Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Back in Mexico - My travels to Guadalajara and the town of Tequila

Guadalajara - Plaza de ArmasI have been told many times that Guadalajara is the most Mexican of all Mexican cities. Of course, I didn't fully comprehend that statement until I came to Guadalajara.

The city is very pretty, deeply rooted in culture, and the town of Tequila is nearby. For this Filipino guy, it is a complete package!

Guadalajara is almost four hours from San Francisco on the plane. Mijo and I took the red eye flight and we got to Guadalajara before seven o'clock. It was still dark when we deplaned and transfered to a bus to take us to our gate. I guess they do not adjust their time during summer or have DST or day light saving time? We got out of the airport and took a 30 minute cab ride to our hotel in the Centro Historico part of downtown Guadalajara.

The hotel couldn't check us in yet and I didn't blame them. The checkin time is at 2pm and we were just too early. Everything was still closed at 7:30am. Luckily, we found this department store already opened called Sanborns and they have a restaurant. After a quick breakfast, we walked around the centro to get ourselves acquainted with the centro.

Walking Around Guadalajara

Plaza de Armas is in the middle of the Catedral and the Palacio de Gobierno. I've been to several Latin American cities and I just realized that Plaza de Armas is usually where the main square is located. There is even one in Manila.
Guadalajara - Plaza de Armas

In the middle of the plaza is this beautiful ironwork kiosks surrounded by seating areas and orange trees. It is beautiful and very engaging. I thought we can kill time around this area for six hours and I was right.

The Palacio de Gobierno has a museum and is free of charge. They do require you to sign in on a log book by the gate.
Guadalajara - Palacio del Gobierno

It has a museum housing several indigenous archeological artifacts and is a good introduction on the history of the city and as the capital of the state of Jalisco.
Guadalajara - Palacio del Gobierno Museo

Guadalajara - Palacio del Gobierno Museo floor

By the courtyard above the stairs you'll find this imposing mural by José Clemente Orozco. The mural is a giant painting of Miguel Hidalgo, the Father of Mexican Independence.
Guadalajara - Palacio del Gobierno Orozco Hildalgo Mural

Here is another view of the mural. I had to stop and linger looking at the walls to take all in.
Guadalajara - Palacio del Gobierno Orozco Hildalgo Mural stairs

Afterward, Mijo and I checked out the Catedral, or the Catedral Basilica La Asuncion de Maria, on the other side of Plaza de Armas. We got in and noticed that the inside of the church is tiny compared to the massive structure from the outside. We didn't realize that the Catedral is like a duplex. There are actually two churches inside. We first got into the smaller of the two.
Guadalajara - Catedral Basilica La Asuncion de Maria

Here is the main church. I noticed right away the difference in size and adornments. The bigger hall is definitely more lavish in style.
Guadalajara - Catedral

And the altar is huge. This is the view of the altar from the left side.
Guadalajara - Catedral altar left view

Here is the view of the altar from the right side.
Guadalajara - Catedral altar right view

There is a crypt below the altar where former archbishops are buried, or at least, that is how I understood it. Most, if not all, inscriptions are in Spanish.
Guadalajara - Catedral crypt

Behind the Catedral is another public space with a round kiosk called La Rotonda de los Jalicienses Ilustres. The park is surrounded by statues of prominent local of the state of Jalisco. I took this picture from Sandy's, a restaurant across the street.
Guadalajara - Rotonda De Los Jalicienses Ilustres View from Sandys

There was a ceremony being held that morning when we came. Lots of police, lots of TV cameras and reporters, lots of important looking people and a band playing what sounded like patriotic anthems.
Guadalajara - Rotonda De Los Jalicienses Ilustres Band playing

We continued walking to the right of the Catedral toward Plaza de la Liberación. You can hear the sound of this big fountain from afar.
Guadalajara - Plaza de la Liberacion

There are lots of Catholic churches in the centro historico alone. The ones that we had time to visit are  Templo de Santa Maria de Gracia and Templo de San Agustin.

