Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer Vacation: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

JC and I have caught the travel bug and our love for travel took us to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. When we decided we wanted to go on a trip in June we didn’t have much time to plan or research the location. At first I was not very excited about visiting Puerto Vallarta. I went on a trip there when I was in college, during Spring Break. I thought I saw and experienced most of everything there and wasn’t real interested in returning. But I could not have been more wrong. 

Sunset on the first night in Puerto Vallarta.

We took care of all travel arrangements for this trip ourselves. Most of the time we go through our amazing travel agent at Franklin Travels in Decatur, but since we didn’t have much time to book and plan the trip we decided to give Cheap Caribbean a try. The experience was great with Cheap Caribbean. Normally we travel through Apple and have to take a bus to our hotel, dropping off other people along the way. This time we had our own taxi. We were at the resort within 15 minutes of getting through airport customs. 
We stayed at the Riu Palace – and it looked just like a castle. It was beautiful with marble floors and beautiful pillars. The hotel also had a southern plantation feel throughout the restaurant section. 

Walking on the beach.

Day 1 – Once arriving at the hotel we checked into our room. We had received an upgrade so we had a partial ocean view from our balcony. We checked out the hotel and pool/beach area then ate at the buffet. The food was amazing, so much I didn’t even know where to start because everything looked delicious. After stuffing ourselves silly and downing a bottle of wine we decided to walk down the beach to the other resorts. We originally booked at another Riu resort, but after reading the reviews decided to upgrade. It was definitely worth the money. Once back at our Palace JC had to check out the sports bar which featured 24 hour bar and snack service. We met some interesting people at the sports bar, and enjoyed our fair-share of adult beverages.

Pool area.

Day 2 – We spent the day at the pool, sunning ourselves and drinking. The pool had lounge chairs set up along the pool, facing the ocean. We tried to make sure to get these lounge seats every day. The cool ocean-breeze made for good napping conditions. For dinner we decided to walk down the beach to the small town of Bucerias. It took about 45 minutes to get to the little town. We saw lots of interesting marine life along the way, but the mountainous view was outstanding. Since it was Sunday evening many of the flea market shops had already closed for the night, but we were able to walk around the very narrow, cobble stone streets and find a few neat places to spend some time. The Drunken Duck had great live music. We also tasted local cuisine by trying homemade fajitas while dining on the beach. We also shared our dinner with stray dogs wandering around the beach looking for food. The little puppies broke my heart – I wanted to bring them home in my suitcase – along with the kids trying to sell Chicklets.

A street in Bucerias.

The Drunken Duck bar.

Street signs.

Day 3 – We spent the whole day by the pool, enjoying the ocean breeze. There were four specialty restaurants at the resort we could try for dinner. The Japanese is always great – so we tried this restaurant and were not disappointed.

Day 4 – JC and I took a taxi into Puerto Vallarta. We were dropped off along the Boardwalk. We strolled along this area looking at the different metal and sand sculptures. After browsing this area we walked over to the huge flea market. One of the items we always try to bring home is a Christmas ornament made by locals. We found an ornament and a couple other “local” pieces. Afterword we had lunch at Paradise Burger which had an outstanding view of the boardwalk and the ocean. The rest of the day was spent by the pool. For dinner we tried the Steak restaurant. JC’s dessert was set on fire! Very cool way to be served his dessert.

One of the sand creations along the boardwalk.

One of the sculpture areas.

Tree in the flea market area.

Having lunch by the ocean.

Day 5—Another day spent by the pool. That evening we went on the Rhythms of the Night tour. We took a boat to Las Caletas beach where the entertainment was set to happen. The boat ride was very rocky – very! Many people had a tough time making it through the ride to the area. Once off the boat we were greeted by people dressed up as the tribal Aztec people. We were escorted down to our table for dinner on the beach, just a few feet from the water. After dinner we watched the performance which included amazing singing, acrobats, and dancing. The area did not have electricity, so everything was lit by torch and candles. It was a really neat experience and very much worth the rocky ride to get there.

Day 6—Our final day in P.V. was spent relaxing and enjoying the sun. We went to the French KoFusion restaurant for dinner.  I am always sad to leave our vacation spot and come home.  We usually end up meeting some really interesting people -- and it is so nice to relax and enjoy being catered to.  Even though I was not as excited for this trip as I have been for others, it ended up being one of my all-time favorite vacations.

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