Our seven weeks in Mexico..

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Dec 6th, 2018, 06:14 PM
  #21
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I sympathise Susan, my father in law had his knee replaced in January and it took him six months to get remotely back to normal - mind you, I am not entirely sure he heeded the doc’s advice re recuperation!

I can think of a lot worse places to spend a summer than Toronto. We took a long weekend there for a birthday a few years back and loved it!
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Dec 6th, 2018, 06:18 PM
  #22
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Mlgb, shame you had to put off your plans for Mexico City and Puebla. Nothing serious I hope! I loved both places and would put Mexico City on a par with Lima, a city you and I both love.
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Dec 8th, 2018, 01:03 PM
  #23
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I am playing catch-up with reporting on our time in Mexico. Below you will find a link to our blog with my latest post about our time in Zacatecas. In accordance with the latest edict from the adminstrators/moderators of the this site I am also posting the "meat" (there words not mine!) of the TR below.

NB For those of you who don’t know me, our blog is non commercial, has no adverts and we make no money from it. It does however have a lot of photos.

https://accidentalnomads.com/2018/11...-with-donkeys/

Zacatecas

We arrived here after an eight hour bus journey from CDMX - we used ETN bus company and the journey really was quiet painless. In terms of door to door travelling it was probably no longer than flying.

The colonial centre of the city is jam packed with the most stunning architecture. Presiding over it all is the stunning Catedral, surely the finest in the Bajio region, if not all Mexico.

After checking into Hotel Terrasse, our home for the next three days, it was out to explore. Just down a side street we happened upon a small artisan chocolate maker. Seemed rude not to sample a few. Of course, ended up walking away with a carefully selected box of very pretty, very tasty chocolates!

For dinner we stumbled across El Rincón Tipica. A strange sort of place with a very charismatic owner who led us through to a quirky private room full of photos of Mexican film stars! We ate a delicious menu Del dia after which he insisted on taking our photos and then introducing us to all the other diners scattered around the various rooms.

As we headed back to our hotel through the cobbled streets and alleys we heard the sounds of trumpets playing and then, around one corner we ran into one of the famed "Callejoneadas" - a walking party consisting of large group of locals, a band and a donkey loaded with bottles of free Mezcal. The partygoers insisted we join them, so we danced through the streets with them downing a few shots of Mezcal along the way.

We left after a while but I am pretty sure the party went on to the early hours as we could still here the trumpet long after we returned to our hotel room! Mexicans are incredibly hospitable and really know how to have a good time.

Museo Pedro Coronel - this museum is set in a stunning 17th century former Jesuit college. This is surely one of Mexico’s premier art museums. In addition to housing many of Pedro Coronel’s own works there are also a few Picasso’s , Dali’s and Goya’s thrown in for good measure!

Museo Rafael Coronel - Brother of Pedro and son in law to the revered Diego Rivera, Rafael's Museum is, if anything, even more stunning than his brothers.

The building itself, formerly the Convento de San Francisco is stunning, as are its tranquil, statue filled gardens . This museum is mainly about the folk art collected by the artist himself and includes some 3000 masks as well as a lot of pre Hispanic exhibits. Late afternoon is a great time to visit as the light really brings the buildings and gardens alive.


Cerro de Buffo is the hill above the town. We got there by Teleferico (cable car). Someone we met described it as being similar to the cable cars in Medellin, Colombia- trust me it is just not on the same scale as those!

Mina El Edén - Once one of Mexico’s richest silver mines, our visit provided an insight into the incredible source of wealth provided by the mines in the region and the terrible price paid by the indigenous people in pursuit of the Spanish lust for silver.
You can enter the mine from either end. We chose the upper entrance and descended into the mine on a cute miniature train. For once our English speaking guide was excellent. After he showed us around he left us to wander around on our own and make our own way out.

At the end of the tour we visited the mineral museum - an underground collection of some very pretty stones and minerals from Zacatecas and round the world.

