Unexpected Mexico: Ten Surprises From This Beautiful Country

1) Cities with a European Feel

Unexpected Mexico Oaxaca

The Old Opera House in Oaxaca, Mexico

Walking through a beautiful glass-ceilinged pavilion, I could swear I was in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert in Brussels. Then, turning a corner, I found myself on a covered sidewalk that was a perfect match to Prague. My trip continued like this from Mexico City to Puebla to Oaxaca and beyond. If you’re looking for a European getaway but are pressed for time, look no further than the colonial cities of Mexico!

2) Jungles, Mountains, and Lush Green Landscapes

Unexpected Mexico Sumidero Canyon

The beautiful Sumidero Canyon in Chiapas, Mexico

Inevitably, when one thinks of Mexico, the first images that come to mind will be of the county’s beautiful beaches. It is easy to forget that the interior of Mexico is much more diverse than its coastlines. Head inland and you will discover picturesque mountains, rivers, lakes, wild jungles, pine forests, fruitful farmland and so much more.

3) Modern Art

Unexpected Mexico

Street Art in Oaxaca, Mexico

When planning to travel to the colonial cities of Mexico, I expected to learn quite a bit about the country’s past and spend some time exploring historic neighborhoods. There was plenty of that in my itinerary, but what really surprised me was the balance between that rich history and the very current and vibrant art and culture that provides fresh energy to these neighborhoods. From the modern lines in the outdoor sculptures to the bright colors in the street art, I was enchanted by Mexico’s art and culture.

4) A Sense of Pride in their Mescals: We all know that Mexico is where tequila comes from, but there’s nothing really exciting about the garden-variety tequilas. The restrictions around which agave plants can be used and where they can be grown help maintain a consistent level of flavor and quality, but it also prevents any interesting differentiations from one brand to the next. The real magic happens in the production of Mescals, which creates as many favor profiles as you will find when tasting wines or scotch. The locals who are true connoisseurs of Mescal will swell with pride if you ask them about it and that makes the drink taste even better.

5) Bilingual Hospitality: Many people worry that when they travel to Mexico they won’t be able to communicate with the locals and hotel staff. But, most luxury hotels now require many of their staff members to be able to speak multiple languages. You will be able to get the service and assistance you need even if you don’t speak Spanish. But, the best experiences to be found in Mexico often lie outside of the resort walls where English is not always spoken. There are some areas where we do highly recommend touring with a guide in order to be able to communicate with the locals as well as maximize your time and improve your experience. We can always help you navigate the many touring options when you are ready to plan your travels!

6) Good Wine: Aside from the tequilas and Mescals produced in the central regions of the country, Mexico has also ramped up its wine production in the past few years. Nearly all of the country’s wine is produced from vineyards in the Baja California peninsula and you can even take wine tasting tours during a stay in Los Cabos. Mexican wines are still fairly young, but the producers have succeeded in developing complex, multi-layered flavor profiles in their vintages. Standouts carry earthy notes with highlights of tobacco, ripe stone fruits, and bright florals.

7) Moorish Architecture: When the Spanish arrived in Mexico, they leveraged their moorish influenced art, architecture, music, and lavish lifestyles as tools for converting the indigenous people to their religion and way of life. The ornately carved buildings remain today as beautiful and haunting symbols of Mexico’s diverse and complex history.

8) Individual Sense of Fashion: Having mastered the art of weaving textiles centuries ago, the indigenous cultures of Mexico have always had a strong sense of pride in their traditional dress. That pride and diversity shine through today, even in the modern clothes worn in the cities. There is such an eclectic mix of fashion in Mexico and the unspoken rule is, “everything goes as long as you wear it proudly.”

9) Good Italian Food: Perhaps the biggest surprise for me while traveling in Mexico was the international flare in the cuisine. Traditional Mexican food already has heavy middle eastern ties, but they are branching out in very interesting ways. For a taste of the interesting fashion flavors, try some sushi with gusanos powder (a savory seasoning made from maguey worms) or an Italian tomato sauce blended with chili peppers. I was particularly impressed to find fantastic traditional Italian cuisine, as well! There’s a flavor for everyone in Mexico.

10) Michelin Stars: Michelin has started rating restaurants in Mexico City and the celebrity chefs and restauranteurs are scrambling to prepare themselves. Menus are getting re-tooled and upgraded all over the city; the luxury hotels are adding fresh dining options and bringing in globally recognized names. Mexico is already a foodie destination and it is about to go mainstream!

I had a blast discovering the “Unexpected Mexico,” which is full of surprises! There are so many incredible experiences to be had: good food, great art, unique architecture, and friendly people. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path and find something new to explore! If you’d like to arrange any of these experiences for yourself, contact us and we’ll be happy to help!

Unexpected Mexico

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