My name is George Stern. I’m from Huntington Beach, California, born and raised. For the last two and a half years I’ve been living, studying and traveling in Mexico. I’m here to share my personal experiences and to introduce the world to Toursandmore. Among giving helpful travel advice only locals would have I will touch upon on a wide array of topics that revolve around Latin American travel in my future blogs. I’d like to begin by telling you a little about the basic everyday do’s and don’ts while traveling and living here and why I’m promoting traveling to Mexico and our site toursandmore.
When I first arrived to Mexico City I was a true sceptic. On top of the fact that everyone and their mom was telling me not to visit and let alone study and live here, I was in a foreign country where I really didn’t know the practicality of how things worked. Meaning I had no idea how to get around on public transportation or if it was even safe, where or what to eat, who to trust and what to do for fun. The only thing I knew was that I was here to study international relations and to become a professional translator at a university called Iberoamericana. To be honest within a few days I learned how to ride the metro, peseros (street buses) and how to hail a cab. A lot of people will tell you that you must only take secure taxis or “sitio” taxis that are more expensive, but belong to a company registered to the city and are supposedly safer than the ones on the street. I started out only taking these sitio taxis. After a few months I realized that these “secure” taxi rides were taking a serious toll on my wallet. I mean its Mexico and yes transportation is much cheaper than in the states, but let’s be real I’m a student without a steady income. It was going to get complicated managing a workable budget and paying for taxis every time I needed to get somewhere. If you are here on vacation I would most definitely recommend that you use these sitio taxis because it’s not going to traumatize your finances over the course of a few days and yes they can for the most part be more secure. I’ve been using a combination of street and sitio taxis for months and have yet to encounter any problems. If you look like a complete tourist, with the travel back pack/fanny pack, the excess sun block and walking trek shoes then let’s face it you’re going to be more of a target (an easier one) anywhere, but most people won’t even look at you twice if you’re in crowded area that’s meant for tourists, whether you’re a domestic or international visitor. Make sure to not where fancy jewelry in public, flash wads of 500 peso bills when paying for stuff or blatantly be talking on your brand new Iphone 6 while riding on street bus by yourself at night. I know this sounds a little harsh and yes it is, but it’s a reality that all Mexican citizens have to face not just you the tourist. These are all things that I conform to everyday and I gladly do it because of the amazing experiences and opportunities Mexico has given me. I consider it to be a small sacrifice I make for the greater good of expanding my knowledge and life experience. I mean hey could you do all the things I just mentioned above and get away scot free, yea sure, but why risk it. What I’m trying to say is that for the most part I’ve learned that Mexico, more specifically Mexican transportation is not all that insecure like everyone thinks and plus it’s quite affordable. You can travel all over Mexico City using the metro to get from one extreme of the city to the other for only 5 pesos, which is less than 50 cents! Same goes for the street trolleys and buses. They pretty much serve the same purpose as the metro the main difference is that they take you anywhere else the metro system doesn’t reach for about the same price.
Now let’s talk about the food, Mexican food is amazing. Don’t worry, if you’re not into eating Mexican food 24/7 like my brother and me, there are a ton of restaurants with different types of foods to choose from. If you’re in Mexico city it’s vital that you try tacos al pastor with onions, cilantro red or green salsa and a little slice of pineapple and a bit of lime. Yea the pineapple slices sounded weird to me to, but they add a great flavor to the tacos. Try to eat at places that look clean and stay away from small little tacos stands near metro stations and less trafficked areas because those tend to be the least hygienic of them all. If there are lots of people eating there it’s for a reason so eat there to. The truth is you could strictly eat at 5 star restaurants and still get sick. Our bodies simply aren’t used to the food and bacterias, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying and trying the food. My favorite is ordering the pastor meat very well done it gives the taco a much better taste in my opinion. For those of you that have no idea what pastor meat is, what’s wrong with you? Just kidding al pastor meat is: likely as a result of the adoption of the shawarmaspit-grilled meat brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Being derived from shawarma, it is also similar to the Turkish doner kebab and the Greek gyros. Whereas shawarma is usually lamb-based (thus the “shepherd style” name), gyros and tacos al pastor in Mexico are made from pork… Thanks Wikipedia. A reasonably priced taco al pastor will run you anywhere from 12 -18 pesos each. One of the interesting parts of traveling to Mexico is that authentic Mexican food tastes nothing like what you’d expect. It’s so much better and every region has it’s own traditional cuisine. My personal favorite comes from the state of Oaxaca. Specifically the red mole, there are like a million different types of mole, but the red one is my personal favorite. What is mole: is the generic name for a number of sauces originally used inMexican cuisine, as well as for dishes based on these sauces. Outside of Mexico, it often refers specifically to mole poblano. In contemporary Mexico, the term is used for a number of sauces, some quite dissimilar, including black, red, yellow, Colorado (another name for red), green, almendrado, and pipián…Thanks again Wikipedia. Usually the mole is served on top of a chicken breast. If you have a chance to actually go to Oaxaca please make sure you try this traditional dish. There are so many great traditional dishes in every state of Mexico so I’m sure there won’t be any disappoint in the food department.
When it comes to activities, going out, sight seeing and Mexico’s night life it can get a little tricky even if you’re a seasoned visitor. The reason being is that there is just such much to do, everywhere. For example in Mexico City alone you can do anything from visit several different types of museums, walking tours, gastronomic tours, take a stroll through downtown Zocalo, visit the ancient Aztec ruins and pyramids, go on hot air balloon ride, world class shopping, local arts and crafts markets and so much more that I don’t think I’ve begun to put a dent in the seemingly endless list of things to do. Deciding what to do when you’re on vacation can sometimes get difficult. Between your groups varying interests, language barrier when scheduling and negotiating prices and simply not knowing which activity will be more enjoyable it can turn into a headache. I’m speaking directly from experience that this can happen. When I first arrived I was overwhelmed with choosing what to do. Which brings me to my next point, Toursandmore. What is toursandmore? It’s our new travel site that has all the best activities Mexico has on one single webpage. Among offering all these great activities we are also going to post travel tips, but travel tips that only locals would have. You see our team is comprised of young international professionals from all over the world and also Mexican professionals. This gives us the upper hand when it comes to knowing what types of travel tips or restaurant suggestions to give you. I mean not only can we tell you where to go, but which days, what to order on the menus, hidden gems and all sorts of other great insider information that only our site will have. After living somewhere for a few years you learn so much and we want to share all of our experiences with you and hopefully enrich our visit to Mexico! Our goal it to connect foreign tourists to the most popular, fun and exciting activities Latin America has to offer all the mean while making sure we do everything possible to ensure your trip is safe and that you take advantage of the time you have here! I hope you found my blog useful and interesting. Please visit our site and let us know what you think. You can reach us every day from 9am to 8pm central time or chat online or send us an e-mail whenever you’d like. Cheers!