Thalasso or a Swim?

Hi again travellers,

Once again today is warm, sunny, and 32 C.  We had part of our breakfast in our room which consisted of coffee and some sweet rolls that we bought from a street vendor on the way back to the hotel last night.  They were 3 pesos each which would be about $0.30.  We headed downtown to finish breakfast at a restaurant that was recommended by Jay, one of the group that we were out with last night.  The draw was a large fresh fruit plate for 25 pesos (around $2.50).  We found the La Tertulia restaurant right across the street from Zorro’s bar, right where it was supposed to be.  The large plate of fresh fruit fed both Andrea and I.

We decided to use up a day pass that we ad for the Loma Del Mar’s Thalasso Spa.  Now when we first saw this place a few days ago and they called it a Thalasso Spa, I had no idea what “Thalasso” was or meant but I was suitably impressed as it sounded very, exotic, expensive, advanced and spa like.  It turns out that “Thalasso” simply means sea water or salt water.  I was disappointed!  Could it be that this whole exotic spa experience could be equated to a swim in the sea?  We went anyways because of all the toys around the main treatment pool that I wanted to play with.  Thanks, Andrea for being a good sport.  I needed a model to show the treatments and after much sniveling, groveling, and begging on my part she agreed to fill in for Alicia, who went home early!

We were met by Vicky, who was assigned to help us through our treatment.  The whole think takes about 2.5 hours and it is all water related.  There are 15 steps in the complete treatment.  Here is what happens:

  1. This is the Reflexology treatment.  You walk over a path of small round stones that are about an inch in size.  This is designed to give stimulation to the feet.  At the end of the small path of round stones, you are deluged with 3 large volume water jets.  One for either side of you and one directly above you.  It is a great massage for the neck and back.  Alicia, I have permission to use this picture.  It is not a peeper shot;
  2. The next step is a relaxation stage where you lay on a fiberglass bed in the salt water treatment pool and air is gently released through the holes in the bed.  It is very comfortable and relaxing.  You have to hold on or you will float away;
  3. Next is the treatment for neck and shoulders.  You can move back and forth to get the water directed to right places.  Very effective and relaxing;
  4. Now a more gentle stream of water is directed to your face and head.  It is a refreshing experience as long as you keep your eyes shut.  Remember, this is salt water;
  5. Next, you use an air jet chair.  You sit in the chair while the air is directed to the back of your legs and back.  Very relaxing.  It’s surprising how good the back of the leg jets feel after just a few minutes of treatment;
  6. Now, jets from the floor of the pool shoot up.  There are three positions you use.  Standing will work the lymph system.  Lay on your back to work the lower back and roll over to stimulate your stomach.  Guys, be careful;
  7. The next stage works the muscles in you shoulders and neck.  The small jets are intense and feel quite sharp.  Andrea liked this one but I found it a bit uncomfortable.  It felt like someone was sticking needles into my back;
  8. This step also works the shoulders and neck but without the sharpness of the small jets.  This thing is powerful so you cannot back up too close to it or you will loose your balance;
  9. The jet tub is for relaxation again.  This is a bit like a standard hot tub only stronger.  Think Tim the Tool Man pump upgrade!  It provided a very nice and relaxing experience.  I could stay in this all day;
  10. Sitting and using the wooden headrest is comfortable and relaxing.  I’m not sure what, other than relaxation it is designed to accomplish;
  11. The round saline pool with salt content of 40% is an interesting experience.  You are directed to lay on your back for 5 minutes in the pool with your body is supported due to the high salt content of the water.    Your ears are under the surface and there is soft music playing in the water.  You experience total relaxation, and feel almost weightless.  I tried to lift an arm after a few minutes and it felt like it weighed a ton;
  12. Next is 10 minutes in the sauna.  Yes, it is 32 C outside and they put you in a sauna; 
  13. When you get out of the sauna, they provide crushed ice for you to close your pours with.  You start with icing your feet and legs and work up to your face and head;
  14. Now you go into a lightly scented wet steam room with lights that change color for 10 minutes.  They call this chromatic therapy.  The lights cycle from dark blue, gradually changing to magenta, then red, and finally light blue; and  
  15. When you finish the chromatic therapy, its back to the crushed ice to cool down, and you finish with a cool shower.

When we were done, we headed up the stairs to the road level of the resort and found that our legs were like water.  We were so tired that we had to take a cab back to the resort.  It really is an amazing treatment.  I must confess that there is no way you can equate this experience to a swim in the sea.  I know my back is out and this helped a lot.  If you ever get a chance to try this kind of treatment, you really should.  It is amazing.

