Sunday, August 18, 2019

RV Park Living in San Miguel de Allende, Trolley Tour of the City, and Hiking the Botanical Garden

At the San Miguel de Allende Mirador (Lookout)
      We finally got to go on the Trolley Tour of San Miguel de Allende! On our third attempt, we arrived early enough to purchase a ticket before they sold out. We had to settle for a Spanish-only tour as there is only one bilingual tour per day in July, but it was fine. It was actually good practice for me to learn to hear Spanish and Jon could interpret most of the information that I couldn’t understand.
     Much of the tour we had already experienced while walking around downtown, but the view from El Mirador (the outlook) was worth the 40 pesos ($2 US) per person, providing a panoramic view of the city. It was especially breathtaking to see the Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel, the magnificent neo-Gothic 17th-century church, from this mountainside vista.
     There are so many beautiful old churches in San Miguel de Allende, I could do an entire blog post on that topic alone. There are so many beautiful old churches in San Miguel de Allende, I could do an entire blog post on that topic alone. Designated a World Heritage Site in 2008 by UNESCO, San Miguel de Allende's well-preserved historic center is filled with buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries.
     One of my bucket list items was to visit the El Charco Botanical Garden in San Miguel de Allende. We finally made it a day trip and hiked almost all of the trails. Since there is little rainfall in this area, the garden exhibited mostly cacti, agave, and other drought-tolerant plants. The trails led us down to the reservoir, a wetland for birds, turtles, and various aquatic plants. It was a more strenuous hike than I expected, mostly because it's in the mountains at 6500 feet and, even after spending three weeks there, I had not completely adapted to living at this altitude.
     The San Ramón Hotel & RV Park in San Miguel de Allende was a pleasant place for us to live in our motorhome for three weeks while we explored the city. We parked on a level concrete slab with full hookups, surrounded by shade trees and lawns. Our view was of a lush green pasture and trees where beautiful horses and frisky sheep played and grazed during the day. We felt like we were out in the country but we were only a short bus ride from downtown San Miguel de Allende. Uber was also easy to use and inexpensive, so we often bussed into town for dinner and took Uber home.
     The variety of RVs parked at San Ramon RV Park, even during low season, was interesting. We especially liked the old, renovated green Winnebago with flowers painted on the body. No, it wasn't owned by hippies, but by an elderly Mexican couple. The swimming pool was emptied and refilled daily with fresh warm mineral water, a nice place to spend an hour on an 80-degree afternoon.  
     We'll definitely return to San Miguel de Allende. We can't get enough of the various views of the churches and the wonderful restaurants. Maybe this will become our summer home. Its cooler, drier summer climate is a refreshing break from the humid, hot rainy season on the Pacific coast.
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Friday, August 2, 2019

San Miguel de Allende: A Wonderful Place to Be in July

     The Parroquia San Miguel Arcángel is probably the most photographed building in San Miguel de Allende—for good reason. It is the most beautiful church I’ve seen in all of my travels. When the sunlight changes, the colors of the stones change and a new photo is called for. When it rains, the church changes color again and my camera comes out for another photo. Of course, I can’t post all of them, though I’m tempted to show every changing mood of this masterpiece.
     There are so many amazing buildings, doors, parks, and restaurants in San Miguel de Allende that this article will be more of a collection of photos from our first two weeks here. We love the architecture, the cooler summer weather, the food, the gardens, and everything there is to explore so much that we’ve decided to stay another week.
     The buildings shown below are facing the Jardín Principal near the Parroquia, and create the center of town.

     During our walking tours of centro, self-guided, I noticed that predominant colors used on many of the beautiful buildings in San Miguel de Allende are various shades of orange and yellow. Though not typically my first choice, the colors work well here.
     I have often heard that San Miguel de Allende is overrun with foreigners. We sure didn’t notice that to be the case. Maybe because July is the month that locals take family vacations, the vast majority of people we saw were Mexicans. Spanish was the preferred language spoken in restaurants and on tours.

