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Tripp report - long -Mexico City, Copper Canyon, Guadalajara

Tripp report - long -Mexico City, Copper Canyon, Guadalajara

May 13th, 2003, 01:51 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,546
Tripp report - long -Mexico City, Copper Canyon, Guadalajara

This is a report of our trip to Mexico City (MC), Copper Canyon (CC), and Guadalajara (GDL), from April 27 to May 8, 2003. My wife and I and another couple spent 3 days in MC, then joined an Elderhostel group in CC, then spent a day in GDL. It contains a thorough review of our trip with a lot of detailed nitty-gritty how-its-done info, personal observations, and rants and raves. I hope some of the info will be helpful if you are planning a trip there.

We left Newark Sunday at 9 AM, 4 1/2 hr to MC on Continental. Plane mostly full. The Mexican embassy site says that a certified birth certificate would be adequate, but I strongly suggest that a passport will make you trip easier. To get into Mexico you have to fill out a customs declaration and migratory form. Be sure to fill it out on the plane, as we got bad info at the airport and wasted time. We got pesos (P) at the ATM outside the departures area and went to the taxi window to get a voucher for a van for the 4 of us to go to the Intercontinental Presidente Hotel (IP) in Polanco (300 P). More later on taxis. In the airport we were accosted by many men who wanted to help us with our rolling suitcases. We didn't need it, and just firmly said, no thank you. They can be aggressive. When we got to the van, there was some confusion, and a white-shirted man lifted the bags into the back of the van and expected a tip for that. We felt obliged, but be forewarned that anyone who touches your bags, whether you want it or not, will expect a tip. It was 25 minutes to the hotel, but it can be an hour if traffic is bad, which is common. At the airport are various classes of taxis, but we took the official yellow airport taxi as per the recommendation from Fodors.

We decided to stay in the Polanco district after turning down Zocalo and Zona Rosa. We got a very good deal at IP by checking the hotel's site and picking the 21 day advance rate when we were sure we were going. The rate we paid, about 120 US/night, for a deluxe room, was better than the rates at the usual hotel sites. IP is just north of Chapultepec Park, a nice area. The hotel is 42 stories high, modern, well serviced and staffed, with very good restaurants. When we checked in, we asked for a high floor, and got the 36th, which was a club fllor, entitling us to a free breakfast on the 39th fl. and aftenoon beer, wine, and goodies. It was a deal that couldn't be beat.The room was moderate sized, well appointed, with a small bathroom, and a great view.

We checked into the hotel at 3 PM, and took a "turibus" from in front of the hotel. These are doubledecker buses which make a loop around the city, taking 2 1/2 - 3 hr, depending on the traffic. Cost 100 P for a day pass, a good value, and you get an overview of the city. You can get on and off at many stops, then take the next bus. They run every 10-30 minutes.

For dinner we went to Au Pied du Cochun, a fancy French restaurant in our hotel. Everyone had an excelent meal in an attractive setting. We felt that the food prices in MC are about 1/4 - 1/3 less that in Philadelphia. In some cases it was downright cheap.

On Monday we hired a car and driver from our hotel to go to the Teotihuacan pyramids. Cost 1200 P plus tax, for 5 hr. They should not be missed. In the afternoon, we took a taxi to ZR, walked around 2 hr. Seeing the area, we were glad that we didn't stay there - noisy and unattractive. Dinner at Los Almondres (Mexican), a few blocks walk from IP, was very good.

Taxis come in 3 types. When the doorman whistles for you, you get a regular car, which is most expensive. These are 10 -20 US to most places in MC. At the "Sitio" stations on the streets, you get smaller cars painted green and white, which are cheaper. Hiring a car and driver from the hotel costs 25 US/hr, if you want someone to be with you for a few hrs. You pay more for safety and comfort. They don't turn on the AC unless you ask them.

Tuesday we walked 20 min to the Anthropological Museum (37 P), spent 2 1/2 hr, saw a lot of interesting artifacts of the pre-Spanish cultures. The sidewalks are dangerous because they are markedly irregular and with unprotected deep holes. Taxi to San Angel Inn for an excellent lunch in a magnificent old hacienda. Across the street was the Diego Rivera Museum (10P), not much. Taxi to Frida Museum (30P), interesting. Walked down local shopping streets and indoor market, very interesting. Got taxi at Sitio, long ride back to IP because rush hour traffic varies from horrible to impossible. Dinner at Sotto Vocce, 1 block from IP, was good.

