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Guadalajara, Morelia, Patzcuaro, and Puerto Vallarta Trip

Guadalajara, Morelia, Patzcuaro, and Puerto Vallarta Trip

Old Mar 26th, 2010, 10:23 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2006
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Guadalajara, Morelia, Patzcuaro, and Puerto Vallarta Trip

Hello Fodorites!

This trip report is long overdue - we visited Mexico in late November and loved it. I lived in Guadalajara for 4 years, starting in 1998 but it was a first time for my husband and 2 friends from Switzerland - as soon as they came back, they wanted to plan the next trip! This is what we did.....
Day 1 - early flight from NYC to Guadalajara. Checked into Hotel Morales, which is just a few blocks from the beautiful cathedral, walked downtown to the market. Dinner at El Sacromonte, which is actually probably in my top 5 favorite restaurants in the entire world. Had Chile en Nogada, hubby fell in love with the chipotle and blue cheese soup (he loved the food so much that he asked for a mexican cookbook for christmas!).
Day 2 - walked through downtown, saw the amazing Orozco murals in the cabanas culturales (better with a guide). Lunch at Fonda de San Miguel. Drove to Patzcuaro, where we stayed in my favorite B&B of the trip, "la Casa Encantada". We regretted having only 1 night here. Patzcuaro is a lovely indigenous town, settled by the benevolent Don Vasco de Quiroga - the history of his rule and influence on indian rights was really fascinating.
Day 3 - not enough time in Patzcuaro before leaving for Morelia, stopping at Tzintzuntzan (capitol of the Puerepecha empire), which was fascinating. It had been our hope to stop at Capula on the way, but we somehow missed the turnoff. We arrived at the lovely stoned UNESCO world heritage site that is Morelia in the evening. Fascinating to see the city that was ruled by the conquistador and enemy of Don Vasco de Quiroga - it was very reminescent of Spain (by design), and a crucial city in the fight for independence. We stayed at "La Posada de San Antonio", a lovely B&B run by an expat from California - he was a very helpful host. There was a festival going on that night, and we had the most amazing street food! It was next to the church of Guadalupe (stunning!), and we feasted on Pozole and tamales. We went to bed stuffed but happy!
Day 4 - We relaxed a little and let the mexmich guides do all the work this day. They took us to see the monarch butterflies - it seems that most of the monarchs of north america (or at least every 5th generation) spends the winter on 7 mountains in Michoacan - 2 of which are open to the public. We took a spectacular hike to the top of one and were surrounded by tens of millions of butterflies - truly a surreal experience. Not sure if it was the mountain air, the quality of ingredients, or the fact that we were hungry that made the chicken en mole that we ate while still at el Rosario so good, but we left happy. It is about a 4 hour drive each way (from Morelia) to see the butterflies, and an experience of a lifetime.
Day 5 - (wish we'd had more time to see Guanajuato, but had to cut it out this time because of work schedules) Walked through the impressive downtown of Morelia, enjoying the architecture and artwork. Loved the sweets at the Mercado de Dulces, and bought some Rompope (a drink made from almonds and rum). Drove to Guadalajara in the evening. Went to Plaza Bariachi to see the Mariachi with some old friends who live in Guadalajara and spent the night with them.
Day 6 - Awoke and drove to Tequila. Toured the Cofradia factory, which was fascinating (though I wish we'd actually seen the Herradura factory in Amatitlan instead), toured the town. Drove to San Pancho (aka, San Francisco - 1 hour north of Puerto Vallarta) and checked into Bungalows Lydia, after buying groceries to cook while there.
Day 7 - The sound of the waves were amazing to wake up to, right outside our room. We were taken aback by the beauty of the beaches on either side of the hotel, which were basically private and unused by anyone else. (Debated long and hard about whether or not to share "Bungalows Lydia" with the world because we love it so much!) (Guilt won out and I couldn't keep it to myself). We spent the entire day hanging out on the beaches, drinking beers, and doing nothing. Absolute heaven.
Day 8 - Whale watching. We hired a tiny 7-person boat to take us, and it was something we will never forget. As it was mating season, the males gave us quite a show - I've never seen so many jumps in my life! At one point, we actually saw 4 whales jump at once! One whale came so close to our boat (I think he was just curious) that I was afraid he would tip us over...... but he didn't.
here are some pictures:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/sredi...sQE&feat=email
Day 9 - Into Puerto Vallarta, after stopping on the beach near Punta de Mita for the most barbequed fish of my life (they call the cooking style "Zoreado") and perfectly done octopus (a la mexicana, of course!). I wish I could remember the name of the restaraunt!. We stayed in Fiesta America because of the great deals they were giving.
Day 10 - Another beach day, and hanging out in the southern part of PV, which in my opinion is the very best part. Breakfast at Cafe de Olla (which was very good), and spectacular dinner (almost tied with el Sacromonte) at el Arrayan. We loved it so much that we bought quite a few things from there to bring home.
Day 11 - back to NYC, with hearts heavy to leave paradise, but also wonderful memories

A few notes - we had an amazing trip, and would recommend it to anyone. We never felt threatened and were always treated very well. We all came back a few pounds heavier, but didn't regret one bite of the food we had there - only by being there can one understand how very complex and delicious true mexican food (not hard shell tacos and burritos!) really is. We only took the "cuota" (pay/toll) roads in Mexico, and found them to be far superior to any that we have in NY.
We made some mistakes, however, mostly due to our time restrictions. I really wish we'd had another night in Patzcuaro and time to explore the areas between Patzcuaro and Morelia. Though I know Guanajuato well and loved it, I chose to show everyone Patacuaro/Morelia because they are cities of such contrast, in spite of being founded around the same time. I really wish I'd had a few more days to do Guanajuato. An extra day at Bungalows Lydia would have been nice, too. Though no one complained, I think everyone felt I rushed them through Guadalajara.
In short, it was really a wonderful trip, and it reinforced to me and everyone that I traveled with just what an underappreciated place the south of Mexico really is.
Viva Mexico!!!!
Junejuly is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2010, 07:18 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
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What a great trip report! Thanks for posting.
SusanInToronto is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2010, 08:57 AM
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Sounds wonderful! Viva Mexico, indeed. IMHO the very best parts of Mexico are missed by so many who only bother with the beaches.
glover is online now  
Old Mar 27th, 2010, 09:36 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2008
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I think I've seen these photos before in another thread, but I just wanted to thank you again. They're amazing, and they have me thinking...
plumboy is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2010, 11:25 AM
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You are right, plumboy - I posted the photos a while back (felt guilty about not writing a trip report, so I thought I should at least share the pictures) - great memory! I can't claim credit for them, though - most were taken by DH.
Junejuly is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2010, 01:58 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2004
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I have been to many of the highlights you mention. That grilled bbq whole fish is sarandeado. It is popular all over PV and environs, the best being at Mariscos Polo in SouthSide. Adore Carmen at El Arrayan, and did you make it 30 min. south to just near El Tuito for the Vallarta Botanical Gardens? What a treat. Add San Sebastian to your list and stay at Hacienda Jalisco. Moving fulltime in 5 days! New life begins, new career. I am so jazzed.
garyrbeck is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2010, 02:52 PM
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I'm so envious of your move to Mexico! I'd move back in a heartbeat if I could earn enough.....
Junejuly is offline  
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