Guanajuato - city for relaxation
One A What Toe, (Guanajuato) is such a beautiful small city, it's not too hard to take at all. Located north of Mexico city in the state of Guanajuato, this state was historically one of Mexico's richest. After silver was found in Zacatecas, Spanish prospectors combed the rugged lands north of Mexico City and were rewarded by discoveries of silver, gold, iron, lead, zinc and tin.
For two centuries 30% to 40% of the world's silver was mined in Guanajuato. Silver barons in Guanajuato city lived opulent lives at the expense of Indians who worked the mines, first as slave labour and then as wage slaves. Eventually the growing well-heeled criollo class of Guanajuato and Quere'taro began to resent the dominance and arrogance of the Spanish-born in the colony. After the occupation of much of Spain by Napoleon Bonaparte's troops in 1808 and subsequent political confusion in Mexico, som provincial criollos began - while meeting as 'literary societries' - to draw up plans for rebellion.
Guanajuato is a city crammed onto the steep slopes of a ravine, with underground tunnels acting as streets. This impossible topography was settled in 1559 because the silver and gold mines found here were among the richest in the world. Many of the colonial structures built from this wealth remain intact, making Guanajuato a living monument to a prosperoous, turbulent past. But it's not only the past that resounds from Guanajuato's narrow cobbled streets. The University of Guanajuato, known for its arts programmes, attracts 15,000 students each year, giving the city a youthfulness, vibrancy and cultural life just as attractrive as the colonial architecture and exotic setting. The city's cultural side peaks during the Festival Internacional Cervantino, usually held in October each year. One of my fondest memories of Guanajuato, is how peaceful a place it is. The main Zocalo they call the "Piece of Cheese" because of its wedged shape, and like most main Zocalo's that I've seen, they keep the trees surrounding it, well clipped. In the early evenings, crowds of black birds congregate in these trees, creating a racket with their songs. It is the main meeting spot, and you will find friends and entire families enjoying the evenings here.
This is a city that travelers in the 19th century would visit while skipping Mexico CIty. It was wealthy and boasted theatrical, musical and dance performances that could be found almost no else in the New World. Diego Rivera had a home here which is open to the public. Students from the university present theatrical pagents. Guanajuato remains a cultural center of Mexico.
Mexico has a well developed mural tradition. The original of this mural is shown below- I'm sure you'll recognize it.
Yummy... But A Harrowing Experience!
I'm inclined to believe that Truco 7 is a victim of its own popularity. It comes highly recommended- in guidebooks, online, through word of mouth. On my first visit, I arrived to find the restaurant full but nobody waiting, so I wasn't too worried about getting a table. After I'd been waiting a few minutes, a woman came, asked me if there was a wait, and took a seat in the waiting area (before 2:00 pm they don't make a list). Well, when a table became available and the host came out and asked who was next, the woman jumped up and said she had arrived before me! I was majorly pissed off, but I figure that the type of restaurant where people would lie about the wait list on Good Friday must be really good! I eventually got a table (and glared at the table-snatched throughout my meal) and ordered: a bowl of vegetable soup to start, then cheese enchiladas in mole sauce, and a glass of watermelon agua fresca to drink. The soup was great and the agua fresca was AMAZING- I slurped it up quickly and asked for another to drink with my enchiladas. My enchiladas came and they were awesome, but the drink didn't come. I asked the waiter twice, and both times he said it would just be a minute. At the end of my meal I got the bill, which included two aguas frescas (but I had only received one). I pointed it out to the waiter and he said he would bring the drink right out, so I paid. And then I sat. For fifty minutes. I had PAID for the drink, I WANTED the drink (it was so yummy!), I REMINDED the waiter that I was waiting... and nothing. Finally I raised my voice so that people at the other tables could hear, told him that I was sick of waiting, and "demanded" the drink that I had paid for. It was at my table in a minute. On my next visit, I ordered the same food and it was all really good, but the service was just as bad. My waiter left in the middle of my meal and nobody seemed to replace him- my empty plate must have sat in front of me for forty-five minutes while I tried to flag down someone to get my bill. Nobody would help me, so I got up, collected my stuff as if I were going to leave, and snuck into the bathroom (so they'd think I'd left without paying). Needless to say, the second I left the bathroom they were shoving the bill at me, watching me suspiciously to make sure I paid. The food at Truco 7 is great, the prices are reasonable, and it's a nice-looking restaurant... but based on two meals there I can say with some assurance that the service is poop.
Natural history museum
Not a particularly big museum, lot's of smaller stuffed animals. But they were having a 3D photo exhibition of Mexican landscapes which was quite cool. So pop in and ask if they have any exhibitions on, it's only 7 pesos to go in.
There was also a free modern art exhibition just over the corridor
There are some great places to take in a view of Guanajuato. If you go to the Mummy Museum, try walking back into town. Along the way there are several stretches of road that are just designed to be viewpoints. You'll get a beautiful panorama of jacaranda trees with their bright purple blossoms, as well as the beautifully-painted houses lining the hill opposite. From the El Pipila lookout, you can take in views of the historic center. Try going as the sun sets, so you can watch the darkness slowly move across town and the street lights begin to come on.