Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Return to Puebla Part II - Cholula

Monday, our last day in Puebla, we headed over to Cholula to meet up with John O'Leary, a photographer friend of a friend, and to check out the sites we missed in 2003. On the way to Cholula, our bus paralleled the just-opened Metrobus line (Bus Rapid Transit); we checked out Temple de San Francisco Actepec, and then walked 1 km to Iglesia Santa Maria Tonantzintla, both great examples of Mexican Baroque architecture.

It was a cloudy day on our 2003 visit to the Great Pyramid of Cholula so we did not see Volcano Popocatépet (17,880 ft)that supposedly "looms" over the town. So we were disappointed that again it was too cloudy to see Popo.

After wandering around Cholula looking for vegetarian restaurants that turned out to be closed, moved, or non-existent, we finally found Koatlikue Pachamama, on the road to Universidad de las Américas and had a tasty late lunch.

The very Moorish Cappila Real re-opened it's doors at 5:00PM, just in time for us to visit before we met with John for some conversation and a tour of the art in Hotel Real de Naturales Cholollan.

We caught a collectivo back to Puebla and ended the day with another feast at La Zanahoria.

Puelba and Cholula made our heads spin and we will surely return again.


The Metrobus.
Metrobus BRT - Puebla, Mexico

Iglesia de San Francisco Acatepec - Acatepec, Puebla, Mexico.
Iglesia de San Francisco Acatepec - Acatepec, Puebla, Mexico

Templo de San Francisco Actepec - Actepec, Mexico

Iglesia de San Francisco Acatepec - Acatepec, Puebla, Mexico

Iglesia Santa Maria Tonantzintla - Cholula, Mexico.
Iglesia Santa Maria Tonantzintla - Cholula, Mexico

The Great Pyramid of Cholula with Church of Our Lady of Remedies at the top.
The Great Pyramid of Cholula with Church of Our Lady of Remedies (at  top) - Cholula, Mexico

Top favs in Cholula.
Who's Number One? - Cholula, Mexico

Koatlikue Pachamama Vegetarian Restaurant - Cholula, Mexico.
Koatlikue Pachamama Vegetarian Restaurant - Cholula, Mexico

San Gabriel Church and Monastery - Cholula, Mexico.
San Gabriel Church and Monastery - Cholula, Mexico

Capilla Real with Moorish influences.
Capilla Real - Cholula, Mexico

Final meal at La Zanahoria.
La Zanahoria - Puebla, Mexico

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Return to Puebla Part 1

Sun-Ling had been looking forward to returning to Puebla, Mexico since the day we left in November 2003. And since we booked our flights for this trip, she has been wondering if she'll still be in love with Puebla the day she leaves this time.

Puebla has a good selection of budget hotels in the city center and although we checked out 4 or 5, we ended up staying at the same place we stayed 9 years ago, Posada de los Ángeles, although in a different room, one that was bigger, more quiet, and warmer; great location and a good price.

Similar to Oaxaca, our goal in Puebla was to visit as many museums and churches as possible and make a day trip to Cholula, not to the archaeological site we visited in 2003, but to see the town itself and hook up with a friend of a friend.

To make a long story short, Sun-Ling is still in love with Puebla. In fact she is "dizzy in love" with Puebla.

Where to start this year's story? Well, after arriving, settling in a familiar hotel, we found the Tourist Office open and very friendly. Then, just down the street, we made the first of many trips to La Zanahoria Vegetarian Restaurant for their evening all-you-can-eat buffet. Woohoo! Tremendous - we were starved after a long travel day. La Zanahoria has been added to our top five vegetarian restaurants on the planet.

The next day, Saturday, we first checked out putting a Telcel SIM card (called a "cheep" in Mexico) in our phone - it will work. Then followed the tourist office self-guided walking tour to museums, pedestrian malls, churches, markets, and enjoyed free live performances at the Casa de la Cultura - a rock band for kids, then ballet. The people of Puebla were out and about enjoying their city as much as we were.

Sunday is a big day for Puebla enthusiasts. Several of the main downtown streets are closed to traffic from 8AM to noon for bicyclists and walkers to move freely. Many of the museums are free. There are at least two large outdoor artist and antique/flea markets. We tried to catch everything including a free concert at noon on the Zocalo by the Brass and Woodwind Symphony, and then more music at Casa de la Cultura. Lunch and dinner at la Zanahoria. Whew!

Arrival dinner at La Zanahoria.
La Zanahoria - Puebla, Mexico

The Cathedral was under heavy renovation in 2003. This visit we got a better look.
Cathedral - Puebla, Mexico

The Cathedral is enourmous with many domes and chapels, a choir, and a central altar (at right).
Cathedral - Puebla, Mexico

One thing Sun-Ling loves about Puebla is its distinctive pottery( talavara); specifically the tiles that decorate the fronts of many buildings and domes on many churches; in fact, we bought a tile to add to our collection.
Puebla, Mexico

Puebla, Mexico

Puebla, Mexicop

Biblioteca Palafoxiana.
Biblioteca Palafoxiana - Puebla, Mexico

A seated Jesus in the Capilla Rosario.
Capilla Rosario - Puebla, Mexico

The pastry shop - Le Flor de Puebla!
Puebla, Mexico

Victoria Market.
Mercado Victoria - Puebla, Mexico

Templo San Francisco.
Puebla, Mexico

Street view.
Puebla, Mexico

Museo de Arte San Pedro
Convento San Pedro - San Puebla, Mexico

Sunday Concert at Casa de la Cultura.
Casa de Cultura - Puebla, Mexico

Another shot inside the Cathedral.
Cathedral - Puebla, Mexico







Saturday, January 26, 2013

Return to Oaxaca Part II - Markets

The market at Villa de Etla, just north of Oaxaca was sedate compared to Guatemalan markets. We actually bought a few things and had lunch, four memelitas, at a food stand. The weekly market sprawled around and on the steps of the plaza just as a Mayan plaza of 1000 years ago.

