From San Blas we headed south to Santa Cruz and then cut over through Tepic to Guadalajara. The ride to Santa Cruz was stunning with ocean views to the right and mountainous rainforest to the left. Both of us were tempted to stop and spend another night but we ended up moving on. There were several small beachfront properties for sale but unfortunately we did not get a phone number of a realtor. We could both live happily in this stretch of Mexico. Tepic was a huge city that we were happy to get through quickly. The ride to Guadalajara ended up being boring, very smoky and longer than we thought humanly possible due to the large amount of trucks on the road and long stretches of construction. I guess what you could call a highlight of the drive was Tequila, Mexico. The small town is surrounded on all sides by agave fields and several major tequila distilleries are located there, including Jose Cuervo, Sauza, and Herradura. Since Mike has already been to a distillery in Tequila and Jill is no longer a fan of drinking tequila (yay, college!), we decided to move through the town rather quickly.
Guadalajara, despite the crappy drive, was worth seeing. It is a major metropolitan city with beautiful buildings, great museums and artwork, and a thriving nightlife. The university is a draw for students from all over Mexico and the rest of the world so it feels very alive and international. We ended up driving into downtown to try to collect ourselves and find a hostel. This was the first city we have tried to couchsurf in that did not work out, so we were on our own. There were a few hostels right downtown but they were more expensive and we had a hard time getting to them because downtown is filled with one way streets and we kept getting turned around. We ended up at a hostel called Hostal Galería
located near Chupultepec Street, which is a very trendy and popular part of town, known for its restaurants and hang-outs. The owners of the hostel are two young brothers, Moisés and Abrám, and they were great. We would highly recommend staying there if you are in town. 350 pesos got us a large room with a king sized bed, I think it was 190 pesos for a bed in a dorm room. It was very clean and comfortable there and we really enjoyed it.
(Us with the hostel guys - they liked the bike)
That night we walked around the area trying to find a place to eat. There were a ton of people out and about and all the bars were full because Mexico was playing Cuba in soccer. There were a lot of places to eat but everything was a little more expensive than we wanted to pay (especially since Jill is so cheap) until we found our savior, Ruben´s. This little gem had a deal where you buy one entre and get the second one free. On top of that, beers were 10 pesos each (cheaper than buying at the grocery store). They also had something called papas locas which was the world´s largest baked potato with lots of good stuff like cheese, bacon and chorizo on top. We were so happy with the place that we went back the next night. Lame, we know, but it was worth it.
The following day, Jill woke up and somehow turned her head the wrong way, ending up with a really bad crick in her neck for the morning. Mike was nice enough to get her some over the counter (in Mexican terms) muscle relaxers and after sleeping and laying in bed until about 3 pm, she was recovered enough to get up and eat this:
(Tortas ahogadas (drowned sandwiches) de panela)
Afterwards, we caught the local bus downtown and went to the Hospicio Cabanas which is an old hospice that has been turned into an art museum and features the murals of José Clemente Orozco. It was really cool and worth a visit, despite the nazi ticket seller not believing for a minute that Mike´s student ID was valid (well, which it really isn´t, but it was issued in June of 2010, so that´s not too far fetched, right?).
It also has rotating art installations. This time there were several rooms with photos of indiginous people from the late 1800´s until the 1980´s and an artist that apparantly likes to paint zombie women on top of cars. For example:
Here are some other pictures from our wanderings downtown. The area is largely pedestrian and there are several blogs of gorgeous old buildings. Luckily most of the main attractions are within a few blocks of each other so it is easy to see quite a bit by walking around.
(outside Hospicio Cabanas)
(market - San Juan de Díos)
(Rotunda de los Hombres Ilustres)
(University of Guadalajara)