After the Palacio, hit the Catedral Metropolitano de la Asuncion de Maria (aka the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Ascension of Mary). Though this isn’t the church with the famous sighting of the Virgin of Guadalupe (more on that later), you won’t have any shortage of images of her. This church is the oldest in the Americas, dating from the mid-1600s, and it's usually quite full even when it’s not a holiday or Sunday, so take note and be respectful.
Like many buildings in Mexico City, the Cathedral has dealt with major structural issues. Repairs were made to the foundation and the building is currently off of the endangered list, but be on the lookout for anything that’s leaning or off-kilter. If you hire a tour guide, ask him or her to point out where the repairs were made so that you can see the difference between the old and new parts.
Take a break in the afternoon. There are plenty of popular restaurants in and around the Zócalo area, but just a short walk away from the main tourist zone will net you tasty (and more affordable) options. Salon Corona (Bolivar 24) is famous for their tacos; you won’t find chicken on the menu, but you will find turkey, lamb, and chorizo. There are also decent vegetarian alternatives, including cheese quesadillas. If the weather’s nice (spoiler alert: it almost always is) head up to the second floor, which is open on the sides, and pop open one of the house beers.
At Jugos Canada
If you’re looking for a proper Mexico City licuado (a drink made from fresh fruit blended with either water or milk), head over to Jugos Canada (Cinco de Mayo 47) for one of the best you’ll ever drink. Order a pina (pineapple) or naranja (orange), pop in a straw, and take it to go while you walk around town.
If you’re searching for cool souvenirs for friends (or yourself), check out Perfumeria Tacuba, which is appropriately located at Tacuba 13. Though Tacuba is kind of the Broadway of Mexico City, with shops selling plenty of knockoff sneakers, DVDs, and beauty products, Tacuba 13 is the real deal. The shop sells perfume in just about every imaginable quantity, including essential oils, which you can buy in tiny vials.
If you can’t decide, or are worried about spillage on the way back home, choose one of the shop’s many bar soaps, which are made from local ingredients like agave and chamomile and are wrapped in bright yellow packaging. At less than a dollar each, it’s easy to justify picking up a whole stack of them. One word of caution, though: because Tacuba 13 is a haven for locals, you won’t find many tourists there, and you will need decent Spanish skills in order to navigate the sometimes confusing store layout. The gorgeous lemon and lavender scents, though, are worth it.
Tomorrow: From Zona Rosa to Roma...