I got a taste of Puebla over a 3-night getaway in December, and loved it.
Ancient ruins, karaoke at a mall til 4 am, insanely tasty food, good people, solid museums, great colonial architecture, a really cool, although ridiculously religious outdooor Christmas concert…
After moving around quite a bit over the first six weeks of the trip, I unexpectedly took a day to do almost nothing, which allowed me to recharge my batteries. So, Friday consisted of a morning run through a nice, modern part of Puebla, a very short walk to a brand new Chedraui for some food, doing a load of laundry, reading 200 pages of a fantastic book (Diablo Guardián; highly recommended), and later on having a few beers and losing badly at a board game (thanks, Nat!). No dealing with traffic behind the wheel or on buses, no admission fees, lines, maps, or computer. It was beautiful and a time-out I will definitely need to call on occasion.
Saturday was a bit more active with some chilaquiles & churros for breakfast (on different plates of course), a jaunt over to the tiny town of Atlixco for some great views at Popocateptl, and a ride on the Estrella de Puebla, which was awesome.
It opened up a couple years ago and is the largest wheel of its kind (portable) in the world. It’s sleek, well-run, has fantastic views, and is affordable. At 30 pesos per person or 300 pesos for a VIP cabin with see through floors and room for six, it’s priced to make it an attractive outing for tourists and locals.
All this brings us to the titular Sunday Funday.
It started early, went late, and featured a great mix of things in between. And, banking on all that in advance, I booked a nice little AirBnB that was in just the right spot to do all that easily.
This Puebla trip began with lots of rain…
But Mother Nature emphatically put the sun in Sunday, and added blue skies to make her point.
I had a chance to check out Parque Paseo del Teleférico on my previous visit and pegged it as THE place I wanted to spend a day at. It’s clean, has some great running paths, fun displays, features several museums and a planetarium, and just debuted a cool new lift with insane views of the city. I can’t say enough good things about this park; it truly made an impression and is a place not to be missed when in Puebla.
So, that’s where it all started: a brisk (40ish degrees) 7-mile run to/from the park, with a couple of laps around the top, where I couldn’t help but slow down and enjoy the view for a bit before continuing my run. The running & cycling paths were in great shape and I definitely wasn’t the only one with the same idea.
After a quick shower and a good breakfast (this AirBnB rocked), I went back to the park to visit two historic forts, Fuerte de Guadalupe & Fuerte de Loreto, each with small museums (the former better than the latter; 50 pesos each unless you’re Mexican), which prominently featured in the battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. The Mexican army defeated the French and that’s why cinco de mayo is a holiday (which is NOT Mexican Independence day, and, for some reason is celebrated far more in the U.S). What no one really ever talks about is the fact that the French returned, took the capital, and ruled Mexico for about four years. But all is forgiven now and you can buy tasty crepes at many places here.
In addition, I hit the cinco de mayo interactive museum and the INAH Puebla, which was solid and quite thorough on the history of the state going back millenia.
Yes, that’s a lot of museums for a sunny day, but most museums are free on Sundays in Puebla and I’d already walked around downtown and Cholula and all that fun. And since all of these were in the park, they were quick hits with nice walks outside. Plus, I need to stay close to that area because…I had a soccer game to go to a 5pm, which was one of the biggest reasons I went back to Puebla.
Before soccer went down, I figured I’d find a place to watch the 2nd half of the Seahawks game if it were close. As you know by now, it wasn’t, so I pretty much forgot about the game until my boy Josh alerted me that it was tight. So, on my way back to my AirBnB, I had to quickly find a place to see the action. The area was devoid of any spots to watch the game. Except one.
There I was, glued to the TV with no sound at Mega. Their beer selection sucked (as most Mexican markets’ beer selection sucks; craft beer is in its infancy here, unfortunately, and you can’t find it anywhere), so I left sad and without purchasing anything.
My spirits were quickly lifted because I was heading to a 50,000+ seat soccer stadium to see my team take on the locals. And the Mega ended up being the meeting point for Puebla’s supporters’ group, so I got a fun little serenade most of the walk home.
The security situation at the stadium was as interesting as it gets. No mag & bag, but some heavy pat downs from the waist down. They were so focused on that, though, that they didn’t see my backpack or check it (had I known that, I would have brought some food as the situation inside was dire and the terrible cemita I had definitely not worth the 50 pesos I paid). Which was fine by me, but questionable….especially given the fact that Monterrey’s idiotic supporters’ group brought in flares and started a fire in their section (and destroyed 395 seats, to the tune of more than 200,000 pesos in damage). We won 3-1, so it was good times at a cool, recently-renovated stadium.
After the game, I had some terrible tacos with a side of terrible service at La Oriental, which was touted as one of the best tacos spots in town. In my experience, it was not. At. All.
Sunday Funday ended with sad Seahawks highlights while waiting for my laundry (pro-tip: book an AirBnB with a washer, it helps a lot).
On Monday, I hit the Museo Amparo, one of just three museums open on that day…and free on Mondays, to boot (yes, another free one; the less I spend, the more days I can do this). It was slick as hell! From the design, to the exhibits, to the well-dressed, helpful personnel everywhere, it would be right in place with any of the top museums in the world. I was impressed.
After working up some hunger, I went straight to Las Poblanitas for a final, fantastic cemita.
If you eat one thing in Puebla, make it this amazing sandwich at Mercado del Carmen. It’s only 30 pesos and one of the biggest & best sandwiches you’ll ever have. Wash it down with an agua fresca from the San Marcos stall next door (18 pesos) and you’ll be set.
After some postcard hunting (yes, I’m old-school like that) and some shots at La Pasita…
I went back uphill to Parque Paseo del Teleférico for a final look at the city before sundown (and before my overnight bus to Chiapas) from the park namesake. And it did not disappoint.
I was lucky to have returned to Puebla only a few weeks after the Teleférico debuted. Albeit a short ride, the spectacular views on a clear day at twilight were well worth the very affordable 30 peso admission (and would have been worth the wait, had there been one; no line on Monday!). Another new, can’t miss attraction in this beautiful city. If you’re so inclined, it’s 50 pesos round-trip.
The night ended with yet another fruitless hunt for the best tacos arabes in town, which I was told were at Taquería La Especial de Acuca. Sadly, they aren’t open on weekends, they don’t answer their phone, and their hours are incorrect on every website. I Ubered across town to eat there and this…
Nonetheless, the good far outweighed the bad in Puebla by a long shot and I left with a smile on my face after a memorable weekend (add this charming city to your list, especially if you’re in Mexico City, as it’s only a 2-hour drive away).
Traveling overnight and most of the next day yielded great results despite the sleepless night and unexpected cold weather on arrival, but that’s a story for another day.