Our little group (Paige and Jay along with Julie and Ed) was off to dinner in town again at 6 PM.  Tonight we were headed to another highly recommended restaurant according to Trip Advisor.  It is called La Casa del Pozole Guerrerense.  Don’t worry, I can’t pronounce it either.  We found the place not very cooperative at all.  Jay tried his best to coerce our server into 2 for 1 drinks which are pretty standard around here but he was unsuccessful.  This place is supposed to be known for it’s tamales, but they didn’t have some that were on the menu.  People also didn’t think there was much alcohol in their drinks.

When the food came, it looked great.  Wonderful presentation and large servings.  Some thought their food was good, others thought it average and I thought my garlic fish filet was the worst fish I had eaten on the whole trip.  It was cold, dry, tough and chewy.  I sent it back.  Some of us had sweet tamales for desert but these weren’t particularly memorable either.

I think our generous group might rate this place as average but nothing spectacular.  From my point of view, I thought the best thing about the restaurant was the toilet in the lady’s room, and no, I’m not going to tell you how I knew about it!


In Search of Jay’s Potato

Hi again from sunny Mexico,

This is a catch up post to bring you up to date.

One of the things that’s special about staying at a small resort is that you often  meet some new, interesting people.  In our case, with only a few rooms filled at our resort, that has been our experience.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I went for a run into town at around 7 AM.  I found the fish market open on the beach.  Fisherman had small tarps spread out on the sand beside their boats and were selling the day’s catch.  What a busy place!  Everyone looking for fresh fish was there.

The most of the rest of the day was spent at the pool, talking to other guests, picking on people with iPads,  and generally trying to mitigate the heat.  We talked with Julie and Ed, who are from the San Francisco area and Paige and Jay who come from Portland, as we whiled away the day at the pool.

Eventually, our discussion turned to what dinner plans we had.

 Jay came equipped with some pre trip research about one of the best restaurants in Zihuatanejo, called La Papa Loco (Crazy Potato).  It was characterized as a local restaurant that specialized in baked potatoes.  That sounded like an interesting enough outing for our little group so we set out in search of Jay’s potato restaurant.

The research Jay had included a street map so we kind of knew where we were headed.  We walked down the hill and found a taxi just after crossing the bridge into town.  He offered to take us but 6 people would not fit into his little Toyota so we elected to walk. We headed down the street, checking occasionally with locals to make sure we remained on track.  After missing one turn and going around the block, we found it.  It’s the kind of place you wouldn’t give a second look without it being our specific target.  It is right next to the Victoria Hotel and a car wash operates almost next door .  We seated ourselves at one of the plastic tables in the street and readied ourselves for dinner.

There was a large Mexican cook behind an open grille that contained the largest baked potatoes I have ever seen.  They were the size of small watermelons!  Our order was taken by an equally large server.  Looks like these folks have been sampling their own  goods too much.  We were delivered a table full of food, salsa, chips, sauces, and drinks.  It turns out that the large potatoes I spotted on the grill were just the starter level potato.  Once you place your order, it gets loaded up with all the rest of the stuff that makes up what you ordered.  This causes the size to grow by another 25% or so, kind of like my belt size.  They are huge!

We enjoyed a great local experience and by the end of the meal we all felt as stuffed at the potatoes we had been served.  Dinner for 6… 400 pesos (about $40.00) and a large thumbs up from our little group of intrepid travellers is awarded to La Papa Loco restaurant.

After dinner we wandered back to the beach, stopping for a gelato hit along the way before climbing the mountain back to the resort, which was our next order of business.


Inez and the Thalasso Spa

Hi guys,

Well, I am safely back from our trip with the aliens and they seemed happy with the secret work I performed for them. 😉

Our secret work involved visiting another resort here.  Loma Del Mar is a tiny 18 room resort that features a Thalasso Spa!

There are not many of these around.  If you Google Thalasso Spa, you will find around a dozen or so world-wide.  This is a multi station spa where each station is designed to give some specific kind of benefit to the body or spirit.  When you complete one stage you simply move on to the next.  Everything involves water in some way.  There are saline pools containing high amounts of salt as well as other pools containing only trace amounts.  Some pools contain chairs with air holes, others with water jets, while others are just cool pools.  It looks like an interesting process which we will try later if we have time.

Dinner tonight was at La Pampas restaurant at the Loma Del Mar resort.  This restaurant is similar to the La Faro restaurant at the Pacifico, in fact they are right next door to each other separated by the access to the gondola that takes you down to the beach.  La Pampas features Argentinian cuisine and is a small restaurant of around a dozen or so tables.  The view of the Ixtapa beach from their place is wonderful.

On our arrival at 7 PM, we were the only patrons and when we left at 9 PM, we were still the only patrons.  Our server was a beautiful young Mexican girl, named Inez, who has a great smile (Facebook Status: single: available), and who was friendly and  extremely attentive during our meal.  As far as the food goes, I had the rack of lamb, which was beautifully presented.  Andrea’s reported her Cameron’s Pampa (a kind of shrimp stew) were a bit well done.  We both would suggest skipping the fruit flambé which was a grilled banana.  Other than that, we would give this place a high rating for service an attention to detail.  Ask for Inez.  She will look after you well.


