Despite a certain seediness found amidst the elegance of the new quarters and the genteel decay of the older parts of the city, the capital is nowhere near as intimidating as you might expect. Nonetheless, you may still prefer to take in the city a couple of days at a time, taking off in between to the smaller neighbouring colonial cities to recharge.
You'll also find the city easier still if you acclimatize to the country first - if at all possible try not to spend too long here when you first arrive.
As you fly in or arrive by bus over the mountains, you'll catch glimpses of Popocatépetl and Ixtaccíhuatl, the volcanoes which every visitor used to admire, and which Sybille Bedford, author of a book on Mexico in the early 1950s, described as "Japanese-contoured shapes of pastel blue and porcelain snow, and thin formal curls of smoke afloat in a limpid sky".
These days, "Popo" is more often perceived as a threat, with the international press depicting its recent activity as a major menace to the capital. In reality, the volcano is 65km away, and though dust may temporarily close the airport during major outpourings, the city is highly unlikely to get smothered. The volcanoes are now rarely visible from the centre, courtesy of the city's pollution, which compensates by diffracting the light and producing wonderful golden sunsets
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