Trip Report 3/18-3/22

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Posted by Sue from ( on domingo, abril 20, 2003 at 22:35:30 :

After reading so much on this website about Ixtapa and Zihua we could hardly wait for our trip. And it was WONDERFUL to say the least, but definitely too short. I'm already trying to figure out a trip over Christmas for us and our two adult children.

There were 4 of us traveling together. The other couple hadn't been to Mexico before except some border towns so they were somewhat hesitant about this whole adventure. However, they are ready to go back too!

We stayed in Ixtapa at the Barcelo, mainly because of the other couple. We found it to be a fine place to stay, very convenient in every way. Our oceanview rooms were ample as we were at the ends of hallways so the rooms were a bit larger I think. We enjoyed having the windows open at night, hearing the ocean and enjoying the breezes. Many people have commented on the need to "stake out" lounge chairs around the pool early in the morning. It was amusing to watch the people come out of the hotel, get the towels from the kiosk, and "reserve" their places for the day. It was obvious they were "on a mission" as they walked purposefully toward the pool! We never really found it necessary to get out there early. We chose to lounge on the beach under the palapas. Granted we did generally get our towels out there by around 9 a.m. but we got up fairly early each day anyway. We thoroughly enjoyed our morning walks along the beach and treated ourselves each morning to the 45-minute, $15 massages. "Our" massage tent was near Carlos'N Charlie's. Oh to have those ladies back here now!

I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow account of our days in Ixtapa-Zihua, but rather do a restaurant critique and a descr1ption of other activities that we enjoyed. So, here goes:

Ixtapa restaurants:
Cafe Salsa - right across from Barcelo -- nice atmosphere, marginal food, especially in comparison with what we had overall. Chicken fajitas and fish tacos good; calamari and quesadilla not so good. Margaritas so-so.

Casa Morelos -- excellent. Martin was our waiter and took good care of us. Fish tacos al pastor -- excellent. Chicken enchiladas enjoyable. 2x1 margaritas very good.

Las Margaritas -- we didn't eat here, but drank 2x1 margaritas on 2 different occasions. So, obviously they were good. They didn't seem to mind that we were just there for the drinks and they kept the chips and salsa coming.Located in courtyard just past Los Patios and right beneath Good Cookie bakery.

Good Cookie Bakery -- breakfast one morning. French toast was made out of cinnamon bread--very good. The others had pancakes/bacon/scramble eggs. I also had a fruit smoothie that was refreshing.

Chile y Tequila -- my favorite in Ixtapa. It's located in the back of Los Patios (purple building) across from the market and the Naval Hospital. Thoroughly enjoyed Alex Quinn -- quite a character! Reasonably priced. Tried the mango shrimp -- special of the night, not a bargain, but very good. The other couple split the Mexican platter that was $14. We also did the bananas flambe -- tasty and fun. 2x1 margaritas excellent. We also had breakfast there. French toast okay. Ham was deli-style ham so not all that great. Omelettes good. I enjoyed the chilaquiles. Wish I hadn't saved that for my breakfast for the last day. I'm ready for more! The breakfasts had a choice of juice or fruit plate. Juice was fresh squeezed. Fruit plate quite generous. Breakfast under $5 each. And we enjoyed margaritas with our breakfast since we were drowning our sorrows in that we had to leave!

Barcelo Mexican Fiesta -- Under a large tent on the front parking lot of hotel.Enjoyed the food and the entertainment. $40/person, but worth it. The margaritas flowed all evening and the buffet was left set up all evening as well. Salad bar, entrees and desserts. You couldn't be hungry when you left! The dancers were very good. Lasted about 3 1/2 hours.

Zihua restaurants:
La Sirena Gorda -- we loved it! Had fish tacos, surf & turf tacos and the daily special skate filet (only $7). The special was excellent. The margaritas weren't anything special and they were small.

Otilias (on Las Gatas) -- spent the afternoon here. Franco was quite a character too! Enjoyed the pineapple drink in the pineapple made to look like a bird(?). Margaritas very good here. Spicy shrimp okay. Garlic shrimp good. Tuna filet grilled with garlic very good. ALso did guacamole and salsa.

Beach and sun everyday, but remember that sunscreen and reapply it! We did pace ourselves and didn't spend more than a couple of hours on the beach at one time.

Market/Shopping in Ixtapa -- market is very close to Barcelo. And there's another market area behind Los Patios. Didn't really buy much. Swimsuit coverup and some sandals. We also visited other shops and just wondered all over the place. Everything is within walking distance and easily explored.

Market in Zihua -- enjoyed this market and shopping more. Bought some great wooden bowls that are painted in bright colors and signed by the artisan. Also got a watercolor from Martinez at Galeria Lupita. Salsa bowls are great gifts too.La Casa Marina and the shops within had marvelous hand-woven items. Wish I had bought some, but now I know exactly what to get next time!

We took the bus to Zihua the first time. Wish we'd done taxi first just to get our bearings, but we did fine. Did take taxi back each time. No problem finding a taxi anywhere!

Las Gatas -- the boat ride was fun. Purchase tickets at the pier ($3 roundtrip). It was Benito Juarez's birthday and a national holiday, so VERY crowded! Seemed even more crowded since the first few days of our trip the beaches were not crowded at all.If you go to Las Gatas, be sure to wear some kind of beach shoe, preferably the ones that slip over your feet that have the rubber bottom for walking into the water and along the beach.Coral and pebbles made it a bit difficult to maneuver.

As we explored Zihua one afternoon we got to see a parade of pre-school aged children. They all had on costumes and there were cars, bikes, strollers decorated with flowers (some arrangements quite elaborate) in honor of spring's arrival! They were adorable!

La Ropa and La Madera beaches: walked along both. Found Madera beach easily while exploring Zihua. The walkway makes it quite easy. The beach itself and along the walkway had quite a bit of litter. We wanted to check out La Quinta de Don Andres and Casa Sun and Moon for possible future stays. We weren't able to get into any rooms as there weren't any vacancies, but the proprietors let us walk around and explore. These look like good possibilities.From there we took a taxi to La Ropa and just walked along the beach. Didn't try any of the restaurants there. We will the next time though!

A couple of tips in general:
Traveler's cheques -- a waste of time. We had them. Mine were VISA from AAA. Banamex would cash them (as well as any others)but Bancomer would only take American Express checks. We did find that the "supermarket" a couple of blocks from the Barcelo would cash them. There was an ATM just down the street from the Barcelo. Also we used plastic when we could -- exchange rate was better when we received our billing.

Cell phones - GSM cells don't work. TDMA will work.

Our days and nights were filled with fun, relaxing activities. We got to enjoy the full moon our first night there. A much better place to be on a full moon than with middle school students (where I usually am on a full moon!) We do look forward to return to Ixtapa and Zihua. Many more things to do and restaurants to try!

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