Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Last Week in Puerto Vallarta

Our last week in Puerto Vallarta is over. The six weeks has passed very quickly although we have spent much of the time just relaxing.
Last Monday William took a group kayaking trip to Los Arcos. He would have prefered having a slender single kayak, but those were just for the guide. No solo trips allowed. So he was teamed up with a lady from Canada. A four person family group finished out this small group.  Everyone but William and Pedro the guide snorkeled at the arches. He's not much for snorkeling.
Off he goes

Through one of the arches
A view back at Garza Blanca. 
When we were on a shopping trip to a downtown supermarket, we stopped for lunch at Tinos, a nice upstairs restaurant just before you get to the north end of the Malecon. I saw giant birds perched on a corner of the Hotel Rosita across the street. Although they had feathers on their heads, they still looked like giant buzzards with a long buzzard beak and a hunch shouldered look. Don't walk under those. We joked that they were waiting for Steve and Diane to come back. But then recalled this was not their hotel.
Big birds

Back to our lovely balcony with a selfie
The next day was the member's meeting. Very sparsely attended. We had come down right on time anticipating the thundering hordes we had experienced at the other resorts, where if you are late you barely get a seat. We were the first ones there. Snacks and drinks were unusual and delicious. We didn't bother with dinner before we headed downtown to the Palm for a show. Evening at the Birdcage. Female impersonators doing comedy and singing. Very funny and enjoyable. We had thought we could stop for something afterwards, but just an ice cream was what we wanted.
We were out very late for us and I did not think I would want to do anything Wednesday. But I felt great. All I had to drink at The Palm was part of a fruit juice.
So off I went to the International Friendship Club Home Tour. The various service clubs are busy with fund raisers during the high season. It would have been nice to have a daughter or daughter in law along, since William didn't want to come. But I caught the bus and then hoofed the rest of the way to the Sea Monkey where the club had their table set up.
The first home we toured was just in the next block, so we walked there. Before Puerto Vallarta became a tourist destination, there was the strawberry king. Built in the old one story concrete furniture style, it has been meticulously maintained. There are strawberries in the tiles on the edge of the pool and on the kitchen tile. A huge house surrounded by a high brick wall with interior gardens. Casa Fresca Vieja.
I do like the strawberries.
Then onto our tour bus, heading South, we pull into Casa Karma Boutique Hotel. They had about 8 bedrooms on many levels down. The butler and maid prepared simple snacks of quesadilla bites with salsa and guacamole and mimosas.
On down to the beach

Original art everywhere

The last two houses were private homes up in Conchas Chinas Altas or as some refer to it, the Beverly Hills of Puerto Vallarta.  The roads are steep and cobbled up here. Although the houses are not far apart they all seem to have been designed to be private as they spill on many levels off of the hillsides. The first house is owed by a collector of Mexican folk arts and crafts. None of her four sons want the collection. So, she is working on endowing some sort of museum housing for it all.
Very cute. But on every riser of every staircase? 
The last house is exciting in design. Very open and filled with lovely art.
Too bad this type of statuary would not survive outside in California.

The main kitchen is open to the outside.

Lion fountain
I get back tired after so many uphills and stairs. I choose the Strawberry King house as my favorite. No stairs.
Thursday we take the resort trolley up the hill to the newest restaurant in the newest tower. Hiroshi. Great Japanese food. Few people here. Maybe the crowds come next week.
One of many great sunsets
 Friday we headed to another market near the beach and then had lunch at La Palapa.
Nice of La Palapa to have saved our favorite table.
Saturday was the American Legion Chili Cook off at El Rio BBQ Restaurant. Another service club benefit. After taking our regular bus in we catch the R04 up and up and way far away. It was hot out here and between that and the chili samples, I wilted fairly early.
The gal singing is a full time resident. Moved here about 25 years ago from NYC. This was at the hens and rooster market we stopped by before heading up for chili.

Younger people got in the water at the chili fest.
Then rain, rain. Puerto Vallarta is supposed to get very little rain in March. Maybe less than a quarter of an inch. We have certainly had more than that since we've been here. We had planned to walk along the Malecon, but we just take a cab to dinner at El Arrayan and back. I made sure to have the crispy cricket tacos. Very tasty.
For us St Patrick's day was rained out. We were going to go to another American Legion Benefit at an Irish Pub, but we didn't fancy just a cab ride there and back. Later on in the day the sun came out and the clean air looks washed and crisp.
Today is another member's meeting. William wants to go, so we will. No rush though.
Today my hiking pole is coming here by motorcycle messenger. Getting ready to pack up and realized I had left it at VDP Downtown. It was still there, so they are sending it back. I haven't done any hiking to warrant using it.
Time to pack up and head out tomorrow and the rain is back. That will be a damp member's meeting if it doesn't blow off.
While out here on the deck finally drinking our welcome champagne, we have noticed a rock with an old bolt in the top and a rusted chain. Maybe pirates? Maybe not in Banderas Bay. But far out maybe off Punta Mita William spots what looks to be a boat burning. Too far for our cameras to capture anything but the smoke plume. Pirates?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Week Five Puerto Vallarta

