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23083
Mexico

The Best of Central Mexico: Magical Towns and Bustling Cities

Beginning in Mexico City’s bustle, journey to five colorful, European-inspired cities in Central Mexico, experiencing archaeological gems, open-air markets and savory cuisine.
Rating (4.98)
Program No. 23083RJ
Length
15 days
Starts at
3,999
Mexico

The Best of Central Mexico: Magical Towns and Bustling Cities

Beginning in Mexico City’s bustle, journey to five colorful, European-inspired cities in Central Mexico, experiencing archaeological gems, open-air markets and savory cuisine.
Length
15 days
Starts at
3,999
Length
15 days
Rating (4.98)
Starts at
3,999
Program No. 23083RJ

Your well-being is our #1 priority

To make your experience as safe as possible, we require all participants to be fully vaccinated. See our Safety Roadmap

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Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Nov 3 - Nov 17, 2022
Starting at
3,999
Dec 1 - Dec 15, 2022
Starting at
3,999
Jan 12 - Jan 26, 2023
Starting at
4,349
Jan 19 - Feb 2, 2023
Starting at
4,749
Jan 26 - Feb 9, 2023
Starting at
4,349
Feb 2 - Feb 16, 2023
Starting at
4,349
Feb 16 - Mar 2, 2023
Starting at
4,349
Mar 2 - Mar 16, 2023
Starting at
4,349
Mar 9 - Mar 23, 2023
Starting at
4,749
Apr 20 - May 4, 2023
Starting at
4,349
Sep 7 - Sep 21, 2023
Starting at
4,349
Sep 21 - Oct 5, 2023
Starting at
4,749
Nov 2 - Nov 16, 2023
Starting at
4,349
Dec 7 - Dec 21, 2023
Starting at
4,749
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Nov 3 - Nov 17, 2022
Starting at
5,159
Dec 1 - Dec 15, 2022
Starting at
5,159
Jan 12 - Jan 26, 2023
Starting at
5,589
Jan 19 - Feb 2, 2023
Starting at
6,049
Jan 26 - Feb 9, 2023
Starting at
5,589
Feb 2 - Feb 16, 2023
Starting at
5,589
Feb 16 - Mar 2, 2023
Starting at
5,589
Mar 2 - Mar 16, 2023
Starting at
5,589
Mar 9 - Mar 23, 2023
Starting at
6,049
Apr 20 - May 4, 2023
Starting at
5,589
Sep 7 - Sep 21, 2023
Starting at
5,589
Sep 21 - Oct 5, 2023
Starting at
6,049
Nov 2 - Nov 16, 2023
Starting at
5,589
Dec 7 - Dec 21, 2023
Starting at
6,049

