Category Archives: Guanajuato State

Must-see Mexico

Great views from the overlook - first stop on the tour.

Mex and I both agree that if you are going to central Mexico, Guanajuato city (in Guanajuato state) is a must-see. We took a bus there yesterday from San Miguel de Allende and are so glad we did. It has a totally different feel than San Miguel. One thing that is unique is the tunnel system. Starting in the 60’s, they actually built roads under the city to relieve traffic and are still building more. They are great but I think they would make navigating the city a little tricky by car so taking the bus probably saved us from a day of marital issues.

We took a city tour like we have made a habit of and it really was the best one we’ve done so far. It was 4 hours long and we got to get off in a bunch of spots and went in to museums although those prices weren’t included in our ticket. Problem – the tour is only in Spanish. I’m sure it is possible to find an English tour somewhere. We just worked with one of the tour companies who was at the bus station.

This picture doesn't do the city justice! Wish I could capture those beautiful colors better!

Guanajuato was the richest city in Mexico in the 1500’s and 1600’s so there are lots of old mansions throughout town and the architecture of the downtown buildings is beautiful. We went up to this panoramic overlook of the city and the houses are painted  brilliant colors… bright blues and yellows and oranges and reds. It is so pretty!

Callejon de beso - or Alley of Kiss - the Romeo and Juliet scene in Guanajuato. Star-crossed lovers kissed from their balconies across the alley.

Some Guanajuato candy skeletons in the candy store our tour stopped at

One piece of advice we would give is to not buy round trip bus tickets ahead of time. There is no discount to do it and some bus companies are not flexible if you want to change the time. We ran into a little problem with that on our way back to San Miguel. We got back about 9:30 and went to the plaza to get some corn and it was full of people. I guess that’s what happens on Friday night. Totally packed and lots of fun, food vendors and many mariachi bands. I definitely recommend just going and people watching in the plaza if you are there on the weekend.

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San Miguel de Allende

Wow. After this entry we’ll actually be caught up!

Beautiful pink cathedral overlooks the zocalo

Today (Wednesday, although it is almost over) we spent wandering around San Miguel de Allende, one of Mexico’s most famous colonial towns. There are about 150,000 people in town and about 149,000 real estate companies. Well, ok, not that many but, holy smokes, there were at least two on every single block we walked on. I guess it’s easier to be an agent here because there are no real classes to take. I did go into the RE/MAX (in honor of my current place of work) which is right on the plaza but the agent was by herself and with clients (both agent and clients were American). I am curious how mortgages work here because I was under the impression you had to pay at least 50% cash and the house prices are ridiculous here! In US dollars we saw homes from $175K for a 756 sq ft place to $5 million for another place.

Beautiful colored buildings on every street.

This town has a lovely colonial, artsy feel. I am not an artsy person however, so probably don’t appreciate the atmosphere as much as others may. There is a beautiful cathedral – Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel –  on the plaza which has nice shade trees. One thing that is obviously different here is the number of Americans… From what I read, I think there are probably a lot of Canadians here too but it’s hard to tell the difference without hearing the “ay” as they speak =)… Hey, I’ve heard my fair share of Minnesota “OOOOO” jokes so I have to point the accent finger at someone else once-in-a-while. Since the 50’s it’s been the Mexican mecca of artists. We’ve had quite an American day… We had lunch at about 10:30… I had a soy burger with spinach, onion, and blue cheese while Mex had crab cakes with Thai cucumber salsa at El Buen Cafe. Excellent food, small cozy cafe, reasonable to medium high prices. The food is not “traditional” Mexican but, hey, it’s food and it’s in Mexico, right?

Then we walked around the mercado although we didn’t really find any crafts we liked. There are some very beautiful clothes here and lots of stores selling “all the fixin’s” for your colonial palace, from painted tile sinks to iron light fixtures. On our way back to the hotel for an afternoon break we just couldn’t pass up a stop at the Starbucks! mmmm mango tea! I’m sad to report that, yes, Starbucks is just as expensive here as it is in the US. We strolled by dozens of stores catering to Americans such as mail shipping services and phone message services to the US.

