Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Oaxaca Dining


marktynernyc
 Share

Recommended Posts

I have the author's blessing to reproduce this letter that was sent to her friends Sept. 8th. It provides a first hand view of the siutation there and has put her friends at ease.

I hope this helps you, too.

Memo

Sorry I did not reprint the photos she sent, but they basically depict the streets near the zocalo. The walking street Alcala, now has cars on either side.

Dear Friends of Oaxaca,

I am emailing you because all of you have contacted me with concerns about the situation in Oaxaca.

The photos I have attached I took this morning when I went on a walk from the zocalo up to the Pochote organic food market on Garcia Vigil, a distance of about 9 blocks. Alcala, Garcia Vigil and Cinco de Mayo ( where the Camino Real Hotel is ) comprise the heart of the Historic Center. These photos were taken at 9 am, so the foot traffic had not peaked yet.

I have lived in Oaxaca for 20 years and still consider it one of the safest places on earth. Teotitlan del Valle, where Casa Sagrada, our guesthouse & retreat center is located is still one of the safest places on earth, totally unaffected by the situation - accept economically.

There is no question that we are living historic moments in Oaxaca. Never did I think things would come to this but now that it has I am looking at everything with a new perspective. Here are some of my thoughts and my actions.

My business is open and has been six days a week forever except on June 14th (the now famous teargas bombing fiasco). With the exception of some hotels, that due to a drastic drop in tourism have had to close - temporarily we hope, most businesses directed to tourism are open. I think restaurants are having an especially hard time since they deal in perishables and some have decided to close for a couple of weeks. Our store La Mano Magica, located smack dab in the centro historico is closing at 8 pm as usual. September is that slowest month historically and with this problem tourism is scant. Several restaurant owners have said that they would reopen beginning of October when typically the tourist influx rises.

The municipal street sweepers are working hard and the streets generally look good except for certain blocks with clusters of rocks in the street. Again, it is testimony to the citizenry, that no rock-throwing, to speak of, has occurred since the isolated June 14th incidents. Vandals could have a free-for-all with the rocks and they aren’t; I only have bars over our windows and they are in good shape. I have attached a photo of the zocalo and it looked “just swepted” this morning.

Everyone is wondering just what these barricades are all about. The barricades have been set up principally by the APPO at night to assure them security. They are afraid that the governor will send in his supposed thugs to oust them from the government offices and the radio stations they have taken over. In reality there have been only a few off these incidents and those were clustered around the 3rd week in August. During the day everybody walks through these streets, old ladies, moms with kids in strollers, etc. The barricades go up from about 9:30 pm to 6 am. Some neighborhoods groups have organized and also put up barricades as a form of controlling traffic during these vulnerable hours. I think their attitude is that only "uptonogooders" would be cruising the side streets so late in the night.

You may have heard that they are burning tired at the barricades. That was true, really noxious stuff but as of last week the APPO and the Teacher’s radio stations announced that a consensus had been taken and there would be no more tire burning. Effectively tires are not being burned anymore.

I feel that the graffiti is going the same way. It was apparently the APPO that graffitied Santo Domingo and this same organization took the initiative, with major group effort including students, to remove the writing. There was a article in Las Noticias newspaper -the more pro-APPO - on Sept. 7 commenting on the impending banning of graffiti on all buildings. I feel we are very close to repainting Oaxaca’s beautiful façades. My personal experience: La Mano Magica got graffitied 5 weeks ago and several days later we repainted a big part of the lower façade with the same color of ochre paint. We have never been hit by graffiti again. I feel our walls have been respected because the graffiti painters could tell that the owner of the building did the repainting, not the government that just covers up anti- Ullises Ruiz graffiti with any old color of paint. I will keep you posted on the progress.

In my walkabout today saw only one broken window taped up and that was at Galería Arte de Oaxaca and it has been like that since the 14th of June.

What is our life like on an average day?

