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Zihuatanejo Preview

Hi travellers,

I’m flattered to let you know that for the last three days there have been over 100 hits per day to our little travel blog.  Very nice.  Thank you to everyone following us.  Remember if you want to see larger images, click on them and a larger version will open.  With some browsers, if you click the image after it opens it enlarges it further.

Alicia took me running this morning at about 7:30.  We hit the hills this time and covered about 2.5 kms.  I’m going to miss Alicia when she goes home tomorrow.  She keeps me company when running and sunning.  Crossing the streets is also quicker and safer with her in the lead because cars stop for her.  While running this morning the dump trucks coming out of a construction site stopped while we crossed the street.  I’m pretty sure they would have driven right over me if I had been alone.

After breakfast we went in search of another massage as today is Alicia’s last whole day here.  Andrea had spied a small operator right next to the hotel, on the beach and we had grand plans of squeezing the minimum price out of them.  Unfortunately, they appeared to take the day off.  Anyways, nobody turned up at the shop.  Not giving up, Andrea had spotted another beach massage down the beach next to Senior Frog’s.  As we approached it, three of the girls met us to sell us massages.  They wanted 300 pesos ($30.00).  Alicia told them that their completion down the beach only charged us 250 pesos ($25.00).  I asked for a better price because we were three.  We got the massages for 200 pesos ($20.00) each and the massages were much better than our last ones.  These girls actually knew how to massage!  Now that we have established a rate, we will get the same rate any time we decide to return.

After our massages and being all greased up, we headed back to the hotel to grab some sun at the pool and take advantage of not having to apply any oil.  The hotel is quite busy today.  It seems that lots of locals come to this area on weekends.  We were told that the local vacation time is July and that is when they expect hotels and restaurants to fill again.  They are setting up for another outside wedding today, with dinner tables and a dance floor all set up on the lawn and chairs on the beach for the actual service.  This wedding is not as elaborate as the one last weekend.  Alicia is thinking of putting a deposit down for a wedding at some future date when she snags a man!

Today’s towel art was a mermaid for Alicia and something quite beautiful but yet to be identified for Andrea and I.  Can you help us identify the piece on the left?  These people have too much time on their hands, I think.

The nurse got to choose a dinner place because it was her last night.  She selected Tata’s restaurant in Zihuatanejo where we were last Monday for the great shrimp dinner right on the beach.  Because of this, you get a little preview of what Zihuatanejo looks like.  It is very different from Ixtapa!  We jumped on the bus right outside our hotel and I couldn’t help taking this shot of one of the riders.  She is such a cutie!

Umberto, from the restaurant remembered us from our previous visit and served us another great meal.  After dinner, we moved out on the beach as some of the local kids were performing in the surf.  This is one of those kind of things you run into when you are least expecting it when travelling.  There were a dozen or so kids all lined up along the beach to board the waves coming into the beach.  They would run toward the water on a 45 degree angle to it.  They would throw their board down on the sand just next to the water and as the board slid into the water they would jump on it.  There were some very talented kids there and I hope you enjoy the images.  There were some superb crashes!

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On the way back to the bus, we passed a bar that had swings for seats.  You will see what I mean.  More details on Zihuatanejo when we move there on Saturday.


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Black Flags for the Beach

Greetings from Sunny Mexico!

Today, I got my butt out of bed for a 7:30 AM run.  Andrea was still in bed and Alicia didn’t make the run.  I went down around the marina again for a total of 3.5 Km.  It is nice at that time of the day.  The sun is not yet up and there are very few people around except maintenance staff watering the shrubbery.

Eventually, everyone got organized for breakfast and we headed out to Casa Morelos restaurant.  This place produced a totally average breakfast.  Nothing special or memorable about the place at all.  Breakfast for 3 ran about 400 pesos or about $38.00.

