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Old 06-13-2010   #1 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Morelia ~ Patzcuaro ~ Uruapan ~ Zihuatanejo

Mike and I had decided that Playa del Carmen, although lovely, was getting sort of “stale” for us, and so we decided to venture into other parts of Mexico. I don't know about you, but we're of the opinion that Playa is getting pretty darned pricey as well... After a lot of investigation, we settled on a trip that would take in portions of “colonial” Mexico, with a stay at a beach town at the end.

Our trip would take us into Morelia, which is located about 4 hours almost due west of Mexico City), Patzcuaro, the “artesan villages” around Lake Patzcuaro, Uruapan (yoor-WAH-pahn) ~ the “avocado capital of the world," and finally to Zihuatanejo, a fishing town set in a beautiful bay on the west coast of Mexico, a bit north of Acapulco.

We flew on Continental out of Tampa into Houston at about 2:30pm. Our connecting trip on a small commuter jet (2 – 1 seat configuration) left at 5:40pm with arrival into Morelia scheduled for 7:45pm. We arrived a few minutes early. The trip into Morelia from Houston was a BREEZE! Almost no one was on the plane. We were served free drinks (alcoholic) and free sandwiches!!!

As we approached Morelia, we were treated to vistas of fertile farm land snuggled in between mountains ~ many obviously extinct or dormant volcanoes ~ and some HUGE lakes.

Going through Immigration and Customs was a snap because there were almost NO people to deal with. LOVED IT! Mike took a quick trip to the men’s room, and by the time he got back, we were the last people to clear Customs….everyone else had been processed already! Morelia has a pretty small airport. We were the only plane in at that time, and undoubtedly the last flight of the day.

I had some pesos left over from a previous trip, but wanted as much as I could withdraw. Both of the credit unions that we bank with have about a US $425.00 limit a day, so I took out $5000 pesos and was almost right at that limit. The ATM machine (I think that the airport only has one) is located at the far end of the terminal away from the Gate/s.

I hadn’t pre-arranged a taxi into Morelia ~ which is located about ½ hour away from the airport, as the hotel we were staying at gave me a quote of $300 pesos to have a driver waiting for us, which I thought was a bit high. I asked one of the taxi drivers outside how much it would be to our hotel in the center of Morelia…. $230 pesos OR....$32.00 US dollars!!!!!! DUH!!! A NO BRAINER! Currently $230 pesos is just a little over US $18.00. Needless to say, you should hit the ATM for pesos before heading out to the taxi stand.

We had a hair raising drive into the city from the airport! Our driver was hell bent to get there as quickly as possible. Not sure WHY...as our flight was the last of the night. At first he wasn't able to get up much speed, as we went through a series of small towns with their ever-present topes, but once he got onto the highway ~ Aeiiii!! I don´t know where he might have been getting fares after that. It was definitely a white knuckle, nail biting trip, but we arrived QUICKLY without a scratch.

As we entered the city, even though it was about 8:45pm by this time, we saw lots of young people out ~ strolling along the sidewalks and sitting in groups chatting ~ just enjoying life. It was nice to see, as downtown Tampa rolls up the streets after 6:00pm. Morelia has a number of colleges and universities, so there are MANY young people around.

The hotel I finally selected (after originally booking with Hotel Catedral) for our one night in Morelia was the Hotel de la Soledad. This hotel, which is located in an old mansion, just around the corner from the main square and the cathedral, is absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I had booked our room ~ a suite on the second floor in a corner away from the street ~ about 10 months in advance, and had been given the excellent rate of $1600 pesos a night (US $126.00) ~ which included all taxes, free drinks on arrival, a full American breakfast (literally almost anything you wanted) and 10% off any other drinks or food we purchased there.

We were shown to our suite, which was REALLY lovely. Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of the bedroom area. The bed ~ which was super comfy ~ had a hand embroidered coverlet, plus 5 pillows of every type and description. The “headboard” looked like it had been taken out of an old church ~ it was carved wood, with angels painted all along it. The sides of the room had wood about 3 feet up from the floor, that was topped with globe shaped finials.