We are mostly living in on our house near the historic center of Oaxaca now as our son has gone back to school at La Salle in the north of the city. I drive him to school at 6:40 a.m. with no problem. One major street going north has been blocked by the APPO just past Blvd. Heroes de Chapultepec for several blocks, where one of the radio stations they have taken over is located. I take Amapolas street instead but then again I often took that street before APPO existed. Traffic can be more condensed than normal on certain legs of the Blvd. but all in all it flows.

I drive out to Teotitlan del Valle ( 25 kms. southeast of the city ) just about everyday with no problem. One of the good things this construction-crazed governor has done is improve traffic flow especially along the historically bottlenecked Blvd. Chapultepec. We now have these "vueltas Inglesas" ( English turns) - expect no one who has ever been to England has seen the likes. The new turns give cheap thrills as you find yourself driving on the left-hand side of the road ( aha!! thus the English turn ) but let me tell you there are cars going all directions at the same time and traffic really moves.

Interestingly, mass behavioral changes have also occurred in Oaxaca. I am reminded of a galloping herd of horses that all turn direction at the same time without ever crashing into each other. On some deep level the citizens of Oaxaca have adopted changes without any formal directives being given i.e.: one-way streets have become two-way streets or when traffic lights went out at one of the cities most convoluted roundabouts everyone adopted a continuous merge and traffic flowed better than ever. Oaxacans have acted with admirable civil responsibility in the near absence of police. I have seen citizens spontaneously take up traffic directing at a major intersection where the light has was not working. What makes this even more interesting is that everyone spontaneously decided to let this person direct and patiently waited their turn to move along. Gridlocks do occur but they always have - a pet peeve I have with local drivers.

I walk about freely from early morning till after 9 pm and since I am in bed by 10 p.m. walking the streets late isn't an issue for me. It is true that Oaxaca is emptier that normal after say 9:30 pm and in part this has become a self-fulfilling prophecy: since there are so few tourists, there are fewer workers at stores, hotels and restaurants, and this adds up to fewer people in the streets at night and the few that might be out feel awfully lonely so they tend not to stay out. See what I mean? Our 14 year-old son, gets himself home from school, a 3 mile trek and has reported no problems. He is allowed to go out on his own; he just has to be home by 8 pm.

Last night I was talking with a friend and we grumbled about what we feel has been a distorted perspective on the violence in Oaxaca she reminded me about what happened in New Orleans last year. In the absence of police, looters went on a rampage. What has happened in Oaxaca is insignificant compared to New Orleans. The doors of our gallery are open, just as ever, to the street and I have no security guard standing in front.

To my knowledge that has been no aggression directed towards tourists. In fact the aggression and so-called violence has been very pinpointed. Visitors going about their normal activities should be fine. I wouldn’t make a point of taking close-up pictures of the barricades without asking permission just because those being photographed could misinterpret the motive behind the photo. But that isn’t much different from taking photos in the native markets.

I will right more as thoughts come to me.

My best regards from Oaxaca and in speaking for all Oaxaca we hope to see our friends again soon.

Mary Jane Gagnier de Mendoza

info@lamanomagica.com

www.casasagrada.com <http://www.casasagrada.com/>

www.lamanomagica.com <http://www.lamanomagica.com/>

Edited by Memo (log)

Ríate y el mundo ríe contigo. Ronques y duermes solito.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Snore, and you sleep alone.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
More important news and views from those living and travelling in Oaxaca.

http://forum.planeta.com/viewtopic.php?t=795

Memo, thank you posting this site and for the previous post with the letter from your friend. We will be in Oaxaca for the first part of our extended stay (most of the Winter) in Mexico. We plan to be there in Jan, and are renting a house in the hills above the city. We are watching the news daily, and are anxious, but not backing away. I know the businesses must be suffering, and most tourists will stay away if there's trouble. We're a bit more adventurous, and will cancel our plans only if it's unsafe. If you get additional local news from Oaxaca, I'd be grateful if you passed it along.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

We were scheduled to fly to Oaxaca on December 5, spending eight days there exploring markets and ruins, relaxing at the Zocalo, taking a cooking class or two, and then flying down to Puerto Escondido for a few days.

