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Queretaro/Teotihuaca/Puebla/Oaxaca/Orizaba/Xalapa road tripa

Queretaro/Teotihuaca/Puebla/Oaxaca/Orizaba/Xalapa road tripa

Jul 27th, 2018, 01:04 PM
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Queretaro/Teotihuaca/Puebla/Oaxaca/Orizaba/Xalapa road tripa

We drove from Queretaro to Teotihuacan, super easy drive, about 2.5 hours. Stayed at the Villas Teotihaucan, a pretty reasonably priced hotel but the rooms were freezing as the little electric space heater wasn’t working too well. Had dinner at La Gruta, which is plenty touristy with average, pricey food (for Mexico), but figured since we’d likely never be back then why not. The ruins of course are impressive, but after seeing places like El Tajin, Palenque, etc., the urban setting was kind of surreal. The hotel offered the light show at night (forget what it was called), we opted not to go (figured it would be kinda cheesy) and instead went into San Martin, a very un-magical Pueblo Magico.
From there we headed on to Puebla with a stop at the Padre Tembleque acueducto on the way. We had a couple hours to kill between Teotihuacan and our hotel check-in at Puebla, so I figured a stop at the acueducto might fill the time. I sort of knew the place existed, but didn't know where and how to get there or that much about it. It's only about a half hour or so from Teotihuacan, but really not easily reached via public transportation. If you can get to San Felipe Teotitlan, there's a few moto-taxis in town that can take you the last few miles; it's pretty much out in the middle of nowhere. Apparently, it was given UNESCO Heritage site status a few years ago. There's not a lot of information in English, but what I gleaned from Spanish sources is kinda interesting. Built to carry water from the Tecajete volcano to indigenous villages, it's some 44 KM in length, most of which is underground, which explains why it seems to rise out of nowhere. Seems construction (which began in 1545, finished 1562) was financed entirely by funds earned from profits from textiles made by local women and sold in various tianguis, without support from Spain. Mortar was mixed with a curious blend of lime, honey and nopal sap to stave off mold and growth of weeds. Sources say some 44 indigenous communities participated in the construction, with each one identifying their finished section with a glifo from their pueblo. You can see an example in the pics to follow.Next stop, Orizaba.
baldone is online now  
Jul 27th, 2018, 01:09 PM
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La Gruta

Padre Tembleque Acueducto
baldone is online now  
Jul 27th, 2018, 01:43 PM
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mlgb is offline  
Jul 27th, 2018, 08:50 PM
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I should have tagged it Mexico. Oops. Next post.
baldone is online now  
Jul 27th, 2018, 10:08 PM
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Nice report.
MichelleY is online now  
Jul 28th, 2018, 10:32 AM
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Hey Baldone!

Enjoying your trip report so far. I look forward to seeing your thoughts on Orizaba!

Best, Daniel
Daniel_Williams is offline  
Aug 7th, 2018, 01:12 PM
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*Oaxaca & Orizaba*A couple of comments on Oaxaca without too much detail as it get covered often here. We hadn’t been there in 3 years and wondered if any of the past/recent unrest had had much affect on tourism. It didn’t seem so; the city was as vibrant as ever. The portals at the Palacio De Gobierno seem to be permanently occupied by vendors (protesters?) selling stuff to support release of political prisoners, I guess. They don’t seem to attract much attention. A number of new restaurants have opened. And it was the coldest I’ve ever experienced there in January.From Oaxaca we drove to Orizaba via Tehuacan on the libre, not the cuota, as it looked on Google Maps to be more interesting, and we weren’t disappointed. Often, I like the libres if I’m not in a hurry plus they often give me view of places I otherwise might not see or might want to return to having done a “drive by”. The views of the valley were spectacular (although I suspect Daniel would confirm that those from the cuota is as well) and the pics to follow don’t do them justice. The road was so switch-backy that arrows were painted on the pavement directing traffic into opposite lanes before making the switchback. A local I talked to later said that was so that large trucks could make a wider turn. But that didn’t seem like it would work too well, as the opposite truck traffic would have to make a tighter turn. Either way, a little unnerving for someone who’d never seen such a thing before. Thankfully, we met no oncoming traffic. I should add that just outside of Tehuacan on the cuota we were stopped in a checkpoint, the first of 2 times, and our documents were checked each time. All vehicles were stopped.As mentioned, Orizaba doesn’t have the treasures of colonial/Porfiriato architecture that some cities have, but it is still attractive just the same. It may be that the ’73 earthquake took out a number of older buildings; speculation on my part. The main architectural attraction is the Palacio De Hierro, designed/built by Gustave Eiffel, the same architect that did the Eiffel Tower. It was shipped to Mexico in pieces and re-assembled. It houses a coffee shop asoccer & beer museum, the latter being more interesting for its history mural than the beer display. The other attractions are the Cerro Del Borrego (the dominating feature of the city) and Paseo Del Rio, or river walk. The former can be accessed either by hiking or by teleferico, the 3rd longest in Mexico. At the top of the hill there are walking trails, a lookout tower, a small museum, and the remains of a small fort where Mexican troops were encamped preparing for an assault on French forces. A traitorous Mexican soldier revealed their location to the French and they were slaughtered; the defeat took away whatever momentum was gained from the 5 De Mayo battle of Puebla, and it was said to be the turning point that eventually allowed Maxmillian to come to power. The river walk, some 3km in length, is a pleasant way to spend a couple hours, and passes by the teleferico. There are a number of 16th century bridges still in use that span the river. The river looks clean, (Orizaba means in Nauhatl “aguas alegre”) whether it is or not, well, it’s Mexico. There are a number of animal cages along the walk that make up a small, linear zoo type attraction. The walk is popular with couples and families. My phone was dead, so I didn’t get any pictures, hence this link:
Another place we didn’t get to explore (because it was raining) was the “500 steps”, that take you down to a waterfall.
https://www.orizaba.travel/500-and-300-step-tourOrizaba’s restaurant options are not like Puebla’s or Oaxaca’s, but there are enough places to choose from for a few nights visit. Italian seems to be the favorite. We found a cozy pizza place, Marron, east of the centro historic and about 7 blocks from our hotel. There seem to be as many restaurants in that area (near the Parque de La Concordia) as there were in centro. Marron makes their own wine and have local art on display. Speaking of hotels, we’re big fans of historic hotels and wanted to stay at the Grand Hotel of France. But it turned out it was undergoing a major remodel, so we stayed at the Mision Orizaba, which while lacking ambiance, was a good value as most of the Mision chain hotels are. Really good restaurant, too. Next stop, Cordoba, Xalapa & Cholula.

