Friday, September 2, 2016

Fabulous Puerto Vallarta Mexico

Image result for puerto vallarta

Author: Jose G. Barr

Villa De Palmares Flamingo
Captains travel log stardate  08202016, ok so that is some of the Star Trek fan coming out in me. But, this will be our travel log for our week in this amazing place. We are staying at Villa Del Palmares Flamingos Beach Resort and Spa in Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit Mexico. All I can say is WOW! What an amazing place to stay.

We flew in from Los Angeles, CA on Alaska Airlines. Alaska had the best rates available of all the airlines and provided exceptional customer service, so many thanks to them for a great experience. We arrived on time at the Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport in Puerto Vallarta and passed through immigration and customs with ease.

 On word of advice, the airline distributes all necessary forms for both immigration and customs early in the flight. Do yourself a favor and fill these out on the flight. Far to many people waited to do it upon arrival in a hot and stuffy reception hall. We breezed through it all because we did ours on the flight and they failed to get it done early. Having your paperwork done early gets you started on your vacation that much quicker.

My Brother-in-law arranged for the transportation to the resort through a family friend. Most resorts have ground transportation available so take advantage of it.  But, if hiring a taxi, make sure to do so at the airport where they are cleared to work there and won't charge you an arm and a leg. 

Sunday August 21, 2016

Sunday we slept in and got up for breakfast at El Patron Restaurant here at the resort. We headed into the old part of Puerto Vallarta and out onto El Malecon, the paved public walkway by the ocean, memories of 23 years ago came flooding back. Ruby and I took a cruise for our honeymoon and stopped here for a day. 

This area is full of history and is tied to Hollywood through the film "Night of the Iguana" starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardner. Elizabeth was in town as well to keep a watchful eye on her boyfriend Richard. Richard and Elizabeth loved Vallarta so much that they bought homes here. The only way to get to Elizabeth Taylor's home was through a bridge from Richard Burton's home. the area they purchased in would be given the name "Gringo Gulch" because many more Americans would buy here because of them.  

Delicious Pork Tamales
Dinner was at the restaurant El Campanario in old Puerto Vallarta. This quaint little restaurant is across the street from the local cathedral.   What an amazing meal, nothing fancy but very delicious and served by very wonderful people. 

We ended our evening by stopping in the middle of the street to take pictures of crabs crossing the road. Crabs...crossing the road!  We were fascinated by it. 

Monday August 22, 2016

We spent the day enjoying the resort and it's amenities. My beautiful wife booked a massage while Joseph and I spent the morning and early afternoon swimming in the amazing pool. 

After lunch we went for a stroll along the beach, enjoying the mild weather, it was only about 80 degrees.  As we made our way down the beach my little cub scout did a good turn by picking up some trash that was marring an otherwise spectacular beach. 

Bedtime soon arrive and we all headed off to get some much needed sleep. Our activities on Tuesday would require all our energy. 

 Tuesday August 23, 2016

Los Veranos Canopy Tours, what an amazing company and people.  Founded as the first zip lines here in Mexico, the owner, Jeff Coates, got the idea when he visited Costa Rica, the location of the first canopy zip lines. The Los Veranos Canopy tour has been in operation for over 14 years and continues to thrill visitors every year. Safety is their main focus and it's evident in the time they take to make sure their clients are aware of the safety protocols. 

The family had a great time zipping down 14 different lines, from short and simple to very high and long. I was truly amazed that my boy did so well. He and his cousin had a great time and wanted to do it all over again. Many thanks to Jeff Coates, the owner and operator of this amazing experience. 

The canopy tour truck dropped us off a few blocks from El Malecon, where my lovely wife bartered with the local vendors for a great price on several items that she wanted. We walked through the area, enjoying the sights and the friendly people. 

We returned to the resort late in the afternoon, exhausted but happy at our wonderful day up in the rain forest and in old Puerto Vallarta. The kids wanted to go swimming so I volunteered to stay here with them while the others went out to dinner and a variety show. I didn't mind, Joseph and his cousin are fun to be with and I enjoyed the evening with my little buddies. 

Wednesday August 24, 2016

Another early day for us.  We booked our off road adventure with Wild Treks Adventures to take us up into the rain forest.  We met up with our guide Charley, who was quite the character, and received our safety briefing. 