Relaxing at the Zocalo seems very unlikely if the unrest there persists.

We really liked the idea of Oaxaca, as it's such a great food destination, and central for all the great day trips to nearby sites. We don't really want a trip that requires us to pack bags and move to new hotels each day. We also don't want to do a resort or tourist type thing.

Any suggestions on alternative destinations we can consider at this last moment? We can change our airline tickets. Ideally seeking as many of these as possible:

1. Great food markets.

2. Chocolate and chiles.

3. Great (preferably inexpensive) restaurants.

4. A cooking class or two.

5. Other sites to see, like ruins.

6. Seafood if possible (P.E. would have given us this).

7. Location that serves as a base for day trips without having to change lodging.

8. Authentic instead of fake touristy.

9. Safety.

10. Smaller scale, unless someone can really make a convincing case for Mexico City (we really prefer a slower pace).

All ideas welcome and appreciated!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not sure about cooking classes, but the Yucatan area meets many of your requirements. The cuisine is one of my favorites of the many fabulous Mexican regions. I would use Merida for your base, staying away from the tourist beaches.

You'll have more great restaurants, archaeological sites, nature preserves, etc. than you could ever see in eight days.

Something to consider.

Bill/SFNM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have my deep sympathy. Oaxaca is spectacular, and DH and I are in the same boat, scheduled to spend first 2 weeks of our Mexican winter sojourn there, last 2 weeks of Jan, 07. The zocalo has been cleared, but is in disastrous shape. At this point, it's really not a question of safety. The locals simply are unlikely to be able to put everything back together in such short order as to turn it back into my beloved Oaxaca.

Last year, we went to Queretaro, Guanajuato, Michoacan, as well as Mexico City. We really fell in love with Queretaro and Guanajuato. Queretaro is 30 miles from San Miguel. Some lovely side trips, ruins, etc. in all areas. Guanajuato (big university town) is fascinating, and wonderful fun on Sat night in the square. Great food can be found in all these areas. Great markets in all. Some cooking schools in San Miguel. (We'll be there in Feb this year.) All in all, if you want less expensive, central locaiton, I'd say Queretaro should be considered. You can fly into Leon, Queretaro or Mex City. Buses run from Queretaro to San Miguel, Guanajuato, etc. We took the bus from MX City to Queretaro, super easy, about 4 hours or so. Cost about $28 per. By the way, Queretaro is safe and is the cleanest city we've seen in MX.

Edited by SondraG (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Patzcuaro and Morelia in Michoacan might make a good alternative. The tianguis/mercado in Patzcuaro is not as large or quite as diverse as the abastos in Oaxaca, but it's a nice market none the less. It's probably more equivalent to the 20 de Noviembre market in Oaxaca. Here's a link to a discussion about food and eating in Patzcuaro and Morelia that you may find helpful. Food/Restaurants in Patzcuaro & Morelia.

Either Morelia or Patzcuaro would make a good home base for day trips to outlying villages and towns such as Santa Clara del Cobre, Erongaricuaro, Ihuatizo, Capula, Tzintzuntzan, the island of Janitzio, etc. Michoacan is one of the only other states in Mexico that can rival - and in some cases exceed - Oaxaca in terms of folk art. I think the food is equal as well. The one thing on your list I haven't found in Michoacan though are cooking classes. Seafood is readily available and it's pretty good, or take a few days and go to Michoacan's famous seaside resort - Zihuatanejo. It's closer to Morelia than Puerto Escondido or Huatulco is to Oaxaca City. I'm not sure what you mean by authentic touristy; Michoacan has it's share of tourists, but is not over-run with ticky-tacky trinkets. Prices on most things are about the same as Oaxaca, maybe a few pesos less. Both are also smaller cities than Oaxaca.

