I just got back a few days ago from A Last Minute Jaunt to Guadalajara Mexico Using Miles because my snowboarding trip was cancelled. It was my second time in Guadalajara since 2012 and I rented a car this time for three days. I had an absolute blast in Guadalajara and here are 10 Things I Learned From My Recent Trip to Guadalajara Mexico.
1. Renting a car in Mexico is not cheap – I booked a 2 day rental car online from National and it came out to $12 total. In the end, I knew it wasn’t going to be $12 because of the mandatory 3rd party Supplementary Liability Insurance (SLI) costs. The daily SLI insurance cost came out to a whopping $25 a day which was the highest I’ve ever seen. My $12 rental car came out to $62 in the end which still wasn’t too bad considering authorized taxi rides to and from the airport are $30.
2. Driving in Guadalajara is not bad – I’ve previously rented cars in Latin American countries such as Panama, Honduras, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic. The signs were clearly marked and there were no livestock on the roads. In addition, I did not have to dodge pedestrians walking in the middle of the road or dodge potholes at all in Guadalajara which I was surprised. If anything, driving in Guadalajara is basically like driving in LA and Google Maps worked flawlessly as my GPS navigation.
3. It’s possible for a gas station to run out of gas – Before heading back to GDL International Airport for my flight back to the United States, I needed to fill my tank up at a gas station. I went to two Pemex government owned gas stations and was turned away because they had run out of gas. Yes, it’s definitely a first world problem for me but it’s supposedly quite normal in Mexico. Thankfully the airport had an on-site gas station and it was the same price as the others because the government owns all the Pemex gas stations.
4. The food in Guadalajara is to die for – Whenever I visit a foreign country, I always make it a pact to have local food. The food in the Jalisco state of Guadalajara, Mexico definitely didn’t disappoint as I had the famous torta ahogada and birria which are their signature dishes.
5. Parking in Guadalajara is ridiculous – Finding parking in Guadalajara isn’t hard actually, but the most frustrating thing is the touts luring you into a parking space. The reason being is that they expect a tip for guiding you to the parking spot. If you don’t tip when you get out of your car, you could expect a hostile verbal confrontation. In addition, there will probably be some ‘damages’ to your car while you’re away. I don’t like this because they don’t own the parking spot and I especially don’t want someone noticing where I parked.
6. People love to see bullfights – I was in town for the weekend and was excited to check out the famous bullfights in Plaza de Toros Nuevo Pregreso arena which take place every Sunday. It was my first bullfight ever and it was jammed packed with locals. I didn’t know a thing about bullfights in Mexico and didn’t realize they killed the bull. In the end, I saw about 6 bulls get killed by the matador and one was spared because he fought so well.
7. The sun sets at 7pm in Mexico – During the winter, the sun sets too early in Los Angeles and by the time 5pm rolls around, it’s already dark. It was a welcoming change to be in Mexico because the sun didn’t set until 7pm and didn’t get completely dark outside until 8pm. For me, this meant that I could take more pictures during the day time and good lighting is really important to me.
8. There’s Uber service in Guadalajara – While I was sitting down in my hotel room, I accidentally launched the Uber app from my iPhone. To my surprise, I saw that Guadalajara actually had UberX, Black Car, and Uber SUV available. UberX was quoting $10 USD for a ride from downtown Centro Guadalajara to Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) which was pretty cheap. Now the problem is that there weren’t many UberX cars available. In fact, I checked multiple times during the day and the wait times were longer than 9 minutes and many times, no UberX was available in the area. I’m still glad I rented a car, but it’s nice to know that Uber does exist in Guadalajara.
9. There’s a huge police presence in Guadalajara – When I was driving in Gualadajara during the three days, I saw a lot of cops pull people over. I was nervous and driving as defensively as possible. I didn’t want to end up bribing a cop like I did in Panama City! When I was driving at night in Guadalajara, I saw that police cars had their red and blue lights flashing when they were on the road. They weren’t pulling anyone over and the sirens didn’t sound at all. I assume this is for public safety and awareness to prevent crime in the area.
10. There is an actual BRT system in Guadalajara – Even though there isn’t a subway metro or light rail from Guadalajara International Airport (GDL) to the city center, there’s a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in place. The BRT has dedicated bus lanes and runs up and down Centro Guadalajara which is key for most of the tourist attractions. I found out that there is also a light rail system in the city, but it only travels to the outskirts of the city and tourists won’t get much use out of it.