Sunday, January 8, 2017

Mexican Riviera for the Holidays

With snow piling up on the Home Front and temperatures forecasted for the single digits, we loaded up the two girls and their families and headed south to begin the New Year with a week in sunny Mexico.  

Rather than fly to one destination for a week's stay, we chose to book everyone onto a seven day cruise out of Los Angeles aboard the Norwegian Jewel.  With five adults and two grandkids, this should be a week to remember.
We sailed from San Pedro on DEC 30 with the first two days of the cruise to be spent at sea.   On this particular cruise, there are three ports of call: Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.  After three nights on open water, the Jewel arrived to dock in Puerto Vallarta.
While I was interested in taking a taxi into Old Town, the rest of the family opted for a leisurely day on the beach.  Ensuring that they made it to a suitable beach, I left for the Malecon for a long stroll.

All along the Malecon or Promenade are displayed numerous sculptures; a few of which are captured in the following photos.

After strolling along the Malecon and trying my best to avoid contact with aggressive vendors, I headed back in the general direction of the ship.  First, I visited the Mercado for look around and then to a pharmacy for sunscreen.  Now, the ship was docked about three miles from Old Town so I was faced with a long hike.  Temperatures were hovering in the upper 70s F so the walk would be warm.
Having returned to the beach where I deposited the family, I searched for them but found no one.  Figuring they must have returned to the ship, I followed suit.  Of course, I stopped for a nice cold drink before boarding.  Back on board, I surveyed the pool deck from above.  
Returning to the room, I found a message stating everyone had found a nearby resort in which to spend the day and that I could join if I returned in time.  Since the ship would be underway in less than two hours, I opted to find a snack on board and await their return.

With everyone back on board, in late afternoon, the Jewel set off for our next stop, Mazatlan.
When the ship docked in Mazatlan the next morning, we negotiated a van to drive into the Zona Dorada for a day of shopping and sunning.  After shopping and a snack consisting of huge plates of guacamole and chips, we went out onto the jetty before hailing a taxi to return us to the ship. 
As the NCL Jewel left Mazatlan harbor, another cruise ship from Holland America line followed us out into the open sea.
Next stop:  Cabo San Lucas and the famous Lands End.

Arriving at 0700 in the harbor and a short day onshore, we had a quick breakfast and made plans for the day.  The plan was to tender to the port, negotiate a boat for a tour of Lands End, and then have the boat deposit our group at a resort for a mid-morning lay about on the beach. With no port facilities large enough to handle a cruise ship, we are forced to reach land by ship's tender.

Up close, the rock formations of Lands End are fabulous.  With more time, snorkeling in among the rocks and fish would be great fun.  Maybe next time?

Passageway leads from Sea of Cortez to Pacific Ocean

Having completed the 45 minute tour and being deposited back on shore, the group settled in for play time on the beach.  At this time, our group split up to explore different areas of Cabo with the two grand kids remaining on the beach with their mother and Grandma.  While my youngest duagther and her husband struck out up beach to try paddle boarding, I headed back into town to find Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina.  We agreed to meet back on ship (hopefully!) before sailing.  

After meandering through the streets, I found the object of my search; Cabo Wabo.  Being a fan of Van Halen and especially Hagar's stint as frontman for the band, I enjoy paying a visit when in Cabo.
Since it was very early in the day, no band was performing but the stage was set and lit so that I could snap a photo.  The place reminds me of a dungeon.  Not too dissimilar from some of the bars in which I performed in my younger days.
Back on ship, I could get a general survey of the harbor and town.  Seems to have been much development since my last visit for my 50th birthday in DEC 2008.

As we set sail from Cabo, there would be one more sea day and then back to Los Angeles to get our flights home.

When we returned home, we were welcomed by more snow and 30 degrees of frost.  Quite a contrast from where we spent the last week.  
Nancy could be found thumbing through real estate ads for condos in Cabo this morning!


  1. Looks sensational - thanks for sharing that - even the sight of someone else's sunshine is beneficial. One advantage of travelling by ship, i imagine, is you don't have to worry about THE WALL...

    1. Quite right, Tony! No WALL to cross when going by sea. The warm weather was delightful and provided much needed warmth to our cold bones. Now we are back encircled by snowstorms and unrelenting cold.

