Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara is not a pretty city in the conventional way but it has a lot to offer visitors. The city is large and sprawling. And in the four days that I was there with two friends, I did not get to see nearly as much of it as I would have hoped but that means I have lots of exploring to do when I return.

 

We stayed at an Airbnb near Parque Alcalde. The apartment was very nice and had a balcony which we took full advantage first thing in the mornings and then again in the afternoons when we needed a rest from wandering the city streets. I cannot recommend this Airbnb host enough. He was so accommodating, helpful, and gave us some great information on the city. And he has multiple properties in Guadalajara to choose from.
We had originally planned to stay near Avenida Chapultepec Norte and thus found bars and restaurants to check out in that neighborhood. We dined at El Sacromonte and I would highly recommend it. I had steak in a delicious sauce for around $250MXN.  We also wondered down the way and split a bottle of wine at Romea. It was very chic and a bit on the expensive side (our bottle of wine cost $730MXN) but a nice treat to sit outside on a nice evening and enjoy some delicious wine. Later during our long weekend, we went to Pigs Pearls in the same neighborhood. We needed a break from traditional Mexican food and grabbed burgers. Lunch (a burger and a glass of wine) was perfect change of pace and only cost $85MXN.
We definitely ate a lot of food while we were in Guadalajara and it seems as though the street food was easier to find at night than during the day. Much like anywhere else, I would recommend if you’re eating street food find vendors that are busy with locals, saddle up, and eat everything. We did eat in the mercado in the city center one day for lunch and it was delicious. Also, we are here during Lent in the Catholic faith and there were a lot more fish options than I would have thought we’d find. Hopefully this is not just during the Lenten season but is all year round.
Usually when I sit down at any sort of food vendor in which prices are not listed, I ask what the prices are. But I found in Guadalajara that when I didn’t ask first, all of the prices were perfectly acceptable and I never had any issues with people over charging me. This might be because I speak enough Spanish to order food and ask questions. Everyone was very friendly and helpful. And while a lot of people here do speak English, I think that it was easier for everyone when I used my small amounts of Spanish.
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This torta ahogada (the drowned torta) included pork, cabbage, onions, and a tart tomato sauce.
We also ate at a little place called Casa Mitote which serves Oaxacan dishes. It was so delicious and were so glad that we caught them on a night when they were actually opened.
We attended a performance by the Jalisco Philharmonic while we were in town. The music was just lovely and tickets were very affordable. We had wonderful seats in the center of the theater for $220MXN each.
We also visited Tlaquepaque on a Saturday which was a nice break from the city. It was also a great place to shop for locally-made crafts. Some of the items that we found here were very similar to other items we found in Oaxaca but at cheaper prices.
Few locals had amazing things to say about taxi drivers so we opted to use Uber when we needed to get around the city and could not walk the distance. We took one from our Airbnb to the city center and it cost about for $2USD one way. There are currently two train lines that serve parts of Guadalajara but since we were not here very long and we tend to walk a lot of places, we did not take advantage of the public transportation.
I also visited the Panteon de Mexquitan cemetery one afternoon. The architecture and stone work of the mausoleums was beautiful though some where in sad states of repair. I really enjoyed wandering the quiet paths and reflecting on this cities history and its people.

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Guadalajara, Mexico

Crossing the border from Jordan into Israel

As I left Jordan, I had to say goodbye to my travel buddy, Katie, as she had to return to the States, but I gained another travel companion in my sister-in-law, Kim, who had joined us late on our Jordanian adventure. Together, we made our way to Israel. Crossing the border from Jordan to Israel was more time consuming but not nearly as frustrating or unnerving as we expected. We took a pre-arranged taxi from our apartment to the Jordanian side of the Allenby Bridge (which is not really a bridge). This cost JD20. We got dropped off at what looks like a bus depot. We went in the gates and around the corner into the office to fill out paperwork to exit the country. We handed over our passports and were asked to pay JD10 each for the exit tax. Once we paid, we waited for enough people to amass so that a full bus could drive us over to the Israeli side of the border. The bus ride cost a total of JD8 per person which included a fee for our luggage. On the Israeli side, we were given two stickers, one for our bag and one for the back of our passports. Our luggage (not our personal bags) were sent through security while we went through security in the adjoining building. After security, you will show your passport to a border control agent. This is where you can ask that your passport not be stamped. They will ask for a reason and you must provide them one, but the officer I spoke with didn’t seem to take issue with my reason (a future visit to Kuwait). After this, we went through another checkpoint in which someone looks at our passport again. Note that this is the point that if they want to hand check your luggage, you will be asked to take a seat and wait until your name is called. They will already have your passport if they are going to hand check your luggage. We were not subjected to the luggage check, so we went on to grab our bags off the carousel. We’re almost there, I swear. We walked outside to buy tickets for shuttles that will take you to either Jerusalem or to Jericho in the West Bank. There are two ticket stands, one for each. We were heading to Jerusalem so we paid a total of NIS42 per person which covered our luggage and our ticket. The ticket takers will accept any type of currency you have (technically you cannot bring Israeli shekels into Jordan therefore we had no shekels. We paid in US dollars) and they will give you appropriate change in Israeli shekels. We waited around for the shuttle to fill up and started off on the 45-minute trip to Jerusalem. In total, the border crossing journey took seven hours.

Here are two other sites that I found helpful in my own research for this border crossing and trip.

Crossing the border from Jordan into Israel