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2.5 fabuloso weeks in Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca!

2.5 fabuloso weeks in Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca!

Old Jun 6th, 2024, 07:42 PM
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2.5 fabuloso weeks in Mexico City, Puebla and Oaxaca!

We have just returned from a trip to wonderful Mexico and were blown away by all that we saw and ate. As some of you know, I was going to go solo but then at the last minute my husband decided to join me. Both of us were blown away by the country, the kind people, the food, and the mix of modern and traditional cultures and architecture. We always felt safe and welcomed. The trip absolutely exceeded our expectations, which makes for delightful travel!

Before I go on, I want to thank MmePerdu, bald0ne, maitaitom, kja, ekscrunchy, and mlgb. Your trip reports, advice and encouragement when I was planning to go on my own were great and I hope this report similarly helps others.
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Old Jun 6th, 2024, 08:03 PM
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I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip! Many thanks for reporting back and for your kind words of appreciation.
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Old Jun 6th, 2024, 08:44 PM
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You are welcome, kja. I had posted the entire section of our first six days in CDMX but when I hit submit, it told me my post was too short and was deleted 🤨. So here we go again. I will post in smaller chunks. Hope that helps.


A bit about us: my husband and I are in our 60s, and we love to eat, walk, and visit museums, markets, and parks and tend to pack a lot in when we travel. We had our fill of all these things in Mexico!

Our itinerary:
  • 6 days in Mexico City
  • 3 days in Puebla
  • 6 days in Oaxaca
  • 4 days back in in Mexico City with a day trip to Teotihuacan.
Part 1: Mexico City Part 1

Day 1

We had a direct flight on United from Chicago and landed in Mexico City at noon. After a smooth customs process, we tried to book a taxi in the terminal to take us to the La Condesa neighborhood but our Visa credit card would not go through. They prefer AmEx, which we had left at home (obviously we paid no heed to the AmEx commercials!). So after exchanging some dollars for pesos at the airport just to have some cash on us (the rate here was surprisingly better than what we got later at ATMs in the city) we took an Uber to our destination. This turned out to be 2/3 the price of the taxi. As others have mentioned, Ubers are ridiculously cheap in Mexico and they were our sole mode of transportation in the city.

We stayed for two nights at the Red Tree House and it was just amazing. We had a huge room on the first floor with two balconies and a large bathroom, but the real charm was the warm hospitality from Viktor and team, and the daily happy hour from 6 to 8 p.m. on the patio.

Before we could sip the vino, though, we had a 5 p.m. reservation at Contramar to get to! So after checking in, a power nap, and freshening up, we walked 20 minutes through leafy La Condesa’s beautiful Amsterdam Avenue to the Roma neighborhood. It had been difficult to snag a reservation on OpenTable, and we had to contact Contramar directly. The place was buzzing as expected, but we were seated quickly and Oscar, our waiter, recommended wonderful mezcal-based cocktails. My husband had one with jamaica juice, and mine was with tamarindo and chili. A great start to the trip!

Neither of us eat big meals so we ordered the famous tuna tostadas, a shrimp aguachile, and roasted fish tacos to share, rounded off with a mellow fig tart and coffee. The service was efficient but not pushy, the blue and white restaurant was crowded with well-heeled tourists and some regulars, but was not loud. It was one of the best meals we had in Mexico!

Pleasantly full, we walked back to The Red Tree House, admiring the beautiful homes lining Amsterdam Avenue and other streets along the way and headed to that happy hour! We met many lovely people that evening, mostly traveling from the U.S., and everyone was eager to share their plans and their travel experiences. We finally went to our room and were in bed by 10 p.m. after a long but wonderful day!


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Old Jun 6th, 2024, 09:03 PM
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Day 2

After an excellent breakfast of enchiladas and fruit, we took an Uber to Chapultepec Park.

We bought our tickets to Chapultepec Castle and walked up a steep slope to the entrance. A note: by buying the tickets at the ticket counter and not the automated machine, we were able to show our IDs to the teller and get a substantial senior citizen discount. Every bit helps!

I thought we would spend only an hour there but the exhibits — especially the rooms once serving as imperial and presidential residences, the history of the castle and the art it showcased — were fascinating. The castle, perched atop a hill once sacred to the Aztecs, also afforded great views of the city. We were there for 2 well-spent hours.