What day is this?
You know you've been on vacation a long time when you are close to turning into a jellyfish. I just feel too lazy. 
I'm thinking back on the resorts we have stayed in. What do I like best about each?
Villa del Palmar Downtown: Here for 3 weeks. Easy to take a fairly quick bus ride to  downtown. Nice supermarket and shopping center just across the street. Although we had a one bedroom booked, we had the right to ask for a two bedroom at check in, if we had thought of it. Nice upgrade to the front. Nice new paint job inside and outside.  Nice new furniture. Very comfortable king sized bed.  Enjoyed the activities. This place is very much a spot for  older guests. Members meeting serves medium sized plate of snacks to each person. 
Saw this in the Vallarta Tribune, a weekly paper. Mommy in Mexico.  A cute article about the carnival we saw within walking distance of VDP Downtown, across from the Argentinian restaurant we walked to one night. Glad we gave the carnival a pass, but the article made funny reading.
Villa del Palmar Flamingos: Here for one week.  Nicer, larger kitchen. Has a laundry room ensuite. One bedroom has two bathrooms and much bigger deck with comfortable lounge chairs with big towels. Activities nice and able to see most dancing entertainment from our deck. No extra charge for most entertainment. Basically a newer resort. Guests a bit younger overall, less gray hair. Can take buses to Supermarket and small towns to the North, but we chose to use taxis during our short stay here. 
While we were at Flamingos, we took a taxi to La Cruz to the Sunday Market at the marina. We arrived early, 9:15, before it got too crowded. Very nice handicrafts and food items all made by the sellers. At this market they do not allow resale. Of course we bought a few things. 
With the pillow seller
 As the market began to get too crowded, we took a taxi back for the coolness of the pool.
Iguanas on one of the pool islands. They had been hiding up in the palm trees.
Although there are very good restaurants in Bucarias, it seemed we were not here long enough to do much exploring.
Garza Blanca: Here for two weeks. We just arrived a few days ago.  So far I am impressed. You have a personal concierge to check you in right in your room. No hanging around in the lobby. We received an automatic upgrade to a two bedroom suite with 3 bathrooms and a very private giant ocean view balcony.
Sunset from our balcony
 This place is as big as our house. A large gas stove and plenty of room to put away groceries in the pantry in the spacious kitchen. I love the bath towels and Toto toilets with quiet close lids.We also have a personal butler to take care of any problems in the room. We are on an end just a few floors  above the ocean. In the early evening a front end loader was busy hauling sand to rebuild the beach that was lost to a hurricane.
So far the guests are younger. Few children at any of the three resorts. No school vacations except for one weekend in February. At Garza Blanca all we hear is the ocean and our own music. This is the newest of the three resorts. We are in an older part of the resort, but building three is still the newest building we have stayed at in Puerto Vallarta. The very newest buildings are on the other side of the highway and are high rises. You get across to the other side over a foot bridge or with a little trolley.
On the foot bridge over to the other side, looking towards the newer high rise towers.

Looking down at the highway and the transport trolley.

Looking at the lower pool from the bridge.
 Three of the resort restaurants are on the other side, including a steak house and a Japanese restaurant.
Met up with Tito here in Garza Blanca. He used to work in activities at VDP Downtown. We first met him in 1990 when he was leading a bus tour for the downtown resort. Very funny guy who was a great MC. He now leads hikes here at Garza Blanca. He took William on a meditation walk this morning. 
With Tito
  We have been taking the bus into town from the front of the resort. Pretty easy to do. Just take the white and orange Mismaloya bus from outside the resort to the end of the line in old town. We have been on a shopping trip into old town and enjoyed Saturday Market for brunch and shopping.
Lucy's Cucu Cabana, a favorite store. A local author and his wife run this. We also bought his latest book. Slime and Punishment by Gil Gevins. He writes humorous adventures. 

