Guadalajara, The Pearl of the West.
So, given Foreign Office advice, both the US and UK, you’d be forgiven for thinking Guadalajara and the state of Jalisco is a little perilous for travellers and visitors alike. Of course, all cities have dangers and Mexico’s second city with a wider population of five million is no different, but no more or no less than others of similar size should you find yourself in the wrong part of town at the wrong time of day.
What we did find was a thriving, bustling city full of energy and vibe with an emphasis on music, dining and nightlife. Home of tequila and birthplace of Mariachi, a type of folk music with violins, guitars and trumpets, keep the city lively and entertaining.
Empty flight and Hamish on the baggage trolley.
During the day, there’s the an array of shopping, museums and cultural tours, including tequila tours nearby and the Libertad Market, the largest in the western hemisphere. For sports fans there’s a broad spectrum of activities such as golf, tennis, wrestling and of course football.
As with many places we’ve passed through, Guadalajara wasn’t originally in our thoughts, and our plans are fluid and ever changing circumstances and ease of travel has led us here.
Like elsewhere in Mexico noise is a factor with fireworks and loud music often playing long into the night and sometimes early mornings, making ear plugs an essential travel component.
A short forty five minute flight from Puerto Vallarta saw us share the AeroMexico flight with twelve other passengers, four cabin crew and our dog Hamish. As always, to our relief, we were delighted Hamish made a safe journey and was loaded onto the correct flight. A soft landing after a bumpy flight, we arrived at the baggage hall to find Hamish, once again placed on the carousel along with the other “luggage” for collection.
Belongings collected we jumped into a taxi and made for the first of the two places we’d stay during our fortnight visit.
Fine dining and street food.
The first, The Hotel LA FE, was a small seven room boutique hotel above an art gallery. Situated in the Centro area of Guadalajara, two blocks from Av Chapultepec, in the heart of the restaurant district and a twenty minute walk to the Cathedral. The hotel, though small was comfortable, had a balcony and offered a continental breakfast. The only downside was the disco two doors down playing music until 3am and the restaurant next door playing live music during breakfast. An afternoon siesta would see us catch up on some much needed sleep. After five days we moved four blocks to a quiet residential street and a one bedroom AirBnB apartment with outside terrace. Again, close to Av Chapultepec we were never far from restaurants or street vendors for quality meals offering a wide range of cuisine from countries around the world. Surprisingly, our favourite was the street vendor selling traditional tacos and natural fruit waters. Other favourites included an Indian, a gourmet taco restaurant and The Food Truck Park, a large covered car port hosting about a dozen food trucks each offering an array of different foods, coffee, beer, fresh juice and live music on friday nights.
Av Chapultepec and Av Vallarta.
Av Chapultepec is a must see in the city. A long busy street in the heart of Zona Centro, It’s centre corridor is a tree lined pedestrianised area running the full length. During the week, though more so the weekend, it hosts a range of cultural events including, street traders and performers, music, an outdoor cinema and professionals offering massage. Dog walkers, joggers and cyclists happily mingle as revellers fill the many bars and restaurants either side. On Sundays part of the street and the adjoining Av Vallarta, one of the main traffic arteries through the city, are closed off to traffic until 2pm and the area is taken over by hundreds upon hundreds of pedestrians, cyclists, skate boarders, dog walkers and joggers all enjoying a pollution free morning and a brilliant family day out.
A walk down Av Vallarta leads to the main Cathedral and city centre shopping. Along the way you can stop and take in various small parks and cafes. Within a couple of blocks either side, orange trees line the streets and here you will find those hidden away gems offering local cuisine and delicacies at cheaper prices.
Dog park and Spa.
The main park in the city is the Parque Metropolitano Du Guadalajara. A two hour walk from our apartment, we travelled there by Uber taxi. The park, covering 113 hectares of ground is home to various services and sports, including Tennis, Volleyball, Football, Cycling, Dog Walking and an Aquatic Centre. Many residents and visitors just go to enjoy the open spaces and picnic or BBQ with family and friends.
Though dogs have to be on a leash in the main park, there’s a large dog area with a pond for owners to let their pets run free and socialise. Hamish loved being out of the city bustle for a while, enjoying new smells and scents from the wooded areas and interacting with dozens of dogs of all shapes and sizes. Afterwards a mobile dog spa, adjacent to the park, lay in wait and Hamish, much to his displeasure, was cleansed of all dust and mud from his wallowing in the dirt.
As our time in this fabulous city drew to a close, we decided to relax in and around our apartment for the final two days of our stay before travelling South to the State of Oaxaca and hopefully some more beach weather.