Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

We had just returned from the beach and then took a quick shower to freshen up. The cumulus clouds that brought a brief rainfall earlier painted a red orange sky. The sun has not completely set at 7 o’clock in the evening. The Salvadoran asked me if I want to walk on the Malecon on our way to the Zona Romantica in search of a good sit down dinner. I said why not, especially on a beautiful evening like this.

The Malecon is an esplanade and stretches to a mile long in the center of Puerto Vallarta which starts from the hotel where we were staying at and ends at the Los Arcos amphitheatre. The walkway is speckled with benches, sculptures, tourist and locals. This is a place where I can sit down and read a book for hours or just listen to the breaking waves. By the time we’ve finished dinner, the sun has completely set and the Malecon had transformed from a tranquil boardwalk to a glittering party mood where locals congregate outside drinking while tourists party inside the clubs on the opposite side of the street.

Unlike the more popular resorts in Mexico like Cancun which I jokingly refer to as ‘Vegas by the Sea’, Puerto Vallarta has a real town with cobbled stone streets and where you meet locals doing local things. There is a ‘small fishing village’ feel to it.

We didn’t have to site see because we’ve been here four years ago. Our main goal is to relax although the Salvadoran also wanted to get a tan.

The waves were big and strong enough to knock one down. Except this time of the year, the small waves are great for body surfing while it is mild enough for swimming. The restful atmosphere compensates for the quality of the sand. We lounged by the beach from noon till the sun goes down. It is amazing I could still get a tan even when hiding under the palapas which are big enough for a party of five.

We ate breakfast at the hotel and then skipped lunch because we were always out in the beach between noon and dusk. We usually order small plates with drinks while we lounge by the beach. The only time we got to sit down for a good meal is at dinner time. The highlight of our food expedition is a visit to a restaurant serving a regional specialty, Filete de Huachinango Sarandeado, or a grilled red snapper with special seasoning to add that smoky flavor. We feasted on almost 6 pounds of fish meat. I think that was one of the best meals I've had during my travels. Too bad they only accept cash.

One day, right after breakfast, the Salvadoran and I decided to wander around the streets of Vallarta. Since we didn't have anything planned, we strolled around the parts of the coastal town where we haven't ventured before. Vallarta is not a shopping destination which means no major clothing stores. We actually liked it this way. Air travel now prohibits bringing liquids inside carry-on bags so a bottle of tequila is already out of the question. I did manage to find some tequila-filled chocolates and small ornaments made of clay and paper to bring back to the States. Oh, and a Crocs shoe store.

Going to Vallarta is almost guaranteed to be a good experience, at least for me and the Salvadoran. It is only less than four hours by plane from SF so I know we will be back for the third time. Maybe we'll stay in the Zona Romantica part of the town.

Here are more photos I took around Puerto Vallarta.

Here's a view of the beach by Zona Rosa's Blue chairs. After a heavy breakfast, we headed and stayed around the beaches Relaxing under the shade of the 'palapa' until 3pm. There's usually music blasting out of the main dining area.

I am surprised that I still get a nice tan under these huge umbrellas. Vendors selling food, snacks, souvenirs, trinckets, massages, and henna tattoo walk up and down the beaches. Some of them can be pushy but they leave you alone once you say no.

Banderra Bay
I walked the length of this beach to burn off the free heavy breakfast at the hotel. It also gives you a nice perspective of the area.

This is PV's cathedral.

Puerto Vallarta
This is what it looks like during the day.

These are the arches near the amphi theatre in the heart of PV's old town.

Puerto Vallarta
PV's most recognizeable statue.

The old town is very charming. Look at the cobbled stone streets?

Hasta la el proximo tiempo.


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