2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

We are off on a new Trip!

Hi Travellers,

We are off on a new trip beginning 6 Jan 2012, to Panama.  Please join us at:

http://jkhowie1.wordpress.com

Our new blog will have a different look and feel and have a stronger emphasis on photography.  Just follow the link to the new blog and sign up to follow our trip.

Best wishes

Keith

 

Can we have your Feedback Please?

Hi travel fans,

Here are a few simple questions that will give us some feedback to allow us to improve future travel blogs.  Please take a moment and let us know how we did.  Also, all comments will be appreciated.

Thanks again and see you next trip.

Keith

Bye Bye Mexico!

Hi to you all,

Well, today is our last beautiful, sunny, warm day in this Mexican paradise.  We had breakfast at the hotel for the first time today, while waiting for our taxi to the airport.  As we sat in the relaxed atmosphere I realized just how beautiful this place is.  Our table is open to the magnificent view of the bay and you feel the soft breeze from the water directly in front of us and from the slowly turning overhead fan.  There is classical music playing softly in the background.  The staff is friendly and attentive and the food is good.  I don’t want to go home!

The main doors to Villa Vera are large beautiful carved wooden doors.  They contain intricate carvings and are in very nice shape.

As we reflect on our week here in Zihuatanejo there are some positive thoughts that come to mind that you may find useful if you ever come to this part of Mexico:

  1. We think the Zihuatanejo area is more authentic than Ixtapa.  The downtown if full of small shops and the city has put roofs over many of the sidewalks so the shopping experience is much more comfortable;
  2. The resorts here are smaller than in Ixtapa.  A smaller resort offers a much more intimate experience.  You are far more likely to meet new friends and it is much quieter than the big resorts in Ixtapa with their poolside sound systems turned up to 3 decibels above the threshold of pain;
  3. Most of the resorts are located adjacent to Playa La Ropa.  While our resort was located across the bay from Playa La Ropa, it was quite isolated.  If you are not prepared to either taxi or walk down the mountain to town you will be fine.  It’s only a 15 minute walk but by the end of the week coming back becomes a bit of a chore particularly with a full belly of food;
  4. Food prices here (and in Ixtapa) run around half of what you will pay at home.  There are lots of restaurants to choose from and the food is excellent.  Don’t take the all-inclusive option.; and
  5. The beaches are excellent.  Both the downtown beach as well as Playa La Ropa are great beaches.  The downtown one tends to be a bit quieter and the water is less rough as it is protected somewhat from the ocean access to the bay.  This would be better for swimming, although Playa La Ropa tends to be busier with both tourists and locals.

You may remember from Shame on You Mexico and from Its Not What You Know But Who You Know, that we were supposed to have a solution to the materials stolen from Alicia by the airport security staff.  When we arrived at the airport, we asked for the person who was supposed to return the soda pop and toiletries taken from Alicia on 21 May.  Nobody seemed to know of the person.  We eventually found a security supervisor working for Continental who told us that the manager of the airport did not work on the weekend and was not the person we had the name of.  We explained what we were supposed to recover and she explained that she knew that there was no Apple Pop seizures in their inventory.  Well, you can’t believe everyone I guess!

The process of checking in at the Zihuatanejo airport involves a physical search of checked luggage before you get to the desk to get your boarding pass.  We were told that this process will disappear soon as they are soon to receive x-ray equipment for the luggage.  All passengers go through an inspection, it’s not just a spot check.  As we were having our luggage checked, the line up next to us, for an Aero Mexico flight was also being checked.  I watched as 4 cans of soda pop were removed from a protesting passenger’s checked luggage.  When we got to the desk the security supervisor we had talked with earlier was there so I asked her why the pop had been removed from the checked luggage.  Se indicated that there was a crush hazard if the luggage was stacked or handled badly.  I asked her why there was no sign warning travellers that soda pop would be removed from checked luggage before they entered the luggage check area.  People might want to sit down and drink it themselves and not donate it to airport security staff.  Also, you cannot take pop through the personal security screening and in your carry on so it would be better to remove the pop from checked luggage and give it back to the traveller.  They could decide how to dispose of it before they went through personal security.  Anyways, the response from the supervisor was a typical Mexican shrug.  It seems that, although pop in checked luggage provides no security hazard, in Mexico they seem to want to protect travelers from themselves.  As far as I am concerned, if I want to take the risk of having soda pop leak all over the inside of my luggage, I should be able to do so.

