Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Circus Is In Town

Mexico's oldest circus, established in 1888, hit Puerto Vallarta last week.

Circo Atayde

Bar Man is always up for a circus. In fact the Mysterious Chinese Woman sometimes comments that living with me is like being in a circus. I think she means that in a nice way, though. Anyway, a few of us decided to take the bus out to where the they had pitched their tent and take in the show.

And Here It Is

The show started at 6:30 P.M. and the box office opened at 4:00 P.M. The doors opened at 5:00 P.M. We got there shortly after 4:00 P.M., picked up our tickets and then headed across the street to the Holiday Inn for a few drinks before the show started. The lobby bar didn't open until 6:00 P.M. so we headed out to the poolside bar where they were having happy hour, and this made us happy.

Happy Hour At The Holiday Inn

That is Marcie, Dennis, Katherine and the Mysterious Chinese Woman above, but yours truly was there as well.

Bar Man And Beer, How Novel

Note my beautiful shirt, a gift from my buddy Rico, aka Bob. He and his wife Sandy will be down here in a few weeks and from the emails I have been getting they are counting the days. But I digress.

I wasn't the only one documenting our outing.

Katherine Clicking Away

Now I don't know exactly what Dennis was looking for here, the perfect blend of beers, I guess. More likely this was just before we were ready to head to the circus and he was finishing off everyone's dregs. I hope these were just the beers we bought.

Dennis The Mixologist

When I said we were heading across the street to the Holiday Inn, it was actually quite a street and quite a hike.

The Main Drag In Puerto Vallarta

After drinking several beers we decided we better take advantage of the facilities before we went into the show. We should have used the ones at the Holiday Inn.

Well, What Did We Expect?

In the lobby were several posters, and for some reason I like old style posters. So, without further adieu, here they are:

And then it was time to head in.

On To The Show

Our 300 pesos bought us great seats, front and center.

In Our Private Box

And Popcorn Too

I have pictures of the circus itself, of course, but I will have to post them a bit later. For some reason at some point during last night's dinner party someone, Bill, actually, suggested we all hike down the beach this morning to go to breakfast. And that is where I am off to.

Tonight we are having our Valentine's day dinner at Bohemio. I am looking forward to that. One of the owner's, Saul, is a real stitch. He took over the lead role in Stop The World I Want To Get Off from Sammy Davis Jr. on Broadway (many years ago) and last year reprised it here at the Santa Barbara Theatre. I will try to find the link to his video demonstrating how to make meatloaf and post it. It is a hoot.

Stay tuned, so much going on here that I am having a hard time keeping up. I still have some serious back-filling to do as well. And have a happy Valentine's day everyone. I bought a Valentine's day card, in Spanish, for the Mysterious Chinese Woman before we left for Puerto Vallarta, but forgot it at home. She, however, remembered to bring one for me. Haven't even had breakfast yet and I am already in trouble.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Moon Over The Bay

Last night a few of us went to a great Mexican circus that was in town. Great show, great fun. Tonight the Mysterious Chinese Woman and I are having some people over for an after-sunset dinner. Of course I will post about both when I have time. Today is kind of busy though, getting ready for this evening's party. However, early this morning I went to pick up shrimp for the dinner and I couldn't help but notice this lovely beach view. I just couldn't resist sharing.

The Crack Of Dawn

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Another Rough Day In Puerto Vallarta

Ah, Puerto Vallarta. Time for lunch, let's just wander down the beach a bit and have a delicious one at another old authentic Mexican restaurant on the beach.

Cuates y Cuetes

I mentioned this place the other day when I posted about Langostino's. It is right next door and just a bit closer to the pier. I am not sure what the name means, so if anyone can help me out, be sure to send me an email or post a comment.

This isn't a fancy place, by any stretch of the imagination. But it really is everything a beachside restaurant should be.

Just Perfect

I have always been attracted to their large mural of a festive group of skeletons serranding the customers.

A Rocking Good Time

And we actually were serranded by some one playing the bones. At least I think the xylophone is sometimes referred to as "the bones."

Playing The Bones

We started out with a bucket of beers. Actually, just three beers in a bucket of ice, but just right for the Mysterious Chinese Woman and me.

Sharing A Bucket Of Beers

Two For Me And One For You

You can see a jewelry salesman right over the Mysterious Chinese Woman's shoulder. One of the joys, or nuisances, of eating right off the beach is the parade of vendors trying to sell you everything from chewing gum to silver rings. They are generally polite though, and a lot of people do like to haggle for a bargain as they have a beer or eat their lunch. The women at the table next to ours bought a bunch of jewelry from this guy.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman ordered cheesy, mushroom tortillas and they were very good. The tortillas were nicely crisped on the outside and the melted cheese and mushrooms were a good combination. It came with refried beans, of course.