The highlight of the Etla market was a couple making ice cream by hand but with no paddles. They were simply spinning the canisters of cream, one with each hand, set in tubs of brine. See the photo below.

The market at Zaachila was also good. At the covered permanent market, almost every wendor had a vase of fresh flowers in their stall, even the butchers. But the highlight was riding the bus back to Oaxaca with a woman who was bringing a live turkey home from the market.

Making ice cream at the Etla market with no paddles or cranks.
Icecream - Etla, Mexico

Moonshine made from cactus; for sale at the Etla market.
Etla, Mexico

The church in Etla.
Etla, Mexico

Memelitas = tasty.
Etla, Mexico

Not as colorful as some markets, but just as interesting.
Etla, Mexico

Bread vendors. How's that for a bread basket?.
Etla, Mexico

Sun-Ling buys a ceramic.
Etla, Mexico

Hats on the steps of the Etla Market.
Etla, Mexico

The standard rig for honey vendors is a wheelbarrow set up like this one.
Honey Vendor - Etla, Mexico

On the way back from Etla, we stopped at Oaxaca's train station, now a museum.
Station - Oaxaca, Mexcio

The ruins at Cuilapam.
Cuilapam, Oaxaca, Mexico

Fun with the pulpit.
Cuilapam, Oaxaca, Mexico

Cuilapam, Oaxaca, Mexico

Turkeys for sale at the Zaachila weekly market.
Zaachilla, Oaxaca, Mexico

Turkey on the bus.
Senora wth Turkey - Zaachilla, Oaxaca, Mexico

Hats for a sale in Zaachila.
Zaachilla,Oaxaca, Mexico

Birds.
Zaachilla,Oaxaca, Mexico

Breads.
Zaachilla, Oaxaca, Mexico

I was surprised to see this organ grinder and happy to give him a small tip.
Zaachilla, Oaxaca, Mexico

Quizzing the bread vendor.
Zaachilla, Oaxaca, Mexico

A vase of flowers at each stand in the Zaachilla Mercado.
Zaachilla, Oaxaca, Mexico

And the Zaachila church.
Zaachilla, Oaxaca, Mexico




Friday, January 25, 2013

Return to Oaxaca Part I - Oaxaca City

We have only good memories of Oaxaca from 2003 when we excurted to the archaeological sites of Mitla and Monte Albán, visited a few churches, walked the pedestrian mall, and ate dinner on the Zocalo. This time we wanted to see more of the sites (churches and museums) in city center plus daytrip to a local market or two, stroll on the pedestrian mall, and eat on the Zocalo.

Oaxaca has lots churches. We visited as many as possible. The highlight for us was the Ex-Convento of Santo Domingo. The church still functions as a church, but the former convento is now a fabulous museum called Centro Cultural Santo Domingo, combining great exhibits with the massive, simple architecture of the ex-convento, and surrounded on two sides by a botanical garden.

A couple of nights we ate dinner on the Zocalo or just had drinks. Oaxaca is very lively after dark with good people watching: vendors, tourists, musicians, kids with balloons, and folks out for an evening stroll.

The vegetarian restaurant scene was good to us; set lunches at Trigo Verde and a couple of dinners at La Manantial Vegetariana where we had traditional Oaxacan mole, vegetarian style.

Here are the photos:

The family tree of St. Dominic painted on the ceiling of Santo Domingo.
Oaxaca, Mexico

Church dome.
Oaxaca, Mexico

Teatro Macedonio Alcalá at night.
Oaxaca, Mexico

Tlayuda - Oaxacan Pizza - on the Zocalo.
Oaxaca, Mexico

Zocalo at night.
Oaxaca, Mexico

Pedestrian Mall at Night.
Oaxaca, Mexcio

Templo San Felipe Neri has an Art Nouveau interior from an early 1900's renovation.
Oaxaca, Mexico

Another awesome lunch at Trigo Verde.
Oaxaca, Mexico

The beautiful fountain and clothes washing station at the Ex-Convento of Santa Clara, now a hotel.
Oaxaca, Mexico

Some shots from Centro Cultural Santo Domingo.
Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico

The Textile Museum.
Textile Museum - Oaxaca, Mexcio

Vegetarian Mole at La Manantial Vegetariana.
Oaxaca, Mexcio

Finally, one afternoon Sun-Ling got stung by a bee and her hand swelled up more than a little. If it's not dogs, it's bees.
Etla, Mexico



Playa del Carmen, Mexico

From Aguascalientes, there is a very convenient direct flight to Cancun.  Since the wedding is at a private beach south of Playa del Carmen,...