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MichelleY Jan 2nd, 2006 04:30 PM

Trip Report: Muchas Margaritas in Puerto Vallarta
I am finally thru the holidays and starting our Puerto Vallarta trip report. DH and I travelled to PV Dec. 9-16. We had a great time and didn't want to come back home to the rain and gloom in No. Cal. I will try to not let this get too long. I used advice from here, but especially appreciated the posts of Suze and Blondlady.

Friday, Dec. 9, 2006:

Flew America West from Sacramento, thru Phoenix, to PV. Uneventful, used the time on the flight to look over guidebooks on PV: Frommers Pocket Guide and Moon Handbook.

On arrival in PV, we were assailed by timeshare people but knew better and knew(from this site) to cross over the highway and grab a taxi across from the airport. We were staying in at the Grand Mayan in Nuevo Vallarta, north of PV, so our taxi was about $15US.

After reading reports here, I knew that we would be at least 30-40 min. outside of PV. We got our room through an RCI (timeshare) promotion: a studio for $150/week. I am a big believer in you get what you pay for. And we did. The Grand Mayan is about a year old. When you enter the lobby, there is this Mayan themed hall with huge Mayan-type statues and music. We thought is was a bit over the top and kind of creepy. The rest of the common areas of the Grand Mayan are nice. Plus the pool area and grounds are also very nice.

As I said, we got what we paid for: a room on the second floor, facing out below to the bell boys and cars driving up. We also ended up with a handicapped room, so we missed out on having a sunken jacuzzi tub in our room. Darn!! After check in, we got a bite and I had my first 2 for 1 margarita during "la hora de feliz". That night we just kicked back.

Sat. Dec. 10:

Today we had breakfast at the hotel, then headed to the pool. The GM has a large, meandering pool, several swim-up bars, a "lazy river" around the area where you can rent a tube and float down river, a wave pool and water slide. The beaches in this area are also very nice, clean and uncrowded.
We hung out at the pool all day and enjoyed the "horas de feliz" and food poolside.

Sunday, Dec. 11:

This was our first foray into PV. We grabbed a taxi, about $16 into PV and had brunch at La Palapa on Los Muertos beach. Good food and lots of action. I bought a few goodies from the beach fendors to bring back home a gifts. Afterwards, we wandered Old Town, checking out places to eat and maybe stay in the future. We did a little shopping, checked out the church - it was the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration, so the church was busy and the square had booths set up with religious items. We headed back to NV late in the afternoon.

Monday, Dec. 12:

This was another pool day. We just wanted to relax and save ourselves for the evening. We planned dinner in PV at Pipi's and were going to take in the final night of the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration.

We took off to PV about 8 p.m. and got into Pipi's right away. Great guacamole and giant margaritas. I ordered a sampler, which turned out to be way too much food. DH order was also way too much food. A shared meal probably would have been plenty. The food was good and this was a fun place.

Afterwards, we head a few blocks over to the celebration area. All long the street were food fendors: taco stands where the pork is cut right off the ham for tacos, churros, candy glazed nut stands, and flan stands. Too bad we were full!!! Everything looked great!!

About 10:30, the parade started. This was very quaint with floats, Aztec-type dance groups, and singing marchers with candles. We then headed to the Malecon and finally headed back to NV.

To be continued later.....

MichelleY Jan 2nd, 2006 05:56 PM

Tuesday, Dec. 13:

Today we got up late, just grabbed some coffee and walked over to the Mayan's condo complex next door, the Sea Garden, to find the bus stop for PV. Here we encountered a timeshare booth for the Grand Velas resort. The guy working there spoke perfect English, and had grown up in Southern California before being deported for street racing. He wanted us to go on the timeshare presentation for the Velas Vallarta. We told him NO. We didn't want to spend 2-3 hours wasting our time, plus we already had a timeshare in Cabo.

We wanted to book a canopy tour and bullfight, so the timeshare guy booked those for us. Again, he asked if we would do the timeshare thing: our gifts would be the 2 canopy tours($70 each), 2 bullfights($30 each). NO!!! again. Then he said he would throw in 800 pesos($80). OK. We did the tour. The Velas Vallarta is at the Marina and a very nice place. But we were firm and got out in 1 1/2 hours. Just in time for a little pool time and a siesta.

