Tldr: Querétaro is beautiful and said to be the safest city in Mexico, but not where we’ll call home.
First off, old town of Querétaro is beautiful. The place wasn’t declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for nothin’. That’s the city of Querétaro (full name is Santiago de Querétaro), not the state of Querétaro we’re talking about. The colonial streets were built on a grid with lots of plazas, fountains, and churches; they seem to go on forever until they don’t. If you keep walking the charming narrow streets turn into wide car-dominated clouds of exhaust with barely a metrobus in sight. This is where we get hung up. Roger and I created a list of criteria to evaluate the cities we might call home:
- User-friendly public transportation?
- Lots to do?
- Fast wifi?
- Time/distance to airport?
- Lively city center?
- Rentals available?
- Pet store with cat supplies?
- Bonus points for running path, yoga studio, etc.
While old town (el centro histrico) is very walkable, it doesn’t seem very livable. One needs a car or taxi to get to a grocery store (or mercado), pet supply store, etc. Since we’re hoping not to buy a car; that’s a miss for us. Also, while the place is steeped on Mexican history (our lovely guide Martina McLenehan gave us a taste) and the plazas/parques are great for people watching, we didn’t find the present day culture calling to us the way Condesa did. And el centro is super touristy, packed with people and feels very contrived. (Since I’m now an authority on Mexican culture I obviously know what contrived Mexican culture is when I see it!)
To be fair, Querétaro might never have had a fighting chance to begin with. Since Condesa felt so familiar and cozy we might have arrived with our minds already made up. It might also be that a diet of primarily cheese and fried tortillas (no fruits and vegetables to speak of) for eight days and spotty wifi has made me incredibly grumpy—more grumpy than anyone who voluntarily chose this amazing adventure possibly has the right to be. I don’t want the re-con part of our trip to be over, but I am dying for a huge spinach salad and a tall glass San Francisco tap water with lemon. What an entitled gringa!
Anyway, we shall see. The true test will be our next cities (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and Guadalajara).
Here are a few pics of gorgeous centro historico de Querétaro: