Puerto Vallarta & Sayulita, Mexico – October 2014

Upon leaving Mexico City we took the short one hour flight to Puerto Vallarta which is a popular vacation resort on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. We would spend a week in a place called La Cruz de Huanacaxtle’ located 30 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta at our friend Mikes place.

179The plan was just to kick back and relax for the week before we made the big move from Vancouver to Dubai at the start of November.

La Cruz de Huanacaxtle is a quaint fishing village made up of older Mexicans and retired expats just enjoying the relaxed atmosphere of the Nayarit. We spent the majority of our time in Puerto Vallarta and the fishing village of Sayulita.

Puerto Vallarta is situated around a bay with beautiful beaches, lush jungles and sparkling waterfalls offer many opportunities for the adventurous, while five star resorts, world-class shopping and gourmet restaurants satisfy even the most sophisticated traveler. Stretching from the south end of Old Town to central downtown, a newly extended and refurbished boardwalk along the ocean, called the Malecon, passes by any number of shops, restaurants, and hotels, and often plays host to mimes, breakdancers, clowns and artists.

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While in Puerto Vallarta we also charted a private boat from a local fisherman and friend of Mikes that took us to the Marieta Islands where we went snorkeling and experienced the thriving marine population.

The main attractions to recommend seeing would be:

– Banderas Bay which is one of the largest and deepest in the world and can be admired from many of the surrounding hills exuberant in lush vegetation. Located right at the mouth of the Bay, straddling both sides of the River Cuale lies a charming and picturesque little town with true Mexican spirit, in PV.

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– For those who just want to relax, Puerto Vallarta’s many golden sand beaches offer one of the best ways to experience the beauty and magic of the Bay of Banderas.

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The Marieta Islands  are a group of small uninhabited islands a few miles off the coast of Nayarit not far from La Cruz. I would say this probably the number one tourist destinations in the area due to the abundance of marine life populations thanks to the islands being protected from fishing and hunting by the Mexican government.

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Sayulita is hailed as a popular off the beaten path travel destination and mecca for surfing in the area. Sayulita is the crown jewel of the pacific coast mainly due to its natural beauty. It is very similar to Puerto Vallarta but much more tranquil and untouched.

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The cheap fish tacos are delicious and fresh from the ocean which can be perfectly washed down accompanied by a few Coronitas! The locals are very friendly and have a wonderful array of local arts and crafts for only a few pesos. The cobbledstone streets are a highlight which make this place so charming and welcoming.

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It was the perfect vacation needed for us to reflect on the year while not worrying about the impending move to the middle east and everything else that comes with it…

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Mexico City – Mexico, 2014

I returned to Mexico after a three year hiatus. I can’t believe it has been that long since I traveled the country with my friend Steve. It seems like only months had past with the memories so vivid.

I always wanted to return to Mexico one more time. It left a lasting impression on me. Okay, it’s no Canada but it does have it’s charm. Mexico City has stunning architecture, wonderful history, delicious cheap street food and friendly Mexicans even if it portrayed very differently in the media. I was excited to show and share my previous experience of Mexico City with my partner, which was her first time in Mexico.

We were fortunate we had my partners best friend for many years, currently residing in Mexico City, owning a petite boutique bed & breakfast known as Casa Hipodromo . Casa Hipodromo is a small B&B in the heart of Condesa. They seek to give their guests a warm and rich experience with their extensive list of knowledge of the city, they want to give their guests the experience to see Mexico City like a local. Check it out here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2323184

We stayed in Mexico City for three weeks which gave us the opportunity to divulge into the city and experience everything it had to offer. Downtown Mexico City is filled with historical buildings and landmarks from every epoch. It is also known as the City of Palaces, because of the large number of stately buildings, especially in the Centro. In addition, Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world, with New York #2, London #3 and Toronto #4.

I have selected a few highlights of our trip that we enjoyed visiting and are definitely worth checking out if you have plans on exploring to Mexico City soon.

Laza de la Constitucion, commonly known as Zocalo located in centro, is one of the largest squares in the world, surrounded by historic buildings, including the City Hall and the Cathedral.

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La Catedral the biggest in the Americas. Containing many altars, its principle altar is made from solid gold.

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Angel de la Independencia or simply known as “El Angel” is a monument in Reforma Avenue and Florencia Street, near Zona Rosa. This monument celebrates Mexico’s independence in 1810.

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Coyoacán is a historic Colonial Arts district which was home to Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky, and Diego Rivera, amongst others.

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Paseo de la Reforma known as Reform Avenue is a 12 km long grand avenue and park in Mexico City. The name commemorates the liberal reforms of Mexican President Benito Juarez.

