Simon Fairbairn and Erin McNeaney, are a digital nomad couple who sold everything to travel the world indefinitely. They left the UK on 1st March 2010 with just a carry-on sized backpack each and a one-way ticket to Rio. They spent the first year in South America and since then have visited parts of Central and North America, Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
They created the “Never Ending Voyage” website and this is what they had to say about Guanajuato:
The houses of Guanajuato tumble down the hills that surround it in every imaginable colour. There’s no subtle, complementary colour scheme—fuchsia pink mingles with pillar box red, saffron yellow, baby blue, and lime green. We like the city better for its discordance.
Despite its beauty it’s not perfectly restored and retains a gritty realness—it’s a city where people live, work, study, and play, not a museum piece for tourists.
This colonial city in the mountains of central Mexico was once a silver mining town and although it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site strangely it’s not very popular with foreign tourists, who prefer San Miguel de Allende just an hour away.
The small group of foreigners in Guanajuato tend to be expats or long stay visitors, here to take Spanish classes. It’s certainly a better place to learn Spanish than the Mexican coast where we were frustrated by our Spanish being responded to with English by staff keen to please vacationers from north of the border. In Guanajuato locals spoke to us in Spanish and we appreciated it.
We soon fell for Guanajuato—its colours, graceful churches, shady plazas, and lively atmosphere. It’s a compact, walkable city but the large student population means there’s plenty going on with many cafes, bars, street food stalls, markets, and art galleries. It was the perfect place to indulge our favourite slow travel activity of aimless wandering, and it’s easy to get pleasantly lost in the cobblestone lanes that climb steeply from the centre, turning a corner to find yet another tiny plaza with locals chatting on benches shaded by manicured trees. It’s definitely a walking city as the narrow streets are a nightmare for cars and one of the city’s unique features is a network of underground tunnels that are used as roads.
Fine baroque and neoclassical buildings are the result of the prosperity of the silver mines in the 18th century and there are many churches. We were visiting during Semana Santa (the week before Easter Sunday) a popular time for Mexican tourists to visit the city. In Guanajuato Holy Thursday is celebrated with the Visita a los 7 Templos, a pilgrimage to seven churches, although for many it’s more a social than religious activity. We opted out but did manage to walk past six of them as we wandered around town and saw the queues snaking out of the churches.