Puerto Vallarta 2010 wrap-up

The Newlyweds...well, two years ago
The Newlyweds...well, two years ago
Our favorite aspect of this trip was visiting my sister and brother-in-law for the first time since, well, he became my brother-in-law.

Was it just a fluke?
Or was it just a fluke?
We relied on their expertise for the whale-watching expedition, which I’m sure was the second highlight of the trip. They knew all the stuff necessary to guarantee an excellent whale-watching day: where to take the bus, how to pick a boat captain, and especially how to get those whales to jump out of the water as we approached them.

But after they headed home to crappy weather, we stuck around down here for another week,

  • soaking up the sun at the pool,
  • strolling up and down the beach,
  • observing the pelicans,
  • scouting around downtown and the local supermarket for good eats,
  • playing with camera gadgets (thanks Susie!),
  • and as is tradtional for a visit down here, OOHing and AHHing at the sunsets.

Here are some of our favorite shots of those activities:


Here are the rest of our favorite shots from this trip:

Stuff we (still) want(ed) to do (again) but which will have to wait until next time:

  • head over to Bucerias for Wednesday Night Tacos or just in general
  • check out the Botanical Gardens
  • watch baby turtles run down the beach after hatching
  • try various recommended resturants
  • Rent Segways® for zooming around the marina area
  • charter a sailboat and crew for a day sail around the bay

Some of these things are more fun or cost effective when you can split the cost more ways, or when someone who’s done it before can show you the ropes.

This has been an excellent trip, but we are dreading the return to reality. Planning our return always keeps us hopeful.

Missing out?

We’ve watched a little bit of TV since we’ve been in Mexico, and a fair bit of it is American in origin. Which brings up two questions:

1. I wasn’t a big Headline News (HLN) watcher before we moved to Germany, but I though that it was news that gave you the headlines. Instead, it appears to be very angry, aggressive women and their angry guests shouting about really lurid, horrifying crimes and the court cases that result from them. Is that about right? So what does HLN stand for now? Harassing Lurid Nasties? Horrid Ladies Network?

2. Beastmaster is a truly dreadful movie that is very funny because of its colossal badness. Marc Singer, his body oil, John Amos and Rip Freakin’ Torn. With leather diapers and weasels. It’s like it was designed for a drinking game.

Two Vallartan slideshows

Two slideshows up in this post. I hope you enjoy them.

My sister and brother-in-law departed today, headed back home to cold parts of the world (though apparently not quite cold enough for winter sports, he lamented). It was great seeing them; we attended their wedding in December 2007 (after a previous visit to Puerto Valllarta) and hadn’t seen them since. We only overlapped with them for two full days (odd that we didn’t notice that at the time of ticket purchase), but we’re thankful for the time we had and their recommendations in the whale watching adventure.

Here are just a few shots of them, with me trying to get my candid artsiness on:

And here are the shots from our whale watching adventure. There are about 30 of them…Sarah and I tried to cut it down, but although these shots are not technically perfect, we’re already reliving the thrill by viewing them. We were lucky to get not only a glimpse of a whale, but a mother-calf combo at play.

Thar she breaches!

Yesterday we walked up to the airport and caught a bus North to Punta Mita. A little over an hour later, we found ourselves in a cute little tourist town not quite as overrun as Sayulita with beach bums and surfer types.

In town, Captain Tobi approached as we made our way toward the harbor and asked if we wanted to do some whale watching. Yes, indeedy! My favorite shot from the trip is pictured here. There are more however, and I’ll upload them when I can and make a slideshow out of them.

After the whale watching, we snagged lunch at a beachside restaurant. I had Camarones Ensilantrados — Shrimp in a garlic/butter/cilantro sauce. Yum!

Here’s Punta Mita in relation to Puerto Vallarta:

View Larger Map

poolside webcam

The connectivity down at the pool is great, but the screen visibility in
the sun is not. Fortunately, a towel remedies that nicely.

Today we stocked up at the grocery store on our favorites: chorizo,
Malibu, those lime-flavored coated “japones” peanuts, coconut yoghurt.
Tomorrow will probably be a whale watching expedition. Low-key stuff
today was a good idea given the monster travel day yesterday.

