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Mexico

 
 
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Author Solivagant
Partaker
#16 | Posted: 6 Oct 2014 03:36 | Edited by: Solivagant 
meltwaterfalls:
I thought I would ask what peoples thoughts on Car rental are.


I don't know if you remember the earlier days on this Web site before the Forum facility when Els had a monthly "Newsletter"? She kindly asked me to do a review of our 2008 trip to Mexico - "17 WHS in 17 days". In true journalistic style she "interviewed" with a couple of questions - to one of which my response was "Have a good sense of direction"!

I have found a couple of the paras on car rental/driving from that article -
"We rented a car from/to Mexico City airport – this route could have taken at least 4 weeks by public transport and, for 2 people, the rent-a-car cost is not that much greater. Gas is cheap and we didn't make much use of the expensive autopistas. The police caused no hassle and indeed were friendly whenever we asked directions. The main problem with Mexican roads is the infamous "Topes" (speed bumps) – often unannounced, and so high that, if taken above walking pace, they will scrape the car underside and/or throw you into the air! Also unsigned 1 way streets – keep a close eye on fellow drivers and the direction of parked cars!
Maintaining this momentum means minimizing time spent on travel logistics – you can't "waste" it finding hotels or getting lost! I recommend the "Michelin Mexico". A bit "academic" perhaps, compared with LP or Rough guides (which we also had), but I found its "environs maps" very useful for those last few kms towards town centres (Mexican signposting isn't good!). We used 3/4* hotels and could have gone down-market but, with prices between US$45/$80 per room, it was hardly worth it. Most, even in the city centres, had free car parks. We never used a guide book recommendation as 1 way streets made getting to a specific, possibly unsuitable, hotel not worth it. Just try not to have to walk too far to the town centres!"


Els was driving on her own which can't have helped. My wife won't thank me for this but her map reading skills are only average and her sense of direction .........so I had to do the main "looking after" on these matters despite her presence! BUT it did help to have another pair of eyes in the car as I barked out orders/questions "Look out for"... "can you see..." whilst I was trying to fight the traffic as a driver!!

A few other points
a. The car is really a waste of time (or worse!) in Mexico City - but it wasn't worth handing it in for the last 2 days as we were already on a "long hire" discount. I also "planned" that one of the days was a Sunday for ease of traffic. I chose the guest house in Coyoacan to have car parking. Although you can get everywhere by subway it is quite slow and distances long - and I do think we gained on the Sunday when I fitted in Anahuacalli, the Rivera/Kahlo houses as well as other sites scattered across the city. But I can remember being totally lost in the dark one night largely because of road works and 1 way streets sending us off in the "wrong direction" and stopping off at an Oxxo store for a coffee and a walk around the area to work out where we were and whether we were facing N, E, S or W -we had a good street map of greater Mexico city by the way - an essential if you do have a car there!! I can also recommend Oxxo for quick coffees/donuts etc if you are driving anywhere in Mexico - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OXXO
b. We arrived in Mexico City late, picked up the car, drove to a prebooked hotel in Toluca (yes - a hairy drive!!) for a 1 am arrival and were in the Butterfly reserve by 11 am the next morning - a rate of travel which would be impossible without the rent-a-car. You just have to consider how important that is to you
c. If you only want to see the colonial cities around Mexico city then the value of a rent-a-car is certainly reduced.
d. What is your personal attitude to "Public transport"? If the car added to Els's "stress levels" I am afraid using public transport adds to mine!! It has plenty of hassles and frustrations as well.

It is a "personal" choice with no "right answer" for everyone. The important thing is to be aware of the issues and your preferred personal approach to travel. Among my many "travel lists" is one for "Countries I have driven in" - It includes - Egypt, India, Nicaragua, Kenya, Botswana, Jamaica, Chile, Morocco, Lesotho .. and around 70 others. My preference now is to have a car with driver where the costs make that practicable (e.g Pakistan, Mauritania, Armenia)- you get the benefits of being totally in control without many of the downsides (Remember that Self drive always has the possibility of accident and/or police involvement - hopefully very unlikely but across many trips it WILL happen even if only a slight scrape or a police "sting") - but this isn't on for Mexico. However, in contrast to Els, I would say that if we went back to Mexico I WOULD rent-a-car again even in Central Mexico!!

PS I hope you have considered visiting Anahuacalli - see the Wiki entry ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anahuacalli_Museum ) and follow through to the 360 degree virtual tours. Are you going out to the Rivera/Kahlo house (see my review) -different of course from the Kahlo house in Coyoacan which no doubt will appeal primarily to Mrs Meltwaterfalls!!!

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#17 | Posted: 6 Oct 2014 07:35 
Thanks very much for those replies, both very useful. I think it boils down to Els' point
elsslots:
Having a car surely added to my stress levels during that trip, but without it you can't see so many WHS in such limited time.

