Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Good Times in Guadalajara !

This past week was all about our journey to and from Guadalajara with good friends Jim & Tessa Armstead.

Back on December 12, the first day I was busy covering the Rock Fest, Jim bought our tickets to see Santana & Journey in concert for March 26th in Guadalajara. Can't believe that was 3 full months ago!

So last Tuesday, Mike and I packed our bags and headed by bus first to Bucerias where Jim and Tessa live. After a lovely dinner and sunset on the beach at El Brujo with other friends, Carrie and Abe, we hit the bed early in anticipation of an earlier than normal rise to get on the road to Guadalajara.

The 5 hour trip went beautifully. Not much traffic on the 2 lane highway part so we made good time. Along the way, we decided to take the opportunity of going up to Chapala and Ajijic before heading into the bowls of Guadalajara.

Along the way, we were able to see the VFG Arena, where the concert was going to be on Thursday evening. We tried to see if we could pick up our tickets but they said no, we had to wait until the night of the concert. So we continued on up the mountain. We had a nice lunch in Ajijic followed b a stroll through the tiangus (market), along the lake, and a bit through town. I must say that the lake certainly looked much better than it did when I was there in 2007. 

Jim's trusty Garmin (Carmen, as they call her) navigated us right to the front door of our host and accommodations for the next 3 nights, Casa Venezuela. George Zookey, our host, had contacted me on Facebook after I had posted we were going to the concert way back before Christmas. He invited us to stay with him and his partner, Gabrielle. After looking at his site, we excitedly accepted. These are the gems that keep giving back to us during our travels!!

After a tour of the stunningly beautiful home and a chance to drop our bags in our rooms, we were treated to evening wine out in the garden patio where we began to truly get to know each other. George and I had been communicating the whole 3 months and felt like we did already know each other but the others didn't have that background. Conversation was easy and comfortable, which is important when you're sharing someone's home. Their awesome 2 pups were also a delight to get to spend time with. 

I can't recommend this B&B a highly enough!! And, if you're looking for a personal guided shopping tour in Tonala, then look no further than George himself. He knows the ins and outs and can custom create your tour to fit your wants and needs. https://www.facebook.com/casavenezuelagdl?fref=ts

Casa Venezuela

George Zookey, Noelle, & Sid Lally

After a nice walk of several blocks, we chose to have dinner at La Hambergesa, a quaint very casual little bar/restaurant on Libertad. I actually had a bacon cheese wrapped hot dog while the others had hamburgers. A low key evening after a long day of driving and touring.

We were able to have a slow paced morning. Luscious hearty coffee was ready when we woke and by the time we had all truly woken up and caught up with the cyber world, Francisco had prepared the most incredible breakfast. Francisco is a gem! He has worked with George and Gabrielle from the beginning 9 years ago. 

As our day would be limited by time needing to get to the Arena for the concert, we decided to take the city tour via the Tapatio Hop On Hop Off bus. So after a short but nice walk to the Basilica El Expiatorio, we hopped on and took a 2 hour bus ride through the city. Once deposited in the City Center, we decided to continue our ride by catching the Tapatio to Talaquepaque. This area of town is a labyrinth of wonderful shops and restaurants.

Needing to fortify our bodies, we had cold drinks and a tapa before walking into the heart of the village. My eye first caught a typical hand embroidered top, something I've been wanting to purchase for quite awhile. Upon asking what the cost was, I immediately made the decision to buy along with the matching woven belt. I do think this will be my wardrobe for our speaking engagement at the International Living Conference in June.

Mike and I went in our own direction to see and photograph what interested us during our final hour there. Even though we were there back in 2007, we could easily spend much more time there. Lots to explore.

Taking the bus back into the City Center, we decided it was time to catch a cab to get back to the Casa and get ready for the concert. Our taxi was picking us up at 5pm and we certainly didn't want to be late since that's the whole reason we were there.

As requested, they were there right at 5pm to take us out to the suburbs where the Arena was. Upon arriving, our first order of business was to pick up our tickets from Will Call. So excited to finally have those tickets in hand!

Since they weren't letting anyone into the venue until 6:30, we decided to have a small bite to eat and some drinks to wet our whistle. While doing that we ran into a friend from PV, Tracy Lee Gehue, and her friends. Somehow we didn't feel so far away from home.

At 6:30pm we lined up at our entry. Everywhere you looked, it felt like a cattle call. But when they finally started letting us in, they separated the men from the women to go through security. This way the women were patted down and cursorily searched by women and the men by men. Mike was concerned that they would take away his pocket knife so I had put it in the bottom of my small purse. It made it through without a hitch and stayed there until I gave it back to him the next day.

Our seats were right down on the floor and supposed to be 3rd row, stage left. However, they had added a new section for "Platinum" level ticket holders and so our seats were given away to them. This meant that those holding tickets in our Section were told to just take the first seats open in that Section, which we did. This was when we realized how important it was to have gotten there early. Those that showed up later or even after the show had started were SOL.

