|Mexican immigration form|
Prior to this trip, friends and colleagues, even my parents, have been discouraging me to travel to Mexico. Media reports make it seem like all of Mexico is at war. Yes, there's been an ongoing war between drug cartels. But I'm not even going up north. My destination is merely Central Mexico. Surprisingly, 2 of my friends Clint & Neil decided to "risk" their lives with me.
|Hostal Centro Historico Regina|
The hostel building is listed as a historical monument in Mexico City
So off we went on a Saturday morning. While I flew out of Newark, Clint flew out of La Guardia while Neil flew out directly from Miami via Aeromexico. I had the same connecting American Airlines flight with Clint in Dallas where we flew together into Mexico's Benito Juarez International Airport. Our two flights arrived within 30 minutes of each other, almost at 5 PM. Immigration lines weren't so long so we made it to customs in no time.
|Mural near the hostel|
Since we needed Mexican pesos for our transport to the city, we headed straight for the bank right before custom's exit. It turns out the exchange rate is less favorable than just a few steps away at the main arrival's hall where plenty of cambios offered 2 pesos more per dollar. Armed now with sufficient funds, we began looking for Neil.
However, we didn't expect multiple arrivals hall in this very big, modern airport terminal. We came out expecting to see Neil already waiting for us since his flight arrived first but he was nowhere in sight. Despite his phone being 'on roaming', we couldn't reach him. We walked the length of this massive terminal four times only to find strangers gawking at us - perhaps they thought we were another Hiroshi Nohara (who stayed at the airport for 117 days in 2008). Not wanting to linger much longer, we decided to just head for our hostel and hope Neil has already gone ahead.
|Hostel 'suite' room|
Besides taxis and buses, the city center can be conveniently reached via subway from the airport. However, big luggage, even carry-ons, are frowned upon at Mexico City's crowded subway trains. We went to one of the authorized airport taxi booths, paid for a boleto to Centro Historico district (196 pesos or almost $15), gave it to one of the agents outside, and we were quickly ushered into a waiting car.
Half an hour later, we were outside Hostal Centro Historico Regina. Neil still wasn't around. We checked-in, got the "suite" room for 900 pesos, a 2-level room with one and a half bathroom and a balcony overlooking a pedestrian street. The hostel's housed in an old building that used to be a warehouse. It looks hip with very friendly staff at the front desk. What's more, brekkie is free and so is WiFi.
We almost decided to head back to the airport when Neil finally makes it to the hostel. As it turns out, his flight landed in Terminal 2 which was in another terminal building. Our mistake was that we never bothered to check what terminals our flights arrived at - all along, we thought we all will be arriving in the same airport terminal. Never mind, at least, no one among us stayed in the airport for the long haul like Hiroshi Nohara did.