Trusted Traveller: an afternoon in Oaxaca, Mexico with Fanny Blake
Our collection of solo tours are designed to take the sting out of travelling alone, so you can travel the world safe in the knowledge you'll be in the company of some lovely like-minded adventurers. Our itineraries are carefully crafted to ensure you see the best bits of your chosen destination, but we also make time for independent exploration so you can make your own little discoveries, too.
Earlier this year, novelist, journalist and worldwide adventurer Fanny Blake joined us on our very first solo tour of 'Mexico's Mayan Trail'. When we asked her for one of her most memorable experiences on the trip, she couldn't wait to tell us about her afternoon in colonial Oaxaca...
After a magical morning exploring Monte Albán, an extraordinary ancient Zapotec city situated high on a flattened mountain top outside Oaxaca, our group were driven back to the town below. The afternoon was free for us to do what we wanted.
By the time the coach dropped us off close to the church of San Domingo de Guzmán in the centre of Oaxaca, the temperature had soared. I headed in the same direction as the rest of the group but was side-tracked into an art gallery. By the time I emerged they were out of sight. Alone, I took my time, stopping off at various shops selling local handicrafts, coloured carvings, fabrics, baskets, souvenirs made from obsidian and much more – poring over them and wishing I had more room in my suitcase.
The sound of music and shouting drew me down a street to the first of four wedding celebrations that I came across that day. The atmosphere was hot and heady, the drum beat frenetic, the wedding party dancing in the street with giant bride and groom puppets, stilt dancing, women in national dress. When I eventually reached the church, I couldn’t go inside because a wedding was taking place. Instead I stood in the doorway, gazing at the intricate gilt and white Mexican baroque interior. Next door, the converted convent has been transformed into a museum, retaining the original cloisters and central fountain. Music from outside drifted down the long cool corridors. The cells were transformed into fascinating exhibition spaces. Through the windows were tantalising glimpses of the botanical gardens below.
From there I walked back to the Zócalo, the main town square, that hummed with activity. Round three of its arcaded sides are plenty of cafes and restaurants where mariachi bands serenade the tables. The inner square was crowded with stalls selling everything from bright balloons to clothes, and snacks. I sat in a café, ordered myself a drink, and watched the world go by. Refreshed, I took to the streets again to find the Alameda covered market. This is where locals come to buy everything under the sun from bread, veg, meat and booze to pet rabbits, fried grasshoppers, garish sweets and clothes and shoes. Unthreatening and maze-like, I wandered for ages, getting hopelessly lost, until someone directed me back to the square.
Eventually it was time to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner with some of the group and to hear how they’d spent their afternoon. That’s one of the great things about a Titan solo holiday: you’re given the freedom to be independent in the knowledge that you’re not alone.
Fanny’s latest novel A Summer Reunion (Orion) is out now.
You can follow Fanny on Twitter @FannyBlake1
We'd love to hear about your solo travel adventures - be sure to leave us a comment on Facebook and let us know. For more information about travelling solo, take a look at our solo tour collection.
Novelist, journalist, book reviewer and worldwide adventurer, Fanny Blake is one of our Trusted Travellers. She's travelled the world and experienced our tours first hand. When she's not globe-trotting, she's a theatre, film and book junkie. Lover of long walks, wine and chocolate.
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