In Depth Research

Howdy again from sunny warm 32 C Mexico.

Today, as the image reflects, I am undergoing some serious research into a top-secret government project.  I will update you once the ailiens release me at the end of my tiring work!

I need a vacation from this vacation!


It’s Not What You Know but Who You Know!

Hi travellers,

Today was another wonderful warm sunny day in this beautiful place.  We have had a chance to poke around a bit and are starting to appreciate the remoteness of our hotel.  I started the day with a run of just over 3 Km.  I had to walk down most of the hill as the roadway was too rough to run on without breaking something.  When I got to the bridge at the bottom of the hill the roadway smoothes out so I got to see some new territory.  I ran down the beach pathway where all the restaurants were.  Some of the restaurants were just starting to open.  I continued down the street, passing the elementary school which, at 7:30 AM, was full of little clean white uniformed Mexicans and parents dropping their kids off.  I continued down the roadway to a traffic circle and then started back towards the resort.  Going back up the roadway to the resort, with roosters crowing and people washing down their stairs and street, became a bit of a strain as some of it is quite steep.  The very killer end is a short steep section followed by 45 (yes I counted them) stairs to the resort.  Wow!  Did the cool water of the pool feel good or what?

We headed back down the hill around 10 AM for breakfast, which we found on the beach.  Fresh squeezed orange juice, large fresh fruit plate, scrambled eggs with bacon scrambled into the eggs, toast, and coffee for about $6.00 each was the what we had at Daniel’s restaurant.

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We needed to change more Canadian cash into Pesos so we headed for the bank area.  After trying several banks, we elected to bus it over to Ixtapa and use our normal bank.  Some of the Zihuatanejo banks did not do foreign exchange transactions, some would not change Canadian currency because they only worked with US funds, while others were so busy that it would have taken hours to get through the lineups.  We boarded our bus and it sat and sat and sat before proceeding down the street at about 1 Km per hour.  Now these buses are not air-conditioned and have only small windows that open.  No air moves in the bus until it gets up to 50 or 60 Km per hour.  The temperature outside was 33 C so you could actually feel the perspiration flowing out of your body and soaking your clothes.  After some time your wet clothes begin to have a cooling effect on you so you become less uncomfortable.  Once in Ixtapa, we were in and out of the bank in a few minutes with our new pesos, ready to spend.

We decided to head back to the hotel and hit the pool as it was the only comfortable thing I could visualize.  After a short bus ride back to Zihuatanejo and another climb up the hill (this was trip 2 for me today so far), we hit the cool refreshing pool.  It was great and we stayed in until supper time.

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Another couple from the hotel was planning to walk down the hill for dinner so we decided to go with them.  We showed them our favorite $10.00 shrimp restaurant and met up with George, the time share guy who, after a lengthy discussion about the problems Alicia had at the airport, said he knew a few people and would see what he could find out.

Well, it seems that here in Mexico, (Bill, pay attention) the head dude at any airport is a Federal Military Captain or above.  They must speak English.  We are told that the Immigration people are his responsibility.  Now the head guy is very aware of the negative impact of things like Alicia experienced.  Anyways, to make a long story short, George called his uncle (The Military Captain at the Acapulco airport) and asked for his help.  George’s uncle called the head dude at the Ixtapa airport and discovered that they still had the goods confiscated from Alicia incorrectly and that the agent who performed the dastardly deed will be suspended for a week.  We have instructions to pick the stuff up for her when we leave on Sunday and are supposed to get an apology for the nurse.  Now we have to buy another suitcase to haul it all home for her!  😉  Now let’s see what actually happens.

It was great news and it will be fun to sell all that stuff back to Alicia when we get home.  Maybe I will just drink the Apple Pop myself.

Oh, and dinner was at Bandito’s restaurant.  We walked back to the hotel, up the hill, making it 3 round trips for me today.


Welcome to Villa Vera at Puerto Mio

Hi folks,

Today we packed our stuff up and went for a last breakfast in Ixtapa.  We checked out of our now empty hotel and cabbed it to our second weeks accommodation in Zihuatanejo.  It took about 15 minutes.  We arrived too early to check in so we camped at the pool until our room was ready at about 2 PM.

Villa Vera is an RCI Gold Crown resort, which is supposed to mean the highest level of resort.  Villa Vera is not quite there, although it is very nice.  I’m sure that in its day, it was a grand place.  It is a 22 room older boutique hotel and this week only 5 rooms will be occupied.  It is built down the side of a cliff with amazing views of Zihuatanejo bay.  Our room is a studio with a balcony.  We look out over the bay, as you can see from our pictures.  About 10 paces down the hallway from our room is the dining room, which is open to the pool and view.  There are several terraced pool lounge chair levels below the dining room and the pool is at the bottom.  As I write this, I am sitting in the empty dining room looking out over the bay to the lights on the far side and Playa La Ropa.  The fountain on the wall, feeding into the pool, provides a pleasant background noise.  It’s great!

