Written by Cantin2 on 09 May, 2013
When we visit Mexico we usually rent a car - while in Puerto Vallarta for a week we planned to go to Bucerias, Sayalito, Mismaloya and downtown a few times. Let me preface this by saying that I don't…Read More
When we visit Mexico we usually rent a car - while in Puerto Vallarta for a week we planned to go to Bucerias, Sayalito, Mismaloya and downtown a few times. Let me preface this by saying that I don't enjoy writing negative reviews, but in this instance I feel that a warning in justified. We usually rent from Ace Car Rental in Cabo and Playa del Carmen - their rates are usually the best offered and we have been happy with their service. They do not have a Puerto Vallarta location. We made a reservation with Thrifty - feeling very comforable with a US brand, and the rate was unbelievable.....yes.....unbelievable!!! The week prior to our vacation the rate had dropped to $30/week....too good to be true. We do not purchase extra insurance - we rely on the secondary insurance provided by our credit card. BLI (Basic Liability Insurance) has always been included in the quoted rate. Of course they always ask you to purchase SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance) at $11 - $15 per day since this reimburses medical cost at a higher rate for the injured person. When we get to the counter, we are told that BLI is not included in Puerto Vallarta - only in Cabo and the Cancun area. OK....an additional $12 day. The vehicle was very clean and in good condition. We inspect the car for scratches and dings and take pictures. Upon returning the car we find that the rate quoted in US dollars is now being charged in pesos. The conversion rate at the bank is 12.1 but Thrifty is charging 13.9. Tax is 16% and airport fees another 10%. Our $30/week car has escalated to $175.00 !!! There's more.....the young man who inspects the car says "perfect" - suddenly appeared a lady who points to the rear fender saying "new damage". We produce our pictures showing the damage ( a scratch) had been there upon rental. The young man confirms that we did indeed take pictures with our phone on the rental day. She then calls a manager and they produce a picture on their computer showing "no damage". He wants to see our time stamp but he doesn't have a time stamp on his computer. Beware....the scam may be that if you don't have a good photo of prior dents and dings, they will produce a photo showing no damage and charge you extra. After 20 minutes of arguing, the manager finally agreed to allow us to check out. If you are flying out on the day that you return the car, allow plenty of time - better yet - don't rent from Thrifty. Close
Written by Koala_D on 26 Aug, 2008
It's not really so terrible.... but I always breathe a sigh of relief when I finally step into my hotel room !! My favorite airline to Puerto Vallarta is definitely Alaska Airlines. They are usually on…Read More
It's not really so terrible.... but I always breathe a sigh of relief when I finally step into my hotel room !! My favorite airline to Puerto Vallarta is definitely Alaska Airlines. They are usually on time, and have many direct flights that arrive at a convenient hour. Also, Alaska seems to have frequent sales.... and my airfare has ranged from $202 to $588 for a round-trip flight in coach. I usually book several months in advance if I know what dates I will be travelling. Yes, a cheaper airfare COULD come up, but the price could go higher just as easily. When we arrive in Puerto Vallarta at the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport, the plane does not normally taxi up to the building. Instead, it stops a little way out and a bus is sent to transport passengers from the plane to the terminal. (It may... or may not..... be air-conditioned.) After passports are checked, it is a long walk to the baggage claim area. Then you must proceed through customs. Ahead of you is something that looks like a small traffic light..... if you press the button and it turns green (this happens most of the time) you walk through customs and out the door. If it turns red your baggage will be inspected and you will have a short delay. As soon as you clear customs you will be besieged by many people all talking at once. Do your best to ignore them !! They are condo salesmen. If you have arranged transportation to your hotel on the Internet, they will even lie to you about being your driver. Proceed to the main area of the terminal and you should see your transportation person holding a sign up with your name on it. If you did not arrange transportation there are taxis and vans outside, and you may buy a ticket inside at a booth near the exit door. They are regulated as to the lowest fare they can charge. They charge per person for these taxis, unlike the taxis in town. Be prepared to pay quite a bit to get to your hotel, but this is the only transportation that is priced so high. Once you have unpacked at your hotel, you may wish to venture outside... or to the grocery store if you have a condo. You may take a taxi for less than $5, or you may walk, or take the local bus for about 60c (as of Jan-2013). I usually take the bus or walk to the store, and hire a taxi for the ride back if I have several bags. Many drivers speak English. IMPORTANT: BE SURE to settle on the