In February and March of 2017 I visited Mexico City and then spent three weeks in Guanajuato taking Spanish classes, followed by three days in Zacatecas, a beautiful northern mining town.
|1||Fly to Mexico City from US||Mexico City|
|2||Mexico City||Mexico City|
|3||Mexico City||Mexico City|
|4||Mexico City||Mexico City|
|5||Bus to Guanajuato||Guanajuato|
|6-26||Guanajuato - 3 weeks of language study||Guanajuato|
|27||Bus to Zacatecas||Zacatecas|
|30||Day trip to Jerez||Zacatecas|
|31||Fly back to US from Zacatecas|
Mexicans have a proverb “Febrero loco y marzo otro poco” describing the unpredictable weather in February and the beginning of March. Fortunately, conditions were unseasonably warm this year, but normally temperatures vary greatly with a mix of sun, rain, and wind.
Unfortunately, safety needs to be considered as part of any Mexico trip. The crime warning had been removed from Zacatecas from the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory list, so I added it to my itinerary this year.
I only took long-distance buses during the day to reduce the chance of robbery, and always left my valuables like passport and laptop locked in a portable travel safe in the hotel room. Taxis in Guanajuato and Zacatecas are generally considered safe but I always took Uber or authorized taxis in Mexico City since street taxis there can be dangerous.
Getting There and Away: I flew to Mexico City from the US using American Airlines frequent flyer miles. American generally has good award flight availability to Mexico City. On my return, I used American miles again to fly out of Zacatecas airport back to the States. The Zacatecas airport is small and at that time of year only has a couple American flights a week back to the States.
Getting Around: Mexico’s bus system is excellent. I recommend higher-end companies like Primera Plus since they are comfortable and clean and provide Wi-Fi and snacks.
Uber in Mexico: Uber is now available in Mexico City, Guanajuato, and Zacatecas. The cars are much newer and nicer than traditional taxis. More importantly, they actually have seat belts in back and are considered much safer than street taxis.
Mexico City has a great Airbnb selection. Many hosts are long-term expats in Mexico.
In Guanajuato I stayed with a host family organized by the Spanish school, a wonderful experience that had the added benefit of fantastic home-cooked meals.
Zacatecas is a less-touristed city and did not have Airbnbs with great reviews, so I opted to stay in a budget hotel instead near the center.
The drop in the peso means Mexico is an incredible bargain right now. For example, my small Airbnb room with private bath and an incredible view in one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Mexico City was $20 a night.
Mobile connectivity and apps
This was my first trial using Google Fi outside of the US, and it worked well.
Google Fi allows tethering, a lifesaver when Wi-Fi is poor as so often occurs in Mexico. This increases data charges and it probably would have been cheaper to get a local SIM, but the convenience more than made up for the extra $10 or so it cost.
I recommend installing WhatsApp since it’s commonly used for messaging in Mexico.
The highlight of my stay in Mexico City was the La Merced market food tour I took with Eat Mexico. Our guide was a professional chef with in-depth knowledge of Mexican cuisine and culture. Our small group spent hours exploring the market and sampling many different foods. The tour was perfect for adventurous palates; we tried tongue and tripe tacos, gusanos (worms), grasshoppers, and ants.
This was my third tour with Eat Mexico. Their offerings are pricey but the quality of the experience makes it worth it for me.
I spent three weeks in Guanajuato taking language classes at Escuela Falcon, my second time at this school. Guanajuato is a stunning colonial gem, and I enjoyed exploring the area in more depth and reconnecting with Mexican and expat friends.
Dolores Hidalgo makes an excellent day trip from Guanajuato. Be sure to try the unusually flavored nieves and ice creams for which it’s famous.
From Guanajuato I took a Primera Plus bus to León and then Omnibus de México to Zacatecas, since there are no longer nonstop buses from Guanajuato. Zacatecas is a beautiful colonial mining town with a surprising wealth of attractions. I spent two days exploring in town and then took a day trip to Jerez the last day.
Jerez is a charming little pueblo with a tradition of charro (cowboy) culture. It makes a great day trip from Zacatecas.
From Zacatecas I flew back to the US. Looking forward to my return to Mexico later this year for Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead).