Natalie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Tourist Day: Guanajuato Edition

As we passed through the famous tunnels of Guanajuato City, Mexico, I began feeling excited again. I felt with renewed vigor, passing into a beautiful city that I’d never seen. Maybe this visit would be better than I thought!

The famous tunnels of the city were an unique and delightful sight. The old buildings that walled in the narrow roads were gorgeous and colorful. I was beginning to see why Guanajuato was considered one of the most colorful cities in the world.

Lost in Guanajuato City

Our time in Guanajuato started out just like our time in Guadalajara. We got lost.

We were looking for a particular parking lot, but as we passed by a one, I thought we should park there. It was a feeling I had. I almost suggested we park in that lot, but I didn’t. Instead, we circled the city again, using the VERY WRONG GPS. We turned off the main drag onto another street. It looked right according to the GPS. I assure you, there were not any signs marking this street in any way shape or form.


But as we were again joining the street we’d just come off of, a police officer flagged us down.

I Call BS

Apparently, this COMPLETELY UNMARKED street was for pedestrians only. I do call bullshit on this. We passed another officer while on that street who did not give our car a second glance.

We try to explain what we are looking for and give him the name of the parking lot. He asks for my husband’s license and wanders away. My husband follows him. I can see him talking with the officer and another man in the rearview mirror. My husband and the officer head back to the car.

But they pass by. I watch them through the windshield, getting increasingly uncomfortable.

Where’s My Husband?!

After that, the officer wanders off out of my view. My husband follows. I expect them to come back any minute. The car is on with the AC running, but as the minutes tick by, the car grows hotter. The kids get antsy. Where is my husband? Is he okay? Is he getting beaten up in an alley somewhere?

Natalie, I tell myself. He’s fine. He is not getting beaten up in an alley somewhere.

Finally, he reappears and asks me for 7 more pesos. He has to pay 207 pesos to get his license back.


No, he is not allowed to give the money to the officer. He has to give it to the construction worker.

Guanajuato’s Welcoming Committee

Welcome to Guanajuato City. Yes, we almost left. Getting lost is stressful enough without the welcoming committee.

We regrouped. My husband drove all the way outside the city and then back in. We finally found the lot and it was full. We drove through town again. Slowly. Very, very slowly. The city’s roads are narrow and the traffic moved slowly. We parked at the lot I wished we’d stopped before. It ended up being closer to our hotel than we expected.

Our hotel, La Casona de Don Lucas Hotel, a stone’s throw from the famous yellow church in Guanajuato.

Check out Guanajuato’s hotel availability, search for La Casona de Don Lucas Hotel. The location is amazing, the breakfast is great, and the coffee was worth the effort!

Don’t Let One Person Ruin Your Day. If You Can Help It.

We tried not to let the Guanajuato welcoming committee ruin our time, but we both struggled to let go. My 5 year old son and I rode the funicular (it was a highlight!) We ate food. Then, we tried to walk to the mummy museum. But one of the kids in particular was feeding off my negative energy and whined during our entire walk. I thought said child would eventually get tired and stop. Nope.

We eventually gave up and started back. After a rest stop, we took a short cut through a pedestrian area.

The Event that Completely Ruined My Day

I saw two German shepherds gallop past, obviously street dogs. Of course, the street dogs make me sad, but at least these two handsome dogs weren’t as skinny as some I’ve seen. I couldn’t actually see their bones. Then, their squabble started. I tried to ignore it, as I didn’t believe they’d carry on for too long. However, I am not a street dog. Nor are our dogs. And this was not a minor disagreement.

The fighting dogs carried on for a minute and then one screamed and limped away.

My heart broke

I snapped. I dropped a few f-bombs in front of other tourists. And I didn’t care.

I hated Guanajuato.

We went back to our room and vegged out before our tour. And by vegged, I actually mean that I had a full on crying meltdown.

Cathedral Basilica Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato, the yellow and red church in Guanajuato, Mexico

Cathedral Basilica Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato.

The Turning Point

And then I was worried that our tour was going to be totally in Spanish. Guys, I can’t understand enough Spanish to participate in something like that yet. But I’d already bought our tickets. Since I had already been angry, I was angry again. I was so tired of wasting money.

This is where things took a turn for the better. We were provided an English speaking guide. The tour included music, a ceramic frog cup and grape juice, the men serenaded the women, they acted out the kiss alley legend, and we actually had fun. In fact, my foul mood that alternated with crying earned me a romantic picture kissing my husband on the third step of the kiss alley.

Even the kids had fun during the tour. It helped I brought a carrier and I carried each child for a time towards the end of the tour.

The Food was Fantastic

After the tour we grabbed some reasonably priced tacos at a little place just a block or two from our hotel. We went a bit further down to the Oxxo and grabbed water and snacks for the evening. In the morning, we chowed down on the hotel’s included breakfast. The coffee was divine. I drank my first cup black, even though I usually add milk, almond milk, or cream. It helped the pounding headache I’d had since waking. I had some crazy sci fi dreams that had vague Terminator and Star Trek overtones.

Additionally, our first meal earlier on day 1, was also great. We just picked two random places that had interesting menus. I also got to try green pozole for the first time and it was perfect. Pozole is a type of Mexican soup. There are two versions: red and green.

A red car on a track travels up (and down) the mountainside, whcih is covered in trees and bushes which are green.

The funicular going up the mountain.

The Morning After

In the morning, Guanajuato was better for me. I was going to walk around and look for the Teatro Juarez, but I was afraid of getting lost. I had my daughter with me, so I’d rather not end up having yet another bad adventure in ol’ GC. There were less people. Walking around was definitely easier. But we were done. We packed up and left.

It’s unlikely we will return. Not even to ride the funicular, which I ended up loving!

It was one bad travel experience, after a year’s worth of great ones. It happens. Mine just happened to be in Guanajuato City. It’s likely that your experience will be better than mine!

Have you been to Guanajuato City? Did you love it or hate it? Did you ride the funicular?

10 thoughts on “Natalie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Tourist Day: Guanajuato Edition

  1. Josy A says:

    Eep, what an awful start. It is so good to hear that it didn’t put you off the rest of your exploration! The food sounds amazing even if the welcoming committee sucks!

  2. Michelle says:

    What a day! I would have been so frustrated and annoyed, too. It’s terrible being taken advantage of. Glad everything turned around and you were able to find some enjoyment.

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