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Published: August 30th 2007
How could we miss finding this colourful home-stay?
Monday 27th August
This morning we decided to treat ourselves to a full breakfast at one of the restaurants we had seen last night in the Zocalo. Firstly though we packed our backpacks as we had to catch a taxi at 1300 to the airport.
Breakfast was great and we both ate enough to last us for some time. Judy had scrambled eggs Mexican style, Rags had hotcakes - 3 large ones smothered in maple syrup even he found hard to finish!
The heavens opened whilst we were having our meal so we waited for a break. We headed off for the Fuerte De San Diego, a fort built for protection from English & Dutch buccaneers. It is now a museum and, as we soon found out, closed on Mondays! To add to our frustration the rain started again. We sheltered in a bank, taking the opportunity to draw out some cash, until the rain abated.
After a shower and change of clothes we left the hotel in a taxi organised by the very helpful Dixie.
After having our luggage searched at the airport, (never thought we looked suspicious!!) we settled in at the lounge until boarding time.
Judy eating breakfast
Here you can see it's as colourful on the inside as on the outside.
The plane the bus took us to was a flash looking jet similar to some of the executive jets seen at home. Smooth flight, less than an hour to travel what would have taken a couple of long days in the bus.
The taxi driver spent some time working out where we asked to go, was shown on our map, directed by the organiser at the airport, and still managed to get lost. He indicated a youth hostel to us, obviously hoping we'd go there, but on Rags' insistence continued the search. Eventually Judy directed him and after Rags had checked the place out we obtained the last room available. The Casa Vilasanta is like a home-stay and only has 11 rooms.
A wander down the main street towards the zocalo soon convinced us that this was a university town, as young people predominated. The general atmosphere, setting, and cooler climate has given us a very positive feel about the place.
We had dinner at the Sirloin Stockade, similar to our Sizzlers. We wanted a change from Mexican food so Judy had salmon and Rags had a steak. It was a buffet so there went our diet.
This statue was in the centre of the roundabout where we turned back to the city.
The rest of the evening was spent either watching TV or reading and catching up with email. We met many of the other residents who were students on a 1 month study course apparently and included a few aussies. After their couse they were all going to teach Enlish in various parts of Mexico or Nicaragua. Typically, the aussies were about to go out for a drink (the others staying in studying we guess) and asked us if we wanted to come. We declined, but its great when kids younger than our own accept you like that.
Tomorrow we intend to contact a local lady who Jim, one of our home-exchangers, knows and has been in touch with.
Tuesday 28th August
This morning by the time we got up we discovered it was already 8.30. We spent some time over breakfast and downloading our email. We had a couple of Skype calls with people we knew and by the time we left the lady, Martha was waiting to clean our room. We headed toward the main squares. The large twin towered cathedral at the heart of the city is surrounded by 4 grand plazas.
When we arrived in
These stalls are everywhere in Mexico. Many locals eat their meals here.
the first, Plaza D”Armas we saw a tourist bus so we enquired and found it was almost ready to leave on it's city tour that would take us around the city for about an hour and ten minutes. We thought this would be a great introduction so off we went. The English was difficult to understand so we just sat back and enjoyed the sights and took some photographs. We had a good overview of the city and went to places that would have been too far to walk!
After this we started heading towards the mercado. Firstly we found a smaller market where there was a lot of food sold so as it was lunch time we sampled a couple of tomales, steamed maize and meat rolled up in what appeared to be a corn leaf. Next we found a touristico booth so we asked if they had any information in English and lo and behold they produced an excellent brochure that gave details of 9 walking tours around Guadalajara. Only a few more points of interest remained for the downtown tour so we continued. The information given was succinct and just what we needed. It led us
The Lady of Aranzazu Church
There are many beautiful churches in the city.
next to the Cultural Institute where we found that prices to enter were more than 3 times more for freigners than for locals so needless to say we continued on without going in as many of these types of things are of limited interest and information is in Spanish anyway.