After an hour rest and 20 minutes of “skyping” with my mother, we rushed back to the plaza to take the trolley tour of town. Sadly, we were about five minutes late. Instead we wandered down to the Benito Juarez Park and then strolled around the neighborhood looking at houses. We popped into a place for dinner and did have some Mexican food this time (with really good salsa) at Ten

Vendors fill the zocalo all day and evening

Ten Pie. This place was great people watching because the seating is outside on an intersection with lots of pedestrians. Then we walked down the street to Villa Jacaranda where they were playing “Zodiac” in English on a big screen. We got beer and a mini popcorn included in our $7 movie tickets and we were the only ones there. Originally we planned on

One of the many beautiful homes we saw on our walk

stopping off at the town’s Irish pub but decided to come back to the hotel instead. As we walked by the plaza we enjoyed the groups of mariachi’s for a few minutes (but not long enough where we had to tip them) and then came back about 10:30 to find our laundry done and folded on our bed. I’m starting to get used to this life! =)

I think the next two days we are going to take day trips, one to Guanajuato and one to Querétaro which are both supposed to be nice cities. We’ll be taking the bus since we’d prefer to leave our car here in the secure parking than carry all the stuff up into the hotel room. Plus, we still don’t trust the starter completely and don’t want to be stranded in another city. We’ll hopefully be back in the evenings with enough energy to go out and enjoy the live music that is playing all around town and still have time to update all the pictures since I’m very behind and would like to have them finished before I get back to the US and actually have to work again (gasp!)!

Good night everyone and keep hoping and praying for us as the 17th nears!

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A little "lost" never hurt anyone

Yeah, we got lost… Not incredibly bad. On Tuesday morning we got up pretty early and left the hotel by 8:30 to make our way from Puebla to San Miguel de Allende. It looked pretty far on the map since we wanted to go as far north as we could in order to completely avoid Mexico City and still arrive before dark. We started out going west towards Mexico City and then exited on a road which we thought would take us north. Instead we ended up going back east the entire way to Tlaxcala city which is directly north of Puebla where we started! After going a few kilometers north we doubled back west on a different road. We both agreed that Puebla city and the state of Tlaxcala are the best places we’ve been so far. Tlaxcala is the perfect temperature (75 with a slightly cool breeze) and so incredibly green. There are actually trees with leaves and alfalfa fields and green hills. Beautiful! The roads were fabulous too and they were the cheapest toll roads we’ve been on so far. It reminded us of driving through central Minnesota or Wisconsin. So in the end we weren’t too upset about the detour because we got to see some very beautiful countryside.

Our hotel - Posada de las Monjas

After getting back on track we skirted around Pachuca and headed west on a terrible two-lane road that snaked through the dry countryside towards Querétaro. Then we went north to San Miguel. The streets of San Miguel are cobblestone, full of topes and very skinny. We were lucky that our hotel – Posada de las Monjas – is on a main street and has totally private locked parking. Especially since the entire back is now full of pottery!

Our hotel in San Miguel

Unfortunately, as I was planning out our evening tour route Mex got horribly sick. He was sick from 4ish until 7:30 when I had to go out to get some food and water. We hadn’t eaten anything except rolls for breakfast and some chips we brought with us the entire day. He decided to come with me and seemed to feel better until about three minutes after we sat down at the restaurant where he got sick again. We got our food to go and stopped at the pharmacy where they loaded him up with 3 different kinds of pills to help kill the bacteria, etc. Thankfully, he hasn’t been sick since then and he bought extra pills just in case. We have both been sick a number of times and in a number of different ways and we are never sure what causes it. Usually when one of us has gotten sick it has been on a day where we’ve eaten exactly the same thing so it makes no sense at all! Oh well… we’ve definitely learned how to live through it although Mex is still upset that most places here don’t actually have toilet seats on the toilets. Remember that when you travel around the countryside in Mexico! And don’t forget your own toilet paper and hand soap!

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Filed under Guanajuato State, Mexico, Tlaxcala State, Travel Tips