Saturday, February 26, 2005

Slow Fan, Dim Lights

Not a great deal of progress today. A friend of mine arrived at about 2:00 P.M. and we had a few too many drinks at my place before heading out. The maintenance staffed fixed the ceitling fan in the master bedroom because it would only operate on high-speed, unlike the other two celiling fans that have a working three-way switch. Their solution was to hook it up to a dimmer switch. Great control over the speed of the fan but the three overhead lights in the fixture are also controlled by the same switch. Faster the fan, brighter the light. Kind of interesting, in a peculiar way.

258) Cafe Bohemio

A nice outdoor restaurant on Rodolfo Gomez that serves, in my opinion, some of the best shrimp dishes in town. Sadly the have only a small one-stool bar inside but hey, a bar with a stool is a bar. I felt a bit like Hunter S. Thompson, but without the suicidal impulses. Yellow walls, red face to the bar and a brown tile top.

I had a Corona

259) Apaches

Now this is a bar on Olas Altos, and pretty much nothing but a bar. Kind of a newer place, although it has been here several years, with a bit of a Manhattan flavor. They serve a great martini, based upon past experience. It is fairly small with a blue tile bar "nestled," as my friend said, against the side wall. It is owned by a Dutch gentleman who is also the bartender and whom we engaged in a friendly conversation. They pour their drinks with a heavy hand, so no complaints on that end.

I had a gin and tonic and we called it an early night because my friend had a long day of travel.

We shall see how much progress we make today, although it is a Sunday so it might be slow. Just 741 left to go.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Fairly Fast Friday

I got off to an early start and headed to the far north side of town. I didn't want to hit anything real close to where I stay because I have a friend coming in tomorrow and thought I would save a few of them for him. I walked past a few that were open and kept going well past the end of the malecon to start off my day.

251) Salsa Mexicana Bar

Mostly a restaurant on Avenue Mexico, across from the Pemex gas station. It is mostly a restaurant with a small green cement topped bar that looks out onto someone's back yards with clothes drying on the line. Yellow walls, a light orange ceiling and dark brown cement beams. Pictures of old Mexico on the walls with several of Zapata and the boys and at least one of Pancho Villa. There was a picture of Spud, the Bud Lite dog, on the wall, but no Bud Lite to be had. Same with the large plastic Miller bottle. There is a colorful white, red, and green awning out in front and lots of those Mexican doily things you see hanging from the ceiling.

I had a Negra Modelo

252) El Andariego

Across the street and a bit south of the Pemex gas station was this place that was just opening up. This was a very nice looking place with a curved wooden bar and six swiveling bar stools. There were several colorful murals ranging in subject matter from small, naked children frolicking in a pool under a couple of waterfalls to a surealistic scene of old Mexico combined with what looked like a Mexican version of some kind of ancient Roman debauchery. There were also a couple that were views overlooking Puerto Vallarta and the bay. There were at least three levels and with the white tablecloths and fancy place settings it looked like it would be a good place for dinner. There were nice soft-orange glass shaded lights hanging over the bar and large copper-cone shaded lamps hanging over the rest of the place. It had windows facing out on the busy street but the noise level is muted. As I headed out I noticed some tubes of stuff on a table and picked on up to see what they were. It turned out they were paints and the artist who, apparently was still working on the murals, was there and we chatted a bit.

I had a Corona and it was served in a nice frosty mug.

253) Jazon Criollo

Located on the corner of Avenue Mexico and Venezuela this place is across the street from a small park. It is a nice little restaurant with a small, six-stool green cement bar. The floor is light green and dark green tiles. The tablecloths are green and white checked and the tables and chairs are painted green. The awning in front is also green. The bar stools, however, are maroon. They must have run out of green. The sign above the bar says El Tiki Tiki Bar. I guess that is because it sits under a fake palapa overhang and has a papermache parrot hanging above it. There is a real parrot perched outside in front of the place though.

I had a Corona.

254) Pool Vallarta

Almost right next door is a fairly good sized pool-hall with nice carved wooden tables covered in blue felt. They have a nice carved wooden bar up front and their beer is half the price of thelast place, 12 pesos versus the 24 pesos I had just paid. The only drawback was that the beer-cooler was a bit too warm and there was an incessent, and quite irritating, high-pitched beep the whole time I was there.

I had a Corona (and it wasn't warm).

