Exploring Puerto Vallarta’s Old Town

Another morning, another iguana viewing from our balcony at Las Palmas by the Sea.

We caught the Centro bus to Old Town midmorning, giving ourselves plenty of time to arrive before the noon-hour start to the free walking tour with Turismo Puerto Vallarta. We used the early arrival to explore the surrounding area.

Plaza de Armas.

Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the background.

Ignacio L. Vallarta, namesake of the city, in the Plaza de Armas.

Los Arcos Amphitheater, on the Malecón.

Sights along the Malecón.

Hubby loves photographing pelicans in flight.

Juarez Street

Hubby’s postie hat on a Mexican mailbox.

Municipal Tourism Office, Juarez Street.

Entrance to Palacio Municipal – Old City Hall.

Palacio Municipal

Manuel Lepe, Mexico’s national artist, has several public murals displayed in his native Puerto Vallarta. This one hangs in the stairwell of the Palacio Municipal.

Puerto Vallarta’s coat of arms.

Manuel Lepe mural, at the Plaza de Armas.

Our tour guide, Julian, was a font of local information. At age 68, he does five 2-hour walking tours a week, receiving tips instead of a wage.

Another Manuel Lepe mural, this one on the Malecón.

We wandered through the flea market on La Isla Rio Cuale.

Trump’s not real popular in Mexico.

Swinging bridge connecting La Isla Rio Cuale to Downtown.

Streets of Downtown.

Casa Kimberly, Elizabeth Taylor’s house, on the hill above town.

Stairs leading up to Gringo Gulch and Old Town.

Iguana snoozing in a tree beside the stairs.

Plaque outside Casa Kimberly.

Richard Burton and Liz Taylor.

A lovely white bridge connects Casa Kimberly to the house across the street from it, which was also owned by Liz Taylor.

The streets of Old Town are narrow and paved with crumbling cobblestones. There’s lots of stairs to traverse too, some in poor condition.

The tour ends at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We didn’t peek inside, but I took several exterior shots, to see what my new camera is capable of.

Back in our room at the resort…

Clouds gathered in the evening, creating a dramatic sunset.

The evening’s entertainment, Show de Circo, was cute and funny rather than a showcase of talent.

Although, I imagine working all those hoola hoops took some talent.

My photos didn’t turn out, but still looked cool.

The pup in the elephant suit was precious.

Click here for my next post on what happened when we looked for one thing and found something much better. Start from the trip’s beginning here.

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Los Muertos Pier in the Sparkling Sunshine

After we got moved to a room by the estuary at Los Palmas by the Sea, we began to routinely check the trees near our balcony to see what might be lurking in their boughs. This big guy greeted us on our first morning there.
Midmorning, we took a taxi to the Zona Romantica. It cost 110 pesos for the cab compared to 20 pesos for two bus tickets, and in retrospect, we probably should’ve caught a bus. But after getting off at the wrong bus stop on our way to the marina, we didn’t want to waste any time or energy searching for Los Muertos Pier.
No matter which angle we took our photos from, it’s a great looking structure.
Busy Los Muertos (Dead Man’s) Beach is situated south of the Malecón along Banderas Bay. There’s restaurants with beach chairs, fishing boats, banana boats and paragliding amongst the many tourist attractions.
We dawdled on the pier for a while, relaxing in the shade and watching the pelicans’ antics.
Los Muertos Beach, looking south from the pier.
And looking north.
Lázaro Cárdenas Park is about a block east of the beach. I liked the cute tile art décor.
Best looking baño in Puerto Vallarta.
We explored parts of the mile-long Malecón on three separate days, and I’ll feature its numerous sculptures in another post. These are some of the other sights we saw that day.
The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe
The beach, along the Malecón, varies from sandy
To rocky
To nonexistent
Rock art, on the beach
Looking south from the Malecón’s north-end.
A rooftop pelican convention.
The sign on Boulevard Francisco Medina Ascencio we used as reference to get off the bus.
Las Palmas by the Sea Resort on Calle Pablo Picasso.
Two parrots live in the entrance lobby at Las Palmas.
This one, the male I believe, is fairly nice.
This one, the female(?), is rather cranky. Muy malo (very bad), according to Antonio, the bellboy who minds them. One day Hubby walked near her while she was on the floor, and she quickly scuttled over to nip at his feet. Haha, the little brat.
Towel art in our room.
We had an excellent dinner at the Fusion a la carte that evening. (The two a la carte restaurants were far superior to the buffet.)
This delicious lemon chicken with fried plantains was my favourite meal of the trip.
I quite enjoyed the tiramisu dessert, too.
No sunset photos that evening. And no blurry entertainment photos either, for the second evening in a row. The previous night they’d held a surprisingly good karaoke session, and that night we listened to a fairly talented band. I even almost got Hubby up to dance. Almost.
Click here for my next post on our walking tour of old town. Start from the trip’s beginning here.