We then walked through the huge park to the National Anthropology Museum, and were again dazzled — this time by prehistoric art and artifacts. We were there for almost four hours, wandering through ground-floor rooms dedicated to different Mexican civilizations, including the civilizations of the Teotihuacans, Toltecs, Mexicas, Oaxacan, Mayan and more. The recreated pyramids of Teotihuacán, the Sun Stone, and excavations from Monte Albán were some of the highlights for me. We never made it to the first floor. Most of it was closed and the rooms that were open showcased modern Mexican art. Our sore feet told us we would see plenty of art at other museums!

Hot and tired, we grabbed a refreshing tamarindo nieve and cold water at a stall outside the museum, and hopped into an Uber to get back to La Condesa. Still hot and very hungry now, we had very good shrimp tacos and beer at El Pez Azul before heading to happy hour at The Red Tree House. A couple from Canada asked if we would join them for dinner by the Zocalo. They were visiting the city only for 2 nights and this was their only chance to see the square. So back we were into an Uber, and on to the third-largest square in the world.

I had expected the Zocalo to be bursting with people, just like Times Square no matter the hour, but instead it was busy with construction crews. There were barricades everywhere and hardly anyone around. Nonetheless it was good that our new friends had a chance to see the beautiful Cathedral and the square all lit up. It was almost 10 p.m. by now and most of the restaurants were closed. So we had a memorable meal of tacos al pastor at a sidewalk cafe and called it a night.
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Old Jun 6th, 2024, 09:35 PM
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Day 3. Mexico City

After a breakfast of omelettes with fresh concha bread and fruit, we had to change hotels. The Red Tree House had had availability only for 2 nights, so we reluctantly packed our bags and walked over to Casa Comtesse, another boutique hotel in La Condesa for the remaining nights. It was interesting that most of the guests here were a lot younger than us, mainly in their early 30s, a marked contrast to The Red Tree House.

After an early check-in at this smaller B&B, we took an Uber to Coyoacán. We had 4 p.m. tickets to visit The Blue House and plenty of time to explore the neighborhood before that. The Mercado Coyoacán was amazing — a vendor kept plying us with samples of fruit, another told us he had returned home from working at a Chipotle in a Chicago suburb to start his own food stall at the market. It looked delicious but we were too full still from breakfast to eat. There were stalls brimming with clothes, houseware, meat and vegetables. A short walk away from the market was the iconic Cafe El Jarocho and we had a bracing coffee there.

We then headed for the parks Coyoacán is famous for — Jardín Hidalgo and Jardín Centario, with its statue of two coyotes, and enjoyed the cool and colorful space for a while. We then walked to Trotsky’s House — his house and garden were smaller than I expected, and it was disappointing to see that the displays were captioned mainly in Spanish and French. I gleaned a little about his friendship with Frida and Diego, and his family’s persecution under Stalin. While I would not go out of my way to see Trotsky’s house, it was nonetheless interesting to see where and how this revolutionary lived out his last years, and the site of his murder.

We strolled to Frida Kahlo’s Blue House and had an hour before our timed entry to share a plate of salbute and beer at a corner cafe a few feet away. I forget its name. The pork meat and pickled onions atop small pita-like fried bread hit the spot!


Salbute!


We walked over to the roped section of the museum for the 4 p.m entry and waited for our turn. Advance tickets and punctuality are a must — entry is strictly monitored and we saw many people turned away because they were late, or made to wait because they were too early. We spent two hours at the museum, and it was moving to see the house where Frida was born, grew up and died. Her kitchen and studio, her two bedrooms and her vivid clothes that cleverly disguised her injuries, are all testament to how Frida transformed pain into art. The most touching was her unwavering love for Diego Rivera, evident throughout the house and in the garden exhibits.



Such a zest for life!



One of Frida’s bedrooms and death mask.


Frida and Diego


We retraced our way to the Jardín Hidalgo and enjoyed just sitting in the beautiful park for a while, listening to a band and watching people as they walked their dogs or held hands with their loved one.

Dinner was at Corazón de Maguey overlooking the park. It was a fun meal, more so because I had my first flight of young (joven) mezcal. Young but very strong!

Mezcal flight at Corazon de Maguey!


The menu was extensive, representing many regional cuisines, and we had octopus as a starter, followed by enchiladas with three Oaxacan moles, and a flan. I had chosen this restaurant based on great reviews, but the food was good, not stellar. Even so, we loved sitting on the restaurant’s patio in the cool evening breeze and watching the lights in the park come up. Then it was an Uber back to Casa Comtesse after another long, lovely day.
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Old Jun 6th, 2024, 09:56 PM
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Day 4: Mexico City

After a breakfast of omelets and fruit, we took an Uber to the spectacular Museo Soumaya, built and donated by Carlos Slim to the city. We were there at 10 a.m. and there was no wait to get into the free museum.


Museo Soumaya, with a copy of Rodin’s Thinker guarding its entrance!


El Greco’s St. Peter

Van Gogh’s windmill.


The architecture of the building, with its curves covered by aluminum tiles, is stunning, as is the art collection. From the Impressionists to Van Gogh, from Rodin to Picasso, from Renaissance madonnas to Mexican art, the museum is sweeping in its scope and we were there for several hours.

Looking for lunch, we discovered that the crowded museum cafeteria was only meant for its employees! We wanted to visit the Museo Jumex next door after this, and did not want to hunt for another restaurant so we crossed the street and joined a crowd of office workers having tacos from a street food stall. They were some of the best tacos al pastor we had in Mexico. Mango slices sprinkled with chili from another street vendor completed the meal and fortified us for the next museum visit!

Museo Jumex, highly recommended by the Red Tree House team, was a magnificent, thought-provoking experience. The entire museum was dedicated to a temporary exhibition of the works of the British artist Damien Hirst, and his exploration of the link between life and death: Animals and whales preserved in formaldehyde; “stained glass” windows made with blue butterflies; a huge medicine cabinet lined with pill bottles, titled “Vacation”; a skull covered with diamonds, juxtaposed against paintings of cherry blossoms. It was an exhibition unlike any other I have ever seen.


Jaws!

« Stained glass » windows made with butterflies.


The million dollar skull.


Leaving the museum during rush hour, we plunged into the hustle and bustle of Polanco, its smart streets lined with office buildings and hotels. I love how different all the neighborhoods are in Mexico City, dividing its huge sprawl into unique areas. An Uber took us back to La Condesa through heavy traffic.

After some rest we walked 15 minutes to Parque Mexico. As you can see we love parks, as they can be microcosms of the city itself. The park was busy with children playing soccer, young couples practicing dance moves, and swans drifting in the small lake. After a refreshing walk we headed to Taqueria El Califa Condesa, a Red Tree House recommendation. A sister establishment, El Califa de Leon, has just received a Michelin star. At 8.30 p.m. the small and simple restaurant was not busy at all, but it soon filled up, and we saw valets parking very fancy cars. The pork tacos al pastor are supposed to be some of the best in the city, hence the diverse crowd that now lined out the door. Our starters of roasted mushrooms and cactus salad were very good. The tacos were great as well, as were the many salsas that accompanied them. But perhaps because of our stellar roadside lunch, we were not blown away. Perhaps that stall near Museo Soumaya will get a Michelin star soon! Also, the taqueria serves only beer and mediocre house wine, and I missed my cocktail with dinner!

Back at the hotel, I made up for it by enjoying the complimentary flight of mezcal offered to all guests at the bar, along with roasted grasshoppers. I also enjoyed learning about mezcal production from Fernando, a part of the warm Casa Comtesse team. Then it was off to bed!

Last edited by reddy2go2; Jun 6th, 2024 at 10:22 PM.
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Old Jun 6th, 2024, 10:20 PM
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Day 5: Mexico City

Breakfast today was something new for me: molletes — open faced sandwiches of refried beans, onions and cheese. As we were discussing last night’s dinner, a couple at the breakfast table recommended we try Merotoro that night. Interestingly they had a “must do” list for the city created for them by Chef Rick Bayliss’ daughter and El Califa was on it, although I am not sure of the location she recommended. As many of you know Rick is a celebrated Chicago-based chef credited for bringing authentic Mexican cuisine to the U.S. But I digress.

