We left Acapulco at about 6pm and we arrived in Oaxaca at 6.30am. The trip was long with a 3 hours stop in Mexico City but the buses were very comfortable so we slept almost all the time.
If you search the internet for places to visit in Mexico you will notice that Oaxaca, described by many as the most romantic and picturesque place of the country, comes in greatly recommended. Known for its cheese and indigenous people, everyone seems to agree that this city is a must visit.
As I already wrote, we arrived in Oaxaca early in the morning. The first thing we did was getting the bus tickets for the next stop on our trip: San Cristobal de las Casas (850mxn each more or less) then, thanks to the free wi-fi (provided by every ADO bus station), I was quickly able to locate the hotel on google maps and just as quickly we were on our way to check in.
The first thing I noticed was, of course, the change in temperature. Oaxaca’s weather in late november is cool and, considering that the day before we were in Acapulco, it felt cold! With our sweaters on we started walking street after street untill we reached the hotel. The one I chose is called Hotel La Casa de María, it has a nice position not far from the center and not far from the bus station either, the only problem was that at the time of our arrival it was closed.. I tried ringing the bell multiple times but to no avail.
Not wasting any time we decided to walk around to see the city center and have breakfast. Oaxaca is very cute, it feels rich and authentic, it has some of the finest buildings I saw in Mexico and after a while we ended up having breakfast in the only non-mexican bar, Cafe Brujula, right in front of the Templo de Santo Domingo, beautiful place and good pastries!
After breakfast we went back to the hotel and this time we managed to successfully check in. Trough the hotel guy, who, by the way, was extremely kind and accommodating, we immediately booked an excursion for the very same day to El Tule, Teotitlàn del Valle, Hierve El Agua and Mitla and, before leaving for this adventure, we went to a little travel agency not far from the hotel and managed to book another excursion, to Pueblos Mancomunados, for the day after. The total cost of these field trips was around 2700mxn with the Pueblos Mancomunados one accounting for about 2100mxn but I can assure you that they were worth it! I had an amazing time during these tours but I wish we had a little more time to visit the Monte Alban Ruins too. I guess I’ll just have to go back one day!
I scheduled for us to be in Oaxaca for two whole days and only one night. On the second night we had to catch the bus to San Cristobal and since it was leaving late at night (at some time around midnight) we could appreciate the city for two nights really, giving us enough time to try a pair of local restaurants and some bars. In our evenings in town we walked around a lot, visiting the Zocalo, the Mercado 20 de Noviembre (the local market) and some shops too but we didn’t buy anything.
Oaxaca’s main square, called the Plaza de la Constitucion but commonly referred to as the Zocalo, is the heart of the city and not very far from the hotel so we started our first evening of exploration from there. The layout of the Zocalo follows the colonial town plan which dictated that the city should have a central plaza with surrounded by buildings representing the religious and civil authorities. Oaxaca’s Palacio de Gobierno is located to the south of the Zocalo. Historically this building functioned as city hall, but in 2005 the government offices were moved to other premises and it was converted into the Museo del Palacio. Inside this Museo there are some fine murals by Arturo Garcia Bustos depict the struggles in Oaxaca during the historical periods of the conquest, independence, and the Mexican Revolution. Sadly I couldn’t see them in person. To the north of the zocalo you will find the Cathedral of Oaxaca, fronting the Alameda de Leon. The cathedral went through several construction periods and was consecrated in 1733. It is built of green volcanic stone with a fine baroque façade depicting the Assumption of Mary. The cathedral’s cupola and twin bell towers are rather squat in order to withstand the frequent earthquakes that have historically caused damage to Oaxaca’s colonial buildings. This plaza also has numerous cafés and restaurants under the arcades. I remember that one evening we stopped for a drink in a bar in one of the corners of the square (sadly I don’t remember which one) where you could have a one liter margarita!! We had one each obviously! So cool! And it was a good margarita too.
As for the market, well, it was frenzied and, among a lot of other stuff, you cold taste (and buy) fried grasshoppers. I didn’t have the courage to try one but my friend did and he said that it doesn’t taste so bad after all! The market looked not that great from outside but inside there were some nice shops and the sellers were very kind letting us taste the food and drinks before eventually buying.
The cuisine in Oaxaca is told to be incredible, and although I can’t complain about the taste of what I ate, I was a little bit disappointed because I feel I had way better food in Acapulco. The food was good, we tasted some mole sauces here and there along other Mexican dishes but I didn’t like them enough to tell you they are the best.
In the end I feel like Oaxaca City pretty much lived up to the hype, maybe we were unlucky with the food but other than that it was perfect!