Back at the hotel, they had changed the beach flags from Red (dangerous) to Black (really dangerous).  For some reason the waves have been really high, beginning yesterday and it continued throughout today.  The noise is deafening!  All the resorts have beach chairs and palapas out on the beach and the waves have been so high that the first row of chairs were in danger of being washed out into the bay.  It is interesting to see resort staff chasing to recover chairs as they threaten to leave the property.  Alicia talked to a local who said they have never seen the waves come so high on the beach.  Well, our only difficulty with all this is that it is delaying Alicia’s Pará Sail ride.  Today there were no Para Sail operations working due to the fact that their landing zones were under water and the waves made operating the tow boats too difficult.

When we got back to our rooms, we found some pretty stylish towel art.  Staff here must go to the same towel art school as the cruise ships staff.

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We had a recommendation from a local for dinner tonight but we could not find the place.  We ended up at a little place called El Calabozo Tacos & Fajitas restaurant.  There was one other table eating there.  The well dressed chef came to our table to answer any questions about the menu and to take our orders.  He then disappeared into the kitchen to create our dinners.  I had the fish of the day which was Sea Bass.  While it was cooking, the garlic wafting out of the kitchen had me drooling in anticipation.

The main course came with an impressive presentation.  Our waiter also had some extraordinary skills.  He delivered two nicely made paper roses that he had just put together to the women before we ate.

Following dinner, the chef delivered a set of three hollowed out cucumber shot glasses to us and poured us a complementary drink of a local Hooch.  Very unique.

Our waiter, Louis, turns out to be an amateur magician and he just had to show us a couple of tricks.  The one in the image with the two forks suspended on a horizontal toothpick was particularly interesting.   Can any engineers out there explain to us how this works?  He also provided Alicia with a very attractive tin foil flower that he had everyone at the table help him build.  This meal was extraordinary!  The food was great, the presentation was impressive and the service and entertainment was totally unique.


A Birthday for Alicia

Hi All,

Well today was another warm one.  It was 33 C and the hotel was all but empty.  We had the pool almost to ourselves.

Breakfast was at Deborah’s Chili Beans.  Here we had great food, including fresh orange juice, a fruit plate, scrambled eggs with beans and hot sauce, toast and coffee.  This was 49 pesos or around $4.80.  As the name of the restaurant indicates, there was some spice too.  Food here is definitely a bargain.  We have not decided yet if the pricing is due to no tourists or it being the off-season.  Anyone know?  The food was great and the owner wants images from me.  Nice to have fans!

We went for a stroll after breakfast that turned into a shopping spree.  The image of the two wild turkeys was taken during our stroll around the shopping center.  We found these guys the first day we arrived and have watched the restaurants for signs indicating a turkey special but have yet to find such a place.  The wild turkeys will put the run on most kids who try to chase them.  After seeing them in action, I would vote for the turkeys!

Well today is the nurses birthday so today, according to her, it is all about her!  There is a mall across the street from the hotel that has lots of shops and is nicely kept.   We wandered a bit and enjoyed the lack of people.  Check out the images.  No people!

We headed back to the pool at the hotel for a dip or two as the weather is warm.  As long as you are on the beach you can usually find a nice cooling breeze.  A certain short person who shall remain nameless until the police capture her, managed to lift my camera long enough to catch me in one of my busiest moments.  Oh well, I guess its only fair.

I promised some bus pictures to my brother so here we go.  Busses here carry the destination on the windshield.  Busses here have stick-on letters so the destinations are pretty easy to read.  On previous trips to places in Mexico we found destinations written in soap on the windshield.  At best this was difficult to read.  Busses here are reasonably small, gas-powered and have a manual transmission.  During the day, the bus carries a driver and a ticket taker but in the afternoon the ticket taker seems to disappear.  Maybe he gets a siesta.  The driver now has to take the fair from people.  These buses have no GPS, no automated announcements,  no electronic fare boxes, and no security cameras like at home but the fare is only 8 pesos (about $0.70).

Well, tonight we are going out to celebrate a certain person’s birthday.   She is pretty photogenic and the scenery and light are spectacular.

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We picked the El Faro restaurant on the top of the hill at the Pacifico resort complex.  We arrived at the restaurant after a short 35 peso cab ride and were seated on the lowest level of the multi tiered restaurant.  The view was amazing.  The service was amazing.  The food was amazing.  The sunset was amazing!  After a few pictures of the birthday girl, off and on during the evening, we descended to the beach via the chair lift and walked back to our resort along the beach.


