Posted by Greg in Alberta from 188.8.131.52 (clgrtnt2-port-45.dial.telus.net) on Saturday, February 23, 2002 at 01:19:06 :
Sunday Feb 10th saw the start of another fantastic winter vacation. We were up at 4AM and off to the Calgary airport where we were greeted by a huge line-up waiting for the Alaska Air check-ins to open. Finding the end of the right line was the first big chore! At 5AM they opened and things moved surprisingly fast. By the time we got to the front of the line, the line-up for US customs had dwindled and we were whisked through in only a matter of minutes - with only one of our bags getting the "purple glove" treatment. The next hurdle was the security check at the entrance to our departure concourse. Here we had all of our carry on items checked, and had to show that our cameras were workable. One member of our group had to go through the routine twice, as the battery in her camera was dead. New batteries remedied the problem - make sure you arrive with charged batteries. There was no mention at any terminal about batteries not being allowed.
The flight to Zihua was uneventful - just long. We stepped out of the plane to the customary heat, humidity and bright sunshine - welcome back amigos!! Our entire luggage arrived despite the quick turn-over in LA and no one got the red light at the baggage check in Zihua. So far so good. Inside the terminal we were met by two rather dark looking individuals who were smiling and waving ecstatically. They were none other than my well tanned brother Don and his wife Betty who were waiting to board the plane we had just gotten off of. Hugs and hellos and then they ran for the departute lounge while I went in search of cervazas for the ride to Ixtapa. The rest of the crew had commandeered a large cab (suburban) and were waiting when I returned with the cold ones. Cheers went up. Off to Ixtapa.
Point Of Interest: As we loaded into our cab, a fellow who appeared to be working with the cab company came to the door of our cab and asked if we would mind paying the cab fare prior to leaving for Ixtapa. I could see no problem with this so I paid him up-front($360). The cab driver was seated next to me and witnessed the whole thing. We were dropped at the Dorado, & I tipped the driver for helping with the bags. He then took the rest of our group to their hotel (Barcelo). They disembarked and tipped him as well. Then the sh...t hit the fan. The guy started claiming he hadn't been paid. He followed them into the hotel and complained to the front desk - and left under protest only after one of the boys gave him another $25US. So be wary of paying the cab fare at the airport.
Despite my concerns about having booked our rooms over the Internet, we found everything in order when we arrived - even got the rooms we had requested! The rooms at the Dorado have all been remodeled now - new tile floors, new mini-bars, coffee pots in the rooms - very nice. All the old familiar faces amongst the staff are still there. After getting settled in, we had supper at the restuarant in front of the hotel (Da Giussepe), as we were all too tired to go wandering. It was as good as ever.
On day two of our trip I witnessed something I have NEVER seen before in Ixtapa - a mostly cloudy day. After spending the day relaxing around the pool and on the beach, we headed in early to Zihua to explore the market before going to the Feb 11th board party hosted by Bill Brown and Judy from Minnesota. The party was at Daniel's on the beach. It was great to meet some of the people on the message board including: Judy; the flamboyant Bill Brown and his son Randy; charming Lisa from Alaska; Marty & Betty from Colorado; Mark & Jayne Bachler; and of course Rob and his lovely wife Lupita were our surprise guests. There were many more I didn't get to meet, as we weren't able to stay as long as I would have liked - next time! Thanks for organizing the event Bill and Judy.
Later that evening I witnessed another first in Ixtapa - rain, lightening and lots of THUNDER! It poured for about 30 minutes and then settled into a steady light rain that lasted all night and into the next morning. The roof in the disco in our hotel was leaking because of the down-pour.
Because of the rainy weather, we decided to go shopping in Ixtapa. Most of the shops and resturants are still open, but it was disappointing to see that several had closed. A large new resturant has opened next to Senoir Frogs (Seafood Kingdom) - didn't get a chance to try it but it looks very nice. Later in the day the rains ceased and the clouds started to break so we headed back to the pool and the beach. Supper that night was at JJs Seafood - excellent meal but the prices have gone up, as they have everywhere. Stopped in at Senior Frogs for a bit - as loud and raucous as always - the kids had a great time.
The weather was back to normal - blue skies and sunshine for all - it remained that way for the rest of our trip. Breakfast at the Golden Cookie Shop - miss seeing Esther but the food is still great. A pool and beach day. Tamara decided to try parasailing - $200 for a 10 minute ride and she loved it. Later the girls all when down the beach for a massage - $100 for 45 minutes (despite the fact I was offering 1 hour for nothing!). Oh well.
This evening we decided to eat at the restuarant "Two Fat & Tropical Boys". The food was good and reasonably priced (entrees $60 - $120 I believe). It was entertaining evening, as the sing-along DJ had a few too many glasses of wine (and perhaps other compounds) and was in a mood to raise hell with the patrons. One group got mad enough to get up and walk out after a verbal clash. He was harmless though and the food was good.
Day Five - Valentines Day
We awoke to the sounds of a mariachi band playing in the lobby. The Dorado has a large atrium that stretches from the lobby to the top floor of the hotel. Hundreds of red and white balloons were cascading down from the upper floor and rising up from the mezzanine to the ceiling 16 floors above. People were perched all around on each floor watching the spectacle. Hot chocolate, cookies and cakes were served from the mezzanine while the mariachis entertained - a great start to another lazy day at the beach. That evening we went to the Puerto Mio restuarant in Zihua. It is a spectcular restuarant located in a secluded little cove. Although very pricey, we had a superb meal and a great evening. Typical entrees were from $160-$220.
Just another typical day in paradise. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we packed our things and headed for Playa Las Gatas for a day of snorkeling and exploring. Caught the water taxi from the pier at Playa Principal ($30PP return). A local by the name of Miguel acted as our guide and of course ushered us directly to "his" spot on the beach. He was great. $40PP per day equipped us with snorkeling gear. The water was warm and clear and blue, and the beach is a nice white sand as a result of the coral. The waves were gentle and the tide was high, making for great snorkeling conditions. Fish were abundant and colorful, Cervazas were cheap ($10) and the food was good. We prefer this spot to Isla Ixtapa where we found the water rougher and more turbulent.
After returning to the main pier we wandered along Playa Municipal and then back up towards the market passing Robs office and Lupita's shop, both of which had unfortunately closed by that time of day. Then it was back to Ixtapa for happy hour, then out to Mamma Norma and Deborah's for a very good and affordable meal (entrees from $60-$100). We then went to Carlos N Charlie's for a night cap or two - cervazas were $32 & cocktails were ~$46 (too much).
Another lazy day to relax at the beach and pool (I could get hooked on this). After happy hour it was off to Beccofinos at the marina for supper. Once again an excellent meal but pricey (entrees $160-$200).
The start of a very long day! The day we all dread - time to go home. Just as we were about to leave the hotel to catch our 14:39 departure we noticed the message light flashing on our phone. Our flight had been delayed by 3 hours due to mechanical problems. What? I left the pool 3 hours too early - damn!!
Off to the airport via cab ($120)to a long line up at the Alaska Air counters - everyones bag was getting the "purple glove treatment". Once through the line the waiting began. Three hours turned into six and we finally got away at 21:30. Of course now our connections in LA were screwed. So instead of Zihua to LAX to Calgary, it was Zihua to LAX to SEA to Calgary (delayed). We finally arrived home late Monday afternoon - tired, a little cranky, but still reveling from a great family vacation in our favorite part of paradise. Can't wait to return. Lisa, I'm still waiting for that ticket!.