At a Glance

Forget the Mexico you think you know. Oh, the sensory-piquing surprises — archaeological gems, mouth-watering mole, locals’ warm welcomes — that await you in Mexico’s romantic, central highlands! Beginning in bustling Mexico City, journey to five magnificent, European-inspired cities and learn about 3,500 years of rich history rooted in advanced, indigenous civilizations. Venture to elevations of 6,000-plus feet in these colonial jewels that pulse with an effervescent mestizo culture thriving to this day. Open-air markets, 16th-century cathedrals, a cooking class — find memories of a lifetime at every turn!
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking 2.5 - 3 miles on six days; standing up to two hours. Climbing one flight of stairs. Driving 2-4.5 hours some days. Walking on cobblestones, generally uneven, sometimes with narrow sidewalks, unavoidable uphills, and high steps. Standing in museums and archaeological sites.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Experience the indigenous Purepecha village of Patzcuaro, a quaint, colorful town of simple adobe homes founded in the 1320s and an adjoining ancient village.
  • Discover world-renowned cuisine and experience a cooking class in Oaxaca that begins with a trip to the market and preparation of a four-course meal.
  • Witness the allure of San Miguel Allende that continues to attract Americans to its orderly colorful streets.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Maria Mitrani
Maria Mitrani was born in Italy, then lived in Canada, the United States and France. She finally settled in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, where she has been living since 1976 with her husband and three children. She has a bachelor’s in Italian and art history from the University of California at Berkeley. Since 1985 she has led learning adventures through different parts of Mexico and is a specialized guide for Baja California. She is one of the owners and founders of Andiamo.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Maria Mitrani
Maria Mitrani View biography
Maria Mitrani was born in Italy, then lived in Canada, the United States and France. She finally settled in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, where she has been living since 1976 with her husband and three children. She has a bachelor’s in Italian and art history from the University of California at Berkeley. Since 1985 she has led learning adventures through different parts of Mexico and is a specialized guide for Baja California. She is one of the owners and founders of Andiamo.
Profile Image of Cristina Vannucci
Cristina Vannucci View biography
Cristina Vannucci was born and raised in Italy. After graduating from college she worked in England and the United States, then spent several years traveling and working between Italy and France. Cristina arrived in Mexico by chance in 1992 and made it her home working as a group leader ever since. For over 20 years, her love for this country has taken her to hidden places, allowing her to meet different people and to learn about the vast array of culture and nature within.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Mexican Revolution: A History From Beginning to End
by Hourly History
Over a period of more than ten years, following the overthrow of the government in 1910, Mexico experienced a period of intense and bloody warfare as a bewildering array of factions in ever-changing alliances took power and then lost it. Presidents were elected (or elected themselves) and were then deposed or assassinated. New factions appeared with impressive sounding slogans, took to the field, and were either wiped out and never heard of again or became the next government
The Mexico Reader: History, Culture, Politics
by Gilbert M Joseph and Timothy J Henderson
The Mexico Reader is a vivid introduction to muchos Méxicos—the many Mexicos, or the many varied histories and cultures that comprise contemporary Mexico. Unparalleled in scope and written for the traveler, student, and expert alike, the collection offers a comprehensive guide to the history and culture of Mexico—including its difficult, uneven modernization; the ways the country has been profoundly shaped not only by Mexicans but also by those outside its borders; and the extraordinary economic, political, and ideological power of the Roman Catholic Church.
Malinche
by Laura. Esquivel
When Malinalli, a member of the tribe conquered by the Aztec warriors, first meets Cortés, she -- like many -- believes that he is the reincarnated forefather god of her tribe. Naturally, she assumes that her task is to help Cortés destroy the Aztec empire and free her people. The two fall passionately in love, but Malinalli gradually comes to realize that Cortés's thirst for conquest is all too human. He is willing to destroy anyone, even his own men, even their own love. Throughout Mexican history, Malinalli has been reviled for her betrayal of the Indian people. However, recent historical research has shown that her role was much more complex; she was the mediator between two cultures, Hispanic and Native American, and two languages, Spanish and Náhuatl. Bursting with lyricism and vivid imagery, Malinche finally unveils the truth behind this legendary love affair.
The Mexican Dream: or, the interrupted though of Amerindian Civilizations
by J. M. G Le Clézio
Nobel Prize winner LeClezio conjures the consciousness of Mexico evoking the dreams that made and unmade an ancient culture.
The Lacuna: A Novel
by Barbara Kingsolver
In this powerfully imagined, provocative novel, Barbara Kingsolver takes us on an epic journey from the Mexico of artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo to the America of Pearl Harbor, FDR, and J. Edgar Hoover. The Lacuna is the poignant story of a man pulled between two nations as well as an unforgettable portrait of the artist—and of art itself.
Mexico Biography of Power
by Enrique Krauze
A history of modern Mexico that discusses power centered on the leader throughout Mexican history.
Victors and Vanquished
by Stuart B Schwartz, Tatiana Seijas.
Spanish and Nahua Views of the Fall of the Mexica Empire (Bedford Series in History and Culture
Like Water for Chocolate
by Laura. Esquivel
This classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef, using cooking to express herself and sharing recipes with readers along the way.
Mexico The Beautiful Cookbook: Authentic Recipes from the Regions of Mexico
by Susanna Palazuelos
Mexico the Beautiful Cookbook captures the fascinating culinary heritage of Mexico in one stunning volume. The recipes, prepared by Acapulco-based Susanna Palazuelos, represent a vast selection of authentic Mexican dishes, from all of the states of Mexico. Many of them are unusual regional dishes that have been passed along by word of mouth, such as garlic chicken from Veracruz, and San Luis Potosi's own version of enchiladas. The traditional favorites are here--chiles en nogada, tamales, pozole, tortilla soup--along with some contemporary surprises such as tequila mousse, cilantro soup and lobster crepes. With pine nut sauce. Other well-known Mexican cooks have also contributed their own special recipes to the book. All 250 recipes have been photographed by Ignacio Urquiza, one of Mexico's foremost food and travel photographers. He also provided the scenic photographs, which lead the reader through the regions of Mexico, revealing the markets, the countryside, the way the people live and eat in this varied and beautiful country. Marilyn Tausend's text provides an informative accompaniment to the recipes and photos, exploring Mexico's dramatic history through its food. Mexico the Beautiful Cookbook is the essential cookbook for anyone interested in Mexico and Mexican food.
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15 days
14 nights
35 meals
14 B 10 L 11 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program, Bienvenidos a México
Mexico City
D
Zocalo Central Hotel

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: After checking in to the hotel and getting your room assignment, confirm the location of the meeting room and time of our Orientation session with the front desk, then register with the Road Scholar program staff and get any updated information. If you arrive late, please locate your Group Leader and let them know you have arrived. Take some time to freshen up and relax. Orientation: 5:30 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. We will review COVID-19 protocols and will adhere to local COVID-19 guidelines and requirements throughout the program. This program is staffed with a knowledgeable Study Leader — who will also serve as our Group Leader — on field trips and other group activities, and who will give presentations about important aspects of Mexico’s history, culture, traditions, and economy during transfers. Transportation will be via private motorcoach unless noted otherwise. Travel times may be affected by traffic. Meals will feature local foods reflective of Mexico’s extensive culinary traditions. Vegetables are usually mixed with the main dish as in stews, inside tacos, in soups, etc. Water is available at all meals as well as a non-alcoholic beverage with other beverages usually available for purchase. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the private room, we will have a three-course dinner served plated; a non-alcoholic beverage is included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: The expert Group Leader will summarize the pre-columbian events leading to the settlement of the Aztecs that will provide the background for the upcoming field trips. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Orientation, The Zócalo, Chapultepec, Anthropology Museum
Mexico City
B,L,D
Zocalo Central Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 10 miles, less than 1 hour riding time. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours at a time during field trips; flight of stairs, city sidewalks, generally flat, uneven.

