Getting My Bearings in Durango

By the time I was settled into my hotel room, it was about 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. I decided to go out and get my bearings. That was easy to do since Durango’s Centro is laid out in a perfect grid pattern and all streets are well marked. There are also frequent maps with a ‘you are here and points of interest are here, here, and here’ being noted, as well as directional signage on all the main street corners (Plaza de armas is that way, Walk of Fame is this way, turn here for the Francisco Villa museum, etc.).

Within minutes, I knew that Durango was much more tourist friendly and accessible than Maz is and that Maz’s failures in that regard are not a reflection of Mexico, but of the Maz city planners. My Mexican education continues!

Walking a few blocks up 20 de noviembre, I found the main basilica, which is in front of Plaza de armas. I’ll just get it out right here that the architecture in Durango is gorgeous. This is a very, very, very old city (founded in 1563!!!) and the architecture reflects that, with a lot of Baroque influence.




A block from the Plaza de armas, I spotted the Museo de la ciudad 450 (city museum), something that I knew was on my ‘must see’ list:



I found the Mercado Gómez Palacio a few blocks later,, a bewildering and disorganized warren of stalls! Rather fun and disorienting to poke through, but I have to say that it’ll make me better appreciate Maz’s mercado! I picked up a new apron (something that was on my list to buy in Maz, so why not make it a souvenir?!). Very inexpensive, only $85.


More oggling of architecture happened:




I love how colourful Mexico is. I want this pink washing machine in my house in Mérida when I get there!


And another exquisite building!



Tacos al pastor!


The fabric store (Parisina) is housed in not-so-shabby digs!


Check out the McDonald’s!


Back at Plaza de armas, I was dumbfounded to discover that this rotunda holds a tourist information bureau! I got tons of info as well as several maps. Why doesn’t Maz have anything like this?!


Corner of Constitución and 5 de febrero:



Vancouver Donuts on 5 de febrero!


This is a palace that holds several cafés as well as the Francisco (Pancho) Villa Museum:


A cappuccino sounds good… But it’s late. Maybe another time.


I passed the Museo de arqueología (archeology) on the way back to my hotel (again, it’s right in front of the Palacio parking where Moya was staying). I was tempted to go in, but decided to save it for the next day.


Back on 20 de noviembre on the corner of Zaragoza looking towards my hotel:


Church across the street from my hotel:


I love Mexican alleyways!


Another not too ugly building!


On the street behind my hotel, I found a used book store and couldn’t resist going in. Oh, that universal smell of old paper! I browsed a bit and then asked if they had Mexican poetry books. The owner, who must have been 100 years old, pulled out a gorgeous and huge leather-bound tome. It was only $150, but way too massive, so I asked if he had something smaller and less expensive. Without hesitating, he pulled out a slim anthology of modern Mexican poetry, for just $75. Sold!

I took my treasure and headed back to have that cappuccino! I love how Mexicans put cinnamon in their coffee! I read for quite a bit as I savoured my treat. There’s sugar in the picture, but I didn’t put any in. I only like milk in my coffee.


I then headed back to the hotel to research dinner options. One of the best rated options in all of Durango was Fonda de la Tía Chona, just a few blocks from my hotel (but of course!). It’s next to this building, which I found very charming in a Sleeping Beauty’s castle tucked away behind the thorns kind of way:


Here’s the outside of the restaurant:


The menu is a bit bewildering as it’s laid out like a newspaper, with dish listings peppered between interesting articles. I ordered a XX beer and didn’t have time to order my main before I was brought free appetizers! Spicy and very yummy pickles:


And taquitos!


The decor was very traditional. I really like the white walls and dark wood and would like to find something like that in Mérida.



I ordered chicken mole for dinner and am sad to say I was disappointed at what I got for the price I paid. 🙁 The food was good (although I found the stringy chicken a little rubbery), but I’ve had mole that was at least as good as this for less money. The sauce was most chocolatey mole I’ve ever had, and that’s just a statement of fact, not a value judgment. Every mole is different!


I was on vacation, so I ordered dessert and coffee (yes, I was to regret all that late day coffee when I hit the sack!). My espresso was perfect and I was ‘disappointed’ (and by that I wasn’t) that ‘cheesecake’ in Mexico is exactly like cheesecake back home, with a Graham cracker crust and filling made from Philadelphia cream cheese. Worth the calories, let me tell you! I really don’t do dessert that often anymore and was thrilled that I was happy with this:


Dinner was expensive, but it wasn’t, $260 (just 20CAD for beer, a main, dessert, and coffee!).

Needless to say, I needed to walk off at least part of dinner! Since my hotel was on a main street, I did not hesitate to go exploring after dark!




I wound up back at Plaza de armas, where I found a jewelry vendor who helped me remedy the fact that I managed to leave home without any earrings! These pressed flowers behind glass were bargained down to a mere $75 and were worn all weekend!


I continued quite a ways down 20 de noviembre to a huge Soriana to pick up bananas and water. Those of you on Facebook might remember that I posted that I got lost in it. I’m not kidding! I had to get help to find the bananas and then required an escort to get to the cash registers! Both purchases wound up making sense over the weekend, although the bananas weren’t always a morning food! The hotel gave me bottles of water every day, but I’d run out by this morning (departure day) and was glad I had more.

When I got back to the hotel, I laid out one of my maps and set to work getting a rough idea of what I wanted to see and do in my two days in Durango, although absolutely nothing was set in stone.


I also spent some time in that squashy armchair writing in a journal about my day, hence why my memories are so clear. 🙂

9 thoughts on “Getting My Bearings in Durango

  1. So glad you had such a good time in that beautiful city. Most Mexican cities are laid out in a similar manner with a huge public square in front of the church or Cathedral. This goes back in history to where the Catholic church assumed ownership of huge blocks of land in the cities. The government tired of this and took back everything but the land the church actually sat on in a Reform movement. This reclaimed property became the public square, always a fun place to be at night as families stroll and courtship rituals take place among the young people. It is where you get the best closeup look at Mexican life.

    • The layout is a lot like the older parts of Montreal and Quebec City, as well as my very limited experience with European cities, so far away from the modernity of most Canadian and U.S. cities, a little piece of Europe right here in North America. It’s fun to walk around the plazas at night. And, you’re right, lots of canoodling going on!

      • The ritual in the main Jardine in Guanajuato is very interesting. It is a university town so tons of young people gather in the Jardine every night. Groups of young men walk in one direction and young women in the other. Everyone gets the eye as they pass and interested couples break off to have private conversations, rejoining their friends next time around. It is all governed by long established unwritten rules with the groups keeping a certain distance from each other. Very cool to watch from a sidewalk cafe. It is almost like a dance.

  2. I read a report in a newspaper recently that a terrifyingly large number of Mexican women are getting married and having babies before they are 18, especially in rural areas, and that Mexico is working to make the legal age for marriage 18, as well as educating women about other choices they have.

    • The current law is people under the age of 18 may not get married in Mexico without parental consent. With parental consent, boys have to be at least 16 and girls need to be at least 14 years of age.

      The new law will remove the ‘consent’ provision?

      • That’s what I understand.

        In Quebec, where I’m from, it’s still legal for a 12-year-old girl to marry a 16-year-old boy with parental consent. Just a bit of info for anyone who thinks Mexico is ‘backwards’…

  3. Hola Rae!

    What fun running around Durango with you. Do you have any more info on that church with the flying buttresses and the obelisk out front? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an obelisk in Mexico; its definitely unusual.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we have some lovely public squares, but climate limits their use to less than half the year.

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