Published On: Fri, Aug 10th, 2018

Englishman found Europe without crossing the ocean

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Imagine a romantic Italian hill town bursting with music, old-world charm and international culture only a few hours by plane from Los Angeles, Houston or Miami.

For most Americans Mexico is a beautiful beach. But if you’re after something more than a suntan, parasailing and a swim-up bar, consider Guanajuato, a 470-year-old colonial gem 6,600 feet up in the mountains of central Mexico.

Guanajuato, founded by the Spanish in a narrow river valley near some of the world’s richest gold and silver mines, is a pedestrian’s paradise, a contemporary urban planner’s dream.

And there’s a Swiss-style funicular up to a towering monument to “El Pípila,” a hero of Mexico’s struggle for independence. From there visitors enjoy panoramic vistas of brightly-colored blue, orange, lavender and turquoise houses cascading down the hillsides. U2 guitarist The Edge recently posted a selfie on Instagram taken from the spot — more proof that word is getting out about Guanajuato.

English is spoken less widely in Guanajuato than in popular beach resorts or in nearby San Miguel de Allende, another beautiful colonial city that’s long been popular with expat retirees.

But you shouldn’t have trouble at restaurants, museums or even the colorful Mercado Hidalgo, Guanajuato’s central market, if you know a few Spanish words and can point. Most locals appreciate any attempt to speak their language.

Visitors who have a little more time can learn the basics or brush up on their high school Spanish at Escuela Mexicana, Escuela Falcon or other language schools in Guanajuato.

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