I have two weeks in the region and was hoping a short rampage in a hire car to get some of the northern and western sites ticked off (up through Quretaro and San Miguel to Guanjuato then down to Morelia and the Butterfly's)

Then maybe using Public transport for the Southern and Eastern sites; perhaps a night for logistical reasons in Cuernavaca for the monastery/ies and Xochicalco. Puebla and Teotihuacan perhaps being easiest to get to for day trips (perhaps a night in the case of Puebla).

Either way it gives us something to think about in terms of the logistics. We are both fairly happy to put in the time and miles behind the wheel, it is just how the niggly bits pan out. Our last major foreign road trips have been South West US and Lapland, both very easy driving destinations (though LA was a different kettle of fish) so it is certainly going to be a bit of a change.

Thanks Solivagant for pointing out the Anahuacalli Museum, I had seen its name but hadn't really clocked what it was about. The Khalo/ Rivera relationship and their associates are pretty much forming the basis of our time in Mexico so anything to add to that is welcome.

Author Solivagant
Partaker
#18 | Posted: 6 Oct 2014 09:41 | Edited by: Solivagant 
meltwaterfalls:
was hoping a short rampage in a hire car to get some of the northern and western sites ticked off (up through Quretaro and San Miguel to Guanjuato then down to Morelia and the Butterfly's)
Then maybe using Public transport for the Southern and Eastern sites; perhaps a night for logistical reasons in Cuernavaca for the monastery/ies and Xochicalco. Puebla and Teotihuacan perhaps being easiest to get to for day trips (perhaps a night in the case of Puebla).


I hear what you say but, if you are prepared to bite the "car hire bullet" for Queretaro, Morelia (In which case DO try to take in Patzcuaro and lake only 55kms west) and others, I don't really understand why you wouldn't keep it for Cuernavaca/Xochicalco, Popocatapetl monasteries (many of the best ones of which are in relatively small villages) and even Puebla - it has nearby small towns of Acatepec ( www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/mexico/cholula/acatepec/francis.html - this looks a useful site by the way for many other places!!) and Tonatzintla ( http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonantzintla ) as well as Cholula (originally nominated together with Puebla) with superb sights, getting to all of which is made much easier with a car -the alternative is to be "imprisoned" to some degree in the city! Even Teotihuacan could be planned for by car when returning to, leaving from or passing by Mexico City (Agree fully that if you are in Mexico city it isn't worth driving out there and back

The hardest bit of having a rent a car is the first few days - once you have invested in these and got used to the car/the country etc my view is that you might as well maximize on it!!! In Puebla by the way we used the City Express Centro - easily walkable in 15mins to city centre/cathedral, around $70 US with free parking and breakfast for 2 - a good Mexican brand to look for see https://cityexpress.com/en/

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#19 | Posted: 6 Oct 2014 10:29 
Solivagant:
I hear what you say but, if you are prepared to bite the "car hire bullet"

I was just coming back to amend my original post, but you beat me to it. Realising that by the time you get to the Butterfly sanctuaries Cuernavaca and Xochicalco aren't really that much further, then you are pretty much at Puebla... So I was thinking that continuing with the car may be the best option.

I guess part of my thinking is just wanting to settle into a city, rather than feel like it is a stop on a road trip. So again it is back to the compromises of quality of time v quantity of sites.

Thanks for the recommendation Patzcuaro (I was just looking at it after reading your review of Morelia) and the hotel in Puebla.

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#20 | Posted: 20 Nov 2014 11:17 
I guess this is just for Els and Solivagant, but regarding the butterfly sanctuaries, did you consider visiting Cerro Pélon? If so I was just wondering why you ended up at El Rosario instead?

I haven't found enough details about it yet, but on the map it is closer to Zitácuaro so I was just wondering if there was a reason not to head that way?

Author elsslots
Admin
#21 | Posted: 20 Nov 2014 11:47 
meltwaterfalls:
did you consider visiting Cerro Pélon?

No I didn't. I believe El Rosario is the most accessible site, but I may be wrong.

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#22 | Posted: 20 Nov 2014 12:06 
elsslots:
I believe El Rosario is the most accessible site, but I may be wrong

Having now got beyond my Lonely Planet that seems to be the reason why. Cerro Pélon seems to be more pristine but harder to get to. A two hour hike up slightly less down, so the best part of a full day for a visit.

This local B&B provided good advice if anyone else was interested. They offer a tour, it is pretty expensive in comparison to el Rosario, but it seems to be a community led initiative to protect the reserve so comes with a moral bonus.

Author elsslots
Admin
#23 | Posted: 20 Nov 2014 13:08 
meltwaterfalls:
Cerro Pélon seems to be more pristine but harder to get to.

