I asked for a beer on our 45-minute flight, hoping it would make me forget I was mid-air. Flying is scary. They gave me a 25 ounce can of some Mexican brand beer. They don’t mess around. I could not finish it in the 15 minutes I had left to drink it before landing. AeroMexico might be a budget airline, but it is generous with its drinks.
We grabbed our bags and headed out of Guadalajara airport, singing “A Million Dreams” from The Greatest Showman as we simultaneously walked through the sliding doors that connect the Baggage Claim and Arrival sections of the airport. Our four-day getaway had officially begun.
Guadalajara is the capital of Jalisco state, home to mariachi bands and tequila. In the West of México, Guadalajara is the fourth largest city in the country, with nearly 1.5 million inhabitants. The historic center houses the Cathedral of the Assumption of Our Lady, built in the Spanish-Renaissance style with Neo-Gothic bell towers. I particularly loved the pop of yellow on the towers. The plaza was being remodeled, and the sounds of construction filled our ears as we walked past a group of nuns leaving mass.
Something that intrigued me about Guadalajara’s center was the number of beautiful fountains in the plazas. Each fountain was a completely different style and made different noises as the water rose up and down in creative ways. It was artsy and soothing – a nice opposite to the construction noise by the cathedral’s square.
The city’s public transport is not as useful as taking an Uber, which is what I would recommend to maximize your time spent sight-seeing. With places of interest spread out and only 2 metro lines (a third one is under construction), there really wasn’t any time to waste. Luckily, Bradley and I had our own tour guide. We were visiting Bradley’s Canadian boss, Guy. This made our stay effortless and smooth as he drove us to different touristic sites.
Tlaquepaque neighborhood was a highlight of the city. It is colorful, artisanal and with decadent eating options. We were VERY hungry as we ordered lunch so it only made sense that we ate the largest traditional meal: chamorro adobado. A soft pork leg bathed in an incredible brown sauce that was sweet and creamy like mole. We also ordered a molcajete, which is a sort of hot shrimp cocktail with melted cheese on top. I preferred the chamorro. For drinks, I opted for a Mexican favorite: michelada – an ice cold beer with a lot of lime juice, some red sauce (optional), and a salt rimmed glass. It is like Spain’s tinto de verano in that it is very typical on hot days, refreshing and cheap. Bradley had a cazuela, which is a tequila and fruit-based drink, served in a big terracota bowl with pieces of orange floating inside.
Aside from the incredible flavors, the highlight of our trip was Chapala Lake, which is a couple of hours outside the city. (The best thing about Guadalajara is that there are so many nearby towns you can take day trips to! I might return for Tequila town and Tonalá town). Though too loud with music and people (we went on carnival weekend), Chapala Lake was a gorgeous and peaceful sight. Staring at the still water and mystical looking hills, we felt like we were in rural China or something. It was literally a breath of fresh air from Mexico City.
After strolling along the lake, we had lunch on the pier front at Beer Garden. I ordered a fried fish like the ones I used to eat in Venezuela when I was on family holidays by the beach, a piña colada, and a giant bowl of fresh guacamole. After that, we had a short but blissful car ride through Ajijic – a small, super expat friendly town. Ajijic’s side of the lake was much quieter. It was a moment to feel grateful that I continue to have these opportunities to explore new cities and get lost in my adventures.
To end the trip with what seemed like the hot topic in Jalisco: good food, we had the final traditional dish of our getaway – torta ahogada. I gave a brief explanation of tortas in my recent food post Mexico City: 10 Street Foods but this Guadalajara version was nothing like what I eat in Mexico City. Torta ahogada is a sub made with a specific bread to the region. It has pork inside, and it is bathed in a brown, thin sauce that is made even better if you squirt lime juice on top. Because of the hot sauce, the bread becomes soft and it is normal to eat it with a spoon. I loved the delicious taste, but I have to confess that after multiple super filling meals, Bradley and I were happy to go home to a fridge full of salad veggies.
Guadalajara was a super fun getaway with neat surprises around every corner. From the fountains in the city center, the silence in Ajijic, and the memorable flavors, we could not have been happier to check out this Mexican city for four days in February (just in time for Valentine’s!). At the same time, we visited Guadalajara with the thought that it might be an awesome place to move to. However, once the weekend was over, it became clear that we already picked out the best place for us. We originally departed Mexico City wondering if there was something better out in Guadalajara, and returned completely confident that we are not ready to leave Mexico City yet. From then on, I began to enjoy where I am in this moment and stopped looking for something else. Guadalajara was a stepping stone for me to realize all the good parts of what I already have. And right now, I am truly liking it here.
Until the next post! Hope you enjoy the photos! Please share and subscribe for some love display.