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.