Trip Planning CDMX/Puebla/Oaxaca Jan 2020

Dec 3rd, 2019, 03:11 PM
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Trip Planning CDMX/Puebla/Oaxaca Jan 2020

FINALLY after two aborted plans and with fingers crossed, I'll have two weeks of independent travel after a tour in the Yucatan. Nothing is locked in yet, other than flights into and out of CDMX. (Weds to Weds, with the first day being a midday domestic arrival and the last day my flight home to LAX).

In all likelihood I will be "ruined out" and am not a fan of heights anyways so sites like Monte Alban or Teotihuacan will not be a high priority. Won't have had satisfactory time in colonial cities (not even Merida, unfortunately). I understand Spanish okay and can get by as needed. Have been around South America a lot, but only coastal resorts in Mexico. Interests are colonial architecture, museums, textiles and crafts (mostly looking). Markets and food are more important than hotels and drinking/nightlife.

I had thought to do a sort of triangle...Puebla, Oaxaca and then fly back OAX to MEX and spend a week in Mexico City, although could reverse it.

Struggling with how many days for Puebla/Tlaxcala vs a Monte Alban-less Oaxaca; with at least 7 days in Mexico City? It will be difficult to fit in Sunday at Tlacolula unless I spend only 3 nights in Puebla and travel to Oaxaca on a Saturday. Would that be enough time in Puebla?

Or, should I just drop either Puebla or Oaxaca? If so which would you pick?

Thanks in advance!

There will be more questions but this seems like a threshold one.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 05:38 PM
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Random thoughts.
You can take a bus directly from MEX to Puebla, if that helps with logistics/timing.
I wouldn't drop either Puebla or Oaxaca. Puebla is a beautiful example of colonial architecture and right on your itinerary, so no reason to omit it. 3 nights are OK, I think. I've visited Tlaxcala only once. It is a handsome colonial city, but I see no reason to rush back. Maybe because we were at the end of a long trip and were road weary. Cholula is popular with visitors to Puebla; I've been there twice and will probably never bother to go back. One of the big attractions is the pyramid, which is mostly a mound of dirt with a church on top. And if you're ruined out, probably skipable.
I thought about recommending Orizaba, but it's main attraction is the teleférico up the Cerro Del Borrego, but it's not for those that don't like heights.
Oaxaca is a gem. If you've only a short time, you don't need to visit the craft/weaving villages as everything made in the villages is for sale in Oaxaca. The Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca is a must-see. The Benito Juarez market just off the Zócalo is the main shopping market. Cheese, leather goods, Mezcal, chapulines. Although one of my first stops is the Grano De Oro coffee seller. I usually pick up at least a kilo, if not 2. 20 De Noviembre is the food market. Gigantic loaves of pan de yema. Hierve de Agua is probably not for those that don't like heights either. I enjoyed the ex-convento of Cuilapan, kind of macabre; it was where Vicente Guerrero was executed. Never visited Tlacolula. I'm probably a bit burned out on markets, so just never bothered to go.
baldone is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 07:07 PM
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Tlacolula is a good one. I'd make an effort to get there if it doesn't shake things up too much.
MmePerdu is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 10:10 PM
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Thank you. I was planning to take the bus directly from the airport to Puebla as my first stop. So I'd have at least a few hours that arrival day if there are no hiccups, then at least two full days if I do leave on that first Saturday. Will have to decide about excursions. I think I may be mixing up Tonantzintla with Tlaxcala (two places I can't pronounce) which would be a reason to go to Cholula .

I'm still not sure if i want to leave Puebla early just to make the Sunday market. Maybe I'll play it by ear, and leave the Saturday/Sunday thing open. The other thought was to travel on a Monday but that cuts into total days in Oaxaca. As much interested in the cultural side of markets as shopping but I'm always tempted.

Can anyone point to other good markets on days other than Sunday? I did read your blog, MmePerdu, so helpful. I still have much more research to do.