Chewy And Mushroomy

Bar Man loves octupus and remembered it being very good here. I was not disappointed. Nice and garlicky, although you can have it in a number of different ways. A good grilled crispy exterior and just the right chew once you bite through that crisp.

Delicious, If You Are Into Octopods

The food is great, the prices are reasonable, the service is friendly, and the view is to die for. A perfect little seaside restaurant and just a couple of minutes away from where I stay.

Your Luncheon View

Just Steps From The Pier

As I stopped by the banos on the way out I saw that they were preparing a new mural. I will be sure to check on the progress.

A Work In Progress

I will try to get the gang together, one gang or another, and hit this place for dinner. It is fun to sit here and watch the sun set and the people returning from their day trips disembarking at the pier. They often have live music too, which can be a plus or a minus depending upon quality and volume.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Mini Bar Trek Part Deux

First, I must get this off my chest. Perhaps no surprise to anyone except all of the pundits who thought Bret Favre was going to be the savior of the Jets, he has, drum roll please, announced he is retiring, again. Boy, did the Jets ever get a deal. Let a quarterback who got them into the play-offs three times go to Miami where he then gets the Dolphins, our arch-enemies, into the play-offs so we can get one year out of an aging ex-Green Bay quarterback. A quarterback who falls apart at the end of the season and ends up losing to Miami in the last game of the season to keep the Jets out of the playoffs and put Miami into them.

Okay, I am better now. Thank you Betsy for emailng me the link to ESPN's breaking news on this topic that is so dear to my heart.

Back to Mexico and bars, a much more enjoyable topic.

After our beers in Harry's we headed to another new place, Dick's Halfway Inn Bar & Grill. Their teeshirts, Dick's Halfway Inn and I Love Dicks (note the lack of an apostrophe) have created quite a stir, prompting a few letters to the editor of both the PVMirror and the PVTribune. Funny though, the Master Baiters tee shirts don't seem to bother anyone.

Dick's Halfway Inn

Dick's is another new bar in an old place. This was formerly Maguelito's, also knows as the Treehouse because it is built around a large tree. Another place that I visited back in 2005 when doing my thousand bars.

280) Maguelito's

We walked across the street and caught the "right" bus back into town. On the way back to our place from the bus stop we passed this fairly nice place. It is also known as the Treehouse because it is a two story affair built kind of around a large tree. It is pretty much right across the street from Steve's. It has a dark wood bar fronted by bamboo. The stools are also nicely padded. The back of the place has wooden plank floors and the front has mexican tiles.

There was some interesting artwork on the walls that looked to be made out of a combination of leather and rope (the artwork, not the walls). The walls were bright red and there were shelves with old books and other assorted stuff on the walls. There was a dart board on one wall, but given its proximity to the bar and tables, I am not sure if it is used very often. There is a nice waterfall in the entrance and you cross over a little wooden bridge to enter.

They had Corona on draft here, but only one, it seemed. I managed to run the keg dry.

Ayn, Pulling The Last Draft

We asked if we could sit upstairs and she was nice enough to let us, even though it wasn't open yet. That took a fair amount of trust because there was a fully stocked bar, completely unguarded. In my younger days they probably would have been one bottle of tequila short before I left.

The Gang On The Deck

We were getting a bit hungry so we decided to eat here. They didn't have a real fancy menu, but we weren't in a fancy mood. The Mysterious Chinese Woman had a fish sandwich of some sort that she said was quite good. The rest of us had hamburgers. I had their hamburger with a bourbon barbecue sauce, made with Jack Daniels. A bit of irony there because Jack Daniels is not a bourbon. The hamburger was very good, though.

After finishing up we then headed around the block to the place I was looking for in the hills the other day:

Bar Del Puerto

Now this is a bit of a hole-in-the wall. Really narrow and easy to miss if you didn't see the sign, which luckily is fairly easy to spot.

