Alive! Around the World: Armenia, Puerto Vallarta

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Armenia

“Armenia is a country with a troubled history. Armenians rebuilt their country and created one of the most attractive capital cities in the Caucasus. Yerevan and its people have that tremendous charm that begs for your attention. From the Soviet-inspired architecture to the friendly locals, Yerevan is one of those destinations that will surprise you at every turn.

“I traveled to Yerevan with my wife, Karolin, and returned with great and enjoyable memories. I hope some time you do the same.”

— Sepou Ohanian, Airports

 

Puerto Vallarta Letter, Part 1

Capt. Michael Barnes, Retired, Harbor, traveled to Mexico post-vaccination.

Mexico’s beaches are calling. Can’t you hear them?

I just returned after a glorious week in Old Town Puerto Vallarta. Anyone looking for the perfect margarita, the liveliest matriarchies, and an incredible collection of bronze statues on display along the Malecón will find them all in Old Town.

We drove down to the Tijuana Airport, parked our car in the secure car park on the American side of the border, and checked in at the new terminal with the Mexican airline Viva Air. It was very easy – with no lines for baggage or body scanning and no US passport control, we simply showed our documents to the airline staff, handed over our luggage, proceeded along a covered walkway where a very pleasant Mexican border official checked our passports and asked us to sign a form stating that we did not have Covid-19. After putting our hand luggage through a small black box (!), we entered a modern, comfortable boarding lounge where we enjoyed a couple of adult beverages before boarding a brand-new airplane for the two-and-a-half-hour flight to Puerto Vallarta.

Once we arrived at the Puerto Vallarta Airport, it was just a matter of collecting our luggage and catching a taxi to our apartment. Because our flight was not international, there were no lines for customs, emigration, or a Covid-19 test – we had arrived!

Our long-time Canadian friends in Puerto Vallarta had arranged a rental for us – a beautiful apartment overlooking Los Muertos Beach and Banderas Bay, in the Old Town (called the Romantic Zone now). It’s a perfect location with easy access to the dozens of bars and restaurants dotted throughout the neighborhood. The Romantic Zone offers golden sands at the Los Muertos beach, or the Malecón, lots to see, hear and enjoy. We never had a dull moment.

As for Covid-19 awareness, in all the restaurants and bars the staff wore masks. Only the tourists did not.

Before going any further, let me explain exactly what a Malecón is since it might not be a term commonly known. Malecón is a word used in Spanish-speaking countries, and especially in nations of Latin America, for a stone-built embankment or boardwalk along a waterfront. As a matter of interest we liked the Malecón in Havana, Cuba, that is featured in many photographs of Havana.

The Malecón in Puerto Vallarta begins at the Hotel Rosita (the oldest hotel in town) and continues for 12 blocks along the boardwalk to the Cuale River footbridge. We discovered that the early morning is a wonderful time to explore and avoid the hordes of pushy stall vendors and street hawkers before they open up for business. The early morning also allows for photographing the very unique bronze sculptures without the intrusion of anonymous tourists in your photos.

The statue of San Pascual Bailón, patron saint of cooks, standing in front of Cafe Vitea is a good place to take a break over an early morning cup of coffee whilst enjoying the view of Banderas Bay.

Our evenings were spent relaxing on the balcony of Sayulita Arco’s Bar next to the Friendship Fountain, where we enjoyed spectacular sunsets over the bay, sipping delicious margaritas and watching out for a pirate ship that sailed past silhouetted by a fireworks display from the Puerto Vallarta Marina. It was breathtaking and, yes, very romantic. Sayulita Arco Bar is a very popular restaurant with the younger crowed as it has regular live music and dancing. A quieter, less raucous option is an evening stroll farther along the Malecón to the two-story thatched roof La Langosta Loca, that juts out over the beach. Here we found a 180-degree ocean view from the second floor, where we made ourselves comfortable while sipping our icy cold adult beverages and indulging on the incredibly tasty appetizers while people watching. The staff members are all bilingual and very friendly, and of course the sunsets are to die for.

Every statue on the Malecón, from the Millennia statue to the Washer Woman statue, near the turtle nesting area on Olas Altas beach, has its own story and is definitely worth the visit if you have the time.

There is so much to see and enjoy in Puerto Vallarta. ¡Buen viaje!

Make sure you travel safely, and always check Tripadvisor for local information before you fly. Cheers!

 

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