I immediately made the reservation at Merotoro for that evening and we headed back to the Zocalo to visit more museums! Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world except London. I believe it!

The Zocalo was crowded today, with vendors lining the pavement and tourists milling about. Men dressed as Aztecs offered to pose with me for some pesos. But all I wanted to do was see some murals by Diego Rivera. Unfortunately the lady at the Zocalo information booth confirmed what guests at The Red Tree House had told us —the National Palace and the Secretary of Public Education building were both closed for maintenance work and would remain so for a while. This means we have to return to CDMX just to see Diego Rivera’s murals in these buildings! I am making plans already!

So we spent the morning visiting the huge Metropolitan Cathedral, peeking at the Templo Mayor ruins, and then walking to the National Museum of Art. The beautiful neoclassical building houses art from colonial times to mid-20th century and we saw paintings by Rivera and David Siqueiros, as well as earlier works by Juan Correa.


Then it was time for lunch and we went to the Sanborns branch housed in the Casa de los Azulejos (House of Tiles). There were many tables available and we were glad to rest in this sumptuous setting. I had a beef burrito, the meat laced with pineapple, and my husband had salad. The food was ordinary, the service brisk, and the ambience old-world charm.


The lovely interior of the House of Tiles

We then walked to the Palacio the Bella Artes, determined to see some murals by Rivera and Siqueiros that day! But before going to the exhibits on the upper floors, we made our way to the box office to buy tickets to the folkloric dance performance for the week when we would return to this city. Wouldn’t you know it? Like the taxi stands at the airport, they only accept pesos or AmEx credit cards. Fortunately we located an ATM tucked away in the building and could purchase two balcony seats for the date we wanted.

The huge murals by Rivera, Siqueiros and Orozco at the Bella Artes and the beauty of the building had us in awe and we also saw some interesting exhibits of contemporary art in the galleries. The hours went by in a flash and it was soon 5 p.m. We took an Uber to Casa Comtesse. Traffic was heavy and it took us 40 minutes to get back


The beautiful interior of the Bella Arts building.

Man at Crossroads. The famously controversial mural by Rivera.


Mural by David Siquerios



After a bit of a rest, my husband had his complimentary flight of mezcal by the hotel bar, and we then walked to Merotoro for dinner. Our reservation was for 8.30 p.m. and the chic restaurant, with one side open to the street, was already busy. When a bachelorette party entered half an hour later, it got real loud!

The meal was excellent — after a mezcaltini each, we shared a beef carpaccio with grasshoppers and burnt avocado, fish tostada with soft shell crab, creamy rice with shrimp and sea urchin, and finished off the meal with a hazelnut tart with pink peppercorn ice cream. All this sublime food for $105!


Beef carpaccio with grasshoppers, and an almost-finished fish tostada.


Creamy rice with shrimp and sea urchin.


Oh that pie and pink peppercorn ice-cream!


We walked back to the Casa and packed our bags because the next morning we were leaving for Puebla.

Part 2 coming soon!
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Old Jun 7th, 2024, 06:24 AM
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reddy2go2

Thanks for this! Your excursion to the Museo de Antropología made me smile as it reminded me of my own—I spent the whole day there and only made it to 2 rooms! Your trip to Mexico City makes me want to return; Chapultepec I missed and sounds wonderful. Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Puebla, a city to which I have enjoyed visiting on a few occasions.

Best wishes—Daniel
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Old Jun 7th, 2024, 11:59 AM
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Old Jun 9th, 2024, 04:35 AM
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Thank you Daniel. We loved Puebla and I will post about it shortly. The museums in Mexico City are amazing, right?
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 06:30 AM
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Great report, looking forward to the rest. Makes me want to get back to CDMX and visit some of those museums I missed. The murals in Bellas Artes are a good consolation for missing the National Palace.

Much of my dining was "follow the crowds" to cafes, street stands, bakeries and market stalls. Less atmosphere but often the food is just as Michelin-tasty. I always enjoy interacting with the vendors, thanks to grade-school Spanish. That vocabulary sticks in your brain more than college and adult classes. Were you tempted to slip into English or did you try to stay in Spanish mode?