View from the libre to Maltrata

Palacio De Hierro

Beer Museum

View of Orizaba from Cerro Del Borrego

Ruins of the fort

My next home
baldone is online now  
Aug 7th, 2018, 08:21 PM
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Great report, baldone. Orizaba sounds interesting, especially that river walk. Assuming the ADO bus from Villahermosa to Puebla was taking the cuota (I wasn't paying attention), you're right that the views are quite something! My pictures didn't do the winding road justice either...
Daniel_Williams is offline  
May 12th, 2019, 02:45 PM
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Oops. Forgot to finish the report...
We did mostly a drive-by of Cordoba, just kinda checking out the place for perhaps a future visit. It’s center looks more attractive than Orizaba’s. We did visit the Ex-Hacienda De Toxpan, now an arts center, before driving on to Xalapa via Coscomatepec de Bravo and Huatusco. We had lunch in Coscomatepec the town and the people seemed kinda dreary, while Huatusco was pretty lively. Again, more spectacular scenery as we drove on to Xalapa. I don’t know the river that the road follows, but it’s carved a pretty impressive canyon. There’s a cool “Eco Lodge” right on the edge of the canyon, Sextosol. If you click on the link, their pictures give a couple good images with the canyon in the background. Better than my phone would have taken.
Sexto Sol ? Ecovillas
2 nights in Xalapa at the Meson Del Aferez, another good value at $35 US, plus a great centro location. Dinner 2 nights in a row at Postodoro, more Italian due to diet restrictions of the wife, and not much else was open on a Sunday night. No pasta dish was over $50 pesos, house wines $27. Skipped the Anthro museum, as we’re a bit burned out on museums these days and we’ve been to Mexico City’s. The botanical garden was so-so. There's also a Diego Rivera pinacoteca in the Parque Juárez, which I understand is the largest exhibit of his work outside of Mexico City, although we're not fans. Overall we weren’t wowed by Xalapa. It was OK, but in no big hurry to go back. Maybe we were just road weary. Trivia: Jalapeño peppers derive their name from Xalapa where they were originally cultivated. Duh. Never made the connection.

Nearby Coatepec and Xico have more colonial ambiance than Xalapa. Both are charming towns, very deserving of their Pueblo Mágico status. On another trip, we spent a couple nights in Coatepec, Veracruz's coffee growing center. What first strikes you on arriving is the aroma of roasting coffee that permeates the air. ¡Que rico! Near Xico are the Texolo waterfalls, where portions of Romancing The Stone were filmed, as was the San Juan Ulua fort in Veracruz towards the end of the movie. A popular drink sold on the streets are Toritos, a distilled cream liquor made from sugar cane and flavored with various fruits. The drink gets its name from its supposed ability to keep the cane field workers continuing to work like 'little bulls.' Of the 3 towns, Coatepec was our favorite. But the 3 are so close that you could easily pick one and do day trips to the others.
From there I wanted to see the fort in Perote, but it was closed on Monday which I kinda suspected, but Google Maps showed it open. But it was still interesting from the outside.
Last stop was Cholula, where we’d been several years ago on a trip to Oaxaca via Puebla. It's essentially part of Puebla's metro area, so easily visited from there, which I think is a better option than staying in Cholula. I think I’d have preferred Huamantla or Tlaxcala (where we’ve been before).

baldone is online now  
May 14th, 2019, 04:50 AM
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Thanks for this. It should really help my planning.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
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