Sunday, February 01, 2009

Puerto Vallarta and El Dorado

Long day yesterday. Up at 3:30 A.M. to finish packing. It didn't take me too long though and we were ready in plenty of time for our 6:30 A.M. pickup to take us to the Newark Airport. I don't know if the Continental International Teminal is indicative of the whole airport, but it was a loud, confusing mess. We got into what looked to be the check-in line because, contrary to Continental's website, there are no self-service kiosks. Then someone hollers that if you are going to Puerto Vallarta you should be in a different line. So we get into that line. Then, after standing in that line for awhile, we are told it was only for those on the 8:30 A.M. flight to Puerto Vallarta, not the 10:00 A.M. flight that we were on. Luckily we were jumped to the front of the line we were originally in.

But then we were told that if we are on the 10:00 A.M. flight we should stand against the wall. They then proceeded to check in people who were on an earlier flight to Peru or somewhere. Finally they opened up two check-in counters for our flight. It was kind of pointless to get to the airport early, because they seem to give priority to checking in people with earlier flights than yours. And these aren't flights that are leaving in the next few minutes or anything.

Oh well, live and learn.

After a five and a half hour flight we did land in sunny Mexico. Ironically, the airport in Puerto Vallarta is a model of efficiency compared to New York and Newark airports (with the exception of the Jet Blue terminal at JFK). The airport is new, your bags are ready for you by the time you go through immigration, which is a breeze, and unless you push the button and get the red light you just walk through customs.

After walking through a gauntlet of timeshare people offering you "free" cab rides you go to the actual cab station, tell them where you are going, pay the person, someone helps you with your bags and gets you your cab. No muss, no fuss.

We checked into our place and it was like being home again. I got my internet hooked up in short order, met friends from years past, and settled right in.

Traditionally the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I go to El Dorado for dinner our first night in Puerto Vallarta, and this was no exception. Right after sunset drinks by our pool (the sunset now largely obscured by an ugly expansion to the once cute pirate ship restaurant, but more on that later) we headed out.

Ah, Settling In At Last

Although it is warm here, 83 and sunny when we arrived, it is still winter so it gets dark early. Sunset is around 7:00 P.M. so it was dark by the time we got to El Dorado. It made the live music, contemporary songs like Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" sung with a latin styling, appropriate.

Soothing Dinner Music

They have a nice bar here, but it was empty.

Nice Bar, But A Lonely Bar

I understand tourism is down by about 20% from last year. Where there were usually three rows of tables out on the beach in front of the restaurant there was only one row last night. And it was Saturday night.

Everyone Gets A Front Row Table

We opted to sit inside though, but even we got a front row table. Not much of a dinner crowd inside, although the outdoor tables were all filled up.

We got started with the complimentary tortilla chips and a very good, and quite hot, salsa dip plus a tasty bean dip.

A Piquant Starter Kit

The Mysterious Chinese Woman ordered the whole red snapper. If they have them, and they generally do, you know they will be fresh. They only serve them if they are, literally, caught that day.

Crispy Whole Red Snapper

It was, as always, delicious. Grilled and succulent. When it was over only the gruesome remains.

The Remnants

I opted for the Kahlua Shrimp, nice big shrimp wrapped in bacon and stuffed with a bit of cheese. This is served with rice and mixed vegetables and was very good indeed.

My Kahlua Shrimp

A great way to start what is always a great time in Puerto Vallarta. The exchange rate is very favorable this year, a bit over 13 pesos to the dollar now. The meal with two frozen margaritas for me and one for the Mysterious Chinese woman came to 550 pesos including my usual generous tip. That is bit less than $43. Given the live music, great food, excellent and friendly service, and beachfront dining, how can you beat it. And this is one of the more expensive places that we go to while we are down here.

After we got home we were treated to our own little fireworks display that we could see from our window. This was a pretty big one too, not like the small one they shoot off from the pirate ship every night. I am not sure what the occasion was, but it was a nice welcome to Puerto Vallarta treat.

Our Own Personal Fireworks Display

Today will be a busy day. We need to haul everything out of storage and set up our place for our eight week stay. Then we need to hit the supermarket and load up on provisions. We did manage to get a few staples yesterday, beer, rum, gin, tequila, tonic, coffee, milk, and honey (I like the honey in my morning coffee). I kind of like to go to the supermarkets here. It is always a challenge to find stuff. The local one is the most fun and that is where we will go. Right behind it is the swinging bridge that takes you to the island in the middle of the river. There is another swinging bridge on the other side of the island that then takes you to the north side of town. There are other bridges, but these are the most fun. For me, at least. The Mysterious Chinese Woman has a somewhat different view.

Until I post again, adios (see, my Spanish is improving).


martika said...

December 2009.
Horrendous !
When I walked by the kitchen on Pulpito, I was a little concerned at the cleanliness of the restuarant when I walked by (you can see in the kitchen through the tiling). At that point I would never have eaten in there but I was with a party who had booked a table.
I ordered a salad for a starter and UNBELIEVEABLY I found a dead COCKROACH in my lettuce and they DID NOTHING about it. The Manager did not care at all and seemed very unconcerned, like it happend often. They just whisked away the salad and brought me a new one ! Of course, I didnt touch it ! The rest of my party was appalled and we ended up walking out. I would NEVER go back there !!! Thankfully, I did not end up with food poisioning, but let this be a warning to everyone - this is very serious.
La Palapa restaurant is opposite, its CLEAN, beautiful and has amazing food. If your going to be in that area eating, choose wisely and go elsewhere ... anywhere but the El Dorado ! Be warned ....

berklingaly said...