Lunch at La Fantasia
Saturday Market
 I wonder how we are going to get all these items home. I think I will have to stuff a bunch of purchases in the canvas shopping bag I got at  the Soriana supermarket. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Week Three Plus in Puerto Vallarta

Actually we have moved from Puerto Vallarta in the state of Jalisco to Bucarias in the state of Nayarit. We have moved from Villa Del Palmar Downtown, as it is referred to now, to Villa Del Palmar Flamingos. This is a much newer resort, opened in 2005, 20 years after they started building VDP Downtown. The rooms are much larger with 2 baths, a laundry room, huge kitchen and dining room and huge deck.
Hard to leave the deck. I do go to water aerobics daily and we go down to the spa at sunset.
Last bit of shopping with Alicia, our favorite beach peddler, before we left VDP Downtown. She has just what you want, as long as it is a sarong or a beach dress. I'm getting very tan. Even William, who stays out of the sun, is getting some color.
Watching for the sunset our first evening at Flamingos.
Not too bad.
The first time in the pool there were iguanas, pretty big ones, on the small grass islands in the pool. Haven't seen them since though.
This is a pretty big resort. We are up on the 6th floor of building one.
Yesterday we had a Tacatzo at this small but highly rated Taco restaurant and then walked a long dusty block to Mega, a huge grocery/super store. We stocked up and took a taxi back. Too far to walk to Mega, unlike Soriana in Plaza Caracol across the street from VDP Downtown.
Tomorrow morning we are heading out early to La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, on beyond Bucarias on the way to Punta Mita, for the Sunday Market and to stroll along the Marina.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Second Week in Puerto Vallarta

In the afternoon we go over to the beach side pool. Most day people have left and there are plenty of chairs available. We order drinks at the two for one happy hour prices and enjoy the last bits of sun. Also, shopping with our favorite beach peddler. Then on to the hot tub before dinner.
We made it down to the Oasis for a meal. Octopus tacos were not on the menu. This place is much larger than the tiny beach stand it was. I guess they have fought the big new high rise hotels for the right to be here next to the Rio Pitillal. Still pretty good and cheap.
We made it back before the rain hit. It rained pretty hard for a couple of hours. The water poured out of the balcony drain spouts and the paths were a bit flooded. We were cozy and safe. Lots of thunder and lightning.
Downtown at Coexist Bistro for lunch. After another shopping trip to the Municipal Market.
Walking back along the Malecon past a statue to dancers.

Downtown in the evening for Mardi Gras, upstairs at a Cuban restaurant, La Bodeguita Del Medio. Puerto Vallarta and Havana. Unclear where Hemingway hung out, but I am sure it was the restaurant in Havana. I keep trying to find good Cuban food. I am told it exists. Maybe in Cuba.

 After dark we are treated to a Gay Pride Parade. Hard to take pictures of a parade especially in the dark. The crowd was light here at the start of the Malecon. Tables around us had come prepared with masks and beads. We had plenty we could have brought, if we has thought about it.
Last meal from the chicken dinner from the Pollo shop across the street. Chicken salad tostada for lunch. We had two dinners and two lunches from that huge chicken and fixings. We now have tons of leftovers from our trip to the new Argentinian restaurant across the street. The servings of meat were huge. The Circus that was in the lot next to it has left to be replaced by a huge carnival. Kid magnet. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

First Week in Puerto Vallarta

I need to write something after a week in Mexico. But mostly we have been relaxing. The weather here has been quite mild. High 70's and low 80's. An old neighbor, Chief, from Canada, like many of the people here, complained that it was not hot enough. Saw him wearing a jacket once. The average age here looks to be over 50.

The front of the resort has been remodeled. They took down building seven which was next to the street and put in big fountains.

 The rooms have updated furniture and a bright Mexican color scheme. The first resort, to the left front, Villa del Mar, which had fixed week, fixed room, ownership will eventually be taken down and replaced with higher rise buildings. The owners had 30 year ownership and they are not being offered any renewal. It was built in the 80's.
On our 4th floor balcony

Just the two of us.

We went grocery shopping right away across the street. I have to remember that the grocery store has been Soriana for at least 20 years. When we first came it was Gigante. I like the Soriana. Good produce and good prices. We took a cab home as we planned. Because we bought too much for William to carry.

We've eaten out a few times. Usually saving half the meal for another time. I still have half the prime rib in the frig.

After the first day I have managed water aerobics every day.

Today I couldn't because of the Fiesta last night. I should never have a tequila shot and two margaritas. Ouch. But it was my idea to go. The dancing was fun, but we were tired and left before the mariachi band was done.

We made it downtown once so far. I did a bit of shopping in the big Municipal Market. We plan to go back Friday. Walking down from the Rio Cuale, we passed Langostinos, site of the grand Baker Borden wedding reception, but didn't stop.
 We were heading for La Palapa, a very old and high ranking restaurant.  The appetizer I had of barbecued octopus was fantastic.
La Palapa
This new pier reminded us of the lovely Sundial Bridge in Redding.
This large wall is around a school. It is decorated is mosaics all over. Individuals and businesses donated to the decor.
 No Urbanos just means no city traffic.

We still need to walk down the beach to the Oasis. I remember the octopus tacos I scared Leah with. Very delicious.