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  • John Benus

400 Year old Town & Silver Mine

Updated: Jun 5

This post is a first in a series written by John Benus. John lived in Sausalito for many years & now lives in Puerto Vallarta. He has over 40 years of Travel Industry experience that includes a degree in Hotel & Restaurant Management from Michigan State University, Regional Marketing Manager for Westin Hotels and former Director of the Venezuelan Tourism Association. John was Editor & Publisher of What’s Happening Calendars of California & leader of the famous Marin Moonshiners Hiking Club that was featured on CBS Television, Eye on the Bay. Presently John is the Leader of the “War Against Litter” campaign in Jalisco, Mexico.

San Sebastian del Oeste. Commonly called San Sebastian, was founded in 1605 & has been designated by the government as a Pueblo Magico or historic colonial town. It’s located 2,300 mts or 4,856 ft. above sea level just 33 mi or 53 kl from PV or 1.5 hrs. by car or 2 by bus. The average temperature is 73F or 23C. There are about 600 inhabitants. The town is famous for being the first silver mining town in Mexico & has an organic coffee plantation with free tours. San Sebastian is made up of 300 to 400 year old homes , small inns,& a few restaurants . It has cobble stone streets & great hiking trails. The Tourist Office on the Main Plaza is open daily 9 am- 3 pm & you can get all the info from Manuel or Fernando, who speak some English. Phone # 322-226-7863. A 40 minute walk from the plaza will take you to the abandoned mine. Bring a flashlight. Any local child can show you the way. Visit http://www.SanSebastiandelOeste.gob.mx for more details


SPECIAL TIP… if traveling to San Sebastian before you cross the long Main Bridge, just before San Sebastian, stop at Panaderia Carmen’s Bakery they are open 7am- 3pm weekdays (closed on Tuesdays) on Fri., Sat. & Sun. 6am- noon. They have great freshly made muffins of all flavors plus coffee or hot chocolate. Their relaxed garden atmosphere is just a few feet to the spectacular bridge. Try their unique Mexican Caviar. If you have a group, best to call ahead to order your muffins, since they often sell out. Ask for Carmen or Jesus Tel.322-132-0620.


WHERE TO STAY

Hotel del Puente is located just one cobble stone street from the Plaza & Church, It’s our favorite. The 400 year historic structure has some rooms with 20ft high original wood beam ceilings. The inner courtyard has flowers, sparrows singing & a wishing well . It’s managed by Sergio Trujillo Sanchez & his brother Samuel. It has 9 rooms & costs $34-50 per night for a double room, depending on the room and season. Our favorite rooms are #8 & 9. You’ll feel like you in the 18 t h century when you stay there. The phone # from USA is 00152- 322-297-2834 or 322-297-2834 in Mexico.


WHERE TO EAT

Paraiso Bar & Restaurant is located at Lerdo Tejada # 7 on a quiet cobble stone street just around the corner from the Tourist Office & 1 block from the Main Plaza. They serve authentic Mexican regional cuisine, fresh seafood & offer a 2nd Margarita free with you meal. I’m not sure if that includes breakfast. It could be a great way to start your day. Open daily 9am- 7pm & take pesos & $US. Ask for Isaac Cueto, the owner or Julia Gomez, the manager. They also have rooms for rent Tel 322-297-2931.


El Fortin Café & Art is located on the plaza, open 11am- 9pm. They have an outdoor patio so you can watch the sunset & locals passing by on horseback. They also have an indoor art gallery. Try their curried chicken. Ask for Gabriel Cardenas ,the owner/manager, who speaks English. Phone # 322-297-2856 or cell 322-142-688.


Los Arcos del Sol Restaurant is located on & overlooking the plaza, with great views of the surrounding mountains. It’s our favorite place to have breakfast. They also have rooms for rent for $25 – 35 US per night, They’re open 9am – 6pm and take pesos or $ US. Ask for Margarita or Ricardo , the owners. Phone # 322-297-2854.


Monte Bello Italian Restaurant has an open air flower garden terrace for seating. It’s located just around the corner from the Tourism Office. They’re open Thursday- Monday from 1pm -9pm. Walter Capelli, his wife Coco & son Fabio, prepare original & unique Italian dishes. We tried the spinach ravioli, veggie & tuna pizza & some Italian wine. Pay in $ US or Pesos. No Credit Cards. Phone # 322-297-2883. Best to make a reservation.


THINGS TO DO

La Quinta Mary is an organic coffee plantation located just as you enter San Sebastian. It’s been operated by the same family for 4 generations. Open daily from 8 am – 6 pm. They give a Free Tour explaining the history & process from picking to your cup. They sell their coffee for you to enjoy when you’re back home. Pay in pesos or $ US.Ask for Rafael Sanchez ,who speaks a little English.


El Porvenir Taller de Plata is a silversmith workshop located just 2 blocks east of the Main Plaza on the way to the abandoned silver mine. In the workshop you’ll find Alejandro Gutierrez, who speaks English, making jewelry and art out of silver that you can purchase to remember San Sebastian. Open daily from 10:30am – 4 pm. Pay in pesos, $ US & Canadian. Phone #322-297-2857.


John Benus also runs the PV website www.puertovallartabackroads.com can be reached by clicking here.

Ever wish your vacation lasted a few more weeks? What about years? We left the daily grind in California to live and work in Mexico and now help others do the same! From assistance with residency visas to property rentals and purchases to digital nomad networking, we are here to help people take that leap towards living in paradise. DM us your questions! Or follow us on Instagram for a peek at what it’s like to live the #mexicolife

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