price BEFORE you get into any taxi !! Taxis are very reasonable in town, but will charge more at night when the buses stop running around 10:00 pm. In early 2008 I paid $4 US for a fairly long taxi ride. ($6 US in 2013) You are not expected to tip taxi drivers.... the local people don't... but you may if you wish. It is easy to get around by bus in Puerto Vallarta. They write destinations on the windshield in big white letters.... for example: Hoteles. Buses do not stop on the Malecon, but will stop near the 2 bridges in Old Town at the south end of the Malecon. If you are travelling north, Woolworth's is a good place to catch the bus. It is 2 blocks east of the northern end of the Malecon.... turn up at MacDonald's. If you would like to visit Guadalajara or Mexico City from here, I strongly urge you to choose the ETN Line. These are luxury buses with only 24 roomy, reclining seats per bus. I think it is the only line to serve you a welcome lunch. The 2 bathrooms are very roomy, and tea and coffee is available at the back of the bus during the trip. The bus is air-conditioned, has plasma TV screens, foot rests, and a controlled speed limit (governor). I rode this bus to Guadalajara-- the trip took about 4 hours, and was very relaxing ! I paid about $40 US. We arrived at an enormous bus terminal in Guadalajara, and one of the many waiting taxis took us to our hotel with no problems (about $10 for a 30 minute ride). Another option would be to fly to Guadalajara from the U.S., and then take this bus to Puerto Vallarta. The bus system in Mexico is excellent.... DON'T be afraid to ride the buses !! Note: As of Jan 2013 Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta are considered 2 of the 3 safest cities for tourists in Mexico.... and Cancun is the third. I believe they are referring mainly to violent crimes. I feel Puerto Vallarta is VERY safe at this time, and would travel there alone! I think the other 2 cities have more petty crime and muggings. Close
Written by Koala_D on 27 May, 2007
My favorite day-trip from Puerto Vallarta! I have taken this bus tour four times, and I have always seen something new and different each time. I recommend it for singles, families, young, and old! It always begins with a pick-up at your hotel early in the morning, but…Read More
My favorite day-trip from Puerto Vallarta! I have taken this bus tour four times, and I have always seen something new and different each time. I recommend it for singles, families, young, and old! It always begins with a pick-up at your hotel early in the morning, but it's acceptable to snooze on the bus. They are comfortable motorcoaches with air-conditioning. The guides are very good at providing information and history of the area during the trip.
Soon after leaving Puerto Vallarta you cross into the state of Nayarit to the north. Bucerias is the next town... they have a great beach, and even nicer beaches a little farther at Destilladeras and Punta Mita. You may take local buses for about $2.50 each way from Puerto Vallarta if you'd like to enjoy those beaches. We eventually turn north to Sayulita on Highway 200, and then pass San Francisco, a sleepy little place that I instantly fell in love with. We stopped here for breakfast (included in tour), and it was great. We had time to visit the beach, which was very nice and uncrowded.
Later, you turn off the main highway and head west toward the ocean. You see long rolling fields of corn, tobacco, and watermelons. Also, John Deere tractors... (quite a few of them), and occasionally the horse/mule and plow! As you get nearer to the coast the road climbs and you wind along through beautiful scenery until you round a corner-- and there's the ocean down below!
As you get nearer San Blas, your driver may stop quickly to buy a "Jack Fruit" to share. One will feed all of you! Be sure to try it if you get a chance.
Our first tour stop is at the La Tovarra River. Here you board boats with outboard motors, and head upriver at a leisurely pace. The tall mangrove roots at this end of the river are really something! Eventually they give way to very tall grasses on either side, and lots of sunshine.
Most likely, the first wildlife you see will be birds. It could be an egret, white crane , cormorant drying its wings, hawk, or many other birds. On every trip we've also spotted crocodiles on the bank and tortoises sunning on logs. You eventually reach a crocodile facility where you can get out of the boats and stretch. I enjoyed seeing the tiny baby crocs! After a while you head back down the river, and reboard the bus to San Blas.
There isn't a lot in town, but it's fun to look around and shop quickly. Then you visit a fort on a hill overlooking the town and surrounding areas. The view is breath-taking up there! Old cannons, an old church, and gardens are great for picture-taking. It's time for lunch (included) at a beach restaurant. It's usually fresh fish or fajitas... very tasty. Then, you may take a leisurely stroll on the wide sandy beach before you head home. The bus is usually quiet, and you'll probably have a beautiful sunset waiting for you in Puerto Vallarta!
Written by slevine on 23 Feb, 2004
We're new to timeshares and this was our first trade. We typically stay at four- or five-star hotels and resorts and approached this one with reservation.
