One memory, that David and I re-tell over and over, was booking our first impulsive, international Thanksgiving vacation. I remember flying to Istanbul , awed by the flight’s generous food and movie options, looking at David and thinking, how thrilling is this?! In a few hours we would land in a completely new country, and experience a total adventure together.
I love Thanksgiving, but I also love the time and flexibility the holiday offers for international travel. We’ve been talking about Mexico City for years. Finally, this fall, with the dual forces of an expiring Southwest Companion Pass and my parent’s babysitting generosity, we committed to a trip.
Our vacation began Sunday night when Jackie and Jeremy kindly let us stay at their house. It was so nice to see them and catch up in their beautiful home, and it made the early trip to the airport much easier.
As we flew over Mexico City, I could not get over the city’s massive size. We got so excited flying over Chapultepec, a park we were eager to check out when we arrived.
Over the next four days, the city continued to dazzle. I couldn’t get over the energy in the city center, the incredible food, historic architecture and overall VIBRANCY everywhere. There was a lot to amaze, like:
Casa Decu: Travel daydreaming is my favorite “hobby,” so our vacation roles are generally neatly divided: I research and reserve, and David navigates when we arrive. This time, David found the hotel, and it was just right. Casa Decu is on a quiet street, is bright and new, and breakfast each morning on the rooftop was a peaceful way to start the day.
The Condesa neighborhood: We were total tourists, and stayed in the Condesa neighborhood. It is not surprising the neighborhood is such a tourist hot-spot. With restaurants on every corner, tree-lined paths, and quiet streets with families and bicycles, it is a beautifully calm oasis in the middle of the thriving city.
Taco Tour! On Tuesday, our first full-day, David booked an afternoon walking tour with Club Tango Hambre. Our guide, Marianna, is a chef, and thoughtfully guided us through the city center’s street food.
We explored the Mercado San Juan and sampled juicy tropical fruits, mezcal, agua frescas and more.
I discovered I love nopales, and began ordering pretty much anything with them.
Of the 10 (!!) tacos we sampled, my favorite discovery was the was tlacoyo. A handmade blue corn tortilla, filled with beans, quickly pressed, with nopales, cilantro and cheese sprinkled on top. I keep looking at this photo wishing I could will it to appear in real life. That good.
ALL the restaurants. This was, hands down, our best food trip. Every meal was incredible, from the street food to fancy multi-course dinners. We made a reservation at Rosetta, and it was a beautifully romantic dinner.
Contramar lived up to the hype (yes, that is a whole fish). We also had incredible ceviche at De Mar a Mar, where we caught up with David’s awesome cousin, Tanya.
A few other favorites: Taqueria El Greco (incredible al pastor tacos), Pasillo de Humo (delicious Oaxacan soup), Fonda Mayora (the best breakfast pastries) and El Cardenal (a warm old school restaurant just off of busy Zocalo). Just realized, that’s all the restaurants we tried-they were all that good.
Bosque de Chapultepec: I love a good dose of shinrin-yoku, and the lush Bosque de Chapultepec was the perfect place for a forest bath.
We saw a fraction of the massive park and still walked for miles, admiring the trees and stunning castle views.
The juxtaposition of the hyper-modern skyscrapers along La Reforma against the trees below the historic castle was quite a sight.
Churros!! El Moro was just as delightful as everyone says and I only regret that I neglected to buy more chocolate while exploring the city.
Quality time: This was our longest trip together (four days!) since we became parents and it was SO NICE. We saw a lot, but we really didn’t run around trying to see everything. We took our time in one museum (Bellas Artes), got dressed up and relaxed at restaurants, and walked along the Paseo de la Reforma.
I heard an interesting parenting tip on a podcast recently. To survive parenting small children, the writer shared one recommendation: “keep your world small.” I completely agree. I’m definitely a better mother when I maintain minimal expectations, keep plans simple, and focus on delighting in Diego’s daily antics and our cozy life at home. This advice, of keeping your world simple and close is crucial for survival in those early months…and in later months, when sleep is still minimal and life gets demanding.
This is one of the strange challenges of motherhood. Staying close makes for good mothering, but there’s a whole person beyond that mother. At my core, there’s a desire to explore, to seek out information and new experiences. To know there’s a large and dynamic and diverse world-and to be a part of it. To be completely honest, prior to this trip, part of me worried I would never tap in to that side of myself again. That I would never travel, experience different cultures, visit a completely new place. In retrospect, I realize that was totally irrational, but I need an experience to counter that fear.
The four days expanded my world, brought David and I much needed time together, and helped me feel more like myself. It may be years before we take another trip like this-it requires generous childcare help and is an indulgent expense-but the peace of mind and shot of energy it provided is immeasurable.
And the best part? Waking up Friday morning, refreshed from the trip, to the sound of Diego peaking out of his pack-n-play, calling “Mama! Mama!” I couldn’t wait to scoop him up. I’ve felt much more clear-headed and Diego-focused than before we left. I’m grateful my world got a little bigger, but so thankful to be home in our cozy world together.