After a handful of days in Mexico City, our next town on the tour was to Queretaro. We travelled 2.5 hours north via coach from Terminal Centrale de Norte. I’ve been on a lot of buses in my life when travelling and let me tell you, this coach was the best bus I have ever been on!
This was a fancy coach that included a drink plus small snack, tv screen and comfortable armchair seats. It was a double decker bus with a bathroom on the lower level. The movie selection was akin to something you would find on planes (but all in Spanish). I love going on drives when I’m the passenger so spent most of my time looking out the window.
Along the way, I saw the biggest flock of birds I have seen in my life. Hundreds of small black birds dotted in the sky.
Pulling into Queretaro, I could immediately tell that this was a wealthy town. Rumor has it that all the gangs have their family homes here and it’s an agreed upon war-free zone. Not sure how true that is but let me know if you’ve heard similar. There was just alot of new houses and new business buildings and not to mention a new aerospace research facility.
When we arrived at the bus stop, the city immediately felt safer than Mexico City. There were also alot more families out and about. We loaded our belongings into taxis for our hotel in the centro historico. The centro historico was filled with colonial coloured buildings mostly earthy tones with flowers peeping from the rooftops. It’s small enough to have a wonder around and there were so many outdoor gardens and public spaces for gatherings and outdoor eating.
Our hotel was lovely! It had an inner courtyard and felt quite homey. After check in, we went to a nearby restaurant to have lunch as a group at Cervecería 25 & 50 Centro. This is where I tried escamoles! (ant larvae) for the first time. The escamoles were actually quite nice and almost has the texture of pearl barley or brown rice. Anything with fried tortilla, avocado and salsa will be delicious! This was actually the only place throughout my time in Mexico that I saw escamoles on the menu so was happy to had taken the chance to try it.
After lunch, we went on an old fashion open bus tourist ride. Here we went to the Templo and Covent de la Santa Cruz which is famous for its orchid tress that have the shape of a cross and to the aquaducts which was started to be used in 1738! The aquaducts are still standing today (part of it) and are such a feat of engineering.
We also stopped at the Emperor Maximilian Memorial Chapel which is on the spot where he was executed. His remains are back in Austria but this was quite a popular tourist spot considering that it’s not so close to the centro historico. This is located within the grounds of the Univerisdad Autonoma de Queretaro and if you walk through the gardens behind the memorial chapel, there is a look out where the Monumento a Benito Juarez is.
Just to give you some historical context, Benito Juarez was the 26th President of Mexico and during his presidency, the french invasion occurred leading to Maximilian (younger brother to the Austrian emperor Franz Jospeph I) becoming Emperor. About 4 years later, the French armies withdrew leading to the fall of the Empire and capture of Maximilian. Benito Juarez had his power restored and is regarded as a symbol of Mexican independence from foreign powers. If you know about Cinco de Mayo, this is the celebration in Puebla of the Mexican army winning against the battle with the French army. You might be thinking to yourself that his name also sounds familiar, if you flew into Mexico City, the official name of the international airport is Aeropuerto Internacional Benito Juárez!
Back to my trip, we go back to town after our tourist bus ride around town and walked around the main streets. There were many stalls set up in the middle of town and and I gazed lovingly at all the handmade craft stalls. There was an expo on natural skincare products so we had a wonder in there as well.
As dusk began, we headed back towards our hotel and saw an outdoor dancing event in the square. There were many couples (most elderly) dancing the tango and I could’ve sat there all night watching. Many people were seated around the ‘dance floor’- it was warm and the city centre would only start to get busier as families came out for dinner. Prior to dinner, we ducked into the Church of Santa Rosa de Viterbo which was absolutely amazing inside. We only had a quick peep as it was about to close but the gold alterpiece was a sight to be seen. This is also where the large Queretaro letters are so and provided a great back drop for out last pictures of the day before the sun completely set.
We found a place nearby for some nibbles before crashing in bed later that night ready for our trip to Bernal the next day.
Have you been to Queretaro? What was your favourite thing there?
Check out some of my other posts about Mexico: