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Trip Report Back From Puerto Vallarta

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Got back from a week in Puerto Vallarta on Saturday night. It was a pretty lazy trip so I don't feel justified in writing a true trip report but here are some reflections:

1. Hotel. Stayed at the Westin Resort in the Marina District. The Marina is very close to the airport - around a 10 minute taxi ride at most. The taxi cost $18 US from the airport using one of the authorized taxis but only 65 pesos to the airport (which is about $5 US). We were very pleased with the Westin. The rooms are large and well appointed. The bathroom had a separate shower and deep soaking tub. We booked partial ocean view and our room (which was on the 4th floor) had a large balcony overlooking the pool and the ocean. The grounds are really nice. Three pools and very lush - with lots of palm trees and vegetation (rather than a lot of concrete). Service at the pool was generally pretty good and the lunch prices pretty reasonable for a resort - the fish tacos and burritos were delicious, the hamburguesa con queso, not so much (every time I go to Mexico, I say I am not going to get a hamburger). There is a continuous stream of music pumped in to the pool area but it isn't obnoxiously loud, particularly if you are at one of the two lower pools (although they do seem to have only a couple of set lists that they play over and over. By day 4, we had enough of Kool and the Gang's Joanna.)

2. Beach. Not great. It was pretty to look at but neither a good walking beach nor a good swimming beach. The beach in this area is set off in several coves, with break walls jutting into the ocean. So there was no surf and the beach was a little rocky. Not to mention the Sea Urchin and Jelly Fish warnings. I walked down to the Casa Magna Marriott and the beach there was better (although I liked the Westin grounds way better).

3. Location. The Marina District is a nice area - a five minute walk from our hotel. We walked there every day for breakfast and five of the seven nights for dinner. There are quite a few restaurants and shops lining the boardwalk that lines the marina. It's pleasant to stroll in that area but it's not like walking the Malecon. It's a little more sterile and not nearly as crowded. Some of the restaurants were almost empty, while others were crowded.

4. Malecon. Fun. We went downtown twice and strolled around the Malecon, having dinner there once. We had planned to go another time and have another dinner but the night we had planned on going, both of our stomachs were a little "off." It is great down there though. Street vendors, entertainment, so many people - families, friends, young, old - strolling. Great people watching place. I generally prefer larger resorts but the benefit of staying right in that area might be worth giving up the expansiveness of a larger resort. it would be great to be able to walk out of your hotel and be right there. To reiterate, I love that area.

5. Food. We ate at Porto Bello, Victors, and La Terrraza Di Roma in the Marina, at Vitea on the Malecon, and one time at Arrecife at our hotel. Every meal was very good, with the exception of Arrecife. In fact, we ended up eating at Porto Bello three times. The food was excellent (with the sole exception of the fried calamari) and the service was attentive. It may sound a little weird that we ate so much Italian food in Mexico but my partner isn't a big fan of Mexican cuisine and Porto Bello was just really good. It's a little on the expensive side relative to some other restaurants in other areas of PV but it was worth it. Victor's is also at the Marina and served Mexican and seafood. It was quite good and fairly inexpensive. The owner, Victor, is an old Mexican guy who is very friendly and comes to each table with a free shot of tequila (I am pretty sure it's a watered down version of tequila but still, it was fun). While we were there for dinner, he told us about the breakfast special - 65 pesos for your choice of fried/scrambled eggs/french toast, pancakes, or omelette and toast, bacon or ham, hash browns, frijoles, coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice. We ended up going back for breakfast every day of the trip. (Other restaurants in the Marina offered similarly priced breakfasts). Much better deal than the $25/person buffet breakfast at the hotel. Speaking of hotel restaurants, our last night we decided to stay on property and go to Arrecife's, which is the hotel's "good" restaurant. The setting was beautiful - right at the beach. It started out pretty good - the appetizer was tasty - skewers of beef, chicken and shrimp with three different dipping sauces. Unfortunately, it went a little downhill after that - both of our entrees were pretty bad. The swordfish was clearly a frozen patty and way overdone. I know, who gets swordfish in Mexico. But the menu choices were a little odd - we had planned on getting red snapper but it wasn't even on the menu - instead they had swordfish, salmon and sea bass. My partner got the swordfish and I ordered the sea bass. He sent his back and just replaced it with another order of the skewers. I worked my way through my sea bass, parts of which were okay and parts of which nauseatingly mushy. Service was weird too. They do pour a healthy serving of sambucca though.

6. Weather. Perfect. You could not ask for better weather. It was mid-80s during the day and mid to high 60s at night. So comfortable. Sunny every day. Not even a threat of a raindrop any of the days. Beautiful sunsets.

7. Tours. We didn't do any but there is no lack of tours being offered. You will be asked numerous times about tours each time you leave your property. If you are not interested, just say no gracias and keep walking. DO NOT STOP. lol. We only violated this rule once and once they get you, it's hard to extricate yourself. But if you are interested, there are a lot of tours to choose from.

All in all, a very good and enjoyable and relaxing trip in a beautiful, interesting area.

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