255) Mesa del Co Co

On Brasilia across from the Stadium Sports Park was this, what appeared to be, locals only bar. There were three small, very old, and authentic looking leopard skins on the wall, a pool-table, and an outside seating area in the back. There were, again, the requisite pictures of old Mexico on the walls along with a few Mexican movie posters. It had a bunch of round wooden tables with large leather-backed chairs and a nice little brick-fronted bar with a wooden top. There were a few locals in the place and two of them were drinking a pinkish drink out of those large margarita glasses that you see. They didn't look like the type of hombres that would be drinking fruit punch, but when the ordered another round I saw what it was. Beer and tomatoe juice with a squeeze of lime over ice. I have to admit to having drunk that very thing long ago and in a place far away.

I had a Corona

256) La Dolce Vita

I was planing on just heading home but by the time I got to this place on the Malecon I really had to take a whiz so I popped in. It is an Itallian restaurant that feature pizzas. They have a coal burning oven in the back that they use to make them and they are quite good. It is a multi-level place with red-checked tablecloths. There are pictures of movie posters on the walls, many of them from the movie that gives the place its name. I sat at the bar and had, unfortunately, a very bad margarita. There is no excues, in my mind, why a decent restaurant should use that sweetish yellow stuff that passes for margarita mix. Limes are plentiful and cheap here and even the dive bars use them in their margaritas. Bah.

I had a margarita.

257) Bar Oceana

I stopped in this one because I was curious how I had missed it during my previous pass along the malecon. It is right across the street from La Gruta. The only thing I can think of is that it was closed. It is an upstairs corner bar, open on two sides, with a great view of the bay. It was an exceptionally clear day so the view was quite good (not that it is ever bad). There is nothing fancy about this place, just a decent bar with white-washed walls, a cement-block ceiling with dark beams and Old Moon Rising on the jukebox. A good place to end the day relatively early in the afternoon.

I had a gin and tonic and headed home.

A pretty good day and down to 743 to go. We shall see how I do when my friend shows up. Perhaps a few more late nights, but we shall see.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thirsty Thursday

I took a fairly long walk up the south-side of the river to a restaurant that I had been to in previous years. After walking up to the third-floor restaurant I discovered that they only had a fairly large service bar but no place to sit and have a drink. Bummer, because by now I worked up a powerful thirst. I strolled back a block or so off of the river and managed to find a few places closer to home.

248) Bar Del Puerto

On 276 Carranza, this place usually looks like it is closed. It was open to day though. It has a pool-table up front and about six or seven small plastic tables with plastic chairs. There is a small bar in the back with a few stools and a couple of locals having a drink. There is a large donkey-shaped pinata hanging from the ceiling and festoons of paper flower garlands hanging about. The walls have pictures of happy customers and an announcement of someone's 29th or 30th birthday party. The printed announcement said 30th but someone had crossed that out on all of them and written in 29th.

I had a Corona

249) Gilmar Restaurant and El Bar

On 418 Madero was a restaurant with a small, wood-topped bar with a red ceramic tile front and back. Four narrow shelves behind the bar held their rather meagre selection of liquor. The bar itself only had one stool, most of it taken up by a table and two chairs that were shoved up against it. This looks like it might have once been two very small places joined into one and the new owner decided to concentrate on the restaurant side of the business. It had a blue and light yellow tiled floor, bright yellow walls and a blue and white ceiling. The place had about 10 small tables with bright purple, maroon, and yellow tablecloths. A cheery place with three people eating what looked to be pretty good food. There were a few old fashioned hanging lamps, some artificial ferns, and a good-sized mirror on one wall with bright red artificial flowers surrounding it. There was a good-sized television with, what looked like, a Mexican soap opera.

I had a Negra Modela and it was served in a frosted mug. A very nice touch and one seldom seen. I think the Frankfurt was the only other place I got a chilled glass of any type for my beer.

250) Deportivo Los Maleajetes (I think)

Well, I hit the quarter-way mark more with a whimper than a bang. Also on Madero this is a large pool/billiard hall with a bar in the back. Had 4 or 5 billiard tables and 6 or 7 pool tables. There were 3 fooseball tables, but only one was positioned where you could use it. The other two were kind of shoved up against a wall. There was a fairly large fishing boat leaning up against one wall but I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be decorative or just being stored. Overhead fans and flourescent lights over the tables kind of rounded out the ambience. The walls were kind of an off-beige (probably once white), water-stained and mildewed. The bar had about 8 stools and there was a TV with some Mexican sports-channel. There were a couple of elderly locals playing pool at a table up-front. This place does get fairly crowded later at night and I noticed several pool-cue cases behind the bar so I guess some local hustlers, or hustler wannabes, show up as well.

