Who would have thought that visiting Tlaquepaque, Guanajuato, Morelia and San Miguel de Allende–by bus—would be such an easy, inexpensive and pleasant experience?
Early this winter, my husband and I spent two weeks enjoying Mexico’s beaches with our children and grandchildren before heading over the Sierre Madre Mountains to visit colonial cities. We boarded our first bus at La Penita, approximately 40 miles north of Puerto Vallarta, and travelled 200 miles to reach Guadalajara. The drive was wonderfully scenic, the roads excellent and the driver very professional.
We had purchased most of our tickets 30 days earlier, on-line, before leaving Canada. We chose Primera Plus from a selection of Mexican companies that provide first class bus travel throughout the country. At the Primera Plus depot in La Penita, the check-in process was fast and efficient; the waiting lounge comfortable and the washrooms clean. The bus was on time, the baggage system well-controlled and our reserved seats large and comfortable. This positive experience was repeated at every depot and on every bus throughout our 1000-mile journey.
The small lunch provided for each trip usually included a sandwich, sweet and drink. Since we prefer healthier choices, we made it a practice to bring along our own snacks. For the final leg of our trip we could not purchase the tickets in Canada because of the 30-day requirement.
At each bus station in the six locations we visited, taxis were readily available to take us to our B&B. Since our knowledge of Spanish is limited, I would write the address and phone number of our accommodation on a paper to pass to the driver. If the directions were complicated, I also included that information in Spanish, as provided by the B&B. Our taxi costs from the station to B&B were always less than $10.
When researching bus travel in Mexico, I read that it is common practice to show movies during the bus rides and that the sound level can be very loud. We brought earphones with us in order to listen to music to help drown out the noise; however, on every trip except one, the drivers did not turn on the main sound system, which meant that all passengers who wished to listen to the audio used the individual ear phones provided. Most movies shown had been dubbed into Spanish although a few were in the original English with Spanish subtitles.
We enjoyed the passing views throughout the entire trip. The road from the Pacific to Guadalajara takes you on winding roads, over steep mountain passes, through stunningly coloured valleys, alongside piles of lava from past volcanic eruptions and past huge fields of agave used to produce much of Mexico’s tequila. The central area around the beautiful silver cities of Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende is generally flat, dry and barren; however, as the bus moves from San Miguel and passes into the province of Michoacan, the scenery becomes more verdant and varied – an indication of the gorgeous visual delights that await tourists in that province.
By Barbara Reinhardus
Photo credits Barbara Reinhardus
© Riding the buses 2012