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Daniel_Williams Jun 20th, 2016 02:53 PM

First Time to Magical Saltillo Coahuila
Hello friendly Fodorites!

I'm on what is now my fourth visit to Mexico, returning to a beloved language immersion program for a second time in Querétaro México at the Ole Institute and decided this year to stop for the first time ever in Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila state as part of my sojourn into central Mexico.

Saltillo used to be the capital of Texas back in the days prior to Texan nationhood when Texas was a part of the Estado de Coahuila y Tejas. I had read many years ago that Saltillo had a pleasant church and plaza, but with all the talk about cartels, I have tended to opt for Monterrey when in that area of northern Mexico, as it's a city I feel comfortable in, where I know my way around its central core. This year despite there being a "Travel Advisory" for Saltillo on Trip Advisor, I decided to "dare" to do one night there.

So glad I did! The Centro oozes with history and Spanish colonial elegance; from the pink plaza with a fountain and statue (there's one lovely one of the poet Manuel Acuña) to a churrigueresque cathedral to the stately Palacio de Gobierno to stylish norteños and norteñas young and old strolling and sitting in the plazas and the pedestrian-only Calle Padre Flores (I love the norteño accent!), while music emanated from a variety of night spots and children threw in the air toys that would light up giving a quasi-firework effect, I felt transported to a delightful, almost European in feel, slice of North America. I loved that some of the sidewalks had tiles that one might expect more on a kitchen floor than in a city--don't think I've seen that anywhere else. The city is quieter than Monterrey or Queretaro, but still has a pleasant vibrant-ness on a much smaller scale about it; I think even urbanophiles might appreciate; if Monterrey has a New York-like hubbub, Saltillo to me would be more on a Quebec City scale. And advisories or not, I felt as comfortable walking in Saltillo's Centro as I do in the Quebec capital.

I wanted others to read this as I don't think I've ever seen a trip report on this city and I wanted to give the city a bit of good press. I hope that maybe someone will be inspired who's in the area and won't be put off due to fear of the unknown and advisories. (I perhaps write in vain as preconceived notions are often unshakable.) I personally regret planning a too-short duration there...if there is a next time, I know better and will devote a bit more time than the present arrive-in-the-evening leave-in-the-morning look-see I just did! (To check out the Museo de las Aves, Museo del Desierto and tour the palacio del Gobierno, for example.)

Best wishes to you all & happy travels! Daniel

baldone Jun 20th, 2016 04:27 PM

We've stayed there a number of times, sometimes in centro, sometimes in Ramos Arizpe on the outskirts. Most recently about 3 weeks ago. The centro I thought was pleasant enough. We were there on a Sunday night and things were pretty quiet. I was disappointed the Irish pub wasn't open ��. Ate at Las Delicias Del General and enjoyed it. Also a new craft beer place in Ramos, La Huerfana, which was a treat. Like most larger Mexican colonial cities, the industrial suburbs aren't particularly attractive, which I would suppose deters some from venturing into the centro.
I take it you drove, Daniel? Next time, I highly recommend San Luis Potosi. I think SLP has arguably the best examples of colonial architecture north of Mexico City, including Queretaro which I really like. As well, a side trip to Real de Catorce is well worth it.

Daniel_Williams Jun 20th, 2016 04:45 PM

Hi Baldone,

I was bussing it from San Antonio. Interesting to read your perspectives; I agree that the outskirts of some amazing Mexican cities can be a deterrent. I seem to remember you live somewhere in el Bajio? I visited San Luis Potosí last year; I remember you helped me with some advice about museums; I went to the Museo de la Máscara in SLP which I enjoyed very much. So, I thank you again for the help you gave.

Saltillo's Centro was respectably lively, mind you I was there on a Saturday night...even Sunday in the morning, there were a lot of joggers out as they closed off the Calle Victoria to vehicular traffic...was happy la Milpa mercado was open will all their fresh produce prior to travelling southward.

Real de Catorce is somewhere I must venture out to one of these days!

Best wishes Daniel

baldone Jun 26th, 2016 08:57 PM

Yes, we live in San Miguel in Gto. Interestingly, on our recent visit to Saltillo, we were on our way by car for a few days stay in San Antonio. From there, we left our car and flew to Nebraska where we still have a business intreset. San Antonio is our go-to city in Texas to stock up on contraband we can't find or buy cheaply here. Much prefer SA to Houston.
Funny you mention the tiled sidewalks in Saltillo. I haven't given it much thought until this weekend where we saw same in San Juan Del Rio Queretaro. Also we saw some in Salvatierra, a Pueblo Magico just south of us.
Sounds like you know Monterrey reasonably well? I may need to pick your brain for our next border run. We've stayed there only once and wanna know the city better. On one trip I attempted to drive the Huasteca canyon between Arteaga and Monterrey but got hopelessly lost and ended up driving through riverbeds before exiting the Sierras about an hour south of Monterrey. Wife not happy, but stunning scenery.

SusanInToronto Jun 27th, 2016 07:25 AM

Nice report, Daniel! I've been to Mexico many times, but never to that part of the country. Maybe someday ....

Daniel_Williams Jun 27th, 2016 03:42 PM

SusaninToronto-- I am glad you commented on this report. I feel like a bit of a novice in northern Mexico (having only ever spent the night in Monterrey and now Saltillo) but of what I've seen, I find the region underrated. Hope you do go one day!

Baldone--Interesting about the sidewalks--I have not been to the other places you mention, so Saltillo Centro was a novelty for me in this regard. I liked the tiles in an aesthetic sort of way, although wasn't sure how I felt about their texture for outdoor walking...

I went to SMdA last year and enjoyed the energy of the central plaza with the mojigangas! I'm really not an expert on Monterrey, I mostly stick around the Centro when there. One of these days, I'd like to see some sights like the Cola de Caballo and Grutas Garcia. If it's Centro activities, I can say that I did enjoy the boat ride on the Paseo Santa Lucia to the Parque Fundidora, walking on the Macroplaza in the evening, and visiting the Obispado and the Museo de Historia Mexicano. Farthest afield I got was the pueblo magico of Santiago right near the Presa de la Boca; lovely with some amazing places to eat but that was 12 years ago now!

BTW I agree fully about San Antonio--I thought I might like Austin as well as SA, but not yet...maybe I just need the right weather & tour guide...

Daniel_Williams Jul 25th, 2016 07:31 PM

Just wanted to say that I passed through San Luis Potosi going northbound from Queretaro for only one night (a Saturday) staying centrally at the Hotel Panorama and I agree with you 100% baldone; I absolutely love that city! This time I took a San Luis Rey bus tour from the Catedral Metropolitana, which took me to areas I'd not seen last year (the Caja del Agua and nearby arcades of trees, more in-depth into the Barrio San Miguelito). It's the entertainment in the plazas that was phenomenal...the dancing! I didn't want to leave!

Fra_Diavolo Jul 26th, 2016 10:32 AM

Thanks for yet another report from a lesser known destination.

I have as friend who has lived in SLP for more than 16 years now. I really have to visit him there -- we usually meet in Mexico City.

Daniel_Williams Jul 26th, 2016 02:24 PM

Thanks for reading another one of my reports Fra_Diavolo,

I would definitely recommend a trip to SLP, especially given that you have a friend who can give you a more intimate local perspective of the city and possibly introduce you to some Potosinos. I was worried I might feel a bit ho-hum visiting the state capital again this year since I was just there last year... not at all! The city has a great energy, it's a place I think I would enjoy lingering in future. I'll have to think of some excuse (maybe the cooking school there?). Truly IMO one of the most interesting smaller cities on the North American continent.

Best wishes, DAniel

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