Having officially lived in Mexico City for a whopping seven weeks, we decided it was time for our first excursion into the countryside. Much internet-searching & advice-gathering lead us to Taxco, a former silver mining town of ~50,000 people located about 2.5 hours to the south of D.F. Originally founded by the Aztecs, this town was built on the side of a mountain with records of silver mines dating back to the 1500’s from the Spanish and Cortes.
More hot activity ramped up in 1716 when Don Jose de la Borda rediscovered silver there, building an amazing church (Santa Prisca Cathedral) of pink stone on the site where his horse stumbled and unearthed the first sign of a new silver vein. Just goes to show that you shouldn’t make fun of people who fall a lot.
Anyway, I was feeling quite proud because Saturday was my first day of driving in Mexico City, and I managed to make it out of town w/o any unwanted interactions with the police. We rolled into Taxco about 11:30AM and progressed sloooowly to our B&B through the narrow streets.
I began having second thoughts about driving John’s seemingly-mammoth car after going up a steep, one-lane but “two-way” street & having to execute a four-point turn around a sharp corner under the watchful eye of an elderly man who, instead of offering any directional assistance, simply stood directly in front of the part of his store I was most likely to hit. Luckily, I managed to get us to the driveway of Casa de las Palmas without mashing into any of the omnipresent white VW bug taxis that briskly navigate the tight roadways.
After a slightly awkward interaction at the front gate wherein we thought the innkeeper’s son was trying to sell us flowers & repeatedly declined them, he escorted us in to the amazing villa we were staying at for the next two nights. We had reserved the main house at Casa de las Palmas after reading positive reviews on Trip Advisor (despite the fact that it could sleep up to 7 people, arguably slightly more space then we needed), and it did not disappoint in either interior decorations or exterior views!! It also filled the bill by being far enough up the mountainside, away from the Zocalo, that we didn’t hear the clubs that allegedly continue on til 5AM in the heart of the town.
To summarize our trip take-aways of Taxco:
- It’s a good weekend/overnight trip from Mexico City, and you can fill a two-night trip if you like low-key, wandering around the city/market (and especially if you like hitting the couple hundred silver vendors/shops!). Get up early on Saturday & drive down (about $166 pesos in tolls on the 95-D cuota road), arriving in Taxco before lunch. Consider stopping at Xochicalco on your way back (as we did), if you finish up early in Taxco on Sunday (but beware the traffic back from Cuernavaca).
- Wearing hiking boots is not a bad idea, as the roads are STEEP and full of uneven cobblestones. Bring tennis shoes or rugged sandals at a min; ladies, leave your heels at home. Also, though the weather seemed quite temperate & accompanied by a nice breeze, be prepared to get sweaty when you are hiking around the town (unless you are in better shape then me).
- The market was a fascinating multi-level rabbit’s warren of stalls, stairs & winding pathways. You could easily get lost looking at unidentifiable fruits for 30 minutes.
- There are silver shops on every street & silver vendors every 15 feet with cheap silver a-go-go, but I it didn’t seem THAT easy to find interesting/unique pieces at bargain-basement prices. That said, I found one shop I was very excited about, Taxco Disena, which I recommend checking out especially if you’re looking for more modern-y jewelry. (address: Calle Benito Juarez & Exrastro No. 1)
- This is a no brainer, but check out the inside of the Santa Prisca Cathedral. Holy ornate, batman.
- Take some time to explore up some of the side streets, up the mountainside towards what we referred to as the “fake Christo Redentor statue” near the top of the town. If you follow Calle Guadalupe up from the Zocalo, that will take you by Casa de las Palmas as well as two additional churches with great views (if you make it far enough vertically)! Intriguing to walk the narrow, neighborhood streets, with regular respites of mini-convenience stores & ‘restaurants’ that seem to consist of an oven & a counter.
- For eating & drinking, we recommend Bar Berta on the Zocalo (drinks only) with miniature seating on its balcony that has great people-watching. Order a “Berta”, which is tequila, lime, honey, and soda water. Gooood stuff. Hotel Agua Escondida has a nice rooftop terrace restaurant with some tasty enchilada & good cathedral views (also on the Zocalo). If you max out on Mexican food, we found a great pizza spot with almost every seat full & operating a wicked takeout business, called Pizza Estelar located on Calle Hidalgo.
- Also, don’t forget about the hot nightlife options. Especially for teens…
- My only regret was not purchasing more from the bazillions of wandering vendors, ranging from the men & women with a thousand hats, to a guy draped in ceramic angel figurines, to these crazy wicker-pig-purse sellers. We did, however, boldly purchase an ear of “corn on a stick”, rubbed with lime, swabbed with mayo, dredged through cheese, and sprinkled with red pepper! As John said, anything with mayo is a no brainer.
- Hanging out in the Zocalo (the town square) offered loads of entertainment, with great local people-watching. Great spot to grab a bench, watch all the little kids run around, and observe the street vendors from a safe distance.
And finally, a gratuitous pork photo for my friend Bruce in MD.