Archive for April, 2015


More mural art.

More mural art.

What I refer to as “Midtown Guadalajara” runs east from Chalpultepec to 8 De Julio, and south from Calle Independencia to Libertad (map last below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Older buildings like this still dot the neighborhood.

Older buildings like this still dot the neighborhood.

 

The Avenida Vallarta passes directly through its heart, but much of what’s worth seeing and doing in this eclectic neighborhood happens on its less-traveled streets.

 

2015-04-23 Guadalajara Midtown East 04 newsstand

Midtown newsstand

This is a walking experience, and ready accessibility via public transportation means ‘no car required’.

 

These neighborhoods are a great pastime during the day, but come alive in the evenings, so consider a Saturday night stayover.

 

Museo de la Ciudad (Independencia @ 8 De Julio).

Museo de la Ciudad (Independencia @ 8 De Julio).

Start with the Museo de la Ciudad (Calle Independencia 684, just east of 8 de Julio), which presents the history of Guadalajara from its founding in 1542.

 

This building housed a convent of Capuchin nuns beginning in 1761, and its courtyard is now a venue for installations, exhibitions, lectures, and tastings.

 

Sculptures in the Andador Coronilla.

Sculptures in the Andador Coronilla.

 

Six permanent exhibition rooms house artifacts of the historic, urban, ethnographic, artistic development of the city and its inhabitants.

 

Four other rooms house temporary exhibitions that invite repeated revisits.

 

Andador Coronilla café.

Andador Coronilla café.

 

From the Museo there it’s two blocks to the Andador Coronilla, a street-turned pedestrian thoroughfare line with restaurants, cafés, and studios that offer dancing, drawing, and painting lessons.

 

A cobbler works leather into footwear.

A cobbler works leather into footwear.

 

Laborers and shopkeepers occupy the neighborhoods east of Federalismo, and these streets afford a snapshot of everyday life for blue collar Mexicans.  (See also my post South Centro.)

 

A slow day at the casket store.

A slow day at the casket store.

 

Mural art abounds on neighborhood walls.

Mural art abounds on neighborhood walls.

 

From there it’s another two blocks to the Parque Revolución and the University of Guadalajara, which add its own flavor to the mix.

 

 

One of several bicycle rental racks is located in the Parque Revolucion.

One of several bicycle rental racks is located in the Parque Revolucion.

 

I posted my take on the daytime Parque last week.  In the evening other parts of this neighborhood come alive.

 

Habitat bar and pool, Parque Revolución.

Habitat bar and pool, Parque Revolución.

2015-04-23 Guadalajara Midtown East 15

Painting by Maclovio Perez Garcia at Habitat bar.

 

 

The Parque’s southwest side is home to several restaurants and bars.

 

Habitat features a good selection of craft beers, wifi, and pool tables.  It’s also home to some eye-popping art.

 

1er Piso (Premer Piso) Jazz Club interior (Pedro Moreno @ Escorza).

1er Piso (Premer Piso) Jazz Club interior (Pedro Moreno @ Escorza).

 

West of the park on Pedro Moreno is the 1er Piso Jazz Club.  The door to this walk-up location is both austere and obscure (just west of the intersection on the south side of the street), but the inside has comfortable feel of an intimate cabaret.  1er Piso had good food and a great bar.  Saturday evening performances begin at 10:30PM (reservations recommended).

 

Café Gato Negro (Pedro Moreno @ Robles Gil).

Café Gato Negro (Pedro Moreno @ Robles Gil).

 

Cafe Gato Negro has an inviting atmosphere and serves specialty coffee drinks and a modest menu from 2:30 PM.

 

Next up on the walking tour of Guadalajara’s engaging Midtown:  The Templo Expiatorio and the University of Guadalajara’s Museo Bellas Artes.

 

 

 

 

Interior, Café Gato Negro.

Interior, Café Gato Negro.

 

 

To reach Midtown via public transportation:  From Ajijic or Chapala, take the bus to Guadalajara’s Central Viejo bus terminal (around USD $3.50). 

 

From there it’s a short taxi ride, or you can catch the macrobus a couple of blocks east on the Calzado Independencia.   Take it for the short ride to the Tren Ligera station at San Juan de Dios and ride it two stops to the Juarez station (each about USD$.50).

 

There are a number of boutique hotels in this area, but I rate experience as good at the Hotel Portobelo, and the Casino Plaza, which offers free in-and-out parking.  Find great weekend rates on Hoteles.com.

 

Guadalajara Midtown map

 

See also my related posts on Guadalajara Midtown’s Parque Revolución and Guadalajara’s South Centro neighborhood, or browse the complete portfolio of my Guadalajara posts.

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Mural on a Pemex station wall, adjacent to Guadalajara's Parque Revolución

Mural on a Pemex station wall, adjacent to Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución

For those who have sated themselves on Guadalajara’s high profile tourist attractions, the neighborhoods of the city’s midtown offer a change-of-pace urban experience that invite the visitor to return again and again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tren Ligera's Juarez Station, Parque Revolución, Guadalajara.

