After some incredible sightseeing at Casa Gilardi and Xochimilco, we’d had our next day planned out for some time. We’d heard the number one attraction you cannot visit Mexico City without seeing is La Casa Azul, or the Frida Kahlo Museum. It’s in the affluent neighbourhood of Coyoacán, and is where Frida lived for some time with her husband and fellow artist, Diego Rivera. You can see we’re sticking on the theme of vibrant colour here, and Mexico City is full of it. So, let’s dive on in.
The Frida Kahlo Museum
I’d strongly recommend buying your tickets as far ahead as possible for the Casa Azul, or the Frida Kahlo Museum. There were lines even for ticketholders, and they were much longer in the sun for those without. It’s very reasonable too, at around $20CAD per person. The outside itself is simply beautiful, with such a vibrant colour of blue visible from far down the street.
Kahlo’s house has been a museum since 1958, four years after her death. It is quite honestly one of the best museums I’ve been to. The curators have done an awesome job of keeping it intact, and it feels so authentic for it. Because usually museums are in a neutral environment removed from the artist or their dwelling, it’s never quite the same. But at the Frida Kahlo Museum, you’re literally walking around their home, reading and learning all about Kahlo and Rivera.
Upon entry into the grounds, I was struck by how beautiful and large it is. There is quite literally a Mexican garden in the large courtyard, full of fountains, cacti, plants, and colour. Funnily enough, in Mexico City, you have to pay an additional charge for photography at any major attraction.
Firstly, I was very touched at reading the stories of Frida Kahlo. I didn’t realize how badly disabled she was, having suffered multiple accidents. She was infertile, and had to wear a corset and artificial leg every day. With such an iconic image that focuses on her fair, face, and torso, I didn’t realize it was to distract from her disabilities. The museum has an amazing section all about her choice of fashion, and I had no idea how important it was to her to focus on colour in the top half of her clothes, as per Mayan tradition. You can see many examples of her clothes, many of which were hidden away by her friend until only 2004. In fact, multiple fashion houses have since launched dresses inspired by her corsets, including Givenchy.
Moving on through the grounds and into the rest of her previous home, you see many of her amazing colourful works of art. She focuses on themes of childbirth, fertility, and vibrancy. It’s interesting to see the rooms of her house also, including the bed she lay in while sick, and the kitchen she shared with Rivera. You can see her studio also, with the mirror from which she painted her self-portraits, and the wheelchair in which she painted. It’s an inspiring and moving museum, and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting Mexico City. You’ll learn more than you can imagine.
Coyoacán, Mexico City
Following a few glorious hours in the Frida Kahlo Museum, we explored the wealthy and very beautiful neighbourhood of Coyoacán. During spring, the whole city is beautiful, peppered with the lilac blooms of the surrounding jacaranda trees. The houses are absolutely divine, and I can see why such a prolific artist would have chosen to live in this area. The former home (and deathbed) of Russion revolutionary, Leon Trotsky, is nearby and equally well preserved. The houses are beautiful, and it’s hard not to photograph each and every colourful casa you walk by. I could quite honestly have spent most of the afternoon wandering around, if only there was more time.
You’ll often find adorable cafes and restaurants tucked away, with stunning decor and floral courtyards. We had a destination in mind, and wanted to check out the subsidiary of the Mercado Roma in Coyoacán.
Mercado Roma is what can only be described as a glorified Mexican food hall. Well known as a foodie destination, there’s a wide assortment of vendors selling a whole range of different foods. You can meander between the stalls and floors, choosing whatever you fancy to eat. It reminds me a little of New York’s Chelsea Market. The idea then is that you socialize on the benches and eat your food. We both had a sangria and pork buns that came with some tasty sides. It’s worth a visit if you’re in the area, although perhaps not the most authentic food you can find this side of the country.
Shuffling a little up the street before our next event of the day, we passed by an adorable coffee shop that needs a mention. Marketing itself as a cafe and ‘libreria’, Marabunta stocks a wealth of books that the customers were engrossed in. The staff are friendly, and the coffee delicious. Stop off if you’re nearby.
Lucha Libre, Arena México
This was most certainly another highlight I was looking forward to. I’d heard all about the lucha libre and how ridiculous yet fantastic it is to watch. We booked tickets at a Ticketmaster store near to our hotel for around $15CAD, although I’d advise haggling on the streets outside the arena for less. I believe the lucha libre is on every Sunday and Tuesday. The Arena México certainly isn’t the nicest area of the city, but it’s fine if you Uber in and out. In fact, it’s incredibly easy to get dropped off and picked up here. First thing’s first, you simply have to buy your own souvenir lucha libre mask!
You can pick them up for a more than reasonable $3CAD, and I have a rather unflattering purple design. You then show your tickets, have a quick bag check, and an usher leads you to your seat. Make sure to tip him! He can also get you sorted with a couple of cheap beers. Vendors also sell throughout the show. I will warn you now, the washrooms aren’t the nicest, so be aware.
It’s also pretty easy to get very good seats near the ring. Everything else that happens is ridiculous, and hilarious. Scantily clad women introduce each of the luchadores. Men in crazy outfits and boots bounce around in the ring. There are rounds, with the more elaborately dress luchadores coming out later on in the show. Members of the crowd shout Spanish obscenities as the luchadores. There may even be a grandpa luchador wearing his underpants. The rounds each take around ten minutes of practised gymnastic, comedic fighting. It’s well worth a watch for something a little different and extremely Mexican.
The lucha libre we went to was a family special and was finished by around 7pm. I’d be very intrigued to see what happens at the regular luchas!
Dinner at Páramo
Feeling well and truly hungry by this point and following a diet of beer, we got back to the hotel and had a quick Google of good restaurants nearby. One of the key recommendations is Páramo, in Roma. Roma is a very cool neighbourhood, and I presume even more so now following Netflix’s success with the movie of the same name. It’s packed with hidden gems from restaurants to chic bars and cafes for yuppies. Our Uber driver dropped us off at a doorway, with just a neon logo above the door.
The interior is beautiful, with a very chilled vibe. Lighting is dim with a cute string of rainbow coloured lights lifting the room to its glass ceiling. Oh, and the food. THE FOOD. Along with margaritas and mojitos, we weren’t entirely sure what the menu was listing. After a quick Google of some ingredients (just like at Lardo in Condesa), we chose. Sometimes, you just have to pick and hope for the best.
The tacos are phenomenal. The photos don’t do them justice, but I’m pretty sure I had a whole chicken breast on one of my pollo tacos. It’s an excellent restaurant with wonderful food, so add it to your Mexico City bucket list.
Another wonderful day in Mexico City! Where are your favourite spots to visit in this magnificent city? Which restaurants do I need to try next time I visit?