Guanajuato instantly charmed us. Okay, perhaps instantly is a bit of an overstatement. The first hour of our time there, we were trying not to fall over on an overcrowded local bus from the terminal, and then winding our way, somewhat lost, through alleyways trying to find our hostel. Even then, the bustling and young city certainly caught my attention, as did the theatres, churches, and statues on every block.
Once we’d checked into our deliciously cheap hostel on a pedestrian walk, we set back off into the winding streets of the historic centre to find some dinner. The streets were busy, the people were young, and there was energy and activity everywhere you looked. We had a good feeling straight away.
Guanajuato is a mining town turned university city, and its mix of colourful houses dotting the hillside, historic buildings and tree-filled plazas, underground tunnels, and endless maze of alleyways makes it a joy to explore. We visited a mine shaft on the outskirts of town, the most impressive thing about this visit was really the drive there and back as it offered unparalleled views of the city, crawling out of the valley and onto the hillsides in a mosaic of coloured casas. After seeing it from above, I couldn’t resist the urge to go exploring some of the alleyways, steps off of the main streets. You could spend hours and days and a lifetime getting lost in these little streets, which is an activity I love more than most. We didn’t pay too much attention to the minor warnings in the ole Lonely Planet about muggings in these areas; we saw nothing more threatening than a miniature-poodle type dog with a loud mouth. Maybe steer clear at night, and of course exercise caution, but – just for the record – I felt fine. A couple kids, who didn’t seem particularly accustomed to tourists trotting around by their house, seemed nothing more than excited that we were there.
As the sun goes down, as with any proper uni town, the fun comes out. Mezcal is a popular drink in the student town, and is generally served up for between 10 and 15 pesos a shot. It is a spirit made from agave (the same plant that tequila comes from) and can be found in many different flavours (of which we sampled all, in one particular bar) from cinnamon to mint to coffee to papaya. Try the cinnamon. Well, try them all, really.