Having taken fifty-seven years to build it was dedicated to the 'Assumption' in 1618. In 1750 its façade was destroyed by an earthquake, which was later rebuilt. An intriguing combination of Baroque, Churrigueresque and neo-classical architectural styles, the cathedral is the focal point of central Guadalajara. The interior is a showcase of 16th to 18th-century Spanish art and includes the famous 17th-century painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, 'The Assumption of the Virgin', which hangs in the sacristy.
Goa Somewhere Else for Dinner
I've been in Mexico for two and a half months now, and I've been away from Canada for three and a half months, so I am kind of craving the tastes of home. My friends and I thought it would be nice to check out Goa, which is apparently Guadalajara's only Indian restaurant. Located right in the Zona Rosa (the "hip" part of town), Goa is conveniently located close to other restaurants which are far better. Seriously.
Goa is actually a fairly cute little restaurant, with mood lighting and most risque Indian music videos you'll ever see playing in a constant loop on the TV. You can sit outside if you want, all the better to watch people going to nicer restaurants. The minute the sliced french bread arrived at our table, we should have known the meal was not going to be good. When we tasted our drinks (a mango lassi and an almond-flavored drink called a sharbat badam) and were extremely overpowered by the sour taste of natural yogurt we should have walked out. But no, we actually waited MORE THAN AN HOUR for our appetizers- vegetable samosas. The samosas were the only good part of the meal. They were stuffed with a very authentic blend of vegetables and then covered with chutney and a few extra chickpeas for garnish. Delicious. We then waited and waited and waited, probably for another forty minutes, for our main course. The two of us shared vegetable biryani, dal makni and palak aloo. The vegetable was borderline inedible. It seemed to be short-grain white rice stir-fried with a blend of frozen peas, carrots and corn, and then served with what seemed like Thousand Island dressing on the side. We each ate about a forkful and then gave up. The dal was extremely bland and lacked any of the herbs and spices that would indicate it was supposed to be an Indian dish. The palak aloo was edible, but only contained about eight pieces of potatoes. Prices have gone up and are no longer accurate on the website- imagine paying the equivalent of $7 for eight potato wedges! Or the same price for a tiny serving of what is essentially inedible fried rice. Portions are tiny, prices are high, seasoning is horrible, ingredient quality is low, service is slow... there is no reason to go to Goa!
Zoologico Guadalajara is a decent zoo (no cement pits a la Vancouver's Stanley Park in the 1980s) feautring a wide variety of animals, Latin America's largest herpetarium (reptile house), beautiful views of the canyon to the north of the city and a safari ride where visitors can get up close and personal with the animals. My friend and I recently spent an entire Saturday at the zoo, enjoying every minute. Make sure to wear sunscreen as you'll be doing a lot of walking and not all of it is shaded, and you may want to bring in your own bottled water as it costs 13 pesos ($1.25 US/CAD) for 500ml inside the zoo.
We really enjoyed the safari ride, although we did have to wait in line for about half an hour. Once you board the large vehicle you are driven around a large, open space where you can interact with ostriches and giraffes, and see animals like rhinos, buffalos and even cheetahs without having to peer through metal bars. The kangaroo enclosure also allows you to interact with the kangaroos (if they feel like coming over to see you), and there is a bird enclosure where you can buy bird food to feed to budgies and lovebirds. Less interactive exhibits include a gorilla enclosure, several different types of bears, gazelles, crocodiles and hundreds of exotic birds.
We paid about 85 pesos ($8.35 US/CAD) for a ticket that included zoo entrance, one trip on the safari ride and unlimited rides on the train that circles the zoo (but only stops three times), in case we got too hot to walk any further. I would highly recommend purchasing the complete package.
Beside the zoo is Salva Magica, an amusement park with thrill rides and children's rides.
I took a day trip to the Tequila Valley. I wish I could remember the name of the company. The concierge at the Presidente Intercontinental Hotel sold me the ticket. Tequila is about 40miles or so outside of Guadalajara. The trip itself takes about an hour due to the Guadalajara traffice. It was a good tour. None of the cheesy, now we will shop at this "craft village" that is giving us kickbacks non-sense.
The trip is on First Class Motorcoaches with seats that recline and about 1.5 meters of legroom. Very nice.
The tour included a tour of the Cuervo Tequila distillery and a stop in one of the Blue Agave fields to show how it is harvested.
If you are interested in liquor Tequila, I think it is very worthwhile, and if not, I still think it is very enjoyable just for the natural beauty of the countryside.
This is a field of Blue Agave plants from which the liquor Tequila is distilled. The actual part of the plant that is used for making the liquor grows in the ground like a potato. This part of the plant is called the pina, or pineapple.
The Blue Agave plant is dug out of the ground and the leaves are cleaned off before the pina is sent to the distillery.
After visiting the field they took us to the Cuervo distillery for a tour. There they show how the pina is cooked and juiced, and the fermentation and distillation process. They also explain about the history of the liquor, talk about the aging, and the different varieties of tequila, which basically depend on how long it has aged. At the end there is a tasting.
The town of tequila is a compact town of about 40000 residents. There does not seem to be much in the way of tourist infrastructure except for the day trippers on tours. Here is a picture I took as we were leaving on the bus.
After the distillery tour, we stopped at a restaurant just outside the town of Tequila. We sat on the back deck that looked over this very impressive canyon.
The restaurant was pretty good if maybe a little pricey for Mexico. I had the ceviche and it was very good.