For us, Mexico can be a captivating and serene travel destination (inspired by explorations dating back to undergraduate university days). We have gradually begun favoring the less populated interior states rather than the more frequently visited coastal destinations. Moving inland and upward to the higher plateaus we enjoy the smaller towns filled with more traditional surroundings.
After some research, we decided Morelia would make a good starting point for a journey. As the capital of the state Michoacan, the city remains rich in cultural history, with a number of small but interesting museums, art galleries, traditional markets and a surprising variety of exceptional restaurants.
Booking a flight from Houston into Morelia aboard a commuter jet, we avoided the typically unpleasant congestion of arrival processing through Benito Jurez International Airport in Mexico City. We also saved at least two hours or more of surface transportation time.
Unable to find anything on Luxury Link, we researched a number of on-line offerings and selected the Hotel Los Juaninos, http://www.hoteljuaninos.com.mx/ originally a bishop's palace dating back to the 18th century. The property underwent an extensive restoration in 1998 and was transformed into a popular and modern hotel.
Although our first choice was Hotel Cantera Diez http://www.epoquehotels.com/h.php/morelia-hotels/boutique-hotel/h/canteradiezhotel/l/en we discovered the tiny (only 11 rooms and suites) ultra modern property was fully booked during the time frame we wish to visit. However, we did manage to drop by the cozy Restaurant Cantera Diez and have drinks and s bar snacks one evening. The Cantera Diez is a member of Epoque Hotels (Sunset Marquis Hotel and Villas in LA, also a member of Epoque is frequently offered as an auction package on LL).
At check-in at the Hotel Los Juaninos, we were offered our choice of accommodations and were fortunate to secure suite#106, an expansive second floor corner location offering two small balconies. One of the balconies faced the main cathedral and one of the popular plazas (this was great, since each Saturday night the square around the cathedral is blocked from motorized traffic and crowds gather to observe a light and fireworks show choreographed to music).....we stood on our balcony and had a superior unobstructed view!
Suite #106 was lavishly furnished with many antiques and period reproductions and offered one of the most spacious accommodations in the hotel. The ceilings were at least 20 feet high. Being a corner location in the center of a busy town, our wooden shuttered windows did permit some vehicle and pedestrian noise (we've learned years ago the value of traveling with ear plugs). One other major point of consideration if considering this hotel and this specific suitethere is no central A/C..so ventilation is little more than a ceiling fan (maybe check the seasonal temperature ranges before selecting your travel dates). We found the evening quite comfortable and outside noises never really bothered us.
The staff was always attentive, helpful in dealing with our Spanish deficiencies and made our stay even more enjoyable.
The hotel restaurant and bar are located on the roof and offer an eclectic selection of food and drinks (and one of the best views of the city at night).
For a special romantic dinner, consider Villa Montaa Hotel and Spa http://www.villamontana.com.mx/NewAsp/only a handful of pesos taxi ride from the center of town up to the Santa Maria Ridge.dining inside or outside on the terrace is a special event and worth the extra pesos to gaze out over the twinkling lights of the colonial city below..especially nice if you are fortunate enough to share the company of someone special!
Better yet, if you have some extra time in Morelia, consider stayingatVilla Montaa, an Orient-Express property,for a few nights....very secluded, away from the hustle of the city below.....and the spa is a great place for easing away some of life's stress!
There are less expensive hotel alternatives in Morelia, but why not live it up for a couple of nights, stay at Hotel Los Juaninos in the center of the action and feel special!
Aftera few daysin Morelia, we hired a car and driver and droveput of the citytoward Patzcuaro.
Heading west on Mexico 15, we told our driver we had seen enough cathedrals and asked if it would be possible to leave the primary highway and some of the more remote country.If you like, he agreed, we cantake the old road around the lakea little bumpy (that proved to be an understatement), park our car and take some horses up to Ranch of Oponguio.a small village (did he say 265 people more or less)..I know a man who makes good 100% agave tequila.
Even though we were a bit rusty with our equestrian skills, the horses knew the trails, so we were only tasked with staying aboard. We hitched our rides in front of the local cantina (no name.the only one in town), sliced up a couple of limes andtested few shots of homemade tequila.this is Mexico.
Back to our car, more bumps and soon we were approaching Patzcuaro. We had located La Mansion de Los Suenos on the Internet and thought it sounded just off beat enough to meet our cultural needs.
Priscilla Madsen, a US expatriate from California and owner of Suenos, was inresidence during our visit. We enjoyed meeting and spending time with her (she has been a land-owner and part-time resident of Patzcuaro for more than 30 years). She proved to be an excellent resource for the area's history as well as general information about Patzcuaro and the region. Priscilla was even gracious enough one morningto escort us on an informative walking tour of the city and managed to gain entrance into many historic buildings not generally open to visitors.
At Suenos, we selected junior suite #10 (we were offered other options) which was in the third courtyard from the main street (no localtraffic noise), quite comfortable and eclectically furnished.
Althougheach staff memberis not fluent in English, we had no difficulty in communicating. All of the staff, with whom we had contact, were genuinely friendly and were more than willing to accommodate our requests.
There are several nice restaurants in Patzcuaro (and we tried a couple), but Pricilla's has received the highest hygiene rating for food handling and preparation -- we sneaked a peek into the kitchen and read the posted certificates -- of any dining facility in the area so we took most meals there.....service, innovative dishes and general quality were exceptional. As vegetarians, we found the staff more than willing to meet our needs.
We were especially impressed with Arturo and Omar, two of our favorite waiters and mixoligists.
In general, Patzcuaro proved to be a friendly and safe historic town to explore on foot.....with analmost eternalspring like climate at 7,000+ ft.....warm during the days, cool and low humidity during evenings. This is still a great destination to experience historic Mexico.....fortunately not yet too contaminatedor over run with tourists!
Each morning, we ventured into several of the local "mercados" to experience first hand the selling and bartering of produce and handcrafts by the indigenous villagers..we even purchased some produce and fruits and brought them back to Suenos for santizing and preparations for our evening meal.
Consider anopportunity to stay at La Mansion de los Suenos or at least sample a meal at Priscilla's when visiting Patzcuarco.
Message Edited by omegaet on 03-14-2009 10:46 PM