Breakfast: On the scenic terrace at the hotel, we will have a buffet breakfast with additional choices of hot dishes served plated. The restaurant has a wonderful view of the Plaza de la Constitución, the Zócalo, Metropolitan Cathedral, the National Palace, and Government Palace.

Morning: As the ancient center of the Aztec Empire and the first and most important of Spanish colonial marvels in the New World, Mexico City offers culture and history in a vibrant atmosphere. We will begin to explore this fascinating city. We will ride to the more visited section of Chapultepec Park. The origin of Chapultepec Park, one of the largest and most beautiful urban parks in the world, dates to the Aztecs who planted the first Ahuehuete trees — a few of which are still alive today — near a spring and built an aqueduct that was later destroyed by the Spanish. In addition to its wonderful variety of green spaces, the park contains nine museums, a zoo, an amusement park, lakes, and more. Chapultepec is an important social and cultural destination for local people as well as visitors. Among the many attractions, the park houses the world famous Anthropology Museum in which we will have an expert-led exploration.

Lunch: We will have a traditional Mexican taco lunch in a taqueria. Wrap your own taco and add your favote trimmings; a non-alcoholic drink is included, additional beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: On our way back to the hotel, we will drive along majestic Reforma Boulevard where every roundabout exhibits a monument. At the Alameda Park, we will continue with a walking excursion of the historical center. Enter the Diego Riviera Museum where the famed mural Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Park is exhibited. The mural was originally painted in 1947 in the historic Hotel del Prado; when the hotel was condemned for demolition after the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, the mural was moved to its own museum. Continue to the imposing Palacio de Bellas Artes, the Palace of Fine Arts, an emblematic Mexico City palace, then enter the eclectic Correo Mayor. Stroll along busy downtown streets lined by impressive colonial and neoclassical buildings which we will explore with our Study Leader arriving at the historical Zócalo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The large plaza is enclosed by the Cathedral, the National Palace and other majestic colonial buildings. We will visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, constructed with stones from the main Aztec pyramid and view from atop the recently excavated Templo Mayor archeological site where the base of Tenochtitlan’s main pyramid has been unearthed. Free time to enjoy the ongoing lively activities on your own. Our hotel is located on the plaza

Dinner: We will walk to a nearby Mexican restaurant for a plated and served dinner; a non-alcoholic drink is included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Xochimilco Floating Gardens, Coyoacan, Frida Khalo
Mexico City
B,D
Zocalo Central Hotel

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles, approximately 3 hours riding time. Getting in/out of a flatboat from a cement platform. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 1 hour during field trips; flight of stairs, city sidewalks, generally flat, uneven.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach and ride to Xochimilco. The Aztec city of Tenochtitlán was located on a lake in which the Mexicas, as the Aztecs called themselves, traveled by canoes and cultivated the land using chinampas, wooden trellises set on the water. Today, a small portion of the lake and of the agricultural system still remains in Xochimilco, where colorful “trajineras” — small boats decorated with flowers — travel in the canals through the “floating gardens”. Boats with food and flower vendors and mariachis ride alongside visitors adding to the folkloric ambiance. We will hop aboard a “trajinera” and join in the fun while gaining a deeper understanding of the complex Aztec city. Together with México City itself, Xochimilco is part of the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription, “With its network of canals and artificial islands, it testifies to the efforts of the Aztec people to build a habitat in the midst of an unfavorable environment. Its characteristic urban and rural structures, built since the 16th century and during the colonial period have been preserved in an exceptional manner.” Our field trip will then continue to Coyoacan, a beautiful and quaint colonial neighborhood of narrow streets, small plazas, and a Zócalo with cafés, museums, bookstores, and art centers. We will have some time for independent exploration to stroll along the quaint streets, enjoy the lively plaza, and choose a restaurant for lunch.

Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. There are choices from a “fonda” — simple home-style restaurant — or a “taqueria” to delightful full-service Mexican restaurants.

Afternoon: While in Coyoacan, we will visit Casa Azul, home of the famous artist Frida Kahlo and now a museum of her life and works. After a self-directed exploration, we will gather in the garden for additional information and Q&A with our Group Leader. We’ll then return to the hotel with time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: At a restaurant facing the Templo Mayor.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
4
Transfer to Morelia, City Field Trip
Morelia
B,L
Hotel de la Soledad

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 190 miles, approximately 4 hours riding time. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day, standing up to 1 hour at a time during field trips; flight of stairs, city sidewalks, cobblestone streets, generally flat and uneven.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel, board our motorcoach, and leave México City behind with a view of ultra-modern skyscrapers in the Santa Fe neighborhood. As we cross forested mountains, look for the snow-covered tips of volcanos that form the Trans-Mexican Volcano Belt. During the ride, our Study Leader will present the fascinating history of the state of Michoacán, its indigenous Purépecha population, and the origin of its fine crafts. We expect to arrive in Morelia late morning. Capital of the state of Michoacán, it is known as the aristocrat of colonial cities. The historic center is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Characterized by outstanding urban planning, its wide avenues are lined with more than 200 majestic palaces, a prominent Cathedral, and stately plazas. Most of these were constructed with pinkish quarry stones, contributing to a formal, unified appearance. If early check-in is possible, we will check in to our centrally located hotel and have a moment to freshen up before lunch.

