Let’s Go Exploring! Puebla: Big City with Small Town Vibe

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FIRECracker is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
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Before we went to Puebla, I knew absolutely nothing about it, other than the fact that it’s listed as one of the top 10 safest cities in Mexico (along with Merida), it’s a food mecca, much like Oaxaca, and that it’s only a 2 hour bus ride from Mexico city.

So with 4 of my 5 criteria (WAVES = Walkable, Asian Food, Value, Eternal Summer, Safe) met, we decided it was a good idea to spend four days there on our way to Mexico, before flying out to Panama.

What I wasn’t expecting was how liveable the city was! And by liveable, I mean big enough to have lots of food options and attractions but not so big that I’m soaked with the sweat of a thousand strangers on the subway. In fact, even though it’s the 4th largest city in Mexico with 2.5 million inhabitants, it never felt crowded or overwhelming.

And as it turns out, the best thing about Puebla, was the deliciously, savoury, spicy and multi-layered sauce that beat out even Oaxaca’s Mole Negro.

It was in Puebla that we found the king of all moles: Mole Poblano.

Now, for those of you who don’t know what mole is, let me give you some background.

Mole, essentially mixes two main ingredients you wouldn’t think to combine. It’s actually made up of symphony of more than 20 ingredients, but at the center of it all, stars two very unlikely leads:

Chilli and chocolate.

So picture being enveloped by a nice, soft, warm hug—before being severely punched in the mouth.

Clearly, you can you see why I love this dish.

Nah, I’m just kidding. The REAL reason why I love it this dish is the sheer amount of effort that was put into it and the almost laughably low price tag that doesn’t even due it justice.

So guess you could say, it tastes like a steal.

We ended up spending an exorbitant amount of time at one restaurant called “Viejo Rosario” in Puebla, which had at least 50 different dishes on the menu, making it our personal challenge to try as many as we could. It also helped that because of Trump sending the Mexican peso into the crapper, each dish only cost 18 – 65 pesos ($0.80 – $3 USD) or less.

All those numbers are in pesos, not dollars. Sweet!

When we finally managed to drag ourselves away from the glorious food, we discovered…

Even more food.

Because just like the food vendors in the 20 November market in Oaxaca, the food scene in Puebla was out of this world:

From cheesy, savoury Cemitas:

That strip of green that looks like a chopped up green pepper is actually grilled cactus. Yum!

To melt-in-your-mouth pork tacos:

To juicy roasted chicken:

To perfectly brewed, frothy cappuccinos,

The food options were cheap and endless.

And on top of all the good food, we also got to go to a free concert to celebrate all this gluttony in the Zocalo!

Puebla, pretty much the ONLY place in Mexico that celebrates Cinco de Mayo

This was one of the few times I didn’t mind huge crowds. I also found out that Puebla is named after “Puebla de Zaragoza”,  the general who won the battle of Cinco de Mayo against Napoleon, which is why it’s pretty much the only city in Mexico that celebrates Cinco de Mayo.

The next day, we decided to take a bus out to Cholula, only 30 mins away.

If you like seeing a big ass churches on top of a pyramid, and being inside a claustrophobic dark tunnel that winds through the mountain underneath it, you’ll love it here.

That mountain is actually a pyramid overgrown with trees. It’s actually the biggest pyramid in the world (not the tallest like Egypt but still impressive non-the-less)
The excavated ruins around the pyramid

 

Dark tunnels, tight spaces, and spooky stories, oh my!

And just like Chichen Itza, it also has unhealthy level of child sacrifices:

Seriously, Aztecs, what the heck is with all the child sacrifices?

Dark practices aside, the view from the top was actually quite breath taking:

Also, if you love having your heart jump out of your chest every couple of minutes, you’ll be happy to know that there are people setting off firecrackers all over the city, celebrating God-knows-what. That’s another thing we learned about Mexico. They have festivals almost every single day of the year. And that means firecrackers. Lots and lots of firecrackers.

