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My Abbreviated Trip Report: Mexico City and San Cristobal de las Casas

My Abbreviated Trip Report: Mexico City and San Cristobal de las Casas

Feb 17th, 2019, 06:15 PM
  #1  
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My Abbreviated Trip Report: Mexico City and San Cristobal de las Casas

I've been home two months now and I can't stop thinking about returning to Mexico for a third trip! My first trip was this past January, basing in Playa del Carmen for 6 nights. While laying by the pool, catching some sun and drinking margaritas was fantastic, my best memories were of the amazing Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Coba and Tulum. So with that in mind, I booked a return trip that would focus on culture. I spent 5 nights in Mexico City and another 3 nights in San Cristobal de las Casas this past December 2018. I intentionally timed my trip to be in Mexico City on Dec. 12th for Virgin of Guadeloupe day. My key thoughts:

General Impressions:

1. Mexico City is a dang cool city but it took me 2 full days before I started warming up to it. It's loud. The people on the street are brusque. The subway is packed to the gills at all hours of the day (it's always 25 cents U.S./ride.
2. The food is incredible
3. So much culture and history everywhere you turn
4. The colors and hippie vibe of San Cristobal

Highlights:

1. Walking on the ruins of the great Aztec Pyramid at the Templo Mayor in Mexico City
2. The gorgeous Diego Rivera murals at the Palacio Nacional
3. The Museo Antropologia in Mexico City. I wished I had more time there. I will return.
4. Enjoying the dancers on the Guadeloupe plaza on Virgin of Guadeloupe day and seeing Juan Diego's tunic in the Basilic
5. Hopping into a taxi on the Zocalo on a warm early evening, with the windows down. The song "Under the Milky Way" by The Church came on the radio. The cute cab driver cranked up the radio and as he dodged our way through the chaos of Mexico City's streets, I thought to myself, "life is pretty damn good!"
6. Dinner at Pujol. The taco omakase. It was FANTASTIC. I will return.
7. The colors and laid back vibe of San Criostobal de las Casas. Even though every church was still closed for repairs due to the 8.2 earthquake from late 2017, it is still a visual treat.
8. The crafts market in San Cris, where I bought a number of beautiful table throws and gifts for my family.
9. Delicious, cheap tacquerias everywhere you turn.
10. Visiting the church in San Juan Chamula and witnessing the indigenous ceremonies mixed in with traditional Catholicism.
11. The AWESOME wood burning fireplace in my room at Guayaba Inn in San Cristobal. When those 40 degree F. nights hit in December, your room gets downright cold and that roaring fire each night is a lasting memory of my trip.

This was a wonderful trip. Like I said, I'm having a hard time getting another trip or 3 to Mexico out of my head. This year's travels are already booked, with trips to Italy in April and then back to Iceland and London in August. But I've been researching Mexico as a whole for 2020. I've narrowed it down to one of two trips. Either includes another 5 nights in Mexico City + 2 nights in Taxco. Then, it would be either heading north for 6 nights between Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende, or south for 6 nights to Puebla and Oaxaca City. I welcome everyone's input.

In summary, Mexico is SOOOO much more than beaches, sun and drinks. (Although don't get me wrong...those are great!). I've become enamored with the culture and I can't wait to return again soon!
MinnBeef is offline  
Feb 17th, 2019, 08:55 PM
  #2  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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I'm glad to see your post, MinnBeef, as I've wondering how you found San Cristobal de las Casas. Sounds like you experienced some of the things I most enjoyed there (the crafts market; the indigenous rituals in San Juan Chamula). After crellston's lackluster comments on the area, I worried that I had misled you and others about its charms.

I could also resonate with your comments about the sounds in Mexico! Although I haven't yet visited Mexico City, one of my most pervasive memories of my 3 weeks in Mexico (the Yucatan and Chiapas) is of unending noise -- music, voices, insects, whatever! I found it incredibly irritating -- if nonetheless worthwhile for my interests.
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Feb 18th, 2019, 10:15 AM
  #3  
 
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Good to hear you enjoyed your time in Mexico Minnbeef.