In the case of Templo de Santa Maria de Gracia, we didn't know it was a church until we got in. We had to walk farther outside to see the dome from the street. If I lived in Guadalajara, I would probably frequent these churches just so that to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city and because it is so calming inside.
Guadalajara - Templo Santa Maria de Gracia

Guadalajara - Templo Santa Maria de Gracia inside

Templo de San Agustin is on the right side of the Teatro Degollado. The church has a quaint little garden with a fountain. I am not Catholic but I totally appreciate how absolutely beautiful these churches are.
Guadalajara - Templo de San Agustin

Guadalajara - Templo de San Agustin inside

Guadalajara - Templo de San Agustin altar

Behind Teatro Degollado is this bronze sculpture by Rafael Zamarripa in commemoration of the city's founders.
Guadalajara - Plaza Fundadores

Next to it was this small stage with a cello artist performing.
Guadalajara - Street music

We walked on Paseo Hospicio and found these sculptures near Plaza Tapatía.  The paseo is dotted with shops, cafes and restaurants. The bronze tree sculpture with two lions is called Escudo de Armas.

Nearby is another fountain surrounded by sculptures called La Inmolación de Quetzalcóatl by sculptor Victor Manuel Contreras.
Guadalajara - Plaza Tapatio Fuente La Inmolacion de Quetzalcoatl

Also on Plaza Tapatía is this long fountain is called Fuentes Danzantes. At the end of the fountain is the Instituto Cultural Cabañas. Unfortunately, the museum is already closing.
Guadalajara - Plaza Tapatio Fuentes Danzantes

We visited the Museo Regional de Guadalajara on Saturday, our last day in Guadalajara. Luckily, the museum is free of charge that day. The building where the museum is housed was built in 1701 as a convent.
Guadalajara - Museo Regional de Guadalajara

The museum contains important archeological finds and art. Lots of pre-Hispanic potteries.
Guadalajara - Museo Regional de Guadalajara indigenous pottery

On the second, my favorite is this massive painting called Alegoria de la Orden Carmelita.
Guadalajara - Museo Regional de Guadalajara Alegoria de la Orden Carmelita 

We went to the Instituto Cultural Cabañas next. We wanted to go there because of another set of massive murals and frescoes by José Clemente Orozco. An added bonus was the labyrinth exhibition by artist Daniel Buren.
Guadalajara - Instituto Cultural Cabanas Capilla Mayor exhibit

Here is a view of the main chapel or Capilla Mayor from one of Buren's labyrinths.
  Guadalajara - Instituto Cultural Cabanas Capilla Mayor

Guadalajara - Jose Clemente Orozco

Mijo and I lingered inside the main chapel or Capilla Mayor just enjoying the massive murals by Orozco.
Guadalajara - Instituto Cultural Cabanas Capilla Mayor Orozco

This mural is called Hombre del Fuego.
Guadalajara - Instituto Cultural Cabanas Capilla Mayor Orozco mural

Here is another mural in the main chapel.
Guadalajara - Instituto Cultural Cabanas Capilla Mayor Orozco mural cross

Here is my favorite mirror labyrinth by artist Daniel Buren.
Guadalajara - Instituto Cultural Cabanas Daniel Buren exhibit

Plaza de los Mariachis

On the other side of Plaza Tapatía on the end of Avenida Juarez is the Plaza de los Mariachis. This is what I call Mariachi central. 
Guadalajara - Templo de San Juan de Dios and Plaza de los Mariachis

It is like an outdoor food court that has live entertainment. There is a large Mexican population in San Francisco so I am acquianted with Mariachi bands. However, the quality of Mariachi performances and songs in Guadalajara is definitely topnotch. Guadalajara is the mothership of Mariachi tradition, afterall. This place gets busy starting at 3:30pm.
Guadalajara - Plaza de los Mariachis 

Mijo and I didn't hire a Mariachi band while dining so I don't know the current rate per song. The great thing about eating here is you'll hear the Mariachi songs from one or two tables near yours.
Guadalajara - Plaza de los Mariachis mariachi night 

Guadalajara - Plaza de los Mariachis mariachi day 

There was also a performance the evening we were there.
Guadalajara - Plaza de los Mariachis dance 

