Once you’ve traveled to several different countries, especially those within the same region, they start to blend together. For example, when I traveled throughout Southeast Asia, it seemed every country had the same temples and statues. This is why every country I go, I’ve tried to find 5 unique places or things that make that country stand out from the rest. This list is solely based on my experience and may not cover certain well-known traditions or tourist sites.
Estadio Azteca- Nothing highlights the significance of soccer in Mexican society like the famed Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Home to the Mexican National Soccer Team, this stadium has hosted everything from World Cup Finals to American National Football League Games. It was also home to the infamous “Hand of God” goal when Argentina’s Diego Maradona scored with his hand to beat England in the 1986 World Cup Quarterfinals. The stadium also sits at about 7200 feet above sea level, giving Mexico a true homefield advantage during its matches.
Lucha Libre- If you combine the chaos of WWE Wrestling with the exquisite story telling of a Broadway play, you get the art of Lucha wrestling. Both Arena Mexico and Arena Coliseo in Mexico City host various Lucha Libre matches throughout the week. During my trip, I went to Arena Mexico and sat got a front row seat for around $150 Mexican Peso ($7 USD). The arena was modern, and I was treated like a celebrity. While the commentary is in Spanish, you can still enjoy the experience if you don’t happen to speak the language. If you go, you will save a lot of money by buying tickets directly from the ticket booth and not through third-party booking sites.
Puebla de Zaragoza- Located about 100km southeast of Mexico City, Puebla de Zaragoza is viewed as one of the most important historical cities in all of Mexico. Puebla was the genesis of the popular holiday Cinco de Mayo as it celebrates the French defeat by overmatched Mexican forces during the Second Franco-Mexican War in 1862. Contemporary Puebla is still able to bear its historical roots whilst becoming a modern-day city. To get to Puebla, you can take one of the buses leaving the Terminal Del Norte bus station in Mexico City. The trip itself takes about 2 ½ hours on an air-conditioned bus and costs about $180 Mexican Peso ($9 USD). In Puebla, you can find many restaurants and shops in the central square. There are also many full-day and half-day city tours that are based outside of the park.
Tortas- As someone who lived off of Cuban sandwiches in college, tortas were indeed a pleasant surprise. These are small sandwiches that filled with meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato (or ketchup), and mayo. They are grilled to perfection and are sold by street vendors throughout the country. When bought on the street, they can run you between $20-40 Mexican Pesos ($1-2 USD). They are a great food to fill yourself up on the cheap.
Tenochtitlan- Once the capital of the ancient Aztec Empire, the pyramids of Tenochtitlan are visited by millions of people a year, whether local or tourist. Located about 50 km north of Mexico City, the Pyramid of the Sun is the most visited landmark of all the temples. The entrance fee is $57 Mexican Pesos ($3 USD) and gets you access to both the Pyramid and the surrounding temples. Be warned, this is an extremely popular attraction and you will be forced to wait about 2 hours in the blazing sun as there is a line to get to the top of the main Pyramid. Throughout the park there are local vendors selling various Azteca artifacts for decent prices.
While Cabo San Lucas wasn't my favorite place, it is hard to argue with the beauty of an early morning sunrise on the beach before it gets invaded by tourists.
In a twisted sense of irony, the cheapest way for me to get back to the United States involved spending a week in Cabo San Lucas, one of the more expensive cities in Mexico.
For $150 Mexican pesos or $7 USD, you can get front row seats to a Lucha Libre Royal Rumble in Mexico City.
Lucha Libre can best be described as a hybrid between WWE wrestling and Broadway storytelling. While there are plenty of high flying kicks and body slams, there is always an underlining story that usually reflects contemporary issues in Mexican society. This particular night featured the Mexican protagonist getting all that he can handle by the villainous Donald Trump loving American. However, as this video shows, sometimes the fans can get TOO into the action.
The historic city of Puebla, located 100 km southeast of Mexico City, is best known for being the location where Mexican troops defeated a superior French Army in 1862 during the Second Franco-Mexican War. The date itself, May 5th, is significant because it serves as inspiration for the popular holiday Cinco De Mayo.