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Published: September 24th 2018
Today I have managed to sleep until 0530 - jet lag wearing off, hurrah!
Most of the day will be spent travelling so plenty of time to reflect and write up a bit of drivel for our blog followers, I know JP will be especially pleased :-)
It’s Ian’s turn to fetch our morning coffees whilst I try to back up all our apple devices - this involves standing under the modem in the corridor as the signal is too weak in our room! It doesn’t take too long and I even have time for a shower before Ian returns. It’s Sunday and the nearest Oxxo is not open but Ian has managed to find another so I don’t have to go without my vanilla latte.
I have scheduled an Uber for 9am and we are not totally sure how successful it will be. We took our first Uber in the UK a few days back and it all worked spiffingly. We have a 5 star rating and one trip on our record :-). The reason I am unsure is that I have now taken the UK SIM from my phone and replaced it with a Mexican one
- I wasn’t sure if I should change my number to the Mexican one on the Uber app but then I was also not sure if it would send a notification to my UK mobile which is now no longer in the phone! We have allowed plenty of time to hail a taxi if it doesn’t work! To be honest none of this was on our plan!
So, we had bought Ian’s phone with us to use with a Mexican SIM. This was my old 4E and really not used for anything very much as Ian is even more IT illiterate than I am! Anyway, to cut a very long story short, it was stolen on the metro two days ago, hence our blog may have been a little flat for the last couple of days as it was not a nice experience. Losing the phone was less worrying than any data that might have been on it, but we immediately changed the passwords on our other devices and eventually managed to contact EE to cancel any phone usage, although the phone was obviously wiped with lightening speed as it disappeared off ‘find my phone’ pretty quickly.
a result of all this, we spent some time in the AT&T phone shop yesterday, where the man certainly earned his commission, the whole process being done via google translate on his PC! But first we had to go somewhere to back up the phone. Our young man tells me that we can do this in a local department store for the price of a cup of coffee. The store was easily located - like stepping back in time - the only thing that was missing was young Mr Grace! We then ordered a couple of cappacinos and sat it out whilst the WiFi creaked its way through the back up. Honestly, it does seem that WiFi is pretty poor everywhere here! An hour later we were back with AT&T where same lovely guy changed my card, rang customer services and got the whole thing set up. I have no idea how I will find out if I am running low on data - presumably when the phone goes dead!
Anyway, I am pleased to report that it has all worked out well. Our Uber has turned up and we appear to be getting notifications without it needing the
new number. The Uber that was coming our way is suddenly cancelled but another quickly replaces it and we are given name and licence plate just like they promise in their ads. We are all loaded up by 0905 and off to the Northern bus terminal. I am now a huge Uber fan!
Our driver is really friendly. He has a few words of English and I get by using French words with an ‘o’ or ‘i’ on the end of them. It seems to be working. The guy asks us where we live and points out a few places of historical interest on the way. We learn that the city has an aqueduct 500+ years old. Although we know we can tip on Uber from our previous ride we think he might prefer cash. We’re just not sure what is appropriate. We decide on 50 pesos and he looks like the cat that had got the cream. When our Uber receipt arrives for 72 pesos we realise why but we won’t be losing any sleep over it :-).
We have now arrived at the bus station. It is 0930, so well early as our bus does not
leave until 1115. However, we do have a lot of admin jobs that need to be completed before we board the bus - namely to pay for all the reservations made online before we left the UK and to buy those tickets not available to book on line by foreigners! Mexico has many different bus companies, each serving different regions, so we have a couple of different desks to visit.
We begin at the ETN bus company counter. We need to buy tickets for bus journeys that will be coming up soon. I have written down the dates, places and times on a piece of paper - that, with the aid of Google translate (thank goodness we bought that Mexican SIM), seems to do the trick. One of the journeys involves a change of buses - will one hour changeover be sufficient? Yes plenty, we are told, their buses are never late! We hope that’s right :-).