On certain days of the week the mine houses it’s own nightclub and bar, deep underground. We fully intended to return that night but somehow forgot completely

Although silver production here ceased many years ago, Zacatecas is still one of the best places in Mexico to buy silver jewellery. Much of which is made in workshops in the town - I know this because I was forced to visit most of them!
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Dec 9th, 2018, 05:42 AM
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Sounds wonderful, Crellston. Can’t believe we haven’t made it to Zacatecas yet. Looks like we need to remedy that! Great pix on your blog too. I love the idea of you two dancing down the streets drinking mescal. I may be forced to finally Get on instagram just to see that video!
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Dec 11th, 2018, 06:16 AM
  #25
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Thanks Glover, glad you enjoyed the pix. BTW thanks for the tip on Senor Appollinar in Ocalatan. I walked away with one of his a beautiful bone handled kitchen knives! Now I will have to check a bag in when flying back - the first time in 10 years!
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Dec 11th, 2018, 07:00 PM
  #26
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Just curious: Did you make it to the indigenous villages surrounding San Cristobal de las Casas?
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Dec 11th, 2018, 09:50 PM
  #27
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No we did not. We went to Sumidero Canyon which was impressive, if a little touristy. We weren’t terribly lucky with the weather when there and left a trip to San Juan de Chamula Etc until our last day and the minibus arrived and we were expected to sit in the luggage compartment at the back! After a bit of a heated exchange with the guide, we decided to forego the pleasure!

Overall, San Cristóbal was pleasant enough, but didnt live up to the hype. Too touristy for our taste. We could have done with a lot less time there or maybe none at all. On balance, I think we should have spent more time in Oaxaca, which we loved, or Merida and its environs.
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Dec 11th, 2018, 09:59 PM
  #28
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Interesting perspective, crellston, particularly because I thought the Sumidero Canyon over-touristed and over-hyped even in 2008. I'm glad I reserved the trip to the indigenous villages in advance, and was part of a vey small group -- and, as I mentioned above (or elsewhere?), I had the enviable pleasure of being the person selected by the guide to demonstrate various ritual activities -- and I found that experience extraordinarily memorable.

Time does make a difference -- my trip was in 2008, and it sounds like your experience was quite different. I wish you had had the pleasure of seeing what I saw.
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Dec 12th, 2018, 02:33 PM
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@crellston and kja:

Appreciate the differing perspectives on San Cristobal de las Casas. I leave for there on Friday and hope my experience is more like kja’s. I am planning to do the San Juan Chamula your w/ Alex y Raul but my understanding is that you don’t reserve-you just show up in the zocalo that morning.

Winding down my third day in Mexico City. Resting a bit in my hotel overlooking the Zócalo before dinner tonight at Pujol. Today is Virgin of Guadeloupe day and the crowds at the Basilica were intense. While I dreaded going, I dreaded not going even more. Cool cultural experience and as a lifelong Catholic, a religious experience as well (in a good way!). And I just finished up at the Museo Templo Mayor which Inwould highly recommend to anyone visiting CDMX.
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Dec 12th, 2018, 06:17 PM
  #30
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Originally Posted by MinnBeef View Post
I am planning to do the San Juan Chamula your w/ Alex y Raul but my understanding is that you don’t reserve-you just show up in the zocalo that morning..
It's been a while, so you might be right, MinnBeef -- maybe I didn't reserve. I'm sorry I don't remember! But I had been in e-mail contact with Alex y Raul in advance, and so had confidence that my place was secure. And as I said, maybe things have changed since my trip.
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Dec 12th, 2018, 08:18 PM
  #31
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For the Alex and Raul tour you do indeed just turn up at the appointed place on the Zocalo, I yoinks between 08.45 and 9.30 but do check on there website. We had originally planned to go with them but for a variety of reasons, mostly the weather, it didn’t happen. I would stress the problems we had were with another operator.