If you go to Hotel de la Soledad, click on Gallery, then Virtual View, and then Habitación Suite ~ you can see a photo of the bedroom area. It was REALLY lovely and unique! There are many more Virtual View there as well that you can explore.

Our room had a 32” flat screen TV with satellite reception. The vaulted ceiling, with its massive beams was probably 20’ high. All through the suite, there were hand-blown glass hearts suspended on wires from the ceiling or attached to the walls. The bathroom had lots of them over the tub. I was wondering if it was the honeymoon suite. Our ONLY complaint about the room was that it was somewhat hot. We were able to open a transom over the front door in the “sitting area” to let in a little fresh air. There was also a very small vertical window in the bathroom, and also windows HIGH up on the bedroom wall, but these were covered with rattan blinds, so not much air got in. I didn’t bother calling the front desk, but I should have, because the next morning, a found a fancy vertical type fan in the closet that would have been nice to have running……live and learn!

Here is a photo of the very stylish sitting area in our suite ~



The rooms and the restaurant at Hotel de la Soledad surround a beautiful courtyard, which is a virtual oasis in the midst of the city. Most of the traffic sounds are blocked out. The church bells ring LOUD and clear, though! Sitting in one of the chairs there, you can imagine what life must have been like for the aristocrats who once called the HUGE place their home.









There are many interesting details to look at ~
Such as this numbering detail above one of the rooms…



The hotel has some lovely carved furniture on display ~ as well as mirrors and various works of art.


















Like our room, the hotel had quite a bit of blown glass art. It made me wonder if there are studios in Morelia which specialize in this art form.

There were numerous glass chandeliers like this one in the hotel.



This beautiful blown glass ball “tree” was located in the portico, just inside the main entrance.



In the afternoon, after spending most of our day walking the streets of Morelia and taking in the MANY sights and sounds that city has to offer, Mike and I retreated to some of the comfortable chairs in the courtyard to enjoy micheladas while waiting for our driver to take us to Patzcuaro. It was a lovely, relaxing way to end the afternoon.






You can just catch a glimsp of Mike (in the blue shirt) relaxing by our table in the shade.

NEXT ~ What we saw in wonderful, colonial Morelia! Please bear with me….I’ll TRY to do a segment each morning, but I’m not promising anything!

Last edited by JoanieBlon; 02-24-2011 at 02:30 PM..
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Old 06-13-2010   #2 (permalink)
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I have been waiting for this with anticipation!!

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Old 06-13-2010   #3 (permalink)
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Love love love it - JB.
Awesome photos !

Did you plan this trip out all by yourself ? Where did you gather all the info from ?
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Old 06-13-2010   #4 (permalink)
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Love love love it - JB.
Awesome photos !

Did you plan this trip out all by yourself ? Where did you gather all the info from ?
Yes ~ I planned the trip myself using internet information I could find. Originally, we were going to take "local" buses between all the cities, but pre-arranged car service (taxi) between Morelia and Patazcuaro and then Patzcuaro and Uruapan was inexpensive and convenient, so we went with that....I started planning this trip almost a year in advance!

BTW ~ Mike ended up enjoing this trip SO MUCH, that he's *suggesting* that we look into cancelling our October trip to Italy (don't think that's doable at this point!) and going back to this area of Mexico. We both LOVED Patzcuaro!! All the other places very very nice as well!

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Old 06-13-2010   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you, Joanie.


The hotel looks amazing, I love the great carved wooden furniture and the glass chandelier and the 'tree'. Very interesting.
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Old 06-14-2010   #6 (permalink)
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Morelia ~ A Beautiful Historic City! Part 1

Morelia is a marvelous city! Its historic center is filled with well preserved colonial buildings, which remain relatively graffiti free, in spite of the very large student population there. I’ve read that if anyone is caught defacing a “protected” building or monument (and there are 100s here) that there is an automatic SEVEN YEAR prison sentence!


