Day 268 – Carnival Splendor Day Four

jacobPuerto Vallarta, Mexico, a city of 225,000 people on the Pacific Ocean.  Beautiful ocean views off the port, a city surrounded by mountains, there is not a lot of room for more growth.  As you talk to people who have been here before, they talk about this quaint little city, it is not so quaint anymore, PV is a big city.

We pulled in to port early this morning, when we woke and looked off our balcony, we felt like we had parked right in the center of the city.  There is no movement on the boat and there are grass parks and streets outside. The sun is up and shining beautifully, 80+ degrees for a gorgeous January day.  I’m loving it.

We left the boat with two families in tow, including three little ones, approached by everyone and their dog to grab a taxi for $5/ea or a personal van that would take us anywhere we wanted all day long for $20/person.  There were also car rental places, all we really wanted to do was go to the Malecon and take a look around.  When Nathan suggested the city bus I had a moment of indecision, I probably wouldn’t have thought of that on my own, but I’m so glad we followed through.  The bus stop was right around the corner from the cruise ship, for a total of $8 for the day, that’s not each, that’s total, nine of us traveled wherever we wanted to go.  The bus was certainly an experience, they cruise the city streets at a fast pace, the suspension wasn’t so good, but the brakes worked awesome.  It was a good thing too.  At one time I thought I was going to get to talk about being in a bus crash, but no, we just had an exciting ride.

We spent hours in town, Jacob played on the beach as the waves crashed in, he loved the waves chasing him up the beach.  There is a little plaza with some brass sculptures, we played there for a bit too.  We found a little torta shop for some sandwiches and then we walked along the Malecon and viewed the sights.  Our final stop downtown was a great little restaurant on the grotto, then a walk through the gauntlet.  We walked the flea market on the way back to the bus stop.  Every little space is filled with a different vendor and they all want to sell the trinkets they have.  It’s like walking to the blowhole near Ensenada.  La Buffadora is an iconic place, but sometimes it  doesn’t seem worth it to be harassed by those trying to sell you stuff.

Back on the ship around sundown, we were too full to have dinner, but we stopped in for dessert.  Imagine our surprise when our table of twelve was completely empty.  Tip, our waiter was happy to see us and fed us dessert as requested.  We dropped in on the Spectacular theater for the local folklore show and then back aft to the Piano Bar to listen to some terrific music.  We spent hours listening to the piano, then a quick stop at the pizza bar before bed time.  I’m pooped, we are running fast and furious and loving every minute of it.  I don’t know why I didn’t start enjoying cruising before now.

Day 321 – Baja, 2012, Day Six

Whew, time to relax, finally.  Race week has been a blast, so much fun, so much intensity.  These are good people we’ve been with.  We finally saw some of our team this morning, that we haven’t seen throughout the race.  It’s funny, in a point to point, not everyone starts at the same location, so there’s no time for the whole team to be together.  Others we didn’t see at all because they took off going north again already.  Next year the Baja 1000 will be a loop race again, so it will mostly stage and focus between Ensenada and San Felipe.  We’ll see them all again then.

We are staying at the Araiza Palmira Hotel in La Paz, a quiet little unassuming hotel at the end of the Malecon.  It is really very nice, the beds are comfy, the staff is friendly and it’s just enough out of the way that you feel like your stuff is safe.  We walked down the Malecon for dinner, along the beach, just a sliver of the moon out reflecting on the water.  Very peaceful.  The little place we found was much bigger than we thought from the outside, but it was early so it wasn’t very busy.  As we perused the menu and talked about our choices, the chef came out and spoke with Big.  It’s a Mexican thing, he wouldn’t really address me.  Big asked about scallops, of course, he said, would you like with shrimp too.  Of course, was the response.  I could see the guy opening the shells, the scallops were huge and fresh, about an inch and a half in diameter and grilled to perfection.  Throw in some grilled shrimp (with the heads on) and we had an incredible meal.  First dinner we’ve had sitting down since we got to Baja.  Taco stands are where we usually eat.

We are taking off after another good night’s sleep and headed to the beaches, our first trip to Scorpion Bay is on the agenda on the Pacific side and then back to the Sea of Cortez side to Buenaventura.  But who knows, there might be a beach along the way that demands our attention.  The area south of Loreto was so green and beautiful when we sped through the other day, I’m looking forward to seeing it without tired eyes.