The Tren Ligera’s Juarez Station, Parque Revolución, Guadalajara.

 

 

 

From working-class neighborhoods on its eastern edge that offer up colorful mom-and-pop shops, newsstands, and street food vendors to the stately boulevards and historic mansions on its west end, midtown is a great weekend experience.

 

 

 

Students on a break in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Students on a break in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

 

A nighttime stay-over is a must, because while daytime browsing is great fun, it’s in the evening, that these neighborhoods really come alive.

 

 

 

 

 

Street merchants line the entrance to Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Street merchants line the entrance to Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

A weekend stay-over is made even sweeter by bargain rates on hotels that cater to businessmen during the week.

 

Doing homework in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Doing homework in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

Midtown is home to museums and monuments, sidewalk cafés, bookstores, bars and clubs with live music, and a checkerboard of eclectic and sometimes funky shops.

 

 

 

 

Flower merchant, Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Flower merchant, Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

 

 

At its heart is the Parque Revolución, located where the Avenida Juarez becomes the Avenida Vallarta at the intersection of Calzado de Federalismo.

 

 

 

 

 

Student relaxing in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Student relaxing in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

It’s hard to miss.  An ever-changing mural which covers the billboard-sized wall of a Pemex station is visible from blocks away.

 

 

 

Taco stands about in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Taco stands about in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

The Parque Revolución is only a 20 minute walk from the Centro Historico, or two subway stops from the San Juan de Dios Market station, which is located adjacent to the market on the side facing the Plaza de los Mariachis.

 

Hanging out in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Hanging out in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

Here the lines of the Tren Ligera subway system converge just blocks from the University of Guadalajara.  While there’s no question that the concentration of students fuels much of this neighborhood’s ambiance, it’s a also convenient place for workers from nearby shops and offices to grab lunch.

 

Students hanging out, Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Students hanging out, Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

Here you can enjoy a street taco, buy indigenous art and crafts or a bouquet of flowers, and get a haircut or shoeshine.

 

 

Heading to class at Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Heading to class at Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

Or you can just order yourself a paleta, pick a shady bench, and soak up the atmosphere.

 

Barbacoa (barbecue) taco stand in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Barbacoa (barbecue) taco stand in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

 

 

On a weekday afternoon, students on their way to and from classes – or just in between classes, study and congregate on the Parque’s north side, where a collection of street vendors holds permanent court.

 

Hanging out in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Hanging out in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

 

The mood here is nothing if not mellow, and has the familiar feel of parks near universities worldwide.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting a haircut in Guadalajara's Parque Revolución.

Getting a haircut in Guadalajara’s Parque Revolución.

 

 

There’s more to see here than can possibly be covered in a single post, so my next posts will take you on a walking tour of midtown, where you can enjoy the Guadalajara that tourists rarely experience.

Milano’s spectacular Duomo

Front facade of the Duomo, Milano, Italy.

Front facade of the Duomo, Milano, Italy.

The Milan Cathedral (Duomo di Milano) is the city’s cathedral and the home church of its archbishop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duomo capped by the "Madonnina's spire, Milano, Italy.

Duomo capped by the “Madonnina’s spire, Milano, Italy.

 

 

 

This cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete. It is Italy’s largest, Europe’s third largest, and the world’ 5th-largest church.

 

Gothic spire detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

Gothic spire detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

 

The Duomo occupies what was the center of the ancient Roman city, but its construction did not begin until 1386.

 

Facade detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

Facade detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

 

The signature “Madonnina’s spire”, which rises to more than 300 feet, was not erected until nearly 400 years after construction was begun.

 

Facade detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

Facade detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

 

Given Milan’s damp and foggy climate, the Milanese consider it a fair-weather day when the Madonnina is not obscured by mist.

 

Facade detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

Facade detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

 

 

The Duomo’s facade was not added until its completion was ordered by Napoleon Bonaparte, who was crowned King of Italy there.

 

The last details of the cathedral were finished only in 1965.

 

 

 

Facade detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

Facade detail, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

 

 

 

Many Milanese, reminded by the centuries needed to complete the Duomo, use the  term “Fabbrica del Duomo” – built like the Duomo – as an adjective to describe an extremely long, complex task.

 

The Duomo’s rooftop is open to the public, and is reached by an elevator.

 

 

 

Rooftop deck, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

Rooftop deck, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

 

 

 

 

 

Architectural detail invisible from the street below suddenly becomes full sized, and statues, gargoyles, and spires tower over roofwalkers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gargoyle, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

Gargoyle, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

 

 

 

The effect of pollution on the Duomo requires diligent maintenance, and officials recently announced a campaign to raise funds for its preservation that asks patrons to adopt the building’s gargoyles.

 

 

 

Rooftop view of the city, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

Rooftop view of the city, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

 

 

Donors who contribute €100,000 or more can now have their name engraved under one of the grotesque figures perched on the cathedral’s rooftop.

