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Mexico

Know Before You Go: Guadalajara

on June 24, 2016

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There are a few things to know before you before travel to Guadalajara to help you prepare a smooth trip.

Hope they’re helpful!

1. Careful what you drink…

We’ve all heard it, and it’s true. Don’t drink the water. Our American bodies aren’t equipped to consume the water without some… issues.

At restaurants, opt for a soda or the alcoholic beverage of your choice (palomas are my personal fave).

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This counts as one drink, right?

And ditch the ice. It’s very European, so no one will think twice if you ask for a drink with no ice.

Buy bottled waters at the grocery store or at convenience stores. Those are the best bet for safe drinking. Be careful when brushing your teeth. I used bottled water for this, just to be extra safe.

There is medicine you can buy over the counter to help in case you accidentally ingest water. It’s worth investing in as a precaution! Better safe than sorry (and sick).

2. …and eat

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You will see street carts stacked with fruit cups and cooking up yummy treats. It’s probably best to stay away from these snacks during your trip. This was so hard for me because they all looked so delicious, especially those mango cups. But they sit out in the open air for hours with flies and bees swarming around them, and who even knows if the hands that prepared them were clean…

We did end up buying and eating one cup of fruit during our trip. But my aunt made the vendor wash his hands, sanitize them with her HandiBac, wash the knife, wash the cutting surface, and cut the mango fresh right in front of us. And she paid him quite a bit extra for the trouble. It was delicious, and we didn’t get sick, but the effort probably wasn’t worth it.

There are plenty of nice restaurants around the city where the kitchen conditions are clean and the food is safe (and delicious). Just be careful where you choose to eat!

3. [Almost] no one speaks English

Unlike Iceland and the majority of Europe, not a lot of people in city speak English. But I will say, even if you don’t speak Spanish very well or know enough to hold an entire conversation , people are very kind, gracious, and helpful about it. I understand Spanish very well, but am not as confident with my speaking skills. Being immersed in it for a week and a half really helped, but at first it was a challenge.

I would definitely recommend brushing up on basic phrases at the least. Hello. Thank you. Where is the bathroom? How much does this cost? How do I get to the cathedral? And so on.

Google Translate has a great app that is a huge help, and can be very useful when you need it.

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Photo from Wikipedia

Never let the language barrier stop you from experiencing Guadalajara, or any other destination! There’s always a solution, and there will always be people who are willing to help you out.

4. Pickpockets and crime

Pickpockets hang around the cathedral and other touristy spots, and they’re good at what they do.

Ladies, bring a sturdy crossbody bag that can’t easily be ripped off your person. You also want a nice zipper closure on the bag so you can keep any wandering hands out of your bag when you’re not looking.

The Travelon Anti-theft Heritage Crossbody Bag is great! It has anti-theft features, and it’s cute! It’s perfect for adventuring.

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Gentlemen, keep your wallets and other belongings in your front pockets, securely tucked down where they don’t poke out.

My cousin had her iPhone stolen from her back pocket on a trip to Guadalajara. Something that could’ve easily been avoided.

Underrated Travel: Guadalajara, Mexico

on June 23, 2016

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Plenty of people vacation and travel in Mexico. There are beautiful spots like Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Playa del Carmen, where tourists flock to the beaches and bars. But my favorite city in Mexico is one that is well known, but seldom touristed by non-Mexican travelers.

Guadalajara

My mom’s family is from Guadalajara, so she grew up visiting during summers and holidays. Since I was in high school she’s been visiting more, and last summer I was finally able to join her. Ever since I was a child my mom would tell me stories about her time in the city. She would tell me about the tianguis where you can buy embroidered shirts, my grandmother’s house where she had a room overlooking the street lined with giant trees, the beautiful cathedrals that dominate the skyline of the city, and of course, the food.

I’m starting a new series of posts to share my love for this lively city. Today I’m starting with the reasons why I love this place and why more people should visit.

1. The art

My dad has joked that he’s so good at the art categories on Jeopardy because his daughter dragged him to every art museum in Western Europe, and it is 100% true. If there’s an art museum anywhere I’m visiting, you can bet that it’ll be at the top of my to-do list. In Guadalajara the art isn’t necessarily found in museums, but in government buildings, the streets, and even an old orphanage.

I’m huge fan of the Mexican greats: Kahlo, Rivera, and Orozco.

Guadalajara has some amazing Orozco murals in the Palacio de Gobierno and the Instituto Cultural Cabañas. The city boasts a multitude of beautiful statues,  like La Madre Patria (pictured above, middle row, second from left).

A little outside the city is an area called Tlaquepaque, famed for its pottery, art, and craftwork. It’s a good place to go if you want to pick up an authentic Mexican souvenir.

No matter where you look, Guadalajara is an inspired, artistic city.

2. The food

When picking a place to eat, I usually opt out of Mexican saying that I don’t like it. But really, I don’t like the stuff we try to pass off in Texas as Mexican food. The food in Guadalajara is authentic Mexican, of course, and you will gain a few pounds each day you’re there. But that’s a good thing! It means you’re doing it right.

Paletas are a delicious treat, and they come in every flavor imaginable! You can find them in little paleteria shops all over the city. My personal favorite flavor is strawberries and cream. My favorite bakery is Croissants Alfredo. I had breakfast here every day of my visit. We went to a hole in the wall restaurant, Taqueria La Suerte, that I still dream about at night. Best meal of my life. Another great place is La Chata. We ate here just about every other day during our trip. Its specialty is delicious, authentic Mexican dishes.

You will definitely eat well in Guadalajara! And the best part? It’s cheap! Which brings me to…

3. The prices

The dollar is very strong in Mexico, so everything is cheap cheap cheap! We stayed in a beautiful five star hotel (Hotel Morales) in the city centre that was clean and safe. A single suite starts around $55, and the imperial suite we stayed in costs less than $100 per night!

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That balcony was all ours! Plus the view from those top left windows. The suite was amazing!

Food, drinks, souvenirs, and everything else is so cheap, which makes this a great destination for travelers on a budget.

4. The architecture

Guadalajara reminded me so much of Europe because of its architecture. The cathedrals and theatres make you forget you’re in the heart of Mexico. The city is absolutely beautiful. Just walking around the city looking at the buildings and stopping in cathedrals is enough to fill one’s day.

5. The culture

Guadalajara is the cultural capital of Mexico. It’s also the real capital of the state Jalisco, which is the birthplace of mariachi music and tequila.

If you want to experience Mexico beyond the touristy destinations like Cancun, Guadalajara is perfect.You can get a taste of the real Mexican culture here, on the streets, in the theatres, at the distilleries, it’s everywhere and it’s wonderful.

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Happy wanderlusting, friends!