This is Veracruz, Mexico [PHOTO ESSAY]

Small Church Veracruz Mexico

Church Celebration in Veracruz

Veracruz, Mexico

Veracruz is a large port city located on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico. The state has the same name. While not typically a tourist hot-spot, there is plenty to see.

I was in town for the Adventure Travel Mexico Summit to speak on behalf of the ATTA. After a joint presentation with Kraig Becker & Kristin Gill on how destinations, brands, & travel bloggers can work together, I stuck around for an extra week to explore.

Boasting about half a million people, Veracruz is a nice place to spend a few days watching how working-class Mexicans live. There is a lot of interesting history & culture to be found here as well.

Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés founded the old city when he first landed in Mexico back in 1519, before he helped destroy the Aztec Empire that is. But these days Veracruz is a hub for international trade. The export of oil, automobiles, and other goods keeps Mexico’s biggest port very busy.

Samborcito Breakfast Veracruz Mexico

Huevos Tirados & Gorda Negras

Breakfast at Samborcito

While staying along the beach at Hotel Playa Veracruz, the owner Juan let me in on a local secret. The best place to eat breakfast in town is a little family-run joint called Samborcito. A typical order? Delicious huevos tirados with gorda negras and some freshly squeezed orange juice. Definitely hit the spot.

La Huaca Neighborhood Veracruz Mexico

Colorful Old La Huaca Neighborhood

La Huaca Neighborhood

The ultra colorful & crumbling neighborhood of La Huaca is located right outside the old city walls of Veracruz. Built to house immigrant workers in the 17th century, many of the structures are falling into disrepair. But in my opinion this helps give the area it’s character. There are some great little family-run food stands & restaurants here too.

Octopus Veracruz Mexico

Octopus in the Harbor

The Recycling Octopus

What an odd sight! I spotted this octopus on the surface of the water holding onto a plastic bottle. Apparently, this is a homemade buoy. But octopuses (octopi?) just love to climb into bottles, and that’s what he’s trying to do. I thought he was attempting to clean a bit of trash from the ocean. :D

Military & Police Veracruz Mexico

Military & Police Checkpoint

Mexican Military & Police

The port city of Veracruz is home to the Mexican Navy, and they’ll often be seen patrolling city streets alongside the National or State Police. This happy crew is providing some extra security as a large Navy ship docks in the harbor.

Skin Diver Veracruz Mexico

Man Diving for Shells

Paseo del Malecón

Paseo del Malecón is the waterfront boardwalk in Veracruz that winds it’s way along the port. Here you can find snacks, excellent local coffee, and gaze with wonder as massive cargo or Navy ships float by. Scuba Pedro here is diving for colorful shells & sea creatures at the bottom of the harbor.

Fort Baluarte Santiago Veracruz Mexico

Baluarte de Santiago

Fort Baluarte de Santiago

This 17th Century fort was built to protect the city of Veracruz against invasion by pirates. Inside the massive stone structure you’ll find a collection of well-preserved cannon, as well as a small stash of beautiful pre-Hispanic gold jewelry. Unfortunately cameras are not allowed inside. But the flowers outside are nice, don’t you think?

Back Alley Veracruz Mexico

Back Alleys of Veracruz

Back Alley Goose!

When traveling in a new city like Veracruz, I really enjoy getting lost on purpose. You just never know what you’ll find off the main streets — and it’s bound to be interesting. Like this guy for example. A goose that didn’t like me very much. But I managed to snag his photo anyway. In your face, goose!

La Parroquia Veracruz Mexico

Some Coffee with Your Milk?

La Parroquia Coffee

A visit to Veracruz City would not be complete without stopping at the famous Gran Café de La Parroquia! A bit more milk than coffee here though. After ordering, you hit your glass of coffee with a spoon to signal you are ready for milk. The proportion is something like 20% coffee, 80% milk. In fact, you’re pretty much drinking coffee-flavored milk. I normally like my coffee black-as-hell; but I couldn’t leave without trying the local style.

Sunrise Veracruz Mexico

Beautiful Sunrise Over the Gulf

Veracruz Sunrise

What better way to end this photo essay from Veracruz than with a sunrise from my room at Hotel Playa! The port city surprised me with some interesting sights and plenty of friendly people. Like all of Mexico, Veracruz has been hit hard by the negative media surrounding its drug war. While not great for tourism, it was nice for me, because it meant I pretty much had Veracruz all to myself. :)

Definitely worth a visit. ★


What About You?

Would you consider traveling to Veracruz? Which photo was your favorite & why?


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Comments & Questions

26 Comments

  1. Julia
    May 31, 2013

    I loved Veracruz!! I lived there for about 6 months and your photos bring back so many great memories! Thanks for getting a great photo of the cafe at Parroquia! I don’t know how many times I have craved their cafe and their food! And beautiful beautiful photo of the sunset! I just love Veracruz!

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      June 6, 2013

      Some excellent coffee there at La Parroquia. But the people watching is even better. :D

      Reply
  2. Sofia
    February 3, 2013

    Nice photos, they tell a wonderful story!

