Guanajuato and San Miguel De Allende, June 2010
Took a short trip to visit Guanajuato‘ took a direct flight from Dallas to Leon, Mexico. Leon is a large industrial city, so very busy. Fortunately, the airport is outside the city and part of the way towards Guanajuato. Advice was not to rent a car and drive there as parking is a serious problem there.
So we got out of the airport and took a short taxi ride over to Guanajuato. Gave the taxi driver the address of the local B&B we were staying at, and even he had to stop a few times, and call the B&B to ask for directions.
There were a lot of small alleyways, all 1 way, with houses built on either side of the alleyway, all over this hilly city. Once we arrived, nobody spoke English, but with simple and broken Spanish, we managed to communicate, and found ourselves in a nice, basic, but comfortable room close to the city center.
Guanajuato is the capital of the province by the same name. and was a former silver mining town. There are still silver mines under this hilly town, and they use the mines as tunneled roads under the city to get to other parts of the city.
So it is not unusual to see a car driving along the narrow road, and then disappear into a tunnel. Quite ingenious. Since the town is hilly, and since you have to walk to get anywhere, it was good exercise for both of us. The views of the homes that are painted with all different colors are quite spectacular everywhere. See pics below
Guanajuato hilltop view of the city below
Guanajuato Market, busy place
At night, the place is very lively with many people chilling around the main square, with several live music scenes on the square. This city has a large university, so at night, groups of students will dress up in period costumes (old Spanish) and then take visitors on a tour of the old city, and stopping at various places along the tour and giving the history, as well as making many jokes along the way, which we completely missed. All this to make a few extra peso’s. We went along with them for a while as we saw different parts of the old city and enjoyed people watching. Very nice evening. Meals were always outdoor patio dining since the weather was excellent.
As you can probably tell, I was mesmerized by this City; very young (students) and vibrant, friendly and old/historical. I think I would love to retire here; hardly anyone spoke English here, so this was definitely not on the tourist path and definitely not spoiled by tourists.
So after a few days in Guanajuato, we caught the local bus for a short 2hr drive to San Miguel De Allende; which is a hot spot for American and Canadian snowbirds. The bus was a nice comfortable bus, and very cheap, and it went through some interesting places along the way, including Hidalgo.
By the time we arrived, it was getting to evening; and from the bus stop, we took a taxi to the B&B run by Barbara. Barbara is an American who has migrated to San Miguel and bought an an old Spanish Colonial home, and converted it into a very nice B&B.
She gave us a rundown of the place, her aspirations, and showed us the home next door she had bought which she was in the process of converting into yet another B&B. San Miguel must have over 5,000 expats living here, so English was more readily spoken here, and there was a lively Expat community, with a clubhouse, art galleries, theater playhouse etc etc.
We walked to the town center in the evening, and there just happened to be a large parade of locals who were going from Church to Church (there are a lot of churches here close to each other), singing hymns, and getting blessings at each church. Very nice and lovely, with families everywhere enjoying and taking part in the parade.
Next day, we walked around and checked out the town center; we also visited an Art Gallery of Expats, and spent the day at a hot springs just outside the town. There we met more expats and even got invited to an Expat’s house.
We visited the expat who had invited us; he lived o the outskirts of town in a nice community of high end homes; we had wine with him, toured the area and then returned back to Barbara’s B&B
All in all, had a great trip. I much prefer the unspoilt Guanajuato vs San Miguel, where there were too many Americans. I prefer a more local immersive environment.
Guanajuato has to be one of the most beautiful and captivating place I have ever been to; I wish I could speak more spanish to take advantage of the place. This is one the few places I would love to visit again.