Tag Archives: Talavera

Tour Puebla, Mexico: Cooking & Culture, From the Humble to the Divine

August 13-18, starting at $895 per person double occupancy–

  • Chiles en Nogada Cooking Class
  • Sumptuous Dinner Party in a Private Historic Home
  • Elegant Dining and Neighborhood Eating
  • Flea Market and Antique Shopping
  • Museums, Churches, Archeology, History

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Puebla, Mexico, is a short two hours from Mexico City by bus direct from the international airport. It is one of my favorite Mexican cities and I often stop here going to and from Oaxaca. It is the home of Talavera tile, Cinco de Mayo, Mole Poblano, chiles en nogada, and cemitas. It has a weekend antiques and flea market that draws crowds, gilded churches, Baroque architecture with pastel and tiled facades topped with white plaster meringue, great chefs, outstanding restaurants, and ancient archeological sites.  At 7,000 feet altitude, visitors enjoy moderate temperatures year ’round, even in summer!

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Your five night, 6-day visit includes:

  • 5 nights lodging in a lovely, highly rated historic center hotel
  • guided visits to famed, certified Talavera ceramics studios
  • visits to extraordinary museums like Museo Amparo
  • chiles en nogada cooking class in a private home featured in Mexicocina with market tour, and lunch
  • sumptuous candlelit dinner that evening presented by our cooking teachers/hosts
  • gourmet dining and neighborhood/market fare experiences
  • time on your own to explore the incredible weekend antique/flea market
  • in-depth visits to archeological and religious sites of Cholula and Tonantzintla
  • Plus, lots more.

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Puebla is Mexico’s fourth largest city, cosmopolitan without being overwhelming.  It is relaxed, accessible, and easily experienced in several days. Known as the ‘City of the Angels’” or Angelopolis, Puebla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was founded in 1531 as a purely colonial Spanish city built from the ground up—not on top of an existing indigenous temple — at the trading crossroads between the port of Veracruz and Mexico City.  More than 5,000 Baroque-designed buildings date mostly from the 16th century and are covered in handcrafted Talavera.

 Talavera Reyna

Puebla is also about shopping! The highlight is Talavera pottery. And, there are many other local crafts: Tree of Life clay figures, bark paper paintings, woven and embroidered textiles from the Sierra Norte, red clay cooking vessels and dinnerware, and unique onyx and marble sculptures. You can find these and much more at the traditional markets, the stalls that line Puebla’s beautiful plazas, and at the weekend flea and antique market.


Puebla is known throughout Mexico for its excellent cuisine, a blend of pre-Hispanic, Arabic, French and Spanish influences.  There are many outstanding Tesoros de Mexico-rated (Mexico’s highest) restaurants, and we’ll be dining at a few!


We’ll also go to Cholula, an indigenous village just outside Puebla with the world’s widest ancient pyramid, Quetzalcoatl. The Spanish built the Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de los Remidios with its amazing 24-carat gold basilica atop the pyramid.  On a clear day you can see snow-capped Popocatepetl, an active volcano, showing off his powerful plume.

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Preliminary Itinerary:

  • Day 1, August 13: Travel to Puebla, check-in to our historic center hotel
  • Day 2, August 14: Chiles en Nogada Cooking class with market tour & lunch, followed by sumptuous private dinner
  • Day 3, August 15: Cholula archeology site, Tonantzintla church, and Talavera de la Reyna ceramics
  • Day 4, August 16: Antiques and flea market, museums, market lunch
  • Day 5, August 17: Gallery hopping and shopping, fine dining
  • Day 6, August 18: Departure

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Our stops will include:

  • Antique market & Barrio del Artista
  • Museo Amparo
  • Talavera galleries and shops
  • Tonantzintla Templo de Santa Maria
  • La Purificadora Hotel, an architectural wonder, designed by Ricardo and Victor Legorreta
  • Uriarte and Talavera de la Reyna ceramics studios

We include private transportation on a day-trip to Cholula, Tonantzintla, and Talavera de la Reyna ceramics studios.

