A Travellerspoint blog

Touring Guanajuato

January 15

Today started with buying water. Water comes in 20L plastic jugs, just like at home. Don heard the vendor down the street with his cry, "Agua" and went down to order 2 jugs, which may be enough to do us until the end of our stay. So the vendor has a hand cart that he pushes up the street until he gets to where the steps start. Then he put both bottles on his back and carried them up the 30 steps to our place.
Water Delivery

Water Delivery

We arranged a tour with Augustino, an older guide who had very good English. We started at 1:30 and finished at 6:00, quite a bit longer than we thought it would be. We started out with a young Mexican honeymoon couple, but along the way Augustino stopped the van and picked up 3 more women, Diane (from California) and Chicki and Olga (from Puerto Vallarta). Apparently Diane comes down to PV every winter and stays in Olga's apartment building and then they go traveling together. Because Chicki and Olga were both fluent in Spanish and English, it made the tour even more interesting for us. Some of the places we visited were Casa de los lamentos (the House of Laments) where a serial killer lived, a silver mine (got to go down in an old tunnel, the beautiful church in Valenciana (which was built by a mine owner in thanks for becoming so rich). We gave a pass to the Mummy Museum, although the others went thru it, - Mexicans seem very fascinated with the dead and dying. And we got to visit El Pipila again at the end of the tour.
Augustino was very knowledgeable and kept up a commentary in both languages as he negotiated the narrow twisting streets. He pointed out the narrowest alley in Guanjuato - it was only 1/2 meter wide, like a very narrow staircase! Most of the houses don't have any vehicle access, so everything is carried up the hills by hand.
Brick Delivery

Brick Delivery

Here is a laborer delivering bricks - I don't know how far he had to take them, but any distance at all is too much, in my opinion. To live in Guanjuato you have to be willing to overcome the logistical problems - they must be very strong people!

Posted by katdill 17:36 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

El Pipila and Diego Rivera

January 14

Feeling better today so after doing a load of laundry in the rooftop washer and hanging it up to dry, we set off. We knew there was a funicular (cable railway) to ride up the hill to the giant statue of El Pipila. So we tried to find it and ended up walking all the way up the hill! Less than a km but mostly steps all the way. A hard slog with lots of breathing breaks, I'll tell you.
Route to El Pipila

Route to El Pipila

At the top, there is a nice plaza around the statue with many vendors selling food and souvenirs. But the statue really isn't the attraction - its the view of the city. Just wonderful!
View from El Pipila

View from El Pipila

Once we were at the top we saw the funicular terminal, but decided to walk down another way. At least going down isn't as hard cardio, just hard on the knees! We ended up going thru the Alley of the Kiss again and I got a picture of a young couple in the Alley.
I think this is the city with the most elevation changes I've ever been in. The main streets are fairly level, although they do go up and down gradually. But get off the main street and you are going to climb up or down! I may actually be in better shape when we leave here.
We went for lunch to Fonda del Artista, which is across the street from the Diego Rivera museum. Rick, the owner, speaks English and was very helpful, and they have great food as well.
Fonda del Artista

Fonda del Artista

We visited the Diego Rivera museum, which is partly the house he was born in and partly a new art gallery. There were several other artists' work on display as well. Amazing hyperrealism from Santiago Carbonell and Jorge Ermilo Espinosa Torre. Both artists well worth looking up online. I was disappointed with the Rivera work on display - lots of unfinished pencil sketches or studies and no photos or prints of his murals. The exhibition I saw in Toronto of his work was better.

Posted by katdill 07:21 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Taking in Easy

January 13

Yes, today was our anniversary, but we didn't do any celebrating. I woke up feeling that I was getting Don's cold. I'd tried quite hard to avoid it, but to no avail. After breakfast we went out to go to the Post Office, and buy some food. We were going to eat lunch out, but both the restaurants we wanted to try were closed - Monday closing - and we saw a couple of museums that were closed for Monday as well. So we came back home and had lunch. Then it was sit on the roof and enjoy the sunshine, the only drawback being the chairs are wrought iron and not very comfortable for any length of time. Don went out again before supper to pick up a few more things and stretch his legs, while I took to our bed. With the electric heater on and a duvet, it is quite cosy in there. We'll have an anniversary dinner out another day when I'm feeling better.

Posted by katdill 10:46 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Bells of Guanajuato

January 12

Sunday in Guanajuato means lots of church bells. They don't start too early in the morning, but they do go on all day. We are close enough to the Basilica to hear its deep bell and the Temple of San Fransisco is right at the bottom of our street, so we get to hear their higher bell. Basilica at night

Basilica at night

We had a walk out to the Presa reservoir this morning, which had been recommended to us by James. Apparently you can rent little row boats to go out on the reservoir and paddle around. After we had lunch we headed downtown, Don wanted to catch a band concert he had read about. But we didn't know what time it was on and we got there too late. We did get to see an entertaining mime do his performance in front of the theatre steps.

I find it quite strange to be in a city with almost no ground showing - everything is covered with cement, cobblestones, or bricks. Maybe someone from New York would find it normal, but this small town girl likes her greenery. There are trees and mostly everyone has potted plants on their rooftops or patios. Of course, there are parks with trees, but no lawn, just plants that are fenced off. Here is a tree on our street which has shown great tenacity and perservance.Which came first, the tree or the house?

Which came first, the tree or the house?

Just after we had returned home, we heard a marching band down the hill. So Don hurried down and found a band parade, with kids and older folk in 7 or 8 bands. I didn't want to go back down and then climb the hill again, but they were so loud, I could hear them from our balcony. Marching bands playing on narrow streets with stone and brick on all sides really make a racket!!

Posted by katdill 18:27 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

Market and Minstrels

January 11

We started the day off with a walk over to the Embrajadoras Market, which is quite close to us. It is a small fruit and vegetable market with used clothing stalls and household goods. After buying some things we needed and stopping at the bakery, we returned to our place for lunch. Later on we went downtown to participate in whatever Saturday afternoon entertainment we could find. There were quite a few different street performers out doing their thing - the living statues were very good. This fellow had a hidden pump so that the wine poured from the wine bottle into the glass and spilled out into the tub his chair was placed in. Very clever. He sat there for hours!
Living Statue

Living Statue

We bought tickets for the evening entertainment and walked around scouting out restaurants. We ate quite early at Mestizo Restaurant, which is a little off the beaten track, but very nice ambiance and food. Then we went back to our place to rest before returning downtown for the entertainment. It was a group of musicians, mostly students, who were dressed in medieval costume and played mandolins, violins, a bass, etc. Minstrel Group

Minstrel Group

Following the Minstrels

Following the Minstrels

We were each given a small ceramic flask which was filled a couple of times with orange juice (maybe alcoholic?) as we walked along. We started out in front of the church where they warmed up the crowd and got everyone singing and participating. Then they led us along the narrow streets, making frequent stops to sing and entertain. One of the streets we went down at the very end of the tour was Callejon del Beso - The Alley of the Kiss, a street so narrow that people standing on the balcony on each side could kiss across the street. Of course, this was all conducted exclusively in Spanish, so we couldn't sing along and just had to follow what everyone else was doing, cuz we didn't understand what they were telling us. It was interesting and fun, but by the time it was over (about 2 hours) I was ready to go home and rest my feet.

Posted by katdill 06:48 Archived in Mexico Comments (0)

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