Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Daily Dozen

Well, not daily perhaps, but I did make a dozen bars today so my goal of 350 total before I leave Mexico looks like a no brainer (and no brains left). My wife stuck with me through the whole day, but did not drink with me throughout, so I give here credit for her support (literally, at the end).

333) Suzie Wong's

Shangri-la meets Mexico, that was a according to my wife. You enter by walking across a small cement and stone bridge with bamboo railings. The bridge crosses a small stream with a waterfall at one end. Large goldfish and small koi hang out in the stream and seem to enjoy themselves. If you stop on the bridge to look at them a couple of the koi come over and stick their heads out of the water looking for food. Upon crossing the bridge you are greeted by a smiling wooden Buddha.

The bar has a nice curved thick wooden top, nicely grained and with a glossy finish. The front is bamboo set in a grey concrete base that serves as your foot-rest. The bar-chairs are wood with plaited bamboo backs and round, pale-green cushions. Above the bar, and supported by two thick, black poles is an inverted dugout canoe that looks more like it came from Fiji than China. However, to compensate there is a large pink Chinese lantern with a dragon on it hanging from the middle of the boat. To the left of the bar hangs a framed picture poster for the movie "Suzie Wong."

Behind and to the right of the bar is a fairly large outdoor eating area topped by a bamboo roof that gave it an airy feeling. A number of white Chinese lanterns decorated with branches, blossoms, and birds hang from the ceiling. There are also overhead fans. The tables are round with glass tops There is a large indoor eating area as well but I didn't go in to explore it.

Surrounding the outer sides of the outdoor eating and bar area are numerous plants, palms, bamboo, and papyrus (identified by my wife who does volunteer work at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden). Also, against the far wall, is a large mask of what looks to be some kind of an islander with a shocked expression on his face. Maybe he came over in the boat above the bar and was surprised to find he was in Mexico and not a neigboring Fijian island.

I had a gin and tonic.

334) Laterraza Di Roma

The little bar area is across the sidewalk from their main restaurant and sticks out into the water on a deck-like structure made of pegged planks. The bar is quite small with a curved wooden top edged with ceramic tiles with an orange and green Aztec type of design. The front of the bar is wood-planking decorated with a small ship's-wheel and yellow-bulbed running lights. Above the bar is a green canvas awning supported by heavy wooden beams above a wooden rack for glasses which is, in turn, supported by two large green marble-like pillers. The back of the bar is wood planking with portholes and shelving for glasses and bottles of liquor.

The railing around the deck is wood with rope and a few orange life-preservers (not the edible kind; oh, wait, those are lifesavers) hanging from the sides. One area of the deck is set off from the other by what looks like ship's-railings. Numerous overhead fans with white globe lights hang from the ceiling which is wooden lattice and supporting a white awning with green fringes. An exceptionally nice view of the harbor and the boats.

I had a gin and tonic.

335) City Dump & Co.

Another place with a nautical feel to it, but this one more of a below deck feel. A lovely dark-wood semi-circular bar with brass rails running around it both top and bottom Above the bar and supported by thick wooden posts with brass fittings top and bottom are lattice work cabinets holding glasses. Hanging below them were metal racks holding more glasses. Lots of glasses.

In the center of the area behind the bar was a large, round fish tank nicely decked out with rocks, driftwood, seaweed, and the requisite sunken ship. The ship's name was the Taberna Marina and the was the name of this place before it was taken over by City Dump & Co. Kind of metaphoric. There were lots of colorful fish and one large turtle. The tank has an ornate wooden top and sits on a wooden base. A ledge runs around the base and the front half holds liquor bottles. There is also a nice wooden cupboard with a mirrored back and shelves lite by Christmas lights that held more liquor. There is track lighting above and a disco ball.

It is a multi-leveled place with a pool-table on the level that is about shoulder-high from the bar level. On one white-plaster wall hang all kinds of nautical pictures and knick-knacks. There is nice wooden planking throughout and my wife said it reminded her of a below-deck English pub.

I had a rum and coke.

336) Victor's Place - Cafe Tacuba

A small wooden bar on a good-sized tiled deck. Kind of a younger college-break crowd drinking beers and shots of tequila. Probably because the beers here are only 10 pesos (about ninety-cents) and that is cheap for anywhere in Puerto Vallarta and especially cheap out here at the Marina where things tend to be a bit pricier than in town.

