San Cristóbal de las Casas is a colourful place to walk and discover

We flew to Bajio International Airport from Mexico City on Jan. 1 and took a taxi to San Cristóbal de las Casas, about one hour away. The taxis are quite organized. There are four different colours but they all charge the same price: 800 pesos or $56.

San Cristobal is set between hills and the elevation, 2200 meters can be a problem is you’re not used to it. Our hotel, Casa de familia, is a beautifully renovated colonial mansion and our room features an open-beam ceiling. It’s one of the most beautiful hotels we’ve stayed in during our years of travelling.

The only problem for me was the stairs, about 20 of them, to get to our room.

Our hotel was several blocks from the centre of town and the grand Zocalo. The streets are narrow and the sidewalks elevated so if you’re compromised knee-wise, you’ll have trouble getting up and down the sidewalks.

We took a small map from the reception desk and found Real Guadalope St., a kilometer long pedestrian mall with a myriad of gorgeous artisanal shops, cafes, and restaurants.

We checked out our lonely planet guide for restaurants and discovered they weren’t up to date. Two of the restaurants listed are closed or have moved.

Our days here were spent walking and discovering the town with its lovely squares and narrow cobblestone streets. It’s an easy town to navigate, and the map we received at the hotel desk is clear and easy to follow.

There are thousands of vendors, many of them children, selling all manner of colourful purses, scarves, blouses, belts, earrings, little animals made of clay. It seems there are more child vendors here than in any other region in Mexico. Girl vendors often carry their babies on their backs or nurse them while they sell. We saw groups of small children minding babies, sitting on the squares, probably waiting for their moms to return. It seems sad but we were told by two Mexican tourists that the children are happier than most and that after the holidays, they do go to school. Some don’t even look school age. It’s particularly sad when you’re sitting in a restaurant or café and are suddenly accosted by a four -year-old selling “animalitos.”

The homeless dogs are sad as well but at least some of them seem marked, perhaps by the city. Most of them lie in the shade and although they don’t look like they are starving, it’s a sad life for them.

We stumbled across a wonderful restaurant on the third day and spent the rest of the week dining there. It had everything and we enjoyed all our meals there.

Our hotel didn’t come with breakfast so each morning we would make our way along the narrow streets and try out a new place. The smallest and least fancy are usually the best with bigger portions and smaller prices.

One afternoon we took a tour of the town on a small, open train with other tourists and rather enjoyed the slow- moving ride, taking lots of pictures along the way.

The best part about being here was the lovely hotel and the walkable cobblestone streets, where we discovered lots of small cafes and colourful shops.

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