Saturday, February 12, 2011 8:47 AM
Guadalajara Day 2 - Enarte and Tlaquepaque
Today we got up bright and early, enjoyed the fabulous breakfast buffet at the hotel and caught a cab for Tlaquepaque. Everyone, and I mean everyone, told us that we absolutely must see this charming town. Everyone was right! It was quaint and picturesque and a shopper's heaven! Although the village has been absorbed geographically by the city of Guadalajara, Tlaquepaque has managed to maintain its own character amidst the urban sprawl. The delightful zocalo and cobblestone streets attract millions of visitors a year who come to shop and Guadalajara locals who come to stroll, relax and dine with their families.
Our plan for the day was to attend the Enarte Decorative Arts Expo, cleverly scheduled to coincide with the International Furniture Expo and ensuring the best possible attendance for the artists and craftsmen participating. We were pleased to see that there were plenty of buyers taking cards and placing orders for their shops and online stores. We were there for purely selfish reasons as we are looking for handcrafted decorative items for our own home which we hope to complete this year. Much of the merchandise was not what we were looking for (jewelery, glassware, porcelain dolls for example) and there was a lot of imported crap to weed through but we did manage to make a great connection with a guy who offers custom made copper sinks and a lovely source for lanterns and mirrors. Photography was not permitted within the expo so unfortunately, I have no pictures to share from this portion of our day.
Moving on, we made our way to the cobblestone pedestrian only street where the majority of the shops and galleries are located. We made our way in and out of each one of them, seeing a lot of the same product represented at Enarte. (Well, now we know where it all comes from and the retail mark-up, don't we?)
After wandering through town for a bit, we made a visit to the regional ceramics museum. There we were able to see a small collection of gorgeous pieces from various parts of Mexico.
We have one almost exactly like this on our dining room table. It is my favorite!
In Tlaquepaque, one does not have to visit an art museum to see art. It is everywhere around you, both in and outside the galleries and shops. Most of the stores have a strict policy forbidding video and photography, which I respected. There was certainly plenty of interesting work in the streets and a lot of delightful signage. The buildings themselves were all stunning with gorgeous architectural detail.
On recommendation from friends, we ended our afternoon at El Parian hoping to see and hear some of the Mariachis that the city is famous for. Unfortunately, since it is technically off season, the mariachis were only playing on the weekends but we still sat and enjoyed a quick bite and a drink to hold us over until dinner. El Parian is actually one of a group of bars, all under the same management it seems, that run continuously covering an entire city block creating what is reported to be the longest outdoor bar in the world. I wouldn't doubt it. This place stretched on and on and made the perfect place to rest a bit, catch up on email (thanks to the city's free wifi) and watch the world go by.
Cazuela con Cazadores. Yummm!
The famous torta ahogada!
After a bit of a rest at El Parian, we strolled back through town to the main plaza just in time to see the street lamps come on and the church light up for the night. I met up with a very nice group of local artisans who were studying English in order to help their businesses. With so many English speaking international buyers, having a good grip on the language would enable them to tap into this market and increase their sales. There were out in town, strolling through the zocalo with their teacher, tasked with finding a native English speaker to practice on. I turned out to be the perfect subject and we all chatted and asked each other questions for half an hour or so. Good fun!
The vendors were out in full force but we were saving our appetites for dinner at La Vaca, an Argentinian restaurant in the suburbs of the city. We were kind of done with the tourist spots and ready to find the finer dining establishments frequented by well healed Guadalajara locals. La Vaca certainly fit the bill. It was elegant but lively (loud) and bustling with well dressed patrons and experienced waiters. The food was fabulous, as expected, and we paired our meals with a rich Shiraz from Casa Madero, one of many excellent selections from their extensive wine list. Unless you have really done your homework on the names of the various cuts of meat in Spanish, the menu is going to be intimidating. Fortunately, there are enough English speakers on staff to talk us through the opinions and make sure we got exactly what we were expecting. This is exactly the kind of place I like as it reminds me of a restaurant I used to work for back home. It's elegant but comfortable. It's the kind of place where the food is good, the staff remember you and what table you like and people regularly come to dine three or four nights a week. If you find yourself at La Vaca, be sure to split an order of the asparagus appetizer with your entrees. Yummm!
A local street vendor selling steamed corn, peanuts and chick peas.
My new friends and their professor.
Go to Day 3 - Zapopan
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