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Itinerary help: DF, SMdA, Guanajuato, Puebla, Oax

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Sep 22nd, 2012, 09:46 PM
  #1
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Itinerary help: DF, SMdA, Guanajuato, Puebla, Oax

Hola:

I'm traveling to Mexico 10/20-11/4 (approx 14 days-might be able to eek out another day) and trying to work out my itinerary. This is my first trip-very excited to visit this magnificent country! Using FF miles. Would like to be in Oaxaca for Day of Dead. My details: I like to wander/explore, see the must sees, and do one or several guided tours (walking and bus overview when I arrive). I like fabulous guides, charming B&Bs conducive to meeting other travelers and/or interesting historic hotels. Not beachy or sporty-so I prefer to focus on the people, history, culture, architecture, folk art. Solo female. Vegan diet. Sadly I don't speak Spanish, but understand a little b/c I speak some French. Budget is somewhat flexible since I'm using miles. I want to do it all, of course, but I think this trip I'd like to visit Mexico City, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajauto, and Oaxaca. Possibly Puebla if I take the bus from DF to Oaxaca.
--I think I'd like to spend 5-7 days in Oaxaca. 2-3 days in DF and 2-3 in SMdA. Maybe a day in Guanajuato and a day in Puebla en route to Oaxaca. The math might not work out...does this itinerary look doable or too rushed?
--Should I split it up in a different way - how much time should I allot for these places? Or should I drop one or two locations and save for another trip-if so which one(s)?
--Should I fly to Guanajuato first then head to San Miguel and then DF and on to Oaxaca? Or start in DF? Or DF after after Oaxaca before going home (hotel might not be available though). Since I'm using flyer miles, I have some flexibility and can consider flights vs bus.
--Would you fly to Oaxaca from Mexico City or take scenic route via bus, stopping overnight in Puebla?
--Will I be able to navigate subway travel with limited knowledge of Spanish language?
--I've done some searching and will continue to review, but wanted to ask for guidance now because the B&B I like in Mexico City has very few openings so I hope to make some decisions tonight about when to go to DF before it's sold out.

Muchas gracias.
PollyB
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Sep 24th, 2012, 12:23 AM
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--I think I'd like to spend 5-7 days in Oaxaca. 2-3 days in DF and 2-3 in SMdA. Maybe a day in Guanajuato and a day in Puebla en route to Oaxaca. The math might not work out...does this itinerary look doable or too rushed?

Up to you on this one, but I hate feeling rushed in Mexico, and I would with this itinerary. So I'd either cut out the north part, or the south part, and definitely add more days to Mexico City, which I consider one of the most amazing cities in the world. You could easily do 2 days in Puebla, with side trips to Cholula (and I'd have to look it up, but a place with an amazing jewel-like church).

--Should I split it up in a different way - how much time should I allot for these places? Or should I drop one or two locations and save for another trip-if so which one(s)?

My feeling is that DF, Guanajuato, SMA, and Puebla could be comfortably done in one 14-day trip
OR
DF, Puebla, Oaxaca

I also feel the first trip is easier for a non-Spanish speaker.


--Should I fly to Guanajuato first then head to San Miguel and then DF and on to Oaxaca? Or start in DF? Or DF after after Oaxaca before going home (hotel might not be available though). Since I'm using flyer miles, I have some flexibility and can consider flights vs bus.

The bus works so well, that I favor that.
I don't think you would fly to Guanajuato, though, would you - maybe to Leon?

--Would you fly to Oaxaca from Mexico City or take scenic route via bus, stopping overnight in Puebla?

If you arrive in Mexico City, it's very easy to go either north or south by bus. I personally would not fly to Oaxaca, but it could work. I did the method of stopping in Puebla.

--Will I be able to navigate subway travel with limited knowledge of Spanish language?

Definitely. Reading is always easier than speaking anyway, and it's more a matter of knowing the stops than anything else. Also, the subway was designed for a low-literacy ridership.