Now to the ADO bus counter - these are the buses we will need for the latter part of our trip mainly in the southern districts. I made all the reservations for the 13 bus tickets we need back in the
UK. ADO couldn’t accept payment for online tickets from the UK but they are happy to do so at their counter. I have all the reservations printed out along with prices. I hand over my packet of reservations and show them my phone with the translation, ‘I want to pay for my reservations’. The guy looks at us strangely, calls his mate over and they both laugh loudly. Matey takes over - thankfully he speaks some English. He types in each reservation number and I pay with my credit card ticket by ticket - if that doesn’t look suspicious to the credit card company then I don’t know what does! Anyway, it seems to be no problem and all tickets are now checked and stapled to the reservation slips. Job done! That just leaves one more bus company but they don’t have a ticket counter at this location their tickets are not on sale yet so those purchases will have to wait for another few weeks.
Now to find today’s bus. We try to check in at the Primera Plus bus counter but we are told we must go to the opposite end of the station - have we
got time for breakfast as there is still an hour to go before leaving? No, no, we must go there now! That’s a shame as we wanted some breakfast but we don’t want to miss the bus!
We locate the waiting area - a bit like an airport gate - there is a queue and a patisserie counter so we grab a pastie and then it’s off to security. They don’t seem to be at all bothered about our large luggage. Our hand luggage is x-rayed and we are given a body pat down search. We are through security - where next? There are loads of buses waiting but none of them state our destination (San Miguel de Allende). I decide to ask. The lady on the security belt is lovely - she points to us to stand in a set place and, using sign language, appears to be telling us the bus isn’t here yet, just wait. We take this opportunity to scoff the very flakey pasties just purchased - they are mainly pastry with a teaspoon of something (which I doubt very much is the promised chicken), inside.
Several buses have drawn in and out whilst
we have been waiting and each time the lady on security has run out indicating, no not this bus, we must wait a bit longer. Now she wants to check my ticket...oh 1115! I hope there hasn’t been a time change meaning we have missed it - it wouldn’t be the first time that has happened to us! She now wants my phone to type into the translator - it turns out that we are just a little too early...it will be here soon. Great, that’s fine. Pity we were told to get here at the double!
It’s 1100 and a bus pulls in with St Miguel de Allende clearly displayed in the windscreen. Our lady rushes out, gives us a big thumbs up and then we each get a big hug before she disappears off back to her duties.
Boarding the bus is a very slick process. Big bags stowed underneath with tickets for reclaim, then back in a queue to show our tickets, have our hand luggage checked again and another pat down search. Now we are given a carrier bag containing a sandwich, cereal bar and choice of water or soft drink to take on
The bus itself is fabulous, if only they had buses like this in the UK I might be tempted to travel by public transport! So first our seat...absolutely loads of leg room with a pull down leg rest so that we can put our feet up! We have little TV screens with headphones if we want them - Spanish films, music or games including angry birds! What else? OK, free WiFi whilst in the bus station, USB recharging sockets, air con and completely clean bus with windows that you can see out of...that’s a first for us with foreign travel! Oh and a couple of very nice loos at the back of the bus accessed through a separate door. All very posh indeed.
Our three hour plus journey passes quickly and before we know it we have arrived in San Miguel. A taxi whisks us to our hotel which is situated right in the centre of this lovely cobblestone town. It’s a traditional hotel but all very comfortable and homely. We are given a lovely room with double balconied doors facing on to the street. The decor is a little interesting...at first we thought there was
mound on the walls, but it turns out it’s just a paint job :-).
We had planned for a shower, a meal and an early night but that was not to be. We hear music and step out on the balcony to see a street procession approaching. First comes a marching band, followed by religious images being carried on men’s shoulders. Behind, more raucaus music and frenzied dancing by people in fancy dress and masks. After it has passed our hotel, we follow decide to go down and follow it up the centre of town. Here there are various other activities taking place including a fine display of Aztec dancers and loud bongo drums. We have no idea what it is all about but we now understand the reference to Disneyland reported in our guide book. We’ll try to find out more at reception tomorrow!
We complete the day with a meal at a restaurant near the hotel. It turns out to an Italian and we both tuck into a delicious plate of spaghetti, far too large for either of us to finish...which is a shame as it’s delicious!
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