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geri

May 10, 2004, 6:45 PM

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Pretty Zacatecas

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Not all that much is written about Zacatecas, and it's certainly a bit out of the way, ie. not on the Gringo Trail, but I sure recommend it. It's the prettiest city I've seen in Mexico (haven't seen them all...YET).

I suggest you put it on your TO SEE list, if you haven't been here. Weather is absolutely perfect right now..long sleeves needed even in daytime, jackets at night. Energizing.

geri



elcomputo

May 10, 2004, 7:16 PM

Post #2 of 12 (2964 views)

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Re: [geri] Pretty Zacatecas

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I have been wanting to visit Zacatecas before leaving Mexico, but then, there are a lot of places I would like to see. Can you compare it to cities you HAVE seen? The nicest place I've seen is Guanajuato, and that's listed as a world class city. Comparison?


geri

May 11, 2004, 9:50 AM

Post #3 of 12 (2913 views)

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Re: [elcomputo] Pretty Zacatecas

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Zac is much like Guanajuato ... houses built on the hillsides...a former silver mining hub. I think Guana has more of a focus on music/culture, although there is also much here...LOTS of museums...For me, Zac has a more walkable town center, more gardens and more flowers/trees. Even though it's commercial (the center), it's still pretty, whereas I remember a VERY busy main intersection in Guana with ugly buildings, but it's been quite awhile since I've been there. The jardin with restaurants and theater is certainly pretty in Guana...not that many outdoor cafes here because, I think, it's a bit too chilly to sit outside most of the year.

For me, Zac has an European feel. Don't know why.

Haven't seen very many gringos walking around. I predict Zac will become as popular as the colonial cities on the so-called gringo trail....maybe in 2 or 3 years.

does this help?


esperanza

May 11, 2004, 11:14 AM

Post #4 of 12 (2892 views)

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Re: [geri] Pretty Zacatecas

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In addition to being beautiful, Zacatecas is a hub of culture. There are six or seven major museums in the city. The Rafael Coronel Museum houses a collection of 5000 Mexican masks. The Pedro Coronel Museum houses more art--from Piranesi to Picasso and from the Greeks to the Tahitians--than you can see in a day. The Goitia Museum houses Mexican (and specifically Zacatecan) art from the turn of the 20th Century on the first floor and more current younger artists exhibit on the second floor. The Felguérez Museum is a repository of incredible modern and abstract art, as well as the site of an extraordinary collection of prints and a printmaking school. There's a Mexican military museum at the top of La Bufa (the rocky outcropping on the hill overlooking the city).

The U de Z (University of Zacatecas) is an active cultural force in the city.

There are galleries (my personal favorite is the Galería El Arroyo de la Plata) with constantly changing exhibits of important current art and artists. The arts community is vibrant, professional, young, and full of change and spark.

Film, dance, music, art, and theatre festivals are constant. The last time I was there, I had the opportunity to hear the Zacatecas State Orchestra play (free), to hear a marvelous concert by a world-renowned young Mexican classical guitarist (free), and was unfortunately unable because of time constraints to go to a number of high-ranking French films that were being presented during a film festival.

In addition, there are nightly callejonadas--wandering street musicians--where much gaiety prevails and dancing in the streets is encouraged.

There are really good restaurants (try the Nevería Acrópolis across the street from the Cathedral).

Zacatecas is my second favorite city in Mexico--can you tell?

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









raferguson


May 11, 2004, 12:35 PM

Post #5 of 12 (2883 views)

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Re: [geri] Pretty Zacatecas

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Esperanza has it right, Zacatecas is a very nice place, a little calmer and not as closed in as Guanajuato, which I like also. I like to read the Zacatecas newspaper. The crime reports are usually minor crime and traffic accidents, sometimes told in a humorous way. Both the town and the newspaper have kind of a small town feel.

http://www.imagenzac.com.mx/

Zacatecas state is famous for sending immigrants to the USA, who have Zacatecas clubs and do projects back in their home state. It seems like the people look after each other more there.

When we flew to Zacatecas, we were the only gringos on the plane in both directions, so Zacatecas is not overrun with gringo tourists. I think that we talked to the only other gringos that we met.

The downside that I would mention is that it can get very cold in the winter, we were there right after a bad freeze that froze engine blocks, even with antifreeze, turned the streets into skating rinks, froze water lines, and killed a lot of cactus. So the climate leaves a bit to be desired, I think.