I don't remember what credit cards I used but it's a good reminder to bring one of each. Because I was on a tour before I flew to CDMX to start my independent travel, I had a lot of cash (bought from tour group members who had overestimated cash needs). Probably used a Capital One Mastercard most of the time where it was accepted. And of course Uber eliminates the need for carrying either.

Last edited by mlgb; Jun 17th, 2024 at 07:06 AM.
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 07:12 PM
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Thanks for your kind words, mlgb! I am glad you are enjoying the report. Regarding speaking Spanish — I tried to speak it as much as I could. My husband asked if I was getting any better and I answered that I was getting more fearless about making mistakes. Vendors would switch to English if they saw me struggling, but when I told them I wanted to practice my Spanish, they appreciated the effort and revert back to it.

And yes, AmEx needs to be a staple in my wallet along with pesos.

The Puebla portion of the report is below!
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 07:32 PM
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Puebla: Baroque churches and Lucha Libre!

Day 6:

We took the ADO bus to Puebla at 10 a.m., a very beautiful and comfortable two-hour ride. We had bought tickets in advance on the BusBud site and had, per BaldOne’s advice, chosen seats not on the driver’s side. The mountains and the vast countryside were a refreshing change after Mexico City!

We took a taxi to our hotel as Ubers are not allowed at the bus station. The rickety cab was cash-only — we had to get our voucher at the bus terminal— and the 20-minute ride less than $7. Hotel Boutique Posada XVII, located on what seemed to be a seedy street, was a little disappointing when we drew up to its plain wooden door. But once inside, the beautiful little B&B, with its yellow walls and green trellises, was charming. And the service, the rooms and the ambiance of this converted monastery were phenomenal. We could choose a hot breakfast item from the menu the night before, and Marianne and Christina made sure there were beautiful accompaniments of fruit, granola, etc. everyday. If you are mobility-challenged, the only watch-out is the narrow stairway leading to rooms on the first or second floors.


Our charming B&B

A breakfast of enchiladas with mole poblano hits the spot!


The Posada is at the edge of the old town, making for short walks to the Zocalo and the artisan areas. Our first stop after check-in was Las Ranas, highly recommended by many on this forum. Our walk took us past beautiful buildings with wrought-iron balconies, many squares and the magnificent Zocalo. It was easy to see why Puebla’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Las Ranas was not crowded at all, and a young waiter stood by our table by the parrilla throughout our late lunch, ready to replenish tacos as needed. Alas, after two of their wonderful tacos al pastor I had no room for their equally famous taco árabes, and I never did have them when in Mexico. Another reason to return!

At 4p.m. we had to meet our guide from Freetour.com at the fountain in the Zocalo for a 2-hour walking tour. We had an hour to grab some mango ice cream and a bench for some people-watching, one of my favorite activities! On this warm Saturday evening in late April, kids clutching balloons, young couples dressed up for the night, and families taking group pictures were out and about.

As we gathered for the tour, I was pleasantly surprised to see that we were joined by tourists from Germany and China — I guess the secret is out! The walk was a great overview of the old town — we visited the vast cathedral first, and as soon as we got out, the sunny afternoon turned to rain. We ducked into the beautiful cultural center that houses the oldest library in North America, and then listened to a singing performance in the main lobby, waiting for the showers to stop. Alas it kept drizzling, but we powered on to visit a Talavera tile store, taste some mole poblano, sample candies at the Calle de dulces de Santa Clara, browse the Parian market, and learn about the city’s history.

Puebla is one of the few cities in Mexico that celebrates Cinco de Mayo, since it was here that the French Second Empire was defeated in 1862. As we returned to the Zocalo for some more people watching before dinner, it was an utter and unexpected delight to see dancers in colorful costumes walk to the center of the square.







A crowd soon gathered, and for the next hour we were all enthralled to see the dancers perform graceful dances set to lively music representing various parts of the country. The Cinco de Mayo celebrations had started earlier than we had expected — such a treat!

it was a long walk to dinner but our meal at Casareyna that night was fantastic — we had the sopa poblana, chipotles rellenos, and their signature mole poblano with chicken. When we asked for the dessert menu, two waiters brought a huge vertical banner to our table, listing the many offerings. After their dramatic effort, we had to order something, and the chocolate mousse cake was a sweet ending to a lovely day!
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 07:54 PM
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Day 7

After a sumptuous breakfast of chilaquiles verde, we visited the wonderful Museo Amparo, with its elegant display of pre-Colombian and colonial artifacts from the region. It felt like a continuation of our visit to the Archaeological Museum in CDMX, and we enjoyed the English commentary via the app. The museum was free since it was a Sunday, but not crowded at all. The terrace affords great views of the surrounding church domes and spires, and Puebla certainly has plenty of them!



