Saturday, March 12, 2005

Another One Bar Day

Friends of mine arrived a little after noon today. They quickly settled in and I had frozen margaritas waiting for them. We drank them down and headed to:

306) Bob´s Place

My buddy´s nickname is Bob (kind of like ¨Her name was McGill, she called herself Lil, but everyone knew her as Nancy¨). It is a bit of a long story because his name is not Robert. Anyway, I digress.

Bob´s Place is on Aquiles Serdan, the last street before the river on the south side of town. It is up about half a block from the bay. The top of the bar is blue tile and the bar itself is brick. There are eight wooden bar-chairs with tourquise cushions. Behind the bar is fiberglass replica of a 230 pound blue marlin that was caught by a 14 year-old boy. Bob, the real Bob and owner of the place, was here and explained all of this to us. If you go on a catch-and-release fishing boat they take a picture of the fish, estimate the weight, and then release the fish. Then, using the picture of the fish as a guide you can pay to have a fiberglass replica ¨made.¨ I always suspect, though, that someone looks at the picture and then hollers out ¨Bin 14,¨ and someone hauls down one of the replicas of a blue marlin in the 200 to 250 pound weight range. But then I am a cynic.

To the left of the bar was a poster depicting pictures of all kinds of billed fish. Made it easy to identify the one behind the bar. Behind the bar there were a few pictures of people and the fish they caught. There was a picture of the father of the 14 year-old boy, but none of the boy himself, for some reason. There was also light wooden shelving behind the bar backed by a mirror. The shelving held their liquor supply. On either side of the blue marlin were carriage lamps with light blue glass. White Chrismas lights were twinkling above the fish. The floor of the bar was gray-patterned tile and the walls were light blue. There is a stairway leading up to apartments above the place. Inquire at the car-rental place next door for rates.

A small outdoor eating area is in front of the place and it is covered by a multi-colored awning strung with multi-colored Christmas lights. A nice courtyard is in the back surrounded by a wall and covered by green-corogated fiberglass. A large stained-glass hangs in the back with doves and sailboats. Fans with lights hang overhead. A sparrow was pecking for crumbs on the floor to complete the naturalistic setting.

I had a decent frozen margarita and we all headed home.

Upon arriving home we passed a party going on next door and stopped in and drank more than, perhaps, we should have. We then went to a Mariachi concert and by the time that was over we decided to call it a night. My friends were up very early this morning to catch their flight and were pooped.

Well, 306 down and 694 to go. Was hoping to hit 350 bars before leaving Mexico but don´t think I will make it. Revised schedule is 350 before the end of the month. Still well ahead of schedule though.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Not Much Of A Friday

A slow day today. There is going to be a pot-luck party down at the pool tonight so I spent most of the day buying groceries and making deviled eggs. I pride myself on my deviled eggs even though I only came in second in a deviled egg making contest once. But that is another story altogether.

305) Internet Bar and Cafe

This is kind of sad in that the only bar I am hitting today is the place that I am sitting in writing this. However, The place does have a bar with stools that is separated by a partition from the area where the PCs are located and I did sit at the bar and drink my beer before coming here to write this. It is on Madero, up about a block from the beach and right next to the Hotel Gaviota Vallarta. Across the street is a little place called Los Lobos that bills itself as a nightclub. I will have to make a point of stopping in there one evening.

The bar has a wooden top and a tile front with a large brown, tan, and green diamond pattern. There is a pelican lamp sitting on one end of the bar. There are a lot of pictures of old Mexico behind the bar and, of course, a few of our friend Zapata. Two televisions playing Mexican music videos. I am begining to like them more and more all the time. There is also one of those pictures of a waterfall where it looks like the water is actually flowing down the mountain. There is a fairly large mirror behind the bar with a ceramic elephant head attached to the top. Three shelves of liquor finish off the decor.

Not much point in writing about the rest of the place, it is just an internet cafe with large windows facing the street and large windows in the back looking out on the next door hotel´s swimming pool. The blinds were pulled though so I had to sneak a peek to see this.

I had a Pacifico at the bar and then slid over here to post this.

