Jan 22, 2010, 5:30 PM
Post #15 of 21
Thanks. Yes, the weather blew (literally) and put a damper (ouch! pun!) on the trip but I still managed to have a good time. I know I didn't see the "real" Veracruz because of it, only got a taste. I also didn't see much of the countryside around Xalapa because....I literally COULDN'T SEE due to the clouds and rain. It's why I didn't make it to Tlacotalpan for a day trip. But anyway. I've traveled enough and know how to recalibrate what to do with myself so as to have a nice trip. I was pretty damn happy when the clouds parted in Xalapa and I at least got to see Orizaba from a distance in the perfectly clear blue.
Re: [Vichil] 12 Nights in Veracruz City and Xalapa!
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A couple other pieces of info, just data, in case they help others going here in the future.
Definitely recommend Meson del Mar for a budget hotel in Veracruz City. Well-located about 3 blocks from the zocalo and same to the Malecon. On the corner of E. Morales and the very noisy Zaragosa, but the room I was in had double doors leading to the little terraza so when closed they quieted the room thoroughly. For a budget place - I paid 350 pesos/night for a single - it is much better appointed than you'd expect. Lovely staff in Jan. '10. I can't imagine anything better at this (current) price in Veracruz and I CAN imagine much worse. Noisy Zaragosa also has all the busses on it so you can easily get anywhere from there. Look at various rooms before selecting one, for sure, as they vary greatly. I wouldn't want to stay in a downstairs room, but maybe that's just me.
(Alternatively, if you want a view of the water in a nice, if sterile, brand-new businessy type hotel, look hard at NovoMar. It would be completely comfortable, away from el centro, but only by minutes and not all that expensive.)
Cafe del Portal is definitely a touristy kind of restaurant, but I have to say the food I had there was very good. Bit spendy but it's a superb location and a beautiful room with great history. The outside tables under the portales are great for people-watching, too. So what if it's touristy. It's damn pleasant.
The Gran Cafe de la Parrochia down on the Malecon is also worth doing for the Lechero thing. Why the hell not? It's tradition! And it's packed with people doing the traditional thing! Good bisquet (whatever the thing was) with my fruit plate and *ding*ding*ding* lechero.
Enjoyed several meals at La Gaviota, which is on one of the Cajellones just a block off the zocalo.
Never ate on the Plaza Principal itself but did enjoy sitting there for a few beers and watching the action. The protocol between the various bands stationed at the different restaurants is a symphony in itself. As soon as one band (of whatever variety) finishes their song next door, the band at your restaurant fires up without skipping a beat. Just to have a Marimba band, a Mariachi, a Norteno, a Jarocha, a free-style accordianist, and another this or that bounce off each other is entertaining.
(BTW, Never, NEVER, turn down a shoe-shine, even if you're wearing white tennis shoes. They look brand new for 20 pesos!)
Can't remember the rest of the other nameless places I ate, but in general the food in Veracruz was delicious and made me a bit bitter about the restaurant food I find locally.
Went out to Boca del Rio on Sunday afternoon, and that's worth doing. Ate at a place called "El Bayo" which was good. For a Sunday afternoon, the area wasn't anywhere near as busy as it would have been during better weather or during a busier time of year. (The trip was mid-January....all the holiday travelers had gone back to work.)
The Acuario in Veracruz is nice enough and worth doing if you need an indoor thing. The ruins at San Juan de Ulua are an interesting walk-around. Plan on paying about 200 pesos in taxis roundtrip....no busses out there. For whatever reason it was, maybe, 130 to get out there and 70 on return. (Except for that one, taxis are cheap in Veracruz.) I had to kill an hour on my last day when the weather had finally got decent so did the boat-harbor tour. You get to see the city from the perspective of the water but other than that, I'd skip it.
Oh! Also, there is an ADO booth right at the airport in Veracruz. If you go to their website, I assume they'll list schedules of busses that leave from the airport. I noticed on the night of my flight out, they had one heading to Xalapa, for example.
The main bus station in town is a bit sloppy. Imagine a full city block and split it in half. ADO is on one side....they own the area. If you need a secondary line, you have to walk around the block to get to them. No big deal at all, but you can't get from one to the other without walking around the block. (And don't count on the Tourism Office for good info.) I was told twice, for instance, that to get to Tlacotalpan I had to get to the "other", non-ADO side. That may be. But you buy your ticket (currently) ON the ADO side to take the TRV bus. Which I never did. Leaves hourly on the hour, anyway. Window #15 to buy tickets! Bah.
Posada del Cafeto in Xalapa also recommend. Slightly more than MdM, but included a meager breakfast, better bedding, larger room.
The food I had in Xalapa was even better than Veracruz. I enjoyed Casona de Beatrio (?) a couple of times. Can't remember where else I ate, but I remember being very happily fed.
Taxis in Xalapa are REALLY cheap within the center. Don't feel like walking the hill, then don't bother. By zone, super cheap. Even getting out to a fancy suburban mall to see Avatar one rainy night, probably at least 15-20 minute drive was only 30 pesos.
It's easy to get to Coatepec by bus if you walk about ten minutes west of Parque Juarez to the Mercado de Sauces. (I'm not kdding. Which reminds me, what's with all the English I'm seeing, lately?)
The walk around the lake district is pleasant enough. And there's a park I can't remember the name of, starts with a "T", that's pleasant stroll-through (one of the places that most reminded me of Seattle). It was a 17 peso cab from the very center. The park with moving water.....errr....can't remember the name.
In Veracruz, I was asked repeatedly if I was coming back for Carnaval. It's a darn fun town and they want you to have a good time. I'll be back....probably not during Carnaval but definitely during better weather!
ASIDE: VivaAerobus was fine. Only slightly more miserable than every other airline, but significantly less expensive in this instance. For 1900 pesos roundtrip, non-stop from GDL, all taxes/fees, with their most expensive luggage allowance and VIP seating at the gate, I'll take it! Mexicana was almost double. (You need to be able to read Spanish to navigate the VivaAerobus website....and do be careful for the nick-on charges!)
(This post was edited by tashby on Jan 22, 2010, 5:46 PM)