Ideas for our Luna de Miel
May 7, 2009 11:11 AM   Subscribe

The soon-to-be Ms. Deathalicious and I are planning to honeymoon in August. What are some out of the way, cool (as in tempurature), and romantic places to visit?

I'm aware that most of the country can be very very hot, so we're thinking that it would be better to stay inland and higher up (in the Central Mexican Plateau, say). We have a little over a week to visit, and we're not fast travelers, so ideally we'd stick to just 2-3 locations maximum.

Our original plan was just to chill in Mexico City. We've already bought the plane tickets. But now we're concerned that it won't be relaxing enough for a honeymoon, so we were thinking to stay somewhere outside of the city but in the general area (that is, no more than a 4-6 hour trip by bus).

I'm opening this up to pretty much any and all Mexico-related travel recommendations (cool towns, hotels, restaurants, sights, things to buy), keeping the general region in mind. I'm particularly interested in recommendations of small-to-medium towns or cities that would make a nice long term (4-5 day) base. As an example, a friend of ours recommended Mikulov when we traveled in the Czech Republic and it was great -- almost no tourists, friendly people, a few good restaurants, some nice hills to hike through, a nearby cave system, and a few nice winding roads. In France through a happy accident we ended up in Pau, which had a lovely castle/fort, excellent food, beautiful views, another nearby cave, and decent transport to other nearby attractions.

Here are things that I like. Not all are necesary but any or all would be awesome:
I love, love, love both street and covered markets. I love seeing beautiful produce piled up but also dig piles of fish, cheese, bread, and even the occasional offal. The future Ms. D is into arts & crafts, so those markets are key too.
Plenty of street food, and good food in general
I like all kinds of Mexican food and expect I would eat well anywhere, but areas particularly known for the cuisine would be great. Ideally no matter where we were in the city, we'd never be more than a 10 or 15 minute walk from tasty food. Only drawback is I don't eat pork but for my own sanity I'm going to be avoiding the meat only and pretending they cook with vegetable oil. Other than that, I'll eat chicken, beef, and goat and we both really love fish.
Variety of beautiful architecture
I like everything from ruins to modern architecture, especially made of materials like stone, concrete, and wood (in other words I'm slightly less into metal buildings, i.e. glass skyscrapers)
Walkable neighborhoods brimming with life
While some solitary walks will be fun, I also love walking right into the mix of things with crowds of people all living together. I'm thinking here of my experiences living in Cairo and visiting some of the more working class areas where everyone is kind of pushed up next to one another
Crooked streets and winding alleyways
I love wandering aimlessly through a city especially on cobblestone streets.
Sweeping vistas
I love being up on a mountain and looking out over rolling hills and such.
Quieter evenings
I'm not huge into nightlife, and although we will definitely go out dancing a few nights of our honeymoon, we'd ideally like to avoid somewhere that is loud and raucous late into the night.
Caves or other cave-like attractions (catacombs, crypts, etc)
Going underground is awesome.
Good live music
Ideally we'd like to go to a performance of live music. Doesn't have to be a concert, in fact just some players in the corner of a bar, cafe, or restaurant would be even better.
I'd say we are leaning more towards "luxury" budget traveler. We're not interested in staying in hostels or seedy run-down hotels but anywhere clean and homey is fine (and that includes hotels with smaller rooms and shared bathrooms). For food we're perfectly happy with street food most of the time, but would like to go to where the locals eat out (not sure if that is a custom in Mexico or not) once or twice.

Neither of us is fluent in Spanish but we hopefully would know enough to get around. I always bring a phrasebook with me when I travel and try to pick up a bit of the language.
posted by Deathalicious to Travel & Transportation around Mexico (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Some other things we both enjoy: fairs/festivals, trains and cable cars, fine art (of special interest to Ms. D), ice cream and other sweet treats.

Ms. D reminds me that I forgot to mention Lucha Libre wrestling, which we are both very into. We might just stay a day or two in the DF for that, but if there are smaller regional events going on that would also work.
posted by Deathalicious at 11:18 AM on May 7, 2009

Take the Copper Canyon Railway to Creel and hang out there for a while. It sounds right up your alley. Just don't accidentally stumble into someone's Sierra Madre marijuana plantation, I hear they're getting a little testy about that these days...
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:23 AM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: Visit Cholula and Puebla, about 1.5 hours east of Mexico City, and a cheap and easy bus ride. Cholula has a huge pyramid (though it's mostly buried) and the cheap tour takes you inside into a very cave-like series of tunnels. There's also a neat church that the Spanish built on top. Puebla, the big city next door, has a neat European feel (even some of your cobblestone streets) and the city center square is surrounded by cool little restaurants and a nice park.
posted by olinerd at 11:24 AM on May 7, 2009

Patzcuaro, Michoacan was temperate, romantic and quite lovely when I was last there. I would go back in a heartbeat.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:24 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I love Veracruz. The whole damn state. From the vanilla fields of Papantla, down the beautiful beaches of the Costa Esmeralda, up the foothills to Xalapa and Huatusco, to the peaks of Orizaba, and the bustling, seedy port of the city of Veracruz itself.