Creeping along ever so slowly today with 305 down and 695 left to go. Hopefully I can gain a bit more ground next week when my friends show up. The problem will be prying my buddy out of a bar after only one drink. I know how hard it is for me to leave sometimes, and I am a man with a mission!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

100 Bars In Puerto Vallata

I hit my 100th bar since arriving in Puerto Vallarta today. Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Getting a bit harder to find them though, but I have spotted a few to visit in the future.

302) 2 For 1

Yes, that actually is the name of the bar as well as it's drink philosophy. I am not a big fan of this concept because sometimes you really do want to stop in for just one, like today. I still have to pay the "2 for 1" price of 35 pesos for two beers even though I only drank one.

The grand opening of this bar, located in the Mall Vallarta at the end of the Malecon and up one block, is tomorrow. They were still putting the finishing touches on the place. It used to be a different bar but they changed owners and are doing a major remodeling job. It is a second story bar and you get to it by taking an escalator from the street. This is the only escalator I have ever seen in Puerto Vallarta. Let's see how it holds up. Can't do any worse than the escalators in the subways in New York that hardly ever run.

The bar area itself sits off to the right of the second floor of the street-level mall. It looks like it is being completely remodeled because it was being worked on and there were no shops open. The bar itself is light wood with a brick front. There were half a dozen wooden bar-chairs. Behind the bar were two wooden cabinets with wrought-iron hinges. Behind and above the bar was an unfinished shelf divided into five compartments. There was a television in each of the end compartments and mirrors at the back of the other three. It wasn't set up yet so there were no bottles on display. There is a DJ booth in one corner with windows on either side that look out on the malecon and the bay. From the music being played it looks like it will have either a disco or techno flavor to it.

There is a wrap-around balcony with large glass windows and French doors. The color scheme is light-orange (top) and dark-orange (bottom) painted plaster walls with a dark green band separating the two colors. The ceiling above the bar and the area immediately behind the bar-chairs is lower than the ceiling in the rest of the place and is painted a sea-green and has recessed spot-lighting. The rest of the place has a much higher ceiling with those beehive lights and ceiling fans. The floor is large marble squares seperated by stones inlaid in cement. Lots of small round wooden-topped tables sitting on metal poles with high wooden chairs.

I was talking to the bartender about the overnight destruction of a park about a block away to make room for a parking garage. He said it was too bad but there were so many cars in Puerto Vallarta now and so many people driving in from the surrounding areas to work there that something had to be done. He said that many people, including tourists, think of Puerto Vallarta as still being a Mexican town when in reality, when you consider the greater Puerto Vallarta area, it now has a population of over half-a-million people. Something that I had never really thought about. There will probably be more escalators in the future.

I had a Pacifico and headed back to my side of the river.

303) La Escondida Sports Bar

Back over on the south-side of the river at 210 Jacarandas, was this nice little place. It had a very nice light-wood parquette topped bar with a dark wooden front. There were 6 dark-wood bar-chairs with dark-blue cushions. There was a nice brick arch over the bar hung with white Christmas lights. Narrow shelves behind the bar held an ample liquor selection. There were triangular, wood-framed mirrors behind the bar as well and several sports pennants. Also some flowers and a few pictures of what I assumed to be regular customers. There were several floral arrangements about the place and they were all real flowers. All in all this was a very pleasant bar with a friendly bartender named Mary.

The floor was gray tile and there was a bunch of little tables with bright yellow tablecloths with white table cloths set diagonally on top. The top table cloths were covered with bright sport-oriented patterns. The chairs had blue cushions. The whole place had brick walls with large windows on the side of the place opposite the bar. The wall with the door had a large window as well with a bright orange-glass arch. There were a lot of sports pennants hanging about the place. The overhead lights had large transparent yellow globes and there were a few overhead fans. There was a jukebox in the back and three televisions. The only one that was on was covering Clinton's surgery, endlessly. Jeez, it wasn't serious, he lived, he will recover. Enough already. There was a sports schedule posted so it appears that they do cover games when they are televised.

I talked with a guy there who had been coming down for 22 years. He said it was largely a local's bar but there were a lot of people like him who stayed in the surrounding hotels and made this their home away from home. He also told me that the reason there are now, all of a sudden, so many more cars in Puerto Vallarta is that just three years ago the dealers began selling cars on time. Prior to that you had to pay cash to get one. Once people could finance their purchase sales exploded. Hence, no park and a parking garage.

