Our seven weeks in Mexico..

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Dec 20th, 2018, 05:59 AM
  #41
 
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Hi crellston--

Your mentioning climbing up the "hill" in Cholula reminds me of my own experience there--and I agree that the views from the top of Ixta and Popo were stunning. You might be amused by this but I didn't realize until after that that "hill" was not really a hill at all, but the Great Pyramid of Cholula which had become overgrown with vegetation already many hundreds of years ago! Daniel
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Dec 20th, 2018, 11:08 AM
  #42
 
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I certainly understand your reluctance to continue posting trip reports of Fodors, but if you could give your fans a heads up on where you are traveling next, we can follow you on your blog. I hope you continue to post on travel planning threads here.
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Dec 20th, 2018, 03:37 PM
  #43
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Daniel, thanks for pointing out that it was in fact the "Great Pyramid of Cholula". I must have had a brain freeze moment! It is after all, supposed to be one of the largest in the world - it just doesn’t look like a pyramid!
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Dec 20th, 2018, 04:17 PM
  #44
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Thank you all for your kind words. I confess to having a "throwing my toys out of the park" moment. Shortly after starting this thread, I had a PM from a "moderator" thanking me for my contributions to the forums but chastising me (admittedly, quite nicely) for posting a link to my blog without posting the text in the post itself. Shortly after that there was a general announcement to this effect.
I took exception to this for a number of reasons,
- In nearly all my trip reports I have done just that.
- It is not as though it is a commercial website. There is absolutely no advertising or placed posts. We do get asked frequently to write posts by various organisations but choose not to, preferring just to keep it as a record of out travels and to provide more detail for those interested in the places we visit.
- essentially Fodor’s just p*****d me off.

I fully appreciate that moderators are just forum members providing a service to the forums. I just wish they would concentrate on removing the non travel related rubbish from these forums. The only forum which sees much activity these days is Europe and that is so full of cronyism, politics, personal attacks that I find it a complete bore! I could contribute a lot there but just don’t bother.

As I said, I threw my toys out of the pram, rant over!

I will continue to post on planning threads and contribute where I can, hopefully in a constructive and useful way. I will finish this TR and if I inadvertently link to our blog without posting a sufficient amount of text in the body of the post and get deleted or banned for that misdemeanour, so be it. You know where to find me!
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Dec 20th, 2018, 04:28 PM
  #45
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Shelleyk- don’t expect too much from the ETN sandwiches! Think cellophane wrapped processed ham and cheese. I got a terrible shock when I bit into what I thought was a meat empanada only to find pineapple jam! I don’t have a sweet tooth!
You do however get a choice of drink..
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Dec 20th, 2018, 04:44 PM
  #46
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San Cristóbal de Las Casas

This was our only domestic flight in Mexico CDMX to Tuxtla Gutiérrez with Volaris. Cheap but a bit of a PITA as we first had to get the bus from Puebla and then another bus from Tuxtla to SCDLC. A very long day. The alternative was a16 hour ADO overnight bus, but having experienced that on the way north from Oaxaca, I am confident we made the correct decision.

We stayed at Gaia B&B a new place, great value at £30 pn for a spacious duplex room. Run by a charming couple. To be frank we didn’t like San Cristóbal as much as we thought we would. Very pretty, but very much a backpacker/ hippie haven - nothing wrong with that ( I used to be one back in the day!)
Loved the markets there and handmade jewellery, mostly silver, semi precious stones and Amber was great value and high quality. A lot of overpriced and pretty poor quality restaurants but once of the main drags we found quite a lot of nice local type places. Some good eating to be found in and around the markets.

We probably should have got about and about into the smaller villages, but as we travel a lot we like to take it slow and as we will likely pass by this way again, we will likely include those on a future trip along with Palenque and Central America.
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Dec 20th, 2018, 05:52 PM
  #47
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
I will continue to post on planning threads and contribute where I can, hopefully in a constructive and useful way.
Of course your contributions will be constructive and useful -- they ALWAYS are!

I'm sorry you had to deal with the changes in IB's policies. I'd have been ranting, too! I suspect it will be a while before IB and the moderators find the right balance to allow people to link in their blogs without completely replicating them, and hope that recognizing the contributions of people like you who don't just "link and run" (as some do) will help them find that balance.

I'm also sorry that you didn't find San Cristobal de las Casas much to your liking. It sounds like it has changed quite a lot since I was there, and not for the better.
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Dec 28th, 2018, 06:30 AM
  #48
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OAXACA

From San Cristóbal we got an 12 hour overnight ADO bus to Oaxaca. Not a patch on ETN buses! Not a comfortable journey and not even a sandwich or bottle of water. Never again ADO!

Oaxaca was everything we expected ( and were told by you guys! ) and more. We a week here and wished we had gone with our original plan to spend a month! The centre of the city, the buildings, the churches, the food, the markets, the bars were all a delight.

We stayed at the Dutch run, Hotel Con Corazon which is similar in concept to Hotel Ninos in Vusco in that it directs profits into supporting education projects in the local area. Quite apart from its good works, the place is so well run. The rooms are some of the best we have stayed in in Mexico, the staff are a delight. Highly recommended- believe me, from me, thatbis high praise indeed.

