travel

Valle de Bravo, Day 1

Wednesday, August 17

On Wednesday we had plans to drive to Valle de Bravo, another small town about an hour and half west this time of Toluca.

I was not initially super thrilled about this, not because I didn’t want to go- I did, very much- but our original plan was to go later in the week. We were going to meet up with one of Ivan’s best high school friends. Due to an issue on his end, though, we had to shift the visit to Wednesday from Saturday.

I was just a little tired after the late night on Tuesday, but at least we were able to take a slow morning before hitting the road again. (We would be staying overnight in Valle de Bravo, and his friend + family wouldn’t be heading there until after work.)


(I interrupt this blog post to introduce the family dog/ semi-street dog, Parker. Isn’t he so cute?!! They informally adopted him some years ago, but he isn’t an inside dog. They do let him in the enclosed patio at night, they feed him, etc., but he’s not a regular house dog, either exactly.)

He is so sweet! A bit rough around the edges sometimes and not always 100% on manners, but he’s a good boy!! ❤️

Anyway, Wednesday morning we slept in/lounged around some and had a lazy-ish morning doing whatever we wanted. By late morning, the four of us went out to try to visit an enclosed public soccer field nearby. We were also going to attempt a little run at the track surrounding it! Unfortunately, it seemed to be locked up! 😦

So, we got some tacos instead, in our workout gear. 🤣 Hey, we at least tried to exercise.

We also stopped by a little street market to grab some nopales, cebollines, and tortillas to take along with us to Valle de Bravo later.

Nopales, or cactus, at top of pic. The vendor peeled them for us right there to get rid of the thorns.

By the time we got home, showered and packed up, we didn’t hit the road until…. 3:00 or so? The drive would be about 1.5 hours.

Valle de Bravo

Valle de Bravo, or just “Valle”, as it’s known, is a very popular local tourist destination. It’s an adorable town, located right on a beautiful lake, within just a couple hours of Mexico City.

We took the toll road instead of the “libre” or “free” route, which meant a moderately better road. Traffic wasn’t bad.

It’s a fairly curvy route, but not too bad. There are an alarming number of those roadside crosses along the route though!! 😳😳 Like, not even joking, I counted 14 in the first 5 minutes. Whaaat?! That section of road didn’t even look particularly dangerous! But then we decided, well, maybe anyone who ever died on that road since the beginning of time gets a cross forever… which I suppose over many many years could add up?? I tried not to think about it. 😬

We made it no problem, thankfully.

Entering Valle de Bravo

Found some street parking that required some parallel parking that probably would have had me sweating and eventually abandoning said parking spot. Ha. Fortunately for all, I was not driving.

Then, we set out to see the town. (Plan was to meet up with his friend a few hours later.)

First stop was, again, an old church. 🙂 It was quite pretty and open to visitors.

We stopped in, then continued on to the city center area.

This is really a festive area! So cute.

There was a decent amount of activity and people milling around, but way less than on weekends, I’m sure.

So picturesque

I love this picture with the boys:

We have really been making the rounds of the pueblos mágicos in the area! This has been great.

From there we made our way down to the lake, which is several blocks away, down some fairly steep cobblestone streets.

Finally, the lake!

Very scenic with the mountains behind and the boats and the water. We spent a good chunk of time just admiring the views, and we walked down to a pier.

It was very peaceful and not crowded at all down by the waterfront.

There are kayak rentals and boat tour options, but we didn’t really have time for any of that. Instead, the boys spent a while skipping rocks- which if you’ve read any of my previous Trip recaps, you’ll know it’s one of my boys’ favorite water body activities. 🙂

Finally we decided to go get some snacks. The plan was to make dinner at our hotel later with Ivan’s friend’s family when they arrived. (His friend’s family owns a ranch/hotel in the outskirts of Valle de Bravo, in a very remote/rural area. But there is grill and kitchen access.)

Took a family pic first:

We got the boys some ice cream and then Ivan and I each got one quesadilla from a stand in the city center. It was sooo good.

After a little more meandering and window shopping, we headed back to the car. The Ranch we were going to was a ways away, and we wanted to make sure to get there with plenty of daylight.

I’m glad we allowed extra time, because we most definitely got LOST.

His friend had sent instructions, but the place is literally located out in the middle of nowhere, down multiple dirt roads- which do not register on GPS.

We ended up going down (the wrong) dirt road for a long time before suspecting that something wasn’t right.

Then we ended up in this little rural community, which was also not right.

A nice man who was out tending to his cow, I think, finally approached us- I am sure they know ALL of their neighbors, and clearly we did not live there! He was able to point us in the right direction.

We finally made it to el Rancho, where the property caretaker opened the gates for us and got us settled in our room. Ivan’s friend was messaging that they were running late, so we had some time to kill.

Our two bedroom suite
Our room

The boys played soccer in the center green space, and Ivan and I sat on a bench and just relaxed. I read my book for a while.

We were the ONLY ones there, minus the live-in workers. It’s a beautiful spot, literally in the middle of nowhere. Very unique.

Once it got dark, the man built an awesome bonfire for us! It was a bit chilly out, so I really enjoyed this. A very relaxing hour or so.

FINALLY his friend, his wife and their two little girls arrived (ages 4 and 5) around almost 9 pm.

We then moved inside the main house with the kitchen to eat a late dinner and have a few drinks. The boys turned into their room by 11:30 or so, but we stayed up and talked until…. almost 4 am!!!! I cannot believe I lasted that long. Somehow I miraculously got a second wind and didn’t even feel that tired! It was really fun. I love his friend’s wife- she’s super nice and really cool. His friend is great, too.

We spent most of the following day there with them (after sleeping until close to 10 am- ha). More on that later!

4 thoughts on “Valle de Bravo, Day 1”

  1. Skipping rocks is one of my kids favourite activities, too. They do this EVERYWHERE.
    The driving sounds…terrifying, but also that Ivan is so capable. I would lose my mind if I had to drive in conditions like that, but I find I can mostly relax if someone else is actually driving.
    All the food you’re describing sounds incredible. Yum. And I love that you “tried” to exercise. I suspect you’re putting LOTS of miles on during this trip, especially with those fast climbs up mountains, usually under pressure because something is closed or it’s nearing the end of the day!

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  2. Phil loves skipping rocks, too, and Paul likes throwing rocks. I have so many pictures of them throwing/skipping rocks in different locations!

    Way to go on staying up until 4am!!!! Man that is IMPRESSIVE. I don’t think I could do it. The latest I’ve been up lately was until around 1am last December when our neighbors had their 40th bday party. And then I majorly paid for it, especially since Will was sick. I am terrible at staying up late! I always have been. College friends have pictures of me sleeping in the middle of a party! I am just not a night owl at all!

    This looks like a beautiful little spot to visit. The lake is so pretty! I love being by water and it’s extra beautiful with the mountains in the background. I’m glad you got to spend time w/ Ivan’s friend and that you get along so well with his wife. That is the best when both people in a couple get along with the others. I have really lucked out in that regard with Phil’s HS and college friends. Sadly, he does not mesh as well with my college friends, but he is less outgoing, and my college friends have all been married for 10+ years so the spouses all know each other super well and Phil is the only new guy… whereas Phil’s friends have gotten married around the same time as us, or within a few years, so we everyone kind of got to know each other at the same time.

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  3. You get to see a lot of unique places when in Mexico. It sounds like it’s an advantage that you have family and friends there 🙂 Up til 4 am, now that’s my kind of party! LOL

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