I had a Pacifico (12 pesos vs. the 35 'two for one price I just left' and headed out.

304) Machis Bar B. Q.

Over on Cardenas on the corner of Naranjo (Spanish for 'orange,' but don't expect more) was my 100th bar in Mexico. This is an upstairs restaurant/bar. The bar itself is black laquer set on a brick base with wooden bar-chairs that had red cushions. Above the bar was a big, cone-shaped rattan lamp as well as several small wooden planes hanging from the ceiling. The planes were more like toys than models.

There were brick walls and a narrow wrap-around balcony with tables and chairs. The balcony was covered by a red awnings. The rest of the place had tables with chairs with either the same red cushions as the bar-chairs or bright multi-colored cusions. The three tables against one wall had brick cushioned benches instead of chairs. The roof was a beamed A-frame with a red tiles. There was a brightly colored unbrella and a green golf-bag with clubs hanging from the ceiling as well. In the back was an old Singer sewing-machine. There were white lace curtains hanging from the windows and a nice cool breeze blowing through. BB King was playing on the sound system. The owner or cook came in with a load of corned-beef getting ready for St. Paticks Day when, I was assured, they would have both green beer and green tequila.

A guy drinking at the bar had just moved down to Puerto Vallarta and his girl-friend will be tending bar at The Sandbar. I haven't been to the Sandbar yet (it is right nextdoor to Sweeny's) because they are just building the bar into this place. It is supposed to be open in about a week. He said he was looking for a job as a bartender and I told him the last place I was at had a sign up saying they were looking for one. The bartender here wrote him a note of introduction so he was going to check it out. Good-luck to him. The bartender, when she found out about my quest, also recommended that I try La Gloria yel Infierno. She said I would find it to be an interesting place. I can hardly wait. They also have a guest bartender day here where an amatuer like me could try his hand. She said they didn't do it during the busy season, now, though because it got to be too stressful for everyone concerned. Darn.

An update. I checked out La Gloria yel Infierno and found out it was a bar that I had been into and couldn´t find the name. I have gone back and updated my post to reflect the name and how I found it.

I had a Pacifico (12 pesos here as well) and headed home. I am just giving you the prices on these last couple of places to show that the two beers that I paid for at the last two places cost less, in total, than that generous 2 for 1 offer.

Not a bad day, spent quite awhile in each place because they were so friendly and I was in a chatty mood. 304 down (100 in Puerto Vallarta, Whee!!) and 696 to go.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Small World

I only went to one bar today. Went shopping in the morning and then headed out with the wife and another couple to a town called Ixtapa to eat at a restaurant that had no bar, sigh. Nothing really close to the place either so after getting home I just called it a day.

301) Espresso Pub

This is a pizza place on the corner of Vallarta and Carranza, right across the street from Torito's. There was a large, light-tan cement bar with a marble-patterned tile top. It had light-tan wood trim and metal bar-rails. There were 7 wooden bar-stools. There were light wood cabinets and shelving behind the bar and a nice selection of liquors and wine. There were three televisions, one tuned to ESPN and two tuned to Fashion TV. The floor was tan cement painted a light blue. The paint is worn off to the extent I first thought there was sawdust on the floor. There is a smaller area, down a step, in front of the coal-burning pizza oven that has the traditional reddish-orange tile.

There were about a dozen wooden tables with green table-cloths and wooden chairs. There were also a few picnic-tables and benches. Pictures of city-scapes were on the wall including one of the 1940 New York skyline. There were also a few large French liquor posters; Martini and Rossi, Asti Cinzano, and Porto Ramos Pinto.

I was wearing an old Minnesota Timberwolves sweatshirt and the bartender, an older fellow, asked me if I lived in Minnesota. I told him I grew up there but now lived in Brooklyn. He started to ask me where in Brooklyn and from his questions it soon became obvious that he was from there. It then turned out that he had moved from Brooklyn to Minneapolis. He also went to Boston University for a year and I had spent two years in Boston. We chatted for a bit. He had been coming to Puerto Vallarta on vacation every year for 30 years and finally moved down here 5 years ago. I have only been coming down every year for about 15 years so I guess I have a few to go before moving here. It is amazing the number of people who come down here for a vacation and then come back year after year. I haven't seen that to such an extent any other place I have visited.

