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Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

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Seattle, WA
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Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

I am planning a surprise birthday trip for my wife (whose odometer will be turning over <grin>) for late April or early May. I was looking at a trip to San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato and had several questions, any opinions regarding any or all would be most appreciated (I will post this identical post in both the SMdA and G forums [fora?]):

1. We will probably be flying into Leon and out of Queretero or vice versa; I enjoy driving in places unknown to me, and was considering renting a car at our arrival airport one-way to drop-off at the other. Any recommendations re rental companies or just stick with the US companies? Anything in particular to be aware of?

2. In both SMdA and Guan., many reviews I've read talk about the rock-hard (and often small) beds. With me being 6'5" and my wife needing her comfort, are there recommendations for hotels in either locale that offer comfortable king-size beds? (I have seen some hotels that do advertise king beds, but have read reviews on some of these that remarked on how uncomfortable they are.)

3. Relatedly, any opinions whether it's better to be close to the city center (in each city) or better to be on the outskirts (where, it seems, many of the better-looking hotels seem to be) and deal with the long walk and/or (inexpensive) taxi ride? I realize that near the city center one can come and go from one's hotel room easily and be steps from the sights, but the down-side is noise and, perhaps, quality of lodging. Anyone's analysis of pros and cons would be appreciated.

4. Since we'll probably only be staying 3-4 nights in each place, any must-sees would also be welcomed, as well as if we had 3 nights in one and 4 in the other, let's hear arguments for spending the extra day in one as opposed to the other.

Many thanks to all who take the time to respond. Happy travels.

-- Gene

Queretaro City...
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1. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

I wouldn't bother with renting a car - use public transport. You will have a drop-off fee of 80-90 USD plus navigating Guanajuato by car is difficult and as for parking...... So save yourself some stress and use cabs and buses.

Personally I prefer Guanajuato as it has more to see and do but everyone has their own opinion. If you're not going to spend any time in Querétaro (which would be a shame) then there's not a lot of point in flying out of Querétaro airport.

Ixtapa, Mexico
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2. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

Last April, we flew in to MC and took the direct bus from the Airport to Queretaro, not to be missed. We stayed in a very confortable B&B (check review) I dont remember that the bed was uncomfortable but thats a personal opinion, I have never found a bed too hard in Mexico. Querataro is worth at least 3 days of visit, there are tourist buses,in Spanish only, but the tours are worth it especially the acudocto.

From there you can take a bus to to SMA, ( one hour or less)spend two days to visit or maybe 3. Then take another but to Guanajuato, amazing city, lots of walking, bring good shoes, batteries for the camera, the city is very photogenic. 3 days minimum.

In centro you will find a selling point for buses to all directions. The bus to Leon is approx one hour.

Leon is really nice, if your wife likes shopping bring a few credit cards and lots of cash!!!and be prepared to carry the bags. Centro is really nice also and worth a visit.

You can fly out of leon if you wish. Taxis are inexpensive, buses are luxurious,. I took a second class bus from Leon to Guanajuato and it was fine, it stopped in Irapuato a short while.

I hope this helps.

Guanajuato, Mexico
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3. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

Hi NWTallGuy,

I agree with SteveMex and snowbird054 about not renting a car. Parking in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato is not easy to find and the streets/underground tunnels in Guanajuato can be difficult to navigate. Use the excellent and inexpensive bus system instead.

I also agree that if you aren't planning on seeing Querétaro (a mistake, in my opinion), then it doesn't make sense to fly in or out of Querétaro. Just use the León airport (BJX) for arrival and departure.

In Guanajuato, I would recommend Casa Zuniga B&B, which is located above Guanajuato, but overlooks the downtown area. It is far enough from downtown to be fairly quiet, yet close enough (using the funicular/cable car) to downtown to get to the museums and such.

Casa Zuniga's rooms have king-sized beds that are comfortable (in my opinion) and long enough (with room left over) for my 6-foot-tall husband. The breakfasts are scrumptious and Rick and Carmen are amazing hosts (see my review on our stay there as well as the dozens of other reviews).

As far as things to do, both Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende have plenty of shops, museums and churches to visit. Without knowing your interests, it's difficult to make recommendations of the not-to-miss things.

Have a great time!

Cindi

Guanajuato, Mexico
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4. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

The airport in Querétaro is close to San Miguel de Allende and the León airport is close to Guanajuato. If you found convenient flights and good fares, you could fly into León, visit Guanajuato, take the bus to San Miguel de Allende and then fly out of Querétaro or vice versa.

Again, have a great trip!

