Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – Mexico chapter Western Central Highlands has to say about Guadalajara:
A pueblo (town) of well over a million peo¬ple, charmingly unself¬conscious Guadalajara has somehow, and rather without trying, become Mexico’s second city. While often neglected by travelers, the city’s charms are distributed equally and liber¬ally throughout its distinct neighborhoods.
The city’s Centro Histórico (Historic Cent¬er) is dotted with proud colonial relics that house museums, government offices, bars and hotels. More modern and spread out Chapultepec is sprinkled with fashionable restaurants, coffeehouses and nightclubs. Mellow suburbs Tlaquepaque (upscale) and Tonalá (grassroots) are a folk¬-art shop¬per’s dream destinations; and Zapopan has some interesting colonial sites, but is bet¬ter known as Guadalajara’s Beverly Hills.
Guadalajara’s many contributions to the Mexican lifestyle include tequila, mariachi music, the broad sombrero, charreadas (rodeos) and the Mexican Hat Dance, and these days it is also known for its outstand¬ing food. From street-side taco and torta ahogada (chili-¬soaked pork sandwich) stands to neighborhood cafes to fine din¬ing rooms in restored colonial mansions, you’re never far from a great meal in joyful Guadalajara.
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
Our first visit to Guadalajara was in 2008 when we spent a week visiting the city while we waited for my aunt to join us from Denver. We had joined forces with her to rent an apartment in Manzanillo for a month, but wanted to get a little taste of the ‘real’ Mexico before heading to the beach.
Audrey joined us just in time for Anil to discover that the LPGA golf tournament was being held in Guadalajara, and that it was possible to purchase tickets at a very reasonable cost. We had spent our time walking the streets of the Centro Historico, taking the bus to visit the neighbouring towns of Tlaquepaque, Tonalá, Chapala and Ajijic, and sampling the various delicious local dishes of the region. Now we spent a lovely day in the vast green setting of the Guadalajara Country Club.
For these reasons, we had fond memories of the capital of the state of Jalisco, so when we learned that the owner of the condo we purchased in Victoria was from Guadalajara, we immediately struck up a conversation with her, telling her how much we hoped to return to the city once again.
I will make a long story short by saying that Adriana visited us later that same summer and we cemented our friendship even further. She had encouraged us to visit her in Mexico but it wasn’t until now that we were able to do so. We had a great reunion at the airport and then we spent a week with her visiting with her daughters and her grandchildren and taking a day trip to nearby Tlaquepaque.
Our original plan was to visit with Adriana and then begin a two-week jaunt around several of the ‘silver cities’ in the central highlands. During our trip ten years ago, we had visited Guanajuato and Morelia and had delighted in the two cities and made enduring friendships in Morelia. We hoped to visit them again, but we also wanted to explore Aguascalientes, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi and San Miguel de Allende.
In the past, we had travelled around Mexico on the extremely comfortable inter-city buses, and thought we would do the same this time. However, Adriana had a big surprise for us – she insisted that we take her car to ease our travels from one place to the next. The cities are all relatively close to one another – never more that a maximum of a 4-hour drive. We knew the highways to be relatively modern and easy to navigate, and now we had the added convenience of Google Maps to help us find our way from place to place and within the cities themselves.
At first we were a little reluctant to accept Adriana’s offer, especially because her Toyota Rav4 was only one year old and had only 6,000kms on it. We didn’t want to be the ones to scratch it up navigating our way on the narrow streets of some of the Centro Historicos. She insisted that cars are meant to be driven, and that she had really only used it to get around Guadalajara.
What sealed the deal was the fact that she was scheduled to have some elective surgery on her feet and wouldn’t be able to use the car for the entire time we planned to be away exploring the region. We agreed on the condition that she visit us in Victoria and use our car to get around to visit places she’d like to see on Vancouver Island – places that she’d spent memorable times with her Canadian husband before he died.
During our week in Guadalajara prior to our road trip, we had a great deal of fun together, getting to know each other better and enjoying her generous hospitality. We encouraged her to introduce us to some of her favourite restaurants in the neighbourhood, and Anil and I went on a couple of long walks to enjoy the warm sunshine after several weeks of rainy weather back home.