Published: January 19th 2011January 18th 2011
The arts museum and church nearest my hostel
Hola a todos!
Today I am going to tell you about my day in Guadalajara. It was about 6.30am when I woke up. It just seems to be the rhythm I have picked up... But breakfast wasn't until 9am, so I thought I'd use the time to catch up on the blog and e-mails. After breakfast, I washed some of my clothes and decided that trying to wash everything at once is not a good idea because chances are that the sink will be too small and anyway, my drying line isn't long enough for all my stuff. So I only did about half. I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by my fleece, which I have worn nearly every day and every night and doesn't even stink yet!
In the end, it was about 11am by the time I left the hostel, but as I was staying another night, I thought I still had plenty of time to visit. I asked the girl at reception for a map and if there was anything she'd recommend but she just showed me on the tourist map where the historic centre was. I wasn't terribly surprised because the hostel reviews
I'd read weren't great and to be honest, the hostel wasn't the best, but it did the job (and I had a whole dorm to myself, which was a nice change).
So I set off and walked to the first sight, a large church which was about half way between my hostel and the historic centre. I decided to sit down to take it in and have a look at the map, in order to decide on what route I was going to take. I had been sat down for a couple of minutes when this bloke who looked like Laurent Voulzy (sorry, only the French readers will get this) came and sat next to me and started talking to me (in English). He asked where I wanted to go and I said I was just deciding on my route. Then he proceeded to ask if I spoke Spanish and when I said yes, a little, he suggested we could spend the day talking together so that I could improve my Spanish. Err... No thanks. Then he asked if I wanted him to show me around the city. Again, thanks but no thanks. The “stalker lights” were flashing in my
The squre by the cathedral
head and I eventually managed to escape, thinking back about the girl from the night before and wondering if it was just that everybody in Guada was so nice (but I still wasn't going to take chances!)
I went on about my day, taking it slow through the historic centre, trying to stay in the shade as I'd forgotten to put sun tan lotion on, sitting in the parks and looking at the people walking by. Now... That is NOT a good idea... Looking at blokes is like an invitation for them to chat you up. I learnt my lesson when this unusually good looking guy walked passed (he was tall and slim, this is definitely not your usual Mexican shape) and I made the mistake of looking for 2 seconds. Next thing I know: “Hello, how are you? What are you doing today, taking some nice pictures?” I said yes and walked off. What surprised me is that my guess is he was about 22. Who knows, maybe he had a thing for the older ones amongst us! So then I stopped looking at people, but that didn't work either. On every street I got the “Hola guapa” and
the whistling and the staring... I was surprised because even though I knew this was supposed to be normal, it hadn't happened up until then, so I had started to think maybe the guide books were exaggerating a bit. Well, not that day.
The historic centre was quite nice, a mixture of old stone buildings surrounding green squares with the odd concrete eyesore here and there. But it felt quite relaxed, with lots of people sitting around enjoying the day. I was particularly impressed by the cathedral which was huge and dominated the centre (useful to get your bearings when you're a bit lost), but unfortunately, we could only get in at the back (which I guess wasn't really the cathedral, it was more like a normal sized church inside). I also really liked the government's building which had a nice courtyard surrounded by arches (as seems to be the way everywhere) and also some painted ceilings. It was full of all the civil servants doing their daily job and I thought to myself that it must be nice to work in such surroundings.
After 2 or 3 hours of strolling around the old buildings, I decided to get out
Inside the government's building
of the historic centre and explore a bit of the real city. That wasn't such a wonderful idea... As soon as I was a couple of streets away, I was hit by the old, ugly, concrete landscape of deprivation. It wasn't dirty as such because there was no litter, but nothing had seen a paint brush for a few decades and it smelt of pee quite a bit. People were staring at me even more than usual and I really felt like I wasn't supposed to be there (and I am no wuss). So I headed back to safer surroundings, thinking maybe I'd just picked the wrong corner of town and decided to try another corner. Unfortunately, it was much of a muchness so I wasn't sure where to go next. On my tourist map was what looked like a big park so I headed that way. When I got there, it was a bit rubbish, had a mixture of homeless and regular people and also smelt a bit wee-like. At a loss as to what to do with the rest of my day, I headed for the tourist information booth, where the lady (who didn't really speak English –
strange for a tourist info point) told me that I could go to one of the suburbs (and mentioned 2 of them) which were pretty, if a half hour bus journey away. I thought “sack this, I can't be bothered”. I couldn't believe that in the second city in the country, there wasn't any more for me to do and decided to slowly head back to the hostel. I stopped at the supermarket and also got some cash on the way and I was back by 5pm.
I had a long Skype conversation with home, sent a few e-mails and then planned the next day's events (and booked the hostel). I prepared some semi decent food and had an early night.
Overall, Guadalajara was a bit of a disappointment, just because there didn't seem to be enough to keep me occupied. I think if anybody was going to come here, maybe I'd suggest staying in the suburb of Tlaquepaque instead. It is much nearer to the Tonala bus station (known as Central Nueva) so easier for getting in and out of town. This is also one of the suburbs the tourist info lady had mentioned and I went through it
with the collectivo on the way out and it was full of - the now almost usual - brightly multicoloured narrow streets.
There are more photos below