Cindi

San Miguel de...
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5. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

Self and others have put a lot of effort into the Things to Do link for SMA. Please consult that and feel free to come back with specific questions.

San Miguel de...
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6. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

Most people from the US fly in to Leon (BJX) rather than QRO, as there are more flights. There is only one a day I think to QRO, so if you miss your connection you are stuck.

Don't forget the option of a nonstop to MEX if there is one. It might actually be quicker than a transit through Houston or DFW, since there is an excellent bus service from the airport straight to Queretaro.

Seattle, WA
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7. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

Re no point in flying into or out of Queretaro, it seems to be about 2-3 times closer to SMdA than Leon. (And I'm flying on FF miles, so have to go and come where I am able to <grin>)

Seattle, WA
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8. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

Thanks to all for your great suggestions. Since we only have 7 nights, I was not considering Queretaro; would you suggest shaving a night or two off of SMdA and/or Guanajuato in order to spend a night or two in Queretaro? One of the reasons I had not considered it is the size... we are more interested in smaller towns than larger cities (I understand Queretaro has 1,000,000 inhabitants; pretty large city).

The reason I was considering a car is if we wanted to drive to another town for a day and/or into the countryside to see wildlife (I'm a birder) or visit hot springs. I am not averse to using the buses (though my wife may be; she doesn't even use buses here at home <grin>), and have driven everywhere from Rome (crazy) to Costa Rica to Jamaica/St. Lucia/Grenada (driving on the left with right-hand drive car) to the Virgin Islands (driving on the left with left-hand drive car -- worse <g>), and do enjoy driving (even if we were to take taxis and buses while in each city, we could drive between cities, on a day-trip excursion, and to/from the airports).

Regarding concerns with connections, no worries -- we must overnight in DFW no matter which airport we fly into in Mex, so we can catch the morning flight to either QRO or BJX.

Regarding what we enjoy: arts, music, theatre (though neither of us speak enough Spanish, unfortunately, to make a Spanish production viable), nature, wildlife, food, relaxation.

On the food front, perhaps you could assist there -- I am vegetarian (my wife eats fish; I do not), any particular suggestions for SMdA and/or Guan. for veggie-friendly dining? (Of most concern is the prevalence of lard in Mexican cooking.)

Again, many thanks to everyone for their contributions!!!

-- Gene

Queretaro City...
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9. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

If you are flying out of Querétaro airport I would recommend that you spend the last night (and the previous day) in Querétaro itself. Yes, it's a large city but the sprawling neighborhoods go up the mountains and over the other side and the industrial parks are all miles from town so the Centro Historico has remained intact over the centuries and is relatively peaceful. It is flat so easily walkable, has several spectacular buildings and many plazas where you can enjoy good food or a beer. It is apparently the most popular inland tourist destination in Mexico - in fact, I have recently moved from the city since it has become a little TOO popular with Mexicans (school inscriptions were 11% up in just one year!).

If for no other reason you should visit it for its history as it is the birthplace of the Independence movement and Mexico's second capital city.

santa cruz...
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10. Re: Multiple opinions sought re San Miguel de Allende/Guanajuato

Hi NW guy, re:suggestions for vegetarian restaurants - do a search here for "vegetarian restaurants" & read my post on

Nov 16 '10. The restaurant scene changes frequently in SMA so much info on the older entries could be out of date. (glancing over them, I saw many closed sites). I've found vegetarian choices at all restaurants. I like a dish "huevos Pegaso" served all day, at El Pegaso, corner Corregadora y Correo (closed Wednesday). There's a great, newish, small restaurant "Salsas y Sabores" on Calzada de la Luz, open 1-6 not sure of closed days (sun & mon?). It's prix fixe & you have to ask Maria for the vegetarian choice, she assured me she always has one....it was delicious & others have raved about her fish entrees....worth checking out it's hours and location. these are just a few of many but, I don't want to take more room. because, I want to add ;-) regarding,what you enjoy...also, read my post of Jan 16, under subject "three days in sma", I think all would interest you. I didn't include, & it's an absolute must, the Mercado Ramirez (it will be on all maps) start inside viewing the produce, go through to where the women are preparing tamales, nopales etc.....then down the stairs for the stalls selling a variety of items (prices are good) & on & on through the artisans market. at one end on Hidalgo there's the restaurant "La Media Naranja" (green bldg, upstairs) wonderful vegetarian meals! ok - again I've taken lots of space. please, write a review when you return from your visit. "mariados" Lena James

(my daughter lives in beautiful Seattle)

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