The bar only has 5 wrought iron bar-chairs with blue cushions. One of these is only semi-useable though because it sits in front of several stacks of glasses. The bartender becomes visibly upset if you sit in it and then, reluctantly moves the glasses. As soon as you leave the glasses go back and his domain is once again secured.

There was a small boy sitting at one of the tables feeding and then chasing the pigeons. This seemed to be vaguely amusing to everyone except his parents.

I had a Corona.

337) Champions

We wandered a bit behind the marina into an area of hotels and found a Champions in the Marriott complex. It was kind of an uber-Champions with at least 30 television sets all tuned to one or another type of sports programming. I vegged out for a bit watching women's nine-ball, my new addiction.

The bar is an imense marble-topped thing that had only seven wooden bar-chairs and no bar-rail. It looked like it could handle at least 50 people though. Most customers must sit at the thirty or so tables of various sizes and heights. There is also a small stadium type seating area where you can sit to watch special games. Behind the bar was glass shelving backed by mirrors that held an impressive liquor supply. There is a raised area in the back that has three nice, blue-felt covered pool tables.

The walls, as you might imagine, were just covered with sports memorabilia. Good stuff too, most of it signed; jerseys, bats, pictures. A basketball signed by Larry Bird, a football signed by Dan Marino, that kind of stuff. I was looking for a baseball signed by Kent Hrbek but couldn't find one.

I had a gin and tonic.

338) Mikado

Quite frankly, the fanciest Japanese restaurant and bar I have ever been in. You enter by way of a large bridge over a large pond set in a Japanese garden. The pond has the requisite koi, of course. The bridge leads to what looks like a large waterfall rushing down a wall of rock but then splits off in two directions. One leads into the Marriott hotel and, to the left, Mikado.

The decor is equisite and so are the lovely waitresses in traditional Japanese attire. Of course most of the waitresses are Mexican, but what the heck. I could probably go on for pages describing the light-blonde shelving with intricate origami animals and birds, both real and imaginary, the Japenese rock garden and pond, the plant arrangements, the Japenese gowns displayed on the walls. It was all top-of-the-line.

The bar was a fair-sized curved L shape with a thick reddish and black marble top set on curved blonde-wood with a dark-wood window pane pattern. The bar-chairs were dark-wood with red-leather cushions. The cabinets behind the bar had the same thick marble top as the bar. There were a profusion of glasses stacked on top. Above were two mirror-backed glass shelves holding the liquor. When it comes to bars and restaurants, at least in Puerto Vallarta, Marriott pulls out all the stops.

I had a chilled saki.

339) El Faro Bar

Up a staircase and then into an elevator that holds just the operator and two passengers to the top of a structure designed to look like a lighthouse. There is an octogon shaped bar in the middle made of very nice wood with a light and dark grain to it. The front is made of slats of the same type of wood. A large brass rail encircles the bar. Above the bar, supported by wooden columns at each angle of the bar, is a combination wooden rack for glasses and wooden cabinets with glass backs and wood paneled glass doors in the front for the liquor supply.

From up here the view is great looking out over the marina to where the cruise ship was berthed, all light up like a holiday, and then behind to the surrounding mountains. Sweeping around you see a vista of the resorts of reasonable height and the foilage and mountains behind. Then, as you continue your sweep you encounter the newer, higher resorts that now completely block your view of the setting sun. Then, as you sweep a bit further you encounter two steel-beamed structures being erected that are, I hear, going to be 30 stories tall. The tallest ever in Puerto Vallarta. Progress never stops. Even the bus fares went up half a peso this week to 4.5 pesos.

I had a gin and tonic.

340) Zsubi

A two year old modernistic bar and lounge right on the water (well, across the sidewalk from the water). A bit out of time and place. Kind of like you are sitting in a Manhattan bar and a bunch of boats somehow washed up in front. The bar is a large L shaped affair with large tan tiles the width of the bar on top, kind of a light tan marble texture. The edging and front is light blond wood, kind of Swedish modern or Ikea. There is a light metal bar rail. The front is a nice, deep carmel-colored marble and it looks to be real marble. The bar chairs have kind of a 1950's interpretation of modern look to them, curved metal bases with a tannis-orange formed-plastic seat and back. Behind the bar are mirrored backed glass shelves holding the liquor supply. The longer I sit here the more I feel like I am in a Jetson's cartoon. Of course the fact that this is my eighth bar of the day may be contributing to that. Coincidently, the same bartender I had while at City Dump & Co. was behind the bar here. Maybe I overtipped.