--I've done some searching and will continue to review, but wanted to ask for guidance now because the B&B I like in Mexico City has very few openings so I hope to make some decisions tonight about when to go to DF before it's sold out.

I'm sure there are other great places to stay in DF - don't let this stop you, is my suggestion.
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Sep 24th, 2012, 12:27 AM
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A vegan diet is *NOT* easy in Mexico.

My daughter had serious challenges with just being vegetarian, and they snuck in meat or meaty broth (unthinkingly I'm sure) a couple times. You can do it, but your choices become really restricted.

If you plan to be vegan in Mexico, plan where you're going to eat in advance, and that would definitely make me favor the northern trip.
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Sep 24th, 2012, 07:36 AM
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Agree with Will Travel. Your itinerary is a bit ambitious IMO.
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Sep 24th, 2012, 07:04 PM
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Even tho I currently live in San Miguel, I feel that a Oaxaca/Puebla/DF itinerary is much more realistic. Oaxaca (imo)is probably the no-miss destination in all of Mexico, for food, music, museums, artesenias, ruins & culture. Save GTO & SMA for later and include Queretaro & Morelia.
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Sep 25th, 2012, 09:54 AM
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You need more time in Puebla. I agree with baldone, stick to Oaxaca/Puebla/DF.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca/...26204048/show/

You might want to take a look at my trip report on Puebla; click on my name to find it.
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Sep 25th, 2012, 11:12 AM
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Agree - Oaxaca and DF for your first trip, with Puebla in between.
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Sep 25th, 2012, 12:11 PM
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I think DF/Puebla/Oaxaca is a great trip, but I think the northern trip would also be a great trip, and easier for a vegan non-Spanish speaker.
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Sep 25th, 2012, 04:52 PM
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I think it's way too much. Especially for a first timer, vegan, with no Spanish. Especially in Mexico, it's hard to "rush" there even if you want to! I think you have the beginnings of a wonderful trip if you cut the destination list in half.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 01:33 PM
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Thank you all so much for your guidance. So sorry, I haven't checked in a few days and am just seeing your fabulous contributions! Mexico looks and sounds so divine - I'm intoxicated by all the choices! I managed to get three more days off, but between the Guanajuato festival and DOD in Oaxaca, putting together an ideal itinerary has indeed been a puzzle, with things I'd like to do all booked. In fact, I started to wonder if I should use the information I've gathered and book this trip for next year. I emailed a few Oaxacan tour guides and hotels highly recommended here and they are completely booked-although I did manage to find Oax lodging. It seems in non-holiday times one can join a tour pretty easily without a lot of advance, but I'm a little worried that because of the DOD holiday, the guides might be unavailable and it might be hard to book day trips and tours. Although I'm fine on my own, I prefer to learn the history/culture/politics/lore from experts.
Before I saw your great advice. I put together 4days DF, 1 1/2 SMA, 3days GTO, 1 1/2day Puebla, 6 1/2 Oaxaca. But because I can't start North-due to sold out lodging during the festival--I'd have to start in DF. Then fly or bus to the North. Then on return, 7 hrs bus to Puebla with a change of terminals in between...is a whole day on the bus, unless I travelled overnight to Puebla, which might not be advisable.
So I see why you all suggest North OR South...even with 16 days, it's a bit of a hustle-lots to think about.
The Puebla shots are stunning - thanks a million. Looks like a spectacular destination.
Thanks again-I'll carefully revisit my itinerary thanks to your advice.
PollyB
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Sep 26th, 2012, 01:44 PM
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Why not do one loop of the itinerary this year and the other loop next year? Believe me once you go to Mexico you WILL want to go back. For me it's a life-long addiction.
suerte, suze
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Sep 26th, 2012, 03:49 PM
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Very sound advice. I am most definitely leaning in the direction of narrowing to one loop after turning myself inside out trying to make North and South pieces fit. Now I just have to decide which to do when. Reading over all the great advice and will mull. I know I can't go wrong either way. And when I return, I'll start planning much further in advance-especially if I come for the festival or holiday. Muchas gracias.
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Sep 28th, 2012, 09:34 PM
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I agree with everyone else. You could spend your entire vacation in Mexico City and barely scratch the surface, so I’d focus on one or two destinations.