Mike and I spent a very brief time in Morelia ~ just one evening and the following day until 4pm. We felt that we did get to see most of the historic area, but we missed out going into the many museums this city has. One of the museums is the CANDY museum ~ which displays all the varieties of candy that the state of Michoacan is famous for! SO ~ we have an excuse for another trip here. Really, no “excuses” are necessary ~ it’s a LOVELY, vibrant city. We’d love to return.


The weather was warm, sunny and not humid. Morelia is situated at about 6,500 feet, and so has an almost perfect Spring-like climate year round. Although Morelia is surrounded by mountains, the historic center is almost flat, so it’s easy to walk around. The city has a very European feel with many sidewalk cafes facing the main plaza.


After a wonderful breakfast in the courtyard of Hotel de la Soledad, we proceeded around the corner to the main street ~ Francisco I. Madero Poniente ~ to view the magnificent cathedral ~ which is really the focal point of the city. Morelia’s cathedral, with its twin spires and blue and white dome, is said to have taken over 100 years to build, and is considered possibly the finest cathedral in all of Mexico.











There are many other churches in Morelia as well.








While we were on the square adjacent to the cathedral, several school classes arrived. Morelia is currently celebrating its 200th Anniversary. It appeared to us that the school teachers had set up a learning experience for their classes by having them participate in a reenactment of Spanish soldiers in conflict with the local indigenous people. The kids appeared to be having a GREAT time!





Morelia has some MAGNIFICENT doors! Here are some examples of them. I was unable to capture a really good image of one of the massive metal doors at the main entrance into the cathedral, but they are beautiful!



Another door into the cathedral.



This door was directly across the street from our hotel. I loved it!



Many of the doors around the old part of the city were MASSIVE.







There were also lovely doorways into interior courtyards as well.





More sights from Morelia tomorrow…….

Last edited by JoanieBlon; 06-14-2010 at 08:46 AM..
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Old 06-14-2010   #7 (permalink)
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Question The Rain Spouts

There seemed to be a standard form of "down spout" used to get rain off the roofs of the old buildings. They resembled the brass ends of fire hoses ~ but were stone. The trajectory of the water coming from these looked like it would hit directly onto sidewalks, and due to the height the water was coming from, I guess it would make a pretty big SPLASH! I would have liked to have seen these in action ~ but it was sunny and dry while we were there. I was wondering if people walking on the sidewalks had to go out into the streets to avoid getting drenched. We also saw similar down spouts on an historic church in Tzintzuntzan.

The ones in the photo below *might* actually propel the water into the street.



You can see three of the down spouts on the side of this buillding.

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Old 06-14-2010   #8 (permalink)
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LOVE your pictures!! Glad you liked the ride from Houston to Morelia!
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Old 06-14-2010   #9 (permalink)
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LOVE your pictures!! Glad you liked the ride from Houston to Morelia!
All in all, it was a VERY easy trip for us. About 2 hours Tampa-Houston and then about 2 more hours Houston-Morelia. Same thing coming back from Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo....2 hours and 2 hours. Immigration & Customs was MUCH better this trip than the last time I went through Houston from Mexico. That was 1999. The WALK from our gate to Immigration was LONG-LONG-LONG, though!! At least it wasn't total CHAOS like in Miami...

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Old 06-14-2010   #10 (permalink)
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Great TR so far. I've been viewing your slideshows and was going to comment after I've gone through them all (about halfway thru now). Pictures are amazing and the music in your slideshows is very nice. Mike did a great job putting them together. I've really enjoyed them. Looking forward to the continuation of your TR.
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Old 06-14-2010   #11 (permalink)
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Nice! I'm really enjoying your trip report. Actually Last year we did a similar trek to yours.

Started in Puerto Vallarta- headed off to guadalajara for a few days, then we hit the road and drove the back roads from GDL to Patzcuaro. Where we spent the night and checked out Janitzio. From there we hopped on over to Uruapan for another night and got to see the national park there. Soon after we headed back to GDL to catch our flight home. It was a cool trip as along the way we stopped to check out a geiser, also an impressive waterfall (the name escapes me), and this particular lake where a precolumbian princess used to bathe. Quite the scenery.

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Old 06-15-2010   #12 (permalink)
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Magnificent Morelia ~ Part 2

Morelia seems to be a city of many fountains and little parks and plazas.