I had a gin and tonic.

341) Las Palomas

I had intended to catch the bus back home but this one was on the way so I decided to stop in, knowing that I would not be making it back to the marina again this trip. Despite the similarity in names to another bar in the marina, Las Palomas Doradas, it is not the same one and is, in fact, almost at the opposite end.

This one looks kind of like you are sitting in a Mexican hacienda with a bunch of boats in your back yard. The bar has a worn wooden top with a rough wooden edging. The bar chairs are large, intricate wooden things similar to the ones in Roma but with brown vinyl instead of leather seats and trim. Above the bar is a wooden rack for glasses supported by three turned wooden posts, two of which were wrapped by Christmas lights, one set of which actually worked. A square yellow cement piller behind the bar had some decorative Mexican plates hanging on it and there was a large cooler with a block of ice in it for the beer, wine, and champagne. The rest of the stuff was kept out of sight. In the back were a few tables, a fooseball table, and a large-screen television. A pleasant enough place.

I had a gin and tonic.

342) Blue Note

Now, I really had intended to just take the bus home, in fact, having hit nine bars I already had my heading for the post "Be Nine Day At The Marina." However, fate intervened. This is Holy Week in Mexico and that means that most people have a one-week vacation. Puerto Vallarta is a favored vacation destination for people from all over Mexico and, especially, Guadalajara. The town is packed. The buses, with the newly raised fare, have decide to address this by not going all the way to the center of town, near where I live, but instead stop at the edge of town, well over a mile away. As they say, however, behind every cloud is a silver lining. My wife, however, does not say this.

Anyway, I passed by a place, on Morelos just off 31 de Octobre, that I often do during the day but it is closed then. This is a jazz club, upstairs, and a bar downstairs with a fooseball table up front and a pool table in the back. There were flashing disco lights and a bone jarringly load jukebox. A decent sized wooden bar with wooden bar-chairs and rattan seats. About half-a-dozen small tables with shorter versions of the bar-chairs. Kind of an Indian batik fabric covering the ceiling. A large statue of a frog holding up a sign saying "BIENVEIDOS" sat on one end of the bar. Pictures of Bob Marley and Che Guevara hung under a mountged deer-head. I hope I am not hallucinating.

I had a Pacifico

343) Sangria

As long as I was on a roll, somewhat literally by this time, I decided to try out another place that is usually closed when I stroll by. It is on Corona so I had to decide whether to have a Sangria or a Corona. A nice wooden bar at the back of a very narrow place. Eight wooden tables with wooden chairs and woven seats, same as the bar-stools, of which there were only three. Behind the bar is a wooden-framed mirror. The frame was wide and thick and there were liquor bottles on the top and bottom of the frame.

Kind of white stucco walls with a few interesting pictures and very nice lamps. The lamps were kind of wide curled wrought-iron pieces with a thin, almost a candle-holder projecting out which held not candles but an ice-cream cone shaped yellow and brown swirled shades. The bartender said she designed them and then had them made. She was very nice and I felt a bit badly because she thought there would be a bigger crowd because of Holy Week and we were the only people there until her sister came in with a few people and ordered beers. She also said they were trying to sell the restaurant because her husband had to go back to Italy on family business and they their lease would not allow them to sublet the place. She said if they couldn't sell it they would have to just close it and take the loss.

I decided on the Sangria.

344) Roxy

Almost home, across the river and the south side of town, at last. I couldn't pass this place up because it is one of my favorite rock clubs ever and I hadn't even been here this year. It has a kind of plain green linoleum topped bar that is rectangularly shaped except where it veers off at the end next to the stage. It is just a small stage but they always have decent groups that primarily do covers of late 60's, 70's, 80's, and early 90's rock. When the groups take a break the same type of music continues on the sound system. Posters and pictures of musicians from that era deck the walls, Eric Clapton (a favorite) Big Walter, Little Walter, Robert Johnson, an eclectic bunch. This is a dark place with a fairly busy dance floor, just the way a place like this should be. They had have two-for-one here so I got two beers in a bucket when I ordered. I just drank one and gave the other one away even though "The Village People" were singing "YMCA" on the sound system.

I had a Corona and called it a night.

Well kids, I wouldn't try this at home (for one thing they make the drinks stronger in New York) but I had a great day and now have hit 344 for the year and need only 656 more.

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