We spent six days in Puerto Vallarta with three other couples from the Chicago GSB. The boys on the trip had just graduated the previous June and without our wives would not have ventured out of our office cubicles. We stayed in the all-inclusive Dreams Resort about 3km south of town. Just a short $4 cab ride away. Since it was all-inclusive and we just started paying back our student loans, we spent much of our time in the resort just hanging out on the beach. The weather was absolutely brilliant the entire trip with temperatures in the 80's (Fahrenheit) and sunny during the day and cool in the evenings. I took a ton of photos on this trip. To reward you for clicking on links I've created, I've scattered a few choice ones throughout the page. Happy clicking!
We stayed in the all-inclusive Dreams Resort & Spa,
which is part of the Apple Vacations group (or at
least that's what I was told by the staff). The resort itself was amazing. The entire beach you see above was "ours"
or at least for resort guests only. The beach was bracketed by cliff to the north and south, and I'm standing
on the northern one for the photo. Gorgeous!
The resort has five restaurants, four bars, and a great beach (I think I mentioned that before). Melissa was our designated beach chair reserver waking up before dawn to ensure we had ample beach chair access throughout the day. Melissa, we thank you. It was a thankless, yet vital assignment. I actually have no idea when she woke up, but it was a heck of a lot earlier than yours truly.
Mornings 'til dusk were pretty much spent on the beach. Primary activities included tanning, Erynn failing to tan, playing beach volleyball, flipping the blow-up iceberg in the ocean over, body surfing, and playing spades.
...and drinking and reading were also on the agenda. MJ, showing us the skills that got him a sweet PE job, was able to multi-task by reading and tanning at the same time. Pami was then able to one-up him by downing the famous coconut drink that's big enough for four people. This vacation was one of the most relaxing I've ever had.
The happy couples on the trip were Mike & Melissa (left) and Neel & Pami (right).
MJ & Christine (left) and Erynn & myself (right)
It seems that the focus of all-inclusive resorts is eating and drinking. Fortunately, our group held up our end of the bargain. Most nights somehow ended with Neel almost getting his head chopped off or by staring down the barrel of his toy gun. We donned the obligatory sombreros at the El Patio restaurant, which was part of the resort. The waiters put on a good show supplying pink tequila shots and cool props to get the night going. The waiter on the left, David, ended up serving us on multiple nights. He only got $7/day for putting up with us so I'm recommending him for sainthood the next time I get an audience with the Pope. If you ever vacation in Mexico, please tip the waiters well.
Before you go thinking that the boys had all the fun, I thought I'd throw in a couple pictures of the girls. Melissa & Christine are hoping the Sombrero makes into next season's fashion. Erynn & Mike also had a good time.
Not all nights were wild & crazy. Probably the best meal we had was during the Mexican Fiesta, which I think occurs every week. The resort puts out quite a spread of food from different regions of Mexico. During dinner, there were regional dancers and a mariachi band. Apparently mariachi originated in the state of Jalisco, which is where Puerto Vallarta is located. The service and food quality, in general, at the resort was quite poor. It's difficult to expect more from an all-inclusive place where the staff work for tiny wages and not many tips. However, we did meet a nice couple from Minnesota.
Fortunately, the rather poor food and service was overcome by good company.
Mr. Bloch asks..."¿Don't you wish your lobster was tough like Mike's? ... Dontcha?"
Mike struggled on this trip. He couldn't stand up after MJ "accidentally" hit him in the jewels. The next night he could barely
stand after hearing of the myth of Jumanji. Once again, because of MJ.
Wait...this one is even better.
Probably the best dining experience we had was at Roberto's downtown. We all ate various levels of surf & turf and loved every once of it. One of the local delights is huachinango, or red snapper. As you can see, Mike really, really liked his shrimp. I recommend the Puerto Nuevo Shrimp and Ribeye Steak.
Dinner at Roberto's was our last night in town. To make the most of what time we had left, we went in search of a nice bar. We graciously passed up Señor Frog's for this little dive bar called Club Roxy in downtown Vallarta on Ignacio Vallarta. It doesn't look like much, but the place was awesome. I believe the name of the band is Route 66 with Pico (left), the owner, on guitar. They were a great cover band and the girls had a great time dancing. Better yet, they serve Indio Cerveza!
While at Roxy/Route 66, Mike got some love from Erynn & Melissa, and Neel showed us the funniest face I've ever seen. Seriously, I couldn't stop laughing. Okay I guess you had to be there... so go!
The main feature of the town centre is the Malecón and beach. The Malecón is a broad sidewalk along the beach where most of the large tourist shops, bars, and restaurants are.
One of the cool features of the Malecón are the number of bronze sculptures along its length. The photo on the left is of La Nostalgia by Ramiz Barquet. The previous link shows and describes most of the sculptures. I, however, was fascinated by the sand sculpture. If you've seen my past, dismal efforts at making sand castles, you'll know why I admire this skill.
The one feature that dominates the Puerto Vallarta skyline is the steeple of the Iglesia de Guadalupe (Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe). I enjoyed Parque Hidalgo even though it appears to have gone through some recent, tumultuous changes. The fountain was nice on the feet on this hot day. Plus, the wind was blowing just enough to get a nice shot of the flags.
Some other cool things I saw while walking around town were the Papantla Flyers on the Malecón and this boat filled with pelicans. There were pelicans everywhere, and I thought this was a cool photo. Click HERE to see a cool video of the flyers (it's almost 1MB and may take a while to download).
Definitely one of the highlights of the trip was the canopy tour we took with Vallarta Adventures
I had done a canopy tour while in Costa Rica, and this one was just as good.
The tour company used these cool, old Mercedes Benz trucks to transport us. They allowed us to take in the sites
during the 45 minute trip to the site, but I think the rear axle was welded to the frame since it was so bumpy.
Christine looks like she had fun, but Mike looks skeptical.
Pami and Neel are awaiting the Tarzan Swing, which Erynn had just finished.
The tour guides for the canopy tour were a lot of fun. Safety was paramount, but they were able to make us all laugh constantly. A couple of them were professional surfers that worked there as their "day job". What a life! The tour consisted of hiking a tiny amount, sliding down a number of zip lines, and repelling down a tree. The right photo shows us all watching the video of the day in the commons area. Amazingly, Erynn somehow has her eyes closed!
The low-light of the trip, besides figuring out what Jumanji meant, was a group of other guests at the hotel. A select group of over 100 fine young specimens from Highland Park High School near Dallas, Texas decided it'd be a good idea to drink and smoke on a Mexican beach for a week. Now, if you were an ephebophile you would have been in heaven. Strangely, none of us are so we weren't.
We've all done crazy things in our lives and in particular around the age of 18. We recounted any number of our own wacky stories from this age during the few days we watched these kids. The fact that the kids were clearly well off, drank too much too early in the morning, and thought the trip was an excuse to "hook up" with anything in sight. The problem was their parents!!! This appeared to be an annual, quasi school-sanctioned event. There were tons of parents around. I saw an 18 year old girl walk up to her mother with a cigarette and beer in her hand to chat! I heard parents discussing which kids hooked up with each other the previous night. I'm not that old yet, but we were mortified.
Just remember that just because you have money doesn't mean you have any class at all. And just because you all shop at Abercrombie and Hollister with your parent's credit card doesn't mean you have style, but rather you look remarkably bland in groups of 20 or more.
Left Photo: (from left to right) Erynn, Pami, Melissa, and Christine
Right Photo: (from left to right) MJ, Neel, myself, and Mike
Almost every evening we had incredible sunsets. Here are a couple of my favorites.
© 2006 Doug Rathburn