I had a Pacifico and headed home lugging the groceries my wife had bought at the municipal market.

Again, not much progress, but 301 down and 699 left to go.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

A Pleasant Tuesday

The weather is clearing so it was a nice day for a walk. I took a stroll across a bridge to the north side of town and walked along Morelos, a street up a block or two from the malecon and a bit further down than I had walked before.

298) La Casa del Tequila

At first I thought this might just be a place that sold tequila. When you first walk in there is a tequila tasting area and they say they have 350 kinds of tequila for sale. It looked like it. They have a lot of tequilas that you just don´t find in the stores and, interestingly, do not have the ones you do find. They focus more on the more unusual and more expensive types. I only sampled one, it was very good, before walking through that area to my real goal.

Behind the tasting area was a very nice and quite ornate wood and metal bar. I thought it was a genuine antique but after talking to the bartender I found out it was only ten-years old. It was, however, made with old planking from barns and doors so it had that antique look about it. The top of the bar had four wood planks about three feet long, one foot wide, and half an inch think affixed to it. The planks were framed in iron bands about one and a half inches wide with large rivets about every three inches. Although the iron looked old and rusted I found out it had been painted with a special paint to make it look that way. The front of the bar was a pounded metal separated into panels with the same type of bands described above. In the center of each panel (except for two where it looked like they had been removed) were brass looking emblems with an agave plant and the name of the bar inscribed. The back of the bar was equally ornate but all wood. There were mirrors and glass shelves that held an impressive liquor selection, mostly tequilas. The bar stools had backs and real leather seats. The bar-rail looked to be twisted wrought iron and was held in place by wide iron bands with ornate curls on each end. The wall behind the bar was painted to look like storage racks of, what I presumed to be, tequila barrels.

There was also a large, bright eating area with several tables. Not too large with overhead fans and those behive lights. I asked a couple who were leaving how the food was and they said it was very good. I saw the little kitchen and the Mexican lady making the tortillas looked like the real deal.

I had a margarita on the rocks and it was one of the best I have ever had.

299) La Casa del Habano

At the end of the block, across the street and up a bit on Aldama, was this interesting place. At least interesting for here in Puerto Vallarta. When I first walked in I thought it was just a place to buy cigars, but the sign out front did say bar. They sell nothing but Cuban cigars and have a very large, walk-in, humidified temperature-controlled room to store them in. A very impressive selection too.

Walking though this area you enter a very nicely appointed smoking room with a small, three stool bar. The bar has a black and red marble top and sits off to one side of the smoking room. Given the number of comfortable chairs and sofas available the bartender thought it was a bit strange that I chose to sit at the bar, but rules are rules.

There were a couple of televisons that were turned off and a lot of books and magazines available for reading while you enjoyed a good cigar and a drink. The pictures on the walls were mostly cigar related and cigar advertisements. There was a large poster of Che Guevera enjoying a cigar. He seems to be second only to Zapata in popularity down here. On one wall was a nice stained glass hanging of people harvesting tobacco and to the left of the bar was a black stained glass hanging with the words ¨Habanas unicos desedes 1492.¨

I spent my time at the bar smoking a small cigar, having my drink, and chatting with the bartender. She was born in Puerto Vallarta and has lived here all her life, 32 years. We chatted about the changes we have seen and she told me about some small towns that I might want to visit. She was somewhat surprised that I had been to several of them already. While I was there a fellow, Wayne, stopped by. He was from Niagra, Canada. This was his first time in Puerto Vallarta and he was going to be here for four weeks. We chatted a bit as well.

I had a Cuba libre.

300) Etc. la Cantina

Back on Morelos and down a block or two from La Casa del Tequila, was this large, but not touristy, bar. The bar itself was a fairly large wooden three-sided affair with a tan marble-patterned linoleum top. There were beer cases and a few kegs being stored there along with the obligatory beer cooler. The bar-stools were plain wooden affairs. The bar rail was seemed to be a large iron tube. The most notable decorative touch were a number of old saddles mounted on the high up on the white plaster walls. There was a bit of orange paint to brighten the place up a bit.

