Monterrey or Saltillo?

Jan 24th, 2003, 01:22 PM
  #1  
Daniel Williams
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Monterrey or Saltillo?

Hi

I live in Montreal, Canada and am going to visit a cousin in Houston, Texas. I've never been to Mexico and thought I'd take the opportunity of being so close and having a little bit of time to visit.

I've read up quite a bit, and have decided that I definitely want to get into the interior a bit. Monterrey seems much more appealing than any border town, which seem to me to have maquiladora-driven economies with no real infrastructure. Monterrey seems an industrial town, but with some lovely plazas; less colonial architecture than other Mexican cities but still a fair amount. Saltillo seems more charming perhaps, but with fewer things to do.

So, my plan is to go to Monterrey for 4 days, possibly taking a day trip to Saltillo. I realize that there incredibly charming places further in the interior, such as San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, etc...but given my timeline and proximity of Saltillo/Monterrey, I was thinking these two would be the best plan.

Any thoughts? DAN
 
Jan 24th, 2003, 01:41 PM
  #2  
Jean Valjean
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Your evaluation is right on the money! Saltillo is a smaller place, with less things to do, a bit more interesting (if you like colonial architecture) and it has great restaurants.

Monterrey is an industrial city, but with a lot more things to do. It also has several large universities, so it has a very active night life. I wouldn't say that Monterrey has a "fair" amount of colonial architecture (it has very little), but it does have striking modern buildings.

Oh, and several great restaurants and shopping malls. Oh, and a movie theater with Lazy-boys instead of regular seats and waiters that take your popcorn to your seat (or sushi, or crepes).

Your plan sounds very reasonable.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 06:35 AM
  #3  
D
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I don't think Monterrey will do that much for you. Here's a suggestion regarding a trip in the area you mention that I did last fall. Take a first class bus from Nuevo Laredo to Saltillo. Spend the night there- you can easily do the plaza and the Alameda downtown in an hour or two. The next day take a first class bus to Matehuala, about five hours, then take a local bus to Real de Catorce. This is a silver mining town that is beginning to come back to life. I satyed at the Posada San Miguel for $10.00 U.S. a night. Stay there two days then make a long one day trip back to the border. This will give you a much more interesting glimpse into Mexico than just doing Saltillo and Monterrey. They are both heavily industrialized and americanized due to maquiladoras. Another thing about Monterrey I have been there when the air is great, and I have been there when the air pollution is horreundus. Look up Real de Catorce up on the web. The town is entered via an old minning tunnel and is quite fascinating. Likewise your trip to Real would let you see a lot of the altiplano and Mexican life. Have a good trip and enjoy whatever you do. Also- if you stick with your original plan, from Saltillo make sure to go three hours west to Parras de La Fuente. That wll be another chance to see some interesting stuff and un-americanized Mexico.
 
Jan 25th, 2003, 02:04 PM
  #4  
Daniel Williams
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What great, thoughtful responses from both of you. Jean Valjean and Del, a big hearty THANK YOU!!!

Since you've been incredibly helpful so far, I thought I'd bring up a few more details. I'm still thinking Monterrey because I've read that it is the closest vibrant city, which appeals to me, despite the "Americanization" and industrialization. I was thinking of coming in by first class bus from Nuevo Laredo, and getting into a hotel in El Centro on the Metro from Cuauhtemoc. I'd explore the Macroplaza, visit the MARCO, Palacio de Gobierno and the Museo de Historia Mexicana, try some restaurants in the Zona Rosa and Barrio Antiguo. Maybe take the bus to Obispado one day and enjoy the view, possibly visit one of the Mercados Juarez or Colon. I think all this should easily occupy three days; I love history, architecture and museums. Since I'll be going in December/January, I was hoping the pollution would be LESS worse and I could see the Cerro de la Silla. Pollution tends to be not as bad here in eastern Canada when the weather's a little colder (even fall, a lot of pollutants don't hang in the air). Maybe I'm wrong about the pollution in Monterrey?

I had read about Real de Catorce, which sounds LOVELY, but thought Monterrey/Saltillo would be better, since I'll be travelling a lot as it is and it would give me a feel of one of Mexico's important cities. One day when I have more time, I'd love to explore further in the interior and see San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, etc, etc...even Mexico City.

