San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato are 2 small towns in the central highlands of Mexico, popular with foreign and local tourists alike.
San Miguel de Allende
San Miguel de Allende is one of the main gringo hangouts in Mexico. It is a popular retirement destination and was last year voted best small town in Mexico by Conde Naste magazine. It’s famous for its art – gringo artists have been going there since the 1950s. It’s full of artist’s studios and wine bars for rich gringos. The art there didn’t really appeal to me – for people with no taste and too much money. I was lucky enough, however, to be staying right around the corner from some hidden back streets. There, I discovered some awesome street art. This turned out to be an exception, as I couldn’t find any evidence of street art anywhere else in the town.
Many of the houses have been painted nicely in earthy tones. There is a beautiful church in the centre exquisitely designed and built with a pink tinted brick, which seems to give it an ethereal glow. In keeping with its arty reputation, there were concerts on every evening, from Jazz to tradition Mexican music. There was the highest concentration of Mariachi bands there than in any other place I went to in Mexico.
A much more interesting place in Guanajuato, the capital of Guanajuato province. It’s a small city set in a valley, which one main thoroughfare running through the centre. The brightly coloured houses reminded me a little of Valparaiso in Chile. It was once a rich silver mining centre and the locals splashed out by building several magnificent churches and extravagant buildings, such the Juarez theatre (Teotro Juarez). It’s also a university town and with several student bars and cafes to service their needs. One other remarkable thing about the city is a network of tunnels which run underneath the city and allow traffic to flow quite a bit faster.