That evening, we left about 6 p.m. from the NV Marina for the "Rhythms of the Night". We boarded a catamaran for Las Caletas beach. This was the former home of John Huston. Here an Aztec/Mayan themed show is performed, then dinner is served in the palapas on the hillside. There is no electricity, so dinner and the trails are all lit by candles. Very cool and romantic. I would highly recommend this. This cost about $75/person. Vallarta Adventures has the lease on Las Caletas and also offers daytime trips.

Wednesday, Dec.14:

We slept in again and spent the day poolside. Enjoyed margaritas during the various "horas de feliz" and lunch by the pool.

Tonight was bullfight night. DH saw his first bullfight 20 years ago in PV and wanted me to have the experience. We tried using the bus into PV, but it was too crowded, so we ended up using a taxi. The bullring is pretty small and was full of "gringos". The only natives were the food/beer vendors. We ended up sitting next to a couple from San Diego we had met on the flight from Phoenix.

What can I say about the bullfight? I grew up on a farm, so the blood didn't bother me that much. But by the end of the fight, the bull is staggering and panting. Very sad. Plus right from the get go, the bull never stands a chance. On the plus side: the matadors were pretty cute.

The bullfight started at 5 and was over by 6:30. Afterwards, we headed to the Fiesta Americana hotel for a Rotary International meeting. DH is a Rotarian and wanted to get a meeting credit. Once we got there, we found out that the Rotary meetings would not be held until after the New Year. So off to PV for dinner.

We headed to Cafe La Olla in the Old Town for dinner. We shared the special for the night: steak, lobster, shrimp, $45 for two. This was a great meal and I would highly recommend this place.

Thursday, Dec. 15:

This was our big canopy tour day. We booked thru Los Veranos. We took the public bus from NV to Los Veranos' office in PV. Here they put us on a bus that had come from NV?! This bus headed south, about 1/2 hour to the Mismaloya area(?), then up river to the Los Veranos camp.

There were all ages in our group. A 9 & 11 year old (with parents), several over 65/70 and then those of us in between. The guides hooked us up with harnesses and gave instructions on the do's and don'ts.

The canopy tour was a lot of fun and not as scary as we had imagined. The hardest part was climbing up the trail and trees to get to the ziplines. Los Veranos has 13 lines which go thru the forest and across the river canyon. At the end is a pretty nice restaurant/bar.
We ate lunch here then took the bus back to NV.

Friday, Dec.16:

Time to pack it up and go home. We had to check out a 10, so we hung around the pool until about noon. Our flight was at 2:30, so we ate fish tacos at a place right across the highway from the airport, before checking in.

Overall, this was a great trip. DH & I did alot of relaxing by the pool. We enjoyed PV: great food and fun. PV had much to offer.

Thanks for listening,


MichelleY Jan 4th, 2006 10:56 PM

Topping for fffi!!

fffi Jan 5th, 2006 12:50 PM

Thanks Michelle!
looks like you had a great time!
actually it's almost an itenery for us. just change the canopy tour for the dolphin swim. we've pre-booked it & i can't wait!
23 hours & counting!!!!

suze Jan 5th, 2006 03:04 PM

Michelle, I'm so glad you topped this... I don't know how but I'd missed seeing your wonderful trip report!

I was especially happy to hear you got a peak at the Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe parades. I love that celebration and how lucky your days just happened to coincide. Also glad you enjoyed Cafe de Olla. It is on the street where I always stay in PV (Basilo Badillo).

MichelleY Jan 5th, 2006 03:29 PM

Dear Suze:

Your postings were very valuable in planning this trip. In fact, I printed out the thread on restuarant recs. Too bad we had already eaten the night of the Guadalupe celebration. The street vendor's foods looked great!! Where do you usually stay? We checked out Los Arcos; it looked good for the price and location.


suze Jan 5th, 2006 04:57 PM

I usually stay at Posada de Roger, a sweet but very basic 3-star at the corner of Vallarta and B. Badillo. Fredy's El Tucan is the restaurant downstairs there.

For something nicer, I absolutely adore Casa Andrea which is about 1-1/2 blocks in from the pier at the beach and has beautiful open air rooms with patio kitchenettes and a fabulous pool and garden.

I've also rented apartments a couple times around the neighborhood.

And yes the street food at the festival is big fun! My favorites are as diverse as stuffed baked potato, hot dogs, or slices of pie or cake from the ladies who set up their home baked goods on folding tables in the barber shop!

MichelleY Jan 31st, 2006 07:14 PM


suze Feb 1st, 2006 12:02 PM

ttt for Ben

blondlady Feb 4th, 2006 06:08 PM

I'm so glad you reported back to us on your trip. Sounds like you might want to go back??? I am off to PV on Monday and will be heading for PiPi's, my favorite.

MichelleY Feb 4th, 2006 11:06 PM

Dear blondlady:

Were in PV, on the beach, near La Palapa on Sunday, Dec. 11??? We had brunch at La Palapa and saw a "blondlady" on the beach and I wondered if it was you???

Have fun. We are off to Cabo next week. Staying a PB Sunset Beach.


MichelleY Feb 8th, 2006 03:50 PM

Topping for LKL>>>>>

LKL Feb 28th, 2006 11:33 AM

Hi Michelle,
I'm just wondering about your comment about crossing the highway and getting a taxi there rather than in front of the airport. Is it cheaper to get a taxi on the other side or is it more for the sake of avoiding the timeshare people?
I was also told that there is a max of 3 people per cab. Do you know if that's true? We're traveling with 4.

MichelleY Feb 28th, 2006 01:02 PM

Dear LKL:

We paid $15US for our cab across the road. This may or may not be cheaper than the airport. I didn't check the airport cab rates and just took the advice from this site. The guys across the road may have wised up?? If PV is like Cabo, the timeshare guys have to stay in the terminal. The real taxis are outside.

Can't tell you about the 3 people rule, but I'm sure Suze or Blondlady will know.

Have a great trip.


jams2 Feb 28th, 2006 01:25 PM

How is Nuevo Vallarta? I've been to Ixtapa and Zihautenjo and never to Puerto Vallarta. How do they compare? I'm not sure where to stay. Is basically all the bars/restaurants in the downtown? I'd like to stay somewhere nice that is in walking distance to some establishments. I figure either the hotel zone or Nuevo Vallarta. I wasn't a big fan of walking through Zihautenjo so I wouldn't want to stay somewhere like that. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks for the restaurant tips.

MichelleY Feb 28th, 2006 01:31 PM

Dear jams:

We stayed in NV, which was about 20-30min & a $15 cab ride to PV. If this is your first trip to PV and want a little action and fun, stay closer to the actual town of PV. NV is more for getting away from it all. I can't tell you much about the hotel zone in PV, sorry. But it is much closer to the action.


blondlady Mar 3rd, 2006 04:07 PM

Hi Michelle: No it wasn't me by La Palapa that date, I left December 2nd that trip. RE Taxi -We had 4 people in our taxi. WE are going to Cabo April 1 and staying at Presidente Intercontinental just for laying around and reading (I have a ruptured disc in my back and can hardly move). I don't expect it to be as exciting as PV, what do you think?

blondlady Mar 3rd, 2006 04:39 PM

P.S. Michelle: By any chance was the "blondlady" you saw by La Palapa wearing a skimpy bikini showing off a drop dead fabulous body?? hee hee

MichelleY Mar 3rd, 2006 08:41 PM

Dear blondlady:

I snapped a photo of the blonde at the beach because she resembles a friend of mine. But I did wonder if it was you!!!

We just got back from Los Cabos. We stayed just outside CSL, on the Pacific side at Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach. I don't mind the desert landscape and like PBSB's away from the rat race of CSL. We mostly relaxed by the pool and abused our livers all week!!

San Jose is more of a real town and not as ratty as CLS, but pretty dull compared to PV. You will also find food, transport, shopping more expensive than PV.

Take care of that disc. I feel your pain: had the same problem about 20yrs. ago.


MichelleY Mar 26th, 2006 02:08 PM

Topping for KeithA

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