Well, this brings our trip and my postings to a close.  It has been lots of fun for me to share our trip with you through my ramblings and images.  This blog software works well, once you get used to it.  To date we have had 1,367 views, and I would consider that a success.  If anyone is interested in doing a blog, WordPress.Com gives you 3 GB of free space and the use of all their different templates and widgets.  All of this blog has only used up 36.8 MB including the 181 images uploaded to the site.  I would definitely use this process again.

Now, I have no way of knowing who the 1,367 people are, as I only get a hit count.  As such, I will produce one more posting with a short survey attached and ask you to give some feedback for future uses.  Also, if you would like to be advised of our next trip we do this for, please subscribe to this blog by providing your email address at the bottom of the right column of this posting.  I will send you an email before the next trip with instructions of how to reach the blog for that trip.

Thanks so much for your interest in our trip.  Remember, if you ever need someone to document your vacation, I’m available.  It will just cost you airfare, accommodation, and food.  Also, if anyone wants a higher resolution copy of any of the images in this blog, at a reasonable cost, shoot me an email at khowie@shaw.ca.  Tell me the image name (mouse over the image and the name will show) and what size you would be interested in.  I will get back to you with details.


Playa La Ropa and a Wedding on the Beach

Hi travellers,

Guess what!  Another sunny warm day here in paradise.  Its was 33 C and we went to the beach.  This was our last full day here in beautiful Zihuatanejo area.

Our other new friends, Julie and Ed, move over to the Pacifico resort in Ixtapa for another week today.  I wonder if we could camp out on their balcony?

For our last breakfast we headed down town with Julie and Ed for breakfast at Bananas restaurant.  They make a mean fruit smoothie.  I liked the sign on the outside of the restaurant about the soccer game.  They spell kind of  like I do.  Too bad they don’t make a spell checker for a white board.

After an enjoyable breakfast we said our good byes and jumped on a bus for Playa La Ropa.  I think when they retire the buses that run from Ixtapa to Zihuatanejo, they put them on this route.  I’ve not seen such beat up old busses since our early travels to Mexico.  They rattle and shake and all sound like they need a new muffler.  Oh well, the fare here is only 5 pesos and they run with all the windows and doors open so you are not overcome by fumes.

Playa La Ropa is right across the bay from our resort.  If you stood in our resort pool and looked across the bay, Playa La Ropa would be at about 10 AM.  Today is Saturday and even with the triathlon in Ixtapa, the beach is busy with locals.  It’s very scenic here, with resorts built along the beach and up the hillside.  I took a shot of our resort from Playa La RopaVilla Vera is the big brown building in the top right quadrant of the image.

We were in Zihuatanejo twelve years ago for a day when we drove up the coast from Acapulco.  Until today, we were not sure where in the Zihuatanejo we had stayed.  Today, we located it and some other familiar landmarks.  It was here at Playa La Ropa!  Judge for yourself from the images I have enclosed.

There were a group of about 20 high school kids sitting just down the beach from us.  Some of the boys started doing some tumbling on the sand.  One of the kids was pretty good.

We headed back to the resort later in the afternoon, surviving the gassy bus ride once again.  The climb up the hill is getting harder and harder to do.  For those that need to know, it is actually 0.75 Km and takes just under 10 minutes to climb.  According to my workout monitor, you will burn 37 Kcal on the uphill walk.  The last part is the killer with a 45 step steep staircase to climb.

We decided we would descend the mountain one last time for dinner tonight.  It is a bit cooler and there is a steady cooling breeze so we picked a restaurant we had been to before, Tatas restaurant.  It was a beautiful night and they are located right on the beach, in fact, in the sand about 20 feet from the water.

Because this was our last night I elected to leave my camera at the resort.  It weighs 14 pounds and after two weeks of lugging it around with me everywhere, I thought it would be nice to have a night without it.  Now this has backfired on me before and, sure enough, it did again tonight.

