Well, we just got back from our vacation to Manzanillo. When we left the US it was at the height of the Swine Flu epidemic. Because of all of the hype surrounding this pandemic we didn't really pay enough attention to our departure time on our itinerary & we made the mistake of getting to the airport a day late! I know, I know, read on...
Getting there -
Our flight was for Wednesday April 29th @1:15am connecting through Guadalajara / Mexico City / Manzanillo. Well we got to the airport on Wednesday evening at around 10:00pm (how many of you caught the part about leaving at 1:15AM???) Anyway, the girl told us that we had missed our flight and that she had some bad news. There was an extra $150 pp charge to reschedule our flight (OUCH!) Oh well, there went our upgrade to first class!!! The worst part was, that wasn't the bad news- the BAD news was there were no connecting flights from Mexico City to Manzanillo until the following day, which meant we had to spend the night in Mexico City, ummm (----) that! I asked her to get us to Guadalajara & I would figure out a way to get to Manzanillo on my own. Fortunately I had read about the ETN buses here on TripAdvisor.
We arrived in Guadalajara & I proceeded to try and find out how to get to the ETN bus depot. My spanish is ok, not great & my girlfriend knows how to ask where the bathroom is & that's about it. After a little bit of a challenge finding the "Central de Autobuso" we made it to the ETN bus depot. Upon boarding we were handed a bag with a ham sandwich and a bottle of water or a soda. Hmmmm, how long was this bus ride anyway? I thought that I had read the Manzanillo was only an hour or two away from Guadalajara. I would find out later, 4 1/2 hours later that they meant from an hour and a half from Colima. We had a big beautiful bus with movies and air conditioning, one way it was about $28US pp. What a deal! We got to see all kinds of things that were not visible from the air. Fields of Agave, churches, the volcanoes etc... What a great ride. When the bus stopped in Colima we thought we had arrived, NOT! The taxi driver was nice enough to tell us to get back on the bus for the remainder of the journey to Manzanillo. Whew, almost missed the bus!!!
The Hotel -
When we got to Manzanillo we caught a taxi to the Karmina Palace, only $10 US. Not too bad! The Karmina Palace was more beautiful than the pictures! We were greeted by the bellman Raul, GREAT GUY! Spoke perfect english, he got us a welcome cocktail and it finally started to feel like we were on vacation. If anyone sees Raul please congratulate him on his newborn baby!!! Our room was incredible room #7204, what a view! Very spacious as well. While we were there we noticed that there was an obvious lack of people due to the swine flu scare. A lot of the storefronts were closed as well as some restaurants & tours. Oh well, we were there to make the best of our trip!
We had dinner at the hotel A La Carte's, El Agave was excellent. The buffets were ok for breakfast & lunch, we didn't go there for dinner. We upgraded to the premium package so we got to eat at the A La Carte's everynight. The other nice thing about the premium package here, was you got to drink top shelf liquor at all of the hotel bars!!!! A couple of bucks to our friendly bartenders & they were pouring me half a bottle of Don Julio everytime they saw me. Anyone know what BORACHO means??? LOL! El Bigote's was a good place for dinner, we also had sea food at Toscana- Great Fish! We did the ATV tour to the cross across the bay by the power plant. They let us ride the quads on the beach & we had a blast. A must do trip was to the turtle sanctuary, kind of a long ride from the hotel, but the boat ride through the mangrove's was awesome.
One thing that is a must do is the Botaneros!!! There are two of them that are very close to the Karmina Palace, El Nuevo Caporal- Great Food, Great Drinks Cheap!!! La Ka' Melia- this place had great entertainment and as long as you kept drinking they kept bringing the food!!!
There wasn't much open as far as shopping goes, you had your typical beach vendors walking around selling stuff. But not really a lot else.
The one thing bad that I have to say about this area is that the air pollution is NASTY. The coal burning power plant spews filth into the air!!! They have plans to convert it to natural gas, but from what I heard they have been planning this conversion for quite a while!
I've been back for a week and a half & surprise, surprise- NO SWINE FLU! Don't believe the hype! Every local that I talked to felt like the whole thing was politically motivated since they were having a gubernatorial election coming up in a week. I am not sure what the implications were, but it seemed like it was way overhyped.
I am not sure I will return to this part of Mexico. I would consider it after they convert the power plant. They do have some cool plans for the area. Our ATV guide told us they were going to build a gondola that goes from the sail fish in el centro to an iguana sanctuary that they are putting in at the place that we went on our ATV tour. It will go to the second highest peak in Manzanillo. They have already secured the financing for the project. Plus the gondola and the cabling have already been delivered. This project sounded like it was going to be spectactular.
We had a blast in Manzanillo, it was a very relaxing vacation. We wish more people would have been there with us, but we understand why they weren't. I am definitely happy that I got to experience the area and the people of Manzanillo...