Bus or Taxi:
Published: February 08
Hi Carl & Lorena
Just purchased your thirteenth edition of The People's Guide to Mexico, after using the first edition (I think) for a month of winter wandering through Mexico back in '75
Any suggestions as to if/how I could hire a taxi to drive us the 5 hours to San Miguel?
Taking a cab from the Guadalajara airport would certainly be the easiest way to get to San Miguel de Allende, but it will be expensive. On Christmas Eve, however, and at the end of a long flight, the price of the cab might be worth it to your family. I have no idea what it might cost, but there will be a taxi ticket booth near the front door at the airport. They will have a set rate for such a trip.
ETN: http://www.etn.com.mx/ ; phone 011-52-(33)-37-70-37-77. (011 is for international, 52 is Mexico's country code and 33 is Guadalajaras area code).
For other options, Mexico Connect offers a list of major Mexican bus compainies and their websites: http://mexico-connect.com/pages/Travel_-_Tourism/Bus_Services/.
Please let us know how your trip goes. Would you be willing to write an article for the website about your trip?
Jim wrote back
My wife and two kids and I decided to go to San Miguel de Allende between Christmas Eve and New Years Eve 2007. My wife and I (with the help of The People's Guide to Mexico) had been to San Miguel in 1974 during an extended winter wander by public transportation from Nogales to Quintana Roo. We knew from the web that San Miguel had boomed in the last 30 years, but we guessed that the basic charm of the town would be intact.
Our plan was to take the direct, 3 1/2 hour flight from Salt Lake City to Guadalajara (rather than to Mexico City which required a layover and plane change in Houston). We learned pretty quickly, however, that bus service was more complex from Guadalajara than from Mexico City, where we could have taken a bus right from the Mexico City airport to Querretaro and then a local bus to San Miguel.
After Lorena's email and doing some more research, the luxury bus ETN sounded the best to me. From our long-ago trip, we knew that public transportation was crowded during holidays in Mexico, so I decided I had to attempt a reservation.
First I tried to reserve our seats via the ETN web page, but as Lorena had warned, I couldn't get it to complete the transaction. (http://www.etn.com.mx/)
Our Christmas Eve flight on Delta airlines to Guadalajara was right on time. We picked up our luggage and got through Mexican customs in about 30 minutes. Waiting for the luggage took the most time. We had filled out the required tourist card on the plane and had our passports ready. When we approached the customs area, the agent examined our paperwork and then pressed a button that displayed a green light and we were on our way. (I'm told that this button displays a green or red light at random and that we would have had our luggage inspected if we had gotten the red light.)
Because we were arriving at the Guadalajara airport after 2 pm, I had decided not to chance making the last bus to San Miguel (around 3 pm). For that reason I'd made reservations at the hotel Quinta Don Jose in Tlaquepaque. For $20 U.S. a driver from the hotel was waiting at the airport to drive us to our lodging. (Lorena notes that pick-up is a free with a 3 night stay.)
Tlaquepaque is a town of crafts people that is now part of greater Guadalajara. It's a quiet, walkable place and this friendly hotel invited us to join with them and the other guests in a Christmas Eve dinner.
It was at most a 10 minute drive to the bus station. Our ETN tickets were waiting for us there, with creative name spelling the only apparent glitch from my phone reservation adventure. The waiting room was comfortable and our bus arrived about 15 minutes late. As we got on we were given a minimalist snack of an empenada and a drink.
This bus was a revelation. It was the size of a typical Greyhound but with only half as many seats. Two seats on one side and one row of seats on the other. Big, wide, reclining seats. The windows were heavily shaded, but I could move the shade when I wanted to look out. Our bus stopped in 3 cities before San Miguel and took good, smooth toll roads when they were available. We had a triple-feature movie shown on several flat-screen TVs that folded down from the luggage rack. The headphones kept the coach quiet for those who wanted to sleep. The trip took five hours and was very comfortable, clean and well climate-controlled.
We look forward to returning to Mexico in the not too distant future - maybe even packing-up the Vanagon for a longer break from winter - with The Peoples' Guide To Mexico as company.Jim-Salt Lake City
PS: Just as in the airport, you can also buy taxi tickets to your destination at a booth inside the bus depot. When you exit the station, just hand the ticket to the driver and tell him your destination.