  2. A quality week by the look of it - a good family session, which is what matters most. In the UK, we are relatively warm for the time of year, can count on one hand how often I have had to scrape the car in the morning.

    1. Quality week, for sure! I got to spend much time with the grandkids which I usually only get in short doses. We all had a great time. I spared you photos of the youngest grandkid and me sliding down the waterslide on board the ship. Must have done that a dozen times.

      In the Pacific Northwest of USA, the winter, thus far, has been colder and wetter. More snow than we are regularly accustomed to receiving.

  3. Wow! What a great vacation. Thanks for sharing.

  4. What a beautiful place!
    I also have a view from the window ... like the last photo :)) freezing!

  5. What a contrast! A beautiful place indeed...

  6. Fantastic! The rock formations remind me of the Algarve coast :) Cheers!

  7. Spectacular, and good on you loading up the whole family for the trip. Now, how is the local gaming scene? ;-)

    And a question...what instrument did you play in the day?

    1. Hi Monty! The only local gaming I saw were foursomes playing bridge, scrabble, and Mahjong on the ship! I was a drummer, I was...

  8. What a fabulous holiday, Jonathan.

  9. Looks great, Jon!

    " Not too dissimilar from some of the bars in which I performed in my younger days." Obviously some stories to tell there!

    I've only been to Mexico once on a short 3 day cruise leaving from Galveston, but the land side attractions were great - Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, the late Mayan runs at Tolum, and the natural watermark at Xel-ha. For mwe the highlight of the trip was the isolated Mayabn ruins at Kohunlich:

    My history loving friends and I made the trip while my beach loving wife and daughters stayed at the beach at Coasta del Maya. I love the beach, but Kohunlich was astounding, and best of all there less than 100 peokle there during our 5 hour visit!

  10. Peter! A discovery of another interest we both share!
    I have an interest in archaeology in general and Mayan and Incan archaeology and history in particular.

    Just finished Carlsen's Jungle of Stone retelling Stephen and Catherwood's adventures exploring Mayan ruins in the mid-nineteenth century. Excellent stuff! I received a portfolio of Catherwood's illustrations for Christmas. If you have not seen his work, do so. Stunning.

    I have made several trips to Belize, Yucatan, and Guatemala exploring Mayan ruins but have not visited Kohunlich. I will put Kohunlich on my list of sites to visit. Tulum is breathtakingly beautiful with the castillo perched above the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

    If you are ever interested in a joint Mayan exploration adventure, let me know and I will be on the next plane down to Mexico. The USD is very strong against the peso at present (something like 20:1) so now is an excellent time to travel there.

    1. The thing about Kohunlich is that it is a relatively underdeveloped site; you walk down the road from the very modest visitor center, past a hill... that is a buried temple, exposed on the other side (may have changed by now); it has Pyramids, a ball court, a section of arrow straight road, the temple of the masks, etc, and you can climb all the buildings with just a few other people around. Fascinating! One of my wargaming influences was a surgeon freind of our family, and we spent quite a bit of time at his home. His son, who was probably about 3-4 years my senior and interested in wargaming as well, became a professor of Meso-American archaeology.

      I agree Tolum is very beautiful, and evidently unique in its coastal location. It is small in scale compared with other Mayan sites, and IIRC dates from very late in the Mayan era.
      WE will be going to the Turk and Caicos Islands again in March, this time with some friends who often vacation in the Cozumel area of Mexico, so who knows what might be possible in the future?
      The "natural waterpark" at Xel-ha, near Cozumel, is quite amazing and fun, if not of particularly great archaeological interest!

      I would definitely be up for a joint trip some time... we will have to keep it in mind for the future!

    2. Have fun in the Turks and Caicos and drop me an email when you are ready for an expedition to the Yucatan.

  11. Thanks for these wonderful photos, Jon. The final photo looks like it could have been taken on my street.
    Now I want to know more about your musical career!

    1. Michael, since the photo of the homestead was shot, another 6+ inches of the white stuff has piled up.

      My memory is fading on my past musical career...Let me just say that I supported myself for a number of years playing up to six nights a week. Yes, my hearing is now paying that price!

  12. I am envious. While you were out, we managed to totally outstrip our expected snowfalls and the temps were best measured in Kelvin!

    1. We were very happy to get out of the snow and cold even if it was only one week.


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