Puebla is, in a word, amazing — and a two-hour luxury bus ride from the Mexico City airport (210 pesos one way). If you’re looking for more information about this Colonial jewel and UNESCO World Heritage Centre in English, check out my blog, which is devoted to all things Poblano: allaboutpuebla.com.

There you'll find a post with details about the Cholula churches that interest you, Tonantzintla and Acatepec, and much, much more.

On the vegan front, my advice is to plan to shop at the local markets and cook many of your own meals. Perhaps a suite-style hotel is in order? In DF, we like Suites del Angel and Suites Marino in Colonia Cuautehemoc, near the Angel of Independence.

Happy trails!
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Sep 29th, 2012, 12:30 PM
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Thank you fodor friends. Appreciate all the great advice. AllAbout, your site is terrific. Bravo. I'm sold on giving myself a chunk of time for exploration in fewer locations. Now thinking 4days DF, 3days Puebla (adding Choula to the mix). Day 3 catch the latest bus possible to Oaxaca for 8-9 days. I'd leave it more flexible if I could, but since I'm traveling during the busy season, I'll have to book hotels in advance. My plan puts me DF Sat-Tues and Puebla Wed-Fri. I will do all the must-dos/sees in Puebla/Choula, but I do enjoy flea/craft/antique markets and hear the one in Puebla is nice on weekend and Choula mrk on Tues. Would it make any sense to start in Puebla and visit DF mid-week instead; then travel non-stop from DF to Oax? Or is that too much backtracking? I'm imagine DF has swell markets on the weekend as well. Since I won't be spending time at night in restaurants, I could use it as bus time, but I'm thinking this probably doesn't make sense if Puebla is between DF and Oax.
Lots of raves about Tlaxcala in link below--I know - I'm adding too much again... but can that be done same day as Choula? Or stick to Puebla/Choula only. http://www.fodors.com/community/mexi...-recommend.cfm
I'm fine exploring solo, and will look into the hop on bus AllAbout suggests in the blog. Are there are any super walking or other tours in DF that anyone recommends? I have similar questions about tours and Meurtos in Oax, but I guess I should make that a new topic. Thanks all - I've loved reading trip reports and posts. Thanks for the vegan ideas too. So excited about visiting Mexico!
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Sep 29th, 2012, 04:16 PM
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Polly, I am the one who wrote about Tlaxcala in that link. Tlaxcala was great, but then I have been to Puebla several times. For someone like you who hasn't been to Puebla and Cholola, I would suggest focusing on those, since I think you are adding the DF and Oaxaca also.

