English movies on the bus! Great way to pass the time when all you can see out the window are endless fields of agave plants.
For the first time on our trip we were staying in a proper backpacker hostel, complete with communal areas and a kitchen. As much as I love eating out, having a home-cooked meal by my wonderful chef-husband is a welcome treat. I thought it would be nice to find a market, buy some fresh food and have a simple, healthy dinner. Danny didn't have the same idea. As soon as we checked in he went straight to bed, despite it being the middle of the afternoon. I guess dinner was off the menu. I was up for exploring, so I left him to it and went off to see what Guadalajara was all about.
The centre of town consisted of three massive, interconnecting plazas, all lined with beautiful old buildings and containing various styles of fountains. It wouldn't have looked out of place in Europe. What blew me away was that there were signs in ENGLISH! There was even an information centre! Even Mexico City didn't provide us with an information centre. This appeared to be the most progressive and tourist-friendly town in the whole country.
Just one of the thousand or so fountains in town.
I managed to rouse Danny from his midday slumber so we could search for some non-home cooked food. Unfortunately in this touristy city it was hard to find traditional, non-touristy Mexican food. We made some bad food choices. You let us down, Guadalajara.
The next day found us on a bus heading to Tlaquepaque, a small town known for its arts and crafts as well as just being pretty. A big tick on both counts. The main pedestrian street was full of tempting restaurants and artsy stores, selling ornaments, furniture, jewellery, paintings, glassware, and other knick-knacks we didn't need and weren't prepared to lug around for the next five months. Some of it was beautiful and if we were flying straight home, I probably would have taken the credit card out. Instead we kept it on the cheap, filling up on street food for lunch: tacos, paletas (popsicles) and random sweet treats. We even tried tamarind straight from the pod, a first for us (delicious, if you were wondering). If we had more time I definitely would have stayed here longer.
Back in Guadalajara, we hit all the main "must-sees" in town, got lost in a rabbit warren market that sold everything ever invented, entered and quickly exited a multi-level shopping mall that only sold jewellery, sampled various tequilas and liqueurs (tamarind liqueur was nice - how have I not had this fruit before?), tried Mexican wine (I think I'll stick to other regions) and walked past possibly more fountains than I had ever seen in one town before. It was an incredible city, one I could see myself living in.
For dinner we had heard that the Chapultepec region was THE place to go for good food, and after last night's efforts we needed to find good food. We didn't have anywhere pinpointed, just the general area on a map. Walking around for an hour and not finding anything resembling a "foodie" region is one way to get the hunger cravings going. All we saw were a few Western-style bars showing various sports, which was not why we came to Mexico. Eventually we located a small, modern Mexican restaurant that looked not too shabby, but by that stage we probably would have eaten the grass on the sidewalk. I devoured a pretty good veggie enchilada in record time. We have no idea what Danny's dish was called, but it consisted of small pieces of pork inside a huge bread roll that was then drenched in a tomato-based sauce. Odd. For all the pros Guadalajara has going for it, food doesn't seem to be one of them. Or more likely, we are terrible at choosing places to eat.