FOR sure, the famed Cote d’ Azur, oftentimes known as the French Riviera off the southeast corner of France, doesn’t disappoint sun worshippers and beachcombers. But Mexico isn’t too far behind.
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Flying to Puerto Vallarta means (at least for me) taking a flight from John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California to Phoenix, Arizona to catch a flight to the resort town further down south.
The moment I realized a smaller plane would make the final leg of this trip, I would have begged off continuing with the connecting flight— if not for the prospect of experiencing the many lovely stories I’ve heard about this famed resort town.
The thick Mexican Spanish trumpeted our arrival. The hot and humid air billowing against my face transported me back to Bacolod. And the dangerous dance between old rickety buses, datsuns and jaywalkers that navigate the busy streets lined with street vendors reminded me so much of home.
Facing the Pacific—home for the next week or so was Plaza Pelicanos. We opted for its endless buffet where you will find a variety of seafood dishes at the buffet table, bottomless drinks and endless flan (same as our leche flan). Added to this are the very friendly waiters and staff at the hotel which made our stay quite relaxing and fun.
Exploring the city was equally fun as well. Good thing one of my best friends was fluent in Spanish such that we did not have to worry about getting wrong directions or getting lost. We braved the rickety buses on the way to the charming part of Puerto Vallarta where you will find small art galleries lining the old cobblestone streets selling artworks made by local artists, a small plaza where more handicrafts are sold and a lovely boulevard next to the coastline.
We found a cathedral amidst the city where most of its residents, I suppose, get their Sunday fix. In front of the church are street vendors that sell their wares from flowers, t-shirts, knick-knacks and even street food. It is a scene very reminiscent of the Bacolod Cathedral and the public plaza.
We heard that Puerto Vallarta is comparable to San Francisco. So, what’s best to do than to find out if it is as open and non-judgmental as its northern cousin; or whether if such openness can thrive amidst its religious forces.
Sure enough, after asking a couple of locals, we managed to find a couple of watering holes that cater to worldly needs. While we were told that denizens from Guadalajara have better-looking genes, the locals of Puerto Vallarta proved to us that old-town charm and parochial ways is all you need… sometimes. And although you may also find this in the French Riviera, there is something about Puerto Vallarta that makes it different.