A May 1992 trip
to Queretaro by Robert Raymond Ingledew
Quote: There are many beautiful places to visit along this scenic road: Querétaro, Celaya, San Luis Potosí, Aguas Calientes, León, Guanajuato, Guadalajara...Let’s have a look at some of their attractions.
SAN LUIS POTOSI
Hostal del Quijote: This is a beautiful, inexpensive five-star hotel located on the freeway that goes from Querétaro to Aguascalientes, León, and Guadalajara. Its address is: Carretera Mexico-piedras Negras Km. 420 78000 - San Luis Potosi, Phone+ 48 181312.Either it is now operated by Holiday Inn, or Holiday Inn has a hotel very near with the same address.I stayed here by invitation of the hotel 15 years ago. The suite I was lodged in was really fantastic; a large living room, the bedroom, two phones (one in the bedroom and the other one in the restroom).Service was excellent, and now I read that their rates are very affordable, (not for a suite, of course). The other hotel I stayed at (Panorama, three stars) was also nice, located in the downtown, near the historical center of the city. Rates for this hotel start at $60 per night. Some rooms in this hotel overlook the historical part of the city. Their address is: Av. Venustiano Carranza No. 315, Centro 78000 San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi. Phones: (444) 812-1777, toll free in Mexico: 01-800-480-0100, www.hotelpanorama.com.mx. This hotel has meeting rooms with capacity of up to 200 persons. If you want a very nice hotel near the downtown, I may remind you that Camino Real also has hotels in this area. San Luis Potosi not only offers fantastic colonial spots in the downtown, very near the Panorama hotel, but also very interesting shopping opportunities, especially in leather articles. AGUAS CALIENTES
Here definitely my choice would be the Hotel Las Trojes. It is some 2 miles away from the downtown, in the countryside, with a beautiful swimming pool and a large park. I really enjoyed my stay here. Their address is: Blvd. a Zacatecas, esq. Blvd. Luis D. Colosio Col. Trojes de Alonso, Phone: 01 800 49 71 999, (449) 973-00-06 al 16, Fax: (449) 973-04-34, http://www.hotellastrojes.com.mx. They have meeting rooms with capacity of up to 600 persons. Their restaurant is good and has a beautiful panoramic view. This is a four-star hotel. Of course, there are more expensive hotels like the Fiesta Americana (five stars, operated by Posadas de Mexico, the same company that operates Holiday Inn in Mexico), but that is up to you. It costs some $65 per night, if you take advantage of their special week-end package. Enjoy your stay in central Mexico.
GUANAJUATO: I have been half a dozen times on business trips to León and Guadalajara, but did not have the slightest idea of the colonial treasures of Guanajuato, the city of the balconies, or the city of the lovers. Cobblestone streets are narrow, steep, and winding (similar to Cuzco) and there are real historic treasures that are centuries old. The shaft of the Boca del Infierno (hell's mouth) mine is some 2,000 feet deep. The city and surrounding mines have been declared Patrimony of Humanity (or World Heritage) by UNESCO. The links Is have pasted below have a beautiful collection of colonial pictures, about one hundred.
Here they are: www.aboutguanajuato.com/guanajuato/en/; www.terragalleria.com/north-america/mexico/guanajuato/guanajuato.html; www.enjoymexico.net/mexico-pictures/spanish/album_guanajuato_1.php
Guanajuato was the main silver mining area in the 18th century. Taxco is also renowned for its silver, but is in a different area, on the road from Mexico to Acapulco. I had not realized that Guanajuato is at an altitude of 6,600 feet, although this should be no surprise. Mexico City is even higher, at an altitude or probably 11,000 feet. The city of LEÓN is our next stop. Like most cities in Northern Mexico, it has become an industrial centre for export, with many factories ("maquiladoras"). It is also a colonial city that must have over one million inhabitants, and is only some 15 miles away from Guanajuato, that would be my first priority in this area.
Guadalajara has the same title as Cuernavaca, the city of eternal spring. Weather is mild and the city is very nice. There are important hotels in the downtown, but when I was there I stayed at a nice 3-star hotel (maybe it has 2 stars by now) called Las Pérgolas, in a residential area of the city. Near Guadalajara, that is also a university city, San Pedro Tlaquepaque is another small city that deserves a visit, with its churches and artisan fairs. There are excellent bus services that cover this area. ETN (Enlaces Terrestres Nacionales) used to be the best, offering a comfortable bed service, including complimentary sandwiches and beverages on board. One thing I liked about this company is that they required documentation from all passengers and made no stops on the highway, thus increasing safety of the passengers. Although I believe that Mexico is not a dangerous country, some parts of the capital are dangerous, and you enjoy the trip far more if you know that the company has taken these steps for your protection. Turistar is another excellent company, but I am not sure if they cover this route. Amongst the budget companies, Estrella Blanca is pretty good, while some people say that Flecha Amarilla runs too fast. Once I travelled from Queretaro to San Luis Potosi, some 125 miles, in slightly over two hours... Of course, there are very good freeways in this area. ADO (Autobuses de Oriente) used to cover this route, but I understand that now they cover mostly southern Mexico.