An Easy To Spot Sign
There were a few people at the small bar but enough room left for me to belly up and get a beer and a shot of tequila. The rest of the crowd kind of hung back and sat at a table well I chatted with Pedro, the bartender who is also, I believe, the owner.
Bar Man And Pedro
Pedro was a friendly and interesting fellow and I could easily see where this would be a neat place to hang out. A bit off the beaten track and not too crowded, even though five people pretty much fills up the bar.
Pedro isn't the one who actually runs that Pub Crawl I was trying to find out about. I guess I will have to check back and see if I can run into the woman who does. If not, I think I can pretty much run my own. It would be interesting, though, to see someone else's bar selection.
I didn't check out the menu here, but from the looks of it they might serve food. At least there were a few tables in the back between the bar and the pool table.
The Long View
This was our last stop before toddling off home to either hit the beach or the pool. Another place that I will, in all liklihood, hit again.
It was a fun afternoon and everyone said we should do something similar in the near future. Well, you don't have to twist my arm.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

An Interlude For Helpful Advice

My darling brother-in-law Jim, he of the mischievious bent, read my post about trying to get by on a monthly food budget of $176, the amount an individual gets in food stamps. Of course my simple plan was, for him, much too simple.

Here are his "helpful" suggestions:

Hey, glanced at 1000 Bars And Beyond and saw Bar Man's new challenge and I'm intrigued! Didn't do any real research but I do believe that most people on food stamps work a full time job. In keeping with that theme, I feel that Bar Man should do an equivalent schedule as someone who works. I would assume that most of these people work manual labor jobs so they are burning up a fair amount of calories.

My suggestion is that you find out.

1- Average number of people who get food stamps who work.
2- Average number of hours worked by people who earn below the poverty line.
3- Average number of days worked by people who earn below the poverty line.
4- Average number of people on food stamps who have kids that they must care for.
5- Average commute to and from work.

Now crunch the numbers. Figure out your work day: commuting time + work+ time with kids + hour to get ready in the morning + laundry (a quick look at food stamp requirements I would guess they don't have a large selection of clothes so laundry once a week. Remember manual labor so you'll stink. Oh yeah laundromat please, schlep to and fro.)

Now, during the period of time that you are "working," no naps. I would also suggest hitting the gym a couple of hours a day. Also maybe a twenty - thirty minute brisk walk every hour to hour and half. Maybe give up the chair and go with standing except "meals" and "breaks." Basic idea is to simulate someone who has a job that has them moving around all day. With no real leisure time. You'll burn more calories....... need more calories. Maybe you should see the Doctor........

Have Fun!!!

What a helpful fellow he is. I hate to let him down, but I am just going to pretend I am an unemployed single male.

A Mini Bar Trek

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, not really, but it was kind of a gloomy morning.

It Is Always Darkest Before The Zombies

Luckily the sun burnt off or the wind blew away the clouds and it turned out to be a nice sunny day. Perfect for hanging out on the beach or visiting a succession of small, dark, bars. Actually, only one of the bars was kind of small and dark, the others were fairly large and bright.

Starting Out At Harry's

Bar Man And Harry('s)

This place is new since last year, I am pretty sure. If it was somthing else before I don't remember. I usually have a hard time remembering what used to be. I did remember that the big construction site I posted about the other day was where Mickey's No Name Cafe once was. A pity to see that place go, it was a pretty decent little sports bar and restaurant. It was one of my thousand bars back in 2005.

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 charicatures 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.

Ah, but that was then and this is now.

The bartender at Harry's was a very pregnant Eva who was originally from Amsterdam. She said she has been in Puerto Vallarta for five years now and just loved it. Shd did say she missed Amsterdam, though.

The Glowing Eva

There was a nice new pool table in the back by the small kitchen. I didn't check out the menu, though, but I may be back.

How Exciting, A Picture Of A Pool Table

What really caught your eye here were all the bright colored paintings on the walls. They looked like Mexican colors but Intuit or something themes.

Paintings On The Walls

We ordered our drinks and went to the upstairs area where there were tables and chairs with a view of the street. And who should be up there, busily at work? The artist himself, Karl Burrows.

The Artist At Work

Karl was very friendly and spent a fair amount of time talking to us about his work. His mentor was an Ojibway, also known as Chippewa. This is one of the largest groups of Native Americans north of Mexico and are found primarily in the Northern United States and Canada. In the small world department, my friend, Dennis, who was with us is, part Ojibway and was born and grew up in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

It turns out that the paintings use the colors that are common to Ojibway art and the themes are also Ojibway. They are based upon Ojibway stories and Karl explained several of them to us. One depicted the great journey across the sea that brought the Ojibway to North America.

The smaller paintings that Karl was working on were actually studies for larger works. When he had what he wanted with the right colors he then painted the larger version such as this one.

A Shaman Who Could Turn Into A Bear

He had a number of completed smaller works which he spread out on the upstairs pool table for us to look at as he told the stories behind them

Dennis, Katherine, Mysterious Chinese Woman And Karl

There was a nice painting of a couple of moose that I thought a friend of mine might appreciate, but at $150 it was a little above my budget for souvenirs. Oh, did you know that "souvenir" is French for memory? Just a little educational content I like to throw in now and then to allow you to justify the time you spend reading my blog.

