Yes, Frida’s House in Coyoacan is on every foreign tourists “to do” list in Mexico City. I was sort of on my list as well. I’m not a hardcore checkbox tourist. I don’t visit places just to cross things off my list.
I care about the overall experience, so if I have to queue up for an hour or more, to squeeze in to see something, I will usually pass. So when I head out to see something, I try to keep my schedule flexible.
This was the case with my journey to Coyoacan.
Catching El Metro
The metro train system in Mexico City is one of the busiest in the world. It is also one of the most affordable at MXP$5 per ride, subsidized by the government.
Since I heard it was easy and efficient, I thought I would try it.
I’m actually laughing as I think about this decision, and what experience it actually meant. Easy and efficient – yes, cramped and pushy – absolutely!
Finding the metro was pretty straight forward, also not necessarily clearly or brightly marked like other cities. I guess now they don’t really want people to find it.
I could only buy a ticket from an actual person in a booth and not a machine, so I bought 2 tickets so I could return.
What then followed, trying to board the metro, ride the metro for 15 minutes and get out of the metro was so traumatic I didn’t take a single photo.
But don’t worry, I took some coming back.
Once I was in the free and open air of Coyoacan, I headed down Real Mayorazgo.
Past this cute little Church.
And some quaint street art.
I was stunned to stumble past the Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral, which was holding a special Stanley Kubrick cinema event and discussion.
Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral
It looked amazing.
I kept going, and saw some more street art.
Then I could see the wall of Frida’s blue house. It’s difficult to miss.
Who is Frida Kahlo?
Born in 1907, Frida Kahlo is a National Treasure and known as one of Mexico’s greatest artists. She is also an icon of feminism as she often pushed boundaries and social norms. She is revered as a woman who had many painful obstacles in life, but used these obstacles as inspiration for art.
The museum had only been open for 30 minutes, so I thought it might be quiet. I was wrong.
Sadly tour buses had already arrived, and the queue was down the street. I’m glad that I saw the house, but decided sitting down and having a coffee was preferable to standing in the sun with a lot of loud, English-speaking tourists.
I started walking towards the centre of Coyoacan.
I could smell the roasting coffee before I could see it.
I had found my joyful experience in Coyoacan, and it wasn’t inside Frida’s House.
It was MXP$19 for a cappuccino and worth every peso.
There wasn’t much seating, except some street-facing benches. But it was perfect for people-watching and chatting to the locals.
There was even a nice view of the building across the street.
When my coffee was gone, I headed towards Jardin Plaza Hidalgo.
Jardin Plaza Hidalgo
It looked like a stunning, well-designed park with free WIFI.
Next to the Casa de Hernan Cortes.
Alongside the park was the Parroquia San Juan Bautista.
Parroquia San Juan Bautista
A baroque Church and former convent founded in the 16th Century.
Walking across to Jardin Centenario, dodging the hop-on hop-off tourist bus.
Fuente de los Coyotes
A famous fountain with two coyotes inside, as the area name – Coyoacan – means place of the coyotes. This area was originally full of them.
Saw some Frida Kahlo inspired street art just off the park.
Time to head out of the park.
I was slowly heading back to El Metro, and opted to walk down Francisco Sosa.
What a great decision it was to head down this street. The whole street is like walking through live-art, a 3d painting.
Capilla de Santa Catarina
A perfect park to put your feet up.
It is also opposite an amazing house and garden.
Case de Cultura Jesus Reyes Heroles
This amazing place hosts a variety of activities and a stunning garden. Is it just me, or does this remind you of Daenerys Targaryen?
There was a painting class running at the time, and it looked fantastic!
There was also the most stunning sculptures of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Looks like I found Frida after all.
I kept walking down Francisco Sosa.
There was a cute patisserie.
Each building was different, artistic and colourful in its own way.
There was so much to take pictures of.
The street went on and on.
I finally turned, and headed down Calle Salvador Novo, to get back to the main road and the Oasis Shopping Centre.
This is a very posh shopping centre with the big name American brands for clothing and food.
I remembered walking past a nice looking cafe, so I headed back down the street.
City Cafe Natural
After my tasty lunch, it was time to take my sore feet home. I nearly decided to get an Uber and pass on El Metro. But….. I was feeling game and I knew more of what to expect so I decided to go for it.
El Metro Mexico City
Now, I mentioned before that I was so traumatized getting the metro to Coyoacan that I didn’t take photos. Well, I was definitely going to take photos heading back.
Again, the entrance is not very clearly signposted.
It seemed pretty smooth heading down.
This is the first public transport that I’ve seen, where there are separate carriages for women and children. At first, I wondered why that was. It didn’t take long to figure it out.
The numbers of people were growing on the platform.
When the train arrived, it was time to think skinny!
The doors are only open for a limited time, and sometimes they start closing even before people have gotten off the train. So you have to be quick, and unfortunately you have to be a bit pushy, or you will be left behind.
I was surprised how jammed tight it was, considering that it wasn’t even peak hour. Yikes!
So many people it wasn’t even necessary to hold onto something. The compression of all the people kept you firmly in place. I couldn’t help but laugh, as it seemed so crazy for all these people to continually, and voluntarily put themselves through this.
It made sense now why they had a women-and-children carriage. I can imagine many women not being comfortable jammed in tight with so many men. I especially felt sorry for any elderly passengers. I know they get to ride for free, but what price are they really paying when they get squashed and cannot even sit down.
15 minutes later I squeezed out the door.
I exited the metro into the garden, and had to stop and re-group. What a crazy local experience!
Luckily, I was quite close to home.
Also published on Medium.