We found some great restaurants but found the famed bbq section of the main market disappointing. Even after a month in Italy before we came, we enjoyed some of the best pizzas we have ever eaten in one place.

The city was alive with the start of Xmas, the festival of the virgin of Guadalupe and quite a few weddings. Monte Alban was absolutely stunning and so easy to get to.

Hired a taxi to take us out through the villages in the valleys and checked some of the artisan producers. Returned with a beautiful hand made bone handled chefs knife from Oclotan to add to my collection.

Definitely a place we will return to.
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Dec 28th, 2018, 06:41 AM
  #49
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SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE

I confess I just didn’t get the hype about this place. Described by one guidebook as "Disneyland Mexico" , I suppose with the Xmas lights on at night it could be an apt description, but not during the day. The Catedral is a beauty as is the main plaza but the rest all seemed a bit down at heel.
Most shops in the centre seems to be art galleries, jewellery stores or souvenirs. All vastly overpriced compared with the rest of the country. The food was ok but again, twice the cost of anywhere else at least.

SMDA it seems is very popular as a retirement centre with US expats. We went to a happy hour at one place and the place was full - we two English and two hundred or so Americans - not surprising perhaps as it was called Hanks New Orleans bar and Grill
Definitely the least "Mexican" place on our travels.
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Dec 28th, 2018, 07:13 AM
  #50
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MORELIA AND PÁTZCUARO

Ok Shelleyk- I think both of us vacillated on whether to stay in one or both places. Having stayed in both, I am still not sure..

Firstly we loved Morelia. One our first day, my wife said "I could live here" . To be fair though, it’s not the first time she has said that!

Morelia is big but it doesn’t seem like it. The Centro Historico is fairly compact. Again a stunning cathedral and two main plazas all alight with Xmas lights.
We managed to score some tickets to a Tango show at the main theatre. It was excellent! As good as any tango we have seen in Buenos Aires (and miles cheaper). Again some decent eating places including the best tacos/ gorditas we have had In Mexico. One or two disappointments though. Always happens when we succumb to the temptation of a touristy place. Markets, street stalls and small back street restaurants are the way to go in Mexico IMHO.

The place we stayed at was very good ( the name escapes me at the moment ) was very good. They offered lots of reasonably priced day tours around the region. There were also agencies around the town’s offering tours (These were just not available in Pátzcuaro Shelleyk.)

Hiring a taxi for the day is an option. The going rate seemed to be 150-200 pesos per hour.

PÁTZCUARO

A smaller town than Morelia, at times it seemed more like a large village. We stayed right on the main plaza at Mansion de Iturbe. A beautiful hotel,very atmospheric and great staff. Walk out the door and you are in one of teh most beautiful plazas in Mexico.

Lots to see within a two block radius of the plaza. The downside was that, apart from the food in the market, which was great, the restaurant selection was pretty average. Certainly not the best we have had. Having said that, we were glad we stayed here. We love markets and this was one of teh biggest and the best and the Xmas display was incredible. It put CDMX to shame!

We had planned to circumnavigate Lago Pátzcuaro by collectivo visiting the many Artezania villages along but were feeling a little travel weary. Instead we opted for a boat trip on the lake to Lake Janitzo. The best bit was on the boat trip back when a mariachi band got on an started playing all most of the Mexicans were up and dancing all the way back! The island itself is not a lot more than a rundown ghetto with a lot of souvenir stalls. Very sad really. The lake itself was notthing special. All a little disappointing really

However, a highlight for us was the time we spent in TZINTZUNZAN . The archaeological site was impressive but the Ex Covento de San Francisco was simply stunning. Upon reflection of our trip, one of the highlights. If the rest of the villages around the lake are similar then we certainly missed out. It is easy to get around lake by combi they run in both directions every 15 mins. If staying in Pátzcuaro then there is little option to DIY butbitbis easy. Morelia, there are many tours that cover this area.

Hope this helps Shelleyk . Any questions, just let me know.
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Dec 28th, 2018, 01:38 PM
  #51
 
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Thanks for posting the summaries although I promise I will get to the blog when things settle down here!
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Dec 29th, 2018, 04:51 AM
  #52
 
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Continuing to follow along. Glad Oaxaca did not disappoint. Looking forward to pix on blog. Interesting about Hotel Con Corazon,. See they have hotelin Granada, Nicaragua as well, where we were a acouple years ago. Sorry we didn’t know about it then.

Bro and sis in law are in Oaxaca this holiday week. Bro has already said he’s ready to go back same time next year. Lots of people, but crowds are manageable. Peak this weekend he says. Lots going on.

we loved Morelia too. Beautiful city. Nice feel to it, easy to get around. Were you not tempted to go to the monarch butterfly sanctuaries?
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Dec 30th, 2018, 03:41 PM
  #53
 
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It was years ago, but we also enjoyed our time in Morelia. Great city to visit, and we were fortunate enough to go to see the monarch butterflies. That was an amazing experience!
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Dec 31st, 2018, 03:04 AM
  #54
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The hotel Con Corazon in Nicaragua has only just reopened. Apparently they closed it dues to the political instability surrounding their new president. They told me that they are struggling to find guests as tourist numbers to the country are way down.

