Hi everyone! Jordan here. Typically, I don’t introduce myself in the beginning of my blog posts. But for this one, I have to, since this is the first post on my blog that was not written by me! I asked my fiance Diego, a first-generation American and son of Mexican immigrants, to guest blog on my site and share the experience of our recent trip to Valle de Guadalupe from his perspective. He has spent much of his life traveling between the United States and Mexico, and I hope you enjoy reading his travel tips and thoughts about this weekend getaway. Check it out below!
"Hey everyone, Diego here! Like many families, my parents crossed the border to come in to the United States through Tijuana. Fortunately for them (and our family), they crossed in a much simpler time. As a kid, I knew Tijuana (TJ) as a combination of weekend vacations, doctor visits when the American doctors are too expensive, shopping trips for my mom's planters, and the mandatory visit to Puerto Nuevo for some fire seafood. As a late teen and college student, I became much more familiar with Rosarito (no further explanation necessary). In those years, my friends and I made the transition of being driven back and forth to Baja Cali, to now driving ourselves. The first time crossing the border may with all the negative stories (fact or fiction) you hear about people who have had bad experiences in Mexico. Don't get me wrong, we have had some "not so great" experiences with police down there, but by large, we always have fun and make it back in one piece. Every year that I go back, Baja Cali feels, and is, safer and more modern." - Diego
"This was my first visit to Ensenada and Valle de Guadalupe. I had heard of random family members that have gone over the past few years, and it has exponentially grown more popular. I hadn't driven down the toll roads along the coast in such a long time! Seeing the Papas n' Beer sign on the road made me want to take a hard right, check into the Festival Hotel, and cruise down Benito Juarez Blvd. for old times sake. Valle de Guadalupe was only 90 minutes from the border - a very quick drive. The directions are fairly simple, and the toll road is truly one of the smoothest drives in the western coast of North America. A couple miles before the exit to Ensenada, we made a left into the valley. Within 20 minutes, we were in wine country!" - Diego
"Our first stop was Cremeria Los Globos. I have to say, there are certain smells that are simply unique to Mexico. That when you smell it, you just know. One of them, perhaps the greatest, is the smell of queso blanco. You know, the one that smells like feet. The one that when any family member travels to Mexico, it's mandatory that they buy enough queso to be able to give all the tias at least one slice wrapped in foil and two slices for the matriarch of the family. That cheese then lasts 6 months in your fridge and is the perfect topping to frijoles de la hoya.
That's exactly what we smelled when we walked in, except instead of one type of cheese, there was like 30! It was artisan cheese for Mexicans. And it was delicious! On top of that, they also had olive oils, syrups, and candies. If you're looking to get your mom or any aunts a present, this is the place to go." - Diego
"Don Tomas was our first winery visit. You travel down the dirt road until you get to the large hacienda gates that let you into the vineyard. This winery, like the others, has an authentic Mexico feel to it. As you are driving down the driveway, you’ll see the fence made out of tree branches tied with barbed wire, lining the entire vineyard areas. That is a staple of the Mexican farm. The kind that no matter what, every time you have to move it or open the gate section, you get stuck with a barbed wire piece in your hand! The wine was delicious and we had the Mexican pizza, which was more like a huge double sided quesadilla. I highly recommend it!" - Diego
"La Esparanza Baja Med, like all the wineries, had a long dirt road that led you to the main buildings. There are only a handful of paved roads in the Valle, so you should expect some dirt to get kicked up. Once you have the winery in sight, you realize that this isn't some downgraded winery with just bare minimums. This winery easily competes with Temecula’s or Paso Robles’ wineries. There are vineyards as far as the eye can see over the rolling hills. The food was delicious and high quality. A lot of gourmet items. The menu was inspired between Japanese and Mexican cuisines. A perfect blend of taste and spice. It definitely set the tone for the rest of the weekend." - Diego
"Clos de Tres Cantos had to be the most impressive winery we went to. We drove up a steep, winding road (definitely not a road that would be approved for use in the USA), but our guide Manuel had no problem maneuvering. Once you get to the top, it's simply bliss. This entire place was designed to look like a monastery and they pulled it off. It is an awesome combination of modern architecture with brick and mortar buildings. There are a bunch of areas to hang out and just be relax for a bit. From the hilltop you can see most of the valley and vineyards around the area." - Diego
"Sol Y Barro was my favorite spot. The center buildings are made from using using clay, sand, straw, and water, known as cob. The owner is a Swiss American immigrant that started off as a winemaker in the Valle. It is surrounded by patio areas, vineyards, and beautiful succulents all around. We had the best white wine here of all the places we visited. Dogs all over the place chillin', friendly staff, and just a relaxing vibe all around. The architecture reminded me of my mom's hometown in Jalisco where they still have adobe houses, cobblestone streets, and greenery all over." - Diego
"Our guide, Manuel, promised us a unique experience and he certainly delivered with this place. We drove into a random neighborhood area and parked in the driveway of a house. We all got off and we were told that this is where the best bread in the entire valley is made. We walked into the front part of the home where all of their bread is baked. They have 2 ovens, a few shelfs, and a big wooden table in the center. It smelled delicious. The first thing we tried was pan dulce, conchitas to be exact. I have never tasted something so delicious in my life. I have eaten pan dulce my entire life, maybe a little too much, but this was on another level. The warm sugary crust was just slightly crunchy before it completely melted in your mouth. The bread was thin and fluffy all the way through. This was as fresh as it could possibly be. We tried samples of all the other breads, and everything was on point. I highly recommend going here." - Diego
"In preparing for this trip, I didn't quite know what to expect. I thought it would be similar to Rosarito or Puerto Nuevo, but this was definitely different. The Valle is away enough from the ocean that it doesn't feel like a party beach town. It gives you more of a sense of the countryside of Mexico. For me, it most resembled Colima, where my dad is from. You can feel the ocean nearby but it is still out of sight. The buildings and towns are humble, and uniquely charming. The drive is smooth, directions are easy, and the people are welcoming. I definitely plan to go back, and I encourage anyone else to try it out!" - Diego
Hey everyone, Jordan here again! I’d like to give major thanks to my witty, charming, and adventurous fiance Diego who shared our weekend #getawayfromLA to Valle de Guadalupe so perfectly (who else thinks he should start his own travel blog?!). I echo what Diego has shared, and would highly encourage all So Cal & L.A. residents to take the short road trip down to Valle de Guadalupe, in Baja Cali, Mexico. Happy adventuring, my friends!
WANDER BEYOND THE CITY LINES...
As much as I love to explore L.A., it's good for the soul to getaway every now & then. Join me as I escape from the city to explore new locations, both locally and globally!
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