Tuesday, June 2, 2015

How to Spend a Perfect Day in San Miguel

Travelers, sometimes with not more than 5-8 hours, come to San Miguel to get a taste of the city's well-preserved colonial architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, extraordinary culture, delicious flavors and of course the enchanting light.

There’s something almost divine about the light in San Miguel, particularly in the late afternoon.

So how do you get the most out of San Miguel in just one day?

If you're lucky, you spent the night before at Casa Del Parque Bed and Breakfast to get an early start on your day.

Being on the grounds of Casa Del Parque Bed and Breakfast is serene but don’t get too comfortable. You’ll want to take a walk because the gardens are stunning; wrapped in the tranquility of budding vines and towering trees. It’s the secret garden you always dreamed about except this one you’ll want to share because it’s one of the most picturesque hotel properties in San Miguel.

In addition to the remarkable, personal service you get from owner Maika and all the staff, you can select any one the numerous tables scattered across the lawn for breakfast. Take in the vistas and order off a limited breakfast menu for a flat fee of 150 pesos.

Start out with French press coffee, fresh-squeezed juice, fruit in season, yogurt with granola, and a basket of bread. After all of that, you have your choice of Chilaquiles, Eggs, Enfrijoladas or a Tortilla filled with broccoli.

As you look up, a hot air balloon passes overhead. You envision the sky views of San Miguel and vow that when you come back, and it will be soon, you’ll take a morning ride.

At latitude 20º55’00’’ north and longitude 100º45’00’’ west, with an altitude of more than 6400 feet, the sky is so intensely blue it takes your breath away.
You think to yourself that it’s always good to look up in San Miguel because that’s when you catch all of the exquisite details …and there are many.

Take a trip to the Mirador de San Miguel de Allende and discover another view of the city. It’s so gorgeous from the hill. You wish you had been here when the Jacaranda trees were in bloom.

The light in San Miguel is exquisite all day but in the golden hour, the first hour of light after sunrise and the last hour of light before sunset, it’s magical. That’s why you see so many photographers roaming the streets.

You go up to El Charco del Ingenio, a remarkable nature preserve where there is an enormous botanical collection of cacti and other Mexican plants…another view you’ve seen today that is simply incredible.

It’s Saturday so head back down to the Organic Market on the grounds of the Rosewood Hotel. An engaging farmers market, it’s one of the best places in town to meet new people. 

You linger for awhile, enjoy a cup of coffee and sit at one of the communal tables. The aroma of fresh tortillas frying on the griddles will tempt you to pick up a mid-morning snack or even another breakfast. You give in. It’s vacation and like the rule says, you can do anything you want on vacation, even eat another breakfast. You leave with a list of new friends; people you want to meet up with the next time you come to town. 

Right around the corner from the market, you can’t resist purchasing a small bouquet and handing it off to a 90+ year old woman who looks like she needs the flowers more than you do. Her smile makes your day and reminds you of your mothers. In fact, you think to yourself how much your mom would love San Miguel.

You realize at that moment that you’ve become captivated by this picturesque town. Already you’re thinking about a trip back.

Take a short walk down Cardo over to Juarez Park. You’ll see a number of San Miguel artists like Julyanna and Mauricio who produce gifted masterpieces and sell them at next-to-nothing prices. You delight in the way Julyanna captured Frida Kahlo’s eyes and how Mauricio constructed the 3D pieces on all of the dogs in Juarez Park. Two pieces are yours before you leave the park.

Go on a self guided tour of SMA, walking in either direction from the landmark La Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel and you'll hit many of the highlights.

Time for lunch; you share the appetizers at The Restaurant at Sollano 16. The mouth-watering small plates will be just enough to get you through the rest of the day until it’s time for cena. 

You indulge in one of their pineapple margaritas. They’re so good but you resist ordering a second. Afterall, you’re saving yourself for the rooftops.

You wander down to Fábrica La Aurora which houses the largest collection of contemporary art galleries and design studios. You’re totally inspired. It’s the first Saturday of the month so there’s an art walk. You get a chance to meet some of the great artists who make their home here…Dee Ropers, Rae Miller and Merry Calderoni.

You are amazed at the number of talented women in this town and wish you were part of the sisterhood. It’s strong…like business owners Patrice Wynn (Abrazos); Yolanda Varela (Yaruke); and Giovanna Canela Miranda (Ave Maria). You don’t find anything ordinary in their shops. They reflect the women who own them. You suddenly realize that they love Mexico as much as you do.

You sit on the gringo bench in Jardin for awhile. Because it’s Saturday, there is a wedding at La Parroquia. You share in the joy and dance in the wedding parade through the streets of San Miguel. It’s intoxicating.

You love parades and San Miguel is the city of pop-up parades. You see another one as you cross San Francisco just long enough to sniff the ice cream from the windows at Helados Dolphy. You love ice cream but don’t give into the temptation… it’s not on your menu today.

It’s time to hit the rooftops and catch the city views…

You climb the stairs to one of the best rooftops in town, La Azotea, which has a fantastic staff and a killer view of La Parroquia.

It also has two of the best small plates you’ve ever savored: a Jicama Taco; a Jicama shell with lightly breaded shrimp topped with fried leeks, chipotle mayo and tamarind sauce and the Tuna Tostada; a thick-cut potato chip with a slab of tuna and a balsamic vinegar reduction.

You head down to Luna at the Rosewood Hotel. The panoramic view of San Miguel at is renowned. You decide to stay and catch the sunset. You want to remember this exact picture of San Miguel because it leaves you breathless.

On your way back to town, you wander by Hotel Sautto and catch the tail end of a jazz group called Spy BoyZ with Jesse Moore. You stay a lot longer than you should. You don’t care. The music’s great and this is your day…your perfect day in San Miguel.

You wrap it up with the fireworks and mariachis in the Jardin. You love the fact that there are hundreds of people to share this moment with you.

Finally, you’re exhausted. You sleepily sit back, think about the day and smile. You arrived here full of expectations and you leave wanting to stay forever.

And it’s in that moment that San Miguel reaches out and steals your heart.  

Buen Apetito!