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Exploring Puerto Vallarta

We left Yelapa (and might or might not have shed a couple of quiet tears as we said goodbye to our glorious room) and hopped on the 11am water taxi to Puerta Vallarta. (But guess what?? We booked our same room at Casa Pericos for later this year, so see you again in November, Yelapa!)

Waiting on Playa Isabel for the water taxi, while they chat with our buddies aboard Iza (Garcia Charters)
Burros were getting loaded up and sent down the path, carrying groceries, water, and other supplies. As soon as they had their load, they’d just slowly wander down the path, munching on greens along the way.

The water was relatively calm, so we had a nice chill ride to Puerto Vallarta that took only 30 minutes from our last stop in Yelapa to the Los Muertos Pier in Puerto Vallarta.

Waiting to dock at the Los Muertos Pier while passengers load onto another water taxi.

We walked the couple of short blocks to our hotel, but we were a bit early for check in, so we opted to spend the two hours sitting at a lovely table in the shade in the courtyard, doing a bit of work and reading.

From the courtyard at Casa Doña Susana, looking back out toward the street.
Stairs in the inner courtyard at Casa Doña Susana.
Looking straight up from the courtyard at Casa Doña Susana (there’s a pool on the roof!)
Courtyard vines

Two hours turned into three and a half or four, but by the time our room was ready we were happy for the air conditioning (and the couple of free drink coupons the front desk gave us for being so patient). I’d have to say though…based on watching other interactions besides ours (as well as my experience booking online in the first place) this is not the most organized operation. 🙂 Our room (No. 202) is fine, but the one they first showed us as an option if we didn’t want to wait had two double beds, zero windows, and opened out directly into the traffic path. I said “It’s our wedding anniversary, so no thank you, I think we’ll wait.” The concierge said “Yes, this one is not so appealing, I agree.” Anyway, we got settled, hung out a bit, and then walked over to dinner at the Merida Grill, which came highly recommended by our friend Joni.

Cool birdcage/light fixtures hang from the high ceilings

Everyone here is super friendly, and they go out of their way to make you feel welcome (and not at ALL in an annoying way…SO genuine and wonderful). We ordered a bottle of champagne, because (1) anniversary, and (2) we’ve had plenty of margaritas in the past two weeks…it was a nice change! We shared some ceviche, and a nojol salad (grilled cactus, greens, some delicious cheese, tomatoes, avocado), and then shared two entrees: cochinita pibil and grilled octopus.

The cochinita pibil was my favorite, but both were delicious.

A soft, low-light photo of the cochinita pibil taken with my iPhone, but you get the idea.
Grilled octopus with vegetables…gorgeous presentation.

Cochinita pibil is a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Peninsula. Traditional cochinita pibil involves marinating the meat in acidic citrus juice, seasoning it with achiote paste/annatto seed which gives it a vivid dark red/orange color, and roasting the meat while it is wrapped in banana leaf. At Merida Grill, they cook it in a big pot that’s lowered into a pit inside a brick oven, and I had a ringside seat when they opened the oven doors.

After dinner, we walked around a bit, then down to El Malecon boardwalk, which is basically just a wide sidewalk along the beach populated by mostly tourists, bordered by shops, buskers, sidewalk vendors, and restaurants (and in our case last night, some really drunk chicks belting out “YMCA” by the Village People–might have been karaoke, but I could only hear them—trying to get people to join them…no thanks).

We slept well, considering the sound of the surf crashing below our room in Yelapa had been rudely replaced by the erratic hum of an AC on the wall above our heads here in PV. Heh.

After a little work this morning, we ventured out for some breakfast. Originally I’d picked out a place for us to go down on the beach that had good reviews, but last minute changed my mind and opted for a more local vibe (still with great Yelp reviews) and we ended up at Azul Bistro, a few blocks from our hotel.

Azul Bistro is small, and has a few outdoor tables (which is where we sat…nicely in the shade)

We ordered the Huevos Azul (poached eggs, breaded/fried and served on a spinach puree) and the Bienadictos Mexicanos (english muffin, skirt steak, poached eggs, chipotle sauce). Both dishes were excellent (that chipotle sauce!!), and we decided to go back tomorrow morning for breakfast so we can try two new things. Cesar said he’d make us something completely different tomorrow, but I heard our table-neighbors RAVING about the mole sauce on their order (and how they were ALSO coming back tomorrow), so I’m pretty sure we can’t go wrong. (Note: they do dinners here on Saturday nights only. This Saturday it’s Chile en Nogada…reserve early because the place fills up!)

Huevos Azul, payapa, cantaloupe, and a potato/coconut hash.
Bienedictos Mexicanos, cantaloupe and papaya, and the potato/coconut hash.

After breakfast, we walked the neighborhood a bit, and decided to stop in Galleria Dante. (It’s #7 of 172 Things to do in Puerto Vallarta on Trip Advisor!) This place is packed with local and mostly/kinda/localish work, and there were quite a few pieces we liked, including these paintings by Emilio Rama:

These are some of the paintings we liked…
…and I think we’re coming home with this one

After the gallery, we just wandered all around town randomly. Here are some photos, in no particular order.

Typical street in the Zona Romantica
No one here seems very fond of Trump (shocker, I know). There are “F@#$ Trump” t-shirts, signs that say “Don’t worry, you’re on the fun side of the wall”…stuff like that, but I really liked these Trump piñatas we walked past today.

We took a break from the sun and are doing some work (and some blogging, obviously) back in our room now. Later this evening, we’ll go out for our (fancier) anniversary dinner up at The Iguana at Casa Kimberly. Casa Kimberly was once the vacation home of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. According to the owner, Burton bought the property for Taylor back in 1964 for her 32nd birthday. The two vacationed in Casa Kimberly for decades, and Elizabeth Taylor eventually sold it in 1990 after Burton’s death in 1984. (I think they filmed some of “Night of the Iguana” in the bar there.) Reviews of the food on both Yelp and Trip Advisor are very good…we’ll let you know tomorrow. There’s a dress code, and you’re not supposed to wear “beach or board shorts, t-shirts, or flip flops” so I’m hoping I don’t get ousted for my flip flops (they’re fashionable flip flops, not the usual beach rubber ones, so I’m hopeful they pass because it’s what I’ve got). 🙂