Oaxaca via Mexico City - time for art and food

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
Trip End Apr 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Casa Angel Hostel

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And it's a new continent for us – Mexico, North America. As a general welcome to Mexico City, Jonny’s bag doesn’t arrive and so we leave the airport feeling slightly lost with only one backpack between the two of us.  Fortunately it only decided to take the later flight (thanks to US security checks or is that a handy excuse for the airline?!) and arrives in the middle of the night to our hostel.  In the meantime we have had a brief walk around the centre including the main square (3rd biggest in the world after Red Square and Tiananmen Square) which was filled with protest tents, it will be interesting to see if they are still there for independence day as the main celebrations take place in the square of every city.  We also started to sample Mexican food.  We found a couple of places we would like to return to – one bar did beer for 1 and tacos for 50p, another Cafe Popular where we got traditional, tasty Mexican food for about 2.  I had forgotten how much I like Mexican food! The bars and restaurants are busy between 2-4.30pm and then clear out as everyone (apart from us) heads back to work – a bit different from back home

We are coming back to Mexico City in a week for Independence Day weekend, and so the next day we head south to Oaxaca.

Oaxaca is 6 hours south of Mexico City, in the mountains and well known for art and food.  The town itself is filled with restaurants, galleries and people selling handicrafts.  We stay at Casa Angel, good location and clean hostel in the old town.  Oaxaca is a whole lot warmer than Mexico City and so a walk at paseo time is very pleasant.  We walk down to the main square to find it filled with people enjoying drinks in the many cafes, sitting in the park, dancing to the brass band or generally milling around – good vibe to it. We sit in one of the cafes, soak up the atmosphere and politely try to brush off the many, many street sellers that make the rounds.  However, here the streetsellers are much more well dressed and it doesn’t seem to have the same stigma as other countries (usually it is associated with begging).  Given the handicrafts background of this town, people are selling their own work which makes the products at least more interesting!  Go for dinner at a hostel recommendation called La Zandunga.  We go for the Oaxacan platter and try some local food including prawn + chilli salad, bananas stuffed with meat, empanadas, beef stew and mini tacos with cheese and beans – all very tasty (and especially for Jonny all without onions – we always know when things are prepared fresh!)  After dinner we find a small bar that has live jazz with a Mexican twist so we have a few drinks there before heading back.  Overall first impressions of Oaxaca are pretty high.

Next day, we go for a wander around the old town which is pretty and then to the modern art museum for a wander and visit a couple other galleries to see local artists.  By then we need some escape from the heat so we head to Cafe La Brujula for a sandwich and cake, very good cake in fact (it’s been a while since I last talked about cake!)  Suitably refreshed, we head to the local market, seems to be where the whole town hangs out – eating from different food stalls.  We need to return here when we’re hungry as the food looked pretty good and fresh plus there was a massive range of food to try.  We then spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the hostel roof terrace.

Once it has cooled down a little we head back out to the main square for another drink and then a courtyard restaurant called La Biznaga for dinner.  Where we have some more traditional Mexican food – good food although Jonny’s chilli mole (Mexican sauce) may have been a little too much for him, at least we have tried some local food although I’m staying clear of the spicy stuff.  And the Mexicans seem to know we wouldn’t want anything too spicy as they warn us as they bring out the real hot sauce.  After dinner we’re persuaded by some locals that Baracuda Bar is the place to go – turns out to be pretty good with live band and roof terrace that we wouldn’t have found without their help.  They also introduce us to Mezcal – a tequila like drink (tequila is made from one type of cactus while mezcal can be made from any type of cactus).  We find it easier to drink than tequila back home but that may be just due to the standards of tequila in the UK.  

Next stop - beach time on the pacific coast.
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