At the end of October, my husband Doug and I made our way to Guanajuato, Mexico. You may not have heard of it before: I had never heard of it until our friend Raúl urged us to visit his hometown with him. Beautiful Guanajuato dates back to the 16th century and is located about 5 hours by car northwest of Mexico City.
As is becoming common practice by now, we took the CBX to fly out of the Tijuana airport. After a pleasant Volaris flight, we landed in León and Raúl’s father picked us up. The drive from Leon to Guanajuato was interesting since I saw the locations of many US car manufacturers: a big industry in the region.
We were fortunate to save money by staying with someone we knew. I’ll round up some hotels and Airbnbs in a future post in case you want to make your way down.
Arriving late at night, we still managed to see a lot. We did a walking tour of the city by night and visited my friend’s grandmother. We ended up at El Potro Loco, where we had mulas (which was like a quesadilla but 100x better).
The next day we started bright and early with coffee at Cafe Conquistador and pan dulces (pastries) at Mercado Hidalgo.
Mercado Hidalgo in the center of the town is the epicenter of food and goods. It was built as a train station, but due to flooding and economical reasons, the train tracks never actually made it to the station. Now, it is an architecturally beautiful, to-the-brim market where one can buy almost anything. We had food at one of the stalls, bought a few souvenirs, and laughed at the wide variety of piñatas.
We continued walking around town and then had a leisurely few hours sitting in Plaza San Fernando soaking in the ambiance (and the amazing mild weather). The transformation of a city from night to the bustling daylight never ceases to impress me. We traversed many of the same streets, that I didn’t even recognize until seeing certain shops or landmarks.
Our second day was a day trip to San Miguel de Allende, which was so beautiful it deserves its own post. It was smaller and a lot more curated than Guanajuato. I heard lots of English spoken in the streets, it is one of central Mexico’s more famous touristic locations.
By the time our third day rolled around we were all feeling a bit under the weather. I hate to cast suspicion on street food because I rarely get sick while traveling, but I blame the elote from the night before. We stayed in most of the day, went out for a few hours in the afternoon, and then watched the World Series (in Spanish!).
Sunday we were all feeling better and we rolled with Raúl’s Tías to a brunch buffet in nearby Silao. Spending time with his family members was challenging since I don’t speak Spanish, and they didn’t speak much English. I surprised myself by making it through conversationally and it renewed my interest in learning Spanish. It’s hard to try to tackle a new language when French is already my second language—that is why I did so awful in college Spanish.
After only 3 days in the area, I was already feeling wistful and nostalgic about leaving. I wasn’t ready to leave early Monday, but life must continue, I guess. Remembering to slow down is kind of difficult for me! I normally visit bustling metropolises, so it was great visiting a colonial city and slowing down for a few days.
More GTO: Plan things to do when visiting Guanjuato and Where to stay, eat and drink in Guanajuato.
All photos by Staci and Doug Jackson for The Voyageer.