Published on December 20th, 2016 | by Mark Chesnut
BUS REVIEW: Why I Love the ETN Bus from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende
Following my recent participation as a speaker at LGBT Confex, Mexico’s largest LGBT business and tourism conference, and attendance at Mexico City’s first-ever Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) parade, my husband and I hopped on a bus to travel from the nation’s capital to San Miguel de Allende, the popular tourism destination that lies to the north (where I did research for a number of reports in TravelAge West as well as a San Miguel de Allende hotel review right here on LatinFlyer.com).
If you read my Mexico bus travel review a few months ago about the ADO Platino service between Merida and Cancun, you know I’m a big fan of Mexico‘s first-class buses. They are consistently more comfortable and luxe than any long-distance bus in the United States. Here’s my experience on my latest trip:
THE ROUTE: Mexico City (Terminal Central del Norte) to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; ETN; one class of service; approximately four hours with two intermediate stops. The cost was less than $50 roundtrip.
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THE DEPARTURE: Unfortunately if you’re a foreigner in Mexico, you probably can’t use your credit card to buy bus tickets from ETN online. So, a couple days before our departure, we had to visit an ETN ticket desk in the lobby of the Hotel Ritz in Mexico City’s historic downtown, to get tickets in person. The lesson: Be sure to buy your tickets in advance.
There are multiple departure points for ETN in Mexico City. We left from Terminal Central del Norte, a clean and modern bus station north of downtown (it was about 20 minutes by Uber from the Zona Rosa with no traffic). We arrived early and found no line at the ETN ticket counter, and had time to get some breakfast in the terminal. They told us the bus would start boarding ten minutes before departure, but watch out: They do not make announcements about boarding or departure. The gate area was very modern and clean, with plenty of seating — and you need to go through an X-ray machine, get patted down and have your carry-on bags scanned by a machine before boarding, much as you’d do at an airport.
Once outside at the bus, gate agents offered each passenger a choice of either water or soft drink, as well as a Krispy Kreme donut — try asking for any of that from a bus employee in the United States!
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THE BUS: The double-decker Eclipse bus is designed for long-distance comfort, and is a far cry from Greyhound, MegaBus or any other U.S. bus line. Each bus has only 30 or 33 seats, divided with one seat on one side of the aisle and two on the other. Most of the seats are on the second floor, and they are — dare I say — heavenly, with leg room you could find on a first-class flight, seats that recline wayyy back, and headphone and seat-back entertainment screens (for movies and TV programming). On the first floor there is a water dispenser as well as men’s and women’s restrooms.
Since we’d woken up super early for our morning departure, as soon as I sank into the comfy seat, I took out my eye mask and zonked out, sleeping nearly the entire trip (I woke up briefly during the two intermediate stops). We arrived on time at San Miguel de Allende refreshed and ready to explore the historic wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.