Hola, we made it to Guadalajara! It took us three flights, a 14 hour stop over in LAX, a public bus and a taxi to arrive exhausted at our hostel. In the departure lounge we befriended two Aussie girls who were also backpacking, they could speak passable Spanish and together we all made the mission to the bus stop to get a local bus to the old bus station. The bus was a grand total of 12 Peso (less than $1.50) and being morning rush hour it kept filling up with locals until no more could fit, we were seriously squished in and had our packs on our knees. An entertaining and honest observation we made was the passengers who boarded the bus from the rear door would pass their money person by person to the driver, if correct change was not given, change would then do the same thing in reverse.
When we arrived it was 9 am and thankfully our room was ready and we could settle in earlier than the designated time getting in a few hours of much needed sleep. After our nap we groggily ventured out to explore the Centro Historico. There were people everywhere, and we appeared to be the only tourists surrounded by Spanish speaking locals as we walked through the plaza on our search for food.
When in Mexico what do you eat… Tacos! In our completely non-existent Spanish we managed to order Tacos Dorado, this translates to “golden” tacos as they were meat filled and fried to a golden colour, healthy I know. We followed this up with a soft serve strawberry yogurt as we wandered through the surrounding plazas.
In the Guadalajara Centro Historico there are so many beautiful buildings,one plaza leads to the next and each day our wanderings led us to new places or to view buildings from new angles.
I won’t go too in-depth about what we did on a daily basis; we did a lot of walking so we frequently went through the same places. The buildings in the Centro were stunning, we went inside the cathedral, the palace and the museum all of which were beautiful baroque buildings in great state of repair/renovation.
With the jet lag and the paper walls of the hostel we both had awful nights sleep, it took us a few days to establish sleep patterns and that was still with the assistance of earplugs. This was in no way helped by other guests of the hostel deciding midnight was an appropriate time to watch TV, the TV happened to be on the other-side of our wall…grrr.
After eating tacos for four meals straight we NEEDED to make use of the kitchen facilities at the hostel. We got directions to the supermarket and had fun checking out all the foods available in a Mexican supermarket. True to ourselves we cooked up a pasta with chorizo sausage for a Mexican twist.
We decided to book a tour to Tequila… when in Rome, drink the local beverage! This was a full day tour and we were picked up from the hostel at 9 am and driven to the tour van. It was here we realised exactly how few non-Spanish speaking tourists there were here. The tour guide Blanca luckily switched between Spanish and English for the benefit of us and another family. The tour was fun, the guide cheerful, informative and spent the whole time cracking jokes (predominantly in Spanish, we could tell by all the laughter). I’m still not sure if I’m a Tequila girl, Tom seemed to enjoy the free tasters….no surprise there. It was interesting to see how the Jimadors harvest the Agave and distil it in large vats which we could look into, so if I didn’t walk away with a taste for the drink I at least had respect for the process.
Still sick of tacos we ate at a cafe one block from the hostel, we were very naughty and had a pizza and chips for dinner. The chips had a queso (cheese) dip with them which was even naughtier and equal amounts delicious and sickly.
At a loss for things to do we decided to walk to Chapultepec which took around 40 minutes, stopping on the way at an impressive church we had driven past en-route to the tequila tour. The church was swarming in people so we couldn’t take a peak inside, on our return walk it had cleared out so we went inside and saw some amazing stained glass all the way up inside the spire which was very pretty. Also on the walk we were surprised (and entertained) to see countless bridal shops with windows full of dresses, some tasteful others tacky. In Chapultepec we found a Telcel and managed to buy a Mexican sim card which we felt was handy in case we got lost in the future.
With the bus booked for the next day to take us to Puerto Vallarta we decided to look at the San Juan de Dios markets, the biggest in Latin America. We saw clothes, leather goods, birds, food, meat, sunglasses and anything else you might desire at the market. The corridors just kept winding upwards until we found ourselves in the biggest food hall either of us had seen. Deciding on where to eat was tough but we ended up in a place with seating and enough English for us to get by and order Pollo Mole and Carne en su jugo (which translates to meat in it’s juice, sounds weird but it was pretty good) with agua fresca for drinks, YUM. I should point out here that food is currently our best subject in Spanish and we are quite capable of deciphering a menu, sometimes with a little assistance from our translate app.
Returning from the market in a roundabout way we found ourselves in a new plaza, we cruised through some markets in pedestrian only streets. These streets we discovered linked back up to the main four plazas, where in a smaller church a wedding was taking place. We loitered for a while peeking into the church which looked quite pretty from what we could see and noticed that quite a lot of people, who were dressed regularly so not wedding guests, were entering. So we decided hey, why not and quietly entered the back pews. The church was subtly pretty in a cream and silvery tone so worth while unobtrusively having a look while the wedding was taking place, I promise we didn’t disturb anyone!
A soft serve ice-cream completed our day as we took a long way back the the hostel. The streets were as busy as we had seen them and it was difficult to navigate in some places, hundreds of people! We chanced upon a street which obviously had all the shops a girl needs for a big event (wedding, coming of age/débutante celebrations) and they showcased the most puffy, the most brightly coloured and the most fantastic dress options I have ever seen. These were at least on par with the dresses we saw in Turkey last year if not better.
With entertained grins on our faces after spending half an hour window shopping the dresses we headed back to the hostel to get a good sleep. The final morning we woke early and left the hostel, locating the bus stop with ease and jumping on a public bus to the bus terminal where we would depart for Puerto Vallarta, sun and the beach.
I’ve been quite vague with specific things we visited so here is a list of the places we visited:
- Templo Expiatorio
- Mercado San Juan de Dios
- Museo Regional
- Catedral Metropoliana
- Palacio de Gobierno
- Templo San Augustine