This resort is fantastic and rates 4.5 stars. The rooms are spacious and very comfortable, with bedding typically…Read More
We're new to timeshares and this was our first trade. We typically stay at four- or five-star hotels and resorts and approached this one with reservation.
This resort is fantastic and rates 4.5 stars. The rooms are spacious and very comfortable, with bedding typically seen in better hotels. They provide daily maid service and room service if desired. Our two-bedroom/two-bath unit included a large balcony overlooking the pool and the ocean with sunset views. The grounds are lush and the pools were great for our family and kids. The only weakness to the accommodations is the lack of laundry facilities on the premises. The hotel will do your laundry, but at astronomical prices equal to US cities. Mexico is the land of cheap laundry and that was an inconvenience.
The staff is very friendly and accommodating. The management is clearly in charge and sets the bar for performance. Issues of service were quickly addressed and resolved. The salespeople for the timeshare are a bit of an annoyance and are focused on trapping you for a 90-minute presentation.
For the most part, the food was very good. They tried to vary it, but not enough to keep us from venturing into town to sample some of the fine eating establishments (we loved Pipi’s). We're not big drinkers, but appreciated the all-inclusive feature and made good use of the included Mexican, Chilean and Spanish wines at dinner, which also were quite good.
We highly recommend this resort and would consider a return stay in the future without any qualms.
Written by katshadow on 24 Jan, 2003
When planning this trip we discovered that it pays to check all the nearby airports; there are four in our area: Baltimore, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Newark. Normally, Baltimore is the cheapest but, on this trip, we saved almost $200 per person by using Newark.…Read More
When planning this trip we discovered that it pays to check all the nearby airports; there are four in our area: Baltimore, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Newark. Normally, Baltimore is the cheapest but, on this trip, we saved almost $200 per person by using Newark.
We own at Mayan Palace and really enjoy it because it’s near the Marina (easy 10-minute walk), and only about 10 minutes from the airport. It has several restaurants, shops, two pools, and a gym. There is a bus service to town that is inexpensive and safe, plus there is a bus stop directly in front of the Mayan Palace. The bus costs 4 pesos one way.
The pool on the Marina side is less crowded and quieter than the main pool that looks out onto the bay. There is a small grocery store near the condo that sells great ice cream, along with other incidentals. It''s not as cheap as the regular grocery store (Gigante), which has an outlet along the main highway from the airport to the Marina. You can walk there from the resort, if you like walking, or take a taxi to the store/mall.
On Sundays, the locals gather in the main square downtown, and on the Malecon, in front of the church (you can’t miss it--it has a crown on the steeple). There is an open-air theater, Los Arcos, nearby. If you’re lucky they may have a performance on--they''re usually free, but the performers may pass the hat for donations after the show. The day we went in, a local troupe performed ancient native songs and dances. The main square is a great people-watching area and has food available: try the roasted corn, i''s very good and cost about 50-cents.
If you want to see a good fiesta, check out the one at Krystal Palace, which has lots of food, good entertainment, and crafts, and gives an overview of Mexico. The mixed drinks are strong! The sound-system was scratchy the night we were there, but the costumes and singing made up for it. Could do without some of the "contests"--the first one was fun but the second just seemed to drag on.
Viejo Vallarta, Old Town Vallarta, is a great place to walk around. It has some of the oldest houses and architecture in PV, different shops and restaurants off the beaten path, and not a lot of tourists.
Don’t miss the Rio Cuale area. The walk is along a shaded path, there are several restaurants, and lots of vendors selling just about anything you want. Don’t forget to walk to the beach and back east under the bridge. If you’re into it, there is a statue of John Huston here--this is where Night of the Iguana was filmed.
Also, you can tour the upper part of PV and see the houses of Richard Burton and Liz Taylor and the bridge connecting them; it''s something fun to do and makes for a nice walk. Make sure you go up the stairs near the church--you’ll get some great views of the Bay of Banderas and downtown.
We found a tequila tour in Pitillal, on Etziquio Corona. Since it was a small operation, it was easier to ask questions and learn about the agave and tequila-making process. We tasted about seven different varieties; yes, they make flavored tequila--cherry, peach, almond, etc. It isn’t made in large enough quantities for export, which is a shame because it''s really smooth. From there, walk across the street to Mercado Xalisco Restaurant, an open air restaurant with a friendly owner and good food.
We rented a car--it''s probably better to make arrangements before you get here, since prices seemed cheaper online, but I thought we’d be able to do better when we got to PV. We wound up with a pretty good deal but it took some finagling.
