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Published: October 30th 2018
Sunday Oct 28 - Day 2 to 2 - Puebla
Before heading to Puebla we took a short bus journey from Mexico City to the ancient site of Teotihuacan where we enjoyed a guided tour. After a ½ drive we stopped for the obligatory coffee as we had left Mexico City at 6.30am. Overnight Mexico’s daylight saving ended so several of our fellow-travellers got up 1 hour earlier (including Tom). Tom actually went down to the reception to double check.
On arrival to Teotihuacan we saw an amazing abandoned city built around 300 BC by a civilisation now lost in the mists of time. The historic complex is a fascinating combination of ceremonial pyramids, such as the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, the Ciudadela, which are connected by the Street of the Dead, palaces, old temples and the Plaza of the Sun. The buildings are decorated with friezes and other ornate artworks.
We then continued our 2 hour journey in a mini bus to Puebla, one of Mexico's oldest towns. In Puebla you can admire the Spanish colonial architecture and try a mole poblano, a rich spicy sauce containing
chocolate, cinnamon and nuts.
Puebla, which means "City of the Angels". Set in a valley with a dramatic backdrop of volcanoes and snow-topped peaks, Puebla is a fascinating old colonial town founded in 1531. The historic city centre has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site partly due to its impressively preserved Spanish colonial architecture.
On arrival our guide took us for a 40 minute walking tour around the city centre (Zoraco). During the walk it started to rain lightly and continued for the next 2 hours.
After the guided walk Tom & I found a little café to have a panini and coffee. We then walked to a park and saw the local tourist trolley-bus so hopped on. Tom asked me if I knew where we were going. I told him I had no idea but guessed that it would go in a circle and end up at the Zoraco. It was the best thing to do as it turned out, particularly as it was raining. The bus went to the highest spot in Pueblo for a magnificent panoramic view of the city.
We saw many
parks, monuments and cafes as well as many people with painted faces, all part of the week-long Festival of the Dead celebration. We saw bands playing, even though it was still showering with rain.
On the tour we also saw the entrance to the network of lost tunnels which are under the city. There have long been rumors of a system of tunnels under the city. Long considered to be an urban legend, they were rediscovered in 2015. They are believed to be up to 500 years old. We also saw the soccer stadium built for the 1968 Olympic Games.
Being the fourth largest city in Mexico, it has a current population of 3.5 million people, the city serves as one of the main hubs for eastern Central Mexico. Many students come from all over the country to study in its many renowned and prestigious colleges. The city is also important because of its industry, with the world's largest Volkswagon factory outside of Germany and Audi plant in San Jose Chiapa being the most technologically advanced plant in the western hemisphere. As a result, many suppliers to Volkswagen and Audi assembly plants have opened
factories in the metro area of Puebla.
The layout of the city is of classic Spanish design, centered on a main plaza, today called the Zócalo. This main plaza originally was rectangular, but later made square because the earlier version was considered to be ugly. Today, the Zocalo is a tree-filled plaza and contains a large number of sculptures, but the most noted is the one of the Archangel Michael that is in a fountain placed in the center in 1777. Many notable buildings surround the Zocalo including City Hall, the Casa de los Muñecos and the Cathedral.
Another major feature of the city where the weekly markets (tianguis), in which indigenous sellers would come with their wares and foodstuffs to sell to the population. By the mid-16th century, water was brought in to the main plaza to a newly installed fountain. By the end of the century, the city occupied 120 blocks, much of which was under construction, with the new Cathedral begun in 1575. Its favorable climate and strategic location helped the city to prosper, quickly becoming the second most important city in New Spain.
During the end
of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, Puebla remained important culturally and economically. It had a thriving textile industry at this time. Immigration from Europe was encouraged and people from Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Lebanon came to live in the city. Hotel Alhondiga where we stayed was originally a large trading warehouse before it became the Congress building, followed by offices, followed by accommodation as it was today. It was a lovely hotel with large rooms and tiny Ensuite. The corridors were light and expansive.
Puebla is the best place to try mole poblano, a rich, spicy sauce containing chocolate, cinnamon and nuts, as well as different types of hot peppers, often served over chicken. That night we went to one of the restaurants on the Zocalo to try mole. Tom & I both had the traditional mole poblano with hot peppers poured over chicken breast. We also had a cranberry, walnut, fried pineapple and lettuce salad. Yum!
The origin of this sauce is disputed and there are two versions of the legend that are most often cited. The first states that 16th century nuns from the Convent of Santa
Rosa were worried because they had just found out that the archbishop was going to visit them, and they had nothing to prepare for him except for an old turkey in the yard. Supposedly due to divine inspiration, they began to mix together many of the spices and flavorings they had on hand in the kitchen, including different types of chili peppers, other spices, day-old bread, chocolate and approximately twenty other ingredients. They let the sauce simmer for hours and poured it over the turkey meat. Fortunately, the archbishop was very pleased with the meal and the nuns were able to save face.
Before dinner we went for an afternoon drink, trying the local margarita with tamarin. It was lovely and didn’t push Tom’s BSL up to high.
All in all, we enjoyed the city with the next day off the Oaxaca.
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