Mexico Trip Day 2: Hot Air Balloon at Teotihuacan, Mexico City

PSX_20200119_225229Teotihuacan in the Morning

After sleeping for less than three hours the night before, I woke up at 5am sharp and brushed my teeth, preparing for a pickup at 5.30 am in the hotel lobby. Three days before departing from Montreal, I have booked a hot air balloon ride in the Teotihuacan pyramid, costing me around CAD$ 230. I have always loved seeing landscape from higher perspective, and the lack of reflective glass on hot air balloon makes it a perfect way to enjoy the scenery from the top. This is my third hot air balloon ride, the first one being in Cambodia and the second one in Laos last year.

PSX_20200119_225349A Cloudy Sunrise in Teotihuacan Pyramid

A minibus was waiting for me three minutes early and there were already three other people inside it. We did a stop at another hotel downtown to pick up two other passengers before driving for another hour to the site where we have to do registration and being assigned to our balloon. The whole process is very organized, and they served hot coffee and tea while we are waiting for the balloon to be pumped. When the sky turned slightly blue, the organizer started calling our names and introduced us to the pilot who will be with us for the whole ride.

PSX_20200119_225741Looking Down from the Hot Air Balloon

DCIM100GOPROG0025542.JPGPreparing to Take Off

The departure and landing were smooth and done professionally, so safety is not an issue for my organizer, Mexitour. This is contrary to the experience I had in Laos, where our balloon hit a tree branch while trying to land. After one hour in the and having captured many decent shots of the pyramid and landscape, we landed about 2-3 Km east of our departure site. There, a minibus is waiting to drive us back to have breakfast, where we were served a mix of international and Mexican foods.

PSX_20200119_230008Landscape from the Hot Air Balloon

PSX_20200119_225607Teotihuacan Pyramid from the Air

After the ride, we were being offered two options. First, to go to the Teotihuacan pyramid (entrance fee not included), or second, to go back to the city. I chose the later, as I will have a guided tour of the pyramid tomorrow as a part of my whole Mexico tour. It was around 10.30 when I arrived in my hotel and showered. Funny thing is that I wasn’t sleepy at all, despite sleeping only for 4 hours on the plane two days before and 2 hours the night before. Feeling refreshed after showering, I decided to walk to the Zocalo, which I already visited yesterday, and further explore the presidential palace and Aztec ruins behind the Metropolitan Cathedral.

PSX_20200119_230336Zocalo in Mexico City with Metropolitan Cathedral on the Back

There is a long line to get in the Aztec ruins, but it moves quickly and orderly that within 15 minutes I was already entering the site. Moreover, there were some sort of festival on the square, where native people were wearing traditional clothes and blessed people passing by, which entertained me during the wait. The entrance was free on Sunday and there is a baggage check on the entrance. The whole archeological complex is bigger than I expected, taking 30 minutes of slow walk to exit the place.

From my conversation last night with the local youngsters, they suggested me to go to Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico for its architecture and have a brunch at a rooftop bar nearby. So, I went to the hotel, which is 10 minutes away but unfortunately the rooftop terrace was prohibited unless you are going to have a US$40 brunch package there. The fee was fair, but I wasn’t that hungry back then, so I look for another rooftop terrace on the west side of the Zocalo. There, after waiting for 20 minutes to get a seat on the patio, I finally gave up and decided to go to the Revolution Monument by taxi.

PSX_20200120_060436Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico Interior

PSX_20200120_060515Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico Roof

After riding over 10 taxi in the city, I learned that there are two types of taxi in Mexico City: those who have pictures of the driver in the backseat window (an honest one), and those without (the scam one). I happened to be on the scam one on my way to Monumento de Revolucion. The taxi meter (fee) increases much more rapidly and the driver was trying to fool me by saying my destination to google maps, pretending that I’m locked only to that destination. When I realized what’s happening and my meter cost me MXN 300 (US$ 17), I asked him to pullover and said I will walk to my destination (it was already close to the monument). Since he doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish, we argued and he asked for another MXN 100, arguing that he will have MXN 400 if I get out at the monument instead of MXN 300 that I gave him already. In the end, after raising my voice in the argument, I decided it’s not worth it to argue with him and bolted out of the vehicle. Bottom line is that in Mexico City, you want to ride a taxi with the driver photo glued on the window. And don’t get me wrong, 80% of the taxi ride I did was pleasant and fairly priced (cheap according to Canadian standard).

PSX_20200120_060749Monumento de Revolucion

PSX_20200120_060644Lunch at Cha Cha Cha Rooftop Restaurant

After walking for 5 minutes, I arrived in the monument but decided not to get in due to timing issue. I have done my research and concluded that the panorama from the top of the monument is not as good as the one from Torre Latinoamericana I did yesterday. So instead, I went to Cha Cha Cha restaurant located on the top floor of the building across it, also recommended by my local source. The restaurant has a great view and ambience, service and food were also great. I had a ribs and tortillas, which cost about $30 in total and was large enough that I couldn’t finish it even on a hungry stomach.

It was 15.30 when I finished my lunch and still have one more destination on my “to visit” list. It was for National Museum of History that I missed yesterday when visiting Bosque Chapultepec. It was raining and I didn’t bring my raincoat, so the walk/hike from the park entrance to the castle-like building was quite strenuous. Moreover, the museum is closing at 17.00 and it was already 16.20 when the taxi dropped me off. I managed to tour around the museum for 20 minutes and found the famous hallway with stained-glass décor before the security started pushing people out.

PSX_20200120_060917Museum of National History

PSX_20200120_061023Museum of National History

PSX_20200120_061234Museum of National History

PSX_20200120_061302Museum of National History

When I exited the park, there was no “honest” taxi around, but my eyes caught the metro station nearby. So, I headed underground and bought my one-way ticket to Balderas station. My overall impression is positive: the metro was crowded, but it felt safe to me. I walked back to my hotel from the station, arriving just on time for my 6pm meeting with my group. After a short briefing, we went out for dinner at a local Mexican restaurant five minutes away. And so it begins, my tour to other part of Mexico in the next 7 days.


About Journeyman

A global macro analyst with over four years experience in the financial market, the author began his career as an equity analyst before transitioning to macro research focusing on Emerging Markets at a well-known independent research firm. He read voraciously, spending most of his free time following The Economist magazine and reading topics on finance and self-improvement. When off duty, he works part-time for Getty Images, taking pictures from all over the globe. To date, he has over 1200 pictures over 35 countries being sold through the company.
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1 Response to Mexico Trip Day 2: Hot Air Balloon at Teotihuacan, Mexico City

  1. lulu says:

    Any time a hot air balloon ride is an option, I take advantage. There is something magical soaring above the ground in one.

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