I had found there were ruins north and east of PV call Iztlan Del Rio. Head north on Rte. 200 then east on 15D. Rte. 200 twists and turns over the mountains (15D is a toll road). You’ll see lots of agave plants growing along this route, plus tobacco, papaya, and banana trees; the drive takes about 3 hours. The ruins aren''t as well preserved as places like Chitchen Itza (near Cancun), but they''re still very interesting. Plus, there were NO crowds--just the four of us. Along the main road, is a small restaurant and we decided to see what the food was like. We speak a little Spanish but the owner of the restaurant spoke no English, so ordering food was interesting. The food was made-to-order, fresh, very inexpensive, and very good.
There is a Dolphin Encounter located north of the airport in Nuevo Vallarta. If you like dolphins, this is fun. One of the ladies traveling with us got in the pool with them and got a "kiss" from the dolphin.
Another day we decided to head south along the coast and drove into Tuito, a traditional Mexican town. The center of town had a gazebo, benches, trees, and flowers; it was a nice little shaded area for getting together. We encountered a group of children that were fascinated by our companion’s white hair. They didn’t speak English but we were communicating with them using our Spanish. It was wuite an enjoyable side trip--if you’re in the area, check it out!
Heading south, you go through mountains and semi-arid areas, and pass cattle, chickens, mangoes, papayas, and agave plants. The road goes through several small towns--watch for the speed bumps! They sneak up on you. We stopped at Perula Playa beach along the Pacific Ocean. The water was really cold and salty. We ate lunch at a restaurant on the beach with huge servings. This drive took about 3-hours one way.
If you’re interested in them, you can see the cruise ships across from the condos. We saw Princess and Carnival.
We visited Playa de los Marco another day, north of PV, which had a nice beach, and clean, cool water with lots of gulls and pelicans floating on it. There was a little beachside restaurant there, so we had lunch before heading back to the condos.
If you get tired of Mexican, book a tour to Las Caletas, the former home of John Huston. You can snorkel, swim, kayak, sunbathe, walk the paths, meditate, and EAT without worrying about someone pestering you to buy something. The price is reasonable and we got to see lots (and I mean lots) of dolphins following the boat back to port. The only negative: don’t bother with the video. We normally don’t purchase this type of thing but we figured with all the dolphins, it should be good. It wasn’t!!! (We did complain to the owners and actually, after about six months, received a refund for the video.)
Make sure you have a little extra cash. While we were there, they were having difficulty with the phone system and had problems getting approval on credit cards; this happened to each of us at least once during our trip. Mind you, this was the first time in about eight visits that we experienced this problem.
Some good restaurants:
TEQUILAS RESTAURANT, located at juncture of Main Street and the Malecon, near the seahorse statue. Food was excellent, had reasonable prices, and a Mariachi band played while we were there (they were good but loud).
BENEDITTI''S PIZZA, next to the Mayan Palace, heading toward main Marina. Good pizza with sesame seeds on the crust (not sure if I liked them or not).
CHICO''S PARADISE, south of town. A lot of the tours stop here; if you''re not on one, you''ll need a car or you can try taking the bus. It has a great location overlooking falls and pools. You can swim here, too. The food is good and there''s lots of it.
MERCADO XALISCO Restaurant--see tequila tour above.
ARGENTINA RESTAURANT, located in the Marina. Excellent food and great service.
Written by Ishtar on 30 Oct, 2005
We earned the "Jungle Tour" by testing our patience with the Mayan Palace time-share peddlers. As I explained in my Mekong Delta journal, a tour guide can really make or break the experience for you. And, once again, our guide turned out to be a…Read More
We earned the "Jungle Tour" by testing our patience with the Mayan Palace time-share peddlers. As I explained in my Mekong Delta journal, a tour guide can really make or break the experience for you. And, once again, our guide turned out to be a real pro, a well-spoken native of Vallarta with a good understanding of English. Part of his charm was the mispronunciation of certain words or the way he anglicized Spanish words. TB (stands for Transportes de la Bahia) Tours provided the buses and daily activity. So, let’s take the trip.
We were picked up at our hotel (bring a bathing suit, by the way) and headed over to the Fiesta Americana Hotel , where we got to play musical chairs. We were then introduced to Miguel, our guide, and Sergio, the driver. The bus is air-conditioned and fitted with comfortable seats and head rests. Part of the jungle tour is a stop at a huge jewelry store across the street from the Los ArcosHotel in the Zona Romantica. The sales staff is quite knowledgeable and very eager and keen to sell, especially since August is a very slow season for them. There is no doubt that this is a magnificent place to shop, whether for silver or other pieces. They have matching sets as well, including bracelet, choker, and earrings to die for! Ladies, come with pesos, or with someone willing to spend the pesos for you.