Ruby, Joseph and I were assigned to a 4 person RZR4. I was the driver, ruby up front and Joseph in back. We looked like characters streight out of a road warrior movie because of the goggles, bandanas  and helmets that we had to wear. 

We started the tour with the others driving through the small village and up into the rain forest around it. At first the trail consisted of cobblestone paths just wide enough for our vehicles and little else. There were a few hair raising moments when other vehicles tried sharing the path. We had to scoot over, way over, to give them just enough room to pass by us. We reached the highpoint of the trip and got off to enjoy the spectacular views of the Sierra Madres and the valley below us. 
After enjoying the view we head back down and took a side trail towards our halfway point where we had lunch and took some time to enjoy the local pool of water fed by a beautiful waterfall. The water was cool and relaxing. Far too soon we saddled up again for the trip back down to our starting point. Feeling comfortable with our vehicles my brother-in-law and I went a little faster, splashing up a lot of water and sliding around corners. The wives were not so happy about this, but my little buddy and his cousin were loving it. 

At the end of the tour we took the time to walk through town and down towards the Malecon, doing some shopping along the way. We picked up some locally made shirts and a dress along with some really good confections to enjoy throughout our stay. 

By the time we returned to our room we were exhausted and ready for a small siesta....alas, the kids wouldn't hear of it, they want to head down to the pool and go swimming. We gather the clan and staked out a nice shady area at the pool to sit and enjoy the warm weather. The kids played water tag while we enjoyed the warm and relaxing water.  

Tacos Al Pastor
As the sun was setting we headed out into town for an authentic old school dinner at Tacos el Gordo. Wow, wow, wow! These were some of the best tacos I have ever had. They offer 4 types of meat for your tacos: asada, chicken, al pastor and tripa. We sampled some of each type and boy were they delicious. My favorite was the el pastor (a large bundle of marinated steak that is cooked on a skewer, the cooked meat sliced off as it rotates away from the flame).  If you order the tripa, ask them to cook it extra crispy, they are so yummy that way. 
The staff at Tacos El Gordo were friendly and very accommodating, going as far as to buy us cokes at a local convenience store because all they sold was Pepsi products. 5 of us had a great dinner for about $26.  

Thursday August 25, 2016

We headed out a bit later to take the tequila tour up to Don Chendo Rancho. The tour guide was the very informative and funny Beto.  He regaled us with the history and lore of Puerto Vallarta while we made our way out of town and up into the hills in search of our final destination, Den chendos Rancho.

Mash fermenting in its vat
Staff explaining the process
When we arrived we were greeted by the the rancho staff and given the opportunity to order lunch before heading down to the tequila production area of the rancho. The area itself is surprisingly small and not what I expected.  Don Chendos produces small quantities of tequila at a time, cooking the blue agave in a large autoclave. Enough agave is cooked to fill 3 medium and 4 large fermentation vats. In the warm weather of Puerto Vallarta the fermentation takes about 4 to 7 days.  Once this process is done staff transfer the liquid to begin the distillation process.  During this process the staff focus on removing the "head" or toxic elements out of the spirits as well as the "tail" or other heavier elements that can contaminate the tequila and make you feel pretty miserable.  What the staff at Don Chendos is highly successful at is separating the body from the head and tail to produce one very fine tequila.  
Once the explanations were over the tasting began.  Everyone tasted "Blanco" which is bottled right after distillation, "Reposado" which is aged in oak barrels for several weeks before being bottled and "Añejo" which is aged for approximately 2 years before being bottles.  Dessert tequilas were also offered with almond, chocolate and vanilla flavors.   

Friday August 26, 2016

We spent friday relaxing at the resort and contemplating our time is what, to us, was a slice of paradise.  We took the kids swimming for the last time and enjoyed a wonderful and relaxing day. The evening was spent packing our bags and preparing for our return trip home to the United States of America.

Saturday August 27, 2016

Our return trip home was as smooth as our departure, with one minor hiccup.  One of our party was unable to return home on a direct flight because they did not have their paperwork in order.  A word of advise, when traveling abroad make sure that your passport is valid at least 6 months beyond your anticipated return. This way you avoid any complications on the return trip.  Luckily our party was allowed to fly to Tijuana Mexico and cross through a land border.  The airline refused to allow them to fly back to the US without proper paperwork for a good reason, they would be responsible for returning anyone rejected at the airport in the states. So, make sure to have everything in order to have a wonderful and stress free vacation.

Until next time my friends, love your kids,
Cherish your family.

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