Day trip to the town of Tequila 

We took a private tour to the town of Tequila, an hour away from Guadalajara. I learned that Tequila can only be produced from Jalisco and in limited regions in the states of GuanajuatoMichoacánNayarit, and Tamaulipas. The blue agave creates a beautiful landscape with a blue hue.
Tequila - Agave farm

This is the chapel in the heart of the town of Tequila.
Tequila - Iglesia Santiago Apostol

Then we went to Jose Cuervo for an introduction to Tequila and also to tequila-taste. There was a short film to show the history of tequila and Jose Cuervo. If we had more time, I would have visited one or two more tequila distilleries. The tour is 100% in Spanish.
Tequila - Mundo Cuervo barrels

The tequila is distilled from the blue agave plants. After several years when the blue agave plants mature, the piñas or the core of the plant that resembles a pineapple. After they are harvested, the piñas are then cooked in huge ovens.
Tequila - Mundo Cuervo truck of pina 

These are the ovens where the blue agave cores are cooked. The smell in the distillery is like opening a jar of molasses which is not what tequilas smell like.
Tequila - Mundo Cuervo agave ovens

Tequila - Mundo Cuervo production

We were welcomed to sample what a cooked blue agave meat tastes like. Delicious and sweet! We were toured inside the distillery and showed us the process of making tequila. They also explained the alcohol proofing and the different types of tequila.
Tequila - Mundo Cuervo baked agave meat

During tasting, we tasted five different types of tequilas with varying smoothness. By the way, we sampled the tequila without lime and salt. Sampling tequila is no different from sampling wines so I was able to apply my little wine sampling skills.
Tequila - Mundo Cuervo tasting

We also dropped by the Tequila Museum and learned more about the history of tequila making. This room contains collection of tequilas through the years.
Tequila - More Bottles

Special thanks to Ricardo of Amigo Tours.

Tapatio Tours 

We also had time to go outside the city center via Tapatio Tours. It is a hop-on, hop-off tourist bus that has four routes. Here are the views of the streets of Guadalajara. Even outside the city center, the city is dotted with beautiful churches and intriguing sculptures and landmarks. As always, the tour is 100% in Spanish.
Guadalajara - Streets of Guadalajara

Here is The University of Guadalajara.
Guadalajara - Universidad de Guadalajara

This is the Monumento a los Niños Héroes.
Guadalajara - Monumento a los Ninos Heroes

This is the Los Arcos de Mileneo.
Guadalajara - Los Arcos del Milenio

Here is the Los Arcos de Guadalajara.
Guadalajara - Los Arcos de Guadalajara

This is the beautiful Templo Expiatorio near The University of Guadalajara.
Guadalajara - Templo Expiatorio

Misc Foodie 

Since Guadalajara is a city, it has lots of dining possibilities. However, Mijo and I decided to stick with Mexican fare. Here are the places we liked.

This is Cafe Madrid on Avenida Juarez. The waiters here wears white polo and a black tie.
Guadalajara - Cafe Madrid crowd 

Guadalajara - Cafe Madrid dinner 

Guadalajara - Cafe Madrid Pacifico beer 

We also liked Chai, also on Avenida Juarez. This place is hip and always crowded. They have a buffet breakfast.
Guadalajara - Chai desayuno 

Guadalajara - Chai fruits 

Guadalajara - Chai crowd 

I enjoyed the food at the Mercado de Comidas in the town of Tequila. We ordered Pescado Frito or fried fish and Gambas Sarandeada or Shrimp Sarandeada. Delicioso!
Tequila - Mercado de Comidas Pescado Frito 

Tequila - Mercado de Comidas Camaron Sarandeado 

Here's what we ordered at the Plaza de los Mariachis. The pozole is the best!
Guadalajara - Plaza de los Mariachis tacos 

Guadalajara - Plaza de los Mariachis pozole 

They serve good coffee at Tabacchi Cafe at the Holiday Inn Centro Historico.
Guadalajara - Tabacchi 

We found this chocolaterier called Arnoldi. Lots of chocolates to choose from. Do not forget to get their Tequila filled chocolates.
Guadalajara - Arnoldi chocolates

All in all, I enjoyed our short stay in Guadalajara. This trip also reinforced my need to become better in Spanish.

Hasta luego!


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