     We want to take the Trolley Tour of SMA, but the tickets sell out quickly. We have tried twice to buy a ticket but arrived too late in the day and all were sold out. So, we went back to our self-guided walking tour.
     We enjoyed many parks and plazas, watched children play basketball at the Parque Benito Juarez, saw the historic "Pemex Gas Station", and wandered the narrow stone-paved roads. Some calles remind us of the streets of Venice, Italy, except in San Miguel small cars and buses fill the streets. We especially enjoyed the streets in centro that were closed to vehicle traffic so that pedestrians could wander down the center of the streets.
     As always, finding good restaurants is an important part of our explorations. Hank’s New Orleans Café and Oyster Bar has become a favorite. The Cajun food, excellent service, and fun atmosphere keep inviting us back. One day, I began craving Chinese food and we decided to walk miles across town to reach Dragon Chino. I almost talked Jon out of going in due to its appearance, but he insisted we try it as we had walked so far to find it. We were glad we did—the food was delicious. They didn’t serve wine so we ordered Margaritas and they were excellent, too. We’ll be back for their spicy shrimp and chicken dishes!
Cajun-Style Calamari at Hank's
Dragon Chino Restaurant


     We have enjoyed the amazing weather here in San Miguel de Allende. It has been 80 degrees in the afternoon and in the 50s to 60s at night-- a very nice July climate. 
     Transportation around town is convenient which is important to us since we don't own a car. Who would want to drive in this city, anyway, where there is not a single traffic light and parking is a challenge? Roundabouts and driver courtesy keep things flowing, but it seems a little scary to me. We have a convenient bus service into centro which we use almost daily for 8 pesos (40 cents US) per person. When it rains in the evening, taxis are easy to find and Uber is inexpensive here.
     We’ve decided to stay another week. We still have plans to go to the Botanical Gardens, a yoga class, ride the trolley, and discover one or two more restaurants. Look for one more blog article from me about this fun city in Mexico.
Gombos Pizza
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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Guanajuato, GTO, Mexico: A Week-long RV Stay and Fun Adventure


Guanajuato is a unique Mexican city with its brightly colored homes spilling down the hillsides, the maze of mining tunnels now serving as streets under the city, and the historic Spanish architecture. We love all of it.

The Colors of Guanajuato

            This was our second trip to Guanajuato and we decided it was high time we took the four-hour tour of the city. We especially wanted to see the view from the Panoramic drive. It was well worth the 2000 pesos ($100US) to be taken through the narrow, confusing streets by an experienced driver. Plus, he took us to many places we would have never found on our own.
          We saw the Pipila Statue, the Old City Dam, toured the gorgeous Valenciana Church constructed with an amazing amount of gold, the Valenciana Mines where we climbed down about 200 feet into an old silver mine, the Mummy Museum (a collection of naturally mummified bodies interred during a cholera outbreak in 1833), the Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, and more. The tour driver was surprised at how quickly we came out of the Mummy Museum. It was difficult for us to view, though many people are intrigued by it.
Templo de La Valenciana
Mummy Museum, Teatro Juarez, and 
Gardens of Hacienda San Gabriel De Barrera
          Back on our own, we explored using Google Maps on our phone to find our way, a challenge due to all of the tall concrete, brick, and stone buildings blocking the signal. Jon stopped off at an OXXO store to charge the phone—not a typical OXXO, tucked in a historical building. As always, finding good restaurants is one of our goals, and we found some excellent ones. La Taberna de Diego y Frida was a favorite. I include the photo of the exterior of Los Campos Restaurante as it was very challenging to find tucked back in the corner of Plaza Baratillo. The cozy ambiance, delicious tapas, and wonderful service made it worth the hour it took us to find this cantina.
Los Campos Restaurante--Worth a Visit!
          Don’t be surprised if you get on a bus going to centro and it drops you off in the middle of a dark underground tunnel, like this one. We were so shocked that this was a bus stop—and it was the end of the line! We did the only reasonable thing. We got off the bus and followed the other passengers as we all walked on the narrow sidewalk until we arrived at a stairway up. We climbed out of the tunnel and came out in the center of an outdoor market. I doubt we would be able to find that stairway down to the bus stop again without help from the locals. 
Exploring Guanajuato, GTO, MX is always a fun adventure!
If you would like to know more about the Bugamville RV Park where we stayed, please comment at the bottom of this blog article and I will reply. Thank you for reading about our latest adventure!
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