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|Magnum Conference on Computing|
Local guide and useful info
How to get to the conference place
In English: Cultural Center "Jaime Torres Bodet" (also known as "El Queso"), Av. Wilfrido Massieu, Mexico City, Mexico.
In Spanish (print this out and show to the taxi driver): Centro Cultural "Jaime Torres Bodet" (conocido como "El Queso"), Unidad Profesional "Adolfo Lopez Mateos" del Instituto Politecnico Nacional (IPN), Av. Wilfrido Massieu (cerca del Planetario), México DF, Mexico.
Subway: The nearest Subway stations is Lindavista. You can also walk (some 20 minutes) from the station Politecnico.
Bus: Take a bus or microbus going North to Av. Politecnico, pass Lindavista, go to the corner of the IPN (Polytechnic Institute), and leave the bus there. The street crossing Av, Politecnico at that corner is Wilfrido Massieu.
Spaceship: See the conference place in Google Earth.
Useful local information
Currency and credit cards. Mexican peso is a bit less than 1/10 of dollar. Payments are usually accepted only in pesos (no dollars, no euros). There is money exchange in any bank office (numerous in the city). Major credit cards (sometimes except for American Express, while Visa and MasterCard are the most accepted) are typically accepted in restaurants, supermarkets, and most of the shops (not in taxi!), so you do not need to exchange too much money for pesos. In the city, there are many cash machines (including in any bank office) where you can get cash from your credit card (Visa and MasterCard are the most accepted). For currency, usually the best exchange rates are at the Airport; there is usually no commission.
Taxi. Taxi in Mexico is cheap and very frequent in nearly any place of the city. They are easy to recognize: often these are green or yellow beatles or green or white+red Nissans; the price is the same. To any place you need to go, you probably better go by taxi. Within the city, you would probably pay from US$3 / 30 pesos to US$8 / 80 pesos and save a lot of time. You should either ensure that the driver has turned on the taximeter (often not used after 10 pm) or agree the price in advance. You do not need to give tip to the driver. Taxis waiting near hotels can be expensive; you better take any taxi passing by the street.
On the other hand, taxis in Mexico are considered not completely safe, at least in the night (though other transport would hardly be much safer), so you might prefer to walk to an authorized taxi site to get a safer taxi there, or call a taxi from the hotel (this can be much more expensive). Also, sometimes the drivers do not know the city well, so make sure the driver does know the place you need and how to get there (usually the drivers are honest enough not to fool you about the route, but they might just not know the optimal route).
Subway and bus. Subway and bus are cheap: subway costs US$0.2 / 2 pesos, you should buy tickets sold at the entrance.
Buses and especially microbuses (usually also green) are also quite frequent. Bus costs from US$0.25 / 2.50 pesos to some US$0.4 / 4 or more pesos depending on the distance. You pay directly to the driver when getting in, there are no tickets to buy. The entrance is from the front door, exit from the rear door. There are no fixed stops for microbuses: to take one in the street, you should signal it with your hand; to get out of the micro, you should ask the driver to stop or press a bell button usually located above, or near to, the rear door. We do not recommend using a buse unless you know very well how to go; use taxi instead.
Recently a special bus line was launched called "Metrubus". It can be very convenient (and pleasant) if you know the route; otherwise Subway or taxi are simpler. To use Metrobus, you need to buy a special plastic card (ask at the bus stop how to buy it), which can be then re-charged in a special machine at the bus stop. You cannot pay at the bus itself.
Food. Food in Mexico is extremely spicy, which can seriously affect you if you do not get used to it. We recommend you to either eat in restaurants or buy food in supermarkets. Ask for European-type food; in a restaurant, ask specifically for a food that is not hot ("no picante" in Spanish). We do not recommend you to eat the food sold in the street (tacos, tortas, quesadillas); if you want to try it then better do it on the last day of your trip. In restaurants, the waiters expect to be tipped with 10% of the price (the tip is not included in the price).
Water in the city water supply is not potable. Potable water is sold in bottles in shops, supermarkets, and in the street.
Phones. Street phones require a special phone card (tarjeta telefónica in Spanish), which can be bought in most shops or booths in the street selling newspapers or sometimes food. The card can cost US3 / 30 pesos, US5 / 50 pesos, or US10 / 100 pesos. Some phones accept credit cards. You may want to buy such a card in advance (perhaps at the hotel counter) in case of any emergency. Street phones usually permit international calls. From the conf place, you can make a local call for free (contact the organizers) or a cheap international call by Internet; there is also a normal "street phone" in the conf building.
For international calls, we strongly advise you to look for a callback / virtual card service in Internet, or simply make all your calls via Internet from the conf site. You can get your own account (such as www.deltathree.com or www.blasterphone.com), or you can simply use my personal account (at the conference). To compare: a call to a European capital from a street phone is some $2.5/min (from the hotel probably more), and via Internet some $0.026/min, which is 100 times less expensive! To call home from the street or usual phone, you can also buy cheap phone cards, such as BluesStar (about $0.10 to many countries), sold in some kiosks (e.g., at the North Bus Terminal).
Electricity. 110 V, American type (flat) plug. Adapter for European type 220 V plugs can be bought in a supermarket. In the hotel may be (or may not be) 220V outlets.
Museums. The museums typically work from 8 am to 5 pm. After 5 pm, you will probably find everything closed. In many museums and archeological zones, on Sunday the entrance is free. Also, in some museums there are discounts for students and teachers. Specifically, please bring with your (valid) Student / Professor / Teacher ID, and have it with you at all excursions.
Security. The following recommendations are usual for any travel. We do not recommend you to walk alone in the nighttime. You should always avoid carrying with you in the street any valuable objects (even the objects that do not have big commercial value but are valuable for you personally). Accordingly, we do not recommend you to wear any golden jewels, or better no jewels at all. If you are assaulted, it is safer not to resist to a violent robber. Local police usually is of no help in such cases. For the same reason, we recommend you to avoid carrying with you a credit card with much money on it; possibly you could use different cards, one with your main account and one with a smaller sum for just one-day usage.
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