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Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca


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That mercury retrograde thing must be after you, Kalypso, because the second link wouldn't work for me. The 3rd one, however, looks like it offers a great balance of class, food, hands on, demo, and the all important time-off.

 

I am going to try and post a link to Casa Segrada:

OK, that proved I don't quite know how, but try going here:

 

 

http://www.casasegrada.com/HomeEng.htm

 

 

And ExtraMSG, PV sounds beautiful, but folks lead me to believe it is also very spendy. I don't know if this is true or not, but would love to hear opinons. PS: Have you decided where to go yet?

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My wife and I did PV and Guadalara for -- what was it, 10 days? -- under $1500 including all food, all lodging, all fun, airfare, and souvenirs. The best part of town is the "old" part, the "romantic zone" near playa los muertos (imo). One block off the water we got a room with AC and moderately comfortable beds with good water pressure for about $30/night. The first night we stayed at a place on the beach with a view for $99/night. This was like a week before Spring Break, too. The newer hotels are in the hotel zone, but this is snoresville. In some other towns, the hotel zone has stuff going on, has food options, etc. Not so in PV as far as I could tell, so we just stayed away from there. The two lively areas are along the malecon and along playa los muertos, the latter with beaches. There are also several interesting bungalows/bed & breakfast options that I'm sure you can find with little effort in guidebooks or on the internet.

 

And then having Guadalajara so close is a big benefit. A clean, family-friendly Mexican city with lots of historical and cultural opportunities, plus good crafts and arts. Their regional specialties aren't always my favorites -- or, should I say they're not as different from what you can find in the US. But it's home to some favorites like birria and molcajetes.

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Extra -you lucky dog - MSG. I have never been to Mexico during the hottest time of the year, it's sounds fab. How I would love some profound heat in my bones right now.

Being a budget traveler, I would like to share a few of my traveling tips.

 

Mexico City - we stay at the Hotel Gillow on Cinco de Mayo and Isabel la Catolica in the Centro Historico. Book yourself a suite, around $70. with working hot tub. For and extra $20, you can get the honeymoon suite which is a little Zsa Zsa. Very excellent rooms. You won't believe the bargain!!! Very clean, immaculate really and comfortable beds and you are smack dab in the middle of centro historico action.

The catedral has re-opened after all that renovating and the interior is glorious especially when the organ is being played.

There is a particular shrine of note in the church, I've forgotten the saint's name at the moment, but his shrine is covered with padlocks and ribbons. Wow!

In the evenings, this area infront of the catedral produces some wonderful street foods - those teeny sweet pancakes, blue corn tostada type snacks, etc.

I would like to sing the praises of Fonda del Refugio restaurant, a long time instiutuion with superior service and excellent food. Some of the rooms upstairs are nice and can provide a private hideaway for you and your wife, surrounded by celebrity autographs on the napkins. It's a good bit of history.

I would like to NOT RECOMMEND Las Girasoles. The absolute worst service I've had in Mexico, ever. Smarmy restaurant manager with a bitter wait staff made for a very horrifying experience that I feel the need for a curandera!

You can do better with the recommendations from Cristina on Izote, etc.

We went out for the very first time to the pyramids of Teotihuacn on New Years and it was great. Considering the heat though, you might want to spend your time in galleries, restaurants or museums.

Another great place for a drink, is Bar Opera in the Centro Historico. You know the story about the Pancho Villa's bullet hole in the ceiling, etc? It's a great place, those wrap around red velvet booths.

 

Puebla

There are now some very chic boutique hotels in Puebla that are a nice change from some of the dives I've stayed in. We stayed at El Sueno - great ammenities, service and breakfast is included.They have a bit of a 'spa', a play to work out and massages can be booked. Outdoor hottub, but again, you may opt for the cool tub instead.

From there you are just steps away from the antiques market and don't forget to find La Pasita, a unique little open bar that sells shooters of their Pasita liquor - raisin liquor served unusally with a piece of cheese in the bottom of the glass. It's delicious.

During the antiques market at El Sapo, there are many women selling delicious food made on the open comal - blue corn quesadillas with mushrooms. Great salsa tasting here.

Mornings only - and I have spoken about this place before - a woman and her tamale stand takes the stage around that same area. I hate to do this to you with the following description, but foodies have a nose for good food so I'm sure you'll find it. From the Sapo you'll walk up another block and get to a walking street. On the corner, with a crowd and steam rising, there she is. She is complimented by a woman selling freshly squeezed orange juice. But those tamales, Wow! She sells about five different kinds. Take it slow, and you can eat all five. I know you can do it.

