“Street taco yourself into oblivion…” Trip of the week: Mexico Grande
Did you know Contiki can predict the future? Here’s proof: once you’re back from these 13 days of sun, tacos, history, and margaritas, you’ll be singing ‘Viva Mexico’ all day, every day. Travel to Mexico will be the only thing on your mind.
Yes, our Mexico Grande trip is just that good, and if you don’t believe us I guess you’ll just have to see for yourself. Get ready for two weeks of drool-worthy food, refreshing drinks at every stop, and history to fill your brain with on this beach to beach, coast to coast, latin odyssey. Witness Mayan mythology, colourful markets and towns, and swim in some peculiar places…
Beach, to city, to rural town, to jungle, to temple, to beach again. We talked to our Trip Managers Abe and Ish to ask them just how great this road trip through Mexico is.
Hi Ish and Abe. First up, can you give me 3 reasons why I’ll love this trip?
It’s beach to beach, it’s cities, and the most amazing cultural experiences.
“Because it goes from beach to beach. It starts in Puerto Vallarta on the western coast and then continues through the country all the way to Cancun on the eastern coast. That book ending of beaches is magical because they’re both very different destinations, so you get to see all the sides of Mexico.
“Number two is what you get in the middle: Mexico City and Oaxaca. Mexico City is the big city with all the beautiful buildings left from the Conquistadors and the Spanish Invasion, and all the history and culture. And then you travel down to Oaxaca which is basically like Mexico City unplugged, if you will; it’s sweet little streets, cobblestone areas, colourful flags, etc. It’s got a real city vibe while still feeling cosy and more intimate.
“And number three are all the historical sites that are included and all the cultural things you get to do along the way. From visiting the Jose Cuervo tequila factory, to seeing the agave plants growing in the fields, to mescal and taquito tasting. And all the Mayan temples… It’s the food, the drink, the music, the dance, and the cultural history all combined into one beautiful trip.”
This trip is for me if…
“Want to see and do everything in Mexico in two weeks. Literally, we leave no stone unturned.”
What’s the most spellbinding view?
The hot air balloon ride over Teotihuacan.
“On the 7th day we visit Teotihuacan which is one of the largest remaining Mayan complexes in Mexico. It’s so impressive to see on foot, but viewing it from up above in a hot air balloon really takes the cake. You get to see just how big the civilization is – it isn’t called the City of Gods for no reason – and ponder how it was built as you pass over it.”
What’s the tastiest food experience?
Everything, everywhere, all at once.
“Oh my gosh what a hard question! You could street taco yourself into oblivion if you wanted to! The food experiences are all so amazing and so different and travel to Mexico isn’t complete without trying it all.
“When you start in Puerto Vallarta they have the most delicious baja fish tacos and the fish is so fresh and the baja sauce is so good. And then, as you travel through the country, there’s a lot more beef and pork dishes and chocolate mole which, if you’ve never had it, it’s mouth-wateringly good. And then you’re back on the beach again in Cancun with more fresh fish.
“Let’s be honest, there’s also a lot of margaritas by the pool and other cocktails, which is just as good an experience as all the food! You’ll need something to wash it down, so…”
Cancun and Guadalajara.
“Mexico is one of those trips where you’re not really there for the accommodation, and we have no special stays there, but Cancun and Guadalajara are both great.
“Cancun because you’re right in the hotel district and that’s an important area because outside of that it’s quite hard to get around and travel to other places. The hotel district is kind of like a hub where everything is and it’s all easily accessible. And it’s a big resort property and who doesn’t love that…
“Guadalajara because I think it’s a little underrated but it’s just one of those really beautiful and historic places that deserves all the love. It’s got four main squares and a gothic cathedral, so there’s so much history, but it’s also the birthplace of tequila and mariachi so you know they know how to party. It’s the perfect package!”
How about the best spot for culture vultures?
“It has to be Mexico City for sure. You just get all of the culture there. We go on a guided tour of the city and you’ve got all these amazing museums there with both Mayan and Spanish culture. And then of course, when you’re on the Mexico Grande trip we have an included excursion to Teotihuacan which is just the epitome of Mayan culture in the country.”
What’s the most jaw-dropping included experience?
The day we go to Chichen Itza and the cenote.
“So, on the penultimate day of the trip, we go to Chichen Itza, which if you don’t know is another Mayan site. It’s not as well preserved as Teotihuacan, but it’s still so impressive and the main temple is massive and incredible. And you get to take a tour and hear all about Mayan myths and stories which is really cool to be a part of. A lot of people travel to Mexico for that alone.
