 1.5 hrs to get to the ruins. We drove for part of the way on the Pan American highway- a network of roads measuring about 30,000 miles in total length. It connects almost all of the Americas except for a 60 mile rain forest break called the Darien Gap.
I loved it that we were; for just a short while, part of this amazing network of cars and people crisscrossing the magnificent continent. I had read so much and dreamed for so long about traveling on this highway.
We arrived at the ruins early and there were only 2 other people at the Pyramid of the Moon when we got there. It was an amazing privilege and opportunity. We have been to multiple UNESCO sites and I can honestly say that your enjoyment of a historic sight is very clearly impacted by the number of people visiting.
Teotihuacan or “‘the place where the gods were created’ was built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D. There are 3 main structures-the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Sun and the Moon pyramids which are laid out in a geometric and symbolic pattern. You can read more about Teotihuacan here.
There are fantastic views of the valley and it may not be as dramatic as some of the other ruins in the world but it is definitely worth a visit mainly because of the scale.
We had heard so much about the dangers in Mexico City but we felt very safe there and I loved it. It is a thriving,cosmopolitan and beautiful colonial city with lots of exciting and cultural activities and a destination that I would definitely return to for a more lengthy exploration. Viva Mexico!