Thirty-five years after my first walk across the border to Tijuana, an old friend, BorisPiskin, who owns Teloro, the largest solar business for the Hispanic market in California, invited me to spend 2 ½ days in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico.
Has Tijuana changed in the past thirty-five years?
The short answer…YES.
Now, Hi-rise condos, many of which face the Pacific Ocean, line the beaches. Americans who work in the San Diego area, only 15 miles away, often purchase these condos for a fraction of the US prices and commute to work.
My first visit was to the Guadalupe Wine Region, Mexico’s largest winery, LA Cetto, which has a one million case production. While there, I tasted a half-dozen of their wines, which were excellent.
Juan Saldara (liaison director for Tijuana) conducted our nine hour tour. The following are the major sites visited.
Located ten miles from the US border, Rosarito Beach was once a suburb of Tijuana; but, now it is an independent city. During prohibition, well-heeled Americans would cross the border to buy alcohol. The area is quiet and clean with condos overlooking the water.
Municipal Institute of Art & Culture (Known as IMAC)
IMAC’s mission statement
Generate, procure and articulate the processes and activities related to the rescue, promotion, and dissemination of the cultural and artistic heritage of the municipality, stimulating and supporting the organization and strengthening of society to contribute to the improvement of their quality of life.
It features the city gallery and historic archives.
Located in the Zona Rio district, it opened in 1982. CECUT has more than one million visitors a year. It features the unique Californias Museum and the modern El Cubo exhibit, a major attraction in the Omnimax cinema known as Las Bola (the ball) that uses a 360-degree projector to surround guests with a panoramic image. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to see it in action.
Zona Central with 1,000 shops, jewelry, leather, pottery, glass etc. Native American crafts are sold everywhere even along highways.
Located in the heart of Tijuana, the Cathedral of our Lady of Guadalupe was built in 1909 as a parish church, and designated as a cathedral in 1964. The Avenida Revolucion and Caesar’s Restaurant are close to the Cathedral.
I have watched Mexican wrestling for years on TV. The Museo de lucha Libre Mexicana is located in downtown in Zona Centro, a few minutes from the border. The entrance fee is inexpensive, about $2.50 per adult. Located on the second floor, Museo de Lucha Libre Mexicana has a great collection of toy figures, masks, and memorabilia on display. Occasionally, wrestlers come in to meet the visitors and have their photos taken.
We enjoyed food at Caesar’s Restaurant, where Caesar salad was invented, followed by Verde Y Crema Restaurant where Chef Zoe Villarreal prepared a multi-course meal. Their kitchen is small so there is a food truck parked outside that is used to prepare appetizers. There is a patio like setting with murals outside.
Arturo Rodriguez is the director of La Caja Galeria. They are celebrating their 18th year and have expanded into 4,300 square feet of adjacent gallery space. This is a not for profit operation that teaches painting to blind and disabled people and young people. They even provide gallery living space to one artist.
Tijuana’s most awesome designed wine bar is G. Salinas Enoteca. Gilbert Salinas has assembled local wines and beers, also a few different spirits, in his 2nd wine bar in Tijuana. Just to see the design of the bar is worth a visit.
Tijuana is tourist safe with lots of fun things to see and great food and wine to eat and drink.
About the Author:
Ron Kapon has over 50 years of experience in the wine & spirit field, starting with his first drink (mixed with water) at age three. His family’s business, Acker, Merrall & Condit, was established in 1820 and is the oldest wine merchant in the United States as well as the largest wine auction company in the world.