Estuary Sights and Beautiful Beach Stones

As I explained in my first Puerto Vallarta post (link), Hubby and I had to switch rooms two days into our vacation at Las Palmas. Our lovely Transat rep told us to go to the office after 12:00 to arrange the switch. I wasn’t thrilled because we had plans to be away from the resort most of that day.
But plans change, so we spent the morning exploring the small estuary next to the resort. The sidewalk entrance is also the public access to the beach.
This sign greeted us a few steps in.
Hubby chatted up a local who said there used to be a fair-sized female crocodile with two babies, but now there was only one juvenile. We hoped to catch a glimpse of it during our stay.
A sidewalk runs the length of the estuary, and trees thickly line the water.
The sidewalk ends at the beach.
We slowly strolled, searching the water and the treetops, looking for iguanas and that elusive croc.
We saw a multitude of birds.
Juvenile Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Great Kiskadee GrackleSandpiper Grackle Yellow-crowned Night HeronGrackle There were several mud bird’s nests in the trees.
At first, all we saw were distant glimpses of iguanas. (All really zoomed in.)
And this little one hiding in the shade.
Then, in a tree near the beach, Hubby spotted these two iguanas in plain sight. No sign of the crocodile, but at least we saw many other interesting estuary residents.
Back at the office, we were told to vacate our room right away, but we wouldn’t have access to our new room for a few hours. There went any chance of exploring offsite that day. After packing up, we wandered around the resort.
Sierra Madre Mountains.
Sneak peek of the adult pool from above.
The beach from the fourth floor.
That far balcony, second from the top, would soon become ours.
This little guy (fluffed out Grackle?) was perched in the bar’s rafters. Either it could stand for a long time on a single leg, or it only had one leg.
I had the most delicious pasta at the lunch buffet.
After lunch we walked the beach on the south side of the rocks by the Guacamajazz restaurant.
Beach sights.
The brightly coloured stones were amazing.
After unpacking in our new room by the estuary, we relaxed on the balcony with a drink and took in the view.

I especially liked the great view of our new neighbours.
We joined some people we’d met that day for dinner at the Guacamajazz a la carte. Lovely people and an excellent meal, capped off with a beautiful sunset.
After two days of minor frustrations, we needed some fun. Click here for my next post about our visit to Playa de los Muertos & the Malecón.

Sailboats, Yachts, and Crocodiles…

Hubby and I recently returned from a week at Puerto Vallarta’s Las Palmas by the Sea Resort. (Click here for introductory post) The resort itself didn’t overly impress me, but the people we met, the incredible resort staff, and surrounding activities more than compensated.

Our first evening’s show was “Vegas Night”. What it lacked in professional polish, it accomplished in entertainment value. My nighttime photos never turn out, but I always try, anyways.

Las Palmas has one open-air palapa-style buffet, Aires del Mar (Air of the Sea).

I quickly settled on a breakfast combo to my liking, and had it most mornings. Fruit, with two or three pancakes covered in a delicious sauce similar to what my mom used to make, which we called Sucre a la crème.

At lunch, I spotted some sailboats on the horizon, and snapped these shots to see what my new camera could do.

