Saturday, 5 January 2019

Visiting San Miguel de Allende & Guanajuato

And here some may wonder, didn't she say they'd visit Oaxaca? 

Happy New Year Everyone! May 2019 just be AMAZING!!!!

Hope you got the chance to get away for a few days, visiting family & friends or just escaped the city like we did.

Yes, I initially planned to visit Oaxaca. But guess who underestimated that the city would be assaulted by a big flow of tourists? Who? Me! I told myself that I could always book something just before leaving and I wanted to gauge how many days my husband would need to rest before we hit the road.

Anyway, long story short we went to SMA with a day trip to Guanajuato. And it was fantastic. We really liked wandering around the town centres with our children.

Practical information:

SMA and Guanajuato are colonial hill towns with a great influence of the Americans. Hence, most people in restaurants, shops speak English. The hordes of Americans may not be to the taste of every Mexican but it surely has a good influence on drivers. Never have we had so many cars and buses stopped to let us cross the streets. “That’s because they don’t want to kill their source of income!” told me a friend. Good point lol. 

Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel at night
SMA is a little less than four hours drive from CDMX. We booked a two-night stay at the hotel which allowed us three days of visit. We arrived in SMA at 10.30 am and enjoyed the day visiting the centro. We then left the next day for Guanajuato for a day trip and on our 3rd day, we checked out early to make the most of it before heading back home. Three days are enough to visit both places but you can add another day if you’d like to go easy, more is not necessary. 

Pavements are narrow so if you are travelling with a baby or toddler, skip the stroller and opt for a baby carrier. It’s for the good of your sanity, trust me. I am all above mental health. And wear comfortable shoes, it goes without saying no heals as most streets are paved.

Even if the average temperature is around 23/25 degree Celsius in winter, it can be very chilly in the evening – yeah that’s Mexico honey - so bring a warm jacket for each of you.

Where we stayed at:

We stayed at a really nice Boutique Hotel called La Puertecita. It is located in a very safe residential area above SMA, away from the bars and nightclubs. The access to the hotel is through a pebble-paved road that somehow set the tone for a quiet holiday. We were afraid that it wouldn’t be ten minutes walking distance as stated in a few reviews and would eventually need a taxi to commute back and forth to downtown SMA. Que nenni! Highly recommend you check it out if you plan a visit. Loved the huevos rancheros I had for breakfast. 

La Puertecita Boutique Hotel
La Puertecita

Camino Domingo San Miguel de Allende
The pebble-paved road to our hotel
Where we ate:

Before leaving, I checked some restaurants with nice reviews. Out of the many places I saved on my notebook, we managed to try only one. Some were closed, some were fully booked until after New Year (like Aperi) and some does not accept children even for lunch (like La Azotea - why the heck do you open at 1pm then???). A little bit of disappointment I should say.

But here are some nice options: 
  • Mi Bistro 300: it is located a bit further down town square, in a nice patio. The food was pretty good; I am surprised the restaurant was almost empty that evening given the difficulty we had to book a table at the many restaurants we called
  • Cumpanio: good place for breakfast, lunch starts at 2pm so not for us early eaters. Check their bakery Panio for an afternoon treat 
  • Nectar: vegetarian/vegan dishes, it’s a small place inside a nice patio with visiting colibris. The service was very slow so be patient. The idea of cooking with tea is very creative and my husband loved the salmon smoked with lapsang souchong.  
  • 13 Cielos: the restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere with its vaulted high ceilings and brick walls. The food was good and creative, lacks a bit of flavour though. The staff was very attentive; my daughter was sick from something she ate for lunch and we asked if they could prepare something light, without meat and dairy.

Restaurant Nectar San Miguel de Allende
Under the  tree in the patio of the restaurant Nectar

Restaurant 13 Cielos
Can't remember from 13 Cielos

Restaurant 13 Cielos
Candied pig from 13 Cielos
Where we shopped:

We usually avoid tourist knick-knacks and never bring much back from our travels but we made an exception this time. I have been looking into unique pieces of Christmas ornaments and I wasn’t disappointed in SMA.
Shopping in San Miguel de Allende
And here are the damages 
I bought some piñata shaped ceramic ornaments at Camino Silvestre, right next to the restaurant Nectar. We stopped by at Azul Cobalto  on our way to Mi Bistro 300 and my husband fell in love with a unique creation of Javier Sirvin. The price was just inaccessible so we left with two pieces of ceramic ornament for our Christmas tree. Much more accessible lol. On our last day of visit, we stopped by at Abrazos. The idea of buying something made by locals working in fair trade conditions really appealed to me. I left the store with some vibrant coloured kitchen clothes to bring back to France as gifts to family and friends. Also, check the shop called Sofi's Home on Correo 24, it is a beautiful place. We also found this beautiful embroidered blouse in one of the many stores around the Parroquia.  

Piñata shaped ornaments Camino Silvestre
Piñata shaped ornaments from Camino Silvestre

Table clothes Abrazos
Kitchen clothes from Abrazos

Sirvin ceramic ornaments Azul Cobalto
Christmas ornaments from Azul Cobalto

 Guanajuato:
Guanajuato
Guanajuato

Basilica of Guanajuato
Inside the Basilica

Guanajuato
One of the streets of Guanajuato 

We had lunch at Casa Valadez. The restaurant was founded in 1950 and the current chef is the daughter of the founders. It is located right next to El Jardin de la Union, in front of the Teatro Juarez. The place is highly crowded and they don’t take reservations. It is safe to say they optimised every inch of the space available as the waiters were literally watching us eating. The menu was huge; it took us ages to go through it. Everything looked very promising but it, in the end, all the dishes we ordered turned out disappointing. The plates were beautifully arranged but they seriously lack of flavours and texture. Prices were decent though.

Ceviche Casa Valadez
Ceviche from Casa Valadez

Salmon Casa Valadez
Pistachio crusted salmon from Casa Valadez

Dessert Casa Valadez
Chocolate y avellanas dessert from Casa Valadez 

If you are looking for some nice pieces of ceramic from Anette, stop by at Rincon Artesanal Ceramica on De Sopena 5A. It is near Casa Valadez, the entrance is quite small so open your eyes. The owner is a nice lady who is very attentive.

Also if you plan to visit the Museum of the Mummies - may not be suitable for young children, go in the morning, as the place gets crowded very fast. We underestimated the waiting time and had to turn back as the line was way out of the courtyard, on the street.

Hope you will find this small tidbit of tourism in SMA and Guanajuato useful. 

Take care 


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