We then we visited the Museo Jose Luis Bello y Zetina, a charming home showcasing the Bello family’s collection of mainly French and Chinese art objects. Some of the Talavera-tiled rooms, the wood-coffered ceilings and the ornate bedrooms afforded a fascinating insight into how the wealthy of this city lived.

From here, we made it just in time to the Rosary Chapel in the Church of Santo Domingo. Much of the Baroque chapel is covered in a profusion of gold leaf, statues of angels and saints, onyx pillars, and Talavera tile. You can only gape. It closed for the afternoon at 1 p.m that day and we had 15 minutes to take the exuberance.


Meeting room, Museo Bello


Altar, Church of Santo Domingo


I had wanted to be in Puebla on a Sunday to experience the Los Sapos weekend market at the edge of the historic center, so after sharing a hearty cemita at a small cafe we plunged into a profusion of stalls that sold everything: old vinyl records, silver and crystal antiques, clothes, jewelry, plastic Spider-Man figurines and hand-made pottery. The vendors come from all over the region and the offerings reminded me of the annual Old Town Arts Fair in Chicago. I could not resist buying some silver earrings.


Weekend market


But before I go any further, I want to circle back to the cemita, the sandwich that originated in Puebla. The one we had was massive — as big as a quarter plate — with a sesame-seed bun holding a thin escalope of pork slathered in mayo, cheese, tomato, and lettuce. My husband and I split one and thought it was delicious, could not finish our portion, so be warned!

The sunny day was interrupted by a few sprinkles, and the market started winding up early, by 6 p.m. We walked back to the Posada for a glass of vino on the rooftop. There we met a family from Boston — a lady with her daughter, son-in-law and grandson. We exchanged many travel stories across three generations, and discovered that we all had plans to visit Cholula the next day.

Before walking to dinner to El Mural de los Poblanos, I had an important stop — our hotel was right next to the Puebla Arena and Marianne, the Posada’s concierge, told us that the next night it would host a Lucha Libre wrestling match. So of course I had to go buy advance tickets! The box office is cash-only, but after our experience at the Bella Artes, I was prepared. Two tickets in the middle section cost us 400 pesos.

The Zocalo was busy with street vendors as we crossed it to get to the restaurant. The dining room, with its murals, is elegant, the service was good and the food adequate. We shared a Chalupa Poblanos and a Mole Adobo. The latter was billed as very spicy but was far from it, which was disappointing. We ended the day with a good flan.
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 08:30 PM
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Day 8

On our last day in Puebla we took an Uber to Cholula, to see the largest pyramid (by volume) in the world. It took a thousand years of continuous construction to build this pagan temple and we were hugely excited to see the ancient structure. We knew the museum would not be open as it was a Monday, but found out on arrival that the entrance to the pyramid and its many tunnels was also closed.

Furthermore, we (and the Bostonians) discovered that unlike the pyramids in Giza, this one was covered with a mammoth mound of soil. So we climbed the steep hill to the church the Spanish built atop the pyramid. It felt weird that we were standing above a sacred site.

The church, dedicated to Our Lady of Remedies, was built in the 16th century and the information offered (with a rudimentary English translation) tells how the Virgin Mary protected the Spanish invaders as they fought the Aztecs. The courtyard offers magnificent views of Cholula. On a clear day you can see all the way to Puebla! Descending on the path that winds to the left of the church, we saw some of the pyramid ruins laid bare by the archaeological excavations; they gave us some sense of the scope of the building effort, and somewhat mitigated the disappointment of not getting inside the pyramid.

Another Uber took us to the Church of Santa María Tonantzintla — a beautiful building covered with a decorative and detailed stucco exterior and a baroque interior. This area was sacred to the Aztecs as they believed it was the home of Tonantzin, the mother goddess. The Spanish replaced her with an image of the Virgin Mary, which dominates the altar.