We love hearing reviews of alternative locations, so please go ahead!

Author elsslots
Admin
#24 | Posted: 20 Nov 2014 13:17 
meltwaterfalls:
, it is pretty expensive in comparison to el Rosario

Indeed (75 US)! I paid 50 pesos (3 EUR) as entrance fee including guide at El Rosario. I spent about 2 hour and 15 minutes inside the park.

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#25 | Posted: 20 Nov 2014 13:26 
It does look very tempting, just the cost in time and money is a little more than ideal. But maybe it will come together, perhaps there are other options that aren't quite as pricey in the area.

Author jeanbon
Partaker
#26 | Posted: 31 Jul 2017 15:06 
lol...yes i have been in teotihuacan, El Tajin, Guanajuato, and other lovely places, and not only WHS (also prismos basalticas, Tulum, Tonina, Chicanna, Edzna, Patzcuaro, salto de Eyipantla, Chuveje...).
I wanted to go to the monarch butterfly reserve, but it was not the good season, so i didn't go there

Author kintante
Partaker
#27 | Posted: 28 Jan 2018 12:04 
On popular demand my travel itinerary for my extended weekend in Mexico. FYI: this was my second trip there and I already had covered the historic center of Mexico, Teotihuacan and Puebla the last time.
Friday: fly in to MEX from FRA. Arrival 18:45. Pick up rental. 19:30-22:30 drive to Querétaro.
Saturday: 07:00 (sunrise) – 09:00 Querétaro. 09:00-10:00 drive to San Miguel. 10:00-12:15 San Miguel. 12:15-14:30 drive to Guanajuato with stopover in Atotonilco. 14:30-18:00 visit Guanajuato (deserves that much time). 18:00-20:30 drive to Morelia.
Sunday: 07:00-09:00 visit Morelia. 09:00-12:00 drive to El Rosario Butterfly Biosphere. Visit Biosphere 12:00-14:00. 14:00-17:00 drive to Xochimilco. 17:00-18:00 visit Xochimilco (not really worth it, but I wanted to see this component of the Mexico City WHS). 18:00-19:15 drive to Cuernavaca.
Monday: 07:00-08:15 visit Cuernavaca (cathedral was closed due to earthquake damage, so if you have more time I would add another Popocatepetl monastery). 08:15-09:00 drive to Xochicalco. 09:00-10:30 visit Xochicalco. 10:30-12:00 drive back to MEX, drop off car and take Metro to UNAM (around 50mins). 13:00-14:30 UNAM. 14:30-15:00 metro to Constituyentes. 15:30-16:30 Luis Barragán House guided tour. 16:45-17:15 metro to Zócalo. 17:15-18:30 revisit historic center. 18:30-19:00 metro back to MEX. 20:55 fly back to FRA (arrival Tuesday at around 14:00). This would be 11 WHS in 3 full days. If you go there for the first time and have some more days I would highly recommend adding at least Teotihuacan.

Author clyde
Partaker
#28 | Posted: 28 Jan 2018 12:28 
Thanks kintante :) That also helps to understand the possible order/loop to follow and which whs deserve most time. Most probably I'd want to add Teotihuacan, El Tajin, Oaxaca and allow perhaps more time in Mexico City for a total of around 2 weeks or slightly more.

It surely remains one of my top whs hotspots to visit with a whopping 15 whs and is relatively easy. How was driving and parking?

Author kintante
Partaker
#29 | Posted: 28 Jan 2018 14:18 
Driving is challenging in Mexico, especially in Mexico City. You will be cut off on a regular basis, especially from trucks, buses and taxis. Drive their speed (too fast) or you will be hassled. Beware of holes in the streets and speed bumps. I always found protected parking lots and suggest to invest these pesos instead of going for free street parking for safety reasons. All my hotels had free valet service. Attention: in Mexico City the highways can only be entered if you have a "Tag". No idea where to get it so I could not use them. For all other highways is cash king. Get some before you start.

Author meltwaterfalls
Partaker
#30 | Posted: 28 Jan 2018 15:15 | Edited by: meltwaterfalls 
Wow, that is an impressive, if insane itinerary:) Sort of hyper tourism!

We did the same trip with the addition of Puebla and Padre Tembelque Aqueduct over the course of eight days and I would struggle to compress that much further and find it enjoyable.

It is a real shame you weren't able to have a Saturday night in Guanajuato, that was one of the highlights of my travels anywhere. I'm taking your comment "14:30-18:00 visit Guanajuato (deserves that much time)" is that it requires more time than other centres rather than 3.5 hours is all you need. That would be the bare minimum for me.

Still an impressive undertaking and I've enjoyed the reviews posted so far, especially seeing the interior photos of Casa Barragan. And I trust you found plenty of time to fuel up on the delicious food of the region.

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