Over New Year's Eve weekend, I decided to venture to a new city. But where to go when you only have three days?
I thought about spending the holiday in the USA, but decided it was time to try New Year's Eve in a different country. I only have spent New Year's in one other country - Barbados in 2003. I found the cultural differences of this holiday between the USA and other places to be very interesting. This time, I wanted to go somewhere close, fun but not rowdy, culturally rich but inexpensive. So, I went to Mexico!
Mexico's Best Kept Secret
The first step was to decide where in Mexico to go. Cancun and Cabo are obvious choices, but they are also overloaded with...well... Americans. And I wanted to go somewhere with more Mexican culture. The past year I had heard of Guanajuato from many other like-minded travelers. You may be wondering, where is Guanajuato? It is located north of Mexico City in the colonial heartland of Mexico. I finally added it to my bucket list after I saw Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, talk about his childhood town with a gleaming testimonial of the city. He described the European streets, amazing architecture, and colorful buildings. It's also the childhood hometown of 20th Century muralist Diego Rivera. When I saw a cheap flight from TIJ, I was there.
New Years in Mexico
Mexico has different traditions during New Years than the US. In the US, it's usually a party night spent with friends and counting down the year's events, and trying to make it home without any strikes on your driving record. In Mexico, it is more family oriented, usually consisting of a dinner, 12 grapes, and celebrations spilling out onto the streets afterwards. At least that is what we experienced. The city was lit up with Christmas lights, there were people enjoying the local street food and free musical performances in the zocalo. Many restaurants offered gourmet al-fresco dining served with traditional food, such as bacalao and of course champagne. The night ended with a fireworks celebration that went off right above the buildings - so close that some of the sparks landed on the tables.
Top Sights to See in Guanajuato:
1. Pipila - A monument on the top of a hill overlooking the city of Guanajuato. It is a nickname of a local hero during the first victory of the Mexican independence. This is the best spot for panoramic photos of the city.
2. Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato - This is the iconic yellow cathedral with the red dome in the city center which is all lit up at night. Outside the church, there are usually performances and street food.
3. El Teatro Juárez - One of the most significant architectural buildings in Guanajuato built in the 19th C.
4. Centro Histórico - The colonial historic district includes colorful buildings, cobblestone streets, churches, shops, and pedestrian zones.
5. Mina la Valenciana - This silver mine is a popular attraction where you can walk into the historic mine with a plastic hard hat and submerge yourself (literally) into the history of this industrial side of this city.
6. Diego Rivera Museum - Diego Rivera's museum and childhood home is located in the city. You can see where one of the greatest artists of the 20th century grew up.
7. Templo La Valenciana - Located on the hills of Guanajuato is this magnificent church with a beautiful facade and three alters made of gold.
8. Funicular - Ride to the top of the mountains for an excellent view.
What are your favorite sites in Guanajuato?
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We are two adventurous young professionals who turned our passion for travel into a blog to help others travel more.