Travel | One comment
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Welcome to paradise!
Here we are… in Mexico again. This time we are in Baja California and old town of San Jose del Cabo. We wake up with the sound of birds singing in the cactus garden, and another warm and sunny day in front of us. If this is not paradise I don’t know what it is! At home in Edmonton it is snowing and my son is shoveling the snow (I hope he does it!). Just thinking about it makes us to appreciate this weather even more.
City Hall – Government building on zocalo
During our stay at all inclusive resort Posada Real, we were able to spend time every day wandering through the city in search of local culture, some great art and of course, good Mexican food. As frequent travelers, we find that the most valuable trips are those on which we stubbornly insist on walking. Walking gives you a chance to see those things you might have missed in a car as you whisked by them. That’s why even with all the different options for tours and activities our favorite thing is always to walk around the towns where we stay.
Vera walking on Boulevard Mijares. Approaching San José Centro on the main boulevard, four paved lanes stretching a mile from the beach to the town plaza.
Very nice restaurants are lined up on Blvd. Antonio Mijares. Ahead is the downtown tourist zone.
Stroll the Town San Jose del Cabo
Transfer yourself to a simpler time and place before fast cars and airplanes and enjoy your stroll through San Jose del Cabo. Touring San Jose del Cabo by foot is a great thing to do. With its quaint restaurants, unique art fairs and irresistible shops, downtown San Jose del Cabo is made for strolling. Walking gives you a chance to see those things you might have missed as the taxi whisked you by them.
Tree-lined sidewalks along Highway 1
Typical Mexican building on Blvd. Antonio Mijares
Shops and restaurants line the town plaza. Some of San José’s many refurbished buildings date to Spanish colonial days.
From our hotel ‘Posada Real’, old town center was about 25 minutes on foot. Every evening we would go for a walk along the Paseo Malecon San Jose and Blvd. Antonio Mijares, wide Boulevards (two lanes in each direction) which connects all hotels in this area. You can also catch a bus on this route for only 8 pesos to San Jose or take a taxi that are patiently waiting in front of every hotel. We felt very safe everywhere we went and will definitely come back again in the future.
San Jose del Cabo is a friendly, down-to-earth, small city located very close to the tip of the Baja Peninsula. Situated on the shores of the Sea of Cortez, lying 28 kilometers east of the popular resort of Cabo San Lucas, San Jose is known to be the quieter city of Los Cabos. The central downtown area is very tourist oriented and has many fine restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and shops. San Jose del Cabo is well organized for shopping and is generally pretty busy with businessmen, tourists and locals all mingling together.
Most of the streets are one way
Narrow streets in old town
The hustle and bustle of San Jose does not seem to interfere with the tranquil feeling that prevails here, as it does in many other tourist centers. San Jose del Cabo is the county seat of Los Cabos so the local government has many offices here and that contributes, a bit, to the busy feeling.
San Jose del Cabo is a city of comfortable residential neighborhoods, some new and some are fairly old. It seems like new neighborhoods are springing up everywhere you look. The very first golf course in southern Baja was built here and although it is no longer run by the city, the nine holes are good fun and the green fees are very affordable. There are many private homes and condos built around the original golf course in yet another popular part of the city.
Kids playing on the main plaza
This is a quiet city with a population of close to 70,000 provides residents with a comfortable, easygoing lifestyle. Because of the local tourism structure there are plenty of jobs to be had here. The near zero unemployment rate, results in a quality lifestyle, with very little crime.
Fountains decorate the square, the end of Mijares Blvd., next to the plaza. Behind is the City Hall clock tower.
Like every other Mexican town, San Jose del Cabo has its own main square – or plaza – or zocalo. During the day, the square is the hub for locals and tourists alike. There are a few market stalls nearby, but they tend to primarily cater to visitors. You are more likely to get an authentic souvenir from one of the local galleries or family-run shops in town. The square is designed in typical Spanish-style, with the cathedral on one side, the governmental building on the other and lovely white gazebo in the middle.
This bandstand at the center of the town plaza is a focal point for fiestas, pageants, dances, weddings, and Christmas celebrations.
Singing and dancing on the main square
It seems that the historic center is like a magnet that draws everyone toward the recently refurbished town square. Vera and I enjoyed watching the children play in the town square even at night. It is not uncommon to have a chance and encounter with a street festival or art fair. Thursday’s offer fabulous art walk through the numerous galleries throughout the square and surrounding area.
The Mission San Jose del Cabo Añuití. Although the church was built mostly in this century, it traces its roots to the San José mission built on the banks of the nearby estuary by Spanish Jesuits in 1730.
Regardless of your religious affiliation, visiting the cathedral should be on top of your list of must-see spots in San José Del Cabo. Inside the church, you will see a center alter, with colorfully decorated stained-glass windows on the walls on either side. The town holds quite a bit of history, with the church serving as a main source of conflict. Centuries ago, the Indians massacred the Jesuits due to religious conflicts, resulting in the murder of Jesuit missionary Father Nicolás Javier Tamaral in 1734. He was the founder of The Mission San Jose del Cabo Añuití was also destroyed during the Pericues Rebellion.