I have no doubt that you had a great experience 10 years ago kja, but, having spoken with the owners of the B &B where we stayed, they did suggest that San Juan de Cholula had grown to rely on tourism in recent years and that other indigena village might provide a more "authentic"experience. Such is the way of the world!

There were a lot of tourists in Sumidero but once we left the dock on the boat, we pretty much saw no other boats in the time we were there. The amount of trash in the water though was very concerning.

Minnbeef, thanks for the rec on the Museo Templo Mayor. We missed it last time and will try and fit it in on our last day.
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Dec 12th, 2018, 09:00 PM
  #32
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@ crellston: Thanks for the update! I can only say that I'm glad I went when I did.
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Dec 12th, 2018, 10:26 PM
  #33
 
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Just a note about the meeting place for the Alex y Raul tour to Chamula. Not the zocalo but the big open square in front of the cathedral, across the street from the zocalo, by the cross. When you’re in front of the cathedral you can’t miss it, there’s nothing else there, unlike the leafy zocalo.

I took the tour early last month and they would take no reservations. I emailed them several days before my intended day and was told to just show up. The van was full, as mentioned above, but no one got left. I did wonder, though, what would happen if too many showed up. But they do spot the people that show up by the cross so presumably if you show up early you’d be sure to get in. I was the first, was asked if I wanted the tour, then went to stand in the shade to wait and was hailed when they were ready to go. They do 2 tours, one in Spanish, 1 in English but ride up together.
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Dec 15th, 2018, 02:55 PM
  #34
 
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Thanks Mme Perdu. Now that I’m on my second day here in San Cris, I know exactly where you are referring to. Hope to join their tour tomorrow.
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Dec 16th, 2018, 07:36 AM
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thanks for sharing!
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Dec 19th, 2018, 08:27 AM
  #36
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Hi all,

I had planned to post both on our blog and here as we travelled around, however, as the end of our trip approaches, clearly is not happening so I thought I would post a brief impression here about each of the places we have covered. More details and photos will be posted on our blog once we get back to the U.K. For a variety of reasons, this may well be my last trip report on Fodors, so here goes and I hope some of you find it useful.

Guanujuato

After Zacatecas we thought Guanajuato may be more of the same but it was very different. Even more of a party town the place was heaving with people. Loads of mariachi bands plying their trade, very crowded but in fun way. The setting is spectacular. Set in a narrow ravine with bright coloured houses tumbling down the steep hillside.
Rather than stay in town, we stayed up by Monumento Pipilia at Casa Zuniga, a quirky place ( even had a helicopter on the roof!) . Nice place which included tickets on the funicular into town. Nice touch but the queues were often horrendous and we ended up walking much of the time. Great views of the city.

We stumbled across a few nice eating places and found that the narrow streets lent themselves to just wandering around. The streets and alleys are really quaint and, in some ways reminded me of some of the fishing villages of my county of birth, Cornwall (or perhaps the place where we lived awhile in Andalusia) Three days was just about right, although we didn’t venture out from the town itself.

Lots of Callejónadas going on, although here, the students are selling tickets all day for the evening strolls - impossible not to stumble across three or four of these in and evening. If not going to Zacatecas, I would say that these are definitely worth a go as they looked like a lot of fun - although the comedic, bawdy tales were a little lost on us with our limited Spanish skills.

Querétaro

This was just an overnight stop. I didn’t appreciate that it was such a large city! We stayed in Casa De Atrio in Centro Historico. A terrific hotel, stacked full with antiques and Objects de Arte. Wonderful room but in the early hours of the morning we were awoken by a loud rumbling and could feel the wall vibrating. Fearing an earthquake, I went outside to check and realised that our room was next to what appeared to be the boiler room. Satisfied that we weren’t going to die, we went back to bed and waited until staff appeared. Called the owner who lived off site. Who came immediately, investigated and told us that one of the boilers had "exploded" and caused problems for the other. The guy was clearly shocked and apologised saying there was nothing he could have done to prevent it ( regular servicing perhaps?) Anyway he offered a refund of our payment which he processed immediately. The measure of a good hotel. I would not hesitate to stay again as the rooms, hotel and management are really very good.

