Taste of Mexico
Day 1 Mexico City
Arrive in Mexico City at any time. There are no planned activities during the day, so check into the hotel and enjoy this charming city. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. Following the welcome meeting, head out for your first of many meals with this group as you wine and dine your way through Central Mexico. Explore the world's largest metropolitan area or take an optional day trip to the famous archaeological site of Teotihuacan. The former Aztec Capital (you can still see some of the ruins of the great Tenochtitlán in the centre of the city, or take a subway ride through one of the temples) was destroyed in the struggle with Cortez and those who followed him. Today it is the world’s fastest growing urban centre, offering a great variety of impressive museums, galleries and range of architecture, perhaps unequalled anywhere else in the Americas. Mexico City or D.F., as the locals refer to it, also has a variety of food to match its impressive visual style. If you prefer to get outside the city, the pyramids of Teotihuacán and the canals and gardens of Xochimilco are two good places to start. A word of caution: Mexico City may be slightly overwhelming at first. The world’s most populous centre is a crowded, smoggy, urban place where the altitude combined with atmospheric conditions may cause irritation of eyes, nose and throat. Also be aware that the heat may affect you upon arrival, with a general sense of lethargy and/or loss of appetite. This is no cause for alarm; it is simply a reaction to the heat. Be sure to drink plenty of water (cold bottled water is available everywhere) and do not attempt too much in any given day. Mexico is the third largest country in Latin America and the most populous Spanish speaking country in the world. Its geography ranges from swamp to desert, from tropical lowland jungle to high alpine vegetation and from thin arid soils to others so rich that they grow three crops a year.
Days 2-3 Puebla
Head to Puebla, famous for its hand-painted tiles, unique handicrafts, mouth-watering Mole Poblano (a mouth-watering spicy sauce made with cocoa and infinite varieties of chillies) and rich colonial history. Take part in a mole-making class to learn the secrets of this famous sauce. Puebla has managed to incorporate its colourful colonial past with a growing and progressive modern city centre. There are enough churches and well-maintained, colonial buildings to satisfy the most ardent lover of architecture. The markets, of course, are also present for buying, browsing or photographing. While you're here, enjoy the quality and richness of the food at Puebla. Some of these specialties include the following: "Chiles en nogada" - found late summer/early fall harvest season. Ground meat is seasoned and combined with raisins, pine nuts and local fruit before being stuffed tinto roasted poblano chiles. These stuffed chiles are then dipped in batter and fried before being topped off with a creamy sauce made partially of walnuts and then topped with pomegranates. "Molotes" - Chorizo (spicy sausage), squash blossoms with cheese or herbed sliced new potatoes are tucked into a circle of thin corn dough before all is sealed and fried in oil until crisp. "Tinga" - Shredded pork is is added to a clay pot filled with tomatoes, garlic, onions and chipotle chiles and simmered until the flavours combine. This mixture is served on tostadas, or hardshell tortillas, with lettuce and avocado.
Days 4-5 Oaxaca (1D)
The colourful and lively markets and the impressive Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban are just two of many reasons to visit wonderful Oaxaca. The conqueror of Mexico, Hernán Cortez, chose the Valley of Oaxaca as his personal domain in the Americas and many visitors have followed in his footsteps. Surrounded by the Sierra Madre del Sur and Sierra Madre de Oaxaca mountain ranges, Oaxaca is a lovely colonial city, which has maintained not only the physical structures, but also the serenity of an era gone by. Explore the colourful markets and enjoy an included cooking class to get the most out of the Mexican cuisine experience, then enjoy the creations for dinner. We also include a short visit to a mezcal factory that produces the fiery "other tequila" which is this region's specialty. Monte Albán, a spectacular grouping of pre-Hispanic (Zapotec) mountain top temples, is just a short bus ride away, as is the Valley of Mitla with its colourful ruins and hand-loomed carpets. Stepping from the cultural to the culinary, Oaxaca is also a great area for trying out new tastes and textures. From the sublime to the exotic, the restaurants and markets around town will challenge you to one adventure after another. After all, this is the home of Mezcal (look for the unfortunate worm at the bottom), Oaxacan chocolate, cheese, and yes, even salted grasshoppers, if you are so inclined.
Days 6-7 Puerto Escondido (1D)
Drive to the coast and enjoy time in the beach paradise on the Pacific. Opt to lounge on the beach, try surfing, diving or take an eco tour to spot dolphins, sailfish or sea turtles. Visit the local market for a taste of how the locals shop and enjoy a seafood dinner in town.
Day 8 Mexico City
Catch a flight back to the largest city in the world! This fascinating multi-layered megalopolis is home to an endless list of cultural wonders, the best anthropology museum for Mexican archaeology, the largest plaza (the zocalo), the Zona Rosa, many Aztec historic sites, and a vibrant street life at all hours. Travel back to this massive city and hit a few of the attractions and restaurants you weren't able to visit on your first time through.
Day 9 Mexico City
Depart at any time.