Guadalajara, Guadalajara!

This is not the first time I write about Guadalajara, however, I spent a weekend there just last year, and felt in love with this city, again.

Getting there from Mexico City is pretty simple, you either take a 50 minutes flight (around USD$70 to $100 return), or a 7 hours bus from “Central Poniente” (USD$75 return). I chose the second option, because either I’m still an adventurous man or apparently I haven’t learnt to buy my trips on advance, go figure.

I arrived to Guadalajara’s bus terminal on a Saturday, around 7 am, and decided to hop on the public transportation to get to the city centre. As, due to some previous reading, public transportation routes are easy to follow. Once you get to downtown, moving around by foot isn’t that bad at all, or at least for me, as I really enjoy long walks.                

As you can see, the day was beautiful, and as I walked from “Templo de Nuestra Señora de Aranzazú” to Guadalajara’s Plaza de Armas (its main square) stores and restaurants were getting ready to serve the peasants.

The Cathedral is incredible. Its construction began on 1561 and was finished by 1716, finally completed on 1854. To one of its side you will find the “Hombres Ilustres” (distinguished men) roundabout with all those men who contributed to either found Guadalajara or stood out for their achievements in culture, science, politics or leadership.

I continued walking through Jose Maria Morelos street and passed by Teatro Degollado. This Theatre was built during the XIX Century. Its facade is beautifully balanced by 16 Corinthian styled columns, a reminder of Guadalajara’s constant focus in culture and arts.

Just a 20 minutes walk away, in that direction, you’ll find the Hospicio Cabañas. This is a World Heritage Site, and one of the oldest and largest hospital complexes in the Americas. I’ve been there before, and I do recommend you to spend at least a couple of hours exploring it.

You might be wondering, “Luis, why did you go to Guadalajara out of the sudden?”, glad you ask. As you know, I’m from Tampico, gorgeous town on the Northeast coast of Mexico. My local soccer team was playing against the Universidad of Guadalajara’s team that Sunday, so, I packed my jersey and lots of sunscreen and just went for it.

Estado Jalisco – Leones Negros vs Tampico Madero

On Saturday evening I hung out around the Chapultepec Avenue zone, it has plenty of hipster-ish pubs, restaurants, local gastronomy, and a colourful flea market. Later that night, a good friend of mine invited me over to a party in that same neighborhood, the “Colonia Americana”.  Guadalajara and Merida have that in common, huge 19th and 20th century houses, which are part of the local heritage, some of them became restaurants or venues for fancy events. She took me to “Patán Ale House“, wonderful beer place, with local brews, great ambiance and good food, perfect for a relaxed Saturday night.

On Sunday I went to the football match, to the Estadio Jalisco, aye, you are right, my team won 2-0 and I couldn’t be happier. The funny thing is that around 400+ fans from my town traveled all the way from East coast to Guadalajara to support our team. That afternoon I made two more food stops. One at “El Negro”, a seafood joint. That was freaking heaven, fresh seafood everywhere, fish and shrimp tacos, grilled octopus, and beer as cold as my ex’s heart, amazing.

The second one, and a great reminder that I need to come back soon to keep on exploring this great city, was “La Res Publica“. Here we ordered one of the most heavenly “Bife de Chorizo” I ever had. Medium rare, solid salted crust, juicy meat and an outstanding explosion of flavours in my mouth with each bite.

That was Guadalajara for me, great weekend, and a must needed break from Mexico City. I highly recommend it, not only as a place to go for a couple of days. Guadalajara seems like the right place where to go if you want to experience Mexico in peaceful and calm way.

Ps. But of course I had a Torta Ahogada. This is a local dish made with hard short baguette stuffed with pork carnitas, and covered on hot or mild red sauce (hence the word “ahogadas” which means drowned). However, I had the seafood version, with shrimps, outstanding.

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Oaxaca and Mezcal

 

IMAG2351last March I went to Oaxaca City for a wedding, no big deal, it was my second time in that beautiful city, but this weekend I committed myself to get to know a little bit more of this amazing place in the southwest-centre-ish part of Mexico.

First things first, I took a bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca on a Friday. A bus trip surprisingly enjoyable, I must say.

I traveled with ADO as my bus carrier at the 23 hrs service to Oaxaca City, leaving from the Central del Norte (the Northern Bus Terminal in Mexico City), costing around USD25 to 45. The terminal was super crowded as it was prior a long weekend, but nothing to worry about.

We arrived to Oaxaca around 7 am, and from the bus terminal in Oaxaca it takes you no more than a 25 minute walk to get to pretty much anywhere in the city. And believe me, anywhere in the city, so if you are only carrying a backpack, well, before getting to your hotel  go and explore a little.

 

For instance, from the bus terminal to Oaxaca City’s main square (commonly known as Zocalo), it’s about a 20 minute walk, but a taxi could take you there in 5 minutes for USD$3.

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At the wedding there were plenty of friends from my hometown, Tampico, it was very interesting to see all these lads in this part of the country. The wedding’s reception was on that very day, at Tule, Oaxaca, a wee town located 9kms East of the city. Santa Maria del Tule is famous for a tree that lives there, according to a lot of studies, this tree could be up to 3,000 years old, 14 metres in diameter, and often referred to as the “Tree of Life”. IMAG2303Then, we finally got the Hacienda for the celebration, found my table and decided to enjoy a magnificent feast. As entré we had pork crackling, longaniza and Oaxaca cheese, while each table had at least two bottles of mezcal, which was “silky-smooth”, simply beautiful.

As a main we had mole negro (black mole), a typical local dish, which by the way, is the  Pièce de résistance in Mexican cuisine, and the most representative of Oaxaca’s gastronomy.

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On Sunday I woke up craving some market food after a wedding with plenty of mezcal, well, Oaxaca had just the right place for me: the Juarez and 20 de noviembre markets.

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There I had a quesadilla with pumpkin flower and a tlayuda with chorizo. Both markets were loud and alive, like any other market in Mexico, however, the ambiance was different as the aromas were unique and, regardless of the new look the food stands had,the cooking technique used there was refined as a result of years of experience.

Oaxaca City seems to be the right place where to go for a weekend off, a peaceful town where to forget, at least for a couple days, the loud and over polluted Mexico City. I highly recommend it, it has awesome food, great weather, but most of all, it gives the tourist a broader insight of Mexican identity and ethnicity.

Cheers…

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