A Perfect Sunday in San Miguel de Allende
*Continued from part one: A Perfect Saturday in San Miguel de Allende
Welcome to Sunday!
We have a big day planned, so rise and shine, we've got some sights to see! Same start as yesterday? La Ventana, the Jardin, and a glorious sunrise. I promise you, that if I lived here, I would be doing this every morning.
We haven't explored Colonia San Antonio yet, have we? We really should. The elevated barrio has a different feel to much of SMA, and I know a pretty special family-owned cafe that's smack-bang in the middle of where we need to be. The cafe's name delivers what it promises; El Buen Cafe. One of the owners, Beto, is a great guy, speaks fluent English, and is extremely helpful with any questions we might have about SMA. He does the serving and mingling, while his talented wife works in the kitchen. It's even possible to watch her cook, home-style, from the eating area. I don't know how she does it, but she makes the most divine ginger pancakes with maple syrup and apple compote. My mouth has never watered so much as when I feast on those sinful treats. Except of course, when I'm in your presence, my love.
After breakfast, I'd like you to come with me to a place that not too many people visit. There is something that is completely unexpected there that I must show you. We can hop in a taxi, or take the bus from Centro; up to you. The Colonia we are off to is called San Luis Rey. It's only a short drive from here in San Antonio, but once you're there, you'll feel like you've stepped through a time portal. The neighbourhood is so local, and has a much more rustic vibe than a lot of SMA that we've seen so far, with steep, quiet, cobbled streets, and really not that much traffic at all. On a Sunday, it is so peaceful there. One can almost hear a pin drop. Tucked away in behind the flat section of San Luis Rey, is acres and acres of land with a border of giant cacti that provides a vision of otherworldly surrealism. Be sure not to miss the striking view of the cliffs; they really seem to act as the backdrop for a classical oil painting. And guess what?! There is an abandoned bullring there! It actually bears similarities to a Mayan ruin, but it most certainly isn't. Nonetheless, it must be a few hundred years old. Witnessing that, my dear, is truly worth this little side trip.
On our way back into town, we should do some shopping at Fabrica La Aurora. There are so many designer galleries and artisan studios on site, and they are set within a building of such a large scale, that we could literally spend all day there. Many artists and designers that display their work there are also available to speak with directly, so if we're lucky, we might even bump into a creative genius or two!
Before we leave Fabrica, why don't we explore past the lake and around the back? There, we can sit, relax and watch the cheeky ducks for a while. The oasis is in a handy spot too, because in behind the lake is a cafe that's situated on some stunning, tranquil grounds. Geek & Coffee has such a communal feel. The large outdoor tables and lazy chairs make for maximum comfort, and while we're waiting for our lunch, we can run amok with what seems like every single dog breed under the sun. We're bound to make new friends there, that's for sure! I think some empanadas and a nice Caesar salad will do me. While we're eating, they might even take a look at that virus-riddled laptop you've been lugging around.
Now that we're eating and enjoying the trees and sunshine, let me show you a map. Just behind Geek & Coffee is a track that winds all the way up to El Charco del Ingenio. El Charco is a botanical gardens and nature preserve, that's set on some wild and untamed land of epic proportions. There is an entry fee, but it's such a privilege to wander around the rambling walking trails, that it's well worth it. Besides, the cost is very cheap, and the money goes towards the maintenance and upkeep of the reserve. You'll feel like you're in 1800's Arizona. The grounds are swarming with many different varieties of cacti, there's a one in a million view of the surrounding Sierra Madre mountain range, and just across the dam and over the rickety bridge, is a beaten up old shack that just loves to pose for photos. Wow, that sun has some kick to it. You did bring your hat, didn't you?
Time for some afternoon tea? Okay, let's have one of the garden staff call us a taxi, and we'll shoot back to Centro. I feel like something sweet. Just near the Parroquia is a wonderfully laid out restaurant and cake shop called Cumpanio. They also do the most luscious grilled aubergine with red peppers and pesto that I'm definitely eating the next time we come back here. Oh, you want that now? Two lunches? Greedy guts. I'll go for the lemon meringue pie and coffee. Alright, we'll share some chocolate cake too. Lucky that we're going for another walk after this.
Time to work off that extra baggage. As promised, let's hit the pavement. You'll be happy to know that it's all downhill. For a while, at least. Tranquility is the only word I can think of when it comes to describing Parque Benito Juarez. The sweeping garden beds of Yucca, cacti and a variety of low growing, lush green shrubbery, make for the perfect setting to simply sit quietly and hobnob with the gentle breeze. The entrance on the other side of the park usually consists of groups of artisans selling their wares. Some of the items are often quite different to what you might find in town. Cheaper too.
See those steep steps up there, just past the artisans and directly beneath those impressive buildings? That's where we are heading next. It's nice to take a different direction each time we head back to Centro, and besides, we'll be passing through one of the more salubrious sections of SMA. At the top of the steps, and down to the left slightly, awaits a true taste of Mexico just for us. It doesn't get more local than the rough and ready Cantina Barranca. Music, beer, and gregarious company. What more could you ask for?
Whoa! I think we spent far too long at the cantina! It's already dark outside. Well, time flies when you're drinking Modelo. Let's go seek out some street food. SMA is relatively safe at night, so it's no problem for us to wander the streets until we find something we like. Nighttime is the right time for Mexican street food anyway. Elote is my favourite. That's corn in a cup to the uninitiated. That's not all it is though; elote is corn, deliciously topped and bottomed with dollops of cream, grated cheese and chilli powder. The vendor will add extra ingredients if you ask nicely. One large cup is usually only 25 pesos from outside the Jardin. Cheaper if you're in more of a local area. Wow! There's street vendors everywhere. Look! If we want more food, we can buy some Gorditas, or Quesadilla, and over there is a guy selling Flautas! They are the best! They sure do all seem to come out at night.
Fancy another drink or two? I couldn't think of a more fitting way to bookend yet another perfect day. Remember Hank's from yesterday? Well, right down the street from there is a neat upstairs bar called Bond's. It's exactly opposite Dean Martini's. Similar to Cielo from last night, the terrace has a wonderful view of the Parroquia, and if you look in the opposite direction, you'll be mesmerised by the incandescent street lanterns that will guide our way home. The bar owner is Kenny, and I'm assuming that he's a big sports fan. Just by sheer coincidence of course, the bar has a big screen TV where I can watch the English Premier League football. I apologise, but I really do need to check the score. If you'd like an early night, don't get chatting to Kenny. He loves a good chinwag. You do want a late night out? Excellent.
I hope you've enjoyed your weekend here as much as I have enjoyed showing you around. We must come back though; we have only touched the tip of the iceberg. Yes, thank you, a kiss would be lovely. I have just one thing to mention about this magical town before we part company; please make sure to tell all of your friends about this World Heritage pueblo. I guarantee that they will be thanking you for the rest of your life.
*To find out more about the fairy tale that is San Miguel de Allende, click here.