Unfortunately, it also meant that many of them conducted themselves in an extremely rude manner. This is when I coined the phrase "being short at a rock concert sucks!" Many people who were taller than me insisted on filling up the isles where they weren't supposed to be. I even had words with a few who seemed to think they were more important than me. No matter the language, it was rude! Fortunately, crowd control decided to agree with me and started patrolling the isles. So between all of the vendors and the rude people, I was stepped on, yelled at, spilled on, and pushed many times. Yes, being short and small wasn't an advantage at this venue.

The concert didn't start until 8:30pm, which was an hour and a half late. Everyone was more than ready for it to begin. So when it did, everyone went into a frenzy. And, we were certainly not disappointed with the performance of Journey. An amazing group of musicians! Everyone was on their feet from the get go and didn't sit down until the break between groups.

When Santana took the stage, the energy level increased beyond belief. The stage was covered with 2 huge sets of drum and 2 sets of congas and percussion's, plus the keyboard/organ stand. The rest of the stage was for the vocals, guitarists, and horns. Of course, Santana was... well, Santana! What a performance. Simply awesome! And, we totally enjoyed his wife, Cindy Blackman-Santana's incredible solo drum feature. Boy, can that lady make those drums sing!

Roxann !!
Article written for Puerto Vallarta Daily News:  http://www.vallartadaily.com/tricia-lyman-takes-you-to-santana-and-journey-concert-in-guadalajara/

Videos: (Journey) https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10206256989245051; (Santana) https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10206257004405430

Regardless of all the "stuff" that went on during the concert, I still totally enjoyed every moment. There's nothing like going to a Santana concert, who was born right here in the Mexican state of Jalisco, with an almost totally Latin crowd. Now that's a whole different level of concert!

More than ample taxis available for the ride back to town after the concert. Albeit, they tried to way overcharge us. So the first taxi driver lost out when the 2nd accepted our offer of 500 pesos rather than the 700 the other driver wanted. We expected to pay more than the 330 pesos it cost us to get there because of the late hour and the fact that there's a different rate for gringos, but please don't insult. This is where our experience of living in Mexico (or any other foreign country) pays off. We aren't tourists any more.

By the time we arrived back at the Casa it was 1:30am and after posting pictures, it was 2am before I hit the bed hard and didn't move until 8:30am. If we didn't need to make the most of our time as a tourist, I would have gladly rolled over for another couple of hours. But since we're retired, there's always time later to catch up on sleep. LOL

After another glorious and hearty breakfast prepared and served by Francisco and George, off we went back to the Basilica El Expiatorio to see the church and to catch the next Tapatio. We all agreed that we would catch the next bus from the City Center to head out to Tonala. This is another town where much of the goods sold in other parts of Mexico are made so everything is way less expensive. Even so, we didn't buy anything more than a small wind chime because we didn't want to have to carry it for the rest of the day.

What do you think? Are these wine glasses large enough for me??

Back on the bus to take us back to the City Center at 3:50pm arriving in GDL at 5:15pm. After meandering around awhile, we sat our tired buns down at a sidewalk cafe and had dinner and drinks. Our goal was to try and last until dark when we planned to take a horse & buggy ride through town with all of the beautiful buildings lit up.

After keeping ourselves amused and occupied for an hour, we found our buggy just as the lights started being lit up on all of the buildings. A one hour ride cost us 300 pesos for the 4 of us - $10US per couple! As it turned out, we ended up getting off right at the end of our street so we didn't have to go all the way back into the center and catching a cab back.  A lovely ride!

Chiropractic students practicing by giving out free adjustments right there on the square.
The Tequila Tour Bus.

Wanting to get a fairly early start in the morning, we called it a night after a bit of down time on the garden patio at about 10pm. A good night's sleep, quick fruit breakfast and coffee, and we were on the road by 9:15am after saying our fond farewells to George and Francisco. Didn't really get to know Gabrielle well because he was working so much. I'm sure we'll get a chance during our next visit, which will definitely happen!!

As Saturday was the beginning of Samana Santa (Holy Week), we expected huge amounts of traffic because everyone leaves the cities to head to the beaches for vacation.  It took us 2 hours to get out of town but that really seemed to be more due to construction. Once outside the city, things went quite well. And, after making it over the mountain pass, we stopped for lunch at the small beach village of Chacala. A lovely lunch on the beach and a bit of window shopping with nothing purchased at the street vendors.

Jim and Tessa were truly wonderful and took us all the way home into PV (an extra 2 hours for them) so we didn't have to take the local busses with our luggage when we were already exhausted from the long trip.  It felt wonderful to be home! Yes, even when traveling is such a magical and stimulating thing to do, it's always fantabulous to come home and sleep in your own bed.

Several couples coming into town this week that we'll be meeting up with but mainly I'm looking forward to some pool time and chillin.

Happy Easter to everyone! Talk soon....