On tap was a slightly spiked lemonade for all. Allow for about 15 to 20 minutes in the store, and if you’re not into jewelry, you can always stay on the bus.
Miguel knows a lot about the area, and as we started to roll south, gave us some interesting facts to digest:
In Puerto Vallarta, nothing is privately owned (i.e. beaches, for example), as everything belongs to the government and, as an extension, to the public. Concha Chinas is considered the best residential area in the city; if you are interested in buying property, you may, but it cannot be within 20km from the ocean, nor 50km from the city line. Sixty percent (110 million people) of the population is Catholic. In the '70s, the economy was one of mostly farming and fishing, but that has now been overtaken by tourism. One can get around for very little in Puerto Vallarta on the public bus system; they run from 6am to 11pm. Flea market lovers will thrill at the fact that the Rio Cuale market spans 2km; ditch the heels!
We arrived at the Mismaloya junction, where the bus made a left turn and began going uphill. The road was terribly narrow, full of holes and with plunging drops to the floor of the rain forest. A sudden stop lays the bus in a slanted position, thankfully away from the ditch. One of the wheels got stuck in a mud hole, and we all clamored against trying to drive out of it. We also knew this was the end of the road for this bus, or for anyone else trying to get through.
We were not very far from Chino’s Paradise, so we hiked up the road to have a look. There were many workers re-thatching a roof, and as it had rained the night before, all the seats in the restaurant were wet and soiled. It was beautiful scenery nevertheless, especially the rush of the stream, which was quite shallow, and where a woman was hard at work laundering the tablecloths. We walked through El Eden, where the set to Schwarzenegger’s "Predator" is to be found. An abandoned and rusted helicopter was there to greet us, but not much more. We were anticipated to have gone swimming and "frolic" in the waterfall farther up but never made it.
Written by Ishtar on 22 Oct, 2005
Walking downtown Viejo Vallarta is the best way to breathe in the locals, the energy, and the flavors of the city center. The unmistakable “Malecon” is a destination in itself. At times referred to as a boardwalk, it is really more of a seawall from…Read More
Walking downtown Viejo Vallarta is the best way to breathe in the locals, the energy, and the flavors of the city center. The unmistakable “Malecon” is a destination in itself. At times referred to as a boardwalk, it is really more of a seawall from where you can witness great sunsets on one side, and the bustle of shops and droves of tourists on the other. Squeezed in the middle are the cars trying to make it through the two-lane street. From a distance, one already realizes that this is no ordinary boardwalk: a wonderful, whimsical collection of bronze sculptures by Alejandro Colunga and other artists, tower over the passers-by. The boardwalk stretches from the Rosita Hotel all the way down to Los Arcos (the Arches), which play host to all sorts of artistic presentations; one of the evenings we were there, we caught a comedian and a mime that held the attention of an amazing mélange of people of all ages and origins. After we left PVR, I heard that they had approved the building of an extension to the Malecon, to take it even further. Not a bad idea and great exercise, especially after a good meal. The Arcos is where Playa de los Muertos begins, and is the city’s most popular and beautiful beach; don’t let the name fool you (beach of the dead).
Right across from this wonderful open air theater, you will find vendors, mostly food, but also others that peddle souvenirs, graphic art, local costume jewelry and other typicos. It is absolutely wonderful to see people walking around snacking on bite sized pieces of mango, strawberry, pineapple, instead of cholesterol laden foods. They also offer grilled corn dipped in mayonnaise and topped with cheese, which is a little over the top for me. I’ll take the grilled corn naked, thank you.
Should you cross the street from that point, you are now facing Plaza de las Armas, the town square. A lovely gazebo sits in the middle, surrounded by benches and potted plants. To the right lie a long stretch of stores, most notably, exotic furniture on the corner. On the left is City Hall, a rather sterile looking building; continuing to walk with your back to the Malecon, you will reach one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Lady of Guadelupe Church . Its much publicized crown has been the subject of some controversy, but nevertheless, is renown for its angels. When we arrived, we heard prayers in progress and were not able to enter the building. So we stood outside, and took some photos of the early 19th century structure, and in particular, one of its outside mosaics. The steps are very steep, so please be careful going down!