Notes from our Rbg-FRA-DFW-PVR marathon

We were scheduled to leave Regensburg on EuroNight 420 at 00:14. We actually left 40 minutes later than scheduled. Still arrived at Frankfurt/Main Hbf 35 minutes early. This was our first experience with EuroNight. We had Sitzwagen tickets — nice and cheap, but rather cramped in our compartment with 3 other travelers and all their stuff. Would it be possible to buy a few seats per person in order to stretch out? We saw other compartments with some passengers all sprawled out by themselves or sharing a 6er compartment. How’d they manage that? Maybe just lucky that all their fellow compartment passengers got off the train early? And if they wanted to lay down, why not buy Liegewagen tickets? I think we’ll do that next time.

The post-Fruit-of-the-Boom-era extra security screening at the ticket counter upon checking in was the same old questions, just no longer phrased as yes/no questions, with a few new questions, like “how long have you owned that piece of luggage you’re checking?” But they made us split up for separate questioning even though we told them we’re married because we didn’t share a last name (or presumably part of one, like in a hyphenation situation) and didn’t have our marriage certificate on us (should we schlep a copy of that with us everywhere we go again? We used to have to do that in the early phase of our move here for bureaucratic purposes), even though our one piece of baggage to be checked had both our names and common address on it.

For the FRA to DFW flight, we were sitting in a row marked “DC ELECTRONIC POWER OUTLET AVAILABLE UNDER SEAT.” Never used one of those before. Is there some kind of adapter I can buy to plug in my laptop? I didn’t get a close look at the receptable, but it looks like it would accept a round plug. What voltage is it?

Time to get on our flight to PVR pretty soon. Greetings from DFW (nice airport, Texans!).

Travel Deals 13.01.2010

Hi all! I finally caught wind of some deals that weren’t total garbage. And, what better time to start planning getaways than when suffering under the Northern hemisphere’s weather systems’ current jihad.

Cathay Pacific to Australia & New Zealand
This one goes on for a while. Until February 28, you can book flights from FRA only to various destinations in Australia and Auckland in NZ. The travel period is rather restricted – May 1 to June 30 – but the prices aren’t too outrageous. With fares that start just over 760€ RT and an easily searchable site, this one looks like a winner.

Aer Lingus specials from Munich
For purchase until January 22, Aer Lingus is offering low-fare flights to Dublin and Cork in the Republic of Ireland and Belfast in Northern Ireland. The terms say that the offer is valid for flights until March 24, but the exact start date isn’t given. And the Aer Lingus site does that infuriating thing where each leg of the flight is priced separately and fare, fees and taxes are all broken out into line items and not brought together for a total until the final page before purchase. That said, you can still do flights on certain dates for as little as 79€ per head. Not too shabby.

That’s all for now. Anything else interesting comes along, I’ll post in the comments. You do the same if you have something you just gotta share.

Q. What’s in a name?

A. More than I’d have thought.

Or maybe I should not be surprised, given the caning episode. (How did that go down, by the way?) In Malaysia, four Christian churches in three days have been firebombed as protest against a Catholic newspaper’s use of the word “Allah, ” and the court system’s support of that usage. CNN reports that Muslims believe non-Muslims should not use the word at all. Here’s where I get bewildered and need your help:

  1. Does that apply to all Muslims? Or maybe just some of the fundamentalists? Is there a Koran directive or commandment or documentable dogma for this, or is CNN generalizing here?
  2. According to Wikipedia, that word is used by Arabic-speakers in general, and that is the word used for God. Non-muslim speakers of Arabic, wherever you are, do you face your Muslim neighbors’ wrath for using the word?
  3. So, what are the odds that I’d accidentally offend a Muslim, perhaps while on vacation in Malaysia (sure looks nice, Truly Asia and all) talking about God (not that I do that much, except in a historical, philosophical, or cultural context)? Or be misunderstood, talking about something that sounds like “Allah”? (Challah, Valhalla, Lalala, Margot‘s chow Nala, Alexei Lalas, the list goes on…)
  4. The Tourism Malaysia e-brochure on customs and etiquette has lots of tips about Malaysian culture — particularly interesting was the section on naming conventions on page 2 — and useful contact information, but sadly no hints for what to do if you should find yourself in a church on fire.