Friday, 19 February 2016

Guanajuato City

 

For quite some time we have planned to go to Guanajuato, and last Wednesday it all came together. The two of us and Darcy, our neighbour, hopped into the car at 09:45 and drove the hour and a half drive from San Miguel.

Parking in the tunnels is free

The map shows some streets in grey, these streets are under ground and offer a quick way to traverse town, because most roads and alleys in town are too narrow for cars. Most of the tunnels offer free parking and there are pedestrian walkways out of the tunnels at many points in the city. We cruised around a bit and found a parking spot near one of the pedestrian exits. As we emerged from the tunnel we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of the plaza principal, the Jardin Unión.

El Pipila view point

Sadly today two of the items on our list were closed, the Teatro Juárez and the funicular tram to the El Pípila monument, which offers a fantastic view of the city. First thing to do is find the local tourist booth and pick up a map of the city... Guanajuato is very pretty and similar in topography to San Miguel, the downtown core is reasonably level and easy to walk, but then the outlying neighbourhoods are all up the hills surrounding the city. We strolled the core of town together, while Darcy had a coffee break, and agreed to meet up at 12:30 at the Plaza de la Paz.

The Basilica

The Plaza de la Paz is surrounded by government buildings and a large church called "Basilica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato". It has a very impressive interior, but there was a service in progress so I took no pictures. The pie shaped plaza is nicely landscaped and also has some al fresco restaurants.

We were rejoined with Darcy and we proceeded to the home of Diego Rivera, a famous Mexican artist, now a museum dedicated to his life works. The museum houses many of his works including drawings and studies for murals created by him. The interior courtyard has been redone in a very modernistic style and blends well with the old interior of the house. The main floor shows the living quarters while the second and third floors are now exhibition space. Photography is not permitted on the exhibition floors. Admission is a modest 25 Pesos per person.

Sauntering through the museum made us hungry so we headed for the enormous market building, every town has one. In addition to fresh produce there is always a food court. Along the street, walking to the market I turned and saw no Shelagh or Darcy. They ducked into a little store to check out shopping bags. Shelagh suggested the one with "Katrina" on it and Darcy bought it. She then gave it to Shelagh as a gift! Now whenever we use the bag we will think of Darcy. While the ladies were in the store I waited outside and admired the bird collection on the balcony above the store. We were not far from the market and were soon served a delicious lunch among like minded customers. There is always something to see and squeeze at the market. So much good looking food and colourful merchandise to admire.

Every proper town has an Irish pub

Leaving the market we headed for "Plazuela de Los Angeles". At the north end of the little park is an alley so narrow that the balcony of one house is just inches from the balcony of the house on the other side. In each house lived a family, one with a young son and the other with a young daughter. No need to explain how the alley became known as the "kissing alley". On the window bars of one of the houses, young lovers attach padlocks to cement their relationships.

We slowly made our way back to the Jardin Unión. Along the way I was admiring a sculpture mounted on the wall of the univercity. As I was photographing it a smartly dressed young man explained to me that if I walked to the other side of the building I would see his feet! We then had a good belly laugh. "At least it's not his ass!" I replied and we had another laugh. Mexicans are fun! The University of Guanajuato's main building is in Guanajuato city, but there are nine more schools throughout the state. Over 30000 people study here every year. It started out as a Jesuit school for children in the 18th century and has expanded over the years. It became a university in 1945. Once a year during the festival of Cervantino the university hosts a few events and the enormous stairway is used for seating.

His feet are at the other side of the building!
The University of Guanajuato. Photo from Google images.

The time had come to return to the car and drive back to San Miguel. We took the route through Dolores Hidalgo. A lot of mountain driving for Darcy, and a bit tiring, but she managed very well averaging 30 km/h over the speed limit! I have a few more grey hairs...

 

11 comments:

  1. What a great day in one of our favourite cities! We loved our day there and I think we will plan on returning next year. Did you see the Mummy Museum. It was fascinating as well. So nice to relive our tour in some of your photos!!

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    1. The mummy museum will be for next time...

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  2. Great read once again and love the pictures!

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  3. A day well spent. So glad you got to experience Guanajuato. So much to see in all of Mexico.

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    1. So true, Contessa. Where Mexico is concerned we've only just begun... Next winter we plan to go to the Pacific coast and we'll have a dance!

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  4. More excellent photos, thanks for taking us along.

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  5. When we left SMA we went to Guanajuato planning on staying three days but it quickly turned into five days. We loved it.

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    1. Hi Jackie,

      We will leave SMA reluctantly at the end of the month. Back to Vancouver BC. Plans are already being made for a return to Mexico next winter.

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  6. Love the photos, and the accompanying story! I would love to visit there...you are going to have the most amazing memories from this trip! Thank you for taking us along... :)

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