Mexico's hot and sultry principal port city of Veracruz is much like pre-Castro Havana. It's a lively and attractive town with a blend of colonial and modern architecture. Located on the Gulf of Mexico, it's a Caribbean-style place, as unspoiled as a freshly sliced pineapple — a city of tiled roofs, pink and salmon-colored walls, and old churches, and a joie de vivre unlike any other in Mexico. Although it's a popular destination for foreign tourists, you're more likely to meet Mexican vacationers who are attracted to its sandy beaches, heaps of fresh grilled shrimp, the moderately priced accommodations that welcome families with children, and the bustling life of the streets. Day and night, the musical rhythms of marimbas and guitar-strumming trios fill the streets of Veracruz, making it an ideal place to sample the “real” Mexico.