Another lovely colonial town, Oaxaca boasts beautiful buildings and a thriving art scene.
I blame the London restaurant’s incorrect spelling for the fact I pronounced Oaxaca wrong for an embarrassingly long time. Luckily I discovered it is actually pronounced ‘Wahaca’ (as per the restaurant name, not as the correct spelling looks) before I crossed the Mexican border – Oaxacans are (rightly) proud of their beautiful city so it would have caused some serious rouge-cheeks had I not been corrected!
We stayed in two different boutique hotels during our stay. The first, Casa Oaxaca, was a wonderful little hotel – most of the rooms are set around an internal courtyard where you can sit out for drinks. The rooms are traditional in style so clean and bright and airy. There is also a wonderful terrace and a small pool which was perfect for lounging in when it became too hot for sightseeing.
Casa Oaxaca is connected with one of the city’s best restaurants (but more on that in a separate post) and without a doubt served the best breakfast we had in Mexico.
On our second night we stayed in Casa de las Bugambilias where local art is definitely the stand-out feature. All the rooms have a different theme and are brightly decorated with contemporary and local folk art (our room – Margaritas – featured a headboard from the altar of a church in a small pueblo and watercolours by Gabriela Campos). Again, there is a lovely courtyard to sit out in and a delicious breakfast made using organic local ingredients.
What made Oaxaca stand out for me was the art scene – as the area has such a high percentage of indigenous peoples the folk art and handicrafts are really colourful and unique.
I had been looking forward to heading to the Palacio Gobierno as, amongst more serious and educational displays, the museum apparently has the world’s largest tortilla decorated with the history of Mexico (I mean, what a museum exhibit!) Sadly there was a protest going on outside and we couldn’t check it out.
We had reserved pre-dinner drinks at Mezcaloteca – after my love of all cocktails made with mezcal in Mexico City I was really excited about this. Mezcaloteca is a non-profit organization which sources mezcal from local producers. The tasting itself was so interesting and I learnt a lot about the production of this spirit (which is still largely made in the traditional way by very small-scale family producers) and the different flavours that can arise in different batches but despite my love of the cocktails I could barely swallow the neat mezcal…
I know, what a wimp. But in my defence this stuff (well the most traditional and purest kinds) does start at 45% proof – luckily we had a reservation at one of the city’s best restaurants to soak the alcohol up…