Talking tequila at Guadalajara international ….
Guadalajara international airport (also known as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla international) undoubtedly lacks the wide range of stores and restaurants at Mexico City and Cancun airports, but it still offers travellers a decent opportunity to pick up a last-minute souvenir or gift. On arrival at this clean and recently renovated airport, which handled nearly 7 million passengers last year, making it Mexico’s third largest international hub, our advice is to bypass the rather down-market pre-security stores.Instead, drop your bags off at the often busy check-in counters; clear security, and then you have time for some relaxed airside browsing. One of the first stores you will encounter is a large duty-free shop run by Swiss multinational Dufry, which in truth stocks many of the big fragrance, cosmetic and tobacco brands that you will find at other airports around the world. What does mark this store out though is the superb selection of tequilas, which is only fitting of course, as Guadalajara international serves Jalisco state, the home of tequila.The line up includes all the well-known tequila brands such as Sauza, Herradura, Patrón, Olmeca, Cazadores and Milagro, as well as ultra-premium lines such as Don Julio Real, which is priced at $256 per bottle. Slightly less well-known tequilas stocked include Clase Azul, Maracame, El Señorio and Beneva. Some of the tequilas stocked are packaged in beautiful ceramic bottles, but do ensure what you are buying is 100% blue agave. Otherwise, the liquid inside is certain to be an inferior “mixto” tequila, which is likely to contain added sugars and colouring.
As with most things in life, you get what you pay for. Cheaper tequilas are categorised as “blanco” (or silver) and are pretty much bottled straight from the still. Crisp and often dry in taste, these tequilas are perfect for cocktails, but are a little harsh to be enjoyed on their own or over ice. In contrast, “reposado” tequilas have been aged in oak barrels from two months up to 11 months and “anejo” tequilas have been matured for at least one year, making them much smoother, more complex drinks.One year might not seem like a long time to age a spirit, especially if you are used to drinking Scotch whisky or Cognac, but remember that tequila ages up to four times faster because of Mexico’s hot and humid climate. Tequila just wouldn’t benefit from being aged as long as some malt whiskies or XO cognacs, and so much of the liquid would have evaporated it wouldn’t make much commercial sense either.A word of warning if you are tempted to buy a bottle of tequila at Guadalajara international. If you are transiting at a US airport en route to your final destination, you will need to place the bottles into your checked luggage when switching flights. Otherwise, your precious bottle of añejo tequila will be confiscated by the TSA.
Away from the Dufry stores, gifts and souvenirs are better handled by the numerous, locally run outlets such as ‘Airport Market’ and ‘Cenca News & Gifts’ which are located throughout the international terminal. Colourfully painted ceramics, including Day-of-the-Dead-style skulls are common items, as are wooden toys, sombrero hats, decorated lace shawls, printed t-shirts, wicker baskets and lanterns. Prices are reasonable, but if you are paying in cash expect a long wait as the staff may go walkabout in search for change.
The Aztecs and Mayans famously discovered the potential of the cacao bean centuries ago, originally consuming chocolate as rich drink, but sadly little of this culture is reflected in Guadalajara airport’s confectionery offer. Instead, travellers will be hard-pressed to find any Mexican chocolate at all, but what is sold in abundance and well-worth buying is ‘fruta cristalizada’ or candied fruit, which comes in all shapes and sizes. Another local foodie product, Mexican vanilla extract, is also sold widely at reasonable prices.
Branded boutiques are arguably in short supply at Guadalajara international, but the airport does at least boast a Salvatore Ferragamo outlet, and a Lacoste store. Also worth visiting, Kafri de Mexico does a nice line in women’s silver jewellery, including bracelets, necklaces, rings and even watches (see www.kafridemexico.com). There are also local retailers selling branded sunglasses, shoes, accessories and handbags.
For a country with such a varied and well-known cuisine, the food offer at Guadalajara international is a real let down. Dominated by US chains such as Starbuck’s, Chili’s Too and Henry J. Beans, there is only one sit-down restaurant offering Mexican fare.
Last but not least, if you need to de-stress before catching your flight, there is a Sherpa massage parlour at the airport, which is open daily from 07.00 hours to 21.00 hours, which offers a range of 10-15-minute treatments such as facials, back massages and pedicures. See www.sherpamasaje.com for more details.
Official Guadalajara airport website
http://www.aeropuertosgap.com.mx/english/airports/guadalajara-airportSee Our Tax Free Travel Shopping Guide ……
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