When I was researching my trip to Queretaro, a town called San Miguel de Allende kept popping up. As I researched more, and Fer kept telling me to go as well, I knew that I had to visit.
San Miguel de Allende is a tourist town for mostly Canadians and Americans, though Europeans go as well. The average tourist is a wealthy retiree that has purchased a vacation home there and loves art. It is the Mexican version of Carmel, CA…an artist community and haven that the rich have taken over. So there is much history and beauty to it, but it is also commercialized. On the plus side, there is a lot of English being spoken, which was good for me since I was completely on my own and an hour away from my B&B.
To get to Allende, I had to find the H bus in Queretaro and take that to Bus Central. This sounds easy, but is not, and I was getting fairly frustrated by the time the bus showed up. Then I had to shut my eyes as we careened through the city, dodging baby carriages, other cars and not paying attention to ruts in the road or lane changes. It was like I was on the Knight Bus.
After getting to Bus Central, I then had to buy a ticket for the hour bus ride to San Miguel de Allende…which was only $6! In all of the long distance busses, there are movies playing constantly. And though I couldn’t understand the words, I watched The Lovely Bones and My Sister’s Keeper (which I SO shouldn’t have watched while missing my kiddos and husband!). As you start to decend the final stretch into town, the view is amazing. Huge Cathedral Spires stretch up to the sky, and you get a bird’s eye view of colorful houses in winding patterns along the roadways.
After the bus ride (and luckily there was someone who spoke English on the bus to tell me which stop was the right one!) I hopped in a taxi to take me to El Jardin, the town’s center square. El Jardin is lush and green, with a gazeebo in the middle and surrounded by colonial buildings full of restaurants and offices. Street vendors lined the entire square selling toys, food, and CDs. Though some of the streets are very straight and symmetrical, the town also incorporated the native roadways and goat paths, and those are windy and steep. The most helpful information I found for Allende was on Wikipedia and frequently gave directions that said “take a left, and walk until you get tired. Now you’re nearly there” or my favorite of “Rule of thumb: If your calves hurt, you have been walking uphill. If your shins hurt, you have been walking downhill. Then simply reverse course until your legs are uniformly painful. You should now be near your point of origin.” It was a lot of walking, but each turn had something unexpected and gorgeous.
The town’s pride is Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel. This cathedral isn’t much appreciated by architectural purists because it is quite a mish mash of styles, but it is certainly ornate and beautiful. Inside, there are soaring ceilings filled with crystal chandaliers and gold leaf murals. A side room had a very Diego Rivera looking mural on it, but I’m not sure if it was painted by him or not. All of the places of worship in this part of Mexico are sights to see, such expense, care and detail have gone into them and they are a cool peaceful place to be.
I ran into something interesting here…a weird lonliness. Even though I was in a safe, beautiful city, experimenting with camera techniques and enjoying the gorgeous breezy day I was so lonely. I missed John, who is always near my side when I travel, I kept wanting to point things out to him. And every time I saw a cute kid, I had a pain in my heart for my munchkins. Because of these feelings and knowing I was getting a little dehydrated and sunburnt, I called it a day. I knew the taxi/bus/bus/walk home would take a lot of time and I wanted to see the city from the hills at sunset.
By the time I got home, my legs were definitely “uniformly painful” but it was a wonderful day. I got some great shots and it was very hard to narrow it down to eight! Here are my favorites.