You can continue on to the cobblestoned streets down Hildalgo, and on to Zaragoza, where the famed Casa Kimberley housed one of the most famous couple in movie history. Or you can turn back, as we did, and start weaving in and out of the shops of Paseo Diaz Ordaz. An inescapable truth about Mexico is its wealth of silver jewelry is unparalleled anywhere. You can find similar pieces from one store to the next, but there are some boutiques with very avant-garde designs that will have you stop and really look. If you are appreciative of folk art, then you’ll need to stop at 390 Morelos, which is the address of the Huichol Collection ; I am crazy about their yarn paintings, finding some unfounded similarity between that, and the lovely embroidered art we purchased in Viet Nam. They are famous for their beaded sculptures, which bear some spiritual meaning, and have become a major source of income for the Huichol who live east and north of Puerto Vallarta. The majority of the pieces represent animals such as the iguana, tortoises, frogs and snakes. The base for both yarn and beaded work is wood.
After Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta boasts the largest artist community in the country; they are not lacking in art galleries, that’s for sure. Much like we have in the States, there are organized art walks here which are held with the local galleries and go on bi-monthly, until the end of November.
Our first day downtown, we were lucky to find parking on one of the side streets; the day was hot and overcast, but again, this is the weather most of the time down here. While in the car, I had seen some beautiful drum art in one of the vitrines, and wanted to come back there at all costs. The shop is quite close to the Isla del Rio Cuale, which is surrounded by restaurants, and is home to the city’s largest outdoor flea market. It’s a great place to walk; you’ll have to take the stairs down and when you are through, you will probably return to your point of origin. I had the greatest fun crossing one of the island’s footbridges and I’m not sure I would have been so brave, had the bridge lied several hundred feet above the water. Back on the ground, cross the street, and visit the historic Molino de Agua Hotel, right at 130 Ignacio L. Vallarta. In a jungle like setting are the hotel’s cabanas and rooms, and one of the few private beaches in Puerto Vallarta. We walked all around the grounds, and unfortunately, some of the areas are literally dying of neglect. Most of the guests seemed to be Mexicans from big cities like Guadalajara who come here on vacation. We were quoted a room rate of about US$75/per night; they also have an all-inclusive program. Nevertheless, there is a feeling of authenticity here that I took away with me, along with the picture of a massive tree in the back of the property. It certainly has a fantastic location.
Written by Ishtar on 11 Oct, 2005
It’s inconceivable to be in Puerto Vallarta and not head over to Casa Kimberley on Zaragoza Street. I was disappointed that a portion of it was turned into a bed-and-breakfast, and I didn’t know about it until we got there. Of course,…Read More
It’s inconceivable to be in Puerto Vallarta and not head over to Casa Kimberley on Zaragoza Street. I was disappointed that a portion of it was turned into a bed-and-breakfast, and I didn’t know about it until we got there. Of course, I would have stayed, even if it were only for a night!
Who hasn’t heard of one of the most tempestuous love affairs of the 20th century? Both Burton and Taylor had other partners, but they managed to marry twice. I have been hopelessly in love with both of them for different reasons, obviously: Liz, for her surreal eyes; her portrayal of Maggie in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof;" and her amazing beauty and presence on the stage and off. Burton, well, my kind of fantasy with Burton would be to have him read to me. (No, I’m not insane). This man had the most amazing voice and diction of anyone I have ever known. I could even manage to forget about his heavy drinking. On with the tour.
Casa Kimberley is on a very private street and was a villa that Burton had purchased for Liz during the filming of Night of the Iguana , another one of Tennessee Williams’ pennings. At the time, Puerto Vallarta was really underdeveloped and not well accessed as it is today. The population also rose from a mere 10,000 villagers to more than a quarter of a million people since then. The villa is part museum, part B&B, and the rates are quite reasonable. From the street, you can view the "reconciliation bridge," which was built to connect to another part of the house: this was where Liz used to dispose of Richard when he had had too much to drink, and it would be on the bridge, as legend has it, that they would meet again to make amends.
Our tour director was Maurice Mintzer, who seemed to know so much about the couple and the house that he might have been a fly on the wall. There is no right time to arrive for the tours; we joined one that was in progress, and when the rest of the group left, we were taken to the parts we had missed. From the sitting room, dining room, and pool table/Ping-Pong table area, you can soak up magnificent views of Banderas Bay and the city. There are pictures of Liz in her famous Cleopatra attire and other movies for which she was famous. All eight rooms, which are rented out, are named after the movies in which she starred. The color purple is predominant, since it was her favorite. On one of the display tables against the wall were tons of photos, native pottery, and, to my surprise, a menorah ! Though Liz kept the house after they parted, she sold it 4 years later and left most of its contents behind. There is much speculation as to why and why not. For the visitor, it’s a bonus, as the memorabilia is substantial.
