There are plenty of walking tours in every major tourist city throughout the world. In order to gain a competitive advantage, many tours either claim they are free with a suggested tip or advertise the walking tour as an "Alternative City Walking Tour". This is pretty funny because they clearly demand the tip at the end of the tour pretending the tour leader will starve without it. Or the alternative tour shows alternative sites listed in the first few pages of the Lonely Planet guidebook.I did not give up on walking tours altogether but I do doubt they are anything different than I could do on my own. In Mexico City I found a free walking tour that really was free. A wealthy Mexican businessman organized this tour.
Just as I was leaving my hostel to meet for the tour I met an Australian couple and invited them along. We took a taxi in circles despite only being less than a fifteen minute walk away from the starting point of the tour. We would have walked but we were running late and had no idea where we were going either.
At midday we met the group at a cafe. Waiting there were more than thirty misfits; Mexicans, French girls, Swiss guys, Germans, Americans, Colombians, Brits, Kiwis, Chinese and Koreans. I say misfits because we are in Mexico. The group was friendly and without the help of ice-breaker games we were still able to get to know each other fairly well.
We walked some blocks to the nearest metro to head downtown with the intention to find a hole-in-the-wall Pulqueria. Pulqueria's are local bars that serve Pulque, a viscous milk-colored alcoholic drink made from fermented sap of the maguey plant. This drink is downright weird, and we have the Aztecs to thank for it. It is barely alcoholic and its created with a spectrum of flavors from coffee to strawberry.
to hire a Mariachi band.This almost seemed like an afterthought since when all said and done, this part of the tour lasted less than fifteen minutes. Its a hugely popular place to visit during the night, and I even wrote about visiting with a boring German girl
We continued with the music theme by taking the metro once again to a new area of the city. We visited an old dancing street festival with what I would describe as some of the happiest vibes you can find in Mexico City. In this park we found dozens of dance groups. On in particular were a group of old people dancing to salsa. They had the right shoes, dresses, and hats.
Along with the salsa dancing there were a bunch of live bands and hundreds of couples practicing danzon, tango, and other forms of dance.
After the dancing park we took another metro to El Mercado de la Merced and El Mercado de Sonora to grab some lunch in one of the world's more bizarre bazar's. This market was once the only place to buy food in city and today is full of narrow nooks and crannies. All in all its clearly one of the contientent's most interesting traditional markets. You can even buy exotic animals like lions or shamanic cleansing. They are considered the most mystical spots and like I mentioned, the biggest place for commerce of illegal animal species around the globe.
As we explored the many hallways we spotted modern day witches and magicians walking the corridors. We smelled the animals in cages ready to be bought.
Creeped out yet? After walking around the animal market we entered an area for one of Mexico's oddest cults, La Santa Muerte. This is a cult combining Catholicism with pre-hispanic elements such as skeletons to remind people of their mortality. It is a really fascinating subject you can wiki at http://en.wikipedia.org/wi?ki/Santa_Muerte.
The day was great. It was designed to see Mexico city from another perspective, and the places visited are NOT touristic sites, but are places where we did experience the intensity, smells, weird food and the popular street life of one of the biggest cities in the World.