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Where to Find Your Mood in Mexico

by Ilona Kauremszky

Songstress Taylor Swift has fans talking about Mexico on her website, while femme fatale Sofia Vergara is reportedly in la-la land after getting her engagement ring at Chichen Itza. With celebs lighting up the message boards on Mexico, it’s hard to resist checking out a few favourite hotspots there.

Here’s where to go for whatever mood you may be after:

Romance

Puerto Vallarta rages in hormone overdrive along this dreamy romantic waterfront. I can’t get over the steamy Burton-Taylor love affair started there in 1964 when Dick was starring in the Night of the Iguana with Ava Gardner. See the movie for more romance ideas.

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If you want more tried and true, the allure of Acapulco has definitely attracted star power over the years. Famous stars who have fallen in love with the surrounds are John Lennon, Elvis Presley (suss out his film Fun in Acapulco) and Frank Sinatra. The setting still has some retro elements but now with a whole slew of new resorts, romancin’ couples can cherry-pick their favourites.

Adventure

They don’t call them Mexican cowboys for nothing. You know the kind—sporting wide-brimmed sombreros and galloping off into the distance like Steve Martin in Three Amigos. There’s plenty of wild frontier to choose from in Mexico. My outdoor faves are in Chiapas. Submerge in some out-of-this-world scuba diving in Chucumaltik. Act like Tarzan and zipline across Amiku Park then ride those white rapids on the rugged Coatan River.

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Culture

Off-the-beaten path Puebla—originally known as the Puebla de Los Angeles—is also dubbed the City of Angels and is a two-hour drive southeast from Mexico City. Lots of legends linger about the pre-Aztec tribes like the Olmecs, and, of course, the setting surrounded by two volcanoes has its own myths. The locals boast you can visit a church a day in Puebla. There are 365 immaculately ornate places of worship, many glittering in gold with intricate religious carvings reflecting the local indigenous tribes.

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I love how many civic museums are free to the public. For high culture, be sure to wander through 19th-century Pueblan industrialist Jose Luis Bello’s home on Avenue 5 de Mayo to see an extraordinary private art collection by a guy who never left his beloved city. Flemish, Italian and Spanish paintings, crystal from Baccarat, Bohemia, and the finest Italian Murano perfume bottles along with heavy French influence are some of the discoveries. Walk into the tea room and see a mini Versailles with gold-painted walls and ornate French Rococo furniture. Bello had no heirs, so everything was donated to the people of Puebla.

Archaeology

Scratch the surface pretty much anywhere in Mexico and you’re bound to find cool discoveries. Take Campeche. I like this spot for the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, one of the largest Mayan cities ever unearthed. Located near Guatemala in a jungle, Calakmul will keep you busy for hours. I love all the stelae (117 of them).

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Other haunts include the Mayan pyramid of Chichen Itza. You might need to wake up at the crack of dawn and take a three-hour bus ride from the Mayan Riviera, but the drive is so worth it. We lurked around the impressive ballpark, gazed downwards into the dark abyss of a massive cenote, and of course snapped shots of the all-mighty pyramid, not to mention the countless other sites.

At the Archaeological Zone of Cholula, about a 10-minute drive from Puebla, there’s the Great Pyramid of Cholula that’s believed to be the largest pyramid in the world by volume and is the oldest continuously occupied building in Mesoamerica. Enter via a tunnel. The dimly lit narrow walls and low ceilings verge on claustrophobia but the 30-minute jaunt makes a cool entry into the complex. The site is topped with a 16th-century church that overlooks the sometimes smouldering snow-capped Popocatepetl volcano. Take bottled water, pace yourself due to the high altitude and make sure to stop to see what the locals are selling, such as gorgeous handmade woven shawls, wooden instruments and local food stuff.
 

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