We did think about visiting the monarch butterfly’s but time ran away with us a little in the run up to Xmas. In hindsight we would have skipped San Miguel de Allende and spent more time in the Morelia/Pátzcuaro/Uruapan region and perhaps visited the butterflies on the way there.
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Jan 1st, 2019, 07:26 PM
  #55
 
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Bro, what possessed you to even go to Hank's in the first place? It's a gringo black hole. You should've asked first. I think your trip pretty much covered most of the tourist trail highlights; well done for the first visit. I'll be curious to see your next Mexico itinerary. Thanks for the updates; they can be time consuming. I can't even finish mine.
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Jan 2nd, 2019, 09:01 AM
  #56
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"Bro, what possessed you to even go to Hank's in the first place?" - Stevie Ray Vaughan’s music playing in the bar and 2 for 1 cocktails! After all that mariachi I was missing the blues and very thirsty!
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Jan 3rd, 2019, 05:50 AM
  #57
 
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Thanks for the info on San Miguel, Morelia and Patzcuaro. This was a wonderful trip report.

Baldone-What are your restaurant recommendations for our 3 nights in San Miguel and 3 nights in Queretero. We'll skip Hanks, though w do like Cajun food and blues.
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Jan 3rd, 2019, 05:59 PM
  #58
 
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Originally Posted by crellston View Post
"Bro, what possessed you to even go to Hank's in the first place?" - Stevie Ray Vaughan’s music playing in the bar and 2 for 1 cocktails! After all that mariachi I was missing the blues and very thirsty!
Can't blame you there.. SRV is one of my Playlist mainstays. I was thinking about you guys last week, we caught a bit of a Santana Tribute at the Angela Peralta. It was not the same as the real thing, but not bad at all. Hank's does have those 16 Oz Negra Modelo's on tap, so there are worse things.
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Jan 3rd, 2019, 07:39 PM
  #59
 
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Originally Posted by shelleyk View Post
Thanks for the info on San Miguel, Morelia and Patzcuaro. This was a wonderful trip report.

Baldone-What are your restaurant recommendations for our 3 nights in San Miguel and 3 nights in Queretero. We'll skip Hanks, though w do like Cajun food and blues.
Shelley, the variety in San Miguel is almost overwhelming for 3 days. Much depends on your likes and budget, from 5 peso street gorditas on up. And keep in mind that neither San Miguel or Queretaro are known for regional specialties like Puebla or Oaxaca. Lots of places do have live music for dinner. Anyway, here's some faves in our moderate budget range.
Los Milagros on Relox, molcajetes that feed 4, music in the early evening, popular with Mexican groups and families so it can get noisy.
Ole Ole, one of the oldest restaurants in town, known for their arrachera.
Pueblo Viejo, a bit pricey but they have 2 for 1 margaritas and Mojitos Monday-Thursday. But we usually go for the jicama tacos (shrimp, crispy leeks and some special sauce, really good) that aren't on the main menu (they are on the rooftop) but they'll serve them downstairs if you ask.
Hecho En México for lunch or dinner. A large menu, live music fri/Sat. A 5 block walk from the jardin.
La Posadita behind the Parroquia has one of the best views in town. Lunch or dinner, but they've gotten pricey too. You pay for the view.
Bistro Mi Casa in the Instituto Allende is only open Wed & Thurs but it's owned by Gil Gutiérrez, a world class classical/jazz guitarist. If/when he's playing, it's a real treat. Google his YouTube stuff. https://bistromicasasma.com
Breakfast; La Parroquia and Media Naranja.
Drinks, Rosewood rooftop bar and La Mezcalaria.
There's probably a dozen or more taco places out on Ancha De San Antonio, the main road that leads south out of town.
And this is a good food blog: Home - Don Day in SMA
In Queretaro, we pretty much narrowed our faves in Centro to 1810 on the Plaza De Armas, (Chucho Roto next door is good, too) Tikua Sureste (Oaxacan), and Cervecera Hercules. The latter is a microbrewery set in an old textile mill that is still semi-functional. Limited menu, but a cool place. Last time we were there we shared a picnic table with a few locals that were there with their Chinese and American workmates. Fun conversing with them. There's also another restaurant there, Planta Alta. It's out by where the acueducto begins in the Hercules Colonia, which I could see becoming gentrified in a Bohemian kinda way. A taxi from centro would give you a good tour of the acueducto. I recommend ignoring the pesky touts on 16 De Septiembre. There is a Hank's in Queretaro too. Nowhere near as many gringos as in SMA. It is popular with a few foreign professionals that are working in one of the many transnational companies located in the city. There are some other places that we liked when we lived there but they're away from centro.
Apologize for being so long-winded.
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Jan 4th, 2019, 06:19 AM
  #60
 
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Thank you Baldone. It's always nice to get a recommendation from someone who has lived in the area.
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