There has been a lot of press about the violence in Michoacan - NPR ran a pretty sensational piece recently. By far, the bulk of the violence is almost entirely related to the drug trade and the drug cartels. Unless you're planning to frequent the same places they do, or planning to do business with them, you should be as safe (or possibly even safer) in Morelia or Patzcuaro as you would be in any big city in the U.S. Continental Airlines flies directly into Morelia via Houston.

Another option might be Veracruz, Xalapa, Coatepec and Xico. The heat and humidity won't be as much a factor in December and once you start getting up into the mountains away from Veracruz it will probably be very pleasant; lush and tropical.

Edited by kalypso (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to The Dining Diva for posting her excellent guide to Pátzcuaro, and for mentioning me therein (I'm Cristina).

On another site, a poster asked for similar advice. Pátzcuaro would be my first choice--it always is--but this poster asked about San Cristóbal de las Casas versus Zacatecas.

Here are his questions and several replies.

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to The Dining Diva for posting her excellent guide to Pátzcuaro, and for mentioning me therein (I'm Cristina).

Here are his questions and several replies.

Of course I have to mention you! I wouldn't know any of this stuff if you hadn't taken the time to show/teach me :wink: It's important to give the credit where it's due.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to The Dining Diva for posting her excellent guide to Pátzcuaro, and for mentioning me therein (I'm Cristina).

Here are his questions and several replies.

Of course I have to mention you! I wouldn't know any of this stuff if you hadn't taken the time to show/teach me :wink: It's important to give the credit where it's due.

:blush:

What's new at Mexico Cooks!?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's really sad for the folks in Oaxaca that their city and livelihoods are being destroyed. Just dreadful

But you know, if any of you share the view of travelling that I find useful, perhaps this is a great opportunity for you. I often find that going to the lesser-known spots gives a better entry to the country.

And Mexico is absolutely bursting with wonderful unknown destinations. When people ask me why I haven't travelled all over the country in the ten years or more I have lived here, I just say that there is so much to explore in the state of Guanajuato that I prefer to do that well. I have fantastic food experiences here all the time and it's not even supposed to be a great food state. Plus, of course, as the fount of Mexican food Oaxaca is surpassed by other places specially Michoacan and Puebla.

Consider Mexico City. Rent in Condessa--the areas where the hotels are you generally don't want to be. Consider any of the great colonial cities. Poke about and you will find a lot.

Rachel

Rachel Caroline Laudan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

But you know, if any of you share the view of travelling that I find useful, perhaps this is a great opportunity for you.  I often find that going to the lesser-known spots gives a better entry to the country. 

I fully agree that the represents an opportunity to find something different - and if Oaxaca isn't in the cards for this year, we can go another time. I'm just struggling to figure it out fast, as I had researched a great itinerary for Oaxaca and would want to do the same to maximize our time in another area.

Mexico City is appealing for all its street food, but I think we want a less urban experience. I appreciate everyone's input so far. Michoacan sounds like a good alternative, perhaps using Morelia as a base. I need to figure out if it's easy to get to Zihuatanejo to satisfy the beach/seafood part of the trip. Oh, and the butterflies will be around, but I think that's added more difficult distance to the trip? Obviously, I need to map this out more, but any further suggestions on a manageable itinerary would be welcomed and appreciated!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Easy to zip from Morelia down to Zihua by bus-the new toll road makes it much faster than formerly.

Lots of Zihua info on the net.

http://www.zihuatanejo-ixtapa.com/messageboard/index.html

Funny I was looking at some old Mexico photos of mine the other day and as always it's the shots you didn't take that haunt you.

