Tag Archives: Guadalajara

Downtown Guadalajara

We decided to come to Guadalajara because, as we were searching for flights from Portland to Mexico City, we saw there were direct flights to Guadalajara. In doing research on Guadalajara, it looked like a great destination and perhaps easier than going to Mexico City, with a great historic city centre and many museums and galleries to explore.

Regional Museum of Guadalajara
Regional Museum of Guadalajara

Now, I’ve never been to Mexico City (perhaps next time) but I read that Guadalajara is becoming a cultural centre like Mexico City without the smog! And so we ended up here and fell in love with this place. Perhaps staying in the European Lifestyle Hotel and Suites has influenced our feelings, being surround by art and sculpture, but really, the city can stand on its own.

Plaza Tapatiá fountain, bronze and very tall.
We caught the 51 AB bus downtown (7 pesos each) and got off at the 16th of September Avenue. From there we had several blocks to walk to the beginning of the historic centre. The historic centre is about 3 blocks wide and 14 blocks long and is almost exclusively for pedestrian use, with churches, palaces, museums, galleries, plazas, fountains, bronze sculptures, vendors and lots of people.

We wandered to the east end of the Centre, to the Mercado Libertad, one of the largest indoor markets in Latin America. We only saw a small part of it, because as soon as we got in, Galen wanted to get out. Later, we went to the Mercado Corona on the other end of the plaza, which wasn’t as crowded and he actually enjoyed it.

Flowers, and, in the background, sugar cane
Flowers, and, in the background, sugar cane

Beans, spices, dried fish, fine bulk food store in Downtown Guadalajara

We spent several hours exploring the Hospicio Cabanas. The huge complex was built in the early 1800s as a hospital, orphanage, and workhouse. It is a World Heritage Site. This building alone would make a trip to Guadalajara worthwhile. We didn’t realize we could take photos with our phones (no real cameras allowed) until we were past the area with impressive murals. Room after room is filled with exhibitions of various artists.

Main rotunda Museum Hospicio Cabañas

Exhibition mad with cut-up, old money.

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On our second day in downtown Guadalajara, we went to the Museum of Graphic Arts, the Regional Museum of Guadalajara, and the Museum of Popular Art.

Museum of Folk Art, Guadalajara.

Our Flickr album for Guadalajara has more photos of the historic downtown, as well as photos from the hotel, Tlaquepaque and Zapopan. Hope you enjoy it, and if you ever want to spend some time in Guadalajara, I highly recommend the European Lifestyle Hotel and Suites.

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Zapopan – Monday

It is +11C or about 51F this morning. The altitude here in Guadalajara is 5362 feet, so the nights cool down and the afternoons get into the low 80’s. It’s very comfortable.

We got rolling after another very good breakfast served by the hotel, hoping to go to the zoo only to find out that it is closed Mondays and Tuesdays. So our friend, Enrique, suggested that we go see Zapopan (accent on the middle syllable) which is a municipality of Guadalajara. The door man of our hotel helped us with the bus numbers and so two busses and 25 minutes later we were in Zapopan center looking at fine plazas, grand churches, lots of shopping (flowers, shoes, hardware, wedding dresses, electronics, Internet shops, bicycles, leather goods, shoe repairs, cowboy boots & hats, etc. and lots of small restaurants.)

Bronze sculpture in Zapopan
Bronze sculpture in Zapopan

The plaza in front of the big cathedral starts to fill up with small portable venders selling tortillas, deep fried foods, fruits, and jucies. The cathedral is a basilica and is a major place for pilgrims so is very busy. Basilica de Nuestro Senora de la Expectación de Zapopan is a massive elaborate cathedral with lots of statuary and gold leaf every where inside. It feels too irreverent to take photos so you will have to imagine. Hundreds of people worshipping. We walked in and sat on one of the benches and a woman came up and was whispering something fast which we interpreted as having to pay to enter. It turned out that we got fleeced for 10 pesos. We had to laugh after. Attached to the side of the cathedral was a fine museum of the indigenous peoples of this area, lifestyles, legends, and artifacts.

In front of the museum an entrepreneur was set up to give eye examinations and fill the prescription immediately from an assortment of lenses and glasses. The picture is not focused, as I was in a hurry to take the photo, but it is such an unusual site (for us, anyway). See the eye exam poster on the side of the window. . .

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On the North side of the big plaza in front of the cathedral was a government building with a long line of people, so we had to ask what was happening. It turns out they were waiting to pay their taxes. Also along there was a nurse at a small table giving out vaccinations for the flue.

Influenza shots
Influenza shots

There were some fine bronze sculptures in the plazas, but of course the big Museum of Art was closed, it was Monday. So we stopped and had an expresso and a cardamom coffee at a neat little shop under the arched breeze way of a fine old building.