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      February 3, 2013

      Thanks Sofia. Veracruz is a very pleasant place for a photo-walk. :)

      Reply
  3. Tracy Antonioli
    January 17, 2013

    I. Love. This. Post. GORGEOUS photos! (And I love your layout. As a travel blogger, I admire photo-rich themes. This one is GREAT!) My favorite photo has to be the goose in the alley photo, because I’ve recently become obsessed with taking photos of alleys. Though the octopus one is a close second.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      January 19, 2013

      Thanks Tracy! I’ve spent a lot of time tweaking this site. And yes, back-alleys are always interesting to photograph.

      Reply
  4. Tamara
    January 10, 2013

    All of your photos are fantastic, but I especially loved the one of the La Huaca neighborhood! I visited Veracruz in the late 90s, and I’d love to return. This post was inspirational. I remember visiting La Parroquia for their famous coffee, and while I’m with you on strong, black coffee, I have great memories of my experience there. Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

    Reply
  5. Michele Peterson (A Taste for Travel)
    December 26, 2012

    There’s nothing quite like getting chased by a goose when travelling! Great photos…you’ve put Veracruz on my to-visit list!

    Reply
  6. Rusty
    December 26, 2012

    I love the pics. I’m putting Veracruz back on my to do list.
    The sunset is fantastic, but I can’t figure it out. How is it that the sun is setting into the Gulf when you are on the east coast?

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      December 26, 2012

      LOL! You are totally right Rusty. Just looked at my meta data, and it was taken in the morning. Wow. I’m on a roll with this post. Maybe it’s time to hire an editor. :D

      Reply
    • Sandra Guedes
      December 26, 2012

      I thought it was a sunrise? Which if it is, than Matt geography is right… or is it? :P

      Reply
      • Matthew Karsten
        December 26, 2012

        I find that sunrises are usually a lot less colorful than sunsets, so just assumed sunset. That and this was taken a few months ago. Hard to keep track of all the sunrises & sunsets I’ve photographed. :)

        Reply
        • Sandra Guedes
          December 27, 2012

          (The caption also says sunrise) Either way its a great picture. Can’t wait to see some more :)

        • Matthew Karsten
          December 30, 2012

          Yeah, they all said sunset before — I’ve corrected them to sunrise. :)

  7. Mom
    December 26, 2012

    Love the photo of the fort and flowers-the contrast is amazing! Nice job, Matt! And, the milk pouring from the pitcher-I’m always surprised by your topic choices! Don’t know how you decide, but keep them coming! And, I am not prejudiced at all!

    Reply
  8. Ruth (Tanama Tales)
    December 24, 2012

    Great photos as always. I like the first photo because I have never heard of Huevos Tirados and Gordas Negras. Love to try regional food in different parts of Mexico. A little observation: Xalapa is the capital of the state of Veracruz.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      December 25, 2012

      Woops! Thanks for the correction Ruth. This is what happens when you don’t have an editor. :D

      Reply
  9. Vera
    December 24, 2012

    Sorry, no way I’m able to pick a favourite picture – they’re all fab (and I’m not just saying that)! I would definitely love to go to Veracruz, and be it only because everyone would understand my name. Unless people never get it because I talk funny. Who even knows.

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      December 25, 2012

      What does your name mean Vera?

      Reply
      • Vera
        December 25, 2012

        The name is said to be of Russian origin (which explains why I choose wodka when it comes to spirits;)…) and means “faith”. Although there’s also the latin “veritas”, meaning truth… And last but not least, “Veracruz” seems to stand for (The city of the) “True cross”. This reminds me of my chemistry teacher, who would avoid teaching chemistry at all costs, but instead examine the origins of all our names and also talk about trains a lot. I really feel like I never had chemistry at all! Oh well:)

        Reply
        • Martha A
          December 26, 2012

          Veracruz was originally named “La Villa Rica de la Vera Cruz”
          Villa = village like the ones found in Spain
          Rica = for the richness the that Moctrezuma sent to the newcomers (And Hernan Cortez hopes to find more)
          Vera = true
          cruz = Cross, because the day the Spaniards arrived in Chalchihuecan April 22nd was good Friday and the cross where Jesus crucified was revered.

          After many years and changes it has been reduced to just Veracruz. I was born in Veracruz and after 30 away, I go back every 6 to 9 months.

        • Matthew Karsten
          December 26, 2012

          Thanks for the rundown Martha!

  10. Maria
    December 24, 2012

    I’d definitely consider it and would go by bus since I live close-by. Love the pic of the octopus

    Reply
    • Matthew Karsten
      December 25, 2012

      Bus travel in Mexico is great! I took one up to Mexico City after my stay in Veracruz.

      Reply
      • Maria
        December 26, 2012

        I’ve used Greyhound (affiliates) in the US and it so sad – literally, wires dangling from the ceiling, seat parts broken and/or missing completely. However, I hear the buses just a few hours south are darn near luxurious. I’d enjoy that for a change.

        Reply

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