Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
The advent of Volaris service from the Albuquerque International Sunport to Guadalajara offers Burqueños a new quick and inexpensive getaway.
And because Guadalajara is a hub for Volaris, it also opens a path to other popular destinations in Mexico and Central America.
A quick trip to Guadalajara is well-worth considering, especially at the fares the airline offered the first weekend, when I and three others from Albuquerque were offered a lightning tour of the city by the Guadalajara convention and visitors bureau.
If you choose the weekend option, you don’t have much time on the ground. The flight down gets in around 3:30 p.m., Central Time, on Saturday, and the return flight leaves around 7:50 a.m. Monday. Staying for a full week, of course, would be a more leisurely option.
But as our guides, Liliana Aceves and Luis Barragan of Dragonfly Servicios proved, you can pack a lot into a day and a half in Guadalajara.
Here’s how we filled our 40-plus hours.
Liliana and Luis met us at the airport, and on the way to our hotel provided us with a half-hour tour of Mexican history and overviews of Guadalajara and Jalisco. As a native Tapatía, she’s proud of the city and the metro area of 1.5 million people. Jalisco is sometimes referred to as the most Mexican of Mexican states, the birthplace of mariachi, charrería (Mexican rodeo) culture and tequila. Guadalajara is also an important commercial and tech center, considered Mexico’s Silicon Valley.
Our hotel, Hotel Posada 1970, is a nicely updated Hilton-boutique property, modern but with nods to Mexican Colonial architecture. A bright, airy restaurant and bar take up the center courtyard just beyond the entrance. Luis, who grew up a few blocks away, remembers playing soccer in what was then the hotel courtyard with members of the Brazilian World Cup soccer team, including Pelé, in 1970. The hotel, brand new at the time, hosted the team for some of the early rounds that year.
Then it was off to Zapopán, one of the city’s more affluent suburbs, but also where Mexico’s famous blending of indigenous and Spanish cultures is on display. We didn’t get a chance to see the museum on Huichol culture here, but we did peek into the Basilica, home to Our Lady of Zapopán, variously known also as La Pacíficadora and La Generala.
During the rainy season, the statue of Our Lady wears a hat and umbrella as she is carried from one parish to another. She returns to the basilica in October in a huge procession known as La Romeria.
From there, we drove past Colomos Park. Guadalajara’s version of New York’s Central Park, it is home to bridle and walking paths, springs, streams, a Japanese garden and other recreational facilities.
Next up was the Andares Mall, a high-end shopping area featuring such brands as Benneton, Bebe and Burberry.
It was (U.S.) dinnertime, so it was onto Los Otates to sample the comida típica of Jalisco.
As far as I’m concerned, the primary reason to travel is to eat, so this was my favorite stop of the day. We started with aguas frescas and tiny sopes (similar to gorditas) called aspirinas.
Next were appetizer-sized versions of another local favorite, tortas ahogadas – sandwiches made on bolillo rolls that you are expected to dunk in salsa.
The stars here are the tacos — al pastor, adobada, chicken in mole, barbacoa, lengua and more. Chicharrónes are popular here, so much so that they may be served alongside chips for scooping guacamamole.
For dessert, I had the jericalla, a type of flan particular to Guadalajara with a burned caramel topping similar to crème brule.
After freshening up at the hotel for a couple of hours, we headed out in search of some of Guadalajara’s famous nightlife. We arranged for an Uber to Avenida Chapultepec, hoping for some live music. It’s a lively scene. Markets pop up in the medians, where families stroll and shop as the nightlife kicks off, usually not until 10 p.m or later.
There would be no sleeping in, given the packed schedule ahead of us. The first stop was La Postrería, Mexico’s finest pastry shop (according to Travel + Leisure), so I wasn’t complaining.
To be clear: This is not just food; it’s art, and an open kitchen allows you to view the creative process.
Liliana and Luis then took us on a short driving tour to see some of the city’s French-inspired 19th century mansions and to stop by one of the city’s many tianguis, popup outdoor markets that can feature everything from food to antiques.
Then it was on to the Orozco murals, considered a must when visiting Guadalajara.
Jose Clemente Orozco, one of the three great mid-20th Century Mexican muralists, has fresco masterpieces at the government palace and at the Hospicio Cabañas, orginally an orphanage, now an art museum and UNESCO world heritage site.
There are two Orozcos at the government palace, one lining the grand stairwell that covers huge spans of history, dark in theme but bold in color and form. Upstairs is a smaller mural that hits some of the main themes in Mexican history painted into the dome above the legislative chamber.
Not too far away, we also took in his Man of Fire mural at the Hospicio Cabañas, considered to be his masterpiece.
A popular tourist destination, Tlaquepaque’s main drag has been turned into a pedestrian mall lined with shops and restaurants. Its pretty plaza with gazebo, gardens and fountains remains intact, a place families spend Sunday afternoon enjoying an ice cream or people watching.
Did I mention the importance of food?
Liliana and Luis had rushed to get us to Tlaquepaque in time for the reservation they’d made at Casa Luna.
Wonderfully bright, Casa Luna’s dining room is in the converted courtyard of a colonial home. A jazz quartet played as we plied into a memorable meal.
Dinner began with an appetite-inducing Jicara cocktail – tequila (of course) with cucumber, mint and club soda. Then came appetizers of mini-tacos and aspirinas with a variety of fillings, including huitlacoche, a corn fungus that honestly is much better than it sounds. A fine steak served as the main course.
Dessert? Of course. We shared orders of pan de elote, a sweet corn cake with guayaba paste, and flan with chongos, a topping made with curdled milk, sugar and spices that has the consistency of soft cheese.
We had an hour or so to shop and check out the plaza before heading back to our hotel for a few hours of down time.
And with that, our weekend in Guadalajara was pretty much over.
Given that it was Sunday night and we would be leaving for the airport at dark o’clock in the morning (one of our party had an even earlier flight than most of us), one last look at the city lights from Posada 1970’s rooftop bar when we returned to the hotel would be it for this visit.
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