Christmas has passed and we just entered in the year 2017. This time I stayed in Monterrey but one year ago, I did a wonderful trip in the center of Mexico. It was just after my short week in Tulum. With the blog, this is the opportunity to go back to the past and share with you my adventures.
1st Stop: Querétaro, State of Querétaro
Monterrey-Querétaro by car, it’s between 7 and 9 hours driving. And as you could have discovered it in my article about San Miguel de Allende, driving on Mexican highways is not the most comfortable. But no matter! You are in a car reaching a new destination, so you don’t care.
Queretaro is the capital of the State of Queretaro and is located at 221 km from Mexico City. The city is historically known for having been the seat of the “Conspiración de Querétaro” where started the movement that led to the Mexican Independence. In 1917, Queretaro was the seat of the Congress which enacted the Politic Constitution of the Mexican United States which is still valid today.
But why going to Querétaro? Well, first because United Nations declared the historic center “World Heritage Site”. Secondly, for the weather: 18,9°C is the annual average temperature which is something really nice and agreeable (not too cold, not too hot). Thirdly, because it’s a city of colonial architecture.
In the last few years Querétaro exponentially grew up and is still developing today. Many companies from the car industry and the aeronautic sector implanted in the region, especially issued from foreign investments. It created new jobs and of course attracted people. This is why I see Querétaro like a city divided between tradition and modernity. If the city center is old, all around you will definitely find a modern area with new buildings and new houses. If you’re a shopaholic, go to Antea Lifestyle Center. This shopping mall which opened in 2013 is one of the biggest in Mexico according to El Financiero (http://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/pages/gigantes-comerciales.html)
Except doing shopping what can we do in Querétaro? First of all, walking. It’s the simplest and this is what I did. This is what I always do because walking allows you to discover the city, see it and gives you the possibility to really feel the atmosphere of the place. It also helps you to not gain weight! And let’s say it, sometimes it’s agreeable to stop to run from a museum to another and simply enjoy a city. Have a look at the “Palacio del Gobierno” in the center: it’s an institution in the Mexican History.
Besides all the churches that you cannot miss during your errands, I would recommend to see the “Acueducto” in Calzada de Los Arcos which was built between 1726 and 1735. The goal of its construction was of course to bring water to the city. It heights 23 meters, has a length of 1280 meters and counts 74 arches. It’s a symbol of Querétaro.
If you are a “wine aficionado”, the State of Querétaro is known for its strong wine tradition and you will also find many dairies. To visit the different bodegas through this semi-desert area you need a car. I unfortunately didn’t have enough time to visit them but here are some recommendation of the bodegas that you can visit: Finca Sala Vivé which produces the Freixenet of Mexico, a sparkling wine (http://www.freixenetmexico.com.mx/), La Redonda which produces many different types of wine (http://www.laredonda.com.mx/) and Los Rosales (http://www.vinedoslosrosales.com.mx/).
Regarding cheese production here are also some production places: Finca Vai, Rancho San Josemaría which is specialized in “queso de oveja” (sheep’s cheese), and Rancho Santa Marina which focuses on the well-being of their animals.
Mexican wine is not known worldwide because it’s barely exported. This can be explained by the fact that Mexico doesn’t have an important production capacity yet. Another problem is the price: Mexican wines are in general expensive for the same reason of production capacity which is still low. And I have to admit that for a French who is used to find qualitative and affordable wines in France, sometimes the pill is hard to swallow.
At last, where staying in Querétaro? In a boutique-hotel. Those are small hotels (maximum of 15 bedrooms) located in traditional antique houses. I recommend it for the architecture and for the service which is usually personalized and very attentive to its guests. Besides, they are located in the city center. I personally stayed at El Serafín (Calle Independencia 22, Centro, 76000 Santiago de Querétaro): amazing.