Massage $25 – Para Sailing $20

Hi gang,

Well, today is Sunday, sunny and 33 C.  Someone finally kicked the hotel Internet in right place so I can post this from our room instead of having to find an Internet Cafe.

Today we headed to the Pacifico resort on the hill down the beach from us.  If you check out the “Down the Beach” image from yesterday’s post, you will see a hill at the end of the beach with buildings all over it.  This was our target.

We found our way to the resort by a short cab ride for breakfast, the view and a tour of the resort.  It is an amazing place and you can see all the way down the beach.

We were at this very restaurant 10 or 12 years ago for lunch.  We were staying in Acapulco at the time and drove up to this area for a look-see.  We stayed overnight and returned to Acapulco the next day.  Ixtapa sure has grown since that time.  There were only half a dozen resorts down the beach at that time and now it is pretty well full.

We took a tour of some of the units in the Pacifico and enjoyed the views.  It would be a great place for people who never leave their suite!  Most of the units had cool pools on their deck.  Some had their showers designed in such a way as the upper 3 feet was open to the outside.  Showers with views!  Nice Mexican shacks!

Following our tour, we returned to the beach below on a cable car.  It was in operation when we were here last time and it is still widely used to ferry guests up and down to the beach.

We walked back to our resort on the beach, stopping to check prices for Massage ($25.00 per hour) and Pará sailing, which we have been informed will be a mandatory activity for some of us on Tuesday.  We were told we could expect prices around $35.00 per person, but were quoted $25.00, which was reduced to $20.00 as we walked away.

We grabbed some pool time at the resort.  This resort is a combination hotel and time share so the 100% guest turnover each weekend was not evident.  There are definitely fewer people here today although not as few as we had expected.  The pool is actually too warm to be refreshing.  It is more like a warm bath.

Around 7PM, it was announced by the women that after major research, (they looked at a map) a dinner restaurant had been selected and that we should get under way.  We walked 15 or 20 minutes down the road to the Marina area.  This is at the opposite end of the beach from the Pacifico resort, that we visited this morning.

The Marina is somewhat like the one in Puerto Vallarta, in that there is a light house containing a lounge at the top and restaurants lining the edge of the Marina.  Unlike Puerto Vallarta, this Marina has crocodiles in the water, as the sign attests.  There are a half-dozen or so restaurants here, none of which had any patrons.  We were literally the only people looking to have dinner!  Nice to have your own private restaurant with all the staff to attend to your needs.  This truly is the off-season.


Feet on the Bottom of the Pool

Ola fellow travellers,

Our ERJ-145

Well, here we are in Mexico!  Finally!  Our day started with a reasonably
timed shuttle ride to the Houston airport and a great breakfast at Ruby’s, in
terminal E.   Our trip from Houston to Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo was a pleasant ride in the sun above the clouds at about 500 mph in a 50 seat ERJ-145 that was only partially full.  Nice!  We covered the 2,000 or so miles in a couple of short
hours and arrived to 32 degree weather.

Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo International Airport

We were through immigration, picked up our bags, changed money,
and were on our way to our hotel in mere minutes.  I love these tiny little
airports and the tiny little planes that fly into them only partially full.  Oh,
get this, with the Canadian dollar above the US dollar in the rest of the world,
here in Mexico they give 11 pesos for a US dollar but only 10 for a Canadian
dollar.  What’s up with that?

After about a 15 minute cab ride we arrived at the Hotel Emporio
Ixtapa
on the beach in the Ixtapa hotel zone.  The place is not new but
it seems to be well enough kept and it is pretty much impossible to beat the
location.  The hotel is a square 12 story tower turned 45 degrees from the beach
so as one corner of building is closest to the beach.  Our rooms are right on
that corner and on the 8th floor.  Nice view down the beach both directions and
the pool is right below us.  The waves are big enough that you can easily hear
them in the room with the windows closed and the AC on.  Very soothing.