THANK YOU SO MUCH!
 
Jan 26th, 2003, 07:50 AM
  #5  
D
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I have been to Monterrey maybe 20 times and the pollution hasn't been too bad, and some days beautiful. The only time it was intolerable was last November, I don't think you could see 200 yards. I think it many has to due with winds and temperature inversions. With any luck the air should be good. When yu get to the bus station in Nuevo Laredo check to see if Turistar Ejecutivo has any departures to Monterrey around the time you want to go. This is a premium class service that is really nice and only a little more than first class. If none are departing in your time frame you will find any first class service just fine. Also, whether you walk across the border or take a Taxi don't forget to get your tourist card. Usually Mexican cumstoms ignores you because they think you are just visiting Nuevo Laredo. You will need to go into the immigration office by the bridge for your paperwork. Only takes a minute
 
Jan 26th, 2003, 10:12 AM
  #6  
Robert
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I have been in Monterrey many times both for business and pleasure and always enjoy it very much! It does get a lot of Americans on business but few on vacation--a plus, as far as I am concerned.
Excellent restaurants, museums, hotels. I would recommend the Safi Hotel--an excellent, family run hotel close to the center and public transportation. It can be booked on the Best Western site--but a huge cut above what you would normally associate with this chain. I would also recommend a visit to the National Park, Chipinque--which also has a good hotel and restaurant and beautiful vistas on Monterrey.
 
Jan 26th, 2003, 04:59 PM
  #7  
Daniel Williams
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The outpouring of advice has just been FANTASTIC. Thank you Del; I had been curious about how things would work at the border. I'll keep my fingers crossed that the weather/pollution will be good while I'm there. If not, I'll spend extended times at the museums, savouring every word of the exhibits. And Robert, thank you; I will look into the Safi...I'd also been looking at a few other locally-run places as well (Hotel Fundador, Gran-Ancira looks gorgeous but possibly more than what I want to pay.
 
Jan 27th, 2003, 06:35 AM
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Daniel:

You have really researched for this trip, I'm impressed!

If you are going to be in Monterrey on a weekend, try looking into the more expensive hotels, as they usually have very affordable rates during weekends. It is not unheard of that you may find the Intercontinental for US70 or the Ambassador for US60 on a weekend night.

You already have a fairly complete list of things to see and do. The current exhibit at Marco is fantastic (Mexican Masters), and the Museo de Historia Mexicana is a lot of fun.

In the Barrio Antiguo, there are quite a few restaurants, You may want to try La Casa del Maiz for a taste of prehispanic Mexican food. It is a great place. For drinks, there's this martini lounge called Cachagua; they have good drinks, nice prices, and no attitude. Next door you'll find the BarRio. A crazy place, always worth a visit, assuming you can get in.

In December / January, the weather is a craps shoot. You may get lucky and get clear days. IMHO, the mountains are Monterrey's greatest sight.
Jean_Valjean is offline  
Jan 29th, 2003, 05:16 PM
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Jean, thanks so much for the additional suggestions. I'm sorry I'll probably miss the Mexican Masters exhibit, as I'll be coming in December. I'll keep my fingers crossed that I'll get to see the mountains!
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Jan 30th, 2003, 03:49 AM
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You will get to see the mountains unless it is completely overcast. Even if the air is bad the views are great going in and out of town. You should go up to Saltillo, at least for the day. It is a really senic ride up there through the mountains. Also one of my favorite restaurants, Tampanco, is by the plaza de armas. I would go to Saltillo just to eat there. To bus to Saltillo it take about an hour or an hour and a half. Arriving in Salitillo you are a ways from the center. Take a cab to la alemeda or the plaza de armas everything you want to see is in that area.
Dude is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 08:37 AM
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Daniel - It's about the halfway point from the time you originally posted, untilt he time of your trip. Are you still going to Monterey, or have your plans changed? Will you be filing a trip report upon yur teturn?
Howard is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 11:53 AM
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Howard,

Is there anything you need to know about Monterrey or Saltillo?
Jean_Valjean is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 12:14 PM
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Yes, I'm still planning on going, although the details still have not been hammered out. And I will most definitely write a trip report...it's particularly nice to write one knowing that someone is actually intending to read it . I recently wrote one on Mont Tremblant that I think no one looked at .
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