Lunch: At a traditional restaurant under arches facing the Cathedral.

Afternoon: We will begin to explore the city during a walking field trip with our Study Leader. As we stroll along stately avenues, we will be able to admire the beauty of each palace, its architecture, and decoration. We will see the façade of the majestic Cathedral and enter the Government Palace displaying socially significant murals by Alfredo Zalce that our Study Leader will help us to interpret. At the Regional Museum, we will learn about colonial lifestyles. As we walk amid fountains, parks, and plazas, we will see one of the homes of José Maria Morelos, a hero of the War of Independence, who gave Morelia its name. Returning to the hotel, the remainder of the afternoon and evening are free.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions from the many restaurant choices.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to stroll in the main plaza to see the cathedral beautifully illuminated and mingle with local people at cafés under the arches.

DAY
5
Purépecha Villages & Towns
Morelia
B,L,D
Hotel de la Soledad

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 90 miles, approximately 2 hours. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 1 hour at a time during field trips; flight of stairs, city sidewalks, cobblestone streets, generally flat and uneven with uphills.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: The state of Michoacán — often called the “Soul of México” — is home to the indigenous Purépecha people. In pre-Hispanic times, they had developed a realm powerful enough to resist Aztec domination. The Spanish called them Tarascans. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, the Tarascan kingdom eventually fell, too. Today, their population of more than 100,000 still cling to ancient traditions and contribute greatly to the richness of Michoacán’s crafts, considered some of the finest in México. We will board our motorcoach and out to villages around Lake Patzcuaro. As we ride, our Study Leader will tell us about Mexican culture and traditions. It looks as if time stood still in the small picturesque Purépecha village of Santa Fe de la Laguna, our first stop. We will see these reserved people trading their goods in the simple market of the town plaza. We’ll then visit the home of a potter who revived ancient pottery making techniques and have blue corn tortillas right off the grill in a traditional kitchen. In Tzintzuntzan, once the center of the Purépecha empire, we will explore the 16th Century Franciscan convent, then move on to Patzcuaro. Founded in the 1320s by the Purépecha, the small quaint town of Patzcuaro is a colonial gem of simple tile-roofed adobe homes painted in red and white, ancient churches, and somber convents that reveal its indigenous-colonial-Mestizo roots.

Lunch: At a rooftop restaurant in the center of Patzcuaro with a view of the city’s red-tiled roofs.

Afternoon: Purépechas proudly relish their traditions, including music and dancing. In the restaurant patio, we will delight In a private presentation by an indigenous folkloric group of their most noted dances and songs. Our Study Leader will then take us on a walking field trip through plazas, up and down cobblestone streets, and to the House of 11 Patios. We will also trace the history of the Purépechas, who were fierce foes of the Aztecs, in a mural painted by Juan O’ Gorman. Returning to the hotel in Morelia, we will have some time to freshen up and relax before dinner.

Dinner: In a long established restaurant under arches facing the Cathedral, we’ll have a plated and served meal featuring some of Morelia’s specialties; non-alcoholic beverage included, other beverages available for purchase

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer tomorrow.

DAY
6
More Morelia, Transfer to Guanajuato, El Pipila Viewpoint
Guanajuato
B,L,D
Edelmira Hotel Boutique

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 120 miles, approximately 3 hours riding time. Getting in/out of Sprinters (private vans). Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day; slow walking and standing up to 1 hour during field trips; flight of stairs, city sidewalks, cobblestone streets, generally flat and uneven.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will continue to explore Morelia by bus and on foot with our Study Leader. The city boasts a magnificent aqueduct, one of the best preserved in the world. Built with the pinkish quarry stone, the 1 mile (1.6 km) aqueduct is supported by 253 arches. Near the end of the aqueduct, we will have a moment of free time. You may admire the aqueduct close up and, if desired, view the brightly decorated Santuario de Guadalupe, unforgettable with its brilliantly colored and decorated interior. We will then regroup for a stroll to the small Calle del Romance (a romantic alley) and to the Fuente de las Tarascas, an emblematic Morelia fountain. Hop back on the bus for the brief return ride to the main plaza. We will then have some time for independent exploration or simply to relax before checking out of the hotel and regrouping for lunch. You may decide to join the study Leader on an exploration of the Church of Santa Rosa de Lima whose adjacent convent is today one of Latin America’s most prestigious music conservatories, especially notable for its children choir

Lunch: At a small local restaurant.

Afternoon: Next, we will ride to the queen city of Mexican colonial jewels, Guanajuato, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our Study Leader will give us a presentation on the importance of mining in México as we ride. In the 18th Century, the discovery of some of the richest silver finds in history promoted the construction of this magnificent city. Nestled in the mountains, Guanajuato is notable for its charm as well as its very narrow, winding, often steep streets (callejones), stairways, small plazas (plazuelas), subterranean streets, and colorful buildings. Arriving at the outskirts of the city center, we will leave our bus and hop into Sprinters (private vans) because busses cannot enter the narrow streets. As we drive along the panoramic road, we stop at El Pipila Statue for the finest viewpoint in Guanajuato. There, the city lies in front of us on a steep hillside, colorful and imposing as if it were a painting. We’ll then we take a funicular to reach the hotel in a quiet niche in the pedestrian zone of the Jardín Union, the main plaza. After checking in, we will have time to freshen up and relax before dinner. You might also like to find a bench and take in the surroundings of the tree-shade plaza sided by the elaborate façade of Teatro Juarez.

Dinner: At a restaurant on the plaza facing Teatro Juarez.

Evening: At leisure. You might like to explore Guanajuato’s serpentine streets on your own or stay in the plaza where music and merriment is always present.

DAY
7
Guanajuato Highlights, Free Time
Guanajuato
B,D
Edelmira Hotel Boutique

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles (4.8 km) during the day, standing up to 1 hour at a time during field trips; generally narrow sidewalks, uneven cobblestones, uphills, many steps; climbing a flight of stairs. Teatro Juarez is currently closed for remodeling.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will set out with our Study Leader on a walking field trip to explore some of the city’s highlights. Bright, colorful homes and buildings line the streets, alleys, and plazas. The alleys can become so narrow that a popular legend tells of a couple kissing from their balconies. We will stop to admire the imposing white stone building of Guanajuato University fronted by a wide staircase with 133 steps — viewed from the bottom! The striking, deep yellow Guanajuato Basilica is one of the city’s most renowned architectural, historical, and ecclesiastical landmarks. Situated on a hilltop facing a larger plaza, it is prominent in the daytime and brightly lit at night. Construction began in 1671, sponsored by local silver miners, and was completed in 25 years. The main object of veneration inside is a jewel-laden image of Our Lady of Guanajuato. The story goes that this wooden statue of the Virgin and Child was carved by an unknown artist in Andalusia prior to the Moorish invasion of Spain, and was then guarded in a cave to hide it from the Moors — where it stayed for eight centuries! Eventually, the King of Spain gave it to the basilica as a token of thanks for all the wealth dug out of the silver mines and sent to the Spanish treasury. We will also trace the city’s turbulent history at the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, a former granary that now contains a regional museum. In 1810, it was the site of the first battle in the Mexican War of Independence.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions from the many small restaurants in the vicinity.

Afternoon: Free time. This period of time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Please note that the period scheduled for free time is subject to change depending on local circumstances and opportunities for independent exploration. You might like to wander through the maze of alleys, plazas, and markets, or find a café to sip a beverage and observe the vibrant city life. Other possibilities include the home and museum of world famous artist Diego Rivera, the adjacent Modern Art Museum, and a museum dedicated to Cervantes. We will regroup with our Study Leader in the late afternoon at the stately entrance of Teatro Juarez, with its magnificent, neo-classical exterior that faces the central plaza. As we enter the theater, we will be able to appreciate its richly ornate, flamboyant decoration that follows the horseshoe design of most European opera houses.

Dinner: At a restaurant overlooking the plaza.

Evening: One of Guanajuato’s most popular traditions is the “callejoneada” when groups of musicians in period dress sing, dance, and retell local legends (in Spanish) as they weave through cobbled streets, ancient and steep alleys, and plazas. Elective: Those with energy, stamina, and enthusiasm are welcome to follow the callejoneada. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
8
Transfer to San Miguel Allende, Queretaro
Queretaro
B,L,D
Doña Urraca

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; on/off a motorcoach. Driving about 90 miles, approximately 2.5 hours riding time. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day, standing up to 1 hour at a time during field trips; narrow sidewalks, uneven cobblestones, generally flat and uneven, uphills, steps.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out, we will take Sprinters to ride through the city center. Picturesque back sides of homes will be visible through the openings of the underground tunnels and narrow passageways. We will then board our motorcoach for the ride to Queretaro. As we go, our Study Leader will tell us more about the economic, social, and religious structure of the Spanish colonial period leading to the Mexican Independence. We will stop to visit the sites known as the Cradle of National Independence. In Atotonilco on September 16, 1810, Father Hidalgo — a priest who became “the father of México” — took a banner depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe as a symbol of the nascent insurgent army, then marched to the Church of Dolores where he gave the famous cry for freedom, now called the “Grito de Dolores,” that sparked the beginning of the War of Independence from Spain. September 16 is celebrated as México’s Independence Day. The Sanctuary of Atotonilco is known as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas. It is part of the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site that includes the picturesque town of San Miguel de Allende. From the UNESCO inscription: “San Miguel de Allende acted as a melting pot where Spaniards, Creoles and Amerindians exchanged cultural influences while the Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco constitutes an exceptional example of the exchange between European and Latin American cultures…Its interior decoration, especially mural painting, makes the Sanctuary a masterpiece of Mexican Baroque.”

Lunch: In a garden restaurant featuring Yucatan cuisine.

