Posts Tagged ‘road trip’

By: Julio Moreno (Entrance to “El Pipila” monument 50 cents [5 MXN] for cable cart to the top, $2 (20 MXN) for a round trip cable cart trip; Entrance to “Alhondiga de Granaditas”: $4 [43 MXN])

Sky view of the entire Historical Guanajuato City from "El Pipila" Monument.


Note: Info on how to get to Guanajuato city was covered in the Guanajuato Part 1, it will be assumed you already read that article and can get from your country, into Mexico, and into Guanajuato City’s bus depot OR to the Guanajuato/Leon Airport (BJX).

Simple “how to” [get there] quick walk though:

Assuming you took the Guanajuato Part 1 advice and stayed very close to the Mercado [Marketplace] follow this simple google map. A= The tram to go up to the Pipila Monument, B= The “Alhondiga de Granaditas” (Popular Granary) and C= The marketplace.

Skeezy Tip #1: If you speak Spanish, try to bring your student ID everywhere in Mexico. Although they only offer discounts to Mexican students, they often don’t check where the ID is from and you will slide with a 50%-75% discount on entrances to museums, etc. If you get caught, claim ignorance and just acknowledge “OH! only NATIONAL students”.

Skeezy Tip #2: Bring cash as credit cards are rarely accepted anywhere in Mexico except for high end department stores and hotels.


La Alhondiga de Granaditas [The Popular Granary]: Granaries are nowadays where excess grains are stored in farm towns. However it is important in Mexican history as the last stand of the Spanish Army in Guanajuato. The Spanish Army was overconfident that the Granary was too well protected and that the rebellion army was too small and poorly armed. Their assumption almost proved true as the rebels were having a hard time penetrating the wall of the fortress. It wasn’t until an unusually strong miner named Juan José de los Reyes Martínez, nicknamed “El Pipila” mounted a flat stone on his back as a shield and made it to the front door of the Granary to set the door on fire. This allowed the rebels to finally enter, capture the granary, and conquer Guanajuato City. It marks an important victory and confidence booster for the independence movement.

Inside the "Alhondiga de Granaditas"

“El Pipila” Monument: This is the monument to the brave miner who risked his live and used his incredible strength to give the rebels a fighting chance. He later joined the rebels himself and was captured a year later by the Spanish army. He was executed but lives forever as a martyr and hero of Guanajuato. The monument is also situated on a nice hill that oversees most of the city. A panoramic picture from this point is the banner for this site.

The Giant Monument to the Hero of the Independence movement, "El Pipila"

Other Things to See:

1) “La Callejoneada” [The Alley-Walk]: What started as a pass time, has turned into a tradition and fund raiser of the students at the University of Guanajuato. They meet with a large group of people and take you along the alleys of Guanajuato, telling you stories and cracking many jokes along the way. Granted, none of this is funny if you don’t speak Spanish, but if you do, you’re in for a treat. (100 MXN; Although its in the street, they do check by taking you though a small alley and checking your ticket [a complimentary jar you get when you pay] You can buy tickets along Juarez street, or at the bus depot just like any other tour, or directly, as they hang out near Juarez Theater (map below) from the afternoon, until the beginning of the event at 9PM)

2) “Callejon del Beso” [Alley of the Kiss]: One of the legends of the city if of a couple who loved each other but had a forbidden love as he was a commoner and she was a Spanish princess. The legend says they lived across the alley from each other and would meet on the balcony, until her enraged father killed her. Now, every couple who goes here must kiss or suffer bad luck.

Couple Kissing in the Alley of the Kiss

Museum of Don Quixote: Don Quixote is possibly the most famous of stories in the Spanish Language. Writer Miguel de Cervantes is to Spanish Language literature, what Shakespeare is to its English counterpart. Since the University of Guanajuato is famous for the arts, this museum has been erected maintained to house not only original paintings of Don Quixote by famous painters, but many other art pieces in a 4 floor building. (20 MXN, 5 MXN for students)


Statue of "Don Quixote"

Teatro Juarez: Juarez Theater is a world class performance theater a little over 100 years old. The architecture is notable because its authentic Mexican architecture, using no non-Mexican architects. It is beautiful inside and if youre lucky, can still catch a play. (50 MXN for a tour)