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Transportation to Puebla:  Puebla is easily accessed by Estrella Roja first class bus direct from the Benito Juarez International Airport (Terminal One and Terminal Two) and from Oaxaca on ADO.  If you are coming from the U.S. be sure to reserve your round trip air travel to/from Mexico City. When you register, we will give you complete “how to get there” information.

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What is Not Included:

  • meals, snacks, alcoholic beverages
  • entrance fees to local museums/attractions
  • transportation to/from Mexico City
  • transportation to/from Puebla
  • mandatory international health/accident insurance
  • tips for hotels, meals and other services 


  • $895 per person double occupancy, shared room and bath
  • $1,195 per person single occupancy, private room and bath

Reservations and Cancellations

A 50% deposit will guarantee your spot.  The final payment for the balance is due on or before July 1, 2014.  Payment shall be made by PayPal.  We will be happy to send you an itemized invoice.

Helene's Cemita Fish Market Puebla SK

Please understand that we make lodging and other arrangements months in advance of the program.  Deposits or payments in full are often required by our hosts.  If cancellation is necessary, please tell us in writing by email.   After July 1, no refunds are possible.  However, we will make every possible effort to fill your reserved space or you may send a substitute.  If you cancel on or before July 1, we will refund 50% of your deposit.  We ask that you take out trip cancellation, baggage, emergency evacuation and medical insurance before you begin your trip, since accidents happen.

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Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance:  We require that you carry international accident/health/emergency evacuation insurance.  Proof of insurance must be sent at least two weeks before departure.  If you do not wish to do this, we ask you email a PDF of a notarized waiver of responsibility, holding harmless Norma Hawthorne and Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  Unforeseen circumstances happen!

To register, email us at  normahawthorne@mac.com.  If you have questions, send us an email. We accept payment with PayPal only. Thank you.

This workshop is produced by Norma Hawthorne, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator LLC.  We reserve the right to modify the itinerary.




Puebla is the Perfect Stopover Between Oaxaca and Mexico City

The New York Times just published 36 Hours in Puebla, Mexico by travel writer Freda Moon, who did a similar feature about Oaxaca a few months ago.  Freda listed many of my favorite things to do, see, visit, shop for and eat.  Puebla is unique. The city is a blend of Spanish colonial with Moorish-Moslem influences brought from Spain during the conquest.  This is evident in both architecture and food.  In the early 1900’s, the city became a favorite of German immigrants, one reason Volkswagen selected Puebla as a manufacturing and assembly site in the 1960’s.

Here are a few extra tidbits of WHAT TO DO AND SEE IN PUEBLA to supplement Freda’s list:

1. Pan de Zacatlan: Relleno de Queso.  I stumbled upon this authentic European-style bakery walking from Talavera Uriarte to Talavera Celia and after a meditative moment at The Rosary Chapel in Santo Domingo Church.


The pastries here are amazing.  Most are stuffed with sweetened queso fresco and taste like eating a cheesecake empañada. The shop sells fresh cheesecakes, cheese,  the flan ranks a 9+ in my book, and it’s OMG for the Pan de Elote.  I sampled just about everything and my eyes were bigger than my stomach.  I had the empañada con queso for dinner during a rain-thunder-lightening storm so strong that I didn’t want to leave my comfortable hotel room. The rest of the goody bag came back to the U.S. with me.  My son and I ate what was left for breakfast in Long Beach, California, the next day.


Pan de Zacatlan, 4 Oriente No. 402, Puebla, Pue., Mexico, tel (222) 246 5676, pandezacatlan@hotmail.com. Open every day, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, Sundays and festivals, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

La Dueña, Pan de Zacatlan

Hungry for meat?  Turn left out the door and a couple of doors down is a traditional  restaurant serving lamb grilled on a spit with homemade pan Arabe (pita bread).  These are all over town, a testimony to the influences of pre-Catholic Spain imported to Mexico.

2.  Talavera Uriarte, 4 Poniente, No. 911. So much has been written about this venerable ceramics house that there’s not much left to say.  Their customer service is impeccable, quality superb, and packing and shipping always reliable.  Nothing ever arrives broken.  Ask for Ana!

Maceta for my sister. Uriarte drilled a perfect drainage hole while I waited.