FWIW we really enjoyed Guanajuato, a vibrant, buzzing place with great food and a lot to see. Our favourite place in that region was Zacatecas, similar in some respects but with fewer tourists. San Miguel de Allende we didn’t really take to, too much of an ex-pat centre for our tastes although the cathedral was stunning.

Puebla we really like too and that would fit well with Oaxaca, which along with Morelia and Patzcuaro were our top three place on this trip.

Kja "After crellston's lackluster comments on the area, I worried that I had misled you and others about its charms. "

I am sorry you found my comments uninspiring, unimaginative and dull ( which is the actual definition of lacklustre) I really wouldn’t worry about such things though Kja. We are each entitled to our opinions, mine just happen to be different to yours. I judge a place by whether I would want to return, or was sorry to leave and neither of those feeling occurred in San Cristóbal or San Miguel or Guadalajara. One never knows until one has been to these places.
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Feb 18th, 2019, 10:27 AM
  #4  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
Kja "After crellston's lackluster comments on the area, I worried that I had misled you and others about its charms. "

I am sorry you found my comments uninspiring, unimaginative and dull.... We are each entitled to our opinions, mine just happen to be different to yours. I judge a place by whether I would want to return, or was sorry to leave and neither of those feeling occurred in San Cristóbal.
OMG, it wasn't your comments that I found lackluster! Very poor wording on my part.
I left San Cristobal (in 2008) very sad to leave and wishing I could return; as you say, that wasn't your experience. Whether it was a difference in our tastes or our experiences or changes in the city since I was there, who knows? What I know is that I had encouraged MinnBeef (and you and others) to go and, after hearing of your reaction to it, I worried that I had given advice based on outdated information.
kja is offline  
Feb 18th, 2019, 02:01 PM
  #5  
 
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Nice report.
Be sure and include Teotihuacan on your next visit.
Regarding the next visit, you really can't go wrong in either direction. Just depends on your specific interests. Oaxaca and Puebla will certainly have more unique regional foods than Guanajuato and San Miguel. More ruins too, although there are 2 minor sites in the area, Cañada de la Virgen near San Miguel and El Cerrito in Queretaro city. Of course, Oaxaca has more indigenous influence as well, although San Miguel has a smattering of Nahuatl. Mexico's fight for independence has it's roots of course in Queretaro, Dolores, San Miguel and Guanajuato if you're into Mexican history of that nature. Speaking of Queretaro, it too is worthy of some time although it can easily be visited as a day trip from San Miguel. Nearby Bernal I think is one of the more charming small colonial towns in Central Mexico. Near Guanajuato is Leon. Here's a trip report (that I need to update):
Leon, GTO Mini-Report
baldone is online now  
Feb 28th, 2019, 06:55 PM
  #6  
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Thanks kja and Crellston. I enjoyed San Cris more than Crellston apparently did but did not fall in love with it like kja. Some of that has to do with the earthquake repairs still going on more than one year later that prevented me from visiting the inside of any of the churches. And part of that is the noticeable touristic presence of the town. Very glad I went and I recommend it. Don’t expect I’ll ever go back.

Baldone, thanks for the suggestions. So many cool places to visit in Mexico. Can’t wait to go back in hopefully 2020.
MinnBeef is offline  
Mar 1st, 2019, 03:00 AM
  #7  
 
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I often need more than 2 full days to fall in love with a town or city. I stayed 2 weeks in San Cris with a local family in 2010 and it really grew on me, beyond the obvious charms of the market, churches, neighboring villages, and area natural highlights like the Agua Azul and Misol Há and the Toniná and Palenque Maya sites.

México is large and varied so it sounds like you will enjoy exploring for years. Guatemala has a similar allure to us - heading back next week!
hopefulist is offline  
Mar 1st, 2019, 01:59 PM
  #8  
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@hopefulist: Guatemala is now on my radar based on My experiences in San Cris and the nearby Mayan villages.
MinnBeef is offline  
Mar 1st, 2019, 03:45 PM
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My photos with blog links on the main page of each collection are below in case you're interested - all my recommendations are embedded there.
Happy trails!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
hopefulist is offline  
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