We arrived at our restaurant and right next door on the sand there was a local wedding happening.  It was just a small group of local people but they had set up a small shelter made of palm leaves right on the public beach and lined both sides of a 20 or so foot pathway from the beach walkway with coconuts that were carved out, then filled with kerosene and lit.   The bride was in a long white dress and the groom was also in white but Mexican casual.  The whole service took about 15 minutes or so and all the people walking down the beach applauded when the ceremony was over.  I wish I had some pictures to show you.  I should have guessed.  We have been here 3 Saturdays and the previous 2 have both had weddings.

We had a great dinner and an opportunity to say good-bye to Umberto, the proprietor, who we have come to know.  I had garlic shrimp and Andrea had lobster.  With drinks, the meal was only 360 pesos (around $35.00).  We lingered an hour or so until dusk watching a half-dozen or so kids on boogie boards performing in the surf.  It was a fitting close to a wonderful vacation.

There probably will be no post tomorrow as we overnight in Houston.  I’ll catch you up when we get home on Monday.


A Dress for Andrea

Howdy,

Today was another perfect day here in paradise.  Sunny and 32 C again.

Today we headed into Ixtapa for lunch at the Pacifico resort.  We had a coupon  for 400 pesos (about $40.00) to use up.  Have you ever tried to spend $40.00 on breakfast in Mexico?  It’s a bit like the game you played as a kid where you tried to spend a million dollars out of the Sears Catalog.  It’s hard to do but we did it.  With a tip, we were able to spend it all.  (Murray, you’d have been proud)

Part of the lunch was a huge fresh fruit concoction that was to die for.  Take a watermelon and lop the bottom off it so it will sit flat on a plate.  Cut the melon off about 5 inches above the plate then take an ice cream scoop and dig 3 large holes in the watermelon.  Put the scoops of watermelon back on top of the watermelon, then stand full size slices of cantaloupe, honey-dew melon,  and papaya in the 3 watermelon holes.  Finish it off with a big old scoop of lime sherbet.  I’d love to show you a picture but we kind of got eating before I got the camera out and it was gone before I could take the picture!

We finished our shopping in Ixtapa and escaped before there were too many barriers set up to impede the traffic.  There is a huge triathlon here tomorrow.  Apparently it is an annual event and a very big deal here.  There is lots of preparation underway and we were warned that trying to get anywhere in Ixtapa tomorrow will be difficult.

I think I have been away from home too long!  All the mannequins here look particularly well filled out and all the stores have them.  They don’t seem to look the same as most of the people we see walking in the street but I will keep looking and let you know if I find a match.  😉  For some reason, that has now escaped me, I thought that this information might be useful to someone.

We were walking down the street and found a wedding shop with some dresses that are quite different from home.  (Alicia, pay attention)  They are really quite beautiful.  Andrea has picked out the gold one to wear to Alicia’s wedding. (Hehe)  If anyone is looking for wedding garb and likes these styles, we can give you the address.  They have pretty good pricing too.  These three are each between $400.00 and $600.00.

We found another massage place today.  This one was in town and provided a real good massage for 250 pesos.  (about $25.00)

We lost two of our group today.  Paige and Jay left for home.  We hope they are still following this blog because we need them to know what they missed tonight.

As we walk to and from town, we have been passing Lety’s restaurant but we have never gone in.  It turns out that this little place, above a fisherman’s bar is another Trip Advisor recommended restaurant.  It’s kind of on the wrong side of the tracks, or in this case river and looks a tad local.  It’s one of those places that you would normally just walk by.

Julie, Ed and us walked to the small second floor restaurant and seated ourselves at one of the dozen or so tables and ordered coconut shrimp.  After all, it was the specialty of the house.  The owner, Lety herself, came out and introduced herself to us and thanked us for coming then headed off to the kitchen to prepare our order.

The second floor location provides a nice view of the public pier, across the river.  Lety tells us that she has owned the restaurant for about three years.  The decor was already there when she opened the restaurant.  Would you have guessed from the wall art that it was a fisherman’s bar?

The food was excellent!  The coconut shrimp was done perfectly and the shrimp were a good size.  This place gets a double thumbs up for great seafood, authentic atmosphere, friendliness, and being close to our hotel.  Too bad we have been walking by instead of walking in!  Too bad, Paige and Jay, you missed another great one.