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Post by CheenaGringo on Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:10 am

While some refer to the city as Oaxaca City, maps and publications tend to refer to the city as Oaxaca and it just happens to be the Capital of the State of Oaxaca. From our observations, it is a picturesque Colonial style city with a dynamic "centro area". In contrast to observations made by the Dawg, we found the "centro area" to be well kept with the streets and sidewalks kept relatively free of trash, litter and graffiti. I will concede that once one gets away from this area, it can go downhill fairly rapidly. The core area is mostly one way streets and negotiating one's way out to the surrounding roads or highways can be somewhat of a challenge. I found the drivers to be aggressive and commonly accepted rules of the road are generally ignored. In general, one side of the streets allow parking but double parking is a very common practice making for constant lane changes. I question whether the typical Oaxacan driver could even drive if their horns were taken away as they cut you no slack if you don't start to move as soon as a light changes.

As a monetary benefit, Oaxaca enjoys an excellent tourist trade from not only foreign countries but also from Mexican tourists as well. One not only sees license plates from all over Mexico but also tour buses filled with Mexican tourists. Our impression was that we spotted more tourists in Oaxaca than we have seen in any other city we have traveled to in Central and now parts of Southern Mexico. As I mentioned in other posts, one also notices the effects of this tourist trade with the prices in shops, hotels and restaurants.

The Zocalo is the obvious center of activity in centro and there are a number of "mercados" within easy walking distance of the Zocalo. Surrounding the Zocalo are numerous restaurants and hotels. While I don't think we would be inclined to stay at one of these hotels, we did venture down to the El Asador Vasco Restaurant for dinner one night to catch the action from a balcony table overlooking the Zocalo: https://picasaweb.google.com/118146709599975173363/ELASADORVASCORESTAURANTOAXACAMEXICO?authkey=Gv1sRgCKP09aemhtWYMw#slideshow/5782092454700041266

[img]Oaxaca Dscn3814[/img]
[img]Oaxaca Dscn3713[/img]
[img]Oaxaca Dscn3815[/img]
[img]Oaxaca Dscn3816[/img]

SLIDESHOW: https://picasaweb.google.com/118146709599975173363/OAXACAMEXICO?authkey=Gv1sRgCOzK4eq8_M7wgQE#slideshow/5781869186681063058

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Post by Mainecoons on Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:22 pm

Another great set of pictures!

Any hotel recommendations?

Thanks!
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Post by CheenaGringo on Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:48 pm

MC:
Please see: http://www.insidelakeside.com/t5508-oaxaca-hotels-hotel-casantica

We poked our heads into a number of hotels but didn't really check out rooms. From what we saw, our choice appeared to be good and the price right. In Oaxaca, $100USD + isn't uncommon. For example, the Camino Real quotes $200+/night and when we stopped there for an afternoon beverage, we didn't see anything real special but again we didn't check out the rooms. Some photos I took: https://picasaweb.google.com/118146709599975173363/CAMINOREALHOTELOAXACAMEXICO?authkey=Gv1sRgCITBj-f-uZmXhQE#slideshow/5781115695016072626

The one thing we learned about hotels in Oaxaca and Puebla is that one should definitely check out parking arrangements as it can a great deal to your costs if not included. At Hotel CasAntica, there wasn't a daily limit on the hours but in Puebla, the parking that came with the room was 9pm to 8am and anything over that was charged at $17MXN/hour.

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Post by Mainecoons on Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:05 pm

Wow, hotels pretty pricey for Mexico, eh?

Thanks for the info and thanks again for the great photos. I copied the link and sent it to friends who we will be traveling with.
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Post by CheenaGringo on Fri Aug 31, 2012 4:48 pm

MC:

From my experience, I have found that www.hotels.com or www.booking.com tend to have the best deals on Mexican hotels. However, in the case of two hotels on this trip, I did better calling the hotel direct and was able to discuss more room options. Additionally I was able to obtain more info on the parking options and whether or not breakfast was included in the rates. Unless your Spanish is very good, it can be hit or miss on the availability of an English speaking person to talk to.

While we are far from demanding on hotel amenities, we do like quiet rooms of a decent size. It is also our preference that we have a hotel that provides seating areas that are open air where we can either have our morning coffee or an evening cocktail since we carry our own coffee maker and a cooler with hielo and mixes.

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Post by hound dog on Sat Sep 01, 2012 12:11 pm

[[i]quote="Mainecoons"]Wow, hotels pretty pricey for Mexico, eh?
Thanks for the info and thanks again for the great photos. I copied the link and sent it to friends who we will be traveling with.[/quote]
[/i]

Well, the Camino Real located in an old, converted convent, is especially pricey and not representative of what one should expect to pay in Oaxaca City unless one is going top-drawer. There are many inexpensive and even cheap hotels in Oaxaca City but we don´t stay in them since there are so many great hotels in or near the historic center offering reasonable prices.

We usually stay with friends in the nearby Zapoteco village of Teotitlan Del Valle about 20 kilometers from Oaxaca City but, because traffic into and around Oaxaca City can be intimidating and driving after imbibing at dinner is not recommended on the anarchic peripheral highways , at times we like to be in the center of the action and book at our favorite hotel in the city, Hotel De La Parra which is not only a great hotel but is located one block from the Zocalo and within a few blocks of all of the great sights to be seen in the city´s historic center - all within easy walking distance. About the best rate available as of this posting at the Hotel De La Parra is $1,650 MXN (about $125USD) per night but keep in mind that this a very nice hotel near all the action thereby freeing you up from driving just about anywhere in the city - a desirable characteristic of a hotel in traffic-crazed Oaxaca City. The hotel lacks a parking garage but you can have the valet unload your luggage and then park in secure garages a short distance away at very reasonable daily rates with in-and-out privileges.

There was a time a few years ago when we contemplated buying a home in Oaxaca City as our southern base and seasonal home in Mexico but found it impractical to purchase a home we were fond of there in the splendid historic center in a nice, quiet location so we chose to move to the smaller and more tranquil and equally charming city of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas instead. That does not prevent us from visiting Oaxaca City and State every season we are down there. The historical treasures of colonial Oaxaca City alone are worth the visit there but Oaxaca State also has so much to offer, one can hardly touch the surface in one forum posting.
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Post by CheenaGringo on Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:48 pm

Dawg:

I definitely defer to your comments on Oaxaca because of your extensive experience in the area! Having only spent four days in the area, it would be foolhardy for me to claim any kind of expertise. However, we have now discovered the challenge ahead and fully realize just how much fun we can have by exploring, experiencing and learning from all of the opportunities one has in the area. Until such time as we are both retired, we will have to resort to shorter visits and since I am not a retired banker, we sort of need to keep our hotel budgets in a reasonable range. Down the road, I can see us renting a place for a month or so to provide us with a base for exploring.

After looking at the Hotel De La Parra website (http://www.hoteldelaparra.net/), I can see why your comments are so valid! I did notice that their rates jump a bit in high season but I doubt we would ever venture there during that time period.

I agree with your comments about the drivers but I found them to be hilarious and the source of a great deal of laughter and amazement! As far as accepting the challenge of driving with them after imbibing - NO WAY! Due to the rain one evening, we resorted to using a taxi to get back to our hotel and found them to be fairly reasonable.

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