Although this was on a busy street, the back-side of the bar was cool. You could just hear a touch of the traffic through the doors and windows that looked out on the street.

There were a lot of wooden tables and chairs and, from the menu on the wall, it looked like you could order Mexican bar food: Alitas, Burritos, Nachos, Carnes F., Papas F., Camarons, and Cacahauates. I am not sure what half of that stuff actually is, and I wasn´t hungry enough to find out.

There wasn´t anyone in the place but me and the bartender and he didn´t seem to speak English. Maybe the place livens up at night, it was only a little after 3:00 P.M. The bartender was watching a soccer game on television, Chelsea vs. Barcelona. He didn´t seem too pleased when Chelsea scored to increase their lead to 4 to 2 (I subsequently saw on the news that this was also the final score).

I had a Pacifico and headed home.

Not a real milestone like 250, but round numbers are always nice, so with 300 down I now have 700 left to go.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Dreary Monday

Man, the weather here has been really unusual this year. Unusual in that it has been heavily overcast and even a bit drizzly a lot. And that is very unusual for this time of year. Yesterday was no exception. Hopefully this will blow over pretty soon.

No glory yesteday. Picked up the Vallarta Tribune and there was no picture. Wasn't too surprised. When they took the pictures on Friday and said it would be in the Monday edition I didn't think that would give them enough time. It is a weekly publication and their stories are always about a week or more out of date. We shall see what happens next week.

The wife and I took a bus to the hotel zone and hit a few bars though, so the day wasn't a complete wash. Hey, we still have the sand and the sea.

295) Referee's Sports Bar

This place is on the main bus-route to the hotels from out of town, next to the Mega supermarket. The name of the avenue is Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio. There was a good-sized 3 sided reddish-brown formica-topped bar with a maroon vinyl arm-rest. Several brown wooden stools with brown-padded vinly seats made for a comfortable place to park oneself for the first beer of the day. There was a big area behind the bar filled with shelves, beer-cases, a large sink, and a couple of large coolers for beer. There were three televisons high on the wall behind the bar. Two were showing sports and the one with the volume turned on was showing Mexican videos. There was a decent looking pool table by the entrance.

There was a fairly large interior with nice looking tables and chairs. The tables by the windows had little padded booth-like seating. The was lots of sports memorabilia hanging about, mostly posters and pennants. The overhang above the bar had faux stained-glass team logos. My wife told me that the woman's bathroom, or banos damas, had many pictures of well-buffed, mostly naked men. Suddenly I had the urge to pee. No luck though, just pictures of scantily clad women in the banos caballeros. The picture of Madonna was a real stunner though.

I had a Negra Modelo

296) Citrus

Down the road a bit and back into Plaza Villas Vallarta was this relatively new, and new-looking place. It had a primarily salmon and white color scheme. The bar had a black marble top and a black cinder-block front to it. There were half a dozen black bar-stools with backs and salmon cushions. The back of the bar was also black cinder-block with light tan shelves holding a large selection of liquors. The lights above the bar were coverd by large, rectangular, fabric-coverd shades, one on top of the other. A lucky bamboo-shoot in a citrus-yellow vase sat at one end of the bar.

The back and side walls of the place was lined with tables and chair that matched the bar-stools except for the front-half of the back wall closest to the the glass entrance. That had salmon settees. The floor was vinyl made to look like light wood, but not doing a very good job. The outdoor area had the same type of tables and chairs as inside except for a couple of larger lounge chairs off to one side. The outdoor area was covered by a large salmon covered awning. There were overhead fans with lights.

I had a gin and tonic.

297) Le Petit

This place had at least three versions of the name on various signs and cards. Aside from the one above it was also referred to as Le Petite and Le Petite France. Take your pick. It too was on Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascensio, next to the Fiesta Americana hotel. There was a large life-like mannequin at the door to greet you. It had a large dark-wood bar with a real brass rail. It also had both tall and short barstools for which my wife, fairly short, was grateful. There was an octagon liquor cabinet in the middle with a fairly large metal sculpture meant to evoke the Eiffel Tower. Above the bar was a similar shaped wooden structure supported by brass poles. This held the overhead lights and was fronted by stained-glass patterns.