Afternoon: San Miguel Allende was named in honor of General Ignacio Allende, one of the fathers of Mexican Independence, who was born here. It gained international fame thanks to the establishment of Instituto Allende in the 1950s, attracting foreigners to its art and Spanish courses. We will take a walking field trip with our Study Leader to explore the town center and appreciate the variety of architectural styles represented in its buildings, especially La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel — the Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel — that can be seen from everywhere. Founded in the mid-1500s, it was rebuilt several times over the centuries. They appear ancient, but the soaring towers and neo-Gothic façade we see today are from the late 19th century. Brief free time to explore on your own. We’ll then move on to Querétaro. During the ride, our Study Leader will narrate the eventful years following the independence discussing Benito Juarez, the French Invasion, the Revolutionary War, and the eventual signing of México’s Constitution. Santiago de Querétaro is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription: “The old colonial town of Querétaro is unusual in having retained the geometric street plan of the Spanish conquerors side by side with the twisting alleys of the Indian quarters. The Otomi, the Tarasco, the Chichimeca and the Spanish lived together peacefully in the town, which is notable for the many ornate civil and religious Baroque monuments from its golden age in the 17th and 18th centuries.” Upon arrival, we will check in to an original 16th century former convent for our overnight stay.

Dinner: We will walk to a restaurant on the main plaza.

Evening: At leisure. You are welcome to walk back to the hotel with our Study Leader or stay in the plaza to enjoy the nightlife, mingle with local people, and return to the hotel on your own.

DAY
9
Exploring Querétaro, Aqueduct
Queretaro
B,L
Doña Urraca

Activity note: Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, slow walking and standing up to 2 hours during field trips; flight of stairs, cobblestones, generally flat and uneven.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Away from the flow of tourism, Santiago de Querétaro’s dynamic historical center pleasantly surprises the visitor. A monumental aqueduct highlights rich colonial monuments, charming walking streets, and lively plazas. The magnificent aqueduct, a symbol of the city, boasts 75 arches reaching a height of nearly 100 feet (30 meters). By motorcoach, we will drive along its length with a stop for picture taking. We will continue to explore the city on a walking field trip with our Group Leader through the most notable elements of the historical center and admire the Baroque and neo-classical architecture. We will also learn how Querétaro has played a significant role throughout Mexican history from its founding in 1531 to the plotting of the Independence, the execution of Maximilian of Austria, the writing of the Mexican constitution, and the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe. An expert-led visit of a Franciscan monastery immerses us into the life of the monks and the many events which took place in this 16th century historical site including Maximilian prison cell. A Quarry Cross related to an Otomi legend is on site. We continue to the main plaza along charming colonial streets and enter the courtyard of the Government Palace, once known as the Casa de la Corregidora. This was once the home of Josefa Ortíz de Dominguez, a heroine of the Mexican independence movement, declared a Benemérita del Estado. We will walk past Queretaro’s Cathedral, the Temple of San Felipe Neri, and enter Queretaro’s Art Museum located in the former monastery of San Augustin, founded in 1728, to see what is considered one of the most magnificent courtyards in Latin America. Before our lunch stop, we admire the façade of the sumptuously decorated Baroque mansion of Casa de la Marquesa.

Lunch: We will have a plated and served meal in the inside patio of a local restaurant; a non-alcoholic drink is included, other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: Elective. The Otomi Indigenous people of Queretaro are responsible for the creation of the colorful Mexican rag dolls with ribbon-decked hair. Our Study Leader will take those interested to a local Otomi Indian craft center where the women will take us through the steps of making our own rag dolls. This relaxing fun activity offers an opportunity to interact with and get to know the lifestyle of these indigenous people who come to the city from remote villages in the surrounding mountains. The remainder of the afternoon and evening are free to explore independently or rest and relax. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions from the numerous restaurants in the plazas and pedestrian zones in walking distance of the hotel.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and early transfer in the morning.

DAY
10
Transfer to Puebla, Teotihuacan Complex
Puebla
B,L,D
Quinta Real Puebla

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 230 miles, approximately 5 hours riding time. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, standing up to 2 hours during field trip; gravel paths, cobblestones, generally flat and uneven, high and uneven stone steps.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will check out of the hotel early and board our motorcoach for the transfer to Puebla, México’s fourth-largest city, important for its rich history, culture, and economy. Our ride will cross agricultural fields nicely divided by stone walls and rolling hills that encircle México City. As we go, our Study Leader will give us a presentation on pre-Columbian cultures. En route, we will stop for a field trip at Teotihuacan, one of México’s most noted archeological sites, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription: “The holy city of Teotihuacan (‘the place where the gods were created’) is situated some 50 km north-east of México City. Built between the 1st and 7th centuries A.D., it is characterized by the vast size of its monuments — in particular, the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon, laid out on geometric and symbolic principles. As one of the most powerful cultural centers in Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan extended its cultural and artistic influence throughout the region, and even beyond.” Known as the City of the Gods, Teotihuacan was the home of an important culture that influenced succeeding Mesoamerican civilizations and a population greater than Rome from the 1st century BCE to the 5th century CE. We will explore the site with our Study Leader, walk along the Avenue of the Dead, and enter some of its palaces. Elective. Those who like to climb the famous Temple to the Sun (approximately 200 feet high) and the slightly smaller Temple to the Moon, are welcome to do so. Both are reached by steep flights of many stone steps.

Lunch: At a restaurant near the Teotihuacan archeological site.

