We arrived at the Hotel Tropicana pretty quickly. The first room they gave us was on the first floor, faced the side street, had bars on the edges of the balcony and two beds. We went back to the front desk and asked for a room with a King bed and we were immediately moved down the hall. And for some reason, a lock for the safe was not available the first day. We put our things in the safe deposit box at the front desk for the time being. But seriously, how can they not have enough locks for the whole hotel? Seems like a problem that would be very easy to fix.
We headed to Joe Jack's for our first dinner.
mai tai and chili margarita to start
I think Kristin had the chicken
fish and shrimp and chips
And Chris had the mahi mahi
seared tuna special for me
Joe Jack's was great once again! The service was very good as well. After dinner we went to Sea Monkey for a beverage and I think we ended up at Andale's to finish out the night. I don't know why we always end up there, but it is a fun place! Always busy!
After breakfast we went to Dee's Coffee Shop to use the phone so I could clear up the issue with my ATM card. They allow you to call the U.S. for 10 pesos. After the call, my card worked fine. No idea why it did not work as I had told the bank I was going to Puerto Vallarta ahead of time.
After that debacle, we went back to the room to get ready for the beach. The maid stopped by to bring us mattress pads for the bed. She asked how many sponges we wanted on the bed. lol! I knew what she meant, but it cracked me up! I also stopped by the front desk and they miraculously had a lock for our safe available. So all of the issues from check in were sorted out pretty quickly.
I forgot to take photos of John's food for lunch, but I had the shrimp tacos. The service at Swell was not that great. Pretty slow.
For dinner on Wednesday, we went to No Way Jose, one of our favorites from the last trip.
More chicken fajitas. I think three of us ordered them! So good! The chicken is so tender and juicy.
Kristin and Chris had the fried ice cream for dessert. With a little side of flaming liquor!
I had the sexy coffee for dessert. Love the table side preparation!
chorizo and eggs again for John
omelet for Chris
After breakfast on Thursday, we found a taxi and went to the Puerto Vallarta Zoo in Mismaloya. I decided it would be easiest to take a taxi there as I was not sure how far off the main road the zoo was located. Turns out it was not too far, but it was nice to know since it was our first visit. We took the bus the rest of the day anyway.
Kristin's favorite. She loves birds. Not.
The lion was roaring just before we got to his cage and it was unbelievably loud!
Another installment form the funny sign department. Bear at urinal.
I was really looking forward to feeding the giraffe. It was scary and cool all at once!
We were early, so we had time to have a beverage before getting in the water taxi. Luckily, there was a restaurant right at the top of the pier. After a bit of a stampede and much rudeness by other people we finally got onto the third trip by the boat and arrived at Ocean Grill. The views were amazing and the food was excellent. It really surpassed my expectations.
guacamole and chips to start
Catch of the day was mahi mahi with black beans for John
ribs and fries
I had the shrimp with plantains
key lime pie, really awesome!
Overall, we all really enjoyed our visit to Ocean Grill. The food was amazing. I was not sure if it was going to be one of those places that was all view and just average food, but everything was perfect. This was definitely one of the best meals we had all week. I'd certainly return. By the way, the bathroom here is super cool. I'm not going to ruin the surprise and it is hard to capture in photos, but it is really neat. Alfonso came around when we arrived and again before we left to chat with us and thank us for coming. Personal touches like that are really impressive.
The island at Ocean Grill
We didn't do anything for dinner Thursday night as we were all very full and very tired from our taxi rides, bus rides and boat rides!
tiny limes from Oxxo for my in-room beverages
John had the shrimp
Chris had the steak and shrimp
fajitas for Kristin
fajita sides and fixings
After dinner, we walked out onto the new pier, looked at the scenery and decided to go to bed early. We were all pretty tired after being up really early for the whale watching tour.
Saturday morning John and I went to Vitea for breakfast. On the way, we discovered the Farmer's Market was going on. After breakfast we stopped back and looked at all of the offerings. I ended up buying a souvenir rather than produce though. There was a nice variety of items offered from prepared foods, bakery items and produce to jewelry and other souvenirs.
