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San Miguel de Allende’s botanical garden, El Charco del Ingenio, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende’s botanical garden, El Charco del Ingenio, Mexico

For those wanting to know more about succulent plants — and I am one of them — consider visiting El Charco del Ingenio, a botanical garden where many of the plants are labeled in English. The garden is just outside the colonial town San Miguel de Allende, a place that attracts American and Canadian artists and active retirees. Having recently visited two outstanding Mexican gardens, one in Oaxaca and the other in Mexico City, and not … Read entire article »

Filed under: Gardens of the world, Mexico

San Miguel de Allende, a great place for women

San Miguel de Allende, a great place for women

If you travel beyond the beaches in Mexico you’ll probably know about San Miguel de Allende. It’s the sort of place that expats write books about. It’s cultured and a little exotic. San Miguel is often described as a colonial gem where artists go in winter and many retire to. The first was Stirling Dickinson, fresh from Princeton University, who so liked what he saw when he stopped by in 1934 that he encouraged thousands of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Cultural travel, Mexico

San Gabriel de Barrera garden, Guanajuato, Mexico

San Gabriel de Barrera garden, Guanajuato, Mexico

There is a large estate outside Guanajuato, once owned by a wealthy silver-mining family, with 17 small and exquisite gardens that the public can visit. In past years the land where the gardens are situated was used for processing silver using the patio system whereby silver ore would be finely crushed, mixed with salt, water, copper sulfate and mercury, and spread out on the patios to dry before being melted into bars and shipped off … Read entire article »

Filed under: Gardens of the world, Mexico

Lively and cultural Guanajuato, Mexico

Lively and cultural Guanajuato, Mexico

Guanajuato (gwah-nah-HWAH-toh) is perhaps Mexico’s most celebrated colonial city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, both charming and sophisticated. It’s 355 km northwest of Mexico City, a four-hour journey on a luxury bus. I had previously visited on a daytrip from San Miguel de Allende, which didn’t do it justice, so decided on five days this year. My arrival was not an easy one. The city is in the Sierra de Guanajuato Mountain and the taxi that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Cultural travel, Mexico

Zacatecas, the most northern of Mexico’s silver cities

Zacatecas, the most northern of Mexico’s silver cities

My visit to Zacatecas in February was most unusual and very rewarding. I knew before going that it was the most northern of the silver cities, the second highest city in the country, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Few foreign tourists go there and indeed I met none. I took the bus there from Guanajuato: Omnibus de Mexico, M$455, 4.5 hours. Security was stringent: bags thoroughly checked, photo taken. The bus was direct with no … Read entire article »

Filed under: Mexico

Patzcuaro, Mexico: A Spanish bishop and an indigenous community

Patzcuaro, Mexico: A Spanish bishop and an indigenous community

Patzcuaro, a town perched in the Mexican highlands with a large indigenous population, has the reputation of being a magical place. The town, and the nearby lake that has the same name, is particularly well known for the Day of the Dead ceremony (Día de los Muertos) held each year at the end of October to the beginning of November. My guide, Jaime Hernández Balderas, describes it as a time when the people “receive their departed ones in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Mexico

May I introduce: A hippie-artist who owns a B&B in Pátzcuaro, Mexico

May I introduce: A hippie-artist who owns a B&B in Pátzcuaro, Mexico

At one stage in my life I organized conferences, high profile ones with lots of media coverage. To do this successfully you have to be a bit of a freak about the details. So when I checked into Hotel Casa Encantada I knew immediately that the owner was someone who really cared about the small stuff too. Hotel Casa Encantada is in the small town of Patzcuaro on the southeastern shore of a lake by the … Read entire article »

Filed under: May I introduce, Memorable moments, Mexico

Casa de Las Ranas, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Casa de Las Ranas, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

When you’re feeling uninspired by the white, beiges and grays of home, get thee to Casa de Las Ranas, the house and garden of two American expats in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I went there on a House and Garden tour sponsored by the local library. According to a LA Times reviewer, it is “the happiest house in San Miguel”. The owners of the property—artist Anado McLauchlin and his husband Richard Schultz—are world travellers and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Gardens of the world, Mexico

How I travelled to colonial towns south of Mexico City by bus

How I travelled to colonial towns south of Mexico City by bus

Travel in Mexico is something I do most years and I’m not talking about lounging on one of its many beaches. I go for the history, the arts, the food, and the people. Mexico oozes culture: #6 in the whole world for the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Last winter I spent four weeks ‘riding the buses’ to outstanding colonial centres south of Mexico City. My route was Mexico City, Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Cuernavaca, Taxco … Read entire article »

Filed under: Mexico, Travel itinerary

William Spratling and Mexico’s silver city

William Spratling and Mexico’s silver city

Taxco (pronounced (“tass-ko”) is an enchanting colonial town about 160 km south of Mexico City with white-stucco buildings, red-tiled roofs, and steep cobbled streets that run anywhere and everywhere. It’s a national monument and a well preserved one at that. In the center of town is a small park (Plaza Borda) and bordering it is a cathedral (Parroquia de Santa Prisca) famous for its tall pink towers. This was my third visit to the town. The … Read entire article »

Filed under: Cultural travel, Mexico

A just-about-perfect B&B, Oaxaca, Mexico

A just-about-perfect B&B, Oaxaca, Mexico

Casa Ollin Bed & Breakfast is a large house with 11 guest rooms located on a quiet street two blocks northeast of the famous Santo Domingo church in Oaxaca, Mexico. It’s one of the best B&Bs that I’ve ever stayed at. The B&B had a romantic beginning. Jon McKinley, an American lawyer, booked a tour of Oaxaca with Judith Reyes, a professional Mexican guide, and they fell in love. That’s what he told me! And they … Read entire article »

Filed under: Mexico, Places you can stay a while, Planning your trip

Oaxaca City—Mexico at its best

Oaxaca City—Mexico at its best

It’s beyond me that the city of Oaxaca (pronounced “wa-HAH-ka”) is still one of Mexico’s best-kept secrets because it’s such an exceptional place, particularly if you’re into culture and atmosphere. The climate is sub-tropical and it is suppose to be pleasant all year around, although the first time I went there—at the end of December about a dozen years ago—it was cold and crowded and we couldn’t find a place to stay in the historic … Read entire article »

Filed under: Cultural travel, Mexico, Places you can stay a while, Travel itinerary

Puebla, Mexico—the ‘perfect’ colonial city

Puebla, Mexico—the ‘perfect’ colonial city

If you’re planning a trip to Mexico you should seriously consider putting the city of Puebla on your itinerary (the city and its state share the same name). It’s 100 km east of Mexico City, near the still-active snow-capped Popocatepetl volcano. The first time I passed through Puebla it was incidental. I wanted to get from Mexico City to Oaxaca and the direct bus was sold out, so I had a two-hour stop in Puebla on the … Read entire article »

Filed under: Cultural travel, Mexico, Travel itinerary

Trying to be a foodie in Puebla, Mexico

Trying to be a foodie in Puebla, Mexico

There are many good reasons to visit Puebla and one of them is to indulge in its cuisine. After all, mole poblano, the “king of all sauces” was invented here. And according to Alonso Hernández, executive chef of a well-known Puebla City restaurant, mole poblano “can be served with everything from chicken and beer to caviar and champagne”. Mole poblano has chocolate in it—a long ago discovery of the Olmec people. But as a non-foodie … Read entire article »

Filed under: Cultural travel, Memorable moments, Mexico, Travel itinerary

Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage destination

Mexico, a UNESCO World Heritage destination

Editorial: I was in Mexico again this winter, four weeks ‘riding the buses’ to what I will loosely describe as ‘cities with historic centres’. A friend said I must really like the country since I go there so often. I don’t go for the ‘sun and sand’, although I know that has its appeal. I go for the culture. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (best known as UNESCO) identifies places around the world that … Read entire article »

Filed under: Cultural travel, Editorials, Featured trips, Mexico

Ethnobotanical Garden, Oaxaca, Mexico

Ethnobotanical Garden, Oaxaca, Mexico

There is a garden in Oaxaca City that both gardeners and non-gardeners seem to fall for.  It’s takes up most of the grounds of the Santo Domingo church and the beautifully restored Museum of Oaxacan Cultures that is attached to it. Both the museum and the garden have a story to tell about Oaxaca’s roots and it is intriguing. When the Spanish conquered Mexico, one of the things they were hoping to find was the perfect … Read entire article »

Filed under: Gardens of the world, Mexico

Should I buy a winter cottage in Merida, Yucatan?

Should I buy a winter cottage in Merida, Yucatan?

Quite a few Canadians own a summer cottage, usually a place by a lake that they open up on the long weekend in May and close down on Labour Day weekend in September. I’ve had one myself. But today my longing is for a cottage that I would open in November and close in April, somewhere tropical, of course. A television program that I watch quite faithfully—House Hunters International—has led me to believe that the “cottage” … Read entire article »

Filed under: Memorable moments, Mexico, Places you can stay a while, Travel itinerary

The Maya people of the Yucatan

The Maya people of the Yucatan

When I visited Merida, the capital city of the State of Yucatan on the Yucatan Peninsula, I was struck by how many Maya lived there and how integrated into mainstream life they seemed to be, at least in comparison to the Maya in places like the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Between 750,000 and 1,200,000 people speak Mayan in the Yucatán Peninsula, which includes the States of Campeche, Yucatán and Quintana Roo. The Maya, however, are not … Read entire article »

Filed under: Cultural travel, Mexico, Travel itinerary

How I travelled around the Yucatan by bus

How I travelled around the Yucatan by bus

Thinking about riding the buses in Mexico and don’t know the language? Here’s how an “older” female, travelling solo, with no Spanish, did it last month. I hadn’t planned to go there. In fact, I had just come back from Asia and my travel fund was low. But winter was lingering here in Canada so I impulsively decided to wait it out someplace warm. I do know some Spanish and here it is. –       Hello. Hola. (o-la) –       … Read entire article »

Filed under: Mexico, Planning your trip, Road trips, Travel itinerary, Travel tips

Photo gallery of Guanajuato and San Miguel, Mexico

Filed under: Photo galleries of great trips

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