Planning a beach vacation when you’re really not a beach person seems like a losing proposition all around. Planning a vacation to a place that only seems like it should be about the beach, but really isn’t, is more my speed. And that’s why we booked a hotel that was on a mountain side overlooking the ocean (that was actually sans beach), and was within walking distance of all the places where one could acquire cerveza and Ms. Hipster’s one or twice daily ration of chips and guacamole.
That said, the hotel you chose in Puerto Vallarta, at least in the case of our lazy asses, was muy importante. And, boy, did we pick one! The place, and especially the room, was awesome. Hacienda San Angel used to belong to Richard Burton and his wife way back when, and the new owner bought the place and fixed it up with painstaking detail, outfitting it with Mexican antiques and really sprucing the place up with statues and furniture and all sorts of little details–including lighting hundreds of candles every night at dusk to give the place that special feel. Our room, The Celestial Suite, had its own patio with a palapa (like a Gilligan’s Island thatched thing that shades you from the scorching sun) and this view.
I’m not gonna lie and say the place was cheap–and up about two hundred stairs from town–but the majority of our days were spent by one of two pools wondering if 9:30am was too early for a margarita. This next photo about sums up the daylight hours for us. Ms. Hipster’s feet make their Web debut.
When we weren’t lounging by the pool, or trying to figure out where to go to drink, we were eating and drinking. Here’s our itinerary from the best of my recollection. My mental notes became worse and worse as the week wore on, and the beer, tequila and sun warped my mind. The last night was a total wash. Although I do recall a Mexican cover band that looked like Soundgarden circa 1992 in an empty bar serenading us with a fabulously accent-y version of U2’s ‘One’ and, by special request, a rockin’ rendition of Pearl Jam’s ‘Black.’
Dinner: El Arrayán (decent, casual Mexican food)
After-Dinner Drinks: Zoo Bar (cheesier than all get out. their CD collection seemed to run out around 1993–a re-occurring theme throughout the week)
Breakfast: Hacienda San Angel (We ate our complimentary continental breakfast underneath our palapa every day.)
Lunch: La Palapa (beach restaurant with overpriced menu, but strong drinks and friendly service.)
Dinner: Las Palomas (this was a desperation move. It was weirdly sad, but the food was okay.)
Lunch: Esquina de las Caprichos (tiny–like four tables–tapas joint right down the street from our hacienda. tasty.)
Drinks: La Bodeguita del Medio (went to grab a few beers after melting in the sun. cool Cuban joint where you can write on the walls.)
Dinner: Si Señor Garden (awful name. but super-friendly and tourist conscience. they love the business, and are very proud of the place. the food was decent, too.)
Lunch: La Chata (upstairs, open space right along the ocean. had mole for like the fifth time, and it was surprisingly decent for a place that held little hope for me.)
Dinner: Los Xítomates (bizarro mix of food. had like duck confit tacos with soy sauce and a fish special. very good. met a mariachi guy who claimed to a be a sephardic jew and bought one of his cds that turned to be very pricey. it’s still sitting in my drawer waiting to be played.)
Lunch: Las Caletas (used to be John Huston’s home. took a boat and the person sitting next to us got stung by a jelly fish. it was a buffet lunch that was fair, and the beer was awful.)
Dinner: The Red Cabbage Cafe (middle of nowhere cafe is obsessed with Frida Kahlo. had peanut soup, which was interesting. meal was just okay, but Ms. Hipster looooved hers. was empty and a little strange, honestly.)
Lunch: At our hacienda
Dinner: Daiquiri Dick’s (the name is misleading; it’s actually a nice place. didn’t need two super-tanker sized margaritas plus a “little one.” the food was very decent, and it’s right on the ocean.
After-Dinner Drinks: Not Sure (some guy bugged us every night to come in this place, and on our last we relented. the cover band–mentioned above–was decent, and the beers were cold and cheap. looking online, there is no evidence that this joint even exists.)
As seems to be our m.o., we went to Mexico during the low season. I have a feeling it’s a decidedly different place when there are actually people around. The fact that the guy outside the bar we went to on our last night recognized us as the couple that walked by every night, and that The Zoo was anything but, is testament to the two faces of a party town. While the solitude was nice in Zihuatanejo when we went there, it was kind of weird sitting in empty bars in Puerto Vallarta that you know at other times are packed with young girls with back tattoos and muffin-tops and have those chicks blowing whistles and shakin your head violently after shooting tequila in there with a caulking gun. They didn’t even bother turning on the air conditioners in the smaller stores, as it would have eaten into their non-existent off season profits. It would have been nice to have heard at least one “woo-hoo” while we were there. If for nothing else than to try to relive my old Spring break glory (or lack there of).