On my trip to Mexico City in June 2013, I lost my immigration pass. I didn’t realize this until I attempted to board the plane. That’s when I was asked for my immigration card. I then proceeded to a 2-hour adventure in trying to obtain another immigration pass. I missed my scheduled flight and had to book another one.
In case this happens to you, this is what you need to do to get another immigration pass in Mexico City.
Go to the Immigration Services office. There is an office located in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. I suggest you go to Terminal 1 (I experienced Terminal 2 – but it ends up to be similar experiences without the back and forth).
Once at the immigration office, you need to sign in. You cannot just jump the line because your flight is departing. I tried, but gave up. After signing in, you wait. You wait and wait and wait.
Once they call you up, they ask “Are you sure you lost your immigration pass? There’s a 300 peso fee.” I didn’t mind the fee, but was very irritated they asked if I was sure I lost my pass. It was like rubbing lemon juice into a fresh wound. After explaining what happened, they gave me the forms to fill out. There are a lot of forms. It took 10 minutes to fill everything out.
It turns out you have to wait for each person to fill out the necessary paperwork before getting to fill yours out. Everyone in that office seemed to have the exact same problem I had. A lost immigration pass. They could have easily streamlined the process if they left the necessary forms to fill out in the open. Rather than waiting for each person to complete their form before being allowed to get a form for yourself. (Ranting)
Once I filled out all necessary paperwork, I had to pay the 300 peso fee. Which could ONLY be paid for in Terminal 1. Even though I was very irritated, I was still nice and polite to the lady at the immigration office who was helping me. Which in turn, she was very nice and helpful. She drew me a map of how to get to the Terminal 1 office. This was turning more and more into an elaborate quest to return to America.
First, I had to walk to the other side of Terminal 2 and get on to the sky train. The sky train travels between Terminal 1 and 2 exclusively and for free.
Once I arrived at Terminal 1, I would be at “Door 6.” From there, I had to take a left and head towards “Door 10.” These “doors” are not close to each other. Each “Door” is really a small terminal. It took about 10 minutes to speed-walk to Door 10.
At Door 10, I had to look for a bank. The immigration office is in the bank. Once inside the immigration office, there’s a window in the back to pay the 300 peso fee. Of course, there’s a line. And it’s a very slow line. When I got to the window, I didn’t have any more currency left, so I paid with USD. I gave them $40USD and got back $7 change. The guy working the desk completely ripped me off by $10 according to the exchange rate at the time. He then pretended not to speak English any more after that and tried to say “transaction and exchange fees.” Of course the receipt didn’t state any of this. It just fueled my anger and I just wanted to get out of Mexico City.
I then proceeded back to the Immigration office in Terminal 2. Once in the office, I had to sign in and wait all over again!
After I got called to the desk, I thanked the lady for giving me such a detailed map on how to get to the other office. She really did go out of her way to help me. Especially since I didn’t speak any Spanish. After presenting my paperwork, I was given my new immigration card. And it only took 2 hours.
I’m pretty sure this is all a scam so you have to pay for another flight out of Mexico. If they made this process much easier, it wouldn’t be as much as a pain in the ass.
I went to Aeromexico (the airline I originally ticketed) and since the flight I booked had a really cheap fare bucket, they could not give me any discounts towards another flight. I needed to go from Mexico City to Los Angeles. I originally booked a round trip ticket for $191. The quote me for the one way to Los Angeles for over $500+. I laugh and walk away. If it really is going to cost me that much, I’d rather use my airline miles and extend my vacation. After some searching online, I would lose another day in transit if I booked with miles I then checked again with the clerk to see what options I had. Luckily this time I got a different clerk and they quoted me just $250 for a “change fee.” I gladly accepted. There was some back and forth with the ticketing desk and the “ticket issuing” desk (about a 1 minute walk from each other, but both had a line). So it took another hour just to get my ticket home.
So after 3 hours and almost $300, I wait for my flight home. I only had to wait 2 more hours which wasn’t that bad, plus I got to hang out at the Mexico City Centurion Lounge. My American Express Platinum card came in super handy this day.
Other than this ordeal, I had an amazing time in Mexico City and highly recommend everyone to go. And I’m NOT being sarcastic. It’s a very modern city with really nice and helpful people. I thought it was going to be dangerous and run down but found it to be the opposite. Definitely see the Teotihuacan pyramids and luchador wrestling.