I had a Pacifico and called it a day.

One quarter of the way through and 750 left to go.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Malecon Crawl

I headed back to the north side of town and picked up where I left off on the malecon the other day. I hit every bar that was open until I got to the end. There were a couple of places that don´t open until later in the evening so I will hit them another day.

242) Zoo

Most of the places along this stretch are newer, bigger places and this one is no exception. It is across from the malecon and has large windows offering a great view. This place tends to be jammed at night with people literally hanging out of the windows. It had a pretty decent crowd at 1:00 P.M. of what looked to be a lot of cruise ship people. I think the bars along here get a lot of them because they are the first big ones you hit on the way into town from where the ships dock.

This place has an animal motif, but more jungle than zoo. Wrap-around jungle murals with large sculptures of an elephant and a rhino charging out at you. There is a black panther in the back and a leopard above the door. The bar is a real nice tanish colored marble topped octogon with faded leopard-skin stools. It has fake elephant tusk lamps on the center service area and a nice glass or plastic wrap-around overhanging light. Tables and stools up front and large booths towards the back. Queen was on the sound system.

I had two Coronas because it was two for one, although they charge you about double the price for that one.

243) Club 69

A small marble bar with a brass rail but no stools. Carved mermaids on each end. This is a corner bar with large windows on both sides giving a very nice view of the malecon and the bay. You can see the cruise ships in the harbor. I see where the number of scheduled cruise ship arrivals is supposed to be 240 something this year up from 188 last year.

The place is kind of narrow but fairly deep with a DJ booth in the back room and 4 TVs behind it where, I would presume, they show music videos. Lots of little tables with chairs and stools and some plush sofas that were mostly in the back. Red stucco walls, blue hanging lights, and a friendly staff.

I had a gin and tonic.

244) Hard Rock Cafe

The newer, and better location. Better because being on the malecon they get a lot more foot traffic. They don´t take advantage of the view and from the back you cannot see outside. It is a great place to pop into to get out of the scenery.

They have a nice large bar and the place is packed with rock memorabilia. My favorites are the large number of posters from the 60s and 70s. They bring back a lot of what memory I have of that era.

I had a gin and tonic.

245) Paradise Burger

Kind of a cheesy name, but a decent enough place. Located on a corner, this is a second floor bar and restaurant with balconies on two sides that give a nice view of the malecon and the bay. Kind of a horseshoe shaped dark wood bar with about 14 stools. A raised stage in the corner for live music at night. Actually, all of the places except for Club 69 have small stages and have live music at night. There was a narrow ledge running around the place that displayed ceramic heads and other assorted knick-knacks, including some pink flamingos in the front. There was a nice ceramic hula dancer on the bar.

I had a Corona

246) Carlos O´Brien´s

This is Senor Frog´s sister bar and is furnished about the same. The only difference is that this one was fairly packed and everyone was hooting it up pretty good. A couple of Mexican break-dancers were putting on a show and were very good. Again, it looked like a big cruise ship crowd. You can tell by the colored wristbands that they all wear. It had a nice tin-topped bar and a large upstairs area.

I had a chlled Jaggermeister to keep with the theme of the place.

247) La Bodequita Del Medio

This was the last bar on the malecon, just about across from the fish market where you can buy fresh fish caught in the morning. The decor was white walls covered with graffiti and pictures of Cubans, none of which I recognized. The hanging lamps have shades that are covered with graffiti as well. There is a large upstairs area as well. They have a nice large, dark-wood bar. I met a couple of people from a cruise ship that were from Las Vegas so we chatted a bit. I have visited Las Vegas numerous times over the years so we talked about how much it has changed and is changing.

I had two rum and cokes because it was two for one. This place served them nicely, however. You got a big slug of rum over the ice-cubes in one glass and a big slug of rum with no ice in another. Then you got a bottle of coke. You can then mix you own, a double of you want or two singles. They will bring you more ice as you need it. A nice touch to the usual two-for-one affairs.

Finishing up my malecon crawl I took the local bus (4 pesos) back to the south side of town and headed home.

