Venturing Up North
When 2 of Mexico’s low cost carriers opened up a direct flight between Tuxtla and Guadalajara, some very attractive fares started popping up. Looking for any ol’ excuse to start exploring Mexico and get to work on our Mexican bucket list, I jumped on one of these fares. And so, we found ourselves with 7 days to explore Mexico’s 2nd largest city, Guadalajara. The city is located in the northern state of Jalisco and is home to many of the things typically thought of as Mexican by outsiders: Mariachis, Margaritas, Enchiladas, Tequila. Neither Luis or I had ever been to this part of Mexico so we were both looking forward to the visit, and we ended up coinciding with Justin and Tania for a few days. While there are many things to explore in Jalisco outside of the capital city, we decided to leave those for later and focus on the vibrant, urban life of Guadalajara.
I found Guadalajara to be a very walkable city and within the heart of the city there are many areas to explore. The heat can be a factor but timed wisely and it’s an easy city to visit without any real plans. Walking from the historic city center and all the way down the main drag to the Chapultepec area, and beyond to the Minerva fountain can fill a few days, or at least it did for us.
Over the weekend the city is equally delightful with a very lengthy ciclovia, streets closed to traffic for bikers, skaters, walkers, & joggers. We also found several smaller street fairs and markets.
Guadalajara has one of the biggest markets in Mexico, Mercado San Juan de Dios. At first glance, it seems normal-sized but then it just keeps going and going. It’s divided into sections: leather goods, prepared foods, baskets, shoes, hand bags, candy, etc. It’s worth a long visit or two and even though it gets pretty hot, there are lots and loads of stuff and people to keep you distracted from the heat.
Outside the city center there are a few areas that were worth exploring and once we mastered the bus system we were set. The town of Tonala, which is basically now a suburb, has a huge street fair a couple of days each week. Tania and I enjoyed several hours exploring the market, especially all of the shops and factories that offered blown glass, as this is a craft that Jalisco is known for. Another area, called Tlaquepaque, also was worth the trek for it’s lively atmosphere and shops. Tlaquepaque is pretty touristy and therefore has higher prices but the old colonial homes and plazas make it an enjoyable place to spend an afternoon. The area of Zapopan, on the north side of the city was a great place to spend an evening as there are many places with outdoor seating and live music and families come out to hang out in the plaza and enjoy the cooler air of the evenings.
Guadalajara proved to be a great place to spend a week! We had time to wander aimlessly, browse book stores, sip lots of coffee, visit museums, attend a free performance in the cultural center and get a good feel for this wonderful city. One of my Mexican bucket list items is to attend the famed International Book Fair that Guadalajara hosts each November, so we’ll be back!