I loved this little pedestrian walkway that was lined with shops and had this beautiful fountain and bougainvillea.



THIS ~ Fuente Las Tarascas ~ is the most famous fountain in Morelia. It has three Tarascan women (the indigenous people of the area) holding up a huge tray of fruits. There was actually ANOTHER park with a fountain directly across from this one!



Morelia is also a city of domed buildings.







These are just some of the many sights we saw while wandering around the city.

I was fascinated by the trees on the main plaza that had been trimmed into cubes.





We saw quite a few balloon vendors in every city we visited on our trip. Balloons were very popular with the kids.



Notice the indian with the feather headdress above the window. That appeared more USA plains Indian than Mexican indian in nature.



Even though many of the buildings in Morelia are protected by law ~ with mandatory PRISON sentences ~ you still find graffiti here and there.



This side street off the main thoroughfare was almost graffiti free.



This is Francisco I. Madero ~ the main street in the center of the city. The cathedral is located on this street and most of the main banks and many businesses. At the eastern end is the Tarascan Fountain and the very famous aqueduct (photos to follow).



When I took this photo, the traffic was flowing “normally,” but a bit earlier the entire street had been blocked off for a marathon which apparently was one of the ongoing events celebrating the 200th Anniversary of Independence. A portable “blow up” finish line “gate” was in the middle of the street adjacent to the cathedral. If you look very closely, you can see it in the distance over the street ~ it's turquoise and yellow.

Traffic in Morelia, with its 100s of collectivos, is BAD at the best of times, but having the main street closed to traffic really created a HUGE traffic situation for several hours. Additionally, either in connection with the race, or, as we heard, possibly some separate event in support of teachers, there was also a large portable trailer unit with HUGE loudspeakers parked next to the finish line gate (and the cathedral!) with a SHRILL voiced woman talking VERY LOUDLY on, and on and on….. You could hear her broadcast VERY clearly inside the cathedral.


Here are some of the MANY collectives that clog the city streets. I guess they do take lots of cars off the streets, though.



We weren’t sure what these arches used to be a part of, but they were interesting. It seemed odd that the woman was up there sweeping under them.



You could almost imagine that you were in a city in Spain.



This is the famous, lovely aqueduct in Morelia. It was constructed in 1785 and has 253 arches. I believe that is still carries water into the city.





This was a wall decoration in a restaurant/bar adjacent to the cathedral. The state of Michoacan is noted for their ceramic renderings of gourds.



This was the bar ceiling in the same restaurant. Without a doubt, it is THE MOST interesting ceiling application I have ever come across.



The final episode about Morelia will be tomorrow. Then on to magical Patzcuaro!

Last edited by JoanieBlon; 07-10-2010 at 04:21 PM..
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Old 06-15-2010   #13 (permalink)
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More WOW!
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Old 06-16-2010   #14 (permalink)
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Adios a Morelia!

The food in Morelia seemed very reasonably priced to us. There were nice places that you could get a complete meal for under $70 pesos, such as this buffet that advertises, “Come help yourself and eat what you like!” at just $69.50 pesos (about US $5.50) for an adult and $35.00 pesos for kids. BTW ~ Valladolid was the original name of Morelia.



I noticed several places where “Tacos de Canasta” were advertised ~ generally in a doorway. I never did try them. I knew that “canasta” means basket ~ having played the card game by that name….but ~ “Basket Tacos?” I don’t recall having ever seen them in the USA or in Playa.



Here's what they are:

Tacos de Canasta

Next time I see them offered for sale, I’ll have to try them!

This outdoor eatery advertising “Tacos y Tortas,” which was located down by the Aqueduct, seemed very popular with students.



This was another eatery, just around the corner that featured Carnes al Carbon, Arrechera, and Chorizo, as well as other items. Notice the reasonable prices. BTW ~ "Tacos Dorados" were what we normally refer to as "Flautas."



We came across several bakeries on side streets that were wide open to the outside.