Do you think it's smart to fly back OAX to MEX rather than doing another bus transfer? Interjet is cheap. Sometimes all the extra time at airports is just as tiring as bus trips, though.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 11:32 PM
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Flying from Oaxaca to Mexico City is what I'd recommend. OAX is right on the edge of the city, an easy airport to negotiate, you don't have to be very early for your flight & there's a good friendly restaurant if the timing is right for breakfast or lunch. A much better alternative to a long bus ride.
Regarding markets, there are a number around and several websites describe the list, this one for instance: you'll be in town on a Friday, the market at El Llano Park is great fun, very local, large & a lot of variety, my favorite. Look for the lady who sells her jam made from chilis, so good!!

Last edited by MmePerdu; Dec 3rd, 2019 at 11:43 PM.
MmePerdu is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 11:46 PM
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Sorry about the jammed spacing above, the site seems bent on it.
MmePerdu is offline  
Dec 4th, 2019, 04:38 AM
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Mme Perdu, do you know Richard Perry's book Exploring Colonial Oaxaca: The Art and Architecture? It covers a dozen colonial churches in the city of Oaxaca and dozens more in the towns and villages of the state of Oaxaca. Perry, an artist, does fine drawings of the buildings. Good historical background. He also has a website covering colonial architecture throughout Mexico:

Another good book: Elizabeth Wilder, Art and Time in Colonial Mexico: Architecture and Sculpture in Colonial Mexico. Wilder (now deceased) has a deep understanding of the subject. She tells us to put aside our Eurocentric ideas of "styles" which arrive chronologically and instead look at colonial Mexico through a very different lens. In the three centuries of colonial Mexican architecture, the styles get jumbled, they evolve, and the indigenous workmen hewing stone and carving statues and ornate columns incorporate details from their Mixtec and Aztec etc. heritage. As well, no church in Mexico is ever really "finished"--the community moves one altar here or there, spruces up the building with a little baroque, then alters that, continues replacing things or reproducing things all the way to today. A great book.
EYWandBTV is offline  
Dec 4th, 2019, 11:54 AM
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Originally Posted by EYWandBTV View Post
Mme Perdu, do you know Richard Perry's book Exploring Colonial Oaxaca: The Art and Architecture? . . . Another good book: Elizabeth Wilder, Art and Time in Colonial Mexico: Architecture and Sculpture in Colonial Mexico. . .
No, I haven't delved into the particulars of Mexican architecture (or any county's for that matter), am not an intellectual traveler in that way. I am, though, a completely visual person & that most definitely dictates my choice of destinations. If I like how things look I can stay forever. Or I can imagine staying forever, other criteria then coming into play. I guess you could say if I'm in a beautiful place, it's enough, background for ambiance, for day-to-day living. When I'm interested in details it tends to be with people's lives rather than the buildings in which the lives happen, though there's overlap, of course. Probably more information than you needed.

I'll also mention that my preference is for a human scale or more humble buildings, a village more than a city. I prefer the look of San Cristobal de las Casas to Oaxaca, though I love Oaxaca, too. Who wouldn't?

Last edited by MmePerdu; Dec 4th, 2019 at 11:57 AM.
MmePerdu is offline  
Dec 4th, 2019, 01:22 PM
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Thanks for the link to culturetrip MmePerdue. There are several promising alternatives! Still reading and distilling. Will be back with more questions. I know I won't have time for everything but it's easy for me to go back. Making time is always the challenge, though.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 4th, 2019, 08:43 PM
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I am not keen on heights either and, whilst I do enjoy a nice ruin, when it comes down to it, I do have a limited attention span. Teotihuacan I did not enjoy mainly because of the height factor but also because I wasn’t especially overwhelmed with the place anyway.

Monte Alban however, was pretty amazing and well worth the bust trip to get there. I thought it a stunning place and you could still enjoy the place without climbing a step. Although, having not been to the Yucatán yet, I can’t say how it compares.

