I still can’t believe how quickly the eight months that I’ve spent in Mexico went by. I met so many great people, learnt so many things not only about the country and the culture but also about me and most of all I have seen and done amazing things that I never even imagined to be so incredible. Yes, Mexico was an adventure of a lifetime. And it won’t be the last time I got there, that is for sure. This is also due to the fact that there are still so many things that I want to see. Believe it or not, Mexico is such a big (and mulitfaceted) country that I didn’t have enough time to see all of it. But in order for you not to be completely lost when planning your own trip and you don’t know where to start, I will introduce to you my personal highlights in Mexico in this little two-part entry!
Peña de Bernal, Querétaro
The Peña de Bernal is the third tallest monolith in the world. It is a little outside of the city of Querétaro, about 40 minutes by car. It’s basically a huge rock that you can climb up. My dear friend Joss took me there as she is pretty used to climbing it up and told me it’s one of her favourite places in Querétaro. Before you can go up, you pass the small village of Bernal where they sell food, drinks, ice cream and souvenirs. Once the area of the rock starts, you have some signs explaining what the Peña de Bernal is and showing you the way up. But don’t think that it’s just a little bit of walking uphill for some time. At some point you do have to climb, so be prepared to use your whole body to get up there. Technically there’s no limit on how high up you can get but believe me, you’ll see when you can’t go on without any climbing gear any more. If you do plan to get up higher, make sure you know what you’re doing or join a climbing group with a guide as I think the signs warning you of falling down and dying weren’t meant in a funny way. However, once you’re there, as high as you can get, the view is amazing. There are quite a few people climbing up the Peña, so don’t expect to find a quiet place just for yourself but it is still incredibly beautiful to look down on the small village. It took Joss and me about 40 minutes to go up, but I definitely would plan up to an hour depending on how many pauses you take in between. Same goes for the way down as that isn’t the easiest thing to do either.
Hierve el Agua, Oaxaca
If you are a frequent reader of my blog, I guess you have already noticed how much in love I am with the state of Oaxaca. It is the only state in Mexico doesn’t have a Ministry of Culture, but of Cultures. There are still 17 indigenous language that are spoken by the Oaxacan people and the food there is one of the best in the whole country. The city of Oaxaca is incredible. I once heard someone say “Oaxaca looks like as if it has been thrown into a bucket full of colours” and I must admit that’s quite accurate. As I already declared my love to the city of Oaxaca in another entry, I will tell you about another magical place: Hierve el Agua. It literally means “water boils” and it comes from the small water fountain that’s filling the natural pools there with water. And if that wouldn’t have been enough already, you have a breathtaking mountain landscape directly behind the pools. What more could you ask for? There are also some food stalls with traditional Mexican food and on the way back to Oaxaca you can stop by Mitla, a small village that has a huge market with handmade clothes and a Zona Arqueológica nearby.
Another highlight in Oaxaca is of course Mazunte, the beach. I also heard that Puerto Escondido is quite nice, but if you wanna read about my adventures at Punta Cometa, just click here.
Tulum, Quintana Roo
From the first moment I saw Tulum, I was head over heals. This was back in August 2016 when I was on holidays at the Riviera Maya. Tulum had that special something, a calm and welcoming atmosphere that I haven’t experienced like that before. On our holiday we were only there for a day or two but I knew from that instant on that I want to go back there and stay a bit. Initially, my plan was to go from Bacalar straight to Belize, but as Tulum was so close I couldn’t miss the opportunity and so headed off north for a few days. I just didn’t feel ready to leave Mexico if I haven’t spent some time in Tulum before. It was the best decision I could have made. It felt like saying goodbye to my family, not only because the owners of La Negrita Hostal were extremely warmhearted. I felt happy. Tulum does that. It makes you happy. The incredible beautiful beach, the Natural Reservate of Sian K’aan, the great options of vegan, vegetarian or traditional Mexican food, the small and cosy lights at the bars at night and the Caribbean feeling when going out to dance – it couldn’t have been better. Not to mention the beautiful Lagoon Kaan Luum or all of the nearby Cenotes. Tulum was a place of peace for me, the perfect way to say goodbye to a country that I will always carry in my heart.
Río de Coatepec, Xalapa, Veracruz
This was the first really impressive thing I’ve seen during my time in Xalapa. Xalapa itself is also incredibly beautiful and I am more than grateful to have lived in this place. If you wanna know more about my past home town, just click here. However, the surrounding villages and nature are stunning. I loved escaping to the beach from time to time, even though the water at the Gulf coast wasn’t as warm as the Caribbean and generally more rough. But that provided a special atmosphere that I really liked. But my favourite trip was to the Río de Coatepec. When I was still living with my AirBnB flatmates, they took me there after a nice breakfast in Coatepec. The river was only surrounded by nature. Trees, rocks, bushes and nothing but floating water. Sure, the water was ice cold but just to be in nature with a shade of green so saturated like I’ve never seen it before, was a great experience. Being alone or with friends in nature and enjoying a view or a nice swim is one of the most beautiful things there are in this world. And this was a moment in which I really appreciated all of that. Beautiful things and places are right behind the corner, we just have to open our eyes a bit more sometimes.
Before I came to Guadalajara I didn’t even know that Tequila was actually a place. And as I wasn’t really a huge fan of Tequila, I wasn’t quite sure whether it’d be worth it to go there or not. I didn’t regret going there, not even a second. First of all, it is a really nice and small village. You can have great food and take a walk through tiny alleys. And second, the Tequila distillery tour we did was amazing. We learned about the process of making Mexico’s most famous beverage and saw what happens with the agave plant. Of course we could also try everything, from pieces of the sweet agave itself over 90% Tequila to some of the highest quality Tequilas you can get. And all kinds of flavours: coffee, almond, cherry, chocolate or coconut. So make sure to bring a lot of water with you so you won’t get too drunk on one of those tours. However, what really fascinated me was the surrounding nature. Tequila is literally in the middle of nowhere, so once you climb up on of the nearby hills, you have an amazing view not only on the village but you can also see the mountains and fields. So if you wanna have culture, tradition, nature and a fun time all at the same time, don’t miss out on Tequila.