Around 35 years ago I walked over the border from California to Tijuana. I had been in San Diego on a press trip and had a free afternoon/evening. My main stop was at Hong Kong (not the city but the “gentlemen’s club’). The Zona Norte was among the largest red-light districts in North America. Without getting graphic it was for sex, drugs and rock & roll.
When I was invited to spend 2 ½ days in Tijuana by an old friend who has a business there I accepted his invitation. Teloro is the largest solar business for the Hispanic market in California. WOW! Has the city changed? Hi-rise condos, many facing the Pacific Ocean. Americans who work in the San Diego area, which is only 15 miles away, often purchase these condos for a fraction of the US prices and commute to work.
The day before my tour I was driven to the Guadalupe Wine Region about a two-hour drive from Tijuana. I visited Mexico’s largest winery, LA Cetto, with one million cases produced a year. I have seen their wines in shops in the US. I called ahead and asked to meet with the winemaker. Upon arrival I was told he was out to lunch. No problem, so I went into the tasting room. Neither tasting sheets nor a brochure about the winery? I tasted a half-dozen of their wines, which were excellent. The winery was closing soon and I again asked if the winemaker could give me a few minutes for an interview. I was told he “was busy with other matters”. Not very good PR.
Rosarito Beach- 10 miles from the US border. It used to be a suburb of Tijuana and now it is an independent city. During prohibition, well-heeled Americans would cross the border to buy alcohol. Also, the drinking age in Mexico is 18, not 21 as it is in the US. It's quiet and clean with condos overlooking the water.
Municipal Institute of Art & Culture- Known as IMAC. Their 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.
Tijuana Cultural Center- CECUT- In the Zona Rio district that opened in 1982. It 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. I wish we had time to see it in action.
Avenida Revolucion- Zona Central with 1,000 shops, jewelry, leather, pottery, glass etc. Native American crafts are sold everywhere (along highways etc.).
El Popo Market- Food, gifts, souvenirs etc.
Plaza Rio Tijuana- Open-air shopping center.
Farmacias- There are many scattered around the city with brand name & generic prescriptions available at below US prices.
Casa de la Cultura- In 1929 it opened as a school with musicals and children classes.
A two-part lunch- 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 too small so there is a food truck parked outside that is used to prepare appetizers. Patio like setting with murals outside.
La Caja Galeria- Arturo Rodriguez is the director. They are celebrating their 18th year and have expanded into 4,300 square feet of adjacent gallery space. What I loved about their not for profit operation was the teaching of painting to blind & disabled people as well as youngsters. They even have space for one artist to live in the gallery.