Down the Beach

Room With a View

The Pool

 Our feet were on the bottom of the pool by 3PM and we enjoyed a leisurely rest of the afternoon listening to the waves, well some of us anyway!
Alicia

The nurse (Alicia) was getting into a little Mexican trouble to kick off her vacation.  For the off-season, this hotel pool is pretty busy, mostly with locals.  We are hoping that the start of the week will see those folks going elsewhere.

The General’s Restaurant

We went on the prowl for dinner around 7PM.  There are lots of restaurants on the main street as well as on other streets.  We walked for 20 minutes or so,stopping to digest the contents of each establishment’s menu, before settling on a place that looked very Mexican due to the colorful table settings.  Dinner was at the General’s Sports Bar Restaurant, (elgeneral_800@hotmail.com) where we met the General and his wife.  His restaurant has only been open for a few months and he speaks excellent English, probably due to the amount of time he spent in Colorado.  The meal was excellent!  A one pound lobster ($14.00) and plate full of coconut shrimp were very tasty.


In Search of Warm Weather

Hi there,

As you come to check out the site and to decide how or if you are going to follow our little trip, let me provide you a few more details about how I see this blogging thing working.

I will try, but not guarantee, to put something together for you at the end of each day. We will see how that works out! I have 3 GB of free space available to me and I have no idea how far that will take us. I usually have lots of images to share so I will need to be careful they are trimmed down so I don’t burn up all the disk space in the first day.  If you double-click on any of the images in the posts, they will open full size for you.

May in Calgary

This recent image of our front yard clearly illustrates how rotten the weather has been in Calgary this winter so we have determined that the purpose of this trip will be to find warm weather and experience some hot sand therapy.  As I write this, it is 31 C in Ixtapa (Ex-tappa) while just 7 C here at home.

We head out on the 13th of May, but do not arrive in Ixtapa until Saturday, the 14th.  We overnight in Houston both directions due to Continental’s schedules.  We are staying at two Time Shares again this trip and will be in Ixtapa first, at the Hotel Emporio Ixtapa for a week, before moving to Zihuatanejo (Zee-watt-an-a-o) for the second week, where we will stay at the Villa Vera Puerto Mio Zihuatanejo.  Traveling on points and staying in Time Shares!  My Scottish heritage is going to appreciate this trip.

I hope you decide to follow our trip.  Feel free to comment on the posts as this technology provides such a rich tool set for you to interact with us.


Here We Go Again… from 13 to 30 May 2011

Hi everyone!

Andrea and I are off on another short trip for a couple of weeks to Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo in Mexico from 13 to 30 May 2011.  This time we will be traveling with “MY” nurse, Alicia, who some of you know.  Some call her nurse Ratchet but we prefer to think of her as nice nurse niece Alicia!  Actually, Alicia will be joining us just for the first week of our trip in Ixtapa.  Also, she is not actually “MY” nurse but she is “A” nurse and, as I said, also our niece.  Alicia has managed to accumulate enough paid overtime so that she will be earning her hourly rate while lounging on the beach or whatever else she gets up to.  Nice work if you can get it!  Keep on paying those taxes.

It seems that anytime we head off on a trip, many of our friends and acquaintances ask if I will be sending out my little travel newsletter, as I have done in the past.  Well, the answer is yes but this time I will be trying something a little different.  It is a much more efficient way to disseminate information and I hope you will bear with me through the inevitable learning curve of adapting to a new technology.  It is simple to access and I hope you enjoy the content and images.  You will also be able to leave comments if you choose.

Instead of sending out an individual e-mail to each of you, I will be posting to a Blog at WordPress.com that I am calling Keith’s Travel Ramble.  This means that you will be able to control how, when, or even if you want to follow our wanderings.  You can:

  1. Just go to the Blog website whenever you want to see what has been posted.  You can access the Blog with your Browser at https://jkhowie.wordpress.com; or
  2. Go to the Blog and in the right hand column you will find a button where you can submit your e-mail address to receive an automatic e-mail notification each time there is a new post.

Over the next couple of days, I will send out an e-mail invitation to everyone who has participated in the past.  This way, you can come to the Blog (https://jkhowie.wordpress.com) and sign up for your personal email notifications so you don’t miss any of our antics.