Love, love, love, love, love it.

Flights to Veracruz or Xalapa are cheap on regional airlines. Rent a car and go!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:27 AM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: The city of Guanajuato (in the state of Guanajuato) has absolutely everything on your list, even catacombs with real, dead mummies. I haven't been there in over twenty years, but I don't imagine it will have changed too much; it's a world heritage site, I believe.
posted by timeistight at 11:41 AM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: Sounds like you want to go to Guanajuato. It literally has everything on your list. Caves, winding alleys, architecture, galleries, all of it.
posted by gyusan at 11:42 AM on May 7, 2009

d'oh. timieistight beat me to it.
posted by gyusan at 11:42 AM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: San Cristobal is almost a perfect match. It's an old town with lots of markets and such that meets your list quite well. And there are plenty of side trips to indigenous villages, many of which have their own particular crafts. It's also quite temperate since it's in the mountains.

It's a bit far from Mexico City, but honestly, a 4-6 hour bus ride doesn't get you very far. Flights are the way to go in Mexico. Or overnight first-class buses.
posted by smackfu at 11:44 AM on May 7, 2009

I would absolutely recommend the Yucatan, though it's far south and will probably be pretty warm. Merida is a beautiful city and is close to a number of beaches for wildlife viewing and swimming. Lots of old architecture and fairs/markets in Merida and it's close to many Mayan ruins, including Chichen Itza. Fabulous stuff. And really excellent food -- make sure to have the cochinita pibil and the sopa de lima, preferably every day :)
posted by Pantengliopoli at 11:45 AM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: Oaxaca is my favourite Mexican city, and should meet most of your critieria - I'm not too sure about the caves, but the link should have more information.

The smaller towns around it have their own markets, and the ruins of Monte Alban, (amongst others) are fairly close. It used to be an 8 hour overnight bus ride, (seeing the full moon over forests of cacti are is something I'll never forget until the nurses wipe drool of my chin), but there's a more direct route now that cuts that to about 5 hours.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 12:27 PM on May 7, 2009

I'm with Olinerd, I've been to Puebla and Cholula many many times. they are both awesome. Cholula has a pyramid and it's great!
posted by Hands of Manos at 2:13 PM on May 7, 2009

Best answer: Oh, man. I just spent half an hour writing about how freaking awesome Oaxaca is compared to Mexico City, and then I noticed that you already bought tickets to fly into DF. Oaxaca is only about five hours from Mexico City by bus, and if you have the time, it is awesome enough to justify the trip. Seriously. If you can even consider it, mefimail me and I'll send you links to the blog I kept while in Mexico and my Flickr sets. Really consider it - when I was writing out everything that happened to me in Oaxaca, I realized that it sounded like complete bullshit because it was just too awesome. Oaxaca has literally every single item you list, except maybe caves. Oaxaca Oaxaca Oaxaca.

One place to probably avoid: Cuernavaca. It's very close to Mexico City and is renowned for its spectacular climate, it has a big covered market, some cool colonial-era architecture, and great food (tacos al pastor from La Gringa, pozole from El Barco, and anything served by the woman who runs a kitchen out of her garage on the west end of the bridge). It's built across a series of ridges and ravines, so it has some views (including of a volcano, which is fun to wake up to every day)... but the ravines are where the city's poor live, and the water flowing through them is full of garbage. Many of the middle- and upper-class neighborhoods are walled with broken glass topping, next to no activity on the street. It also has a number of language schools, which draw foreign tourists, and many of the wealthier families leave Mexico City during the hotter months (e.g. August) to go to Cuernavaca.

Michoacán is also nice. There's a great little village called Quiroga nearby - you have to ride in the back of a pickup to get there, but that only makes it more awesome. I heard amazing things about Guanajuato, too, but never made it there.

But really... Oaxaca. En serio.
posted by McBearclaw at 5:17 PM on May 7, 2009

Another vote for Xalapa/Veracruz. And if you do decide on Xalapa, feel free to email me.
posted by dhruva at 10:01 AM on May 11, 2009

Response by poster: We're going to Guanajuato, but we will definitely keep everyone's suggestions in mind for the next time we go down there!
posted by Deathalicious at 9:50 PM on June 6, 2009

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