Alive! Around the World: Albania, Puerto Vallarta Part 2


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“After two years, and with the Covid-19 pandemic under control, we resumed our international travel by visiting Albania. Both pictures were taken in the ‘Stone City’ of Gjirokastra, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site.”

— Norman Faner, Retired, LADWP, and Florian Faner,
Retired, LAPD, visited Albania.



Puerto Vallarta Letter, Part 2

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

Standing in front of Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe.

I just returned after a glorious week in Old Town Puerto Vallarta. Here is part two, featuring fine dining, secluded beaches and exotic bars and street dancers.

Zone Romántica (Old Town) is more for the laid-back and less resort-conscious tourist, having a bevy of gay beaches, bars and restaurants lining Olas Atlas and the Beach of the Dead (Playa Los Muertos), on the south side of the gringo gulch neighborhood.

Since the days of American film director/producer John Huston making the film Night of the Iguana in 1964, and all the notoriety surrounding its leading man Richard Burton and his unofficial girlfriend Elizabeth Taylor, Puerto Vallarta has recently re-exploded into a major tourist destination.

The zone Romántica contains some of the city’s best fine dining restaurants, like Casa Kimberly’s, Iguana Restaurant & Tequila Bar, in Elizabeth Taylor’s old house. There is a statue of her and Richard Burton in the lobby and an incredible sunset view overlooking the bay from the second-floor bar.

The Le Bistro Restaurant by the river on Isla Rio Cuale, next to the John Huston statue and the ever-popular flea market, is scattered about under the shade of the large rubber trees, with all kinds of wild life in the branches, but it only sells tourist stuff. There is also a very interesting cable bridge that swings when you cross over it, definitely not for the faint of heart.

Up on the hill is the Barcelona Tapas Restaurant with its covered terrace and view at night of the Muelle de Playa Los Muertos large sweeping sail, with its ever-changing kaleidoscope of colors. From this pier it is possible to board water taxis to some of the area’s more secluded beaches, or for a day of fishing.

There is a wide selection of beachside bars and restaurants, like La Langosta Loco with its thatched roof and delicious fresh fish menu.

At the Devils late-night bar, you can hear the waves roll in while enjoying a potent and reasonably priced cocktail.

At Sayulita Beach restaurant, with its balcony overlooking the bay, you can drink ice cold adult beverages and watch the fireworks show while listening to local punk rock band. For the sports fans and beach bunnies there’s Si Señor, with its large TVs and rows of sun beds in the front where visitors can relax.

Back in town we explored all the popular spots. Check out Elizabeth Taylor’s Star of Fame outside the entrance to restaurant Andale, and the second-floor Canadian bar Cafe Romma, where the beer prices are good (a bucket of five Corona Light bottles for 139 pesos), and you can watch the wildlife across the road in the trees.

For craft beer drinkers, go to Los Muertos Brewery on Calle Lázaro Cárdenas for an alternative to Corona beer, as it seems to have the largest draft craft beer selection in Puerto Vallarta. That makes them very popular with ex-pats and tourists alike. Plus there’s a nice selection of rock music from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

Our favorite watering hole in the Romantic zone without doubt was the Margarita Grill – brash and loud with lots of bright colors, especially at night. Its great bar pours really large margaritas in liter aluminum chalices that seem to come in three sizes — one shot, two shots or four shots. Once we were seated it was difficult to move around with all the activity around us. We enjoyed the live band playing popular song selections. An added bonus is the entertainment on the street outside, performed by indigenous dancers and fire-eaters.

La Noche is a great bar to start your late night out, where you can check out the gay scene. You will find moderately priced drinks and very attentive staff. I enjoyed a couple of very strong gin and tonics. Often there are entertaining drag shows in the downstairs bar, which attracts a good mix of locals and tourists. We enjoyed a very good impression of Cher, who was very funny and sang all her hit songs! The upper level has a two-story rooftop bar, where you will find soft music and dim lights — a great place to chat and lounge with friends away from the madding crowds.

For the more adventurous diners, check out the El Carboncito for late night authentic street food. Take time to simply sit in the chairs right on the street and marvel at the cooks doing their thing — preparing some of the best street tacos I’ve ever had after an evening of drinking. The chorizo is also very tasty here.

The Romantic zone is not for everybody, as it comes alive late at night, with its many restaurants and bars. But for those of you who are bold and who enjoy adventures, then go and explore.