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Published: September 16th 2007
During on of our days in Morelia, we decided to take a tour which took us to some of the nearby towns. After traveling in Mexico for nearly four months, we feel we have a good handle on evaluating the good, mediocre and bad tours. This tour was ranked right in the middle with mediocre mark.
We were picked up from our hotel in the morning around 10:00 a.m. and we were both surprised that your tour guide was actually an American from Minnesota that moved to the area some 20 years ago. While he knew Spanish well, his accent was horrible. With a full tour group of Mexicans on this tour, except for me of course, there were many jokes made about his accent during the hours we spent with him.
Our first stop was to the small town of Quiroga. There is not much in Quiroga, except for a local market which occurs everyday, but what draws the people are the Carnitas. Quiroga specializes in these chunks of pork that are simmered in lard until crisp and melted tender, then served with corn tortillas. I am sure the word lard could turn some people off, but they
are much lighter than they sound and if my delicate stomach can handle it...anyone's can.
Our next stop was to Tzintzuntzan, a Purepecha name meaning "Place of Hummingbirds". We were a bit disappointed with the visit here because we were only able to visit a small area of the town. The area we visited housed the Ex-Convento de San Francisco, Templo de San Francisco and Templo de Nuestra Senora de la Salud. While it was a pretty setting, we wished we had time to explore the ruins. Ruins are always impressive, but this particular site was suppose to have an exceptional view of the town, lake and surrounding mountains. We made our best of the time here though.
Our next stop, was the highlight of the tour. We arrived at the boat dock where we took a 30 minute boat trip to Isla Janitzio. While on the boat we were entertained by a two man band singing and playing local music. It was quite the setting and an experience we both enjoyed and would recommend.
Isla Janitzio is actually one of the five islands located within this small body of water, Lago de Patzcuaro. Janitzio is the
most populated and has full service restaurants, bars, shops, a market, a school, a church, a hotel, The only thing the island didn't have was any vehicles, which is a nice change of pace. We had approx. 2 hours to explore the island. We took the time to walk up to the top where a 40m-high statue of independence hero Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon stands.
After, we traveled by boat back to the dock area we dined in a local restaurant which was more like someone's home with a seating area located upstairs. These types are restaurants are very common in Mexico, not to mention really good too. The main course was fresh fish from the lake. The fish in this lake are all white, pescado blanco.
The last stop of the tour was to the colonial city of Patzcuaro. Patzcuaro is a beautiful, small and very tranquil city full of small plazas, impressive churches and cobbled streets. Our first stop was to Casa de los Once Patios, House of the 11 Courtyards. It has been used as a convent and hospital in the past, but know houses artesanian shops.
We heard the ice cream, called
nieve, was some of the best. We chose vanilla and strawberry combination which didn't disappoint. Ice cream/nieve was about all we had time for. It would have been nice to have some more time, but we did our best as we quickly walked to the main sites of the town.
Overall, we were satisfied with the tour, but we would have liked to have had more time to explore, but that is always one of the drawbacks when signing up for a group tour.
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