When we chose Puebla for our Mexico adventure, there were several criteria:
- Rich culture and architecture
- Great local cuisine
- Easily walkable
- Museums and artisan workshops
Puebla fit the bill perfectly. And it had an extra added attraction. It is off the beaten track for American tourists so I’d have mucho oportunidades to practice my hard-earned Spanish skills. We would be way out of our English language comfort zone. Were we up to it?
During Covid, I and a few amigos met weekly on my patio (fully masked at the beginning) and practiced our rough Spanish. Some had more years of study, others, like me. were rank beginners but we all helped and supported one other. My miserable grasp of verb tenses notwithstanding, I became comfortable talking in the present tense about politics, food, activities and all the nothingness we did during Covid.
When we arrived in Puebla, those newfound conversational skills were put to constant use. We chatted up taxi drivers, ordered in restaurants, shopped in tiendas and talked to strangers. The Puebla people, who call themselves Poblanos, were kind, friendly and happy to engage with our broken conversation. Even Andy upped his Spanish skills in this total immersion environment.
Casareyna, our Puebla hotel, was amazing. It’s a modern, five star hotel with large rooms, indoor/outdoor dining (mostly outdoor) and beautiful artwork and ceramics everywhere, including the bathroom sinks! And, despite the stars, it was ridiculously affordable as was everything in Puebla from restaurants to transportation.
Casareyna was also conveniently close to the El Centro area where we could walk all over town and explore every little nook, cranny and cafe of this compact, historical center.
The only issue with our hotel was that it was February. In Puebla’s high altitude, the city is quite cold in the morning and evening though reaching the 70’s midday. That meant that every morning we’d bundle up for breakfast in our jackets and layers and again at night. Not one dining room was completely indoors. It didn’t seem to bother the local guests who packed the place but it was chilly for us gringos!
Puebla is famous for its mole (like its bigger nearby cousin Oaxaca). Our first night, we ate at the top rated mole restaurant, El Mural de Los Poblanos, where Andy dived into a deep, rich dark mole negro over wild turkey. I tried the local variation, Pipian mole, a green mole made from pumpkin seeds, spices and peppers, on chicken. It was all delicious including freshly made tortillas. We had mole and tamarind sauces several other times during our four day stay.
Puebla is a Spanish Colonial city with ornate architecture, loads of churches and parks and beautiful tilework everywhere. They are also master ceramicists in a style heavily influenced by the colorful Majolica pottery of Spain. The Poblanos call their pottery Talavera. We made a point of buying some mass produced painted tiles and one authenticated and really beautiful Talavera water vase.
Taxis and Uber are readily available in Puebla so we took a one day trip to neighboring Cholula, a town famous for its underground pyramid. Our day in Cholula, however, became one of our most challenging because my research failed to note the days that museums and other facilities are closed! So no pyramid for us on a Monday! We also wandered all over Cholula to find a place called Container City. However, Mr. Google failed to note that there’s nothing open during the day. It’s a hopping collection of bars/restaurants at night but during the day just an empty row of shipping crates!
The saving grace of Cholula was the indoor mercado filled with small grocers selling fresh fruits and veggies, butchers, fishmongers, flower stalls and more. So much to photograph. The mercado was also filled with rows of small food vendors, mostly women, cooking fresh specialities of the region. We had the best time talking to some of the vendors and ordering their delicious, steaming wares. First was the Cemita sandwich which is a large bun filled with a freshly fried pork filet milanese plus cheese, avocado and veggies. We shared one and it was delicioso.
I had my heart–and stomach– set on having one of the hand made blue corn quesadillas that were freshly cooked on a comal. Sitting close to our little mamacita chef, she let us video her prep of our fantastico blue tortilla filled with fresh cheese, zucchini flowers, onions and mushrooms. Fun to watch and better to eat.
We returned to Puebla with full tummies and tired feet, while I engaged in a lively conversation with our taxi driver, of whom I probably understood about 75% of what he said.
Our last day in Puebla, we shopped for gifts, ran into more closed museums (it was Tuesday) and so explored a few more nearby barrios like the artist quarter of Parian.
Wednesday, we hopped a taxi back to the bus station, got tickets for the ADO bus back to Mexico City and felt like experts this time!
Mimi I have replied to your two posts but I don’t think they’re getting to you because my PW doesn’t go through, DUHHHH anyway delicious writing as always. I think we need to jump on a bus right away!!! Xoxo
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Thank you! The first comment did not come thru but this one did! Always appreciate your comments❤️
I saw this reply but not the first. Dunno why! Thank you for your constant support and comments