A few weeks ago, Marco and I went to El Paso for our friends’ wedding. We had never been in the area and wanted to make it a little bit of a trip. However, many people had warned us about doing much exploring in El Paso because of its close proximity to Juarez (Mexico) which has been called the second most dangerous city in the world in 2010. Consequently, I was a little scared of going. Especially after I found out that the hotel where all the wedding guests were staying was really, really close to the border. Turns out that it was actually a pretty decent area and the hotel itself, Holiday Inn Express El Paso Central, was good too. They have a big parking lot right in front of the entrance, the rooms are clean, and the breakfast is really good. After checking in on our first evening, we went out for dinner. Since we couldn’t actually go to Mexico (or didn’t dare to), we decided on Mexican food instead. The Barrigas on Sunland Drive was recommended by the bride and so we gave it a shot. It’s a chain restaurant with locations in Chihuaha, Juarez, and El Paso. I don’t know Mexican food well, but to me it seemed pretty authentic. There were almost exclusively Hispanic people and the primary language was definitely Spanish. They had a Mariachi band and that added to the charm for me – at least until a guy bathed in perfume was seated next to us and kept slipping the band money to play right next to us for 20 minutes or so. Oh well! It was still a good evening!
Since the wedding didn’t start until the early afternoon, we followed TripAdvisor’s top suggestion on what to do in El Paso and headed to Franklin Mountains State Park. We didn’t have time for any of the hikes, so we just took the Trans-Mountain Road and drove through it. It was pretty nice, but for views of the city I am glad I followed a co-worker’s suggestion to take the Scenic Drive when I asked her for things to do in El Paso. We accessed it from Alabama Street on the east and stopped at Murchison Park, a tiny little park with great views over El Paso and Juarez. I’d never been to a border town where both towns are so fused together and it’s interesting to see how close everything is from up there. You look straight down and see a huge Mexican flag and turn around and see a combo of the Texas and US flags. I had the same kind of aha moment the first night when we drove on I-10 which kind of straddles the border on parts of it. I looked on my GPS and it was blank right beside the highway. Well, it turns out that that’s where Mexico starts and apparently I only have the US maps.
After our quick tour of the mountains, we went back to the hotel, changed into our good clothes and headed to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral for the wedding ceremony. It’s a beautiful church and I would recommend it to El Paso visitors. The ceremony was a beautiful mix of English and Spanish and we took some great pictures of the church as well as the bride & groom. For dinner we all headed to the Coronado Country Club. While the semi-famous Juarez Mariachi-guy started getting on my nerves after about two hours, it was a very nice celebration overall with interesting people, great food, and good wine. I’m so glad that we went!
Overall, I felt pretty safe in El Paso. We drove around different areas and never hit any really bad spots. What stuck out to me was the absence of police. Wherever else in Texas you go, you are bound to see a whole lot of cops driving around in the city or on the highway. But for some reason we managed not to see a single cop car in the whole two and a half days we were there. Weird, right? The first cops we saw was on the way to the White Sands National Monument the next day. More on that later…
As usual, the pics from the trip are on the Country Skipper Facebook page.
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