So I guess you could say, it’s my kind of city.

Except when you get woken up in at 6 in the morning thinking there’s a gun battle going on outside your window, then it’s not as fun.

But never-the-less, while we were there, we loved how much the Mexican people loved to celebrate—with an abundance of food, booze, and firecrackers. Always with the firecrackers. YAY?

Here’s how much we spent in Puebla:

Category Cost in USD/couple Cost in CAD/couple Notes
Accommodations: $25 USD/night $32 CAD/night We stayed in an AirBnb with a shared bathroom that's right in the middle of the city within walking distance to all attractions. The host told us about Viejo Rosario (right around the corner) which ended up being our favourite restaurant and where we eat most of our meals."
Food: $13 USD/day $17 /day ($14/day for eating out, $3 for groceries (mostly booze) Food was super cheap and plentiful everywhere. I could totally see us living here long term and just eating every day.
Transportation: $7 USD/day $9.45 CAD/day The ADO bus ticket from Oaxaca to Puebla (4 hour drive) was only 255 pesos per person, or $14 CAD each. The only other cost for transportation was getting from Puebla to Cholula at $1.50 CAD/person
Entertainment: $1.7 USD/day $2.25 CAD/day Entry to the Cholula ruins and pyramid tunnels was only 70 pesos per person or $4.65 CAD. Averaged over 4 days, that's only $2.25 CAD for entertainment per day.
Total: $47 USD/couple/day $61 CAD/couple/night


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16 thoughts on “Let’s Go Exploring! Puebla: Big City with Small Town Vibe”

    1. Lots of churches (Iglesia de Tonantzintla, Rosary Chapel, Santo Domingo, etc), the smallest inactive volcano in the world (Cuexcomate), and the largest pyramid in the world (Great Pyramid of Cholula).

      We also found some nice parks while waking around as well.

  1. Love how cheap the cost of living is! Though I am not much of a food person — I eat because I have to, not because I want to. Wish I could just take a pill for breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc. Just imagine how much simpler and more productive life would be. No time wasted on deciding what to eat, preparing food/buying the meal, eating the meal, and then cleaning up after. (Not to mention the time and effort that go into flossing and brushing.)

    1. I used to be like that too but then I discovered cheap and delicious street food in south east Asia and Mexico. Now I’m all about the food–especially since I don’t have to cook it or break the bank eating out all the time.

    1. Never said I require Asian food wherever I go. Asian food is my favourite type of food, so it’s in my top 5 criteria, but that doesn’t mean I need all 5 to be met. Mexico meets 4/5, which is very high in my books. Toronto only checks off 3/5 (has Asian food, but bad value and bad weather).

  2. Puebla is on our “want to visit” list (along with Merida and Oaxaca). It’s well known for all it’s affordable tiled products. I’m redoing my Mexican bathroom and want to get a tiled sink and loose tiles for my kitchen counter. Although products from Puebla have started to be sold in Chiapas (but they’re way more money).

    I hope that you are safe after the earthquake. We have a house in San Cristobal (a few hours from the Pacific Coast) and buildings have fallen and a few people have died. Fortunately, our house is still standing.

    Besos Sarah.

    1. Ooh, so that’s why we kept seeing home hardware/renovations stores in Puebla wherever we went. Makes sense now.

      Thanks for your concern! We’re not in Mexico right now, so we’re safe. I’m glad your house is fine and you are okay! Stay safe!

  3. The food looks delicious and very affordable FireCracker! I’ll have to add this city to our travel list.

    That’s crazy they built a church on top of the pyramid… some kind of crazy religious statement right there. It’s like having a mosque on top of the Great Pyramid in Egypt.

  4. I experienced that same thing in Peru; festivals, parades and fireworks were every day, sometimes even multiple times a day. It was great! And please tell me that you ate some Cholula in Cholula. I pretty much live on that stuff!

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