"Puebla, Oaxaca and then fly back OAX to MEX and spend a week in Mexico City, although could reverse it." Sounds like a great plan to me and I certainly would not drop either Puebla or Oaxaca. I think we had 4 nights in Puebla but spent most of one day in Cholula - with which I wasn’t overIy impressed, so 3 nights would be about right I think. don’t think it really matters which way around you do it. I loved all three places and, as food is one of your key interests, I don’t think you will be disappointed with any of them. Similarly the markets and crafts on offer.

We stayed in some very nice places in Oaxaca and Puebla . In Puebla we stayed in two beautiful colonial properties, Meson Sacristia de La Compagnia - perhaps one of the most OTT rooms ever

and Hotel Boutique Casa de Palma which was slightly more restrained.

In Mexico City I struggled with hotels so if you do find somewhere good do let me know for our next visit!
crellston is offline  
Dec 5th, 2019, 01:42 AM
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Thanks for your thoughts, crellston. Have you left SALT yet? I may not have mentioned that I liked the fried foods at the convenience store next door, guilty pleasure.

Your Crazy room in Puebla is unavailable! I've seen some less than stellar reviews of Casa de Palma that made it sound like a dusty death trap (Tripadvisor), so I've reserved into the NH where Daniel stayed. 4 Nights at affordable rates. Will probably welcome the corporate sterility after Yucatan.

Howver, I'm very pleased to have snagged 5 nights at popular Hotel con Corazon in Oaxaca. They showed only a few left. Hope no bloqueos or natural disasters prevent my arrival. (My first attempt for Puebla was in 2017, the year of the big quake).

The plan leaves me with a meagre 5 nights in Mexico City which I'm sure will be just a taster "research" trip. Next task is where to stay in Mexico City !

Hope you are enjoying the last days of your trip. Thanks again for taking time to chime in.

Yes, food is one of my key interests. I have spent much of the day reading about what/where to eat in Puebla. Tomorrow I will head out to my local supermarket and order a Cemita, so I'll have something to compare the real thing with!

Last edited by mlgb; Dec 5th, 2019 at 01:47 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 6th, 2019, 01:04 AM
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My very strong (if belated) advice for this trip, mlgb, is to make sure you learn what you need to learn so that you can advise me well when I am ready to visit these areas.

In other words, I have nothing of value to add. I've been to the Yucatan and Chiapas, but not CDMX, Puebla, or Oaxaca -- but not for lack of interest! And I do, indeed, hope to visit these areas sometime in the foreseeable future.

Maybe topping your thread will elicit a response of greater value?
kja is offline  
Dec 6th, 2019, 09:28 AM
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Hi kja, too bad I don't have one of your excellent trip reports to browse but there are many contenders for the "kja award" on the Mexico forum! It's been hard to move on from Puebla research. So much to see, so little time.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 6th, 2019, 08:23 PM
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We left SALT a couple of days ago. Did pop into that store in a failed attempt to buy a bottle wine - didnt eat there but know what you mean re the fried food! instead we patronised the excellent fish and chip place on the harbour and rediscovered the love for deep fried hake!

Great that you managed to get into Corazón - we loved it there.

Casa de Palma was an ok place as far as I recall, a huge room. Certainly don’t recall it being a "dusty death trap". NH in CDMX, on the other hand was one of my less satisfactory choices. We got put in a windowless room in a basement along a long corridor behind a ballroom. The whole floor stank of glue as they were halfway through relaying the carpets - I was effectively glue sniffing the whole time. The room itself was full of all manner of aids for disabled people and a couple of extra beds jammed in a corner. I complained and was told it was the only room available and had been upgraded anyway! Immediately cancelled our remaining booking with them.

Some great food options in Puebla including a famous taco place. I think I reviewed it on TA so will try and find its name.

On arrival in CDMX, we stayed in Roma Norte, I think at the suggestion of Baldone. Good location for getting around the rest of the city using the subway. Uber also worked well there. We used Stanza hotel which was fine, but not outstanding, good location though and some other nice places in the immediate vicinity. Loads of restaurants in the vicinity and some amazing taco stalls on the streets nearby which we frequented every day for breakfast.

The other area I would have considered staying was in Coyoacan near the Museo Frida Kahlo (if you want to avoid the massive queues, do book online) . A nice area if a little further out from the rest of the city.