The church atop the Great Pyramid, Cholula




The incredible facade of the Church of San Francisco Acatepec



Exuberant Baroque interior



Church of Santa María Tonantzintla

The next stop was Church San Francisco Acatepec, the facade a melange of pillars, bell towers and domes clad in a stunning fiesta of colorful Talavera tiles. I don’t think I have seen a church exterior this joyful. The Baroque interior was equally stunning, with a profusion of gold relics and a magnificent altar. Fresh flowers added to the beauty.

After all this wandering and drinking in ecclesiastical splendor, it was time to eat. But we soon found out that like the museum, most restaurants in this city were also closed on Mondays. Walking through deserted streets, we passed a restaurant frying chicharrones on their patio, and then stumbled upon a large restaurant that was completely empty. I forget the name. We ordered quesadillas as an appetizer but the serving was so large — all for about U.S$5 — that there was no need for an entree!

Back in Puebla, our Lucha Libre show was at 8 p.m. so we had some time to buy some Talavera pottery from a small shop by the Parian market. The pieces were heavy but well worth the weight!

Before we left Puebla the next morning, I wanted to eat chiles en nogada, a dish that originated in this city in 1821. I had asked for it at both the restaurants we had been to for dinner, and the answer was always the same — it is only served for a few months of the year, from July to September, because the needed ingredients are only available then. I have read the recipe and cannot understand why, and would love to get enlightened!

I had, however, seen a sign at the Fonda Tipica de Los Poblanos, a small eatery near the Parian market, that they offer this dish year-round. So though still full from our late lunch, we walked through colorful streets to the place and ordered a soup and just this one entree. It started pouring while we enjoyed our meal — the stuffed poblanos had the right blend of sweet and savory stuffing, and the bath of the creamy walnut sauce topped with pomegranate seeds was a good complement.


Puebla on a summer evening


This dish April! What a treat!

The rain continued mercilessly, and we had to resort to an Uber to get to the arena. We joined a long line of drenched people waiting for the doors to open, and soon we were all cheering as beefy men in masks wrestled each other. It was a fun, carnival-like atmosphere, with the wrestlers hamming it up for the crowds, and I am glad we had a chance to see this iconic Mexican sport.




Puebla had offered us so many unexpected delights — dancers in the square, Baroque churches, wrestlers in speedos. And also great food, Talavera tiles, and beautiful architecture everywhere you look. How could you not love this town?

But it was time for us to go on to our next stop: Oaxaca, the temple to mole, and home to my Spanish classes! I knew I would fall in love with the town, but did not know how deeply.

Part 3 coming up shortly!
reddy2go2 is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2024, 01:02 PM
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I see I was not the only one underwhelmed by the food at El Mural de Los Polblanos.

I believe It's the pomegranates that are seasonal for the chiles en nogada.

But you had a cemita!
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Old Jun 20th, 2024, 10:49 AM
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I don't know how accurate this is, but I had heard or read once that Chiles En Nogada were popular towards September because of Mexican Independence day (Sept 16). The red, white & green colors are supposed to represent Mexico's flag. It could very well be because of what mlgb said and pomegranate season just happens to coincide with independence day. I preferred them served hot, which isn't typical.
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Old Jun 20th, 2024, 12:51 PM
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I've heard the same about September 16. And maybe Puebla isn't as much of an international tourist destination so the locals don't order it out of season.

I never did see it on menus when I was there for a few days.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 05:19 AM
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Loving this discussion about Chiles en Nogada! I did some digging and found out that nuns in Puebla were asked to create a dish to celebrate September 16, Mexico’s Independence Day. Perhaps in 1821 pomegranates were seasonal but we found their seeds decorating dishes, including guacamole, in April. Perhaps it is just traditional to serve the dish during certain months, including September.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 12:24 PM
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Here's a gifted recipe from the NYTimes. It mentions "late season harvest" so it may be more than just the pomegranate seeds. But it has to do with the holiday, really. I wonder if it would be on menus in more touristy places.
https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/...smid=share-url

Last edited by mlgb; Jun 21st, 2024 at 12:36 PM.
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