Dia de los Muertos - Day of the Dead - is a Mexican holiday celebrated on November 1st and 2nd that honors the dead with festivals, colorful altars, flowers, foods, drinks, and activities the deceased enjoyed in life. The symbolic Day of the Dead calacas and calaveras - skeletons and skulls appear throughout the celebrations, most notoriously as painted faces. As you can see, we fully embraced this holiday. In the cities grand and sprawling Chapultepec Park (think like Central Park in NYC) we found a lively stall of face painters. Simply walking around with these masks elicited waves and cheers from locals, and inquiring questions from like minded travelers. We purchased Pan de Muertos (Dead Bread) and the symbolic yellow marigolds and visited the Panteón Francés de la Piedad ("French Cemetery of the Mercy") in Colonia Buenos Aires neighborhood and left them on the graves as our celebratory offering. Pan de Muertos is delicious by the way - a yeasty, sweet egg bread flavored with anise and dusted in sugar, it is only made in the weeks leading up to Day of the Dead.
I should also mention, Day of the Dead is not entirely how it's depicted in the opening scene of James Bond: Spectre as many would assume. The movie actually inspired Mexico City to host a parade for the first time this year (which we did not attend since it took place on Saturday 11/29 before we arrived.) A typical celebration sees families, friends and young children dressed up and out and about, making for lively streets and neighborhoods. The altars we happened upon along Avenue Alvaro Obregon in Roma Norte and then of course the main scene of altars in Zocalo Square depict the very festive parts of the city.
As a lot of our time was Day of the Dead (and eating and drinking) focused, there were a number of museums and places we didn't explore (Frida Kahlo's House, Louis Barragan Houses) that I would have liked to. I also had to keep reminding myself that Mexico City is the LARGEST city in the Western Hemisphere and with that, there is no way to check everything off a city bucket list in one visit!
It was wonderful and fulfilling and mesmerizing as we strolled around and spent time in the unique neighborhoods - from the historic El Centro to the hip La Condesa/ Hipodromo and posh Roma/Roma Norte, to gritty Buenos Aires and fancy Polanco. There's a number of gorgeous parks to visit as well - Chapultepec, Alameda Central and Parque Mexico. The must see landmarks in Centro Historico off Zocalo Square include the grand Catedral Metroplitana, the National Palace and Templo Mayor. Very close by are Palacio De Correos/Correo Mayor and Palacio de Bellas Artes, all examples of stunning architecture that you'll want to check out if you visit!
Next I'll tell you about all the incredible meals - where to have the best dinner in Polanco, the best brunch in Roma Norte, where to discover a hidden Mezcal Bar in El Centro, and a secret cocktail bar in Hipodromo. Stay Tuned!