The kitchen sports my favorite green color tile! I’m pleased to see that Liz and I share a love for Talavera and shawls. I spotted some of her clothes on hangers, and I was a bit surprised as their blandness. One of the two also shared our love for masks, as we saw quite a collection of them hung over the arch in the sitting room; too bad that I don’t have a banana tree underscoring mine. As we visited the upstairs quarters and the bedroom, I made a turn and inadvertently stumbled into the "bathroom." Wow, what a bathtub! My understanding is that Richard had it made for Liz in the shape of a heart in this lovely coral color. The tub faces the street, but is surrounded by glass tiles that filter in the light and provides the necessary privacy. No double sinks here, but again, there are four or five bathrooms in the whole place. A couple of very lovely Chinese cherry chairs lean against one of the walls in the reading room; all the books are not really Richard’s famous collection, but what I call "junk." I did pose the question, as I knew he was an avid reader and could not imagine him reading any of the titles I had espied.
Outside the bedroom, which was dubbed the Cleopatra Room, is Liz’s veranda, which is absolutely gorgeous; our guide told us that when Liz and Burton needed to go out and wanted to avoid the paparazzi, they would sneak over the terrace to the neighbor’s veranda and go out the back way. Oh, if only the cactus could talk! Potted plants and trees coexist with the natural flora of the region; I would have imagined a chaise lounge for Liz, but what we saw rather were two armchair-style outdoor seats with a glass top table. I also imagined that the night sky must appear as glorious from this place.
On the B&B side of the house, we were able to go inside the rooms that were not occupied, including the one where Liz and Richard spent their honeymoon. In each of them are posters that relate to the movie in question; the tubs in the baths are all quite colorful, in shades of turquoise and pink. There is a huge pool in the center so that each room entrance faces it. Lounges are positioned all around for sunbathing, though I can’t see why anyone would subject himself or herself willfully to the heat of the city. On one side, a very lovely fountain, like the ones found normally in small town plazas, sits amid the chairs. The communal kitchen is very large and staffed with folks who run the B&B.
My favorite part of the tour was reading through the photo and publicity albums that were left behind. It’s a fabulous collection, and even if you are not a fan, it’s hard to resist looking through such an important part of two people’s lives. You are permitted to take photos of anything you wish; I took photos of the photos!
445 Calle Zaragoza Puerto Vallarta CP 48300Tel: 011-52-322-222-1335
Written by bzychild on 29 Mar, 2002
With the Canadian dollar sinking, and the United States economy in a so-called recession, traveling like the rich and famous may not be on everyones agenda.
If you are like me, you know how important a vacation is, and hopefully it won't break the bank. Mentally…Read More
With the Canadian dollar sinking, and the United States economy in a so-called recession, traveling like the rich and famous may not be on everyones agenda.
If you are like me, you know how important a vacation is, and hopefully it won't break the bank. Mentally and physically I need to go to Puerto Vallarta at least 3 times a year. My problem is I am not a trust fund baby, so I need to travel budget.
Granted, I would love a week or two at the Westin or the Camino Real, but I know to do so, I would have to sell a kidney, or two! Instead, I save until I have enough to get me there and enough pesos to keep me sheltered, fed, and happy.
My travel tips are fairly simple. If it looks or sounds "gringo-ized" I stay away.
I stay in budget hotels in Old town, such as the Azteca, Villa del Mar, Ana Liz or The Bernal. All are simple hotels, clean, adequate and usually filled with savvy budget travelers, hippies or backpackers. They make great lodging companions, always willing to share tips, or split a roasted chicken with as we talk about cool places to see in Vallarta. In my last few trips, I met a couple of authors, a few musicians, countless artists, a WW2 fighter pilot and a man who claimed he was Jesus.
I found by shopping for fruits and vegetables at the local market, by listening for the "bolillo man" and by looking for the most locals at a taco stand, I could eat all day for under 50 pesos.
I found the best fresh squeezed orange juice in front of Cafe de Olla for 10 pesos, and many varieties.
A first run movie is 30 pesos, with a bag of popcorn for 3 pesos. A nice way to cool off when the temps hit 90+ or the rains start. Cooling off doesn't require me to have an infinity pool, I just pack my beach bag and head to Los Muertos beach and hang at Fidenico's or The Shark for cheap drinks and "no charge" lounge chairs. Fidencio's also serves their "American" breakfast with coffee for $1.99 US. The Burro bar has a bucket of Corona's during happy hour for 35 pesos, a plate of shrimp for under 90 pesos.