There were large and small paintings and posters by Henri de Toulouse-Latrek and fewer by other artists on the walls. There were a couple of victrolas on display and other knick-knacks as well. There was also an antique cabinet displaying antique silverware. This place had real dark-wood plank floors and a dark wood-beamed ceiling with lots of track lighting that might make it interesting at night. The dining area looked out over a well-manicured garden. The combination of a colonial French looking restaurant and the somewhat tropical looking graden evoked images of what Indo-China might have been like.

I had a Pernod on the rocks at the bar and then we had a late lunch, early dinner (it was 2:30 P.M.). Food was fantastic and I highly recommend the place if you are ever in town. We then caught a bus back to our part of time and I picked up a bottle of coffee liquor and made after-dinner coffees.

Three more bite the dust and 703 left to go.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Sunday Stroll

It was kind of a gloomy day, not really beach weather. I was growing a bit restless so I decided to take the bus to the far side of town and just stroll around to see what I could see. The area I chose was around the public sports park where there are a few soccer fields, a baseball diamond, a running track, etc. You may recall that I have already visited a couple of other bars right across the street from this park, but I decided to wander a bit further afield. There weren't a lot of bars and the first place I found by hearing the click of billiard balls.

293) Centro Butanero Caballo Ballo

The only word in the name that I know is 'caballo' that means either horse or rider, depending upon its useage. All there was was the sign above a little doorway that opened directly onto a flight of cement stairs. I found the doorway and saw the sign because I had heard the click of billiard balls and was tracking it down. There was a Corona sign in the stairwell so I took a chance and went upstairs. The doorway was located on Rio Danubio (the street, not the river) just down the street from Brasillio.

There was, indeed, a bar there. It was a long old wooden bar with six wooden bar stools or chairs (they had backs). There wasn't a brass rail but there was a small brick protrusion that you could rest your foot upon if you chose to stand. The plave had a red-tile floor, the standard variety you see everywhere, and a jukebox playing Mexican melodies. There was a billiard table and a couple of older guys playing three-cushion, although not very well, from what I could tell. They were drinking and having a happy time though, keeping an eye on a soccer game that was playing on the one televison set. To the side of the billiard table was a large wooden cue holder with a broken mirror. Looked like the kind of place where a mirror might get broken. There were a couple of pictures of a Mexican rodeo on the wall, one mounted on either side of the pool cue holder. Maybe that is where the place got its name. There were seven white plastic tables covered with red and white checked tablecloths with the Corona logo on them. The white plastic chairs also had the Corona logo.

I had a Pacifico.

294) Nuevo Maracaibo Bar

It turned out that I wasn't too far from a fairly large walled cemetery. I walked around it but didn't find anymore bars so I walked straight down the street from the entrance. Mexican cemeteries are really interesting affairs and if I wasn't on a mission I might have spent some time looking around in it. They have many ornate tombstones and such, usually brightly decorated with flowers. Many of them have framed pictures or portraits of the deceased. They are usually very well maintained.

Anyway, I digress. Down Belice, the street, and just about at the intersection to San Salvador was this lively little place. It had a small wooden bar with blue-wash walls. There was a pool table and the place was fairly crowded. There were two white brick decorative arches along one of the walls with paintings of Puerto Vallarta on the wall underneath them. The rest of the decor consisted primarily of posters of scantily clad women and cars. Kind of what you would expect to see in a garage. There were a couple of pictures of Marilyn Monroe as well. There was kind of a darker room of to one side with a few tables and chairs and several people were in there drinking but I didn't pop my head in to check it out. There were plenty of people in the main room where I was and a couple came over to ask me where I was from, where I was staying, how I liked Puerto Vallarta, etc. Seemed like a friendly enough crowd that probably didn't see to many tourists in the place. Definitly a local hangout, looked like everyone in the place pretty much knew each other.

I had a Pacifico and ate some of the tasty spiced peanuts in the bowl on the bar.

I couldn't see too much more in the area so I decided to simply take the long walk home. It was getting really cloudy and I actually thought it might rain, although that would be most unusual for this time of year.

Knocked off 2 more on a day I thought would be a day-off so I now have 706 left to go.