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baldone Feb 11th, 2018 03:05 PM

Leon, GTO Mini-Report
It seems that most people that visit Mexicoís Bajio tend to focus on Guanajuato, San Miguel, and Queretaro, and to do so many fly into BJX (Leon). But my impression (due to the lack of tourists) is that Leon is often overlooked as a worthwhile destination, except for perhaps a day trip to the leather district. After a recent visit, I was reminded of how attractive the city is despite of itís industrial outskirts, which is what most see leaving the airport. Thus, this mini-trip report.
Leonís main plaza may be the most beautiful in this part of Mexico. The center consists of some 9 square blocks with 2 plazas (Plaza Fundadores and the Plaza Principal) and several pedestrian andadors. While thereís not a lot of the typical touristy stuff to see or do, itís great for just people watching as the locals go about their daily business. I think Leonís center has more pizza shops than any other place Iíve seen in Mexico. The pics I took were from the Ramada Plaza hotel, which overlooks, appropriately, the main plaza. But you need a suite, the regular rooms while comfy, are kinda dark. Theyíve got 2 good restaurants, but Casa Mariaís on the 2nd floor has the view. Thereís of course a couple of the ubiquitous Italian Coffees, and a McDís. La Monarca Grill is kind of a dive, but good for having a couple of beers while overlooking the plaza. It doesnít look like the dťcor has changed much in the last 50 years.
Calle Francisco Madero essentially connects the Plaza Principal with the Zona De Piel, or Leather District. Itís about a half hour walk, and along Madero are a number of cafes, bars, and gastropubs, kinda the nightlife area of centro. Also along Madero is the Templo Expiatorio, which while not of the colonial era (construction started in the 1920ís), itís certainly an impressive structure. I read where crypts were sold in the foundation to help finance the work. Continuing on to the tree-lined Calzada de Los Heroes, youíll end up at the Museum of Art and History of Guanajuato, which is only a couple blocks from the leather zone.The Zona De Piel is overwhelming in selection and almost has a carnival-like atmosphere. Youíll find everything from custom boots, Peliguey jackets, a bazillion shoes and purses, and a whole bunch of Chinese knock-off labels. From the crowded vendors stalls, to the glass and marble Plaza De Zapatos, it takes a few hours to take it all in. Leonís Central De Autobuses is in the center of the district.
Leon is also famous for itís International Balloon Festival and fair, the latter lasting almost a month.
Anyway, I think for those that either fly into or out of BJX, Leon is well worth a couple nights, either at the beginning or end of a trip. Itís a nice contrast to the more popular and touristy destinations of Guanajuato and San Miguel.

MmePerdu Feb 11th, 2018 03:20 PM

The very first picture is great, baldone, reminds me of those jelly candies covered with tiny sugar beads. I'm thinking again of going to the area and have been wondering about Leon. Timely. Thanks!

glover Feb 17th, 2018 09:15 AM

Interesting! Thanks for posting. Will have to check out Leon further next time we’re in that area!

Daniel_Williams Feb 18th, 2018 06:22 PM

Thanks baldone! It's nice to read a positive trip report on Leon. I was dissuaded from visiting when I was studying Spanish in Queretaro by folks who said to skip it unless I liked shopping for leather goods (not really my thing). I won't let myself be dissuaded so quickly next time!

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