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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Puerto Vallarta

I think I've wanted to go to Puerto Vallarta ever since I watched The Love Boat as a kid. On The Love Boat, Puerto Vallarta (or as the locals call it, Vallarta), was the final port of call for the Pacific Princess.

I flew on the direct flight from Atlanta on Sunday morning and checked into the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort and Convention Center. I loved the hotel and the service there. It was conveniently located close to the old town (and a cheap cab ride if you aren't up for the walk.) The pool and the view from my ocean front room were beautiful.

The view from my window
The swim-up bar
After a tremendous lunch at the hotel, I walked into the Old Town. It wasn't a far walk to the Malecon, the boardwalk that stretches down the beach. The pebble designs along the pedestrian walkway are charming, and along the way there are many beautiful statues and sculptures. Here were some of my favorites:

"Caballito de Mar" (Little Seahorse) or Boy on a Seahorse
This has become a symbol of Puerto Vallarta

"La Fuente de la Amistad" (The Power of Friendship)


 My two favorite finds for fellow American tourists?

My first recommendation is a little bar called Cafe Roma, just north of where the River Cuale hits the ocean. (The Cuale divides Downtown and the "Romantic Zone" or "Zona Romantica.") I was told to go there for the great mango margarita, but what I found in addition were the very friendly owners, Sr. Fox and his wife, and a crowd of people from Canada, the UK, and US who seemed to all know each other from multiple visits to Puerto Vallarta. (One of the Canadians bought me a beer just as I was about to leave -- "Here, have another fast one.") They have Karaoke on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so I did get to hear Sr. Fox sing "A Pirate Looks at 40."

The River Cuale 

My second recommendation is a great food tour of the city called "Vallarta Eats." They have three different tours, and I did the "Mole, Pozole, and More Tour." Come hungry and bring comfortable shoes! You get great, authentic food with a local guide. You go in a small group, usually around 6 folks or less, and you eat at amazing spots as you learn about the city. It's probably a good idea to not eat everything, as I ate way too much. But it was delicious! Below I am at the first stop, Cisneros Mariscos, where I had a yummy yummy yummy smoked marlin tostada and a soup that had a shrimp broth with shrimp and octopus. The drink is a hibiscus water, which was delicious.

One of my favorite stops was Las Gueras where I had an awesome taco al pastor. So good! I liked it quite a bit better than the cow brain taco I tried at a street stand we stopped by. It wasn't bad, actually. I just didn't think it tasted great, and I didn't care for the texture.

Cow brain taco makin's 
My other favorite spot was El Mole de Jovita. The owner, Sergio, makes a mole paying homage to his mother and grandmother. There, we had two kinds of chicken enchiladas -- one with a poblano mole and the other with a green mole. This was served with an incredible warm salad of corn and poblano in a creamy sauce.

Inside El Mole de Jovita
The awesome owner Sergio standing behind me
 Puerto Vallarta was wonderful, and I definitely want to go back. 

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