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Palacio de Bellas Artes is located in centro. A concert hall and an arts center, it houses some of Mexico’s finest murals and the Art Deco interior is worth seeing alone.

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Mexico City is full of various plazas and parks scattered through every neighborhood, but the following are some of the biggest, prettiest, most interesting, or best-known.

Chapultepec Park is a large park of 6 km in the middle of the city which hosts many attractions, including the city zoo and several museums such as the Modern Art Museum, the Museum of Anthropology, the Natural History Museum and the National Museum also known as Castillo de Chapultepec.

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Parque Mexico and Parque España are two adjacent parks in the Colonia Condesa, which used to be part of a race track. Now they are popular for an evening stroll, and sometimes house outdoor exhibitions or concerts, and are surrounded by cool cafes and bars.

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Mexico is the city with the largest number of museums in the world, to name some of the most popular we visited:

National Museum of Anthropology Chapultepec is one of the best museums worldwide over, it was built in late 1960’s and designed by Pedro Ramírez Vazquez. It gathers the best collection of sculptures, jewels and handcrafts from ancient Mexican cultures, and could take many hours to see everything.

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 Museum of Modern Art Chapultepec.
Here you will find paintings from Frida Kahlo, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo, as well as a sculpture garden.

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Day of the Dead (November 1-2). Mexico is one of the few countries in the world that celebrates this day (Dia de los Muertos), in which people go to the cemeteries to offer tribute to their departed ones, and decorate their graves with marigolds and bright colors. But this is not a sad celebration, on the contrary, people give family and friends candy treats in the shape of skulls and bones made of sugar and chocolate. Don’t miss a visit to a public market to find these delicacies, and watch out for the parades to and from the local cemeteries.

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A trip to Mexico City will not be complete without a visit to the ruins of Teotihuacan in the outskirts of the City. Teotihuacan, also known as the City of the Gods, is an archeological site 40 km northeast of Mexico City. Teotihuacan is home to some of the largest ancient pyramids in the world. According to legend, it was here where the gods gathered to plan the creation of man.  Construction of Teotihuacan commenced around 300 BC, with the Pyramid of the Sun built by 150 BC. 150–450 AD.

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Mexico City is a place you come to explore, get educated and immerse yourself in the Mexican culture. Take in all of its wonderful history, architecture and cheap delicious food. If you want a relaxing holiday then I would not recommend it especially in hurricane season. You would need to head to Puerto Vallarta or La Cruz which fortunately for us is exactly where we headed next.

185Also you can check out my friends article on Mexico City from our experience three years earlier where we experienced drinking the local tradition, Pulqueria. https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/travel/americas/a/23980635/drinking-in-the-local-traditions/

Vancouver, Squamish, Whistler, Victoria – Summer 2014

My parents finally made it out to Canada and beautiful BC after two years of planning.

The first week was spent in and around Vancouver. Located at the southwestern corner of the coastal province of British Columbia, it is well known for its majestic natural beauty, as it is nestled between the Coast Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It is frequently ranked as one of the best cities to live in and is certainly a beautiful destination to visit.

The second week was spent in Squamish, Whistler and Vancouver Island in Victoria.

Victoria is the capital of the province of British Columbia and it is located near the southern tip of Vancouver Island. Nicknamed the Garden City for Butchart Gardens and much green space. It is also said to lie within the world’s most northern Mediterranean climate at a latitude of 48.5 North.

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Golden Ears Provincial Park, #Vancouver #ExploreBC #Canada

Golden Ears is the name of the summit that lies north of Maple Ridge, British Columbia and is visible from most of the western Lower Mainland. The mountain is in Golden Ears Provincial Park, and was originally referred to as Golden Eyries, possibly for Golden Eagles that were observed near the summit. There is confusion about the name, because of the twin summits the peak exhibits. Many people believe that the mountain is named because it looks like ears which become golden in the sunset light.

This hike is without doubt the hardest and most challenging trail hike I have undertaken in my two years in BC. It was 24km from start to finish which we did in a time of 10 hours (9 hours hiking, 1 hour at the summit) which provided 360 degrees spectacular views of greater Vancouver.

The hike down was so much harder than going up. It is so steep it really does take a toll on your knee joints and anyone that does attempt to undertake it after reading this should make sure they follow the markers down. We were distracted for a few minutes and got completely lost and had to climb back up the mountain. Also the forest area can be tough, again we got lost and panicked a bit as day light was getting sparse.

More information can be found here: http://m.vancouvertrails.com/trails/golden-ears/

Enjoy the pics!

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