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This location is actually quit remote, compared with last weeks hotel but it has an elegant charm that just reeks of atmosphere.  We are told that there are no buses that come close to the resort and from the look of it, we are  a distance from the town site, where the restaurants and beach are located.

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We decide to head into town, using the directions provided by the Concierge here.  He says we should go down the stairs at the far end of the pool (about 40), turn left and walk down the road.  Keep left and go through a gate (this place is inside a gated community) and walk down the road to town.  It took us about 10 or 15 minutes, mostly down hill.  It will be harder to come home!  The roadway is narrow and made with concrete but they have put large sort of flat stones into the concrete, making for quite an irregular surface.  The stones are quite polished from the tires driving over them and it would be very slippery if the roadway was wet.  You have to be careful to avoid turning an ankle.

We had dinner on the beach and picked up a large bottle of water before heading back up the hill, arriving back at the resort just after 9 PM, so the pool is closed! I will have to refine my timing because a nice dip in the cool pool after the walk up the hill will be just perfect.


Shame on You, Mexico!

Hi all,

Well, today is our last full day here in Ixtapa and the day that Alicia leaves for the great white north.  We started the day with one last dump truck stopping run of 3.75 Km and a leisurely breakfast.  After an hour on the beach, we put Alicia in a cab and sent her on her way.  By-by Alicia!

Andrea and I spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach, which seems much more under control that it has the last couple of days.  The waves are down to normal levels.  The hotel has filled up with locals.  The parking lot is full and there is evidence of preparation for a large wedding on the beach at the resort next door.  We had one yesterday at our resort as well as a large graduation party in one/some of the inside meeting rooms.  This place is way too busy.

We hung around to catch a sunset from our room before going to dinner at the Red Hauchinango Grill.  We arrived around 7:30 PM and passed by several empty restaurants before settling on this one.  It was a one man show tonight with Willie, our server, greeting and seating us, bring us drinks, taking our order, cooking dinner, and handling the bill.  It is the first time we noticed this happening in a restaurant.

I had garlic snapper and it was absolutely the best fish I have eaten since we arrived.  Willie is, shall I say, on the very large size.  Obviously he has eaten too much of his own cooking.  The price?  Less than 400 pesos for two. (about $40.00)  This place would be on the recommended list, if I had one.

We noticed that people were coming out looking for restaurants around 9 PM.  You can tell that they are Mexican as they are all dressed up.  Even the little kids.

As the sun sets on our Ixtapa visit, I thought you might find some impressions of the place useful.  You never know when you might be looking for a place in Mexico to go for a vacation.

We all liked Ixtapa very much.  Andrea and I have been to a number of the Mexican tourist areas and this one, by far, has made a very positive impression.

  1. The weather is consistent.  This place is quite far south on the west coast and, as such, has high temperatures.  Here we have been in the sun and low to mid 30’s throughout the whole visit;
  2. The place is a reasonable size.  The hotel zone in Cancun is 21 Km long.  The one here is 3 Km.  It makes for a much more intimate experience;
  3. The beach is also one of the best I have seen in Mexico.  It is wide and immaculately kept.  There are teams of Mexicans sweeping the beach from end to end, picking up anything that does not belong from cigarette buts to coconut debris;
  4. The beach has no stones.  There are no stones or shells so the only impediment to walking the beach is the hot sand, where the surf does not cool it;
  5. There are lots of restaurants.  We tried a different one each night and never had a bad meal.  Some were average but many were exceptional; and
  6. There is variety here.  Ixtapa is the big flashy resort area but you can be in Zihuatanejo on the bus or in a cab within a few minutes.  There you will find a more authentic smaller Mexican experience.

All in all, this location would be a recommendation for anyone.  If you come, don’t pick an all-inclusive.  There are too many wonderful local restaurants to experience.

We just heard from Alicia, who is in Houston tonight.  She reported being checked in and through security at the Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo airport in minutes.  She did, however, experience an incident at the airport that Mexico should be ashamed of.  As a girl traveling alone, it appeared that she was singled out for a luggage search.  Her CHECKED luggage contained several cans of pop and shampoo and conditioner which were confiscated by a security attendant.  When she questioned the seizure saying she was able to fly in with these materials in her checked luggage and asked why she could not fly out, she was advised that there are different rules for different airports.  We think that some security person simply took advantage of the situation and stole the materials from her.  Nice way to leave a positive impression of your country, Mexico!  Drug lords are not the only problem here, it seems.  You also have to guard against thieving airport security agents, as well!