Saturday, February 19, 2005

Across The River

Today I got across the river for the first time, albeit, briefly. I guess a brief sense of geography would make my travels a bit more understandable. Puerto Vallarta is a decent sized city along the shore of the Banderas Bay. This is a fairly large bay and the city is pretty much on the center of it. Over the years there has been extensive development to the north, all the way to the end of the bay where there is a new Four Season´s Hotel and a PGA golf course. Not as much sprawl to the south because there is a river that, so far, has no bridge for sutomobiles.

Puerto Vallarta itself has a river running through it, the Rio Cuale. In the middle of the river is a decent sized island with one end just about at the point where the river enters the bay. There are two bridges for both pedestrians and automobiles, buses, trucks, etc., that cross the river. Last year they also finished a sizeable pedestrian bridge right on the beach that also has a stairway down to the island. For the adventurous there are also three swinging wooden pedestrian bridges. One connects the north side of town to the island and two connect the island to the south side of town.

In the north side of town along the beach is a wide pedestrian walkway called the malecon. This is a place where there is a lot of pedestrian activity, artists displaying there wares, food vendors, musicians, and more. At the south end of the malecon is a small amphiteter where there is music at night, the occasional wedding, and general party area.

I stay at a place on the south side of the city and that is where all of my bar hopping has taken place so far.

222) Pau Pau

Still on the south side of town is this open air bar right on the beach. It is a fairly large place but not real fancy. There is an elevated DJ stand in the middle so I assume there is a pretty lively crowd in there later in the day. There were about a dozen or so people while I was there and it looks like they have a pretty decent menu. There are a few colored lights hanging from the ceiling which is the fairly typical woven out of straw, or whatever, ones that you see a lot of. Also a disco ball. An interesting wooden carving of a moustached fellow wearing the bottom half of a fish for a hat. A couple of TVs on the side of the DJ stand rounds out the ambience of the place. Oh yes, must not forget the mural of cartoon cats sitting on a brick wall with the caption ºAnother Shitty Day In Paradise.º

I had a Pacifico.

223) Monchis Sport Bar

Well, if having two small televisions make you a sport bar I guess this qualifies. There was a small 5 stool bar overlooking a tiny kitchen in the back of this small and narrow establishment. A large mirror on the left side of the bar kept it from being two claustrophobic. This place was located just up a couple of blocks, going away from the bay, of course, from Pau Pau and two doors down from El Toritto´s and across the street from Senor Frogs. The walls were decorated with more pictures of Zapata and happy customers with a couple of framed minature bullfight posters. Between Nonchis and El Toritto were two bars that don´t open until late, Bar Amigos and The Disco Bar, a couple of small places that will have to wait for another day.

I had a Corona.

224) Cafe Frankfurt Biergarten

Next door to Steve´s this is a hotel with a large courtyard full of palm trees and a couple of squawking parrots, one of which would occasionally say ºHola.º You follow the little red bathway from the entrance on Badillo through the courtyard and end up at a little bar. A very nice, quiet place that is usually pretty empty during the day. The German restaurant is supposed to be pretty good, but I have yet to try it. The bartender iced my glass before pouring my beer. A nice gesture, particularly when you seldom get a glass when you order a beer. A large pinata hung over this otherwise German bar.

I had a Spaten Premium and went home for lunch.

A quick aside here, if you find a bottle of a thick Mexican hot sauce that your buddy bought in the refrigerator, do not assume it can be safely used on a sandwich like you would use mustard.

225) Hooters

Well, I crossed the bridge and stopped into Hooters. It is right at the end south end of the malecon and has a nice view of the goings on. It is up about half a floor above street level so your view is pretty unobstructed. It is a pretty generic Hooters, if you have seen one you have seen them all. Major difference is that most of the staff wasn´t as amply endowed as you would see in the U.S. I was going to have a gin and tonic but simply could not convey that information to the bartender. I gave up on the concept after the third time she reached for the Jack Daniels.

I had a Dos Equis.

226) Carpe Diem

I headed to where there used to be a Planet Hollywood that was then replaced by a bar called Rex. It too is now closed. I hooked a right and walked up the block to a new place called Carpe Diem on Calle Galena. This place just opened up last week and is fairly small but the bartender said they were going to open an upstairs area if things worked out. It has an open courtyard with a couple of tables and then more tables under cover along the edges. One side of the courtyard faces their glassd-in kitchen. In the middle of the courtyard is a large tree so the two tables have large umbrellas to protect the customers from falling leaves and bird droppings.

The bar itself was small but at least the bartender knew what I wanted. She was very friendly and quite pretty.

I had a gin and tonic.

227) Mickey´s No Name Cafe

This place is on the main drag across the street from the malecon. It advertises itself as the unofficial home of the Chicago Cubs and is just jammed with sports memorabilia. They have the largest collection of sports pennants that I have ever seen. There isn´t a square inch that doesn´t have some sports related item on it, mostly pictures of players. On the stairwell and pillers are characatures of some sports celebraties and the one of Dennis Rodman is a beauty. They have plenty of televisions a sports on all of them, including a replay of a NHL hockey game so people who rue the missing season can get their fix. This is a pretty dark and nicely air conditioned place with only small windows so you could look out at the bay, but only if you really wanted to.

I had a gin and tonic and then, because it was two for one, a second one.

228) Vitea

Heading back toward the south side of town I came across another new place, Vitea. They are extending the malecon all the way to the new pedestrian bridge that I mentioned earlier and I expect there will be a lot of new places opening up on this stretch. This was a very nice, open-fronted restaurant with a small bar. It has a light tan tiled floor and walls to match. There is blue stained-glass trim along the top of the walls and a large mirror with blue class surrounding it. Also neat little lamps hanging right over the bar itself. There are a number of overhead fans keeping the place pleasantly cool. Many of the chairs have interesting backs to them, and no two the same. Under the mirror was a long tan soffa. This place is owned by the same people that own Trio´s, a very nice restaurant that I have eaten at. I took a peek at Vitea´s menu and it looked interesting, but certainly not cheap.

I had a gin and tonic and headed home to get ready for dinner.

After watching the sunset with friends down at the pool we headed off to eat.

229) Roberto´s

On our way to the restaurant, that doesn´t have a bar, I popped into Roberto´s on Badillo. It has a small bar up front with a fairly large restaurant in the back. I very nice mural, I guess you would call it, of abalone shells with water trickling over them. On one wall was a large mural of what looked like a canal in Venice and at one end of the bar was a large swordfish mounted on a wroght iron decorative grate. There was a nice looking cabinet behind the bar.

I had a gin and tonic.

230) Fajita Republic

On the way home from dinner on the corner of Bidillo and Pino Suarez, is this large, outdoor restaurant. Right along the sidwalk is a large cement bar that pretty much just begged me to have a drink. You don´t even have to go inside the courtyard, just step of the sidewalk and sit down on a stool. Can´t get more convenient than that.

I had a margarita and headed home.

Tomorrow is Sunday so I don´t expect to be too active but, Who knows (I can´t find the question mark on this keyboard). Stay tuned.

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