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After having a very disappointing Chinese buffet, we explored a bit more and then decided to come home. We got on a bus which soon filled up too full and the driver kept stopping and taking on more passengers which seemed impossible, but still more pushed on. The door would hardly go closed. People would get in the back door, where there was more room, then pass their fare hand to hand up to the driver, where he would make the change and the ticket and change would make its way back to the passenger. It was so crowded that the fire extinguisher got pushed and a cloud of white powder filled the bus. This is another one of those humerous situations. The people just shook their heads and took it all in stride. We couldn’t see where to get off and went past our stop several stops. No big deal. We walked back streets for a couple of kilometers through interesting neighborhoods till we reached our hotel.

Love walking through neighbourhoods, seeing what kind of houses people have
Love walking through neighbourhoods, seeing what kind of houses people have

Later after a good nap we went out and walked to the grocery store and purchased two cans of ready mixed margaritas, a tres leches cake (three milks cake), and an eight liter jug of water. The margaritas go down like pop, smile, and oh the cake is to die for. Such goes our day. Galen

Margarita from a can, conveniently bought from the grocery store
Margarita from a can, conveniently bought from the grocery store

Tlaquepaque

IMG_20150118_182657Sunday evening about 5:30 our friend Enrique Jr. picked us up and we headed for the municipality of Tlaquepaque (pronounced tla ka pa ki). He was going there to meet his cousin and help her set up her apartment. So we got a ride and a good introduction to an artsy part of the city. This is an old district with narrow streets and beautiful old buildings. There is one long street in the center that is for pedestrians only and it is packed full of shops and art galleries. We walked the length of it and explored some fantastic galleries. The most famous is by the Mexican Artist Sergio Bustamante who is noted for his triangular headed figures. It was a most amazing collection of bronze sculpture we have ever seen. You can Google him for photos and information.

IMG_20150118_181916One interesting buskers was a guy with a bird cage and a couple of well trained finches. For 10 pesos the guy would let the finch out of the cage giving it treats and then the bird would go over to a small box and pull a folded slip of paper out which was a fortune telling for the person paying. The bird had ample chance to fly but chose the treats instead.

The central plaza was crowded with people and venders and performers. One area was set aside for kids to paint toys and plaques. I took one photo of kids at a table and immediately a little guy comes up for me to take his photo. then another. . . I looked around to see where the parents were and there were only a couple parents watching some other kids. It was like the parents could drop their kids off here to paint and come back later to retrieve them.

IMG_20150118_191644As we were sitting in the plaza, we could hear drumming and see a crowd of people watching something. There was a pole about 70 feet tall with a rotatable frame on top that held five men. Four long ropes hung down almost to the ground which the men rotated the frame until the ropes were evenly wound around the pole at the top. One man stayed up to beat on a drum and presumably control the speed of the unwind as the other four hung by their waist upside down and swung round and round as they slowly decended. This is an indigenous tradition. After all performances there were traditionally dressed men going around with the hat.

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We finished the evening sitting in an expresso shop and watching the world go by.

Intro to Guadalajara

It’s chilly in the morning here. When we arrived at our hotel in Guadalajara, the doorman was bundled up with coat, toque, gloves, and a big scarf wrapped around his face. It was only 6C, about 43F. We are at 1566m above sea level (5138 feet), so it is cool at night and warms up quickly to mid 20s during the day. The sun greets us every day, the skies are always blue, and there is an occasional light breeze. For us, it feels perfect. For the locals, it is winter and they are wearing sweaters and coats.

We spent the morning of our first day sleeping, writing, studying Spanish and researching what we wanted to do here. Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city, with the population of the metropolitan area being about 5 million. It has a strong economy, low unemployment, and is a cultural centre.

In the afternoon, we managed to drag ourselves down to meet Enrique Jr. Enrique is the son of Navajoa Enrique Sr. and works at this hotel (which is how we ended up here rather than in the city centre). He tells us where to find a bank (a block away) and a supermarket and how to catch a bus downtown.

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Since our suite has a kitchen, we decided to stock it with a few necessities. A large supermarket is only about 3 blocks away, next to Home Depot, Office Depot and Starbucks. We have to walk past a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut to get there. We are definitely in the suburbs.

It’s always interesting to see how supermarkets differ in other countries. I’ve never seen such huge containers of coke – do you really drink 3 litres at a time??

IMG_20150115_15084616263913336_ce1c0eb667_z We buy some prepackaged salads, a couple of avocados and limes, some tortillas, tortilla chips, cheese, water and some beer. We pay with a 500 peso bill, just to get some change. It seems like we are always digging for change. . .

The salads tasted great and the avocado was perfect. But now we had dirty dishes. We  searched high and low and couldn’t find anything to wash the dishes with, so we left them in the sink. Magically, the next day they were washed and put away. I could get used to this.