After we got done looking around the area adjacent to the Aqueduct, we decided that we were ready for some lunch, as it was past 12 Noon. I had read some very favorable comments about a restaurant called Los Mirasoles (The Sunflowers) and so we headed there. Los Mirasoles is noted for serving Michoacán cuisine.

Inasmuch as it was located at the other end of the street we were on ~ a few blocks past the cathedral ~ we decided to take a taxi, as it was getting quite warm and Mike’s feet were bothering him. Taxis in Morelia, as well as all the other cities we visited on this trip, had their basic fares set at $25 pesos.

We arrived at Los Mirasoles about 12:45pm. The entrance was open, but we were informed that La Comida didn’t begin until 1:00pm. In this area of Mexico, the main meal of the day is generally eaten about 2:00pm or so. We noticed that the bartender was setting up in the bar, so I asked if we could go in there and have a beer while we waited to eat, and they agreed to let us do that. The bar area, as well as the whole restaurant, was really lovely. I loved the ceiling as well as the bright red color of the room.



I’d like to add here, that in Morelia, English is NOT widely spoken, so it’s VERY helpful to have a basic understanding of Spanish. Even in our fancy hotel, the reception people only knew some very basic English. Happily, I managed to get by quite well with my basic Spanish. I kept saying to Mike that if I could just stay here for about 6 months, I would be able to speak Spanish MUCH better! I'd be FORCED to! It was off-season, and while we were in Morelia, we saw only TWO other persons whom we could identify as “probably” being non-Mexican nationals. When the Monarch butterflies are in residence nearby during the winter months, there are undoubtedly many more tourists in the city.



The main dining area in Los Mirasoles was really pretty. There’s a replica of the Tarascan Fountain.





One entire wall features a interesting mural depicting the historic sites and buildings in Morelia.



One feature of “nice” restaurants in this area (we found them in Patzcuaro and Uruapan as well) was table height “purse trees” for ladies to hang their bags on, so they didn’t have to be placed on the ground! I thought this was a GREAT idea! You can see one in several of the photos ~ they look like mini hat stands.

Los Mirasoles served us our tortillas in a VERY NEAT cloth warmer with their name embroidered on it. It kept the tortillas PIPING HOT for our entire meal, and they didn't get "soggy" like they sometimes do in plastic warmers. The warmer sort of looked like two round cloth potholders stitched together about 2/3 of the way around.

Mike and I liked this so much, I asked if they offered them for sale, inasmuch as they had their name embroidered on them. We figured that they probably sold them as a promotion item. Nope ~ no luck! We also saw a similar embroidered warmer at a restaurant in Patzcuaro, but they didn't offer them for sale either.

While Mike and I were wandering around in mercados, we kept our eyes open for these cloth tortilla warmers with no success. However, when we got back home, I did an Internet seach for them and FOUND them!
This is what they look like.



I ordered two in several sizes. If you are interested in getting any for your own use (and they are GREAT!!) just take a look at La Tortilla Oven.

After a very enjoyable, tasty, and reasonably priced (our selections were about $120 pesos each or US $9.50) lunch, we continued to explore the city for an hour or so more, before heading back to Hotel de la Soledad. I had prearranged for a driver to pick us up there at 4:00pm and take us to our B&B ~ La Casa Encantada ~ in Patzcuaro, which is located about 45 minutes southwest of Morelia. Car service was quite reasonable ~ just $250 pesos (less than US $20) door to door.

Mike and I enjoyed refreshing micheladas in the elegant courtyard of Hotel de la Soledad while we waited for our driver, Francisco, to arrive at 4:00pm. He was right on time. We said goodbye to beautiful Morelia and on we went to more adventures in the Pueblo Magico of Patzcuaro.

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Old 06-16-2010   #15 (permalink)
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This was another eatery, just around the corner that featured Carnes al Carbon, Arrechera, and Chorizo, as well as other items. Notice the reasonable prices. BTW ~ "Tacos Dorados" were what we normally refer to as "Flautas."






So where the tacos dorados rolled? I ask becasue in Jalisco flautas resemble rolled tacos. While tacos dorados are made essentially the same (fried) just not rolled and not sitting in sauce like flautas.
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