The next stop was the gigantic Libertad Market, originally formed as trader's union in 1603 and is according to our brochure one of the most visited places in Latin America. Visitors can find typical food, candies (which we sampled) household goods, tourist items, playstation games etc. It was however very quiet today and stall holders sat around chatting. They are not at all like those in Bali who “attack” you as soon as you approach. Mexicans are much more laid back and sometimes don't even appear as you peruse the items on the stall. We did however succeed in purchasing a couple of t-shirts as souvenirs.
As we left the markets heavy rain slowed us. Rags hates getting wet and we took refuge in MacDonalds with some refreshments wile we waited for it to abate. We were both tired so we stopped at the supermarkets for some supplies
We saw these flower puppies at the market and thought Vera might like to see them!
and boght the makings of a stirfry - the first meal we have cooked ourselves since leaving home! The evening was enjoyably spent chatting to the students and watching a television that was in English with Spanish subtitles.
Wednesday 29th August
We should have learned by now, the days are fine and the heavens open at about 6.30. We just got off the bus from Tlaquepaque, a lovely suburb dedicated to better quality art & crafts. Judy loved walking through the different shops looking at the displays and wishing she had more room in her backpack. Perhaps we'll have to return flying directly home so that we may buy some of the beautiful pieces we saw. One showroom was dedicated to an Italian artist and ceramic sculptor,Rodo Padilla. His work was exteremely interesing with many 3D collages and paintings and sculptures of a large bottomed/hipped lady.
Previous to this we woke at a reasonable time after a good night's sleep and after doing a load of washing using the free hotel facilities, we caught a bus to Zapopan. This suburb is about 8km from the city centre with about 1 million people living there. It
Guadalajara Founders Square
A sculptured group representing the founding of the city of Guadalajara.
offered some interesting sights including a well-maintained plaza. Whilst there we decided to have a cup of coffee, this being served by giving us a jar of Nescafe and 2 cups of hot water!
We enjoyed the ambience of the area including a visit to an art gallery where there was a photograhic display with a different variety of themes.
The basilica, built in 1730 is famous for its tiny statue of the Virgin that draws pilgrims from near and far. We saw an elderly man shuffle up the aisle to the alter on his knees, commonly done when asking for a favour.
After the “compulsory” wander through the mercado we stopped for lunch at a little stall where the owners were excited to have customers from Australia and insisted we take some photos. Incidently, the tacos were delicious!
After being out for at least 8 hours sightseeing we were quite happy to relax, getting the blog up to date and having a quiet evening.
Thursday 30th August
It was quite a long bus ride to Tonala, our intended destination for today. Tonala is best known for its ceramics but also on Thursday and Sunday it
Rags rested on one of several whimsical bronze benches.
becomes a huge street market that covers dozens of streets and alleys and can take hours to explore. We set about exploring it and were amazed yet again by the vast variety of goods on sale. After we had seen enough and tasted some more of the local food we walked up to the 2,500 metre high Queen Hill. At the top there are yet another chapel and monument. The whole area looked like it had at some stage in the past been carefully planned and built but now as with many places in Mexico has been neglected so the grass was long, stones were missing from the steps and the toilets were closed and windows broken. What a shame!
Back down the hill we visited a Ceramics Museum before boarding a bus for the return ride to Centro Guadalajara. We dozed on the return journey and when we alighted we were a little “confused” so ended up heading in the wrong direction before getting our bearings.
A quiet afternoon was spent reading with our feet up before we went to a little Italian restaurant close by for a pasta meal.
It's now after 9pm and one
Boots at the market
Could you imagine Rags wearing these to the next Ascot Waters function?
of the students just told us that there is a mariachi festival. Mariachis are musicians commonly seen in restaurants or strolling the streets, dressed in silver studded outfits with wide brimmed hats playing a variety of instruments which include violins, guitars, basses, vihuelas (a 5 string guitar) and trumpets. We saw some sitting around talking to each but they seemed old and tired - like us at the moment!
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