Amazing Mexico Trip!
Nov 20 - Nov 29, 2022
Our trip to Mexico was amazing!
Rutopia basically set us up with a personalized guide in both Mexico City and Oaxaca for our family of four. We felt totally taken care of -- private car, private transfers, and private tour guides showing us around everywhere -- flexible to our needs. It was totally a luxury, and not how we usually travel. I think we could have done this trip for about 30% cheaper if we did it on our own. But, we were traveling with two small kids, without knowing much Spanish, so I was glad we paid extra for the luxury. It was worth it. We would have never found all these tours and private guides without the help if Rutopia (via KimKim).
Also, Rutopia found us two gem hotels to stay at -- little boutique hotels in quiet neighborhoods with easy access to everything -- Casa Decu in CDMX and Hotel Tabaa in Oaxaca. We LOVED where we stayed.
* Food Tour of CDMX with Adrian from Eat Mexico. Learned about all the foods of Mexico and their history. Fruits, pastries, cheeses, mole, and tacos.
* Seeing the CDMX Anthropology Museum with our guide Jose.
* Dinner at Rosetta in CDMX. One of the best restaurants we've ever eaten! (We did this on our own)
* Seeing the Pyramids of Teotichuacan with our guide Jose. Good explanation of the site and plenty of time to explore on our own. I just wish we could still climb the pyramids.
* Private transfer from CDMX to Oaxaca stopping in Puebla and Zapotitlan Salinas. The cactus reserve near Zapotitlan Salinas was particularly awesome to visit. Way off the beaten path -- but spectacular to be among the cactus like that.
* Street Food Tour of Oaxaca with Pepe from Ethnoturstica. We ate ALL the things and learned so much about the history of Oaxaca, Mexico, and all the different types of food -- from memelas, to agua fresca, to mezcal.
* Guided tour of Monte Alban with Alejandro. Learning all about this ancient Zapotec site that I'd never heard of before the tour.
* Visiting the alebrije workshop and the black pottery workshop near Oaxaca.
* Private cooking class in the Oaxacan country side -- starting with a visit to the market to buy everything, cooking everything from scratch, and eventually eating it all.
Things I would do different:
* Xochimilco in CDMX was meh. It was a Mexican party boat. It wasn't what we were looking for with two small kids. Most people can safely miss.
* Don't book a tour everyday. If I had to do it again, I would have one "dead" day in CDMX where we can do things on our own, e.g. visit the Centro Historico and another "dead" day in Oaxaca where we can just wander the city.
* Tell your guides early on that you want to have lunch and to work it into the plan. The working assumption was usually "no lunch". Which didn't work for the kiddos.
* Don't book fancy dinner reservations on the days that you are doing food tours. After the food tour I basically didn't want to eat for another 18-24 hours I was so stuffed.
* Note that Guides are important for context at various sites -- but you don't need them all all the places. For example -- Centro Historico, Coyoacan, the more "tourist markets", and many other places in CDMX are easily visitable on your own. I would strongly recommend getting the private guide for Teotihuacan, the Anthropology Museum, Monte Alban, food tours, and the cooking class.
All in all though, an amazing experience -- we really felt like we got to see large swaths of Mexico, learn a lot about the culture and food, and be taken good care of the whole time.
Fantastic boutique hotel right in the heart of Condesa. It's on a quiet street just steps from the greenbelt that circles the neighborhood (Amsterdam Ave). The room we were in (a suite) was well appointed for our needs. We had one room with a queen bed and a crib. Our older daughter slept on the couch in the living room that could be converted into a comfy twin size bed. There was a kitchen as well with a fridge, microwave, and sink -- perfect to store water, milk, make bottles, etc. One of the best parts of Casa Decu is the rooftop. We had breakfast on that roof every morning . There is a nice spread of juice, coffee, bread, cereal, yogurt -- with the option to purchase hot food if you wanted. It was really relaxing to go up there every morning overlooking Condesa and have a lazy breakfast and chat with the other tourists at the hotel. The staff was really helpful as well -- pointing our restaurants, letting us store our baby stroller and car seat on the ground floor, and keeping the room sparkling clean.
We loved our stay at Hotel Tabaa. It's located just three blocks away from the Historic Center of Oaxaca in the neighborhood of Jalatlaco -- just a short walk from all the action, but on a quiet corner away from it. The inside of the hotel is a beautiful courtyard that feels like a little oasis in the middle of Mexico. We loved spending time in the courtyard having breakfast, tea, and hanging out on the hammock with the kiddos. Our initial room was a single room with a double bed -- that wasn't big enough for our family of four (which includes a baby). But after talking to the owner, he was able to switch us for the last three days to their master suite that had two separate rooms -- a master and a "family room". That was a perfect fit for us on the ground floor. I wish it had a kitchen, but we made do. The little breakfast kitchen in the courtyard was just ten steps out our front door, so we ended up using that to store our milk and make bottles for the baby. It really just felt like our courtyard. The staff was *super* nice and helpful as well. They went out of their way to make us feel welcome and helped us order food when we arrived there late at night on the first day, store our baby stuff under the stairs, help us switch rooms, and just talk and get to know us (and us them). It felt like staying at a family house rather than a boutique hotel (in the best way). Super authentic.
This was one of the highlights of our trip. It was such an authentic experience. Pepe, our guide, took us to meet Dalia, our cook, at the market in Tlacolula. There we picked out all our vegetables and meats and took them back to Dalia's house in the village of Santa Ana del Valle. There she has a big kitchen where we got to work. Dalia only speaks Spanish, but Pepe was there to translate for us. We made: * a mole from scratch with dried chiles, corn, and other herbs. We ground it down on an old school moler stone. This was much of the fun. * A pumpkin flower soup with zucchini in there. So good. * mashed down corn to make empanadas and the mole base * sweet empanadas from our corn mash and corn husks We ate: * our mole over chicken * said soup * chile relleno * agua fresca * said sweet empanadas We would do this again in a heartbeat. My 8 year old loved it and participated in everything. The baby was happy there crawling around on the floor and interacting with all the other people.
This was meh. It's a Mexican party boat. Wasn't the right fit for us as a family of four with a baby. We just sat on the boat for 2 hours and in traffic for another 3 hours to get there and back. Would not do it again. It felt very "manufactured", e.g. a tourist trap like experience where it's just a bunch of other tourists on boats and people trying to sell stuff to us.