Wedding ceremony in the Cathedral
San José Del Cabo may not be paradise for an adventure-seeker, but for the art-lover, it’s pretty close to heaven. Here are my suggestions of what to do in historic San José Del Cabo:
Art district – Art Galleries
An structured art district has been created near the town square, with quite a few galleries calling this section of town home. It is located just to the north and east of the church and has become a quite popular addition to the historic center. From November until June there is a organized “Art Walk” in the art district every Thursday night from 5 PM to 9 PM. Visitors and residents stroll among the galleries and enjoy the special displays of various local and international artists. Most of the galleries are located on Obregon St, behind the church. A few of the galleries will sometimes go all out, serving wine and hors d’oeuvres.
Very colorful shop
Walking through the streets of San José Del Cabo you will start realizing that many galleries and locals shops are inter changeable. I was on the hunt for new art discoveries, and I ended up being lured into local shops rather than actual galleries.
A great way to better understand and appreciate the unique history of San José Del Cabo is just by walking around and observing the architecture of the buildings. Each apartment complex and series of houses and buildings are roughly the same height and are painted in bright colors. The photo below showcases a more simple styled home and the soft color contrasts with the violet flowers and dark green palm trees. In fact, Fan Palms often served the function of a house roof because they don’t allow water to leak through their branches.
Typical Mexican architecture in old town
American style houses in newer neighborhoods
Walking through Cabo neighborhoods
Only ten minutes away (walking) from our hotel and the beach, just around the corner from Mega store, on prestigious hillside Paseo Finisterra (a very desirable area to live) you’ll find a spectacular family residences all lined up in this quiet street. The street reminded me on an elite residential area in my home town of Zagreb (Croatia) – Tuskanac street. All the houses in this street have view to the lake inside of the Mayan Golf course, and to the ocean. Located within 15 minutes walking distance to downtown San Jose del Cabo, this appears to be the best place to live in this city.
Vera walks on prestigious hillside Paseo Finisterra
Villas for sale
Villa on prestigious hillside Paseo Finisterra
Another desirable neighborhood we discovered while walking through the streets of San Jose del Cabo, was area around J. Castro Agundez district and Paseo de Malvarosa. It is located just across the highway from Paseo Finisterra to the west, but it seems like more affordable living area. Here we could see houses for sale somewhere in range of $200K. Comparing these two streets I think in Paseo Finisterra there are more tourists and well off gringos, where in the area of Paseo de Malvarosa live local politicians, doctors, layers etc. I might be wrong, but this was my observation…
Shooters and Sports Bar’ with their roof patio
Although we were staying at an ‘all inclusive’ resort, our adventurous spirit didn’t allow us to stay away from trying some of the local restaurants. The selection is pretty huge. We liked the always busy ‘Tropicana Inn’ restaurant and boutique hotel on Boulevard Antonio Mijares, but we never tried their food. Instead we had a beer at the ‘Shooters and Sports Bar’ which is next door. On their roof patio, with the view on the main plaza, we enjoyed our drinks until the closing time. This was actually pretty cool.
Mi Casa – expensive and touristy!
With our friends Valerie and Brian, we also visit the Art district and the ‘Mi Casa’, authentic Mexican restaurant. Tucked away about 3 blocks from the main town square is this quaint little open air dining and bar. You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but once you walk in through the beautiful arch way, you enter a lovely huge courtyard with tables generously spaced.
Mi Casa restaurant – A cool hand carved live sized pieces of art at the entrance.
There is also a small souvenir shop set at the entrance. A cool hand carved live sized pieces of art are also there that reflect the Mexican culture. You’ll enjoy walking around the courtyard and viewing the carvings. We had beers and a great tortilla stuffed with chicken. The service was good, but we had to ask waiter to bring the home made chips (from corn tortilla shells) with salsa and guacamole dip. This restaurant is cute, food was good, but we felt the place was overpriced and too touristy (dinner for four was more than $200 CAD!!)
No visit to a Mexican city would be complete without a little tequila tasting. There are several shops in town that offer tasting (of course in the hopes that you will actually buy a bottle or two). Although I’m not a huge tequila fan when it’s not nicely blended into my margarita, there were several brands that actually tasted tolerable. Agavero (sweet), Damiana (aphrodisiac), Orendain (almond-infused) were three of my favorites. Word on the street is that Añejo Tequila is equivalent to Holy Water – you could drink an entire bottle and not have a hangover the next day. But I didn’t try…
Cacti Mundo in the nursery
Cacti may not be your favorite species of plant, but you may develop a stronger appreciation for them after a trip to San José Del Cabo. A few minutes drive away from the city center, the Cactus Nursery is home to a large variety of cacti found in Mexico. Our tour guide was surprisingly knowledgeable about the different cacti species, making me believe many locals take pride in the cacti of Mexico.
Baby turtle in hand
Vera had this wonderful experience by accident. She was walking on the beach when she ran into the group of people who were just about to release baby turtles into the ocean. It is so nice to release little baby turtles and see them go to the ocean to start their life and you get to be part of their journey… you get out of there feeling so proud! You also get to hold the little critters after they hatch and help them to their home in the sea. The males never return to land. After maturity, the females return to the spot they were hatched every one to three years to lay their eggs.
Getting into the ocean… only 1 in 100 will survive!
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