I'm referring to the Mercado de Dulces in Morelia-a golden memory. :wub:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Any suggestions on alternative destinations we can consider at this last moment? We can change our airline tickets. Ideally seeking as many of these as possible:

1. Great food markets.

2. Chocolate and chiles.

3. Great (preferably inexpensive) restaurants.

4. A cooking class or two.

5. Other sites to see, like ruins.

6. Seafood if possible (P.E. would have given us this).

7. Location that serves as a base for day trips without having to change lodging.

8. Authentic instead of fake touristy.

9. Safety.

10. Smaller scale, unless someone can really make a convincing case for Mexico City (we really prefer a slower pace).

I'm going to get on my soapbox for one of the most untouristed areas for Americans-- the state of Veracruz. I think the cuisine is varied (mountains vs coast) and most of all DELICIOUS. Chocolate is not as big as it is in Oaxaca, but you have incredible seafood (Huachinango a la Veracruzana is the most famous dish), one great Mole-- Mole de Xico, interesting culture with lots of African influence, archeology in both North and South--Totonac and Olmec, wonderful music (danzon and son jarocho), interesting foodie trips for coffee (Coatepec and Huatusco) and vanilla (Papantla).

Veracruz is probably the most Spanish of Mexican states and mestizo culture is very strong. Indigenous people are mostly seen in the northern part of the state near Papantla. One of the unique features of the cuisine is the influence of Africa and the Carribbean, especially in the Sotavento region. Many AfroMexicans live in the Sotavento and the areas around Tamiahua.

I have eaten in Raquel Torres' restaurants in Xalapa and they were incredible. I have heard that you can set up cooking classes individually with her, but I believe they are only available in Spanish. Raquel is a noted authority on Veracruzan cuisine and the author of several cookbooks in Spanish. I have seen references to her in Diana Kennedy's and other author's works.

The cities in Veracruz are smaller and more manageable, but it's harder to get around without a car and you would have to change hotels at least once. (Veracruz and another one in the Xalapa area) The markets, I must admit are not as spectacular as the Mercado de abastos in Oaxaca or La Merced in Mexico City, but Mercado Jauregui in Xalapa had half of the stands set up for spiritual help, and you can get a"cleansing" should you need a spiritual shot in the arm. Tianguises (farmers markets) are set up in neighborhoods as opposed to the having the shopping meccas of major permanent markets.

Safety-- the political situation in Veracruz is very stable. It is one of the most prosperous states in Mexico and with normal precautions, you will be fine. The main problem I see is language. In my experience, Oaxaca was very tourist friendly and English is widely spoken--not so in Veracruz, but that also gives you a more authentic experience.

My ideal itinerary for a first time visitor would be:

"El Puerto" Veracruz City/Boca del Rio--For the seafood eating alone..great music too Some of the best places to eat are in Boca del Rio. Non- food eating activities include San Juan del Ulua, El Malecon, The Aquarium (best in Latin America) Also RUN do not walk to la Gran Cafe de la Parroquia for wonderful cafe con leche and breakfast.

Tlacotalpan--Unesco world heritage site and sugar cane producing area--also regionally known for their confectionary. Agustin Lara's hometown too.

Xalapa/Xico/Coatepec-- Stay in Coatepec spend time trying delicious local coffee, Mole in Xico and the amazing Museo de Antropologia--2nd best in Mexico in Xalapa. The waterfall in Xico is also really cool Raquel Torres' restaurants are also a must. Santa Ana's hacienda is very interesting as well and nicely restored.

If you have more time than a week, I would recommend either Catemaco or Papantla. Due to distances, it's hard to do both (opposite ends of the state). Catemaco has the amazing lake, birdwatching and plenty of local color--it is the home of annual Witch festival. Papantla has vanilla and the knockout archeological site of El Tajin. On your way you can also stop in Panuco to eat the Giant Tamal that's around 6ft long.

Anyway, consider Veracruz. Pick up a guidebook and see if it works for you. PM me if you have any questions.

Caarina

Edited by Caarina (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

And in Coatepec there is Tio Yeyo, a fabulous restaurant that offers about 20 different ways of preparing trout.