 

Downtown skyscrapers visible through stone lattice work, Duomo rooftop, Milano, Italy.

Downtown skyscrapers visible through stone lattice work, Duomo rooftop, Milano, Italy.

 

There can be a stiff breeze up here, and from this vantage point the skyscrapers of modern Milano tower in the distance. On a clear day, the Alps are visible on the horizon.

 

Spires seen from the rooftop, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

Spires seen from the rooftop, Duomo, Milano. Italy.

As I walk the rooftop, I can’t help but be reminded that the weight of this building rests on columns and arches made of interlocking stones without any structural steel.  It seems a gravity-defying feat.

 

Northern Italy 269 Milano

Entrance to the Galleria, from the Dumo rooftop.

“10 Days In Italy” has now gone full circle, and it’s time to depart from Milan’s airport with a long list of more to see “the next time.”

And for anyone who’s been here, the fondest wish is that there will always be a next time.

 

See these earlier posts from “10 Days In Italy”

Understated Milano

Clocktower, Milano. Italy.

Clocktower, Milano. Italy.

Milano is often omitted from lists of  Europe’s top cities, and yet only London, Paris, Madrid, and Germany’s Ruhr Valley are home to more people.

 

Milano may be most well-known as a global fashion and design center.

 

It is headquarters for designers including Armani, Versace, Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Missoni, and Moschino.

 

Residential street, old city, Milano, Italy.

Residential street, old city, Milano, Italy.

 

The city hosts international events including Milan Fashion Week and the Milan Furniture Fair, the largest of its kind in the world.

 

It’s no surprise that one of the world’s oldest shopping malls, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is located here.

 

Entrance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milano, Italy.

Entrance to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milano, Italy.

 

Housed within a four-story double arcade, it was completed in  1877.

 

The arcade is principally home to luxury retailers selling haute couture, jewelry, books and paintings.

 

It is also full of restaurants, cafés, and bars, including some of Milano’s oldest, which include the Biffi Caffè the Savini restaurant, and the Art Nouveau classic Camparino.

 

Interior, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milano. Italy.

Interior, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milano. Italy.

 

In 2012, a McDonald’s restaurant was prevented from renewing its tenancy, after 20 years of occupancy

 

The Galleria is such a common Milanese meeting and dining place that it has been nicknamed il salotto di Milano (Milan’s drawing room).

 

Interior detail, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milano, Italy.

Interior detail, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milano, Italy.

 

While the city’s economy has been diversifying in recent years, it has historically been Italy’s manufacturing powerhouse.

 

Both Pirelli Tires and Alfa Romeo Motors are headquartered here, and the city’s older neighborhoods still have a working class feel.

 

Baptistry, Milano. Italy.

Baptistry, Milano. Italy.

 

Like New York City, Milano is the nation’s main industrial, commercial, and financial centre

 

It is home to Italy’s main stock exchange, the Borsa Italiana, and the nation’s largest banks are headquartered here.

 

Restaurant in Milano, Italy.

Restaurant in Milano, Italy.

 

Milano may also be Italy’s most cosmopolitan city.

 

It was for centuries the object of conquest by the Franks, Goths, French, Austrians, and Spanish. Architecture here leans toward the Gothic and Romanesque more than toward Renaissance.

 

Sforza castle tower entrance, Milano. Italy.

Sforza castle tower entrance, Milano. Italy.

The foreign influences are everywhere evident in the city’s buildings, and Milano arguably feels the least Italian of the cities visited on this tour.

 

Milano’s historical heyday occurred during the late Middle Ages under the tutelage of its ruling Sforza family.

 

Courtyard, Sforza castle, Milano, Italy.

Courtyard, Sforza castle, Milano, Italy.

The family’s fortress castle survives today.  This is no fairy-tale castle.  Its lines are simple and unadorned.  This place exudes a sense of brute power.

 

About a kilometer from the Sforza castle is the basilica of Santa Maria delle Grazie, decorated with Leonardo da Vinci paintings including The Last Supper.

 

Basilica Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milano. Italy.

Basilica Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milano. Italy.

 

It was in Milano that Fascist leader Benito Mussolini organized his Blackshirts between the world wars, and the city later suffered extensive damage from Allied bombings.

 

When German forces occupied northern Italy in 1943, Milano became  a center for the Resistance.

 

Baptistry entrance, Milano. Italy.

Baptistry entrance, Milano. Italy.

 

Partisans seized control of the city and hanged Mussolini, his mistress, and other Fascist leaders in the Piazzale Loreto.  It was the same spot on which only a year before fifteen partisans had been executed.

 

For this evening’s meal, the choice is completely impromptu.  The Trattoria de la Trebia looks inviting, and even though not a soul in the place speaks English, the welcome for this unexpected traveler felt like the return of a prodigal son.

 

Next… the last of 10 Days in Italy is reserved for spectacular rooftop views from the Milano Cathedral, a gothic masterpiece and the Europe’s third largest.

 

See these earlier posts from “10 Days In Italy”