 

Oaxaca

You've got your work cut out for you already it seems. One place that you cannot miss though is the little restaurant called, Itanoni, an open taqueria in Col. Reforma. They highlight different indigenous, solely organic corn from the Oaxaca region. It will blow your mind! Simple menu, and you sitting right there in front of the adobe ovens. Those ovens alone are worth the trip.

It's on Belisario Dominguez 513 and only open for comida. I've just notice a web address, itanoni@aol.com

 

Another incredible and not food based experience, is the healing Temazcal booked through Las Bugambilas - you can do that from their website as well. That's how we did it. It's a traditional steam with healing herbs by a curandera followed by an hour massage.

 

Cooking classes

You know, the ones with Reyna Mendoza at Casa Cerro Sagrada are excellent because first, they start out early with the Teotitlan market tour. Here you can purchase some great ingredients for home - the black bean powder, criollo black beans, salt from the coast and some excellent chiles.

Reyna's mother's mole rocks - buy that up at the Casa - and some chintextle - take the cooking class and find out what that is. And some of their house mezcal.

For an option, you can always stay up there, the rooms are beautiful and the views, unsurpassed.

 

You'll be busy and I know you'll have a wonderful trip.

Glad to help you as you helped me last year when I went to the Oregon coast.

 

Saludos,

Shelora

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Mil gracias, Shelora.

 

There's a constant tension between me and my wife over hotel digs. I'd rather spend dough elsewhere, whereas my wife doesn't want to give up too many of the home comforts. I think the last time I was in Mexico City we stayed at the Hotel Isabel (a friend and I) for like $15/night. So that gives you an idea.

 

But I'd like to stay one or two nights in a nice place, too, to make my wife feel like she got some true R&R.

 

Yeah, I went to Girasoles a few years ago and thought the service was pretty weak, too. Worse than less haute nearby places like Cafe Tacuba and Osteria Santo Domingo. I thought the food was good, but it definitely didn't knock my socks off. I don't know if I was in the mood for upscale Mexican on that trip, though. I think I'll be more open to it on this trip.

 

Here's a question: what days/times is the street market that happens in the streets of el centro? There were some interesting street foods and it's also so Mexican to be walking through a market with everything from socks to blender parts to pirated DVDs.

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Hey there,

 

I too have stayed at the Hotel Isabel, but I need some more comforts now. I do highly recommend the Gillow though, for the price it's quite unbelievable for what you get. I believe your wife will approve. Only the junior suites and up though. At least take a look. Bell boys, helpful reception staff, great service.

By dusk, the street vendors appear in front of the catedral. Oh, I just remembered that wonderful corn on the cob. Slow roasted over an open fire, there are some charred spots, that are oh, so good. I love those. With some fresh lime juice and chile powder. Perfect.

The vendors don't stay all night, but by 8 - 9:30 seems to be the peak.

During the day, that lady with the teeny pancakes is always there.

Sometimes in the centro, the streets can be filled with ambulantes selling whatever. I find this too overwhelming. Unless they're selling food!

If you are brave and I know you are, the markets in D.F. are so fun. Yes, they might be dangerous, but any seasoned traveler with good intuition will do just fine.

If you want something really out of the ordinary, take a little jaunt to the Mexican Wrestler's cafe, El Cuadralatero. It's on Luis Moya 73, local 4, Col. Centro. Phone number is 55213060.

Order yourself up a Gladiator Sandwich - if you can eat it in 15 minutes, it's free!

That's all I'm going to say about that place. If you go, you're in for a wonderful visual treat!

 

All the best,

Shelora

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very nice to see some other hotel isabel fans here. but you not find a soft mattress there, i agree.

 

i've been to mexico city a couple times and neither time did i acclimate to the altitude well enough to enjoy eating thoroughly. ahh well, but i do have a couple things to say.

 

first, there is, or at least was, a terrific authentic comedor in, of all places, the mexico city airport. i last went in november, and they were still right on target. here is my chowhound posting from last february: http://www.chowhound.com/boards/intl/messages/26359.html

 

as far as the historical district goes, down the street on isabel la catolica is coox hanal, which is a yucatan restaurant. i can't tell you exactly what that means, but i enjoyed the meal there. chicken pibil. they close at 6:30 pm.

 

for breakfast one day, we got fabulous fried tamales from a place on motolinea street. did a lot of eating little things in small places, especially those which were full of people.

 

i did not particularly like izote, though i only ate there once. but it's got otherwise uniformly good reviews, so i'd say go for it.

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Haven't been to DF in a couple of years and the last time I was there, was escorting a large group, so this information will not only be sketchy; it will be unreliable and not particularly helpful.

 

But, hey, that's never stopped me before.

