Chapala - an "Ersatz" Bellagio on Lake Como-Italy

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Hotel Italo

Flag of Mexico  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Friday, January 2, 2009

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First Time Reader? is the background to this series of blogs
Click on SLIDESHOW and then the rectangle in the right corner to see photos in full screen format
Mexico:  23 Destinations to Spend the Winter Months

Chapala (near Ajijic)
No. 7 of 23 Destinations (this is not a ranking)
Chapala - the Town - an "Ersatz" Bellagio on Lake Como (Italy)
Part 5 of 5
"It was definitely a "feel-good" moment for which travel is often the catalyst that brings about moments in life unsurpassed in their beauty and personal impact.  Lago Chapala and Lago Como became one, united in their capacity to create another "Lobo-Momento" - excuse the coining of a new phrase unique to this blog."

Initially, I didn't know what it was, but on this beautifully warm, sunny afternoon this place felt like Bellagio on Lake Como in Italy.

Now that wasn't the feeling I had in walking through the town, although it is not lacking in charm. It was a feeling that was later brought on during the walk along the waterfront and pier, surrounded by the sparkling waters of Lake Chapala, and the warm Mediterranean colours of the town visible from the pier.

OK, admittedly those of you who have seen both places will scoff, arguably with some merit, at my comparison, as Bellagio is surrounded by much higher mountains and has an overabundance of beautiful architecture. Furthermore, in the interest of "let the truth be told" my last visit to Bellagio and the Lago Como region must be back-dated to the '80s to the glorious days of the $500 two-month Eurailpass.

All that to say, that in my mind, the scene on this day and at this time elicited a well-merited smile and a time-warped trip back to Lago Como. It was definitely a "feel-good" moment for which travel is often the catalyst that brings about moments in life unsurpassed in their beauty and personal impact.  Lago Chapala and Lago Como became one, united in their capacity to create another "Lobo-Momento" - excuse the coining of a new phrase unique to this blog.

Getting back to reality, the town of Chapala is only about a twenty-minute bus ride from Ajijic. While Ajijic projects a village aspect, Chapala presents itself as a town that is beautiful in its own right but has not caught on as a place that a great number of expats have chosen to call their temporary home.

Shopping certainly seems to be more concentrated in the town of Chapala if for no other reason than the large "Mercado Municipal" where all the usual selection of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry etc. are available in great abundance.

The highlight of Chapala however would be the lakeside promenade, the pier and the beach.

The promenade or "malecon" seems to stretch about a kilometre along the waterfront and makes for great strolling to enjoy the vistas of the lake and the surrounding mountains. The western part the "malecon" was only opened in 2008.

Given the quality of the algae-laden water in Ajijic, it was somewhat of a surprise that in Chapala the water quality seemed to be better and that there was a substantial beach (playa) to do some sunbathing. I must confess that we did not actually see anyone in the water despite the 27-degree C. temperature.

The dock or "muelle" is beautiful resplendent with its white steel benches and the little pavilion located at the end of the pier. I love the historic notations and photos displayed in the roof of the pavilion. What a great idea to pay homage to early efforts at evangelisation and particularly the contribution that Christian Hansen, a Norwegian, made to the economic development of the area.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, the most amazing thing about the pier is that it is now surrounded by water and one would never suspect that during my last visit in 2001, while standing at the same place, the lakeshore was about a kilometre from the "muelle".  It is for that reason that on some of the photos palm trees at the beach are growing in the water. At the time that they were planted they were far away from the water.

Maybe words aren't good enough. Maybe you need to go to:

These photos show the "muelle" and the extreme changes in water levels in Chapala at various times. During my visit in 2001 it was more or less the same as in 2002 - a view into a swamp.

The tourist information office is located just a block up from the waterfront along the main street - Av. Francisco Madero. At the time of our visit "Patty" was the friendly "empleado" who was helpful in giving us information about Chapala. What impressed me was that she was one of the few native Spanish speakers we encountered in Mexico that had the awareness to speak slowly and clearly when in conversation with non-native Spanish speakers as myself. Under those conditions it was fun to carry on a conversation with her.

For whatever reason I did not include the town of Chapala as a separate destination in the blog: "Mexico: 23 Destinations to Spend the Winter Months". It is after all part of the "Lake Chapala area" and very close to Ajijic. It is also an area that boasts of having the best weather in Mexico - year round. Maybe I missed the boat in omitting Chapala on my list but all the fuss seems to be over Ajijic with its village-type atmosphere. Along with living there comes the convenience of having a beautiful larger town - Chapala - just 20 minutes away.

For a good source of information have a look at:

Comments on the "safety" of Mexico:

It alludes to Vancouver as I did in my blog:

Mexico: How Safe is Travel in Mexico
_________________________________________________________________________________________________Coming Coming Soon:

Rincon de Guayabitos - Our First View of the Pacific Coast
Slideshow Report as Spam


LyonsEMILY23 on

It is understandable that money can make us independent. But what to do
when one doesn't have cash? The only one way is to get the loan or commercial loan.

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