Tuesday, March 17, 2015

the Mexican Riviera- by cruise ship: a truly excellent adventure!

So we get a call from our friends Donna and Dick...seems there is a really good deal on a 7 night cruise to Mexico.  They were going with their friends Ed and Peggy, who we are acquainted with.  Never ones to pass up on a deal, we say "YES".   The cruise line is Holland America, which we like, and the cruise was going to Cabo San Lucas; Mazatlan- my least favorite city on the planet; and Puerto Vallarta- one of my favorites!  We were really excited!

This made our 4th cruise- virgin by everyone's standard, and our second time to this area.  First a little background: for years, Rich wanted to go on a cruise.  I said "No!, we are back packers and we DON'T cruise!"  Once you hit 50, that whole "bathroom down the hall" thing gets old, so I said yes, and off we went with our friend Bart and Cody to Mexico.  Needless to say, we loved it.

So lets review why we love cruises: comfortable bed; you can order breakfast and have it delivered; tons of stuff to do on the ship, including nothing; great shows- including musicians, comics, theater; food you only dream of in either a dining room or buffet; easy transport to different ports; planned excursions if you want (we usually don't); happy hour in lots of different bars; great vistas and sunsets; down time!  All this for a VERY affordable price, as long as you are flexible and watch prices.

Some pictures of our ship, etc:
the name of our ship: Veendam

as we sail outside San Diego Bay, the bouys are bathing spots for the sea lions
Of course, laying on the desk with wine and friends is always a top activity!

The 6 of us: Rich, Ed, Peggy, Dick, Donna, me

Sunsets on the ship are always incredible!

One of the many activities: hot tubs!

On this trip, we had an ocean view room!  Usually, we have an interior cabin low in the ship.  We often joke that we have rooms next to the engines, and follow the rats to the kitchen:-).  We were happy because we were above the water line:-)

Something fairly new: towel animals!  The room stewards add one of these creative animals to the bed every night. 

Always looking forward to the trip!

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas, a tiny town at the tip of the Baja penninsula.  Known for spring break parties, beaches, whale watching, and condos, there is very little that is authentically Mexican here.  But that is no reason not to visit!  We had about 6 hours off-ship, so our choice of activities: whale watching and margaritas on the beach!

The Cabo arch is a world famous landmark!
 Me on the fishing boat as we go out to see whales.  The captain said "no whales, no tip".  Tip..who said anything about a tip?  LOL- they are so wrong about us!
 We saw a mother and baby whale!  They splashed around for almost 1/2 hour!  It was incredible.  Here is the tail....
 and here she is breaching the sea.......we tipped VERY well.  It was so worth it!  But hard to photograph.

 Spring break!
 Some old guy who can't hold his tequila")
 Ed and Peggy at the cantina
 The arch as we sail out.
 Rich as a wanna-be fisherman:-)


Mazatlan was my least favorite city in the world.  Our last trip, 2003, had a boring, dirty city with merchants eager to screw you our of your money.  I didn't look forward to it, and actually thought of just staying on the ship.  So glad I didn't!  What a change in 12 years!!!  It is a colorful, safe, interesting beach city that we really liked!!!   The city has a whole crew of American Ex-patriots who live here part and full time, called blue-shirts, who provide tons of tourist information and assistance.  Plus, because of the news about the violence in Sinoloa State, there were more police out than you can imagine.  And they were nice!

The city has a great historic core, complete with cathedral, and a boardwalk along the coast filled with art and interesting things.  There are really good restaurants, and very interesting taxis, called Pulmonia.  They are essentially large golf carts that take you all over for a very good price.

Cathedral from the park
 interior view
 cathedral from the plaza
 another interior view
 Rich and I on the coast
 Dragons are everywhere!  Here is one of the lights outside the cathedral
 cliff divers!
 monument to the Pulmonia
 column on the boardwalk
 mermaid on the boardwalk
 symbol of Mazatlan
 The buildings are very colorful!  Here is on example.  There is every color you can think of.  Really perks up the place!
 The beach
Rich paying our Pulmonia guide

 Donna, Dick and I at sunset
 The wonderful sky!

Puerta Vallarta

Puerta Vallarta- beautiful, quaint, tropical, artsy, this is the city to visit!  Truly beautiful, with an interesting church, hills to explore, a board walk, and huge ex-patriot community: Gringo Gulch and Canada Canyon.  This is truly a city worthy of your time!

the symbol of Puerta Vallarta!
 a sand sculpture!
 Beachwalk art- an interesting "person" watching two other interesting "persons" climbing a ladder

Huichol Indians were in town singing and dancing

Puerta Vallarta is known for its beach- as you can see, it is deserved!

The church is very interesting!  It is not a cathedral as there are no relics.  It is a parish church.  That doesn't take away from its beauty!
 Iron work over the front entrance
 detail of the steeple
 view of the church from the plaza
 steeple, again (I know there are alot, but it is so beautiful!)
 another view from the plaza

Rich and I at the coast

 Dragon light
 Dragon street light

No visit to Mexico is complete without a tequila tour.  Here Rich and I are at Mr. Tequila!
 Beach art
 boardwalk tourists:-)
 colorful buildings with colorful tourists:-)
 the boardwalk arches!
 boardwalk art
 street art

Every trip must end (tears).  Good bye....for now....

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