Visit Mexico this Winter

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

Winter in the Sun

[Note: This is a guest post written in partnership with ‘Journey Latin America‘]

We all know how it is.  The winter blues. It’s cold, it’s rainy and it certainly is not sunny.  That is certainly not the case here in sunny sunny Mexico. I present to you two great destinations to visit this winter: firstly, Puebla,Mexico’s best kept secret, a colonial city on the foothills of the Sierra Madre and secondly, Huatulco, an untouched breath taking beach resort, located on the pacific coast. Each offer a vastly different holiday experience, neither of which should be missed out on.

Puebla’s Historical Center

Puebla, only two hours away from Mexico City, is the fourth biggest city in Mexico. Relatively unvisited, it is fantastically authentic and home to, in my opinion and to many others, the best street food in Mexico. Visiting Puebla will give you a great city experience, with so much culture and tradition to discover. For example, did you know that 5 de Mayo happened in Puebla, or that it is home to mole, tacos arabes, cemitas, and memelas? Puebla has a very agreeable climate year round.  In the winter it has temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius during the day, and 10 degrees in the evening. This is an alternative Mexican holiday that will show the realMexico whilst giving you the warm weather you are missing at home.

Fun in the Sun, Huatulco, Oaxaca

About 9 hours down the road is Huatulco (home of the beach in ‘Y tu mamá también’) in the state of Oaxaca. It is a worthy alternative to Cancún, not only in offering cheaper prices, but in that it offers a far more Mexicanexperience.  It is comprised of 9 bays, each with their unique charm. A boat trip of all the bays, snorkelling, beers on the beach, eating delicious seafood, sunbathing, and rafting are musts for your visit. The resort really is a well kept secret by Mexicans, with less than twenty percent of tourism coming from outside of the country.  However it is easily accessible as it has its own airport with daily flights from Mexico City. How about the weather? Temperatures go from 30/35 degrees Celsius during the day to 15/20 degrees in the evenings.

Now it might be that you sound the like of both and you have a couple of weeks to spare. ‘Journey Latin America‘ a London based travel agency with an excellent reputation, offers holidays to Mexico including a two week trip that visits Puebla, Huatulco, and the wonderful city of Oaxaca as well as Monte Alban, Teotihuacan, and Mexico City. Check out ‘Oaxaca and the Pacific Coast‘ for the full itinerary.

To read more about Puebla, including its wonderful food, check out the other posts on the blog, and the official facebook page. Also check out more in-depth post on Huatulco.

Chila Chilaquiles

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles are one of the dishes that come to mind when I think of real authentic Mexican food.  If you are not in Mexico and you find a Mexican restaurant selling this dish, then you know it’s the real deal (not the type of place that sells HARD shelled tacos-what is that all about?!).  Chilaquiles are lightly fried strips of tortilla which have a red or green salsa poured on them. The dish is then topped with avocado, sliced onion, sour cream and cheese. It is most commonly also served with fried eggs or chicken, though a variety of toppings are often available (see picture above). The spiciness of the salsa depends place to place so always ask before whether the red or green is spicier. This is generally a breakfast dish, though delicious at any time of day and an excellent hangover cure!

Chilaquiles rojos con dos huevos estrellados

Check out Soy Poblana’s facebook page for additional posts and information about life in Puebla and Mexico!

LA CHALUPA : ORGULLO POBLANO

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Chalupas

A plate of chalupas

I haven’t said this in a while, but seriously, how amazing is Puebla! After living here for a while I think we all tend to forget what an amazing city and state this really is. My admiration really comes from the vast amount of dishes that are unique to Puebla. People think they know Mexican food, but really you don’t Mexico till you go to Puebla. Just thinking about uniquely poblana dishes, a huge list comes to mind, from Cemitas,Memelas, Mole, Chiles en Nogada, Tacos Árabes, etc. The list is endless. (More posts to follow on all of Puebla’s eclectic street food).

This post is about ‘chalupas’. It is true that a lot of Mexican dishes are very similar, many of them being variations of different tortilla combinations. But that doesn’t make any one of them any less delicious.  So what are chalupas? Well what they are not are those hard shelled things you get at Taco Bell. No, no, no.  Real chalupas are antojitos. Typically you eat them as an evening snack or as a starter, and always when celebrating Mexican Independence Day. They are lightly fried small corn tortillas (a little bit crispy but still soft), which have either red or green salsa, that are topped with onion, chicken and sometimes some cheese.

This is a dish for sharing. You don’t order one chalupa, you order a plate of chalupas. And you share them and you eat them with your hands. This is what Mexico, and Puebla is all about: food that is delicious and food that is for sharing. 

¡Provecho!

Check out Soy Poblana’s facebook page for additional posts and information about life in Puebla and Mexico!

Vamos a Cuetzalan, Pueblo Mágico

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Cuetzalan

Welcome to Cuetzalan! A hill-top town which has a reputation that proceeds itself amongst most poblanos, but for us foreigners is [most likely] completely unknown. Cuetzalan is a small town set high in the hills of the sierra norte of the state of Puebla, which makes for a great weekend trip. It is only 183 km from the capital, Puebla, but takes around 3 to 4 hours to get there, due to the mountainous roads. Cuetzalan is not just any town but a ‘magical town’ or ‘Pueblo Mágico’. ‘Pueblo Mágico’ is an initiative run by Mexico’s Secretariat of Tourism to promote towns that have been specifically hand picked as they offer a magical experience due to to their natural beauty, rich culture or historical importance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What makes Cuetzalan so magical? It is a stunning town characterised by its cobbled streets and rustic buildings. It offers a breathtaking setting amongst the hills of the Sierra Madre. Cuetzalan’s main town square (zócalo) is beautiful and offers a few market stalls most days. However the best time to visit is the weekend as Sunday offers the biggest market of the week with the local indigenous community selling all types of goods from fruit to meat to textiles. The food sold in Cuetzalan is delicious, just like in the city of Puebla, but somehow eating street food from a town makes it always that much tastier. The prices are very appealing too. For example the ‘gorditas’ pictures below would cost you approx. 2 pesos each (bargain!).

It is not only the town center that makes Cuetzalan so worth visiting, but also its surrounding area. Pretty much located amongst a jungle type environment, there are many hikes and trails which will lead you tobeautiful waterfalls like the one pictured below. I suggest you go to the tourism office, located in the zócalo, and ask for a local guide, who you can pay for the day to take you around to all the waterfalls. If it is a warm day, you can even go for a swim!

Where to stay? I stayed at a hotel called ‘Hotel La Casa de Piedra‘, which I highly recommend, it is about 2 minutes walk from the zócalo and offers a very rustic, intimate and hacienda-like setting. Prices start from approx. 800 pesos.

How do I get there? You can go from Puebla’s biggest bus station CAPU with the bus line, VIA, the trip takes 3.5 hours and costs 161 pesos. You can find the full bus schedule and costs here as well as how to get to Cuetzalan by car.

Any info missing? The town has a website which is a fantastic resource full of information about hotels, places to visit, restaurants and adventure trips. Check it out here. Be warned it is all in spanish, so if you need any help contact me here or on Soy Poblana’s facebook page.

¡Buen Viaje!

 

The Star of Puebla

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is ‘La Estrella de Puebla’

La Estrella de Puebla by day

At the end of July. 2013, La Estrella de Puebla opened. It is now a very present feature in Puebla’s skyline and a truly fantastic way to see the city.  Let’s not forget that Cholula offers a great view of Puebla too, but the view from this ferris wheel puts you right in the heart of the city. Pick a nice clear day and you will have a great view of the entire city and beyond including Cholula and El Popo.  A great plus is that this a cheap ride! It takes 30 minutes to go completely round only costs 30 pesos per person. It’s a fantastic piece of (german) engineering; just to look at it up close is worth the visit. Each cabin seats about 8 people and is very comfortable. If you want you can upgrade to VIP which gives you a more luxurious cabin (leather seats) which has 6 seats, it costs 300 pesos for the entire cabin, so if you are 6 people that comes to a very cheap 50 pesos each.

View from the wheel

Now to get some facts straight. La Estrella de Puebla which means ‘The Star of Puebla’ is actually not bigger than the London Eye. Puebla’s star is 80m high whereas the London Eye is 135m high. However ‘La Estrella de Puebla’ is the BIGGEST MOVEABLE/PORTABLE FERRIS WHEEL IN THE WORLD. And it is also the biggest ferris wheel in Latin America.  What implications does this have? Well it seems that it is in the works for the wheel to move location eventually to nearby Cholula and even Atlixco, so a very clever investment indeed.

German Engineering, in Mexico

 

Los Rudos Siempre Pierden

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

Recently I wrote about the Luchas and then happened to come across these photos (thank you Universe!), which perfectly capture the atmosphere of the luchas arena. The featured photographer is Iraís Fernández, a very talented local documentary specialist. One of our aims at Soy Poblana is to support local artists and businesses, by writing about them or publishing their work. Please check out Iraís’ facebook page andflickr!

Vamos a Atlixco

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Courtesy of  soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Atlixco

The zócalo in Atlixco

Atlixco, is a small city in the municipality of Puebla, 25 km from the city of Puebla. It is most famous for its incredible flower markets, and its climate.  Its full name is actually Atlixco de las Flores (Atlixco of Flowers) and it is home to ‘the best climate in the world’ according to its tourist office. The town has a very pleasant temperature, perfect for the cultivation of flowers.

So why visit Atlixco?

First of all it’s a great new place to see that is not far from Puebla. Everyone enjoys a fun day trip. Secondly if you are living in Puebla, you can buy a huge array of plants, flowers, and tress for very low prices, to pimp out your garden or house. Thirdly, I recommend checking out the town center where the local ice cream shops sells delicious Avocado ice cream and ice lollies, amongst many other peculiar (and conventional) flavours. It sounds weird, but its delicious. Remember, you are in Mexico, this is the time to be adventurous and try new things.

Many many flowers.

A great place to buy flowers is ‘Viveras Cabrera La Unión’, the address is Ave. 20 Poniente 2501-B Colonia Cabrera. You won’t find plants cheaper than this.  For example a huge bamboo tree will only cost you 70 pesos (£3.5!!).

Palm trees

Ice creams like the one showed below can be bought at ‘La Rosita de Atlixco’ in the zócalo.

Avocado ice lolly