I will post later about the last two bars on my Mini Bar Trek later so stay tuned. I will tell you though that nothing spectacular, like someone toppling off a balcony, happened.

You can see more of Karl's works at his website:

Monday, February 09, 2009

A Digression

I have been hearing a lot about how a person who gets food stamps worth $176 a month cannot buy enough food to survive. Now I in no way mean to minimize the plight of someone who needs food stamps to survive. I sympathize with anyone who finds themselves in that situation. However, I want to try it myself to see how difficult it really is.

When I get back to New York, not exactly the cheapest place in the world to buy food, I am going to spend the month of April on a $176 food and drink budget. No beer or drinks in bars, of course, strictly what I can eat and drink on that amount of money And I suspect my drinking will be pretty much limited to fruit and vegetable juice and water. I also hope to lose a few pounds so if I record a weight loss it won't be due to starvation, just due to a more moderate lifestyle.

Personally I don't think this is going to be as difficult as everyone makes it out to be. Half the time I hear a about someone doing this they are talking about eating at McDonald's. I am thinkiing you buy a whole chicken and a cheap cut of beef and make your own meals. Five pounds of rice and a couple pounds of beans. I know how to cook, this might even be fun. I will, of course, post about what I have spent, what I have spent it on, and what meals I have prepared with what I have spent.

Another adventure. But not until I get back from Puerto Vallarta and have larded up a bit.

What motivated me to do this is someone on CNN who is making such a big deal about how he is hungry all of the time since he started this routine and how difficult it is.

April 1st, the day of fools, I shall start my foolish venture. Stay tuned and send me any advice you might have.

Giving up beer will be the toughest part, but when I make up my mind I will not be deterred. Oh, and no coffee either, unless I can buy it without going over budget.

The Mysterious Chinese Woman has refused to participate, but I cannot eat any of her food (and she can't eat any of mine).

You can check out on the CNN guy here. I notice he didn't say anything about buying salt and pepper or cooking oil, and fails to mention just how much he pays for what. I will be documenting everything I spend and what I cook, pictures too. When I start my little journey we can do a day by day comparison.

Oh, and like most people on food stamps, I will not be getting a check-up first or consulting with a nutritionist. Really, is that necessary when all you are doing is reducing the amount of money you are spending on food? Let's be real here. And I loved the part about having to give up bottled water. Why would anyone drink bottled water, especially in New York, which has some of the best tap water in the world, and consistently tests higher than bottled water which doesn't have to adhere to the strict standards of tap water in the United States. Let's just clog our landfills with more plastic.

Anyway, it won't be for awhile, but I am already looking forward to this challenge. In the meantime, stay tuned for more Mexican adventures. I could eat like a king down here for $176 a month, if I stayed away from the beer and tequila.

Come April we will all have an interesting time.

Beer For Brains

First off, my favorite football team, Chivas, must be doing well. At least their picture was on the front page of a local paper today and they looked happy.

Go Chivas

I don't read Spanish, so I am not sure what the celebration was all about, but I thought I should share this with you.

Okay, so I decided to go for my morning walk on Sunday. I read about a place, Bar del Puerto that runs The Tacky Bar Tour. Now I pride myself on knowing most of the tacky bars around Puerto Vallarta, but I am always up for a professionally run tour. The location of the bar was given as Carranza. And here is where my brain ran dry.

I opened up the paper to check a map and the first one I saw was:

Okay, I knew where Carranza was, and then I saw the map, and I said "Shit, way up there and on the other side of the river." But I figured I needed the exercise so over the river and up the hill I went.

It had rained the night before so there were really huge puddles in the street. I wonder what it is like in the rainy season.

The storm that brought in the rain was also pushing the waves pretty hard too. Much larger than normal.

Anyway, I walked over to the north side of town and then started to head up the hills.

Doesn't look too high until you get to the top and then look down.

And if you think taking the steps is a piece of cake, think again. Handrails are for wimps and there are no liability laws in Mexico.

But trooper that I am, onward I went.

And, after all that hiking and climbing, I never did find the bar. So, back I headed to meet some friends at Sweeny's for their morning Happy Hour. And then it hit me, there is another Carranza right by where I live. A street I am intimately familiar with because of the dive bars. How the hell I didn't think about that earlier I do not know. As I said, beer brains.

My Neck Of The Woods

Close To Home

I never did find the bar, but I will. I was so thirsty and I had friends waiting for me at Sweeny's so Happy Hour was calling. When I do find the bar and find out more about The Tacky Bar Tour I will let you know. Actually, I bet, I could show them a thing or two.