Not zoomed:

With some zoom:

Closely zoomed:

Sidebar: If you’re looking for a single-lens camera with incredible zoom, this Canon Powershot Sx60 HS is the one. It has a 65x Optical Zoom and a decent wide-angle (21–1365mm), all in one lens. I’m so impressed with it.

After lunch, we caught the bus to the Marina Vallarta. We had no idea where to get off, and the bus driver (who spoke some English) was less than helpful. When I glimpsed a sign saying marina, I asked if this was the marina stop. He agreed and let us off. We walked, and we walked, then we walked some more (about one and a half kilometres in the heat). I admit, I was angry. Partly because my feet started hurting, but mostly because we were wasting our day trudging along a busy road.

We happened across this massive yacht along the way. I’ve since learned it belongs to Dennis Washington, owner of Seaspan. The yacht, Attessa IV, is 328 feet long, and is worth $150 million US. Unimaginable.

When I wanted to give up and turn back, Hubby convinced me to go one more block. And, we found the marina! I spotted this sign right away. (Danger Crocodile. No swimming)

And then I saw this big guy cruising around the marina.

And if the croc wasn’t enough to scare a person away from the water, the marina was teeming with little shark-like fish.

We slowly strolled the length of the picturesque marina, filled with drool-worthy yachts.

Apparently, the El Faro Restaurant offers some nice views for the price of a drink. We didn’t go up.

After an uneventful bus ride back to the resort, we just had time to freshen up before catching the cloudy sunset.

It was Mexican Fiesta night at the buffet.

The evening show was also Mexican Fiesta themed. My photos are terrible, as usual.

Click here for my post about hunting crocodiles and iguanas in the estuary.

Las Palmas by the Sea

We arrived home a week ago from our winter vacation in Puerto Vallarta. As far as trips go, it wasn’t our best one (we’ve had some incredible times), but it certainly had many fun moments.

Whenever I fly, I keep my camera handy, and I’ve been fortunate on occasion to get some stunning aerials shots. This time, I didn’t capture anything spectacular, but I did snap several of what I believe might be the Grand Canyon area.

Las Palmas by the Sea, an older, smaller resort, is rated four stars on some sites, but realistically it’s barely a three star. We knew this upfront, and I chose it for its location between the Vallarta Marina and old town. The price point is reasonable, too.

The room, although bright and clean, was a little shabby, and needed some TLC. The hairdryer was missing, so was the TV remote.

Some repairs had been clumsily attempted.

And some, such as the worn-out linens, were long overdue.

But, hey, the sun was shining, and the ocean was right outside. I wasn’t complaining.

And there was a promise of many lovely sunsets to come.

Even the view from the hallway wasn’t bad.

But a little to the right of that view lurked a problem. This building housed a massive condenser unit for the resort’s a/c’s. It droned and hummed nonstop day and night, and was clearly audible from inside our room.

I’m usually capable of shutting everything out when I sleep; Hubby, not so much. After a second sleepless night, he insisted we ask for another room. We’ve never done this before and I wasn’t super comfortable about it, but after consulting our Transat Rep, she handled the request for us. Eventually, we were moved to the opposite side of the resort. Our room was a bit more modern, but smaller, and also in need of repairs.

We had to give up the ocean view, and instead got one showing the mouth of the estuary and some of the beach.

More importantly, we heard bird song instead of mechanical droning.

And these were our new neighbours, visible from our balcony.

As soon as I get the rest of my 1500 photos sorted, I’ll be back with less complaining and more vacationing. Jump to my next post here.

New Year, New Look!

Happy New Year! Whether 2018 was wonderful for you or if you’re glad to have it gone, I hope 2019 will be a vast improvement.

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Now that I’m no longer actively writing, I’ve decided my website needs a refresher. I’d originally set this blog up in 2012 in preparation for the publication of my first book. Most people wouldn’t know it, but I called my blog “Monday Musings”, and I usually only posted on Mondays. At first, I tried for every Monday, and that gradually dwindled to the occasional sporadic post. I posted news of my writing ventures, I hosted fellow authors and I shared stories and photos of our travels.