Tomorrow I will hit the quarter-way mark but for now I have 247 down and 753 left to go.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Another Slow Day

The friends that were here with me left yesterday so there was a lot of packing and saying good-bye. On top of that the wife is feeling poorly, a lot of flu-like something or another going around, so after they left I didn't much feel like going out and leaving her to suffer by herself. My feelings on that may change if she isn't better tonight, however.

241) El Pirata

This was the only bar I hit and it was kind of a wimp-out. It is located right across the street from our building, between us and the beach. It is primarily an outside eating area and the pirate ship shaped bar is primarily the service bar and small kitchen where they make tacos and hamburgers. There are, however, four or five bar-stools on the bay-side of the structure so I sat on one of them and had a beer. Any port in a storm. I had hoped to save this one for a rainy day but, seeing as how it hardly ever rains down here this time of year I used it up.

I had a Corona.

I hope to do better tomorrow, we shall see. Fewer distractions with my friends gone and the wife pretty much bed-ridden. Another friend coming in on Saturday, but he will be more of a partner-in-crime, I suspect.

Creeping ever closer to the, as yet, elusive quarter-way mark with 759 left to go.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Weak Start To The Week

A couple of buddies and I got off to an early start and headed to one of those canopy tours. It was really a lot of fun. After about a half-hour ride in the back of an open sided truck you reach your destination at a beutiful spot right by a nice little river. At least it is little this time of year, it gets much larger during the rainy season. The tour itself consists of climbing via pathways to launching platforms where you use pulleys to traverse gorges, forests, and the river on guidewires. There are 13 of these stations and the longest ride is about a quarter of a mile long. Great fun and I would highly recommend it. It is supposedly second best only to the canopy tour in Costa Rico.

239) Canopy Tour Bar

At the end of the tour you land, literally, at a little open air bar under a large palapa. It has a concrete floor, a few tables and chairs, a wood and rope railing, and a lovely view of the river. The top of the bar was a nice dark wood called parota. There were a half dozen leather padded barstools so it was a comfortable place to sit and have a drink well waiting for the trip back to town.

I had a couple of Pacificos

240) Pancho's Last Resort

Wandering a short ways was this place, also on the river and with great views. It had a green stone bar with wooden stools. There were a few tables for eating and they had neat metal chairs with ornate metal-work backs to them in the shape of cacti. Sitting on the bar were four terrariums. Three of them had large tarantulas and one had a very tiny snake. The manager of the place wondered over while I was having my drink and asked me if I liked spiders. He had taken the largest one, named Dr. Kervokian, out of its cage and had it in his hand. Spiders don't frighten me so he seemed a bit disappointed that I didn't jump when I saw it. The are native to the area and during mating season they wonder down from the mountains to the river and you can pick them up off of the highway. He said they live about 10 years in the wild and up to 15 years in captivity. Forget getting a cat, these are much easier to care for and just about as affectionate. Rounding out the menangerie, the guy that owns the Canopy Tour Bar came over with an eight-foot long Burmese Python named Monty draped around him.

I had a margarita and we caught the bus back to town.

Didn't do much in the afternoon except hang out and get ready for dinner. We went to a very nice place on the island called the River Cafe. It has a very large service-bar with three stools at one end so when I have a drink there I will certainly count it. There were five of us at dinner though so no room for us all. After dinner we went home for a gin and tonic and called it an early night. My friends are all leaving tomorrow so we may not be hitting many then either. Two of them have an 8:00 P.M. departure so I might hit a couple of them after they leave.

Closing in on a quarter of the way done, only 760 left to go.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

A Good Sunday

I thought today might be rather slow, being Sunday and all, but it turned out to be not a bad day at all. I headed across the river to the north-side of town again and the first place that I stopped into was:

231) La Casa de los Omelets

The English translation for this is The Omelete House, but it sounds so much cooler in Spanish. It is actually a second story bar with a balcony on two sides. One side looks out on Calle Juarez and the malecon and bay, the other looks out on the "street" with the entrance, Calle Independencia. This street is actually a one-block long pedestrian walkway that ends at the entrance to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the large church in the center of town. The church tower is featured prominently in most postcards of Puerto Vallarta and in many of the paintings of the downtown area as well.

The bar itself is accessed by going up a winding wooden staircase. It is just a small bar with 4 stools. There are a couple of overhead fans to keep the place somewhat cool and a couple of blue globe lights on the wall. Hanging over the bar are three lamps with blue glass shades and two of the three lamps really had light-bulbs in them. The walls were white plaster with some exposed brick in patches.