John had bacon, eggs and black beans
salsas and toast
After breakfast, we met up with Kristin and Chris and relaxed by the pool for most of the day.
fries and chicken sandwich
We had a very nice lunch and a hilarious server and I can't recall his name to save my life! He kept stopping by and making funny little jokes throughout our meal. The service was excellent too.
At the end of this meal, Chris began what would turn into multi-day negotiations for a wooden bull statue with a beach vendor. At first I think we all thought he was joking around, but he kept checking prices on them for the rest of the week. The search for the elusive El Toro was a long process, but he did end up going home with a nice bull statue that is probably now enjoying a place of honor on Chris and Kristin's fireplace mantle.
Another installment from the funny translation department. I think they mean you must wear shoes.
Mine were pretty much the same thing, tacos al pastor, but on a crisped tortilla. The al pastor tacos were really great. This is a great place for a quick, inexpensive meal.
Friday night we did a cantina crawl with JR in PV, a contributor from Trip Advisor and a group of other people from the forum. We had a really fun time meeting new people and visiting cantinas.
Here is a link to my previous post with pictures from the cantina crawl: http://whereshouldwegomsp.blogspot.com/2014/03/cantina-crawl-in-puerto-vallarta-22214.html
Sunday we went to Memo's Pancake House for breakfast.
chorizo with scrambled eggs
scrambled eggs with hash browns
Some jicama for John and Kristin had some pineapple I forgot to take a picture of.
We went to River Cafe for dinner on Sunday.
John had the Pacific jumbo shrimp with mashed potatoes and a garlic citrus sauce.
steak for Kristin
fish for Chris, I think it was the catch of the day
Monday morning we went to Fredy's Tucan for breakfast. John's iced coffee.
bacon, eggs, hash browns for me
chorizo, eggs, hash browns for John
side of french toast
omelet and hash browns
Fredy's was very good yet again. I think I've been here on every trip to Puerto Vallarta. We ran into some people from the cantina crawl while we were waiting for our table too!
We spent some time on the beach Monday afternoon doing a bit of relaxing and shopping. Gotta love how they bring the goods to you on the beach! I got a scarf and a beach cover up. I found the beach prices to be pretty similar to stores in the area. After a bit of haggling of course.
That reminds me, I think the MVP of the trip was the always-busy waiter at the hotel Humberto. He was always coming around asking "You ready?" Meaning are you ready for another bucket of beer? He took great care of us all week! He's in white in the photo above.
They play movies on the wall. I think our feature was a James Bond movie. This was a great little place and I wish we had found it earlier in the week! We will have to go back next time.
finished product here!
Kristin had the fajitas again
As did Chris
My last sexy coffee of the trip. I wish more places in the U.S. served flaming coffee! John was not feeling well, so he went back to the room to rest. I think we called it a night after that anyway.
french toast for Kristin
Playa del Sol breakfast for Chris
Another Playa del Sol breakfast for John
After breakfast we did a bit more shopping and headed back to the hotel to pack up the room. I forgot to take a photo, but I got some chocolates at Xocodiva to bring home. The chocolates are very delicious and come in some really unique flavors. I highly recommended visiting!
View looking straight out to sea from our balcony.
view to the North.
view to the South.
messy hotel room as we were packing to leave.
TV and the door
AC, closet, safe, and patio door to the left. The AC worked great and got very cold, by the way.
Overall, the hotel was nothing fancy, but it was clean, pretty cheap, right on the beach, the pools were nice and the location was convenient to most of the places we wanted to visit. We only took taxis to and from the airport and to the zoo, so we saved a lot in that area.
The turtle pond at the Tropicana hotel.
We had a great trip with lots of relaxation and some new adventures. Our flight home was uneventful, which was excellent. Unfortunately, we came back to more sub-zero temperatures, which took a couple of weeks to finally go away. I look forward to returning to Puerto Vallarta again, hopefully sooner than later!
For some reason writing the trip report is a bit sad and marks the official end of the trip for me. But they come in very handy when friends visit a destination and we like to review them to recall our favorite places and things to do too.
If anyone has any questions on any of the places we visited, feel free to ask in the comments below!