Any suggestions on alternative destinations we can consider at this last moment? We can change our airline tickets. Ideally seeking as many of these as possible:

1. Great food markets.

2. Chocolate and chiles.

3. Great (preferably inexpensive) restaurants.

4. A cooking class or two.

5. Other sites to see, like ruins.

6. Seafood if possible (P.E. would have given us this).

7. Location that serves as a base for day trips without having to change lodging.

8. Authentic instead of fake touristy.

9. Safety.

10. Smaller scale, unless someone can really make a convincing case for Mexico City (we really prefer a slower pace).

I'm going to get on my soapbox for one of the most untouristed areas for Americans-- the state of Veracruz. I think the cuisine is varied (mountains vs coast) and most of all DELICIOUS. Chocolate is not as big as it is in Oaxaca, but you have incredible seafood (Huachinango a la Veracruzana is the most famous dish), one great Mole-- Mole de Xico, interesting culture with lots of African influence, archeology in both North and South--Totonac and Olmec, wonderful music (danzon and son jarocho), interesting foodie trips for coffee (Coatepec and Huatusco) and vanilla (Papantla).

Veracruz is probably the most Spanish of Mexican states and mestizo culture is very strong. Indigenous people are mostly seen in the northern part of the state near Papantla. One of the unique features of the cuisine is the influence of Africa and the Carribbean, especially in the Sotavento region. Many AfroMexicans live in the Sotavento and the areas around Tamiahua.

I have eaten in Raquel Torres' restaurants in Xalapa and they were incredible. I have heard that you can set up cooking classes individually with her, but I believe they are only available in Spanish. Raquel is a noted authority on Veracruzan cuisine and the author of several cookbooks in Spanish. I have seen references to her in Diana Kennedy's and other author's works.

The cities in Veracruz are smaller and more manageable, but it's harder to get around without a car and you would have to change hotels at least once. (Veracruz and another one in the Xalapa area) The markets, I must admit are not as spectacular as the Mercado de abastos in Oaxaca or La Merced in Mexico City, but Mercado Jauregui in Xalapa had half of the stands set up for spiritual help, and you can get a"cleansing" should you need a spiritual shot in the arm. Tianguises (farmers markets) are set up in neighborhoods as opposed to the having the shopping meccas of major permanent markets.

Safety-- the political situation in Veracruz is very stable. It is one of the most prosperous states in Mexico and with normal precautions, you will be fine. The main problem I see is language. In my experience, Oaxaca was very tourist friendly and English is widely spoken--not so in Veracruz, but that also gives you a more authentic experience.

My ideal itinerary for a first time visitor would be:

"El Puerto" Veracruz City/Boca del Rio--For the seafood eating alone..great music too Some of the best places to eat are in Boca del Rio. Non- food eating activities include San Juan del Ulua, El Malecon, The Aquarium (best in Latin America) Also RUN do not walk to la Gran Cafe de la Parroquia for wonderful cafe con leche and breakfast.

Tlacotalpan--Unesco world heritage site and sugar cane producing area--also regionally known for their confectionary. Agustin Lara's hometown too.

Xalapa/Xico/Coatepec-- Stay in Coatepec spend time trying delicious local coffee, Mole in Xico and the amazing Museo de Antropologia--2nd best in Mexico in Xalapa. The waterfall in Xico is also really cool Raquel Torres' restaurants are also a must. Santa Ana's hacienda is very interesting as well and nicely restored.

If you have more time than a week, I would recommend either Catemaco or Papantla. Due to distances, it's hard to do both (opposite ends of the state). Catemaco has the amazing lake, birdwatching and plenty of local color--it is the home of annual Witch festival. Papantla has vanilla and the knockout archeological site of El Tajin. On your way you can also stop in Panuco to eat the Giant Tamal that's around 6ft long.

Anyway, consider Veracruz. Pick up a guidebook and see if it works for you. PM me if you have any questions.

Caarina

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyway, consider Veracruz.  Pick up a guidebook and see if it works for you.  PM me if you have any questions.

Caarina

This is fabulous information, and I really appreciate it. I did a little research on Veracruz last weekend, and looked into going, but there weren't any frequent flyer seats available to Veracruz for our timeframe. So I'm tentatively holding tickets for Michoacan.