I had a Corona.

232) La Gruta

This is another second story bar with an entrance on Calle Corona. You go up a winding cement staircase to get to this one. It is a fairly small place with a balcony on two sides, one of which overlooks the malecon and bay. It is right across the street from a sculpture named "The Ladder." The sculpture shows what could be a mother standing on the ground and two small children on the ladder looking out to sea, perhaps for their father who is out fishing. There is a rectangular bar with seating on three sides. The place has light yellow walls and a light blue ceiling and the tables have bright yellow and blue tablecloths. Soccer was on the television. Because the entrance is on the side-street one guy's job seems to be primarily to holler at the people passing below and offering "two for one beers, happy hour all day." This guy will also give you a discount on either a fishing trip or a day of golf if you agree to attend a timeshare presentation.

I had a Corona and did not get an offer of a second one for free.

233) Viejo Vallarta

Another bar on the second floor. These bars are older and are an interesting change from some of the larger, newer ones right on street level. I will be hitting some of those in a few days so you can read about them then. This place had a great view of the malecon and bay, as all of the bars on this stretch do, and is right across the street from a sculpture of a boy riding a seahorse. It is right by the old lighthouse and almost next-door to Mickey's No Name.

The bar had an ornate brick and stone front with a nice dark-wood top. The walls were finished in a dark-red wash with murals of the revolution and Zapata. There were a couple of old Jack Daniels posters on the wall by the pool table. On the beams of the ceiling were what I took to be revolutionary slogans in Spanish. There was a small raised stage so I assume this place could rock at night when the live music shows up. I felt strangely comfortable here.

I had a margarita.

234) Cantina de Vallarta

This place is on street level across from the malecon. It is also across the street and down a bit form Mickey's No Name. The place is plastered with old Mexican movie posters, old wrestling posters (I just love big men in tights and masks), bullfight posters and a lot of bull-fight programs. The ceiling is covered with large paintings of cards from some kind of game that I am unfamiliar with. The bartender said it was something like bingo, but he couldn't really explain it to me.

The place is kind of deep and narrow and the bar is all the way in the back. At the front are a couple of large windows looking out on the bay. In the front of the bar were a lot of those paper doily things hanging from the ceiling.

I had a margarita and, because it really was two for one here, I had a second as well.

235) La Gloria ye Infierno

I headed back across the river and not far from the Gigante supermarket is this small, cinder-block building on the corner of Constitucion and Francisco L. Mader. I looked all over but could not see a name and it didn't look like the kind of place I should be asking people. In fact, it didn't look like the kind of place I should be in. No overt hostility, but I certainly felt that I was somehow intruding.

An update. Although there is still no name visible the bartender at Machis Bar B. Q. (number 304) told me I should try a place called La Gloria ye Infierno on Constitucion. It turned out this was the place. I went in and showed the bartender the name the bartender had written down for me and he acknowledged that I was in the place. Mystery solved.

I had a Pacifico

236) Burros Bar

On the way back home I passed by this place and, ignoring the sign that says "Enter If You Dare," I entered. It is actually a pretty nice little place and has been around as long as I have been coming to Puerto Vallarta. The large papermache burro head that advertised the place has been removed though. It was kind of a classic photo-opportunity and I have many pictures of myself and friends standing by it.

The bar is a horseshoe shaped affair but most people choose to sit at the small tables right on the beach. The bar sits under a large palapa and there is not much in the way of decoration except for a few old license plates hanging on the wall of the small service bar.

I had a Corona.

At this point I headed home and got cleaned up for dinner. The place we ate didn't have a bar but I stopped at a couple on the way home with a buddy of mine.

237) La Pizza Nostra

This place, on Olas Altas has a few tables in front and a few more in the adjacent courtyard. It has pictures of the young Beatles and a young Elvis on the wall as well as a lot of photos of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Also a few Wizard of Oz posters and some covers of old pulp-fiction magazines. Two of the cover-stories that caught my eye were "The Flying Eyes" and "The Gods Hate Kansas." They sound like they would be good reads.

The bar is a small green cement affair and there is a pool table and a fooseball machine and not much else inside the place.

I had a Corona

238) Cafe Tizoc

Right next-door and in the same complex, I guess you would call it, is Cafe Tizoc. It is a small place with a small bar with a few stools. I honestly don't remember that much about it, but I suspect that is because there wasn't a great deal to distinquish it.

I had a Pacifico and headed home.