Puebla was really good
crellston is offline  
Dec 7th, 2019, 05:42 PM
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Thanks for the added comments crellston. I also ate at the greasy fish & chips place in the harbor! (Memories of Brighton where my sister lived for 5+ years).

I am not locked into anything yet and will take your other comments into consideration.

Was looking at some Airbnbs in Mexico City but walking around with Google Maps and taking 3 flights of stairs not thrilled with the initial choice. Actually Stanza looks like it would be okay, may book that as a backup since it can be cancelled and bag the Airbnb for now.

Have been there, done that, with glue sniffing room with the new carpet (in Quito). I threatened to leave immediately and they put me up higher in an old not remodeled room. At least the included breakfast was excellent.

Enjoy the balance of your days in South Africa!

Last edited by mlgb; Dec 7th, 2019 at 06:07 PM.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 7th, 2019, 07:46 PM
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More random thoughts.
Indeed, what the Stanza lacks in character, it makes up for in location. Moderate priced hotel options in Roma & Condesa are few. The Hotel Roosevelt in (or rather, on the edge of) Condesa is a notch below the Stanza, but serviceable. Four Points in Roma is a pricier option.
Of the plethora of restaurant options in Roma, we almost always end up going for BBQ and craft beer at Porco Rosso. Heathens, are we not? We miss our Midwest US BBQ sometimes, what can I say?
Porco Rosso |
Crellston's comments about Teotihuacan struck me, in that while we thought the pyramids were impressive, we left feeling somewhat unfulfilled. I think the urban setting might have had something to do with that. But time allowing, it's worthwhile, I think if for no other reason than to say you've been. Plus after having visited archeological sites in Perú, and in Mexico El Tajin and Palenque, the more jungly/Indiana Jones type settings for us are more compelling. We did enjoy however the La Gruta restaurant near Teotihuacan. That said, Monte Alban is a unique site where you have a fantastic view of the central valleys, and with a smidgen of imagination you can transport yourself to a different era while there. You don't need to do any climbing to enjoy the site. We've been there like 5 times, taking friends that have never been.
In Puebla we pretty much always stay at the Hotel Colonial, just steps from Mesón La Sacrista. Unless it's booked.
It's always a dilemma while planning for CDMX whether to stay in the centro histórico, or Roma/Condesa, which are the 2 most popular zonas. The Zona Rosa I think leans toward tacky. Centro has some classic breakfast places such as Cafe Tacuba (not the band), El Popular (24 hours) El Cardenal, and Sanborn's in the Casa De Lo Azulejos.
I think for our next visit we'll do centro after having stayed in Roma/Condesa the last 4-5 visits.
baldone is offline  
Dec 8th, 2019, 08:03 AM
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Thank you for your random thoughts, baldone. I'm not sure that BBQ will be a priority, though!

I'll keep Monte Alban on my "maybe if I have time" list , do some Google Map walking and see how the rest of the time goes. I like a site with a view, and options for no stair climbing !

I've tracked down crellston's reviews in TA (his NH was in Mexico City) but after reading the one for Casa de Palma I've switched over to that one (for now). King with Balcony. Reminds of a number of old casonas that I've stayed at in South America which I enjoyed. I had a night at an NH in Medellin and the thing I remember most was the extra-hard bed, even for Latin America. It was okay other than that, though.

Not a big breakfast eater but love excellent coffee!

I think I've settled on my hotel bookings at the moment. Thanks, everyone.

Now to start a list of places to eat. I don't want "nuevo" cuisine. We've got one of those creative Mexican spots here in Long Beach, and it's mostly gringo hipsters who like it! I'm a gringo, but too old to be a hipster. Just call me old school. When I need a fix, I prefer to join "the people" at a nearby supermarket/mercado or hole in the wall.

Last edited by mlgb; Dec 8th, 2019 at 08:09 AM.
mlgb is offline  
Dec 8th, 2019, 12:58 PM
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Las Ranas Taqueria in Puebla - a place I would (and did) go back to!
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