Guanajuato, Mexico Report

Sep 22, 2010 by

Guanajuato, Mexico Report

An off the beaten path jewel in Mexico.

We recently ventured to Guanajuato, Mexico for our dear friend’s, Warren and Estela, wedding.  Traveling there I knew nothing about the area, except what Wikipedia said: UNESCO World Heritage Site, mining history, yadda yadda.  Getting there was pretty easy, fly to Houston, fly to Guanajuato/Leon and then take a short car ride to the city.  Once we got there we quickly realized that this was an extremely beautiful historic area.  Many of the roads are under the city in old aqueducts or pathwayd carved for traffic, so taxi rides are kind of neat darting in and out of ground.  The houses are all beautifully colored due to subsidized paint costs to make the town welcoming and colorful.  The central square with its thick perfectly groomed trees is a wonderful place to hang out and relax while settling in to the rustic beauty of the area.  And they have a Starbucks for you who need your fix.

We stayed at the El Camino Real.  This was a great hotel. The restaurant and bar had wonderful staff.  The rooms were nicely appointed and spacious, the beds were comfortable, the hotel was impeccably clean, the staff were friendly.  I especially enjoyed the pool which had a zero entry platform so you could lay in the water and relax.  We had one of the rooms up on the terrace and ours had a brick dome ceiling that was really neat.  (Check the internet for specials, their website list price is much much more than what we paid.)

We had a lot of planned wedding activities, but luckily we had some time to explore the city, as well.  There are many beautiful historic buildings definitely worth checking out.  I highly suggest going in the ornate Teatro Juarez near the main city square, if there is a show playing it would be worth the price to see the show and the theater.  Lots of marble and ornately carved wood make this a real jewel. Many of the buildings date back to the 1600s when the Spanish still occupied the city.  Just wander through this city and it’s winding corridors around the central square, the university and the market, giving yourself time for stops. Stopping in the churches and neighborhood squares you can admire the beauty of the areas architecture.

The market is a great place to plan a stop.  There are food stalls to eat at, fresh produce, local crafts and all sorts of goods for sale.  I found some really well crafted leather purses, as well as, some neat gifts for family and friends at home.  I picked up a great, colorful woven market basket for me, that even when packed full is easy to carry.  Specialties in the area are candies, silver and gold jewelry, leather goods and pottery.  You can find jewelry ranging from very classic hand crafted to modern and sleek styles.  Wandering around town make sure you stop into one of the local candy stores to pick up some goodies.  I especially liked the caramels and coconut candies.  This was my favorite part of the visit.  Every corner revealed more city with interesting buildings and neat neighborhoods and stores.  Often one store had many functions, the neat traditional jewelry took the counter space in the front of a shop, while barbers groomed clipped and shaved in the back.

Another neat stop is the Capelo Art Gallery, website here.  One of the galleries also featured really neat pottery from the area.

If you want to see where all that silver came from head up to the La Valencia Mine.  This is where the wedding took place and it is a neat old mine, now a garden and quite challenging golf course.  Surrounded by stacked stone walls you can envision what it would be like when those shafts were active.

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We had some great meals downtown.  Casa Valadez was a great breakfast spot, with out of this world bread and salsas. I highly recommend huevos rancheros. But really you can’t go wrong on their breakfast menu. I wish we could have had another meal here, as well. Website here. They also have nutritional information on the website.

We also ate at the Hotel Santa Fe and both had enchiladas mineras a regional specialty. Chicken thigh over cheese enchiladas with a sauce with tomatoes, carrots and potatoes. A tiny bit bland for what many think of as Mexican food, but very good and homey, especially with the chile sauce that was on the table.  This is comfort food for this area.

The rest of our meals were at planned wedding events, save a stop at a local bakery for some freshly made doughnuts.

This town is best for the laid back traveler who wants to be off the beaten path from the touristy beaches, and wants stuff to see and do, but not a jam packed schedule.  It was really fun to wander, shop and interact with the people in the town who were all generally very friendly.  Not much English is spoken though, and we appreciated help from our friends communicating at times as we know no Spanish.  And do be alert to drinking water and eating vegetables washed in water when you aren’t in a big hotel or central restaurant.  El Camino Real has filtered water even in the showers which meant less worry when you were showering and brushing your teeth and you didn’t have to ask if the water for your morning tea was filtered.

This is a place that I loved.  This to me was very quintessential Mexico. It was about people and experiences.

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