Chapter One - Arrival and a Night at the Opera

Trip Start Oct 31, 2013
Trip End Nov 05, 2013

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Where I stayed
Olga Querida Guadalajara
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Friday, November 1, 2013

Our favourite Mexican song is "GUADALAJARA! GUADALAJARA!

Delta welcomes us aboard at 2:00 pm in MIA and deposits us at 8:30 pm in GDL, and by the time we have passed through immigration and customs and bagged an airport taxi, we don't arrive at our lodgings until nearly 10:00 pm. Not to fear. Lucy, our hostess at the Olga Querida Hostel, is waiting to welcome us.

For accommodation we had looked for something central and at a reasonable price. I think we got what we expected. The hostel is a ten minute walk to the centre of Guadalajara and buses run right past the door for US$ 0.50. The metro is three blocks away.

We settle in quickly, and venture out searching for somewhere to eat. The neighbourhood looks a bit depressing at this time of night as most of the businesses have already closed and the streets are poorly lit. All we come across are noisy bars from where deafening rock music emanates. Obviously it's time to dance the night away for locals, but not for our weary bones. I’m afraid we have to make do with a pre-packed sandwich from the local OXXO store.

What catches our attention are the number spooks and ghosts wandering the streets. The walking dead seem to be quite at home in Guadalajara.

Next morning, in the sunshine, everything looks better. We put on our walking shoes, and ignoring the metro and local buses, head towards the city centre. One of the first things Miryam sees is the plethora of shoe shops with mouth-watering prices. I have a feeling that we will revisit this area before we depart.

Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city with a population of 4.3 million, which makes it really large! It’s located at an altitude of 5,000 ft (1,500 mts), almost exactly the same as Guatemala City, bestowing a Spring-like climate. The historic centre is a handsome area of vast spaces and public squares, dominated by the cathedral and assorted colonial and neo-classic buildings. All around us are larger than life papier-mâché effigies representing skeletons. We are indeed in time to celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico, which explains the strange people we saw on the street last night.

We will see hundreds of these colourful and absolutely non-scary effigies throughout our stay, as well as altars of offerings to honour the dead. Even in our hostel, Lucy has set up an altar to Olga Leija, the local artist and feminist who lived here in the 1950s and from who the hostel gets its name.   

We cross the plazas to the historic 1866 Teatro Degollado to buy tickets for the Jalisco Philharmonic Gala "Antología de la Zarzuela" this evening. We acquire first tier balcony seats for just US$ 29!

After a visit to the Palacio de Gobierno, and the fascinating historical museum, we search out the highly recommended restaurant Birreiria 9 Esquinas.  Don't be confused by the name, it has nothing to do with beer. Birria is a Mexican stew. The specialty of the house is goat stew. I've never tasted such tender and tasty goat. On the other side of the square is "La Habana Vieja", a historic home painted bright yellow festooned with Cuban flags. Looks pretty cool for an evening of salsa.

After changing our sneakers for dress shoes, we are returning to the theatre for the performance, when we are thrilled to chance upon a free Mariachi concert on one of the squares. It’s a tremendous experience with an absolutely knock-out band.  

This theatre sure is different from where I work in Miami. It’s neo-classical grandeur is similar to La Scala of Milan, with stalls surrounded by five levels of boxes. We are located on the first level, close to the stage.     

After a wonderful performance, we stroll back to our lodging.
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greekcypriot on

I enjoyed reading your entry Martin. I expect that there will be more coming soon. Even the name "Guadalajara" sounds tempting. I am on my way to Athens with little time to spare, but still I read the whole of it and saw each photo twice. Flying to Doha on Wednesday. Can't wait for your next one.

derrick241 on

You are certainly getting around a lot of late, its a good view of the first 2 days you are here

Never been to an opera (never been to a theatre either) but it does look a nice place to spend an evening (even if I wouldnt understand it

My Mum went to see Mario Lanza many years ago, she used to talk about it a lot, a shame there werent digital cameras those days

Jim Hearne on

Too cool! What? No dancing???

Cesar Barroso on

Great post.
Would you come back?

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