The remainder of our stay in Guanajuato was spent seeking out interesting restaurants and exploring places on our own.
We decided to check out the Mercado Hidalgo, a bustling marketplace opened in 1910, where the locals rent stalls to display their crafts and sell fruits and vegetables.
We were tipped off about El Midi, a nice little Mediterranean style restaurant for comida (lunch). It is tucked away in a quaint little plaza, called Plazuela de San Fernando, where balconies overlooking the shops are filled with Talavera pots laden with fragrant plants.
From here we jumped into a taxi and headed to Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera, a 16th-century former hacienda, with 3 acres of gardens representing several countries, Japan, Mexico, Italy, etc. This is a tranquil setting, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and much of the original furniture continues to be displayed within the walls of the hacienda.
There is a famous alleyway not to be missed when in Guanajuato, that of the Callejon del Beso (the Kiss Alley). Legend has it that two young lovers, one a wealthy Spanish girl, Ana, and the other a poor miner, Carlo, would sneak kisses from their balconies across from one another. One night Ana’s father witnessed this and murdered his daughter. Carlos was so distraught over his loss that he killed himself in one of the local mines.
A much photographed sculpture of Don Quixote de la Mancha and his sidekick Sancho Panza can be seen in the Plaza Allende, where the Teatro Cervantes is also located.
Just a few steps away is Campanero (Bellman) Street. Looking skyward, you will see an 18th-century bridge, one of the few remaining in Guanajuato, with a lovely cafe spanning it.
One of the most beautiful theaters in all of Mexico resides in the heart of Guanajuato, across from the Jardin de la Union, the Teatro Juarez. The bronze sculptures of the Greek muses are proudly displayed on pedestals atop the theater and are breathtaking, both during the day and at night. The inauguration of this theater occurred in October 1903 and can accommodate 1100 spectators. It is the main stage for the annual International Cervantino Festival, as well as the focal point for theater, ballet, musical presentations, and painting and photography exhibitions. On nights when there are no performances being held, impromptu mime acts and other student productions are taking place outside, with the stairs leading up to the theater packed with students and other observers.
Our last evening meal in Guanajuato was spent at a lovely sidewalk cafe, La Cappelina, sharing a pizza and people watching. It was very heartwarming to see the number of smiling children, walking arm-in-arm with mothers and grandmothers, no matter what their age, not too embarrassed to be seen displaying this type of public affection.
This is a city of great vibrancy, perhaps because of the university influence, and one which appears to be adhering to their Spanish roots, despite the oppression of the past. We look forward to revisiting this area again and again.