Guanajuato is a beautiful hilly city in the mountains of the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. It is full of narrow cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and great museums. All we had to do was get there. On our way, we stopped for the night at a nice free campsite. We use an iPhone app (application) called 'iOverlander' to help us find a spot to sleep some nights while on the road. It isn't always reliable, but sometimes you get to wake up in places like this:
Again, Google Maps told us it would take 4 hours to get there... It took us two days because we got held up along the way...
Driving in Guanajuato was exciting to say the least. We had to cross the city to get to our destination for camping, and it only took us 3 attempts. The city is filled with tunnels, unlabeled streets, one-way streets, and two-way streets that should be one-way streets. The streets are a true labyrinth, both above and below ground. The photos never do it justice, but here's our attempt.
Once we arrived at the Morrill Trailer Park where we would be camping, we were more than happy to pay for a level place to park the car, and not drive it again until we were prepared to leave Guanajuato. We had access to hot showers, toilets, and water. It was also a great place to do laundry. What more could you ask for?
Walking was equally as confusing as driving. Guanajuato's geography makes San Francisco feel flat, and its stairs and walkways make a bowl of (gluten free) spaghetti seem organized. A lifetime could be spent exploring every tunnel and passageway, enjoying all the colors and views of Guanajuato.
Before the time of horseless carriages, the tunnels of Guanajuato were it's sophisticated sewer system. With the install of a "modern" sewer system, and the arrival of the automobile, the tunnels were converted to automotive use. The tunnels include below ground (unmarked) intersections, steep subterranean hills, bus stops, and absolutely no cell or GPS signal.
But wait, there's more!!! If you're going to Guanajuato, also see:
Guanajuato's Hildago Market is housed in a building built in 1910; two stories of vendors selling fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, as well as restaurants literally yelling for your business. It can be overwhelmingly crowded, but it is also an exciting experience.
The regional museum, Alhóndiga de Granaditas, is an old grain storage facility turned fortress, turned museum. The large building was the sight of the first victory of the Mexican War of Independence. Many old buildings in Guanajuato were built with green and pink stone from the region.
Teatro de Juarez (Juarez Theater) built in 1903, one of Mexico's premier theaters.
Climb the steps of Universidad de Guanajuato (University of Guanajuato) to have a great view of the city.
Don't forget to sneak over to the narrow alleyway called Callejon del Beso (The Kissing Alley), the scene of a Mexican version of Romeo & Juliet. They say the ghosts of young couple will give you good luck if you kiss your partner in their alley!
A hike on the outskirts of the city provided some amazing views and a bit of a workout if the stairs in the city at 6,600' weren't enough for you.
We had an amazing time in Guanajuato, and hope to some day return. If you're going to Guanajuato, don't drive in the city, bring hiking boots, and spend twice as much time as you think you need there. It's truly a magical city.