Where the magic happens

Diego Rivera House: Diego Rivera is widely considered, along with his wife Frida Kahlo, amongst the best paintors in Mexican history. Rivera lived in Guanajuato for some time, and his house is preserved as a museum with many authentic original paintings. Like is the case in most art houses, you cant take pictures. (20 MXN, 5 MXN for students)

Map: A=Teatro Juarez, B= Diego Rivera House

Torture Museum, Inquisition Machines: While a very small museum, they have many torture devices used during the holy inquisition. Some are just simple hanging devices while some get…creative for lack of a better term. The Inquisition was the Catholic Church’s attempt to weed out all impurities within its ranks, often leading to accusations very similar to the Salem Witch Trials. Sadly however, the Inquisition lasted more than 3 centuries and spanned the entire Catholic Domain, which at one point was 1/4 of the world’s population. (This along with the “Church of Murals” are in the higher levels of the city. It is however one of the offered tours [along with some useless museums] as the morning “tour of Guanajuato City” and is your most economical bet at 100 MXN. A round trip cab to just one of these could cost you just as much. You can find a tour with any tour company found along Juarez street, or at the bus depot, as noted before.)

I know what youre thinking. There are a lot of nails so it wont actually poke anyone. Thats why they put scorching hot coals to heat up the nails.


Church of Murals: This church, like many in Mexico, is just beautiful to see. What makes this one unique however is inside, massive canvas paintings decorating the interior of the church. Such artwork, religious or not, must be appreciated. (see above paragraph for info on how to get here)

Two of the four huge murals in this very unique church.

The huge murals in this church make it quite unique


Skeezy Tip: Apparently, everyone works free in this city as every small museum claims to have volunteers to guilt trip you into a tip. If you want to save face instead of flat out not tipping, its a good idea to bring 5 MXN peso coins with you

Tourist Traps to Avoid!!!:

The Museum of Leyends “Museo de Legendas”: is located at the told of the cable cart ride and is sold for a discount price with the cable ticket. It is under no circumstances worth it! The museum includes about 10 rooms of very backward 1950s mechanics of barely moving figures trying to tell a story over the squeaky and old voice over microphone. It explains the leyends of Guanajuato city, but does so in the most boring and corny way possible (wind moves a red sheet to show fire, a blue one to show water). What worse, even though you will be so bored by the 4th one, the doors seal in front of you and behing you so you have to wait through the whole thing.

Mummies Museum “Las Momias”: While this is one of the biggest things Guanajuato is known for, it is one of the least impressive. These are mummified bodies, however once you see one you’ve seen them all. Also, if you come late, there will be an enormous wait for something that would barely be worth it free. It is also the most expensive museum for this reason.

The Haunted House: One of the first stops in the “Guanajuato City” tour is this haunted house. It is not scary and the mechanics remind you of 1980s Disney, or worse! You can try it if you like, or you could skip it and say you already did it, and just wait outside. It only takes about 20 minutes to go through. (20 MXN)

Authentic Candy Stores: If you go on all tours, you will more than once be told to avoid the “fake candy” in the street and wait until they take you to the real thing. However, this is just another tourist trap as the tour guides are paid off to make that stop, and the candy is grossly over priced.

Wax Museum: A tiny museum with only a handful of wax people, and while it starts with Mexican icons, it progresses to US movie stars and nonsensical objects.


Airplane info, lodging, and everything else was covered in the Guanajuato Part 1 article.


Read Full Post »

By: Julio Moreno (Sedona “Red Rock Pass” $5 ).
Simple “how to” [get there] quick walk though:
Driving is the only real choice unless you get expensive tours from flagstaff. Map it out using the map below. You head north on the 17 freeway if from Phoenix, and South if from Flagstaff. If you life far, fly into either Phoenix, or Flagstaff.
Sedona: Is a city next to many smaller parks known for their Red Rock formations. If you like hiking, this one has plenty of options (dozens), from really easy to really hard. Just head to Sedona, no planning needed and as soon as you enter, you will see a “visitors center” or something similar, depending on your entry point (north, south). You need to stop anyways to get a “Red Rock Pass” as you can’t park anywhere and hike without one. The people are so friendly to give you tons of maps, and options of hikes to do for free. They will also work with you if you want to camp, stay for more days, or anything. If you like other things such as mountain biking or ATVing, check out the “Other options” link below:
Skeezy Tip #1: Some hikes which are sold as “super good” cost an extra $10 for parking. You could always check where it is, and say you made a wrong turn to get out. Then park anywhere along the highway where its not prohibited as its already covered by your “Red Rock Pass”.
Skeezy Tip #2: Sedona is famous for its abundance of big red rock formations. With that said, sunlight will be a problem, since you generally hike in the canyon of these formations. Try to go as early as possible to get your money’s worth, because even in the summer, it will “get dark” early.

