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Veracruz (Final Trip in Mexico)

MEXICO | Monday, 10 August 2009 | Views [1035]

We arrived in Veracruz in the afternoon and went to the hotel to see if we could check in a day earlier than planned.  For a very cheap hotel it was ok and it had a garage which meant we didn't have to leave the car out on Veracruz's busy streets.  Once we'd got settled in we went for a walk down to the waterfront.  Veracruz immediately felt more European than other places we'd visited in Mexico.  The waterfront felt like a mixture of an industrial port but also a tourist town.  The streets were wide, the architecture was mixed and I can't pinpoint exactly what it was about it, but it didn't feel Mexican.

We walked for quite a way before heading back to the hotel.  In the evening we went to the main square which again had that European feel to it.  Lots of tourist filled restaurants under archways around a big open plaza with trees and music.  It felt much more cosmopolitan than many of the other towns we'd been to.  Despite all this we ended up with (expensive)gorditas on a bench in the square for dinner! 

In the evening we decided to go out.  We'd heard that the bars were in an area a bit further along the coast, so we got on the bus and headed out that way.  We didn't see much in the way of nightlife and got off the bus at a little town.  We walked back to the seafront (the bus had turned off the coast road) and saw that there were a few bars open but not many at all.  We debated what to do for some time and eventually went and had a drink in one of the bars.  The atmosphere was far from exciting though and so we only stayed for one drink before getting in a taxi and heading back to the hotel.

Maybe Veracruz has slightly more rocking nightlife than we discovered but for us it was a bit of a let-down.

The next day we got up a bit late, grabbed a pastry from the bakery across the road from the hotel and decided to do cultural things.  We went to a kind of fortress thing that was the only remaining part of the wall which used to surround Veracruz when the Spanish settled there.  However it looked pretty small and it cost quite a lot to go in.  Apparantly it had some beautiful gold treasures in there, but we were happy just to see it from the outside and move on.

It was an incredibly hot day and to escape the heat we wandered into the (free) Naval Museum.  It was air-con heaven and actually quite an interesting little museum with nicely set out displays and info about Veracruz (as well as the rest of Mexico) from pre-hispanic times to modern day - all with a nautical theme.

After that we grabbed lunch in a little square near our hotel.  It was nice to sit outside in a square sipping a smoothie or agua fresca and whilst we sat there relaxing in the shade, we decided to go out to the fortress of San Juan Ulua - a Spanish fortress on a little island linked to the mainland by road.

We drove round there (it was quite far out of town)and were happy to find out that Sunday was free entry day for everyone!  The fortress was huge and impressive, although now it's not used for anything.  Next to it is the huge dockyard and I was mesmerised watching all the crates being stacked onto the ships.  The fotress itself was interesting and we enjoyed walking around it despite the heat of the day.

When we got back into town we visited the fototeca which had a nice display by a Mexican photographer on.  We spent some time there before goign back and chilling out at the hotel.

We decided to head out to the area where the supposed bars were again, but this time in search of food and in the car.  Lonely Planet had listed a bar/restaurant which sounded cool with sushi and a ocean view deck.  However it is now some crappy little seafood shack or something.  We ended up at a really nice Italian restaurant, where we splashed out and had a really delicious meal with wine and dessert.  The food was excellent and we both enjoyed having a bit of luxury.

Afterwards we stopped at a beachfront oxxo for a little walk and a gaze at the full moon, which was low in the sky and a beautiful orange gold.

The next day we got the bus to the aquarium plaza.  We arrived a bit early and the aquarium wasn't due to open for another 45 minutes or so.  We were descended upon by people selling boat tours to the Isla de Sacrificios which we brushed off but were actually quite interested in.  howvere the aquarium had to come first so as soon as it opened we got in there!

It was a really great aquarium with loads of interesting fish and interactive bits and pieces to play with ( a little bit dated but fun all the same).  The tubular aquarium room where we were surrounded on all sides by fish and coral and sharks was really impressive.  It was one of the best aquariums I've been to and I really love aquariums so this is high praise indeed!!!!

We went to a litte stall in the foodcourt in the shopping centre which the aquarium was in for lunch.  I had a really weird but surprisingly delicious banana and cheese dish.

After this we went in search of lancha lanch tours to the Isla de Sacrificios.  We were sold a tour and after some umming and ahhing decided to go.  However it didn't quite turn out to be what we expected.  We knew we couldn't get off at the Isla de Sacrificios but we expected to see a bit more than what we did. 

We literally sat just offshore for about 5 minutes while the guide explained a few things about it and then left.  The remaining hour and a half was spent at Cancuncito - a little sandbar in the middle of the sea where you could go snorkelling and swimming.  That's if you had your swimming gear with you, which we did not.  I wasn't even wearing clothes I could swim in and so after wading about in the shallow water, holding a few bits of sealife that the boat tour guide had found for us wile snorkelling, we sat down in the boat and did absolutely nothing for about an hour unil everyone else had finished swimming and enjoying themselves.  It would've been a great trip if we'd had swimming stuff as the water was warm, crystal clear and not too deep but as it was it was disappointing.

We sat in a beach bar when we got back and had a drink looking out to sea before heading back to the hotel for a bit of relaxation.

Later we drove out to soriana and picked up a few things for a picnic that evening.  We drove down the coast a bit and stopped to have our picnic on the beach, but it was a bit too windy and we were eating a bit too much sand for our liking.  We drove back to the beachfront oxxo and ate our picnic on a bench on a little plaza in front of the beach.

We planned to get up early the next day, take some photos of the things we'd missed ou on snapping in the previous two days and then get out of Veracruz and head for Catemaco...


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