Mexico, General info – Part 1.
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  Posted January 19th, 2009 by Zdenko  in Travel | No comments yet.

Travel Mexico

By: Zdenko Kahlina

A Champagne Vacation On a Beer Budget
This is a story of my personal experiences traveling through Mexico. What a shame most people only know Mexico by the “all inclusive resorts” or worse, the bordering towns with USA. We found places in Mexico, away from touristy paths, to be refreshingly cultured and very friendly!

Hola!

This time Vera and I are journeying Mexico’s central part, far away from the popular tourist zones; well, kind of. We are visiting the biggest lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala. From the central Mexico we are going to travel to western coast and tourist places like Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. We thought that we should investigate this part of Mexico, and unlike most other tourists opt to venture far beyond the all inclusive resorts.

flag_mexico

 

What a shame most people only know Mexico by the “all inclusive resorts” or worse, the bordering towns with USA. We found places in Mexico, away from touristy paths, to be refreshingly cultured and very friendly.

This time Vera and I are journeying Mexico’s central part, far away from the popular tourist zones; well, kind of. We are visiting the biggest lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala. From the central Mexico we are going to travel to western coast and tourist places like Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. We thought that we should investigate this part of Mexico, and unlike most other tourists opt to venture far beyond the all inclusive resorts.

 

This time Vera and I are journeying Mexico’s central part, far away from the popular tourist zones; well, kind of. We are visiting the biggest lake in Mexico, Lake Chapala. From the central Mexico we are going to travel to western coast and tourist places like Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta. We thought that we should investigate this part of Mexico, and unlike most other tourists opt to venture far beyond the all inclusive resorts.

 I will record some of my impressions as we’ll made our way from Guadalajara, Lake Chapala, Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta on our two-week tourist visit thru central Mexico. The thoughts that are imprinted onto one’s mind at the first sight of a new place are often forgotten after constant exposure..

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For those of you who will follow our little adventure, we hope you will enjoy reading about it just like we injoyed it while we were there.

 

I will break this trip into series of blogs with our personal experiences from each of these areas:

 

1. Lake Chapala and pueblo Ajijic 

Lake Chapala, El Lago de Chapala, is Mexico’s largest natural lake. It is surrounded by mountains and small villages. It is beautiful and fun for boat rides but very polluted, probably not the safest place to swim.

Ajijic is one of those cobble-stoned, colonial towns that charm the hell out of you. The town sits on the shoreline of Lake Chapala, a 35 minute drive (18 miles) from the airport in Guadalajara Mexico. The charming town of Ajijic was founded in 1510. The Lake Chapala area is now home to about 20,000 Americans and Canadians, along with about 60,000 locals.

 

2. Drive to Colima and Manzanillo

Colima is a medium-sized city with a population of approximately 160,000 people. It has pleasant tree-lined streets and many comfortable residential areas. While some foreigners do reside there, it has not become a haven for retirees like Guadalajara. The city has a full range of tourist services with many pleasant hotels and several good restaurants.Colima is still a 50 minute drive from Manzanillo via an express highway.

 

Manzanillo (Mahn-san-KNEE-yo) is the major port town along the Pacific Coast, with a population of around 100,000 is not a luxury class tourist resort. As such, it has parts that feel quite industrial and it lacks the over abundance of tourist amenities found in some resort towns. However, while it doesn’t have the nightlife of Acapulco or the dozens of luxury class resorts of Cancun, that also means it doesn’t have throngs of tourists or much crime either. If you are looking for a more layed back location with a very Mexican feel, then Manzanillo is worth a visit.
 

3. Discovering the Costalegre

Costalegre (the “Happy Coast”) is a stretch of land between Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta on the west cost of Mexico, about 230 km long. It features tropical forests and magical coves. This area is one of the most exclusive areas to get away from it all in Mexico. Celebrities often come here to get away from prying eyes and camera lenses.

 

If there was ever a place that needed a rental car recommendation, Costalegre is it. The best way to explore the hidden coves, little towns and villages along this area is to drive along Highway 200, which hugs the mountainside along the coast, and experience this area at your own pace.

 

4. Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit 

Puerto Vallarta is one of the friendliest and most diverse beach destinations in the world. Once but a tiny fishing village, Puerto Vallarta is now a world class resort that has retained all of the quaint charms of the original village yet embodies all of the characteristics you’ve come to expect in a modern resort.

Riviera Nayarit is the new destination of 100-mile touristic corridor comprising the municipalities of Bahía de Banderas, Compostela and San Blas, encompassing various touristic sites and spectacular natural scenery to be combined with the planned development of hotel zones geared towards premium domestic and international tourists.
 

5. Guadalajara city

Guadalajarais a huge city with a lot to see and do spread out over a large area. The charm of guadalajara rests with its Spanish colonial flavor (established in 1542). No visit to Guadalajara Mexico is complete without spending a day in the centro historico.The historic district is a nice blend of buildings (which are hundreds of years old) with pedestrian only streets, park benches, fountains, monuments and sculptures. In a large city full of traffic jams, noise, and the constant hustle of people trying to get from one place to another . . . the historic district is a great place to slow down and take in this beautiful center at your own pace.

Guadalajara Mexico is 5200 feet high (1585 meters). The bottom line there is that while many other destinations in Mexico are too hot to enjoy being out and about in the summer, Guadalajara is just right.

 

We’ll end our journey there. I am sure our last day in Mexico will be sad, because we’ll be returning to a cold weather in Canada.

 

The real story will follow upon our return.

Hasta Luego!

General info about MEXICO

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Language: Spanish
Population: 100,349,766
Capital: Mexico City
Electricity:120/60 (volts/hz)

Low season: October, November, December and January with exception ofChristmas and New year holidays. Summer.

High season: December, February, March and Semana Santa (the week before Easter).

 

$$$
Currency: Mexican New Peso

Travel Documents Needed
When travelling outside of your home country you should always have a valid passport. Visitors from the U.S. need a valid passport or must present an original birth certificate, marriage license and photo ID. Travelers from other countries may need a visa.

 

Enter in Mexico

Three items are needed to enter Mexico:

1.A Photo I.D. (such as a Driver’s License or a passport, starting at age 18 and above)

  1. A Tourist Card or F.M.N.
  2. A Valid Proof Of Citizenship

• Tourist Card

This two part document is your “permission” from the Mexican government to visit Mexico. It is available free of charge, although sometimes difficult to obtain in large quantities. The airlines always have an ample supply upon check-in. Or, if all else fails, you can obtain one in Mexican Immigration upon arrival. Here are a few words of advice about tourist cards:

  1. Do not lose or deface the bottom portion returned to you after the immigration inspection. It must be returned to Mexican Immigration upon departure. TIP: Write down your tourist card number and keep it with your travel documents. If the card is lost, having the number will help greatly.
  2. Keep your tourist card and travel documents in a secure place. Do not carry them with you everywhere you go, unless traveling extensively from your point of arrival.
  3. You can ask to have your card validated for more time (up to 180 days) than you’ll actually need.
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