River along the West Fork Trail

ATVing and Mountain Biking:
Red Rock Pass Info

Read Full Post »

By: Julio Moreno (Entrance: $15)

Center of the Meteor Crater, taken from the Observation Deck


Simple “how to” [get there] quick walk though:
Drive from where ever you are to an exit on the 40 freeway between Winslow and Flagstaff, Arizona. There are dozens of signs, and the exit is “Meteor Crater Road” so you cant miss it. If you are coming from far away, fly into Flagstaff and rent a car at the airport. Then follow this map.
Meteor Crater: This is, as the site claims, the best preserved meteor crater on the planet. A meteor hit this spot 50,000 years ago, before humans even existed in Arizona. The site itself is privately owned and has been very well taken care of for tourists. They have however, gone a bit overboard with the “Meteor Crater Experience” full with movie, museum and an enormous gift store to commemorate your visit to the crater. While its quite breath taking, it only takes 1 hour tops to take it all in and take pictures, so plan to do other things in Arizona.

Probably the only time you will have this choice to make.


Read Full Post »

By: Julio Moreno (Entrance to the Park: $25;  Camping: $20/night)
The crack goes to the Colorado River

View from "Angel" Hike.

Simple “how to” [get there] quick walk though:

Drive from where ever you are to the intersection of the 89 and 67 highways in Northern Arizona (Point A on the map below). Fix the google map below accordingly. Switch to the 67 South, and drive for 43 miles. You will cross the Kaibab Forest before you reach the canyon. There is only one road so you can’t get lost.
Skeezy Tip: Any other form of transportation is out of the question. If you live really far away, you can fly into St. George, Utah (the closest large city) and rent a car to drive to the canyon. This is by far the most economical way to do it.
The Grand Canyon: Was formed over millions of years and is carved out by the Colorado River. Is quite the sight to see with amazing landscape, and hikes for all levels. Most people do the simple hikes towards the top which are 1/2 a mile to a mile. However, if you go to the information office in the north rim, the rangers can give you maps, and hike options. Unless you are planning for a multi-day hike, there is no need to make plans. If you want to camp, you might want to make reservations as its popular.
Skeezy Tip #1: If you go off season (after Oct, during the winter) and don’t mind the cold, there is no one charging at the entrance of the Canyon [went Dec 2005], avoiding the $25 as it is officially CLOSED. You could probably camp for free too as no one is there (minus a ranger who told me it was ok to come in). You might also see lots of cool snow as you enter the Kaibab Forest. You might see 1-2 cars as opposed to hundreds in the Summer but bring chains just to be on the safe side. While closed, there were 2 other cars there (with the canyon essentially to myself) which, although I was unprepared for the snow, was better than having crowds of yelling kids when I returned 2 years later.
Skeezy Tip #2: If you love the outdoors, you could get admission to all National parks for $80 [2010 figures]. If youre not sure, a ranger told me to save all my reciepts and once I accumulate close to $80 (most parks are $20-$25), just pay the difference for the year pass! Ask as you are buying the first one if this is still possible when you go.
1) Camping, $20,
2) Village of Many Nations: $70 and up depending on season.
Sleep in either a Tipi or a Navajo Hogan and get a Native American experience. While this is actually a tad too commercialized,and a bit guided towards children, the place IS run by Native Americans. They old different events such as teaching you how to throw tomahawks, teaching you about their ancient sacred medicine circle, and have a performance at night. When I went, it was a flute performance by the former Chief of the Paiute Tribe. They also sometimes have other Native American guests. Everything except the tomahawk throwing is included. This is also about 3 miles from the entrance of Zion National Park, but a good 2 hours from the Grand Canyon.

Traditional Navajo Hogan. It is actually a lot roomier than it seems.

You need to bring your own sleeping bag.

Former Chief of the Paiute Tribe, and one of only 8 people who can still speak the language.

Map to Village of Nations:


Read Full Post »