I guess I could fly into Mexico City and drive to Veracruz as an option, since I'd want a car anyway, but that's a bit of a distance, right? I'll have to research a bit more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess I could fly into Mexico City and drive to Veracruz as an option, since I'd want a car anyway, but that's a bit of a distance, right? I'll have to research a bit more.

I would not recommend renting a car in Mexico City, except if a local is driving. I personally don't drive in that area due to the corrupt cops, poorly marked streets and the insane traffic jams. I have friends in Mexico City who do drive and I ride with them or take radio cabs. (NEVER hire a cab on the street)

Another option is to take a "taxi de sitio" from the airport in Mexico City to the TAPO bus station. 1st Class buses go frequently to Veracruz and Xalapa. Check out www.ticketbus.com.mx for timetables and other information. I did this when I went to Xalapa and it took approx 4 hours.

Flying is preferrable if you can swing it.

Also Michoacan is a very good travel destination with excellent food, culture and architecture. If you can't do Veracruz, you will still have a wonderful vacation ahead of you.

Edited by Caarina (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Driving from Mexico City to Xalapa takes 3.5 hrs (300km), while DF to Veracruz is 4hrs (400km). Puebla is on the way (125km from Mexico City) and it is very much worth spending a day there enjoying the sights and superb food. Note that the Mexico City airport is in the East end of the city, so one doesn't have to cross the whole city to take the highway to Puebla. With a car you can also stop in Cacaxtla (near Puebla) and see the fascinating prehispanic murals.

If you don't want to drive, you can take the bus to Puebla right from the airport (at least one departure per hour) and in Puebla you can rent a car.

If you want to avoid Puebla, you can go anywhere in Veracruz State from the TAPO bus terminal (a few minutes from the airport). Or you can fly to Veracruz with Mexicana for about US$200 return.

Anyway, consider Veracruz.  Pick up a guidebook and see if it works for you.  PM me if you have any questions.

Caarina

This is fabulous information, and I really appreciate it. I did a little research on Veracruz last weekend, and looked into going, but there weren't any frequent flyer seats available to Veracruz for our timeframe. So I'm tentatively holding tickets for Michoacan.

I guess I could fly into Mexico City and drive to Veracruz as an option, since I'd want a car anyway, but that's a bit of a distance, right? I'll have to research a bit more.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quite agree about Veracruz state-I've dined very well there indeed especially outside the city.

http://www.johntoddjr.com/  blog by a long time American resident of Veracruz

Sam-- Great link! This website has a ton of information on Veracruz...

Makes me think...instead of that great trip to the DF and Puebla that I am planning... I could be convinced to go to Veracruz instead...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As others have noted, a Puebla - Veracruz vacation would be a lot of fun. Just ot put in my two cents, the recommendations made above are right on.

And you'll find very good inexpensive eateries at El Acuario food courts in Veracruz.

The water at Veracruz is not as spectacular as farther down toward the Yucatan, but, you could do the following itinerary.

Fly into Mexico City and take the bus directly from the airport to Puebla. Several gastronomic days in Puebla, then on to Xalapa for several days with side trips to Coatepec and Xico, then either north to see the ruins of El Tajin or straight down to Veracruz. Then back to Mexico City via Cordoba and Orizaba.

I would recommend grabbing the Frommer's Guide to Mexico and using it as your trip planner. We had excellent luck with the hotel recommendations. The only downside was, at the time we went there, Papantla, home of the vanilla industry and near to El Tajin, had a dreadful selection of hotels and eateries. I have travelled in Mexico for over 30 years and it was in Papantla that I was concerned about food preparation and sanitation.

I remember that when we were last in Xalapa, we stayed at El Cafetal. We had a day trip to Naolinco and discovered a family there that made a terrific mole negro, and we brought back several kilos.

We dined very well in Xico and hiked to the coffee area where Predator, Rambo and several other movies have been filmed.

We saw a spectacular archeological museum in Xalapa and toured the ex-hacienda of General Santa Ana.