3.  Talavera de las Americas,  7 Poniente 510 . Col. San Pedro Cholula, Cholula, Puebla. Tel. (222)261-0367.  Their operation is a very small, family-owned business and they “bend over backwards” for the customer.  It’s worth the visit to Cholula since the painting on the clay is very fine and detailed, the clay body is very light, and the work rivals it’s better known competitors at half the price!  We have purchased here directly and enjoyed the experience.

4.  Hotel Real Santander, 7 Oriente, No. 13, Puebla, two-blocks from the Zocalo.  These are not rooms, they are spacious luxury suites with thick comforters and towels, and excellent beds,  starting at 800 pesos a night in the off-season. Hotel Real Santander is a perfect, quiet hideaway between the Museo Amparo, the photography museum, and …

5. Across the street is La Quinta de San Antonio, my favorite antiques shop in Puebla.  Contact owner Antonio Ramirex Priesca by email.

6.  Churches on every corner, too numerous to list them all.  When you get there, follow the city guide and map to explore.  But, be certain to FIRST VISIT the Rosary Chapel at Santo Domingo Church.  The gold and glitz dazzles.


Some of the sculpted heads here remind me of the interior carved wood and painted figures in the extraordinary indigenous church at Tonanzintla.


7.  Talavera Celia.  You can find this good quality DO4 Talavera ceramics at Celia’s Café. 5 Oriente 608, Centro Histórico PueblaPuebla. C.P. 72000. Tel: 01 (222) 242 36 63, near the antiques district and weekend flea market.

A note on Talavera Ceramics:  there are only 10 authorized DO4 makers of traditional talavera ceramics in Puebla, Mexico.  More talavera is produced here than is Spain where the antique methods have almost died out.  I list only the best quality talavera ceramics makers on this blog and you can be assured that they all produce DO4 highest quality.  I would steer you away from buying from Talavera Armando — their customer service and shipping is poor and their products arrive broken.

On a personal note:  I will usually book a flight in and out of Mexico City, take the ADO bus from Oaxaca to Puebla, spend a night or two, and capture the colonial charm that makes Puebla so special.  Then, I will go to the Estrella Roja bus station on 4 Poniente to buy and board a luxury Saab Scania bus complete with WiFi  heading to the Benito Juarez International Airport for my flight to the U.S.

Three Days in Puebla — An Easy Round Trip from Oaxaca

Puebla Zocalo at Night by Dave Emerson

I  love to visit Puebla.  This Friday I will be making a repeat visit — the second one in two weeks.  Puebla has a lot going for it, including a regal cathedral and friendly zocalo.

This is a city built by Spaniards to replicate Old World charm.  It has a European feel with wide pedestrian avenues. Ten days ago I had the pleasure of traveling with Jane, Dave, Mari, Helene and Suzanne.  We all started together in Oaxaca on a Friday morning and returned on a Monday afternoon (except Helene who flew in and out of Mexico City from Connecticut).  I took over 350 photographs and lost them all in the upload because I deleted by memory card before I checked whether the upload was complete (it wasn’t, thanks to iPhoto or a bad internet connection).  Doomed, I called on my fellow travelers for help and all the photos shown here are courtesy of them.  Definitely lesson learned!


Open wide and don’t miss those huge Puebla sandwiches called cemitas.  The best are at Cemitas las Poblanitas in the Mercado del Carmen.  I challenge you to get your mouth around this one, stuffed with grilled onions, chiles, pounded and breaded chicken breast, a mound of avocado, and three kinds of cheese.  The assembly line satisfies the customers who wait.  Photo on left by Dave Emerson; on right, Helene has her hands full.  You can see I don’t want you to miss these!  I ate there two days in a row.


Excellent upscale restaurants rival any four-star in the major cities of the world.  We had dinner at a few of them: El Mural de los Poblanos, the restaurant at CasaReyna hotel, and La Conjura.

Suzanne Kinney took this beautiful photo of Talavera ceramics that adorn the facades of 18th century buildings.  The decorative pieces add visual punch to dinner tables.   Dave Emerson’s photo of Talavera de la Reyna dinnerware says it all.

To read more about Puebla, see David Emerson’s Oaxaca Chapulines blog and from there link to his Picasa album that features the stunning photos of the city, some of which I have borrowed here.  Dave managed to capture a Carnavale parade/dance celebration we stumbled upon at the Zocalo. It was magical.