Wednesday - Early flight on Aero California (AC) to Los Mochis (LM), with stop in GDL. Getting to the MC airport at 7AM, the place is full of people. Unfortunately, it was extremely difficult to find the AC check-in counter, and almost impossible to find the departure gate. With other unfortunate experiences with AC, I would suggest avoiding them if you have high blood pressure or want to keep your composure. 1 hr to GDL, 1:20 hr to LM. Very hot. Ride in van to hotel, charged 400 P, should have been 280 P. Stayed at Hotel Santa Anita, the best hotel in town. Rooms small, dim lighting, seen better days. Avoid interior rooms. Walked around town, bustling sidewalk stalls, dilapidated small stores, some large stores, dangerous irregular sidewalks.

At this point, we join our Elderhostel group of 21 people with 2 guides and a bus driver.

Thursday - Up at 4 AM to get train at 6 AM. Roomy, comfortable. The train glides up the west side of the Sierra Madre mountains, over bridges and through 86 tunnels. The train is remarkable, as it hugs the sides of the mountains and there are spectacular views on the right side. Arrive at Cerocahui, a tiny hamlet at 5000 ft with dirt roads and a small central square surrounded by a few rustic stores. Stayed at Hotel Mision, a lovely inn. Food is very good. It is much cooler here because of the elevation. Daytime in the 70's, nighttime in the 40's.

Friday - It warms up quickly. We take a 1 1/2 hr ride in a rickety old school bus doing hairpin turns on a narrow mountain road. We reach an overlook with awesome views of Uricae canyon, part of the CC area. CC is composed of several canyons.

Saturday - Back on the train 4 hr to Creel, a small town at 7300 ft, which looks like the Wild West. There are many tourist shops which sell locally-made, well-crafted items such as baskets, which are very cheap. We stay at the Hotel Casada, a plain motel which is spartan but adequate. It is cool, windy, and dusty. We learn about the Tarahumara, the indiginous Indians of the area.

Sunday - 4 mile total hike through a canyon to an unimpressive waterfall, and we see many dark-skinned Tarahumara along the way, dressed in bright colors, with crafts to sell. It is exhausting, but good exercise. We have a Mexican BBQ near a river, see an old church, and visit a family that still lives in a small shallow cave under a rock overhang. By this time, many of our group have diarrhea, which is mild and last 1 or 2 days.

Monday - 2 hr bus ride, including lunch, to Posadas Baranca. We check into Mirador Hotel, an excellent small hotel built into a cliff with nice rooms and balcony overlooking a canyon. 4 mile hike through a forest.

Tuesday - Short hike into the canyon. 8 hr train ride back to LM.

Wednesday - End of Elderhostel. The 4 of us fly to GDL, stayed at De Mendoza Hotel, an excellent hotel in the center of town. We got a jr. suite, which was well worth the extra 15 US. Very nice room, small sitting area, nice bathroom, excellent service, in easy walking distance from everything in town. Short taxi to Tlaquepaque, a small shopping area of nice crafts and restaurants. Lunch at Casa Fuerte, very nice. We walk around for 1 hr, then back for a shower as it is hot and humid. At 7 PM, we went out for a walk, saw the Catedral, and found a concert at the Plaza de Armas. It was wonderful sitting in the coolness of the evening listening to the band on the central raised bandstand, surrounded by locals and pigeons. We didn't know whether to be more wary of pickpockets or pigeons. Very nice walk on Morales St filled with people. Dinner at Santo Coyote, a long taxi ride, was disappointing. Tablecloths and silverware were spotty, service was poor, food was only fair. It was for the tourists, and riding on its previous reputation.

Thursday - In the morning, we walk to the Instituto Cultural Cabanas, with numerous remarkable large murals by Orozco, which is a must. We had an English-speaking guide, which made the murals much more meaningful. Nice sculpture outside. Fly back home.

MC and GDL were very good for the 4 of us. The CC part was good, but requires an adverturesome spirit, because of the wearying trip, the poor toilets (can't put the paper in the toilet), inabilty to use the local water, possiblilty of GI problems, long rides, etc., but worth it if you want to see this area and culture. It really helps to know Spanish.
Jed is offline  
May 13th, 2003, 06:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 80
Thanks for the report. Could the "unimpressive" falls be Cusarare? If so, perhaps the fact that you had 21 other people alongside distracted you from it's simple beauty and tranquility....
belle is offline  
May 14th, 2003, 08:03 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,676
Thanks for the interesting trip report, Jed. My husband and I have done a lot of travelling in Mexico, but haven't yet made it to the Copper Canyon - it's on our list of places to visit.
SusanInToronto is offline  
Oct 4th, 2008, 02:06 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 192
just book marking.
Jed, I have been interested in doing this trip for several years. After reading your report I may go ahead and plan this. thanks so much
heyjude2919 is offline  
Oct 5th, 2008, 07:16 AM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,289
Excellent report. Thanks for taking the time to write it.
annetti is offline  

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