What's the big deal about this city???

Trip Start Jun 26, 2004
Trip End Aug 08, 2004

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Flag of Mexico  ,
Sunday, August 1, 2004

They say whatever begins well ends well...Well is the opposite also true? OK, here's something you haven't read before on this blog. We actually didn't like this city very much. The reason we included it on our itinerary was because we had always heard that this was a beautiful retreat for the well-heeled in Mexico City (an hour away) with perfect weather, no smog, no traffic, and lush sub-tropical vegetation. While these things proved to be true (to varying degrees) the parts did not sum up to one spectacular whole as we expected. Our expectations were high and we didn't feel the city delivered on any of them.

We should've known from the beginning when our cab driver from the bus station to the Lonely Planet recommended hotel asked us if we already had reservations at the hotel since it was not a good choice. This was the first time a cab driver had so willingly and unabashedly come forward with an unsolicited opinion of our hotel selection. Turns out that just by chance he had the name of another hotel he thought we would like better and he volunteered to take us there. This smelled fishier than the fish market on the malecon in Veracruz; I knew what he was trying to do and resented the fact that he would resort to such tactics to "scare" us into going to his recommended hotel. Did he think we had just fallen on the burro or what? What made him even less credible were his over the top disparaging comments about the hotel. Including that the mattresses were hard, the rooms too small, how they were a 3 star hotel charging 4 star prices, and how people had left their rooms even after paying because they were so awful!! If we had any doubts about his credibility they were put to rest when he instantly clammed up (as if he were mad at us) when we told him we were not changing our plans. He hardly uttered a word after that until we got to the hotel and pointed to a maintenance closet and said, "Look those are the rooms". Susie and I were cracking up; the guy had some nerve. BTW - The rooms were more than fine, centrally located, the mattress though not "Sealy Posture-Pedic" soft but decent, and even included breakfast all at a decent price.

The ONE exception in this city was the restaurant we had lunch at called Las Maņanitas. Wow! What a spectacular meal and equally striking grounds. The restaurant is considered one of the best in Mexico and some world restaurant organization (Peter - since you're such a foodie you might know about this organization) ranks it amongst the worlds' best. Definitely one of the best meals (it's between this one and the mole in Oaxaca) we've had on this trip. The dinning area is located inside an old stately mansion with additional seating and after-dinner sitting area for sipping coffee in the carefully manicured gardens and lawns strewn with free roaming peacocks, macaws and other beautiful birds. Even though Susie did not mention it, I'm sure some Mexican novela has used the site before. This was definitely the highlight in the city and ALMOST by itself made the stop here worth it. I would recommend you stop here on the way to/from Taxco as it is on the same road between Taxco and Mexico City.

The other semi-interesting thing we noticed in this city was the fortress-like, almost medieval architecture of the main historical structures in the city's center. One such building was the Cathedral and Cortez's Castle. In typical conquistador fashion, the latter was built with the same materials and over the ruins of a pre-existing Aztec structure (in this case another pyramid). It was strange to see how this style was used almost exclusively here and nowhere else. I read something that Cortez wanted to intimidate and wow the locals by using the remains of their palaces to build walled-off and secluded palaces and churches of his won (I'm not psycho-analyzing here, but it sounds like classic inferiority complex coupled with a desperate attempt to "compensate" for other shortcomings, if you know what I mean). ; )

Finally since most things that begin on a bad note end on one, the so-called "executive" night bus to Guadalajara was all of a sudden going to make a stop in two cities before reaching Guadalajara, a fact they neglected to mention when we purchased the ticket. ALL "executive" level buses are supposed to be direct and not make ANY stops along the way, much less take out-of-the-way detours!!! To make matters worse they did not let us take our big yellow Winnie the Pooh bag (which has all our delicate - ie. breakable - items in it). I had to get off at each of the cities, all crusty-eyed and half asleep, to make sure our bag wasn't thrown around too much. It's a good thing this will be our last bus ride on this trip.

Needless to say we were glad to be leaving Cuernavaca behind us; I don't think we'll be coming back here anytime soon, unless it's to have a meal at Las Maņanitas.

We are still at a loss as to why so many people love this city...

Anyways, on to Guadalajara! The most "Mexican" of cities (after Los Angeles)! ; )
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