“After that, we head to a cenote, which is just a seemingly bottomless well of crystal water in the ground that has all this greenery growing around it – tree roots and leaves and bushes and all that. I mean, cenotes are basically sinkholes, but they look like mini rainforests and to swim in one is just major. It’s like something out of Avatar.”
And on that note, is swimming in a cenote better than swimming in the ocean?
I think so!
“Oh, I think so, yes. Because it’s not every day that you get to go somewhere that even has a cenote, let alone swim in it. And like I said, it’s like swimming in a rainforest, it’s really something magical. It’s pretty impressive and words can’t really do them justice.”
Image source:Jorge Fernández Salas / Unsplash
Which Free Time Add-On will give my friends the most FOMO?
Sailing on a catamaran off the coast of Cancun.
“Tulum and the Mayan jungle are also pretty amazing, but there’s just something about a half-day spent on a catamaran in the glittering sea. It’s got an open bar and unlimited sun rays, you’re invited to just completely relax and soak everything in. That’s a Mexico box tick right there.”
What will surprise me about the trip?
The people you travel with.
“Obviously with Contiki we’re all about social travel and people know this when they sign up, but I don’t think people always realise just how amazing that aspect of travelling is! You really can’t undervalue the social aspect of it.
“You come on the trip and you think Mexico is going to be one thing but it’s actually something completely different, and a big part of that is because of the people that you’re travelling with and how they influence all the experiences and activities in such positive ways. You can drink tequila anywhere, you know, but drinking tequila with 40 of your new best friends? It’s such a special and heightened experience purely for the fact that you got to share it with others.
“When you’re back home you’ll always know that there are memories you share with other people all across the globe. There’s a real connection in that.”
If this trip was a song, it’d be:
“‘Escape (The Piña Colada Song)’ by Rupert Holmes, for obvious reasons. All the sun, the beachy holidays, the city, the fruity drinks, etc.”
If this trip was a drink, it’d be:
“Oh, a spicy margarita for sure.”
What if I don’t like tequila?
No one doesn’t like tequila.
“Just joking! No, there’s so many nice drinks to be had on this trip, alcoholic or not. Mezcal is one, which is like tequila’s baby brother, so that’s another alcoholic option. But for something really refreshing and unique I’d recommend picking up some Tejuino.
“It’s a corn-based drink and it’s really traditional in Mexico. It’s served cold and they drink it because it’s just so refreshing. And of course there’s horchata, a drink you can kind of find all over Latin America in all kinds of flavours.”
Describe the trip in 3 words:
“Um, can I give three phrases instead? Unexpectedly diverse. Late nights. Early mornings (the best kind).”
Image source:Filip Gielda / Unspalsh
What’s the funniest story you’ve heard/seen happen on this trip?
“So, this is actually quite a common occurrence believe it or not, but the night leaving Oaxaca to Merida, the group and I were out in the evening and we had a flight to catch in the morning. At the end of the night, most of us all headed back to the hotel so we could get up nice and early, but 4 people stayed behind and well… you can imagine how that went.
“But the funniest part of the story is that, there’s always a point in the night when you make the choice to call it or to stay out some more, and they chose to stay out knowing we had a flight, so they made a plan! And they were calculating how much sleep they could catch up on while on the flight to Merida, on the coach, etc. They were banking sleep so they could keep partying, and honestly you’ve just got to admire it. The dedication to really experiencing Mexico to the fullest I mean.
“They literally walked into the hotel the next morning just as we were all checking out, and they came back down, changed and packed, and on time for the flight!”
What part of this trip makes you love your job?
Showing people our home town.
“Abe and I are actually from Mexico City, we’re locals, and getting to show people every year our home town and where we’re from is such a privilege and a joy.
“Obviously Mexico City is a really popular place, it’s not exactly unknown, but it isn’t known in the way we know it. We do everything on the brochure of course, but then we get to take people to the little taco places that we grew up eating at when we were kids, and the locals all know who we are. I think that makes it really special to us, to get to share our hometown with our group, and I hope the travellers find it really special as well.”
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you think I should know about the trip?
“Nope. I think I’ve covered all the bases – just get out there and enjoy!”
Here’s what our travellers say:
“Ish was super professional and showed the right balance of being the boss and being your best friend. His knowledge of the country was amazing and the way he delivered the knowledge was exceptional, very hard to lose focus!”
“Absolutely loved the trip, I’d always wanted to travel to Mexico and everything exceeded my expectations. The food was fantastic, the optionals were awesome, the history was super interesting and everything was so vivid and vibrant.”
“Mexico was such a beautiful country to visit. Our tour leader Abe was so organised, he took us to amazing places and he was so knowledgeable about the history and the culture. He created such a welcoming environment, and the bus journeys were always fun with a perfect balance of music, movies, chats, and sleep!”