ETN Bus

We have mostly used ETN to get around and they have been superb. Comfortable, punctual and even WiFi ( intermittent) . Most service you get a sandwich and drink. Much better than the few ADO buses we used. We took one Volaris flight to avoid the 16 hour bus journey to San Cristóbal. Again a reasonable experience. In all we have found getting around the country exceptionally easy and reasonably priced.

Puebla

I vacillated between staying in Puebla and Cholula opting, in the need for Puebla. Really like the city, it was like a more manageable version of CDMX. The Zocalo was buzzing and the Xmas decoration were going up. Great food and some interesting restaurants and street food. We split our stay between Meson Sacristia Del La Compagnia and Hotel Casa de Palma. Liked both places, Sacristia gave us a spectacular suite, jam packed with antiques (will try and post a photo later). The restaurant was supposed to be good but the food was below par and we got the pushiest head waiter ever. He kept trying to pull plates away whilst still eating, couldn’t be found when we needed him and had a terrible attitude problem. When the bill came and I signed for it he started shouting propina, propina, propina. I don’t ****** think so my friend! I am all for "when in Rome" but this is one thing I do not like about Mexico - constantly being asked for tips , perhaps it is the proximity to the US?

We like Puebla a lot and almost wish we were returning here at the end of our trip but we needed to see Frida’s house.

Cholula was also very pleasant. We took an Uber there and then an open top bus tour. A great way to visit some of the few churches that were open post earthquake. Again a wonderful Zocalo although the Catedral was in state of disrepair. The famous church on the hill was worth the walk up, both for the church and the views.

Next up, San Cristóbal de Las Casas
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Dec 19th, 2018, 02:27 PM
  #37
 
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Thanks for posting your impressions of the various places you have visited. I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip, including Morelia and Patzcuaro.

I hope this won't be your last trip report. I always find your trip reports interesting, enlightening and full of really useful information, such as that ETN serves sandwiches and a drink on their long distance buses. We will be on a bus from 10:20am until 5:20pm (Puebla to Morelia) and I was wondering about what to bring on board for lunch. Hope this is one of the buses that they serve sandwiches on. If not, granola bars will have to suffice.

Thanks again for taking the time to post.
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Dec 19th, 2018, 04:36 PM
  #38
 
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For a variety of reasons, this may well be my last trip report on Fodors

I am very sorry to hear that
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Dec 19th, 2018, 06:46 PM
  #39
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
For a variety of reasons, this may well be my last trip report on Fodors, so here goes and I hope some of you find it useful.
Please reconsider! Your words have been invaluable to SOOOooooo many of us.
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Dec 20th, 2018, 05:19 AM
  #40
 
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Continuing to enjoy your trip through Mexico, Crellston! Your last trip report on Fodors? Oh no, say it isn’t so! That would be a huge loss for us all.

Interesting to read about crowds in Guanajuato. We were last there maybe 10 years ago. Did our first 2 week houseswap with some folks who lived just outside the historic center. We love Guanajuato, but our complaint then was that so many cultural activities were on hiatus because the university was closed for holidays (this was early January). Perhaps still a quieter time? Was surprised too by your earlier comment about lines for National Palace and Frida’s House in Cdmx.
Good news for Mexico. I always feel that - outside of its beach resorts- iMexico is way under appreciated/overlooked as a tourist destination, particularly by US tourists. Not such good news for those of us who will now be standing in line. Makes me wonder what my bro and family will find in Oaxaca next week- 24-31.

your last trip report on Fodors?! Say it isn’t so! That would be a huge loss for all of us!
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