Weekend Trip: The Small Town of Guanajuato

Guanajuato

Guanuajuato is a 4-hour-bus ride away from Guadalajara. On my first weekend here, my friend Karla suggested that we check out a few towns worth visiting and our first stop was this quaint city located in the same named state. It is close to Leon and San Miguel de Allende, so we had a few options on what to see next. Our bus ride was with the well-known company ETN and, since we paid with a student discount, well worth the sometimes tedious ride (more on Mexican buses to come soon).

We arrived in Guanajuato at 8 PM at night, and by then the sun was slowly setting over the city as we wandered around the station, looking for a cab. The taxi drove us to our destination and took about 20 minutes at this time of day. Taxis are dirt cheap in both towns: Guanajuato and San Miguel. We ended up paying 40 pesos (equivalent to $3) for a ride that would have probably cost me 20 bucks in the US and way more Euros in Germany.

Hostel Life was both affordable and convenient. In the two hostels we stayed at I only paid $15 and $10 a day – so far the best deal I’ve ever gotten anywhere. When we arrived at our inn, we found out that we were the only guests for the night, so we had the bath, the terrace, and the kitchen area to ourselves. The place was called Hostel Al Son de Los Santos and conveniently located only 20 minutes by foot from the city center (and everywhere we had to go).

Our hostel
Our hostel
The awesome view from the terrace
The awesome view from the terrace

Since I was with 3 other girls, it took us quite some time to get ready for our first night out. We set off to explore the town by foot. The chicas were hungry and we decided to stop at a random (Mexican-owned) pizza place in town. I guess this was our first mistake for the night. The chili (nothing goes without chili in Mexico!) that the waiter gave us was so spicy that all of us had tears to our eyes and upset stomachs afterwards. Fine, the food was no bueno but perhaps the drinks would be decent, right?

After our not so successful meal we walked further into the town center and I came across the Teatro Juarez, which offers a beautiful sight at night when being well-lit. . It was built in 1903, more than 100 years ago, but it certainly looks older and has a lot of style. It still hosts shows, supposedly, and during the day it is a main hub for social entertainment and life with people sitting on its steps.

Teatro Juarez by night
Teatro Juarez by night

We ended up at a 4-story-bar, which looked promising from the outside. First, we went downstairs into the cellar and I took my first mescal shot ever. Sweet, but not too strong – a perfect mix for our sore stomachs. We then continued with drinks on the bar’s rooftop, which was almost abandoned except for a group of Mexican guys who were constantly seeking our attention. I ordered a Margarita and the others got a blue-colored drink. Both practically contained no alcohol and were certainly not worth the 60 pesos ($7) we ended up paying for them. My friend Karla was perplexed at how the bar she had gone to only a year ago was now deserted and unpopular, but after the drinks we had, we think we know the reason to that.

The drink was awful but made for a blue picture!
The drink was awful but made for a blue picture!

We didn’t feel in the mood to fool around with another bar, so we took off and wound up at a busy night club in Guanajuato. My night ended at around 2 with one of the chicas but the other two stayed out until 4 AM while rocking the dance floor.

The other day was yet another beautiful, sunny Saturday in Mexico. While wandering the streets at 10 AM, the markets were already in full swing, the tourists not yet awakened. One thing about Guanajuato is that the streets and sidewalks are… narrow! So narrow, indeed, that passing another person is not possible without stepping onto the street. Beware of cars speeding by, though. The entire experience reminded me of a typical town in Malta or Italy for that matter, only that the people spoke Spanish.

The narrow streets
The narrow streets

After a quick lunch in a mom and pop owned shop, we strolled along. The town was now fully awakened and we even saw the occasional tourist (who was lacking the night before). Attractions worth seeing are the University, which resembles a church from the outside but offers a beautiful façade. Guanajuato is known for its mummies but unfortunately we were running out of time, as we were there for one full day only. I did manage to snag this picture of a touristy mummy, which was fine with me.

After entering a traditional Mexican candy shop (coated nuts, caramelized coconut flakes, and many more goodies), we slowly made our way through town, taking in the sight of the yellow Basilica Colegiata and street vendors selling yet another must-have to visitors.

guanajuato mummy

Basilica Colegiate and a wedding couple
Basilica Colegiate and a wedding couple

Overall, I have to say that my impressions of Guanajuato were rather mixed. The town is poor and I got that vibe from wandering around by myself while trying to get a good picture. I also didn’t find a crazy amount of tourists, which usually is a good thing but in this case I just felt like an outsider and subject to prey. It was great to check this town out but I don’t think I would have much reason to return here. Except for the mummies, perhaps, I am still eager to see those!

Karla and her friends wanted to check out the Kissing Alley (Callejon del Beso), so we flocked over there and were in the middle of one of the busiest spots in town. Here, indeed, you had all of those foreign-speaking tourists wished for. You can find the story behind the balcony here, I consider it the Mexican version of Romea and Juliet (although with a different and unhappier ending).

The Kissing Alley
The Kissing Alley

After feeling like the ultimate tourist, we had no time for more sightseeing and we grabbed our bags from our hostel, waving Guanajuato farewell. It took us almost 30 minutes to hail down a cab. Since taxis are extremely cheap over there, many people use them and therefore most were occupied. We were a bit in a rush to get to our bus to San Miguel but luckily the bus was half an hour too late so we had to wait at the bus station. Our next destination? San Miguel de Allende, one of the most gorgeous towns on my visit to Mexico!

Some street vendors during the day
Some street vendors during the day
Us in front of Guanajuato's Universidad
Us in front of Guanajuato’s Universidad


[For more pictures on Guanajuato, go to This is Mexico: The Town of Guanajuato]

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9 thoughts on “Weekend Trip: The Small Town of Guanajuato

  1. It definitely sounds like a mix of ups and downs. Good and bad. But, still, a great experience and some beautiful photos!

    • That does sound like a good deal on the hostel. I like the colorful buildings. I also like the nighttime pic of Teatro Juarez. I gained an affinity for snapping pictures at night in D.C. for the same reason. That legend about the kissing alley does sound like Romeo and Juliet a bit, but I think it actually has a slightly happier ending. In Romeo and Juliet both of them end up dead. In this one it sounds like only one of them died.

      • haha, if you consider “only one of them died” a happy ending, then yes, I agree. The story has its variations but basically I thought it seemed oddly similar to Shakespeare’s legend.
        yes, night time pictures can be quite magical!

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