The second stop on my six-week tour of Mexico was the city of Puebla, about two hours southeast of Mexico City. It’s a beautiful city, with bright, candy-coloured buildings lining the cobblestone streets in the historic centre of town. Here’s a run-down of what I did during the three days I spent there.
On my first day in Puebla I didn’t do too much because it was late afternoon when I arrived at my hostel, and I was planning to get up early the next morning for a day trip to neighbouring Cholula. I managed to walk to the zocalo (the city’s central square), have a nice meal at a cheap restaurant, and take some pictures of the beautiful cathedral by the zocalo before calling it a night.
As I mentioned, I paid a visit to the town of Cholula on my second day in Puebla. I got there by catching a bus on Avenida 6 Poniente between Calle 13 Norte and Calle 11 Norte. I paid only 6 pesos each way for the approximately-40-minute ride.
Cholula is known for being home to the largest man-made pyramid in the world. That’s right — it’s even bigger than the Great Pyramid of Giza (although not as tall)! I was excited to see this architectural wonder for myself, but my visit to Cholula left me disappointed and extremely confused in that regard… I couldn’t find the pyramid.
Now, I was aware before my visit that the pyramid has not been fully excavated, and kind of just looks like a hill with a church on top. (The church is known as the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de los Remedios.) However, I had read that there are tunnels inside the pyramid that you can walk through. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any kind of ticket office or anything that looked like an entrance into the pyramid, despite walking all the way around the hill topped by the church. I’m not sure what I was missing, but the trip into the pyramid didn’t happen for me.
Even though I was bummed about the pyramid, my trip to Cholula was not a complete bust. I walked up to the church at the top of the hill (supposedly the top of the pyramid that I couldn’t see), and the views of the town from up there were more than enough to make the trip worthwhile.
Besides the church and the pyramid (which I still believe exists, despite my inability to detect it), there aren’t a ton of things to see in Cholula. So after spending a couple of hours in the town, I headed back to Puebla via bus.
The first thing I did when I got back to Puebla was to check out the amazing street art in the Xanenetla neighbourhood. The place is officially known as Puebla Ciudad Mural, and I can affirm that that title is a perfectly accurate description of Xanenetla. Almost every wall in the neighbourhood is covered by a beautiful mural. Walking through Xanenetla was my favourite thing to do in Puebla. Don’t miss it if you’re ever in town.
After my stroll through Xanenetla, I popped into the Biblioteca Palafoxiana. This library, which is housed on the second floor of the Casa de la Cultura near the zocalo, has the impressive distinction of being the oldest public library in Latin America. The Biblioteca Palafoxiana is a small, one-room library, but it’s totally worth popping in for a few minutes to take some photos and check out all the old-timey books on display around the room.
Around 1:45 p.m., shortly before my visit to the Palafoxiana, it started raining. Not only did it fail to stop raining at all throughout the rest of the day, but it continued raining alllllll throughout the next day too. It wasn’t a heavy rain, but it meant that I had to have my umbrella in hand at all times.
Despite the incessant rain, on my last day in Puebla I decided to walk about 2.5km to the cable car station. Yes, Puebla has a cable car and it’s the most boring thing ever. I don’t even understand the point of it, since it doesn’t actually lead up to anything. You take the elevator up, ride the cable car across to the adjacent station, then take the elevator back down to the ground again. I guess it’s cool to be suspended high up in the air, but the views are not great enough to justify the existence of a cable car here.
After my disappointing cable car ride, I didn’t feel like walking all the way back to my hostel in the rain, so I decided to catch a bus. That turned out to be an even bigger mistake than the cable car. I had absolutely no idea what route the bus I caught was going to take, but I assumed it would take me closer to the centre of town. Oh, how wrong I was. Instead of heading towards the centre, the bus brought me all the way to the outskirts of the city. I was using the GPS on my phone to track our route, and my train of thought went something like this:
“OK, this bus is not going where I wanted it to, but as long as it turns left at the next street, I should be OK…Alright, he made the turn, so if he just keeps going straight, I’ll get off in eight blocks…Oh shit, why did he have to turn there? Now where are we going? It’s OK, I’ll just wait until we get to that main street, and then surely he’ll turn left… Alright, this is not going how I planned, and I’m super far away from my hostel, but things can still turn around if — Fuck! Where the hell is he taking us? Mexico City?? JODIE GET OFF THE BUS GET OFF THE BUS GET OFF THE BUS!”
When I finally had to admit defeat and get off the bus, I was so much farther away from my hostel than I was before I got on the bus. I sighed inwardly, chalked it up as a lesson learned, and walked the four or five kilometres back to my hostel in the rain.
I was starving by the time I got back to my hostel, so I decided to find somewhere to eat. I had told myself earlier that I should really eat a salad today, to compensate a bit for all the heavy, cheesy, creamy Mexican food I’d been eating every day for the past week. But after all that walking (and the generally so-so day I was having), a salad was just not gonna fly. I wanted me some comfort food. After some Googling, I found an amazing vegan taco restaurant called Tacotlan Vegano. I had three delicious, cruelty-free tacos there for only 13 pesos each. They didn’t quite make up for the stressful bus ride and the long walk in the rain, but they helped.
All in all, Puebla was not my favourite place ever. Of course, my opinion of it was negatively skewed by the rain. (It is a very pretty city in the sunlight.) But I felt that there was not a lot to do there, and the three nights that I stayed was one night too many. Oh well! You can’t fall in love with every place you visit, now can you?
Next stop: Oaxaca!