Puebla Carnival by Dave Emerson

Puebla Carnival Feathers by Dave Emerson

I’m meeting my sister in Puebla this Friday afternoon.  She is arriving from San Francisco into Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport.  I am arriving from Oaxaca.  We’ll both catch a bus.  She will get on  the Estrella Roja bus just outside the International Terminal Two (Be sure you check your arrival terminal.   If you come into Terminal One, you have to take the Air Train to Terminal Two.)  From the airport to Puebla is about two hours.  But, time goes fast — there’s free WiFi.  My trip on ADO will take a little more than four hours.

Puebla Highlights 2012: NY Times travel writer Freda Moon (she wrote the feature about Oaxaca) is in Puebla this week.  She asked me what I loved about Puebla and this was what I told her:

  • The Museo Amparo is open but it is undergoing renovations and the entrance is around the corner on 7 Oriente; gift shop is a shadow of its former self.
  •  The Exconvento Santa Rosa is closed for renovations.
  • Take an extraordinary guided visit at Talavera de la Reyna in their Cholula workshop; called ahead to arrange this — muy amable.
  • Discover Talavera Celia, excellent quality, D04, at about 30% less than Talavera Uriarte and Talavera de la Reyna, though their patterns and use of color is not as complex.  Their shop/cafe is in the antique district on 5 Oriente #608 (222-242-3663).  Didn’t get to their taller/workshop at Manzano #8, Col. Arboledas de Guadalupe. 222-235-1891.
  • Dine at CasaReyna, a  boutique hotel with gorgeous ambience, excellent food, reasonably priced with good wine list also reasonably priced.
  • La Conjura is a Spanish restaurant in a cave that served as an aging cellar for meat long ago. Unusual menu. Intimate and pricey.
  • Ekos Restaurant in the Casona de la China Poblana has the best breakfasts with scrambled eggs and huitlacoche.
  • A favorite shopping spot is the only artisan cooperative in town — Siuamej Puebla Crafts Cooperative, representing the indigenous groups of the Sierra Norte — Av. Juan de Palafox y Mendoza #206 just off the Zocalo. Lovely quechquemitls with natural dyes woven on backstrap looms, embroidered work, pottery, beaded jewelry.
  • Fabulous antique Poblano silver jewelry at La Quinta de San Antonio antique shop owned by Antonio & Alfonso, 2 Sur 509 enter on 7 Oriente,laquintadesanantonio@hotmail.com –call or email them (222-232-1189); reasonably priced, very special.
  • New photography museum is across the street.  They have an exhibition of the best Oaxaca and Mexico photographers.
  • Take in the Sunday flea market.  Lots of fleas, antique coins, out of circulation Mexican bills, a few good things.  Most all the good stuff is in the stores.
  • Stay at the Hotel Colonial — excellent value but noisy if on the street or pedestrian walkway (a spot for street theatre past my bedtime); within walking distance to everything.
  • Love staying at Puebla de Atano — used to be the Italian consulate; within walking distance to everything.  I book this on hotels.com and save 15-20% off the advertised rate.
  • Went to Tonanzintla church — fabulous!  That and the visit and explanation of the talavera process at de la Reyna was the highlight of the weekend.
We are just finishing up our annual Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat in Teotitlan del Valle this week.  I have been immersed in writing free verse poetry and creative non-fiction.  I will wrote more about this and show you photos of great food, people, and yoga in posts to come.









Puebla: Undiscovered Tourist Destination

Chrissy Zenino authored this online magazine article on Suite 101 after traveling with me to the city of Puebla, one of my favorite destinations.  Why?  I love the European feel of this city — the Baroque and Rococo detailing of historic buildings and churches, the swirling stucco wedding cake embellishments that sit atop buildings that look like meringue frosting, the elaborate ironwork, and most especially the Talavera.  I like to make a pilgrimage stop to Puebla at least once a year either going to Oaxaca for an overnight or going back to Mexico City from Oaxaca to break up the trip.  One night there is really not sufficient!  Book your hotel (either one that she recommends are my two favorites) using Hotel.com and get a deluxe room for a bargain price.