Did you contact Linda Hanna in Oaxaca re muertos and valley town tours? I highly recommend her,, we did a full day w/her last muertos 2011 going to towns in the valley and visiting amazing artisans, and then did a muertos night cemetery w/her also. And have you tried Alan Starkman, the retired Canadian attorney who now owns a b&b and runs tours in Oaxaca? I also contacted a Mexican man who lived in NYC for 7 hrs and then went back to Oaxaca and almost used him, he has a good set of Oaxaca video guides on you tube, at Oaxacavideoguides.com. His English is good and his videos are great, practical ,useful guide info.
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Sep 29th, 2012, 04:31 PM
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If u can't get a personal guide for muertos in Oaxaca due can how close it is now, I can also recommend the tour that Camino Real hotel offers on night of Nov. 1. It is a bus tour, and when i did it 3 yrs ago w/a friend, we got to go to 4 different cemeteries which was great. It went to Oaxaca city cemetery, a really old old cemetery in the valley, and then Xoxocotilan, both the older and newer cemeteries there. Not much in the way of guiding, but it was a very convenient way to get to a different variety of cemeteries in that one night, for a good price. bnd quite frankly, you don't really need guide at the cemeteries, u just need the transportation to get there and back.
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Sep 29th, 2012, 04:32 PM
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That should read 7 YRS that man lived in NYC, not 7hrs, lol. I am not good at iPad typing.
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Sep 29th, 2012, 04:37 PM
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Also, email w/your hotel in Oaxaca, as they will likely have muertos tours they offer. Every hotel I have stayed in in Oaxaca in October always offers a Muertos tour, or links up w/a tour guide they recommend who does such a tour. BUT HURRY, because as u have seen, tours and things book up for Muertos. Not as much w/Americans as it used to, but last yr there were a lot of europeans there for Muertos.
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Sep 29th, 2012, 08:00 PM
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BTW, my favorite cemetary for meurtos in Oaxaca is far and away -- Xoxocotlan, the newer cemetary there. Very lively atmosphere, lots of food and drink vendors outside the cemetary, and familes inside the cemetary were very friendly. My amiga and I sat down and spoke to a couple of different families about their loved ones, and even shared some mezcal w/one family of a 17 yr old boy who had died just that previous yr.

Atzompa cemetary is touted as being less crowded and more authentic, but we found it last yr to be a lot more reserved; the people were very reserved and to themselves. We felt much more intrusive at Atzompa than at Xoxocotlan.
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Sep 30th, 2012, 06:48 AM
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Hola emd3. THANK YOU! I'm so grateful for the Oaxaca insights. I didn't plan to be there for Meurtos--had some last minute vacation time & thought Oaxaca would be nice. Then discovered my dates coincided with DoD. As mentioned, I really debated whether to hold off and go elsewhere this trip when I discovered that the b&bs/hotels and recommended guides were booked-and as I hit road blocks, I continue to wonder if I should do Oax DoD next year with more advance planning. I agree, fabulous guides and special accommodations can really enhance a trip and I always seek them out in my travels. I've been enjoying your trip reports and the Jesus tour has been added to my future trip list!
----"Did you contact Linda Hanna in Oaxaca...we did a full day w/her ..going to towns in the valley and visiting amazing artisans, and then did a muertos night cemetery w/her also. And have you tried Alan Starkman.. I also contacted a Mexican man who lived in NYC for 7 hrs...I can also recommend the tour that Camino Real hotel offers on night of Nov. 1..."------
I sent emails to both last week-no word from Linda. Alan was so generous in providing tips, but is booked for a month. Sent emails to several others recommended here. One responded, but I haven't heard from him in a few days so we'll see-I'll keep pursuing [and if I don't hear I'll contact the man who lived in NYC for 7 hrs !]. How many days do you recommend spending with the private guides? How many DoD nights did you tour? Looks like you've had a few great trips to Oax. Did you tour with Alan and Linda during same trip or different years? Alan's site lays out three or four routes for day excursions-with different days of the week specified based on market days. If I happen to find an available guide, I know I'll spend $$ since they chrg by trip not p/person and don't appear to assemble strangers into a group. But I'm sure it's money well spent! I don't mind joining a packaged group either as long as the guide is good-at this late date I know I'll need to be flexible and may have to jump on any bus that's available. I'm looking into the group tours recommended at TA "to do" section also, like the Envia microfinance tour. I'm planning to be there 8-9 days-probably over two weekends to give myself ample time to explore (and chill after all of my pre-trip/planning anxiety!)
I have to move hotels midway thru my stay-the first-CasaAntica-seems closer to the Zocola-I keep checking daily to see if they have any cancellations. The second (during the Meurtos days) gets decent reviews, but is about 10-15mins away from Zocola-next to Juarez Park in a quieter section a few blocks from the church. I'm not thrilled about moving, but I know I'm lucky to find anything in walking distance to town.

Thanks a million for your help and for reading my many rambling questions.
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