Going ashore in Veracruz, Mexico

Veracruz is one of the biggest and most beautiful ports from the East Coast of Mexico and it is located in the Bay of Campeche – an arm of the Gulf of Mexico. If you arrive in Veracruz aboard a port container vessel, there are 2 possibilities where your vessel can dock.

The terminal situated on the left side of the port is specialized in cargo vessels as it does not have big gantries, but small mobile cranes. Anyhow, if docking in this area of the port, cargo operations may take a little longer which can prove to be very suitable for a long walk in the city.

In this terminal, walking is permitted, so you do not have to depend on anybody else to come and take you out. All you need is some good shoes to protect you from the hot concrete you have to walk on and a hat (especially during the summer). Sometimes it can happen that a train is crossing exactly the road you have to follow to arrive to the gate and, in this case, you can be forced to wait a few minutes (even 15). Otherwise, depending on your speed of walking, you can arrive to the gate in 10-15 minutes. You will have to pass close to other vessels under operation, near cranes and big trucks carrying containers and you’ll have to be very careful. Safety is something very important and you must take it very seriously. The trip to the gate – following one road after the other, crossing railways and paying attention to the traffic –  is not too long, but it can be very tiresome especially because of the smells you will detect in the air, most of which are not very nice. The smells and odors can be very strong and fiercely stinking during summer, so you’ll want to arrive to the gate as soon as possible.

Once arrived at the gate, you will be invited to write down your name on a piece of paper including also the date and time of getting out. You may be subject to a routine check up – including a photo taken, if you come to the gate for the first time. This photo will be processed into the system and it is supposed to shorten the time required for control on your next visit. If you carry a bag or a rucksack, it may be subject of a very quick search. A more detailed search will be performed on your bag when entering the port. After your details have been written down on the requested paper (by you or by the officer on watch), you will be given a special shore leave permit – a plastic like badge – which will allow you to exit the gate and come back again. To receive this permit, you will have to leave your personal ship’s ID with the officer on duty, being able to recover it only when you get back.

Just outside the gate, there is a bus station, but, as the town is only 10 minutes away, you can start your journey to the center by walking towards it. In 5 minutes you will arrive in a commercial area, where you can admire different types of souvenirs and a very nice display of clothes, most of which are local made and of good quality.

Souvenir shops Veracruz.

If your vessels docks in the other terminal – on the right side, where there are big blue gantries – you’ll have to use a different gate for exiting the port. Sometimes different terminal implies different rules, so you’ll have to take them into consideration. Walking is not allowed in this terminal and, for this reason, there is a shuttle bus service available on a strict schedule. This shuttle bus will take to the gate in ~ 10 minute. Before leaving the gate, be sure to ask the officials about the shuttle bus timetable for returning to your ship. After undergoing the same type of control, you’ll find yourself ready to explore the city. To arrive in the center, you’ll have to take a taxi to take you over the bridge which starts just outside de Immigration Building. After crossing the bridge, you will arrive in the vicinity of the other gate of the port (the other terminal) from where you can start your visit around the city, depending on the places you want to see or things you want to do.

You can also walk your way over the bridge and arrive in less than 15 minutes in a very nice and animated commercial area, dotted with small shops, kiosks and colorful vendors. Following this commercial route, you will arrive in the center of the city, close to the Cathedral. From there you can continue your walk along the narrow and very colorful streets or you can try the route close to the sea, following the enclosures of the port.

Street vendor Veracruz

Veracruz Cathedral Square

Veracruz street vendors

If you are interested in the local artisan display of clothes and different objects you have a few options from where to choose. The closest and most accessible artisan market is the one next to the Cathedral, on the seaside.

Veracruz Mercado de artisanos

If you want to admire and even buy some fresh fruits or fish you have to go to Mercado Hidalgo. You’ll need to take a taxi to get there, but do not hesitate to use the taxi service while in Mexico as it is one of the cheapest in the world. You’ll get to the market in less than 10 minutes and you’ll have to pay only 3$ for the ride (equivalent in pesos).

Veracruz Mercado Hidalgo

Veracruz Mercado Hidalgo

Veracruz Hidalgo Market colorful fruits

As a matter of fact, you will have to change money in the bank or in the exchange offices because you will have to pay almost everything in local currency as people are very reluctant to receive American dollar (or other foreign currency).

You can take part in some local celebration or Fiesta if you are lucky enough to arrive here on a Friday or Saturday night because these days are the most important days for celebrations around the city. You can admire local girls and boys dancing in the street and wearing beautiful traditional costumes or you can enjoy wonderful music played by mariachi in one of the restaurants from the big Plaza around the Cathedral.

Fiesta on the street of Veracruz

Fiesta on the street Veracruz

Veracruz - fiesta on the street

Veracruz Cathedral Square live music

Veracruz mariachi

If you want to experience more of the city and mingle among the locals, you can have a ride on the green tourist bus which will take you around the city center on a 45 minute tour. If you understand Spanish, you will be able to enjoy also the live commentaries delivered by the driver (these commentaries are only in Spanish).

Veracruz green bus

If you have more time available, you can venture yourself and go to Boca del Rio, another town close to Veracruz, but more famous among the tourists. There you can relax on the beach and even have a nice swim in the very hot waters of the Gulf. The most beautiful beaches are La Bamba – very traditional and picturesque – and Siesta Americana – more isolated and very clean. A taxi can get you to one of these beaches in ~ 20 minutes and the fare will be ~ 5$.

Beach Siesta Americana Boca del Rio Mexico

Veracruz Mexico Beach La Bamba

If you want to enjoy few hours on the beach, in Mercado Hidalgo or just on the streets of Veracruz you have to take into consideration the fact that only few people in town speak English, but they are very friendly and ready to help you or assist you in any way. They will be very happy if you try to speak a little Spanish and they will want to give you a lot of information and advice concerning your visit.

Enjoy your visit in Veracruz – ‘el mas allegro Puerto del Mondo’.

 

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