Buying tickets to Coachella
Your probably going to find difficulty purchasing a ticket directly from the website when they first become available. If you’re a gambler, your best bet is to wait until a week before the concert then start looking on Craigslist or StubHub. Prices drop dramatically as people start trying to recover their costs. Be wary of fake tickets though. Be sure you can register your wristband as you purchase it.
How to get cheap hotels
1 – Book one year early: The rates won’t be inflated yet. If you don’t know when, just book several weekends in April. Just make sure you have free cancellation and you’ll be covered.
2 – Book at the last minute: Priceline.com and name your own price the day before you need a hotel. There should be a surplus of rooms since most people do not want to pay the outrageous amount per night most are charging. By this point, hotels will take what they can get so bid low.
3 – Use credit card points! If you’re an avid travel hacker, you can stock up on the points you need for your stay. There are plenty of options between Hilton, SPG, Hyatt, Marriott and Choice Hotels. I found I got the best value from my Choice Hotels stay during weekend 2.
How to sneak in alcohol
Wrap a flask in a towel, then put it at the bottom of your backpack. I had no problems with this all three days. By the way, tailgating is allowed, but the walk from the festival to your car can be brutal.
How to find your car
Take pictures! There aren’t really any marking points for some of the lots. I took pictures and counted the trash cans from the entrance to the row where my car was. Take pictures of the row and gates so you remember where exactly to go on your way back.
FYI: You can’t sleep in your car (in the non-car camping area). I tried to take a quick nap and was immediately hounded by security. If you need to sleep in your car, try to make sure they don’t see you.
This wasn’t really a race even though it was timed. The biggest problem was the line for each obstacle. It still was a lot of fun and I’d definitely do it again.
I didn’t take too many pictures in Amsterdam…other than the airport are some parts of town. Most of the town is the Red Light District. Correction, most of the interesting parts of town is in the Red Light District. You are not allowed to take pictures so I didn’t. I tried, but as soon as I took out my camera I got yelled at. Well, it’s what you’d expect. So, I’ll review the more interesting parts of town, the airport!
“Coffee Shops” – Space Cake
As the name implies, it’s cake that takes you to space (via marijuana infused treats). I did happen to partake while I was there. I don’t really have any tolerance for marijuana since I don’t really ever partake, which led me on a little adventure. They said not to eat the entire slice of cake since I had little tolerance, but the cake was sooooo good I couldn’t stop myself.
So after several alcoholic beverages and an entire slice of space cake, I decided to take a walk and explore the town (it was about 23:30). I’m walking around down one of the paths that happens to be along a canal. The buildings are on my left and the canal is on my right, I feel myself take a long blink, and open my eyes to the reverse. The buildings are now on my right and the canal on my left. It was now 01:00 and I’m about two miles North of where I thought I was. I entered a nearby bar for there Wi-Fi and to get my bearings. Also it was snowing outside. It was March in Europe, so water is literally freezing outside.
I map directions back to the hostel and eventually make it back. It was hard sleeping cause there was a loud group of young French guys in the hostel room. Most of the nicer hostels were fully booked or had a 2-3 night minimum stay. Also they were sold out on the private rooms. I always prefer a room to sleep in without strangers. I feel like I don’t have to be as guarded with my belongings cause I leave those lying around often.
For the next two nights of my stay in Amsterdam, I decided to leave the hostel and stay in a hotel. Walking around in the freezing cold the night before left me very sick so I needed my own place to stay. I placed a Priceline bid in the morning for $51, and found a nice 3-Star hotel in a pretty good area. An hour later I was fully checked in to the hotel I just booked. I love technology.
The next 40 hours if my trip flew by as I had a fever and tried to sleep through most of it. I only got up to get food within that 40 hours. Luckily the hotel was a 5-10 minute walk to a main plaza area with lots of food.
On my last day in Amsterdam, I knew I had to take a tour of the Heineken factory even if I was dying sick. The Heineken factory was only a 15-minute walk from the hotel (which seemed like an epic journey while trying to walk there sick). I’m glad I went just so I didn’t completely waste my entire time there at the hotel. But I was very disappointed that the Heineken factory didn’t meet my expectations. I know I was fantasizing, but I really hoped it would have been just like “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.” I wanted to ride in a boat over a river of Heineken beer. The tour was pretty commercial. They created a “mock” factory which wasn’t that big. They didn’t let you go into the actual factory. It was still interesting and a little fun.