The first leg of our trip was a total change from our original itinerary. Instead of our original idea to head south towards Oaxaca and San Cristobal de las Casas, we decided to head west of Mexico City to the colonial town of Morelia.
Deciding Whether or Not to Fly NonRev or on Award Tickets
We decided to take a preholiday trip to Mexico. B had just gotten a lot of work done on the Oceanus and had winterized it. He had a family commitment coming up and we had a few spare weeks. We’ve seen a good bit of Mexico, but I’ve never been to Oaxaco or the Chiapas area of Mexico, and B hadn’t been for many years. We could have flown into nearby Tuxla Gutierrez or Veracruz with United miles, but I don’t like to use our valuable United miles unless I have no other alternative. We could have flown nonrev on Delta to Mexico City but I didn’t want to fly standby so close to the holidays. We have a lot of American Airlines miles that I’ve had a hard time using. American mainline flies into Mexico City, but we would have to connect in Dallas. That is actually an advantage to us as we like to visit the DFW Centurion Club when we can. We found award availability on the dates we wanted at the Saver level, which was 15K AAdvantage miles each way on American , Atlanta to Mexico City with a connection in Dallas.
A Last Minute Change in Plans
Recently I had gotten back in touch with someone who was a close friend of ours from 30 years ago (via Facebook.) I found out that he was spending the winter in Morelia, Mexico to learn Spanish. We thought it would be great fun to meet in Mexico after all this time. Our original plan had been to fly into Mexico City and take a bus southeast to Puebla and then Oaxaca. Now we would be headed in the exact opposite direction to Morelia. We figured that this side trip would cut a couple of days our of our original plans and that after that we could get back on track later (We were wrong.)
We arrived in Mexico City in the late afternoon and had an annoying two-hour wait to clear immigration. Even the flight crews had long waits to be cleared. We took the subway ( 5 cents–one of the lowest cost subways in the world) to the historic center where we had booked the Hotel Isabel ($30.) We had a nice room with high ceilings and French doors opening to a wrought iron balcony. We usually stay at the Hotel Washington right off the Zocolo, but I think the Hotel Isabel may be our new go-to hotel in Mexico City.
The next morning we took a three hours bus ride to Morelia. After we arrived at the bus terminal we took a taxi ($3.75) to our friend’s house.
The Colonial Center of Morelia is a UNESCO Heritage Site
It was fun to get a tour of the city from someone who has lived there for a while. Morelia has a large colonial center whose streets are kept so clean that you might think that you are in a European city.
Morelia has an expat community that has not overwhelmed the city like it has in San Miguel de Allende. Every day there is a festival or concert, and there are a lot of restaurants and nice bars to sample. Our friend enjoys the active social like that he has in Morelia.
We were prepared to put ourselves up in a hotel, but our friend offered us a bedroom at his house, and we were so glad that we took him up on his offer. He has rented a house in a great location right in the historical center. The house was built around a beautiful courtyard, and also had a grassed courtyard in the back. This floor plan is a very successful one for this climate, and has not changed much in the last couple of thousand years–I’d seen similar floor plans in European ruins–Pompeii comes to mind.
Our time with our friend in Morelia was so rewarding. It was like we had seen each other only a couple of months ago, not 30 years! And we had met up in such a beautiful and unlikely location. Not wanting to be imposing pains-in-the-butt we decided we would move on after a two-day visit. Instead of getting “back on track” to Oaxaca, we detoured to some nearby attractions on our bucket list–the buried church of Paricutin, and the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.