 

So...that said...our favorite place to stay in DF in the old days when we traveled for pleasure was a small converted convent. It had an enormous old wooden door, which opened onto a beautiful small courtyard. It was two-story, with all of the rooms arrranged around and opening onto that courtyard. There was a small fountain surrounded with pots of gloriously-blooming flowers. Meals were served in the courtyard as well.

 

I can't remember the name and hesitate to guess because I might get it wrong, but am hopeful someone else will recognize the place and know the name. I know I've got it written down in my travel notes, but they're all packed up in storage in Texas, and are no use to me.

 

Sound familiar anyone?

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Haven't been to DF in a couple of years and the last time I was there, was escorting a large group, so this information will not only be sketchy; it will be unreliable and not particularly helpful.

 

But, hey, that's never stopped me before.

 

So...that said...our favorite place to stay in DF in the old days when we traveled for pleasure was a small converted convent. It had an enormous old wooden door, which opened onto a beautiful small courtyard. It was two-story, with all of the rooms arrranged around and opening onto that courtyard. There was a small fountain surrounded with pots of gloriously-blooming flowers. Meals were served in the courtyard as well.

 

I can't remember the name and hesitate to guess because I might get it wrong, but am hopeful someone else will recognize the place and know the name. I know I've got it written down in my travel notes, but they're all packed up in storage in Texas, and are no use to me.

 

Sound familiar anyone?

I can ask my former mother-in-law about this. She lives in Mexico City.

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Ha! Hotel Isabel! Did I find it in a book? It was dirt cheap and fine until Saturday night when the rave started at 2pm and finished at 6am. I was insane but there was nothing to do. The music kept getting worse and louder and I can't remember where we moved to but it was down the streeet, modern, nice and almost the same price.

 

I enjoyed the drag at Butterfly II, I think it was called. Great rancheras and a very artsy rendition of Memory from Cats. But even better was the danzon hall with two bands battling it out. The Mexican danzon is similar to the Cuban but it never breaks into a mambo at the end. It is very proper and the dancers are formal but clearly having a geat time. The stage is a huge genie's mouth. I was never itching to dance more but literally everyone knew the steps and I was to chicken to ask for a dance or help. But it was a great night.

 

I also remember eating a fresh, handmade quesadilla outside a busy bus stop. I was really good and cheap and I thought "this is going to make you sick, stupid!" as I watched her pat the fresh masa between her hands and fry the treat on an oil drum-type set up. But my theory- based on cold, hard, clinical science (!)- is that tequila and limes kill all the bad things so ingest plenty of both. I think beer helps too but flavored maragritas actually make things worse. Knock wood, but I've never been much bothered "downstairs" when travelling in Mexico.

 

re: Oaxaca dress: I found the locals to be very elegant in every sense. For men, the rule seemed to be pleated trousers and plaid shirts. I saw this enough to think it must be kind of modo. But it is a town and shorts would be odd, but tempting!

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...our favorite place to stay in DF in the old days when we traveled for pleasure was a small converted convent.

I can ask my former mother-in-law about this. She lives in Mexico City.

I know I said I wouldn't guess in case it threw off somebody that might actually know, but the name "De Cortes" is what came to mind.

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...our favorite place to stay in DF in the old days when we traveled for pleasure was a small converted convent.

I can ask my former mother-in-law about this. She lives in Mexico City.

I know I said I wouldn't guess in case it threw off somebody that might actually know, but the name "De Cortes" is what came to mind.

Hotel de Cortes (now a Best Western). Luz Maria sent me a link to Yahoo, and that just five minutes ago. You were right!

 

They call it the Best Western Hotel de Cortez:

 

http://travel.yahoo.com/p-hotel-346769-bes...tel_de_cortez-i

 

Also, Paco suggests "another quaint hotel": Hotel Cristina.

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...our favorite place to stay in DF in the old days when we traveled for pleasure was a small converted convent.

I can ask my former mother-in-law about this. She lives in Mexico City.

I know I said I wouldn't guess in case it threw off somebody that might actually know, but the name "De Cortes" is what came to mind.

Hotel de Cortes (now a Best Western). Luz Maria sent me a link to Yahoo, and that just five minutes ago. You were right!

That's it! I don't remember the windows across the front. As I recall it, it was just a solid block wall with those enormous wooden doors. The first time we went there, we got there very late and it was dark and those doors were closed tight and it was raining and the taxi dropped us off and left us there and we had to bang and bang until someone showed up. It was as though we were the standard horror-movie couple trying to get into the weird, scary castle in the middle of the stormy night.

 

But hey....they finally opened the doors and let us in and as you can tell from the photos...it worked out very nicely. ;)

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