GUANAJUATO: I have been half a dozen times on business trips to León and Guadalajara, but did not have the slightest idea of the colonial treasures of Guanajuato, the city of the balconies, or the city of the lovers. Cobblestone streets are narrow, steep, and winding (similar to Cuzco) and there are real historic treasures that are centuries old. The shaft of the Boca del Infierno (hell's mouth) mine is some 2,000 feet deep. The city and surrounding mines have been declared Patrimony of Humanity (or World Heritage) by UNESCO. The links Is have pasted below have a beautiful collection of colonial pictures, about one hundred.
Here they are: www.aboutguanajuato.com/guanajuato/en/; www.terragalleria.com/north-america/mexico/guanajuato/guanajuato.html; www.enjoymexico.net/mexico-pictures/spanish/album_guanajuato_1.php
Guanajuato was the main silver mining area in the 18th century. Taxco is also renowned for its silver, but is in a different area, on the road from Mexico to Acapulco. I had not realized that Guanajuato is at an altitude of 6,600 feet, although this should be no surprise. Mexico City is even higher, at an altitude or probably 11,000 feet. The city of LEÓN is our next stop. Like most cities in Northern Mexico, it has become an industrial centre for export, with many factories ("maquiladoras"). It is also a colonial city that must have over one million inhabitants, and is only some 15 miles away from Guanajuato, that would be my first priority in this area.
Guadalajara has the same title as Cuernavaca, the city of eternal spring. Weather is mild and the city is very nice. There are important hotels in the downtown, but when I was there I stayed at a nice 3-star hotel (maybe it has 2 stars by now) called Las Pérgolas, in a residential area of the city. Near Guadalajara, that is also a university city, San Pedro Tlaquepaque is another small city that deserves a visit, with its churches and artisan fairs. There are excellent bus services that cover this area. ETN (Enlaces Terrestres Nacionales) used to be the best, offering a comfortable bed service, including complimentary sandwiches and beverages on board. One thing I liked about this company is that they required documentation from all passengers and made no stops on the highway, thus increasing safety of the passengers. Although I believe that Mexico is not a dangerous country, some parts of the capital are dangerous, and you enjoy the trip far more if you know that the company has taken these steps for your protection. Turistar is another excellent company, but I am not sure if they cover this route. Amongst the budget companies, Estrella Blanca is pretty good, while some people say that Flecha Amarilla runs too fast. Once I travelled from Queretaro to San Luis Potosi, some 125 miles, in slightly over two hours... Of course, there are very good freeways in this area. ADO (Autobuses de Oriente) used to cover this route, but I understand that now they cover mostly southern Mexico.
Wherever you go, you will find more or less the same picture. Colonial churches that are centuries old, narrow cobblestone streets in the old section of the city, and the traditional friendship of Mexican people. If you have little time for visiting this area, don’t miss the Aqueduct at Querétaro, the main square and churches at San Luis Potosí, purchase your clothes at Aguas Calientes (it is a textile industry centre), and don’t miss the charm of Guanajuato. Of course, Guadalajara is quite near Puerto Vallarta with its charming attractions. Hotels are not too expensive in this area, slightly cheaper than in the USA. Enjoy your stay in Central Mexico.