Wherever you go, you will find more or less the same picture. Colonial churches that are centuries old, narrow cobblestone streets in the old section of the city, and the traditional friendship of Mexican people. If you have little time for visiting this area, don’t miss the Aqueduct at Querétaro, the main square and churches at San Luis Potosí, purchase your clothes at Aguas Calientes (it is a textile industry centre), and don’t miss the charm of Guanajuato. Of course, Guadalajara is quite near Puerto Vallarta with its charming attractions. Hotels are not too expensive in this area, slightly cheaper than in the USA. Enjoy your stay in Central Mexico.
Both Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan are at about the same distance from Guadalajra: slightly over 250 miles. I have visited Mazatlan and have flown over Puerto Vallarta. By what I have seen and by what I have read, Puerto Vallarta has far more options and is far nicer. Buses from Guadalajara to these beaches take some five hours travel. I went to Mazatlan on business and after having visited Cancun, Progreso, Veracruz, and Tampico on the east and Acapulco, La Paz and Mazatlan on the west and having flown over Puerto Vallarta, and read a lot about Bahías de Huatulco, my order of preference would be: 1) Definitely Cancún. 2) Puerto Vallarta 3) Acapulco 4) La Paz 5) Veracruz, but not for its beaches (I was at Mocambo, but for its charming colonial style and heritage and its beautiful port. 6) Mazatlan.
Since I assume that you are staying at Guadalajara and want to visit some beach on the Pacific, Puerto Vallarta would be the best option. According to the distance, the bus should take not more than five hours. I saw the mountains falling into the sea, beautiful palm trees, and by what I have read in the Internet, I know that it has a beautiful water park with dolphins and other shows, and whales in the sea. Water sports are very popular here, and there is an interesting didactic tour to learn about giant turtles and see them in their habitat. Of course, the Splash is real fun for both children and adults. Click on the following link, and see some photos of the charming places you can visit at Puerto Vallarta: www.maps-of-mexico.com/photos/jalisco/puerto-vallarta/puerto-vallarta-picture-of-mexico.shtml. In the following link you will have to click on the miniature photos. Some are really beautiful. www.puertovallarta.net/espanol/galeria_photos_puerto_vallarta/photo_cd.html.
A deep sea fishing competition takes place every year during the month of November. In Puerto Vallarta you can fish sailfish and other very interesting options. Fishing tours should not be expensive here. Years ago, when the exchange rate was more favorable to the US Dollar, I rented a fishing boat in Acapulco with four sailors during half a day for fifty dollars... It may cost four times more today, but you might want to consider this option. Of course, fishing chances would be better at Los Cabos, but prices could be substantially higher. Here are some links that will show you what you can find at this beautiful resort on the Pacific: www.splashvallarta.com/index_eng.html. As I said above, the main attractions in Puerto Vallarta apart from its beautiful beach and mountains is whale-watching, playing with the dolphins, the dolphin show, sea lion show, water park, and more... While some beaches in Mexico are unique (Cancun, Bahías de Huatulco), others are very nice (Acapulco), Mazatlan is OK, but not outstanding. I have been there, enjoyed the beach, but did not find it better than any of the beaches I have been at in Argentina. And it certainly does not compare with Miami Beach. I stayed at the hotel Hacienda Mazatlan, a very nice 3-star hotel with reasonable prices and found the service very good.
Here are some photos of Mazatlan: www.maps-of-mexico.com/photos/sinaloa/mazatlan/mazatlan-picture-of-mexico.shtml www.viajesdelmundo.com/paises/fotos/151. Just across the gulf of Baja California, you find La Paz, a city founded by Spanish colonizer Hernán Cortes in 1534, where you can go on a ferry. I really enjoyed my stay there. I was charmed to see the pelicans diving down into the sea for their food. And found the area very interesting. But the best destinations I have seen in Mexico are Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco. By what I have seen in the Internet, Bahías de Huatulco, in the State of Oaxaca, also really deserves a visit. In any case, before departing from Guadalajara, don't forget to visit San Pedro Tlaquepaque. You will discover that it is a delightful place for visiting www.galenfrysinger.com/tlaquepaque_cathedral.htm. Enjoy your stay in Western Mexico.
Robert Raymond Ingledew
Villa Carlos Paz (Cordoba), Argentina