I’ve renamed this blog “Simple Pleasures”, and my philosophy behind the name change is reflected in my updated bio. Since becoming visually impaired, I’ve had to reassess what’s important to me, and discover what’s still in the realm of my abilities. Which basically meant simplifying my life and focusing on what makes me happy.

My new banner photo was taken while on a hike up Okanagan Mountain a couple of years ago. One of my simple pleasures is exploring this beautiful province we live in, and I hope to share many more of those adventures in the months to come. I’ll also share stories and photos of our travels, the same as I did before.

My hubby and I welcomed two new puppies, Georgie and Bella, into our lives this past year, and I’ll continue to (over)share lots of cute photos along with stories of their escapades.

With this new format, I plan to post whenever I want, as often or as little as I want, about whatever I want. It might be a short post on something funny that happened that day. It might be a cute photo of Georgie or Bella. Because I prefer to stay positive, I usually avoid politics and religion, or any controversial topic, but maybe, occasionally, I might touch on those subjects if I feel it’s important.

There’ll be less focus on my writing, because as I mentioned above, I’m no longer pursuing publication. I have many reasons for this decision, but it’s mainly because of my vision problems and my loathing of the whole promotion process that is so vital to a successful writing career. Two of my books are still available for purchase and you can find more information about them on my bookshelf. I haven’t fully decided yet, but I’ll probably start looking for a new home for my two orphaned books in the next few months. That happy news, if it happens, will definitely be shared here.

Meanwhile, I look forward to this coming year with eagerness. Family times, fun times and taking time to just be in the moment. Simple pleasures! I wish the same for you!

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Little Puppies In The Big City

As mentioned in my last post (link), we recently spent a week in Vancouver while I had eye surgery. My immediate concern was where to stay with our puppies. A week at a hotel would be expensive and inconvenient. Our youngest son lives there, but isn’t allowed dogs. Then his girlfriend offered us her awesome little suite, while she and her cat stayed with our son. Convoluted, but it worked great, and we were so appreciative.

The pups usually travel well, but on the way to Vancouver, Bella became anxious over the road noise and car wipers. She completely worked herself up, panting and shivering inconsolably. The trip home was more of the same. Although it broke my heart, I had to banish her to the floor a couple of times just to get a break. Thanks goodness Georgie is only quietly neurotic.

Georgie and Bella have constant access to our big backyard, so I wasn’t sure if they’d readily do their business on a leash. And poor Hubby having to take them out several times a day in crappy weather! Georgie was always a trooper, wasting no time doing the deed. Bella, not so much. She hated the wet grass and city noise, sometimes refusing to go.

Bella was a little sweetheart in the apartment, though. She was fascinated with the view from the window, and it entertained her endlessly.

When she tired, she’d snuggle in right there.

Georgie was more timid, and only took a look with my help.

She liked lying there too, if I lifted her up.

Her weakness was the old-fashioned radiator.

Bella joined her sometimes.

Could Georgie get any closer, haha?

Bella usually preferred a little distance from the heat.

We brought their favourite toys and chews.

Being dogs, they snoozed a lot. And being puppies, they looked adorable.

Bella turned eight months old while we were there. (And Georgie’s just turned eleven months)

The skies smiled on us the day before my surgery, so we took the pups to Spanish Banks with our son. It’s a lovely spot (even if I did fall off a big rock and bruise my butt!).

We saw lots of other dogs, some on leash, some off. Bella was excited, if nervous, to meet them. Georgie wanted no part of the spontaneous meet-and-greets.

There’s a dog beach farther down the trail.

Getting good photos of these two together can be challenging.

Maybe Georgie was meditating?

The girls were always excited when our son visited.

Except, maybe, when he made them wear a shark’s head. Because they love him, they cooperated.

It was beneficial for me, mentally and emotionally, to have my pups with me while I went through a tough time, and I’m thankful to the people who helped make it happen.

Georgie and Bella join me in wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and a happy, healthy New Year. See you in 2019!