I almost titled this post “Is Morelia the Most Beautiful City in Mexico That Nobody Visits?”, but then I decided that there wasn’t any point in pretending this was a topic that was up for debate because the answer is so obviously yes.
Of the many things for which the state of Jalisco is famous, the alcoholic agave-based spirit known as tequila tops the list. Indeed its birthplace—a town aptly named Tequila!—lies just 65km northwest of Guadalajara, making for an easy and popular day trip from the city.
If there is one certainty in life, it’s that drinking and driving don’t mix. And yet, when in Mexico—especially when tequila country is practically on your door step—all the rules seem to go out the window… That’s really the only explanation I have for how we wound up spending one of our final days in Guadalajara on a self-guided tour through the heart of Tequila and its many distilleries. Sure we could have taken a group tour or even a fancy party train, but the freedom and flexibility afforded by our own set of wheels was too great to overlook. At least we never went above the speed limit and always wore our seatbelts??? Safety first!
As I mentioned in my last post—a love letter to Guadalajara—one of the major reasons we decided to visit and spend a month in the city was because we had heard such good things about the food. This isn’t the first time we’ve let our stomachs make the decisions when it comes to deciding on a destination (one could argue that indeed, our time in Asia was essentially spent pursuing their whims!), and I sincerely doubt it will be the last. If there’s one thing that can guarantee we will fall in love with a place and not want to leave, you can bet it will be food-related.
“Don’t go to Guadalajara,” we were told. “It’s just a generic big city that is mostly modern and not that scenic. There are better places to visit in Mexico.”
After our time in La Peñita, we knew that we wanted to head inland and experiment with Mexican city living to see if it was a better fit for us. The most obvious choice was Guadalajara, a mere four-hour drive away and capital of the state of Jalisco. But everywhere we looked, all we could find were reasons NOT to visit: People found the city too gritty, and even bona fide Mexico lovers who had tons of experience traveling the country found it difficult to get a grasp on the sprawling metropolis.
Given all the lackluster press, we felt daunted by the prospect of spending a month in Guadalajara, but we couldn’t deny that the city intrigued us. Despite all the naysayers, we felt drawn to Guadalajara. The city is the birthplace of so many quintessential aspects of what most foreigners consider to be at the core of Mexican culture: mariachi music, broad-brimmed sombreros (and the infamous Mexican hat dance), tequila, and rodeos… they all originated in Guadalajara. How could a place with that kind of lineage be soulless and devoid of “authentic” Mexican culture? Moreover, if the place was so terrible, why have over 1.5 MILLION people decided to make Guadalajara home (and consequently made it Mexico’s second largest city!)? Something just didn’t add up to us, and when we read that Guadalajara is considered to be something of a foodie city, we decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a chance.
Despite appearances, Tony & I are not actually one of those couples in their 30s who have managed to retire and gallivant about the globe. When we first set out on our RTW, our trip was funded by years of savings, and we always knew there would come a day when we had to return to the world of the gainfully employed. Happily for us, our graphic and web design and online marketing business has meant that although we must still work to support ourselves, we can do so from the road rather than rejoining the rat race.