Richard


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Arbyw

May 12, 2004, 2:59 PM

Post #6 of 12 (2818 views)

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Re: [geri] Pretty Zacatecas

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We are thinking of staying over one night in Zacatecas on our way to Lake Chapala the first week in June. We wonder if anyone has a suggestion for a hotel there. The most famous one is apparently sold out. And are we planning the best route from Saltillo, i.e. Route 54, to the Lake?


geri

May 12, 2004, 5:13 PM

Post #7 of 12 (2796 views)

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Re: [Arbyw] Pretty Zacatecas

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If you have time, please plan on more than one night here. It surely deserves it. The ruins, La Quemada, are wonderful. I checked out a few hotels in the 600 pesos/night range. I'll dig out info about the ones that I thought were good if you want. There's a centrally-located Howard Johnsons for 600 pesos/a night which might not be the most exciting place, but it looks very nice and has parking. I have a feeling these hotels cater to groups/conferences. I, myself, am a solo budget traveler.

maybe someone else, like Esperanza, has more info re lodgings????

By the way, various sources of info on Mexconnect states that there are 4,000 to 5,000 masks in the Rafael Coronel museum. The guide yesterday told me 10,000. Anyway, no need to split hairs, there are more masks than can be comprehended or appreciated in one visit.

geri


esperanza

May 12, 2004, 5:55 PM

Post #8 of 12 (2793 views)

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Re: [geri] Pretty Zacatecas

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The hotel I like (for its central location, its moderate price, and its excellent staff) is the Posada Tolosa. Just two blocks from the cathedral, it has secure indoor parking, good-size rooms, and a restaurant on the first floor. Ask for a room as near the first floor as you can, as there is no elevator and the stairs can be steep after a day out on the town.

I second Geri's motion: a first visit to Zacatecas is worth at least two nights. If you have time, stay three. What I hear from people all the time is, "I went there once, but it wasn't long enough! I should have stayed a week! I have to go back soon."

Don't forget to visit the nearby towns of Guadalupe, where there is a marvelous museum of colonial Spanish art and artifacts, and Jerez, a lovely old town.

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









tonyburton


May 12, 2004, 6:48 PM

Post #9 of 12 (2780 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Pretty Zacatecas

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I was hoping I could keep that one to myself... but now you've spilled the beans, I have to agree - it's excellent value in an excellent location. On the other hand, if money is no object, the Mesón del Jobito is the place to go.

Basic information about the city and nearby sights like La Quemada and Jerez can be found in a couple of my articles on this site - use the search function, or the areas index on the left-hand tool bar to find them.

An earlier poster asked whether Guanajuato is as nice or nicer than Zacatecas - both are great, but I prefer Zacatecas!


elcomputo

May 12, 2004, 8:13 PM

Post #10 of 12 (2763 views)

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Re: [geri] Pretty Zacatecas

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Perhaps Raferg. has answered your question about why gringos haven't settled there -- cold winters. And cold in Mexico is worse than cold in the USA or Canada simply because Mexican construction is very poor when it comes to insulation and circulating hot air. Maybe it's better for gringos who live only part of the year in Mexico.

The culture there sure has been kept a good secret. I'll definitely have to make a trip. Maybe I will even look into the possibility of living part of the year in that city and working the other half in the USA.

Twice when coming down from Texas on the bus, I have been chatted up by Mexicans from Zacatecas. Both spoke the kind of English you hear in Mexican-American communities, so I guess there is quite a bit of contact between Zacatecas and the USA. Both people, by the way -- one a man and one a woman, were extremely friendly.

Oh, and what is the gringo trail? The only colonial city I know of with lots of gringos is San Miguel de Allende, primarily because gringos attract gringos. The other big settlement is in Chapala, but that's not a colonial city. I guess Guad is considered colonial and does have quite a few gringos scattered about the town. Do you know of another where there is a sizable gringo population? I might like to check that out, too.


Arbyw

May 13, 2004, 7:05 AM

Post #11 of 12 (2728 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Pretty Zacatecas

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Thanks to all of you for the info. Since we're anxious to get settled in our new home maybe we should plan a future trip for a few days to Zacatecas and the other towns around it. We can't wait to begin our explorations of all the wonderful places there are to see. And, we hope, to meet all you!


mkdutch

May 13, 2004, 9:39 AM

Post #12 of 12 (2695 views)

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Re: [Arbyw] Pretty Zacatecas

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Arbyw, you can find lots of specific info on driving 54 and alternates on the Travel section of Mexconnect. I've only driven the direct route between Saltillo and Zac once, and that was several years ago. The first part out of Salt. is a lot like Texas; flat as a pancake and straight as an arrow.

Once you get off the high mesa and climb into the mountains you will find the going like a remote Wyoming mountain highway. No or few guardrails, sharp turns and rocks on the road that have been dislodged from the mountain by the weather. So you have to concentrate on the pavement in front of you. But the views in this area are spectacular and beautiful.

If you take your time and slow down more than you think you should thru the mountains you'll be in for a treat (and get out of the way of overtaking trucks and cars). Pemex stations are relatively scarce on this route, so keep your tank topped off at every opportunity unless you know the exact range of your vehicles tank and can read distances on a map.

Hope this hasn't dissuaded you from trying this route. Most people are so fixed on getting from point A to point B they forget to smell the roses along the way. A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
 
 
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