Afternoon: Continuing our journey, the Study Leader will lecture on Mexico’s renowned cuisine as well as completing the chronicle of Mexican history to conclude with present day Mexico. Arriving in Puebla, we stop at the monumental fountain of the fort area where the Battle of Puebla was fought on Cinco de Mayo: May 5, 1862. The outnumbered Mexicans, led by General Zaragoza, outfought the superior French force, providing a moral victory in the larger war against foreign intervention. We will check in to our hotel with some time to freshen up. Puebla — originally Ciudad de los Ángeles, city of the Angels — was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wealth of historical and cultural riches, especially architecture. With our Study Leader, we will explore this urban treasury and some of its outstanding sites on foot and by motorcoach. Its gems of Spanish-colonial buildings include over 360 churches, palaces, a historic library and private houses, many of which are decorated with colorful ‘azulejos’ — Talavera-style ceramic tiles. Begin to explore the city center with your Study Leader before dinner. The Biblioteca Palafoxiana, founded in 1646, was the first public library in the Americas and has been listed in UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” register. Arrive at the monumental cathedral viewed from the exterior. Begun in 1575 and completed in 1649, it is the second-largest in Mexico; its twin bell towers are the tallest in the country. Time on your own to enjoy life on the Zocalo or you may join the Group Leader on a walking exploration of the Church of Santo Domingo to appreciate the baroque ornamentation of the world famous Capilla del Rosario — Chapel of the Rosary located inside the church— lavishly covered with gold leaf. Gather again for dinner at a rooftop restaurant facing the cathedral which is magnificently lit at night.

Dinner: A three course dinner is served plated, individual and family style; a non-alcoholic drink is included, other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
11
Exploring Puebla
Puebla
B,L
Quinta Real Puebla

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 18 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking up to 3 miles throughout the day, slow walking and standing up to 1.5 hour during field trips; flight of stairs, cobblestones, generally flat and uneven.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll step on the motorcoach to encounter highlights away from the city center. On the way to San Andrés Cholula, sight the façade of San Francisco Acatepec covered in colorful shiny tiles. The beautiful church of Tonantzintla, on the other hand, is noted for its exceptional interior where nearly every inch of plaster molding is decorated in an “indigenous baroque” style with colored images of flowers and fruits, human and animal faces and figures with indigenous headdresses, as well as abstract designs reflecting the mix of pre-hispanic and Christian worlds. We continue to visit the Museo Internacional del Barroco, inaugurated in 2016. The sleek, avant-garde exterior design contrasts dramatically with the Baroque art inside. In an exploration of the museum amid paintings and interactive displays, we will gain an in-depth knowledge of the many aspects of Baroque and the important role played by Mexico in general and Puebla specifically for its development. Return to the city center for lunch.

Lunch: In a local restaurant, we will have a traditional Puebla meal consisting of mole (pronounced “MOH-lehs”). The poblano mole originated in Puebla. This rich, smooth sauce — often served over chicken, turkey, or other meats — is highly labor intensive, prepared with ground chiles and other ingredients such as chicken stock, garlic, nuts, onion, seeds, spices, and tomatoes, as well as chocolate, plantains, and raisins for sweetness, and sometimes more; a non-alcoholic drink is included, other beverages available for purchase

Afternoon: We’ll continue our exploration with a walking field trip in the city center. One of the distinctive highlights is the façade of the 18th century, Churrigueresque baroque style Casa del Alfeñique. The name refers to its elaborate stucco ornamentation considered similar in appearance to the meringue candy of the same name. In contrast, the façade of Casa de los Muñecos (House of the Dolls) is decorated with fanciful, Talavera-tiled images. Our field trip will end at the craft market and a ceramic factory where the internationally famous Talavera tile is produced. A small museum explains its history and process. We will explore the factory itself, where every step of the process is elaborated by hand. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore independently or return to the hotel.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for check-out and transfer in the morning.

DAY
12
Transfer to Oaxaca, Exploring the City
Oaxaca
B,L,D
Quinta Real Oaxaca

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 210 miles, approximately 4.5 hours riding time. Walking up to 2 miles throughout the day, slow walking and standing up to 1.5 hours during field trip; flight of stairs, cobblestones, generally flat and uneven.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we will board the motorcoach and ride out of Puebla. We’ll cross a mountainous area with changes in altitudes and ecosystems: pines forests, tall cacti, dry desert. Volcanos can be sighted. Our Study Leader will give us a presentation on the “magical” cities and protected areas that preserve México’s rich cultural heritage. We expect to reach Oaxaca, one of México’s most captivating cities, by midday. The Centro Histórico of Oaxaca is another UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. It is the home of complex indigenous cultures, magnificent baroque colonial buildings and churches, delicious mestizo cuisine, excellent crafts, traditional celebrations, bustling markets, archeological sites, and the birthplace of Benito Juarez, a national hero and a beloved president of México. Upon arrival, we will have lunch at the hotel. Luggage will be stored until rooms are available for check-in.

Lunch: In the beautiful hotel garden, we will have a basic salad type meal served family style; non-alcoholic beverages included, additional beverages may be purchased.

Afternoon: We’ll set out with our Study Leader on a walk to get acquainted with Oaxaca. Close to the hotel is the magnificent Santo Domingo Church and plaza. A pedestrian street connects it to the spacious and lively Zócalo dominated by the baroque Catedral Metropolitana de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción — Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. Next, we enter the famed market. Among the many local specialties sold in the market, heaps of fried grasshoppers create a memorable sight! Stop at a chocolate factory to see the process of making Mexican chocolate. Return to the Zocalo where folkloric music groups encourage locals to dance to their favorite rhythm.

