When visiting Mexico City, you’re pretty much spoilt for choice. There are a million and one things to do within the city as well as outside. In terms of good day trips, if you enjoy the ancient historical, Teotihuacan is a good option. If you want something a little more modern yet still historical, I suggest the town of Taxco.
Taxco is a former mining town in the state of Guerrero yet it doesn’t have the appearance of what one normally conjures up in the imagination for a mining town. It’s so pretty that it is considered to be one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos. How could it not be with its twisty cobbled streets, colonial architecture, and mountainous surroundings? You’ll have to work for it, though – the streets are generally all on slopes. But what’s travel without a little exercise?
After walking up and down the steep hills or dodging the slow moving traffic in the narrow (and sidewalk-less) roads, rest in one of the several plazas and soak in the various styles of architecture around you. There are many stone buildings, whitewashed walls, and colourful buildings to keep things interesting. Even the cobbled stone streets catch your eye with the various deliberate patterns the cobbles can take. One building to definitely check out is the 18th century Santa Prisca Church. It’s a pink stone building in the Mexican Baroque style and has a tiled dome that sparkles in the hot sun. The church was built by José de la Borda, a rich man who nearly sunk all of his silver wealth into the construction of this rather opulent church. As usual, it is a little disconcerting to step out blinking into the bright Mexican sun from the equally blinding golden interior and be promptly met by a begging kid.
If history is not your thing, the other reason to visit Taxco is silver. The metal was mined in the area for centuries and was even one of the Spanish empire’s more important mining areas. Today, Taxco is known as the place to get gorgeous jewelry at relatively decent prices. Take two steps within the town and you’ll stumble across yet another store with locally-produced silver jewelry, silverware, and silver art of all sorts. Some are plain silver and others are mixed up with stones such as turquoise, opal, and mother of pearl. No matter what you try on, everyone will tell you that it looks beautiful on you, that you have the long neck to wear that giant necklace, and your wife/mother/daughter will cry for joy upon seeing the beautiful gift you brought back… To be fair, though, it is all almost a game and in my experience, no one was overtly pushy. But I guarantee you that you’ll still walk away with more than you had planned to spend.
Tip I: Set a budget limit and stick to it – it is so easy to break the bank on all the beautiful silver pieces for sale. I wouldn’t even take a credit card to Taxco as the temptation would be too great! And I’m not even a big shopper…
Tip II: Ensure you are buying real silver pieces – check for the .925 mark!
Tip III: Look out for the Cristo statue way up on a hill – not quite Rio but it’ll do.
Tip IV: Keep your eye out for a set of three religious statues representing penitents during Holy Week. These are a specific type of penitents who hurt themselves in a very specific way (some say it is an amalgamation of Spanish Roman Catholicism and Aztec blood rituals) in the name of self-penitence.
Tip V: Getting to Taxco can be done either by a tour group that leaves from Mexico City or by taking a local bus (about 160km and takes about 2-3hrs).