Edited by Jay Francis (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Inspired by all your helpful replies (many thanks!), I'm close to canceling Oaxaca with the comfort of knowing that we can still have a great food/other activity trip to Veracruz (still assessing Michoacan, but now Veracruz is winning!). Luckily, I HAVE been able to find frequent flyer tickets to Veracruz - and possibly Puebla as well. A few questions:

1. Do you recommend trying to go to Puebla as part of the same trip? We'll have eight full days on the ground (excluding the two travel days), and I'm wondering if that will feel too rushed if we want to explore all that's in Veracruz (inc. Xalapa) in an unrushed way. Maybe I'm already answering my own question?!?

2. I've heard mixed things about Papantla (including one response in this thread), but we'd probably want to check it out - and also go to El Tajin anyway. Do you recommend staying overnight in Papantla? Or should we make it a daytrip from Xalapa? Or from Veracruz?

3. Lastly, any thoughts about doing all of this by public transportation (bus)? If you highly recommend a car for any segments, which would they be? Safe to have a car in this area?

Oh - and would still welcome any other great foodie destinations in this whole Puebla/Veracruz region.

I appreciate all the help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you are flying to Veracruz, then it is better to explore places within Veracruz State, and leave the visit to Puebla for another trip. Puebla is easy to get to from Mexico City.

It is not easy to visit El Tajin as a day trip from Veracruz or Xalapa. By car it takes about 2:30hrs from each of these two places to get to Papantla. When we visited El Tajin we were there early at opening time on a weekday and it started to rain. We had the place to ourselves (we saw only another couple visiting the ruins) and it was magical.

BTW, another special place you might want to visit is Cuetzalan to see the Sunday market (the people from the nearby villages concentrate there on Sunday). There are also hikes among coffee groves to see waterfalls and there are huge caves to explore (a guide with flashlight is available at the entrance). Cuetzalan is in the State of Puebla on the other side of the mountains from Papantla. It is possible to get there from Xalapa going West to Perote, then North to Teziutlan, then West to Zacapoaxtla, then North to Cuetzalan.

Inspired by all your helpful replies (many thanks!), I'm close to canceling Oaxaca with the comfort of knowing that we can still have a great food/other activity trip to Veracruz (still assessing Michoacan, but now Veracruz is winning!). Luckily, I HAVE been able to find frequent flyer tickets to Veracruz - and possibly Puebla as well. A few questions:

1. Do you recommend trying to go to Puebla as part of the same trip? We'll have eight full days on the ground (excluding the two travel days), and I'm wondering if that will feel too rushed if we want to explore all that's in Veracruz (inc. Xalapa) in an unrushed way. Maybe I'm already answering my own question?!?

2. I've heard mixed things about Papantla (including one response in this thread), but we'd probably want to check it out - and also go to El Tajin anyway. Do you recommend staying overnight in Papantla? Or should we make it a daytrip from Xalapa? Or from Veracruz?

3. Lastly, any thoughts about doing all of this by public transportation (bus)? If you highly recommend a car for any segments, which would they be? Safe to have a car in this area?

Oh - and would still welcome any other great foodie destinations in this whole Puebla/Veracruz region.

I appreciate all the help!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wanted to put a link out there to everyone who is interested in travel in Veracruz. Cookbook author and restauranteur, Zarela Martinez, recently published a book on Veracruz and has on her website restaurant and hotel recommendations for the state. You can check these out for ideas and a starting point.

http://www.zarela.com/askzarela-travel.html

I highly recommend Raquel Torres' restaurants in Xalapa-- La Churreria del Recuerdo (cenaduria--supper place) and Meson del Alfarez--I had the most excellent breakfasts there. I loved their Huevos a la veracruzana.. drooling on the keyboard as I write this...Basically, they are scrambled eggs wrapped in a corn tortilla and then bathed in black bean sauce like enfrijoladas. They are then garnished with the delicious local cheese and cream.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...