I usually take the bus everywhere, for 4 pesos, or I hoof it around town and explore streets I may have missed. By doing so, I have found little 3 table restaurants and fondas or comida corridas that will serve an entire meal and refresco for 30-40 pesos. For example, a typical comida corrida meal with consist of a soup or small salad, a chicken dish with tortillas and beans and a desert, like flan and a tea or juice flavored water.
I also pack a collapsible cooler, so I can buy some ice and store a few dinks for in- house imbibing. It's also handy to take to the beach, to keep the water and sandwichs cold.
After the plane ticket is paid, I usually spend about 300 pesos a day, with lodging, all meals and an evening out with drinks. This allows me to spend 4 weeks in Vallarta, versus the one week I would have spent at a 4 star hotel. After figuring out how much time I spent in the hotel, (or didn't spend) I was much more content to go bare-bones than to go semi-luxury. Besides, who wants to watch cable T.V. when watching town is much more interesting?
Written by bzychild on 26 Mar, 2002
Yelapa is one of those places you shouldn’t miss, but requires some steps and leaps to get there. Yelapa is a small seaside village on the bay south of Puerto Vallarta. Even though people mistake it as an island, because you must get there by…Read More
Yelapa is one of those places you shouldn’t miss, but requires some steps and leaps to get there. Yelapa is a small seaside village on the bay south of Puerto Vallarta. Even though people mistake it as an island, because you must get there by boat, it is fully connected to the Sierra Madres.
You have many choices on how to get there; either by excursion boat, as a part of a day trip, or by hiring a water taxi to take you there, either from Los Muertos Pier, Mismaloya beach or from Boca de Tomatlan. I prefer to get to Yelapa by water taxi from Boca. Two reasons, it is cheaper and the ride via water is shorter.
To get to Boca de Tomatlan, you must take a green and blue bus from the corner of Basilio Badillo and Constitution streets in Old Town. Tell the driver, "Boca" and pay 4.5 pesos. The bus ride will take you through Old Town and on to HWY 200. You’ll see Conchas Chinas and all of the million dollar homes, Los Arcos, past Mismaloya, El Set, Le Kliff and the Bunjee Jump. The bus ride is part roller coaster, part informational tour. Be sure to sit on the left side of the bus, opposite side of the driver for the best views.
The last stop is Boca de Tomatlan, you’ll see a sign and the bus stops in a cut-out right at the top of the dusty road which leads to Boca and the water taxis. Just walk down to the cove, and look for the water taxi. Speak with the captain, the guy in the back of the boat, not the ticket sellers on the beach, as they charge more. Tell the captain you would like to go to Yelapa. More than likely it will be 50 or 60 pesos each way, per person. Feel free to ask "cuanto?"- How much? if you’d like.
The ride is bumpy, a bit wild, and not for anyone afraid of small boats and water. On the other hand, you will see other beaches, private and public along the way, incredible views of the mountains and coves. Plenty of birds, and dolphins to see, maybe even whales in the right season. After about a half an hour of riding, dropping off and picking up people and goods from other beaches, you will finally see a large cove and Yelapa.
Getting off the panga can be difficult, as they don’t dock, they just drive up to the shore and you get to jump out with a helping hand or two. Pay the driver and you are free to explore the many different Palapa restaurants and beach clubs, hotels, and village.
The village of Yelapa has a few little tiendas, stores, some restaurants, and a trail that leads to the waterfall behind the village. Recently, Yelapa got electricity, which is both a pity and a godsend. Now, you can hear televisions’s blaring in town, versus transistor radios playing mariachi and banda music. Children now beg for Nintendo games for Christmas instead of a basketball.
In the rainy season, the hike to the waterfall is well worth it. Because the tiny roads in Yelapa have no rhyme or reason, you are best to hire a child guide to bring you for a few pesos. You can also hire a horse to bring you, but hiking is best, as some of the horses are a bit decrepit, to say the least. If you are in Yelapa during the winter months, skip the waterfall, as it is a trickle, and spend the day eating, drinking and playing on the beach. One of my favorite things to do is to munch on any of the numerous pies the ladies sell on the beach. My absolute favorite is queso pie, a creamy cheese custard pie, with a wonderful crust. If you love coconut, be sure to try the coconut pie as well. As you eat, some vendors may come and sell their wares, or show you places for rent for the night. Nothing like shopping from a beach chair!
For the more adventurous, para-sailing is also available.
Getting out of Yelapa is the same as getting there. Make sure you know when and where the water taxis will pick you up. Typically, the last water taxi is at 5:00pm, so keep an eye on the time or you may find yourself spending the night in one of the hotels or rental bungalows.