Dinner: In the balcony of a restaurant facing the plaza, a three course dinner is served plated. A non-alcoholic beverage is included, additional beverages may be purchased.

Evening: At leisure. You may remain in the plaza and mingle with local people, enjoy the music or return to the hotel.

DAY
13
Monte Alban, Santo Domingo, Free Time, Alebrijes Elective
Oaxaca
B,D
Quinta Real Oaxaca

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking up to 3 miles (4.8 km) during the day; slow walking and standing up to 2 hours during field trips; cobblestones, generally flat and uneven; climbing some high stone steps and one flight of stairs. Santo Domingo Museum closed temporarily

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board the motorcoach with our Study Leader for a field trip to Monte Alban, the social-political-economic center of the Zapotec civilization from 500 BCE to 800 CE, one of the earliest and most important of Mesoamerica. Situated on a mountain top with grand vistas of the Oaxaca Valley, this vast and impressive archeological site is part of the UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. Among the many objects discovered during excavations are elaborate, splendidly made pieces of gold jewelry and other fine objects found in famed Tomb #7. Also of particular interest in Monte Alban are “los danzantes” — the dancers — a series of more than 300 rock carvings depicting figures in playful positions. Returning to Oaxaca, we will enter the Santo Domingo Cultural Center. The monastery, founded by the Dominicans in the 16th Century, is currently a museum where the jewels of Tomb #7 of Monte Alban, considered one of the most important findings in Mesoamerica, are exhibited.

Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions from the numerous restaurants in the plazas and pedestrian zones in walking distance from the hotel.

Afternoon: The afternoon is on your own to relax, enjoy the hotel, the pool, or to explore the city center. You may wish to enter Santo Domingo Temple, the most ornate of Oaxaca’s churches, stroll through the galleries or visit a museum. In the late afternoon, gather at the hotel for a private event to appreciate alebrijes. Enjoy a display of finely crafted Alebrijes - brightly painted wood carvings of imaginative figures, often fantastical, that originated in Oaxaca and have become world renowned. Led by a craftsman and assisted by the Group Leader, participate in an alebrijes workshop trying your skills at painting one!

Dinner: In the dining room of the hotel, a three course dinner is elegantly served. An alcoholic beverage is included to toast farewell, an additional non-alcoholic beverage is included; additional beverages may be purchased.

Evening: At leisure to relax at the hotel or take an evening stroll in the attractive steets and plazas surrounding the hotel.

DAY
14
El Tule, Teotitlan del Valle, Mezcal, Cooking Class
Oaxaca
B,L,D
Quinta Real Oaxaca

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 30 miles, approximately 1 hour riding time. Walking up to 1.5 miles throughout the day; slow walking and standing up to 1 hour during field trips; flight of stairs, cobblestones, generally flat and uneven, some steps.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach with our Study Leader for an all morning visit of the Oaxaca Valley making several stops. Santa Maria del Tule houses the famed 2,000 years old Moctezuma cypress. With a 46-foot (14 m) diameter and a 190-foot (60 m) circumference, it is said to be the widest tree in the world. In Teotitlan del Valle, a small village dedicated to the production of hand-woven rugs, we will see weavers at work. Enter the home and workshop of a family devoted to carding, spinning and dying the wool with natural dyes that is then woven on frame looms to produce high quality rugs representing pre-Columbian designs, famous paintings, or original patterns. In the adjacent village of Tlacochahuaya, we will visit the interesting church decorated in “indigenous Baroque” style. Visit a mezcaleria to taste Mezcal, an indigenous agave-based alcoholic beverage originally from Oaxaca. Relax and enjoy as we learn. While Tequila is technically a kind of mescal, it is produced only from blue agave in five specific regions. On the other hand, Mezcal can be made from a variety of agaves growing in widespread regions. The production process of each beverage is quite different. On the return drive to Oaxaca, we will stop for lunch in a country type restaurant specializing on grilled meats.

Lunch: A three-course meal is served plated and family style. A non-alcoholic beverage is included, additional beverages may be purchased

Afternoon: Returning to the hotel, the afternoon is free for independent exploration or a bit of relaxation before our farewell cooking class - dinner event. Board our motorcoach to reach a private home in a residential neighborhood where we are greeted by the lady of the house and family members. Wearing colorful aprons we’re ready to work. Mole, salsas, guacamole, tortillas are part of the gastronomic experience. Piñatas and music add to the festive mood. Toast farewell to Mexico and to travel companions, until we meet again.

Dinner: At the cooking class, we will enjoy the meal we helped prepare; beer, mezcal, wine and non-alcoholic beverages included.

Evening: Return to the hotel. Prepare for check-out and departure in the morning

DAY
15
Program Concludes, In Transit From Program
Oaxaca
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out 12:00 Noon. See your program travel details regarding transfers. If you are returning home, keep passports on hand. Personal travel permits must be returned upon leaving México; the airline will collect them during check-in.

Breakfast: At the hotel (depending on departure times). This concludes our program.

Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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