Driving through Mexico this summer took us to an old favorite in the state of Veracruz, Fortin de las Flores and the wonderful Hotel Posada Loma. (see October 2010 blog post). The hotel has been in the same family for more than 50 years, features incredible gardens loaded with orchids and one of the best breakfasts in the area.

We were headed back to the US to do some M & J Photo shoots and to sell our car. But, that’s another blog post.

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The short drive (about 2.5 hours) over the mountains to Puebla took us past amazingly clear views of Mexico’s tallest peak, snow-capped Pico de Orizaba (5,611m).

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Pulling into Puebla, we were treated to views of volcano Popocatépetl spewing a huge plum of ash. Neither one of us had seen a volcanic eruption like that and we were mesmerized. Even though we were 43 kilometers (28 miles) away, it looked very close and threatening.

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Walking around Puebla on a pleasant Saturday afternoon was relaxing, and we stopped for lunch at the well-known Mesón Sacristia de la Compañía. Even though it was chiles en nogada season in Mexico, I passed on that dish. Though it is the “national dish” of Mexico, I think it is over-priced ($240 pesos in a nice place) and it is definitely too rich for my taste.

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The restaurant, like the city, is known for mole. I went for the plate with four different types of mole over chicken. I loved them all: mole poblano, red and green pipian, and one made from chipotle. The eclectic hotel and courtyard is loaded with what some people call antiques and art and with what some people call “stuff”. As they say, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

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The centro historico is dominated by the cathedral, just south of the zócalo. Begun in 1550, it was completed in the 1640s and features the tallest cathedral towers in Mexico (69m). The  around surrounding centro is lined with antique shops, cafes, small taverns, markets and shops selling talavera (the real stuff). Many of the buildings use the tiles as exterior accents and the effect is wonderful.

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The NH Hotel was really comfortable, with warm service and free parking. The constant car alarms in a nearby parking garage certainly wasn’t fault of the hotel, but it kept the stay from being perfect. $77 a night for a city hotel with parking is not bad.

We both look forward to our next visit to Puebla and Fortin de las Flores.