Friday, September 23, 2011

Aguascalientes


Aguascalientes

      I left the cab at the main plaza and could see the cathedral as its towers loomed in the distance across the plaza opposite a tall column in the center of the main square.  I headed for an outdoor coffee shop on the northeast corner of the plaza and looked over the brochures that the cab driver had given me.  I saw that the column dates from colonial times when at the top stood statue of the Spanish viceroy.  During the revolution of 1810, the country of Mexico won independence from Spain and the statue on the top was replaced with a symbol of Mexican independence.
        Road traffic goes into a tunnel at the west end of the plaza and this results in a huge area of open space in front of the cathedral.
     The tourist kiosk in the main plaza recommended the Hotel Imperial which was just across the plaza and I headed there to get some rest.  Not luxury digs but an old hotel nicely located on the main plaza and adequate with quiet interior rooms and WiFi.
     After a rest I walked the many pedestrian-only streets near the cathedral. Two blocks to the east I found the pedestrian-only Benito Juarez street with all its shopping and I followed it to the Templo de San Diego.  I then returned to the plaza to go west on Carranza, past the bullring and through the San Marcos Gardens.  At the west end of the garden another extensive pedestrian walkway opens near the Temple of San Marcos Church, built from 1655 to 1765 in the style called Spanish baroque churrigueresco.
I looked through the tourist info as I sat in an outdoor cafe and found that in the historic center of Aguascalientes I would find several museums including the Aguascalientes Museum, an art museum, and the Guadalupe Posada Museum.  These museums are located in elegant old colonial buildings.  The State History Museum on the other hand is located in a building of modern era. The Museum of Contemporary Art is listed as an important stop.
 
 In the modern section of the city, the Museo Descubre, Discovery Museum, offers an interactive experience in science and technology.  The Morelos Theater near the cathedral is an important stop for its history and small museum; the building was the site of a convention during the Mexican Revolution.
      The cab driver had mentioned the Ojocaliente, one of the original bathhouses that is still operating and offering spas with thermal springs.  He also mentioned the old train station and its railway museum.  Steam locomotives were manufactured in Aguascalientes and the city became a rail hub in the 1880s for all of Mexico.
 
  After two days in Aguascalientes I cabbed back to the bus terminal.  I had checked earlier about which lines reached San Luis Potosi and the bus departure times.  I always do this because booking a trip on the web is just about impossible with most of the bus lines except ADO and Primera Plus.  The bus company web sites, for the most part, don't work.  They have opted for style at the expense of function so even though they are pretty snazzy, they don't have full function.  With so many small bus terminal in widely scattered towns it is likely they are not all connected by computer.
 
 I caught an Omnibus bus to San Lois Potosi, about a hundred miles to the east.  San Luis Potosi was once a rich mining town where church altars are covered in gold leaf.

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