Heading out early on August 30th for a quick 4 day trip from here in California to the Guadalajara Mexico area. Didn't know if anyone else on the site would be down that way during this period, but as this will be my first solo trip in a long time (wife is visiting parents in northern New Jersey), thought I'd see if anyone was going to be around either visiting or because they live in the area.
I've been meaning to do the Tequila factory tours for awhile, and figured this would be a good time to get away and see if it is worth taking my wife down later on a follow-up trip, either directly to Guadalajara, or by busing over from Puerto Vallarta. Since my wife easily gets motion sickness, I'm especially checking out the roads around this area--and also from here over to Guanajuato and possibly even San Miguel de Allende--the two colonial towns that are both UNESCO World Heritage sites and that are supposed to be the two most beautiful towns in Mexico to see if she would be able to handle the drive from Guadalajara. Everyone also says that Guadalajara is a great place to visit in its own right, very cosmopolitan with great parks and interesting shops, museums, and restaurants.
I know it is a very short time frame for such a trip, but since we get such short vacations in the US, I figure it is time to get away whenever possible and take these kind of trips when I can. Besides which, the drive from Guadalajara to Guanajuato is only 2 hours and from there it is only about another 1 hour on to San Miguel de Allende--so it seems possible in this short time frame.
[ Edit: Edited on 25-Aug-2013, at 08:14 by Calcruzer ]
I have been to Mexico three times over a decade ago but would not go for the last several years. There has been lots of trouble there with drug gangs and murders.
For example, Google: Guadalajara killings
I have been to Mexico 10 times prior to 2003, and 9 times in the past decade--never with any problems (2 trips to Mexico City, 2 trips to Acapulco, 3 trips to Cancun, 5 trips to Tijuana and northern Baja, and 7 trips to Puerto Vallarta). My wife accompanied me on 11 of these trips. I am aware of the recent warnings about traveling in Guadalajara--particularly at night between the town center and the airport--so I will be careful to do that trip during daytime hours. Also, if I do go to Guanajuato it will be via primarily via toll roads, which are considered much safer than regular roads. Other than that, I thank you for your warning, but am still planning to go.
The odds are heavily against me running into trouble unless I go looking for it (Guadalajara is much safer than many US cities--in fact at least 2 times safer than Detroit, Houston, Baltimore, New Orleans and St. Louis to name a few)--and I am not the type that is shy when it comes to danger anyway. If I was, why would I travel anywhere?
I don't usually like to post articles from other travel websites on travellerspoint, but I think this one is excellent at explaining the myth on how "Mexico is much more dangerous than the US" the best.
Let me thank you again, Cyberia, for your warning, but my post was not about asking for advice, it was to ask if anyone wanted to join me.
Well, I'm back and guess what?--I didn't get mugged, murdered, arrested, or kidnapped. Big surprise, huh?
I probably saw more police in Guadalajara, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, and Tequila than any other places on the planet. It's gotten so the Mexican states must be spending about one third of their budgets on putting police everywhere. And the businesses are following suit:--private security people are everywhere. When I went to Guadalajara's central jewelry centers, there must have been 30 police/security people on every floor. My suitcase got searched both going and returning from Guadalajara, and I was questioned in the jewelry center three times about my presence there.
Anyway enough about that. The towns were amazingly interesting, especially Guanajuato which uses the old mines underground and the old riverbeds as streets for cars going into the city (leaving is done by going up to the surface, and driving out the normal way). Turned into one tunnel thinking is was about 300 meters long only to discover it was over 1 1/2 kilometers long. The town is surrounded by mountains where most of the homes are and they use a gondola for getting up and down the approximately 1 kilometer altitude change from the city to the heights. The town is actually kind of two towns, the northern more cosmopolitan section being separated from the less metro southern section by a three kilometer long forest right in the middle of town which the expressway runs through. It is undoubtedly the most European looking city in Mexico I've ever seen.
San Miguel de Allende is kind of a maxi-version of Santa Fe in New Mexico, only with very narrow roads and about 5 times the number of shops and restaurants. Also, unlike Santa Fe it has a lake just outside of town.
Guadalajara is just like Los Angeles--very spread out, lots of traffic, and everyone going somewhere but not sure why. Not my favorite place, but a good central stop for a quick night's rest. I suggest getting out of there and visiting the other spots as soon as you arrive--especially if you plan to relax and are not in town for business.
Tequila looks like it must have looked 200 years ago, only once you get into some of the hotels or inner courtyards, it is like you just got transformed from the poor part of Nottingham to the upper crust part of Chelsea. Visited four distilleries and toured the two largest--Casa Herradura (the old hacienda has been converted into a factory, but the hacienda look and feel remains). I was told this factory produces over 15 million litres of tequila per year. It is about the size of two Wembley stadiums. Over at Jose Cuervo, they told me the reason they were smaller is because they bottle at four different locations, unlike Herradura which has only the one location. The "old factory" at Casa Herradura was the most impressive part of my entire trip. It is a normally completely dark place that has been exotically lit and makes you feel like the old Aztecs are about to jump out and keep you from stealing the magical elixir they are using for their voodoo ceremonies. Carved out stones in the ground and walls moved the fermented mixture throughout multiple large rooms and caves.
Made new friends in both Tequila and Guanajuato (probably could have in San M de Allende also if I had more time). One large family of 12 was traveling together and invited me to join them both for tequilas at the pool (which they provided) in the town of Tequila and then the next day for dinner with them--which I did (but I paid for my portion and some tequila for a few of us). They were all from Puerto Vallarta and ran a hospitality company and a fishing boat business.
Okay, for the ladies--the most important thing to know is that the towns of Guanajuato and particularly San Miguel de Allende are definitely the places to go shop for jewelry and clothing. Fairly reasonable prices, but high-end quality. My wife will be getting her two rings and three blouses when she gets back from New York. I'm guessing this is why SMdA is rated so high in addition to its beauty.
Looks like you had a good trip. Great idea to post a short post-trip report. I hope others will follow your example!